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Reflecting on the Present Moment

7 Jun

Reflecting on the Present, Importance of Grounding

This image and quote from the Dalai Lama holds a lot of meaning. In stressing over the future or worrying excessively, many develop anxiety responses. In focusing on the past, trauma and pain from the past can prevent enjoyment of present. In being consumed with pleasing others or being “perfect,” the individual can neglect self.

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Sleep Therapy and Tweaking Your Sleep Habits With Technology

8 May

Ok…as a graduate student (or working stressed out human being in general) sleep quality is not always the best.  However, psychologists as well as others have begun experimenting with ways to increase sleep quality through the use of smart phone alarms as well as through dream manipulation. The following article on LifeHaker discusses some of these apps.  I’m currently using the DreamOn app.  I’ve only been using it for a week or two, and would like to wait a bit longer before going into depth about the app; however, my experience so far has been (a) increase in vivid dreaming and (b) more restful/higher quality of sleep – leading to increased energy/mood during the day.  Now if only I could use this app to help me study for the NCE. 🙂

(Click the Quote to Go to the Rest of the Article)

Sleep. It’s the one thing we all do and the one thing that few of us are willing to screw around with—if only because a bad night of sleep can ruin an entire day. Still, hundreds of sleep tricks, hacks, and dream induction techniques exist that are supposed to give you a better night of sleep, and they’ve all been ported to your phone. But do any of these really work? If so, are these apps worth using? We’ll take a look at the science supporting various sleep apps, and then see how it really feels when your sleep and dreams tinkered with.

Step 5: Finding a Counseling Graduate School Internship Site

17 Aug

Well it’s been a while since I wrote…again:)  I had planned to post a lot between semesters, but wound up using the break to search for an internship site.  If you are in Mental Health Counseling (or seeking an LPC)  part of the graduate requirement (per-graduation) is a practicum/internship (the hours required vary from state-to-state).  I’ve found a site, all I need to do now is get approval from my university **fingers crossed!** The process of “finding” a site went smoothly, in part because I prepared early and

Tips to finding an Internship Site (Graduate School):

  1. Create a resume or update yours when (a) you first start school, and (b) once more 9 months before job hunting
  2. Use University career centers and/or a professor in YOUR field of study to review your resume and edit it! (Every profession has things it looks for, keywords/etc, in resumes.  Catering your resume to your field is essential.)
  3. (Note: Counseling/Psychology fields like “Bulleted” items in their works.) For a sample resume please see mine HERE.
  4. After you have a polished resume make sure you review/update it before searching for a site.
  5. Begin searching for a site no less than 6 months prior to the scheduled date of internship – this will give you ample time to complete paperwork for your university and/or have a site rejected by said university (giving you time to freak out and find another if need be).
  6. If every place you go to seems not to want you, get a teacher or friend to “interview” you informally (try to find someone in the field you’re going into) and critique your interview-ability.  Something you are saying (or not saying) may be putting potential sites off you!
  7. DON’T forget to mention that (A) the internship is UNPAID for graduate school and (B) you will have your own INSURANCE via a professional organization.  There are “paid” internships/career openings that you may not qualify for; however, if you are working for “free” the company may employ you anyways to save money and receive help that budgetary limitations would otherwise not allow for…
  8. You have a site but it’s still 6 months away?  Follow up!  At least once a month check in with your potential supervisor.  Keep up with the paperwork that must be done.  Ask about additional training sessions you may need, if you have to foot the bill for these sessions, and ask about background/medical/other checks may be needed in order to work at your chosen site.
  9. A little work NOW can mean BIG results later.  It will also keep you from needing to be committed due to last minute rushing/panic attacks.

Are you a procrastinator??? Well guess what me too!  What you don’t believe me??? Here’s a trick I do to FORCE myself to keep ahead of the game:

On my calendar (physical or the one on my cell phone) I set the most annoying reminder with an alarm for whatever I am trying to accomplish.  For instance, tomorrow I need to call and follow up with a potential internship site and have been procrastinating because of the false sense of security gained from finding one so quickly.  I have the most annoying alarm/sound set to go off every 3 hours tomorrow until I call.  Once I call, I’ll delete the alarm(s).  Additionally, it’s important to FORCE yourself to do something to prep for future school requirements (like an internship or a portfolio) at least once to twice a month.  The act of accomplishing something also decreases anxiety/stress by increasing feelings of accomplishment.  There are times that even doing a bit here and there is not enough to keep away the mad rush at the last minute.  On the other hand, even when the mad rush is unavoidable, previous feelings of accomplishment and work can make the act of coping with the stress more manageable.

GOOD LUCK:):):)

Randomness and Life…Myfitnesspal, a tool 4 self-awareness

7 Apr

Ok, this has nothing to do with counseling in a traditional sense.  In counseling, the counselor seeks to promote “mindfulness” or awareness of cause/effect.  Awareness can relate to eating habits, sleep patterns  (as in the ZEO product I discuss HERE), and/or mental/emotional awareness (through meditation and reflection), etc.

My fitness pal is a website (and an Iphone app) that lets users keep track of caloric intake, nutrition, and water consumption.  It also calculates (based on height/weight/activity level) the suggested calorie consumption to promote weight loss.  It’s completely free.  I was not contacted to review their site, and am not receiving compensation.

Physical health is tied to mental health and can influence depression, high blood pressure, anxiety, and dysfunctional coping strategies.  Since joining I’ve lost 7lbs:) (and goodness knows I haven’t hit the exercising/dieting hard).  Having the Iphone app also makes it easier to make decisions when eating out at fast food places (as you can see the values and select one based on your plan).  Unlike other programs (that will not be named), it is free.  Which makes it not so much a diet, as a change in behavior/habit.  Lifestyle changes are sustainable.  Diets, are not.

Counseling is about making small lifestyle changes that build to make larger impacts.  For myself, this meant using an Iphone app as a tool for mindfulness.  It makes me wonder what other resources to promote mindfulness are available that could be used to support client/individual interventions.

Step 4: Communication & Initiative

5 Apr

In graduate school “effective communication” and demonstrating “initiative” are more than mere personality traits driving successful academic completion.  These particular traits, developed, can save a student from unnecessary stress and workload – and goodness knows graduate students have enough stress/work as it is.  How can doing more work actually make for less work?  Sounds like an oxymoron at first, but let me provide an example.

The school I’m attending is making some changes to their Professional Portfolio requirement and Residency curricula – they are going from a hard copy portfolio that was supposed to be turned in at the next residency to a digital portfolio that will be completed after residency. Moreover, they apparently forgot to tell the students.  Our class was still under the impression that they were completing a hard copy portfolio.  So we were all getting ready to work on it.

If I had not called to double check requirements for the portfolio we would have (1) never realized there were changes we needed to prepare for, (2) had to re-do all the work on the portfolios – we’re talking hours and hours of work, and (3) not completed the work that was actually required.

Communication in graduate school is more than communication with one’s teachers.  It involves taking the initiative to keep up with course/curricula requirements, and maintaining contact with one’s advising center (whether you go to school online or in a traditional setting).  Never ASSUME you know something.  If your curious, ask.  Now I know it can seem petty to ask for every “little” thing.  Some things, seem more important than others….it’s tempting to think “well it will all work out” or “the school would let me know if…”

Never assume a school/adviser will let you know anything.  If the question(s) seem petty, make a list of 2-3 questions and call/schedule an appointment to ask them all at once.  If an advising session (meeting with a counselor face-to-face) seems like overkill for the situation, try just calling.  The original question I had was about a form that was listed as a requirement for the hard copy portfolio.  I called about that “form” and instead discovered the whole portfolio had been scrapped.

Summary:

  1. know your course/program requirements – is there other components to the program outside of coursework or are there courses that will require work as part of their curricula
  2. if you have a question, ask
  3. make a list of minor questions and curious concerns – call and ask about them all at one time to minimize having to call back repeatedly
  4. colleges are businesses, they won’t hold your hand especially in graduate school – never assume an important email will go out to update appropriate information

Art Therapy Kit

12 Mar

Art therapy can be a formal intervention administered in a counseling environment, but it is also something that individuals can engage in (much less formally) for stress relief.  Disaster or crisis counseling occasionally utilizes art as a means to provide relief of emotional overload (not a technical term) – in which a client may be overwhelmed by emotions and unable to express his or herself.  Today, I’m featuring a great kit for therapists interested in learning more about Art Therapy.  It is not a substitute of formal training in terms of competency; however, it is a great way to decide if Art therapy may be something that you want to incorporate/explore in greater depth.