How Often Should I Go to Therapy? Is Once a Week Enough?

Did you know that over 59 million people in the United States regularly attend therapy? Therapy no longer has the negative stigmas that it used to have. As such, more people than ever are getting the help they need for their mental health. If it’s your first time seeing a therapist, then you likely have lots of questions going through your mind.

One of the most popular ones is, How often should I go to therapy? While there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, there are some general guidelines you can follow. Luckily, we’ve organized them all in this article so you have an idea of how often you should be seeing your therapist. Let’s get started!

How Often Should I Go to Therapy?

The answer to this question depends on a variety of factors. Things like the condition you’re treating, the severity of the condition, and personal events happening in your life. Some types of therapy offer more long-form meetings or group/couple therapy. Others utilize more frequent sessions throughout the week.

The most common type of therapy model is known as cognitive-behavioral therapy. This type of model usually includes weekly, forty-five-minute sessions that last for a few months.

However, the most common option isn’t always the best one. Depending on your needs and the facility center you choose, you might require something more personalized. Let’s explore some of the other popular options when it comes to therapy scheduling options.

What Are Some of the Popular Therapy Scheduling Methods?

It’s important to remember that you don’t need to decide on a therapy scheduling option on your first visit. After an assessment and screening process, you’ll have your first appointment.

Your first appointment is for getting to know your therapist, discussing your mental health, and for deciding if you feel comfortable around them. If it seems like a good fit, then you can discuss how often you should see each other. Here are some of the popular options regarding the frequency in which patients see their therapists:

  • Weekly sessions
  • Biweekly sessions
  • Multiple sessions in one week
  • As-needed sessions

1. Weekly Sessions

A weekly session is a great place to start when beginning therapy. Generally, most patients will start with this frequency, then increase or decrease as needed. A weekly session is ideal for people who want to build skills related to things like mindfulness, coping, and communication.

It’s also good for people working through a specific type of problem. For example, trauma, anxiety, depression, grief, and divorce as some popular reasons for weekly sessions. Finally, weekly sessions are important for breaking through old behavior and reprogramming your brain. The frequency of the meetings with a neutral party allows you to recognize patterns in your behavior and thoughts.

2. Biweekly Sessions

Biweekly sessions might seem excessive, but this simply isn’t true. The reality is that sometimes weekly meetings can feel like a consultation instead of an exploratory relationship. Often you’re only able to discuss one area or thing that happened to you. Therapy twice a week on the other hand allows you to go much deeper.

We recommend this option for people who want to take the skills they’ve learned in therapy and apply them to their life in a more practical way. It’s all about taking the inner work and make it applicable in the real world.

3. Multiple Sessions in One Week

Multiple sessions in one week are typically used for people in a state of crisis. This can arise in a lot of forms. One common reason is that your mental health is preventing you from going/functioning in school and work.

It’s also important for people whose safety is in question. Keep in mind that multiple sessions aren’t reserved strictly for people in a state of crisis. It’s also ideal for people experiencing a big transition or change in their life. Multiple sessions can help individuals in these circumstances stay healthy and supported.

4. As-Needed Sessions

As-needed sessions are typically reserved for people who have been in therapy for a while. They’ve dealt with many of the initial problems that occurred when they started therapy. However, they’ve also developed a close relationship with their therapist that they don’t want to end. These types of sessions are much more flexible.

They allow you to address issues in your life whenever they come up. However, be careful about committing to the as-needed sessions too quickly. It’s difficult to be proactive about serious mental health issues when you aren’t confronting them every week.

How Long Do I Need to Stay in Therapy?

Many patients are eager to find out how long their treatment will take once they enter therapy. Unfortunately, there’s no exact answer to this answer since it depends on the severity of your condition and the status of personal progress. Indeed, some people will need regular therapy for the rest of their lives.

However, one study found the between twelve and sixteen sessions were usually enough for the average person to experience positive change in their life. However, an ongoing exploration of the following conditions can require quite a lot more time:

  • Trauma
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Substance abuse
  • Psychotic disorders
  • Personality disorders
  • Eating disorders

Do You or a Loved One Need Help? Contact Solara Mental Health

We hope this article helped you answer the question, How often should I go to therapy? As you can see, there’s no simple answer to these questions. It depends on a variety of factors that are specific to each individual. However, generally speaking, once a week is a good place to start. The next step is to find a reputable therapist who you can trust.

So how do you find one? If you live on the Southern Pacific Coast, then look no further than Solara Mental Health. For over fifteen years our psychiatric center has been helping those with mental illnesses.

We do this by using a philosophy that combines progressive psychotherapy with holistic life practices. If you’re interested in learning more, then make sure to get in touch with us today.

Psychologist vs Psychiatrist vs Therapist: What’s the Difference?

When you’re seeking out mental health help for yourself or a loved one, it’s easy to get overwhelmed at all of your choices.

A doctor can refer you where they think you can get the most help, but when you’re doing preliminary research (or if you’re not looking for a referral) how can you know where you’re supposed to go?

You might be noticing that there are a lot of words swirling around regarding different types of mental health professionals. What’s the difference between a psychologist vs a psychiatrist vs a therapist?

While these are all experienced mental health workers, the terms aren’t interchangeable. Each one serves a different purpose in your healing journey. People may also serve more than one of those purposes.

So what’s the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist? What about a therapist? Keep reading to learn what you need to know.

What Is a Psychologist?

Many people try to lump all mental health workers under the “psychologist” umbrella, but this is inaccurate. Psychologists have their own skillsets and responsibilities.

Some of the clearest differences are obvious in the ways in which they practice and the education and experience that they receive prior to starting their careers.

Required Education

All psychologists have advanced degrees in psychology. Almost all psychiatrists have a doctorate degree, though some only have a master’s. You can’t be a psychologist if you’ve only completed a bachelor’s degree if you plan on interacting with patients or completing serious research.

Psychologists have two primary career paths. They can stay on the research route, or they can practice therapy.

How They Practice and Work

For psychologists who choose the research route, they may work in universities or in lab settings to advance research in the mental health field. While working in universities, they can also become educators.

When they’re working in the field, they often work as therapists or counselors. They help to guide patients during their mental health struggles. They can diagnose mental health conditions and create treatment plans. They can also specialize in specific subsets of mental health.

They can not prescribe medication.

What Is a Psychiatrist?

While many mental health professionals have a doctorate degree, psychiatrists are the only ones who are considered medical doctors. Psychiatrists often work with other medical professionals (like therapists or a patient’s general practitioner), or they can work alone.

But what sets them apart from therapists and psychologists?

Required Education

As we mentioned, all psychiatrists need a doctorate. Unlike psychologists, the degree is a degree in medicine. This is what allows them to prescribe medication.

Like other doctors, they need to complete a fellowship in their field. They can then pursue further education if they’re interested in a specific area of mental healthcare (like childhood mental health, rare mental health conditions, trauma disorders, or whatever else interests them).

How They Practice

Psychiatrists have several functions. They often work in hospitals or inpatient mental health centers, but they can also work in clinics or in their own independent practice settings. Psychiatrists are unique because they can prescribe.

No other mental health workers are allowed to prescribe psychiatric medication. Psychiatrists are also the most qualified to diagnose mental health conditions.

Psychiatrists are able to provide counseling to their patients, but they’re more likely to refer patients to a qualified therapist or counselor than they are to provide this service themselves.

More often than not, a therapist will refer the patient to the psychiatrist rather than the other way around because therapy is often a first-line treatment method.

What Is a Therapist?

So with both of these in mind, what is a therapist? What distinguishes a therapist from a psychologist or a psychiatrist? Is there any overlap?

There’s a reason that it may seem like “therapist” is the umbrella term for mental health professionals. Both psychologists and psychiatrists are able to act as therapists, though it’s less likely for psychiatrists to do so.

Here are a few other things to know about therapists.

Required Education

Generally speaking, therapists need advanced degrees. These degrees come in a lot of varieties, though.

Therapists can come from degree programs in social work, clinical psychology, psychiatry, substance abuse counseling, and any other number of backgrounds. This is why there’s such a huge variety of therapists in the field.

How They Practice

Because there are so many different kinds of therapists, their roles are diverse. The most common type of therapist is a “talk therapist” that helps patients work out their feelings and make plans to work through them, but there are also therapists who work to conquer trauma, eating disorders, substance abuse, and debilitating mental health conditions.

Not all therapists are qualified for every type of therapy. Many therapists will seek out further education to get certificates in specific areas so they can better serve their patients. These include:

  • EMDR
  • CBT
  • DBT
  • Childhood therapy
  • Specific types of counseling (such as marriage counseling)

Once you start seeing your therapist, they’ll be able to create a treatment plan for you that includes the right kind of therapy (even if they’re not the right therapist to offer it to you).

If your therapist isn’t also a psychiatrist, they’ll often work in tandem with a psychiatrist so there’s an easy way to manage your medication while you’re working on counseling.

Psychologist vs Psychiatrist vs Therapist: Which Is Right?

There are a lot of crossovers when it comes to mental health workers. When it comes to choosing a psychologist vs a psychiatrist vs a therapist, the right choice might be using them all at once.

When you’re in need of help with your mental health, you don’t have to choose. Let them work together to help you on your path towards healing.

If you’re ready to start conquering your mental health struggles, we want to help you. Our compassionate staff members understand how hard it can be to take the first step in seeking help, so we’ve created a simple and streamlined admissions process.

Contact us with any questions or to get started. We can’t wait to hear from you.

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7 Tips on Choosing a Mental Health Retreat Center in California

Did you know that one in four adults in the United States have some kind of mental health disorder? From anxiety and depression to PTSD and OCD, these patients need expert guidance on how to improve their mental health.

One of the preferred ways to take a step forward is by attending a mental health retreat center. These treatment centers help individuals with mental health issues work through the struggles that they may be having. And, you’ll learn tools and tricks to work with your mental illness out in the real world.

These retreat centers aren’t as out of reach as they may appear at first. So, you may want to get to researching.

Let’s talk about how to choose a mental health retreat center and explore one of the better mental health retreats in California.

Choosing a Mental Health Retreat Center

Choosing the right mental health retreat center can make all of the difference in whether you heal or not. Whether it’s because a retreat center doesn’t soothe you or doesn’t have the right resources for you, all retreat centers are not equal.

You have to find the best match for you. Let’s look at some of the traits that you should take into consideration.

1. Timing

First of all, you have to see whether or not your personal timing matches up with the program’s timing. Are you going to be able to work with one of the schedules that the program is offering?

Of course, you should always work to seek help for mental health problems, whether or not you have other responsibilities. But, you shouldn’t have to completely change your life for the sake of receiving treatment.

Different centers offer different times and dates for their patients. Look into what kind of schedule you’d want to have and compare it to what retreat centers are offering.

2. Goals

Each retreat center is going to have a different end goal. Some retreat centers are going to let you make your own.

Some retreat centers value mindfulness while others value progress. Some may want you to feel like your old self while others want you to be functional.

What kind of goals do you have when it comes to your mental health? Look for a retreat center that can help you reach those goals.

3. Approach

Depending on your condition and the center, physicians and other health personnel may approach you differently. They may want you to talk everything out through therapy. They may want you to hone your feelings into something physical.

They may want you to focus your energies on both of these things.

The approach for how to treat a mental illness will differ based on the treatment center’s philosophies and beliefs. Make sure to do your research before you find out that you don’t like a treatment center’s approach.

4. Offers

Look at the classes and activities that each treatment center offers. Make sure that the treatment center you’re going to choose offers classes that you’re actually interested in.

If you’re a creative person and the treatment center you’re looking at doesn’t offer creative outlets, it’s not going to be a good fit.

5. Location

Location and presentation matter. Whether you prefer to be near or far, location can make a difference in your retreat experience.

Think about whether you want to heal on the beach, in the mountains, in the city, or somewhere else. Determine whether you’d like to be near home or far from home.

Then, look at how the place itself looks. We all hear horror stories about psychiatric treatment centers having steel walls with mattress on the floor. While we’ve come a long way from those days, you still shouldn’t settle for anything less than the best.

This is a mental health retreat after all. How are you supposed to heal in a place that you don’t like?

6. References and Reviews

Look at the references and reviews for each treatment center you’re considering. You may be surprised at what people have to say, regardless of the location, activities, and other characteristics.

A place may look nice on paper but have horrible reviews.

As with any place, you should always take the reviews with some skepticism. However, you should also be wary of complaints, especially if they show up multiple times.

7. Interviewing

Call and ask questions about the retreat center. Ask about food and activities. Get to know what your daily life will be like.

If you read some concerning reviews, be sure to bring those up and clear the air. The staff may have an explanation or there may have been a change in policy.

You should also consider touring the facility to make sure that you feel at home there.

Take a Mental Health Retreat in California

If you’re looking for a mental health retreat center in California, look no further than Solara Mental Health in San Diego, CA. We take pride in our individualized approach and successful results.

We offer residential inpatient treatment and intensive outpatient treatment so that our patients can choose the schedule that they want. On top of this, we offer a variety of therapy programs, including cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectal behavior therapy. These therapies focus on helping you cope with your condition and learn strategies to assist you in living functionally with it.

With therapy, we offer detoxification programs, group therapy, holistic therapy, family therapy, and more. Overall, we focus on a holistic health approach that includes mindfulness and self-love. This includes a strong belief in individualized care and treatment for each patient.

We treat a wide range of mental health issues, which include depression, anxiety disorders, trauma disorders, personality disorders, psychotic disorders, and more. And, we offer group therapy for each of these conditions as well as coexisting struggles.

Located in Pacific Beach, California, our mental health retreat center is gorgeous. We’re sure that you or your loved one will settle nicely in our relaxing bedrooms and calming common spaces.

Contact us today so that we can talk about how we can help you.

Understanding Your Inner Child

The inner child.

If you’ve majored in psychology, or have done psychology work as a patient, you’ve likely encountered this phrase or notion. We hear about it in popular psychology, and your therapist may have brought up the idea to you.

But what exactly is an inner child and why is this work important to help you heal? Why is it important to nurture, parent and address the needs of the inner child in order to become truly free?

In this blog post, we’ll discuss those questions and more, as you learn how to nurture the inner child in you that relies on you for help and sustenance.

Read on to help your inner child receive the care it did not originally.

What is the Inner Child?

Before we go on, you should be aware of what the inner child actually is. If you’re not familiar with psychology or the spiritual practice of inner child work, it might sound like a “hippy dippy” notion. But, it is incredibly helpful, especially for those who did not receive everything they needed as children.

The formal definition of the inner child is the person’s “original or true self,” and one that is not necessarily shown in their everyday life after they reached adulthood.

This can be one working definition, but many others refer to the inner child as the child you once were and the trauma inflicted on you during this formative period. As a child, almost everything that happened to us left an impression. And as a child, no matter how perfect our parents were, there were still needs that they could not meet. This is often due to their own issues.

But, it doesn’t necessarily mean that inner child work is blaming your parents for their shortcomings. An inner child may have not had their full needs met by other adults in their lives that let them down. Or, they may have suffered abuse at the hands of adults that were not their parents.

The inner child, as such, is kind of the shell or ghost of the you that you once were before puberty. It represents all of the needs and traumas you suffered that were not addressed.

Childhood Trauma Treatment

Why Do We Focus on an Inner Child?

Of course, some people may have had very happy childhoods and only experienced traumas in their adulthood. It may be these adulthood experiences that have led them to seek therapy or other support. But does that render inner child work null? Not at all.

The very core and fundamental beliefs about ourselves were set in our minds as inner children. How adults and other children behaved, the way we were raised, the culture we were raised in, etc. all have influences on the way we think today.

For example, you may have decided to seek therapy after a particularly nasty divorce. This divorce may have crushed your self-esteem, and you may feel that inner-child work is unnecessary. After all, you had everything you wanted growing up, and your parents were amazing. Why do you need to nurture your inner child?

Well, inner child work can help you understand why this divorce crushed your self-esteem so badly. As a child, maybe adults were not as supportive as you remember them to be. Maybe your religion or culture taught you that you were not good enough unless you did or were specific things.

Perhaps these echoes still play out in your mind as an adult, causing this divorce to be more difficult than it might be if you had given your inner child permission to heal.

As your formative years shape and inform almost everything about you as an adult, tapping into your inner child is one of the fundamental ways to begin healing.

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Nurturing Your Inner Child

Inner child work can take many forms. You may choose to meditate to connect with your inner child. You may choose to write a letter to your inner child. Or, you may choose to discuss what your inner child needs with your therapist.

Once you connect with your inner child, you can begin to tune into the things your inner child is missing. Does your inner child miss a parent who was always at work? Does your inner child need someone to let them know that your external appearance isn’t everything? Does your inner child miss a parent who chose not to be involved in your life when you were very young?

What your inner child needs is specific to you and your journey. Everyone’s inner child had needs that weren’t met for one reason or another. But your job is to pinpoint those needs and try to fulfill them now. Once you’ve been able to establish what it is your inner child wants and needs, you can begin to move forward, and give your inner child permission to heal.

Giving Your Inner Child What It Needs

Inner child work can be intense. It can be highly emotional and even painful. It may even bring up feelings and thoughts you didn’t know you had surrounding your childhood. But, it is a great way to help you tear down negative thoughts and the hurt that you faced as a child so that you can begin on a clearer path to balanced mental health.

If you’re ready to begin intensive mental health treatment, D’Amore is here to help you on your journey. Click here to read more about our varied and effective mental health programs.

How to Become a Psychotherapist

Do you have a passion for helping others through difficult and dark times? What if you could parlay that interest into an enriching and rewarding career?

Psychotherapy is an ideal field for anyone interested in helping individuals overcome personal issues and combat addictions via psychological, rather than medical, means. 

Yet, like any career of its kind, this one includes certain steps you’ll need to complete before you can start practicing. Not sure where to begin? That’s why we’re here.

Today, we’re sharing a quick guide on how to become a psychotherapist, so you can have a clearer understanding of the journey ahead.

Ready to learn more? Let’s get started!

How to Become a Psychotherapist: Start Early

Before you can begin the practical graduate work that will prepare you for your career as a psychotherapist, you’ll need to achieve your undergraduate degree.

If you know that you want to become a psychotherapist at this point, you can go ahead and choose a related undergraduate major that will feed into a therapy-centric graduate degree. A few of the most common majors include:

  • Psychology
  • Education
  • Social Work

If you want to be able to prescribe medicine as a psychiatrist, you might pursue a more science-based undergraduate degree, such as:

  • Chemistry
  • Biology
  • Pre-Med

Regardless of which specific major you choose, look for courses that relate to the field of therapy. These might include introductory psychology, human development, and behavioral disorders. If there is no such coursework on your transcript, you might be required to complete additional classes before you begin your graduate program.

Remember that the grades you make as an undergraduate will help determine the kind of graduate programs you’ll be able to get into, so it’s important to focus on your grades even at the very beginning of your academic journey.

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Complete Your Advanced Degree

If you decide that you want to be a licensed psychotherapist after completing your undergraduate degree, you can begin your career path in a few ways. These include pursuing one or all of the following:

  • Master’s degree
  • Doctoral degree
  • Advanced training

Why are there so many options?

The field of psychotherapy is vast. It encompasses a range of services designed to help individuals work through such issues as:

  • Mental illness
  • Addiction
  • Marriage therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Emotional distress
  • Post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD)
  • Some psychiatric disorders

As such, practitioners who provide psychotherapy don’t always treat the same clients or use the same approaches. Rather, they hail from a myriad of different academic disciplines and educational backgrounds.

Note that while most licensed therapists have a master’s degree or years of study in a relevant training program, clinical psychologists or psychiatrists must undergo more years of post-secondary school to obtain higher doctoral degrees.  

Yet, while the industry itself might be broad, there is one common thread that ties all of these areas of practice together: All psychotherapists must be licensed.

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Complete Your Clinical Work

Knowing that becoming a therapist requires a license in your field, how can you pursue one?

First, make sure you have the preliminary steps completed. As mentioned, you’ll need to have at least a graduate degree or a doctorate degree in a therapy-related field such as clinical psychology, clinical social work, or counseling.

As you pursue your advanced degree, you’ll complete a two-year supervised clinical practice. Here, you’ll get the chance to apply the theoretical knowledge you learned in graduate school to a real-world medical setting.

Not only does this give you hands-on training, but it also gives you a great opportunity to make sure this is the field for you.

This training is often called a residency or internship. Depending on the state where you want to be licensed, most of these programs require between 2,000 and 4,000 hours of training.

Take Your Board Exam

After your training is complete and before you can pursue your license, most therapy fields will require that you take and pass a national exam in your field. 

Examples include the following:

  • National Counselor Exam in Mental Health Counseling
  • Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT) National Examination
  • Examination for Master Addictions Counselors
  • National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification

Your graduate studies and clinical training will prepare you for this examination and will direct you to the specific one required for your field.

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Apply for Your Licensure 

With your graduate degree and a passing exam score under your belt, you’re ready to pursue your industry license. The next part depends on where you live.

Begin by researching how your state labels its requirements for your counseling licensure. Some are specific in nature, listing licenses such as “Addiction Treatment Specialist” or “Marriage and Family Therapist.” Others group the requirements into a more general category, such as “Licensed Professional Counselor.”

Your state licensing board will be able to guide your search, showing you where to look to find your local requirements. You can also contact the National Board for Certified Counselors to get state-specific licensing information. There are also certain boards dedicated to helping you pursue licensure in a specific therapy niche, such as the Association of Marital and Family Regulatory Boards. 

While the exact prerequisites will vary by state, most boards will require at least some form of the following before granting your licensure:

  • Evidence of graduation from an accredited graduate degree program
  • Evidence of completed supervised clinical training hours
  • Jurisdiction-specific licensure requirements

Once you obtain your license, you’re ready to begin practicing in your field!

Achieve a Rewarding Career, One Step at a Time

As you’re researching how to become a psychotherapist, it’s easy to become overwhelmed at the many steps ahead of you.

However, it’s important to keep a big-picture perspective as you attend the classes, hands-on training and clinical work required along the path from undergraduate degree to license. This is especially true if you plan to specialize in addiction support and therapy.

Your work can change the life of someone struggling to overcome the grip of substance abuse and drug addiction, leading them toward a path that’s healthier for both themselves and their loved ones. 

For more information on the power of therapy or to get in touch with a licensed mental health therapist, get in touch with us today.

Understanding the Relationship Between Art and the Brain

Have you ever noticed that art museums are relaxing, wonderful places to be? If you took an art class in school, did you find that you calmer and happier when you left the class than when you went in? The simple fact is that art makes us happy, but why?

The relationship between art and the brain is a powerful one that has more of a positive impact on our lives than we realize. Engaging with art can make us more sympathetic, better at solving problems, and more accepting of ourselves. Read on to learn more about this connection and how something as simple as a coloring book can have a major impact on your life.

Relieve Stress

One of the easiest art effects to see is a reduction in your stress levels. Whether you create full-scale oil paintings or color adult coloring books, you’ve probably noticed that you zone out for a while. Everything sort of fades away and you’re just focused on this piece of art you’re creating. 

This effect of being in the flow in the present moment, not worrying about the past or the future or anything else is called mindfulness. It’s one of the primary benefits of meditation, yoga, and, of course, art therapy. Taking a break from carrying around all the worries you normally do, even for a few minutes a day, can be helpful in processing emotions and reducing stress. 

Encourage Creative Thinking

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that engaging with art encourages creative thinking. Creativity is a skill like any other, and the more you practice it, the better you become. Art is a great way to practice being creative in a no-stakes situation.

If you’re trying to come up with a creative solution to a problem at work, you’re dealing with a lot of pressure to do so. But when you’re coloring or drawing, there’s no risk to choosing an unusual color for something. Having that training being creative when there’s no pressure to make the right choice can help you think more creatively when you are in a situation where the stakes matter.

Boost Self-Esteem

It may seem strange to think that drawing a picture can help you have better self-esteem. After all, what impact could art have on how you feel about your success, your looks, or your accomplishments?

But when you create art, no matter what, at the end of it, you’ve succeeded. That success triggers a release of dopamine and increases your sense of accomplishment. And the more you practice, the better you’ll get, which can help you start seeing yourself as talented, another important step in the self-love journey.

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Increase Brain Plasticity

Brain plasticity is the ability of your brain to grow and change over time. This can help you learn new skills, maintain flexibility of thinking into your old age, and maintain a high IQ. Given the level of creative thinking art requires it should come as no surprise that creating art on a regular basis can increase your brain plasticity. 

Think of your brain like a glob of silly putty (a great image, we know). The more you stretch and mold that silly putty, the more flexible it will stay; if you leave it sitting out for too long, it can become rigid and brittle. Your brain is the same way – the more you get it engaged and trying new creative things, the more flexible it will stay.

Because every piece of art is different, creating art on a regular basis can help your brain get in the habit of trying new things, which will keep it limber.

Become a Better Student

Kids who create art when they’re young become better students for life. Art therapy and music therapy programs seem to have similar benefits for brain development, especially during early life. Students who engage in these creative pursuits gain benefits that last their whole lives.

Kids who make art tend to be less impulsive, better behaved, and more attentive. They have higher IQs and other test scores than kids who are not engaged in creative pursuits. Given the enormous benefits creative programs can have, it’s even more of a tragedy that more and more schools are cutting funding for the arts.

Increase Empathy

One of the other effects of art is increased empathy. And interestingly enough, this benefit can come from either creating or observing art. This effect is a result of the surge of dopamine that happens in your brain when you look at art and the human reaction to seeing a face. 

In shortest terms, observing art is a little like falling in love. You’re looking into this face while your brain releases neurotransmitters that make you happy. This positive engagement with other “people,” even painted ones, can make you feel more connected with the real people around you.

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Improve Health 

Engaging with art can improve your mental and physical health in a variety of ways. On the physical side of things, a reduction in stress levels can mitigate a number of health dangers. It can also help reduce pain, especially in chronically ill patients.

Art can provide a number of mental health benefits aside from the ones we’ve already discussed. Studies have shown that dementia patients who make art are happier, more social, and less depressed. Art can also help improve symptoms of depression, anxiety, PTSD, and more. 

Learn More About Art and the Brain

Many of us think of art as something we did when we were kids and maybe something we might go look at in a gallery once a decade. But many studies have shown that the relationship between art and the brain is a powerful one that can transform your life. You don’t have to become Michelangelo to reap the benefits; just pick up a crayon and some paper and get creating.

If you’d like to discover more ways to improve your mental health, reach out to us at Solara Mental Health. We provide detox, therapy, and mental health treatment services for a wide variety of conditions. Contact us today to start feeling and living better.

Understanding the Power of Music: How Music Affects the Brain

Have you ever been in a foul mood and then heard a song you loved on the radio? We’re betting by the end of that song, you were feeling a little more upbeat. The power of music to transform our mood and our lives goes deeper than many people realize.

Music has a tremendous impact on our brains, affecting everything from our mood to our memory function. Read on to learn more about the power of music and how it can positively impact your life.

Healthier Brains

Studies of musicians’ brains have shown that those who have music as a regular part of their lives actually have healthier brains. Their brains are bigger, better connected, and more sensitive than the non-musical. They are also more symmetrical, and when musicians listen to music, their brains respond symmetrically.

Part of the reason for this symmetry may be that musicians tend to have a larger corpus callosum, the band of tissue that connects the left and right sides of your brain. Musicians also tend to have better memory, flexibility of thought, and auditory skills. Even if you don’t play an instrument or sing, you can benefit from the effects of music by listening on a regular basis.

Improved Mood

You may have noticed before that listening to music makes you feel better when you’re in a lousy mood. Even those of us who have never heard of music therapy before know that listening to upbeat music can lift you out of a funk, and few things are more cathartic when you’re angry than listening to some angry tunes. And if you’re dealing with heartbreak, hearing the things that you’re feeling sung back to you can make you feel better in a way. 

Part of the reason this works is that when you listen to music, your brain releases dopamine. This is a neurotransmitter that gives you a boost of pleasure – it’s the same one that gets released when you eat chocolate, go on a long run, or have sex. And whether you realize it or not, you’re familiar with this boost – that little jolt of happiness that you get when your favorite song comes up on a shuffled playlist is dopamine at work.

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Greater Productivity

Depending on the task you’re working on, listening to music can make you more productive. If you’re working on something that requires a high degree of focus, music can serve as a distraction. But if you’re working on a mundane or repetitive task (say, doing the dishes or folding laundry), listening to music can help you get it done faster.

The basic reason this works is that music lowers your stress levels and makes you happier. As many companies have discovered in recent years, happy people do better work than miserable ones. So if you feel like you’re zipping through your work when your favorite playlist is on, you’re reaping the benefits of music effects on your brain.

More Empathy

Have you ever shared a favorite song with someone and felt more connected to them afterward? This is more than just a statement on what our taste in music says about us as people (though it is that, too). This is another facet of the question, “How can music affect the brain?”

For one thing, studies have shown that when people play music together, their brains release oxytocin, a neurotransmitter that creates trust and empathy with other people. But listening to positive lyrics can act as a sort of subliminal messaging for your brain. Listening to music can make you more generous, more social, and more willing to cooperate with and help those around you.

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Benefits for Young Brains

If you’ve ever seen a pregnant woman playing classical music for her belly, she isn’t going crazy. Some studies have shown that babies who have listened to music smiled more, communicated better, and had more sophisticated brain responses to music. It can also make children better students, raise their IQ, and improve their language skills, spatial intelligence, and test scores.

While listening to music is helpful for kids, taking music lessons is even more beneficial. Children who take music lessons for even a little while early in life tend to have better brain plasticity, the ability of the brain to grow and change. The effects of these lessons can be seen even decades after the lessons have ended.

Benefits for Older Brains

You’re never too old to benefit from music either. One major risk of aging today is memory loss and dementia. But music helps fight that and can help seniors maintain better cognitive function and mental flexibility.

Older adults who have backgrounds in music tend to score higher on memory tests and show more flexible thinking. And if an older adult in your life has already started to show signs of dementia, starting to listen to music may help improve their memory. If possible, they should get involved playing an instrument; this helps fight memory loss even better than just listening to music.

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Benefits for Mental Illness

If you’ve ever asked the question, “What is music therapy?” read on. Music therapy may sound like hippie nonsense, but in reality, it is a powerful way to handle mental illness. It can improve quality of life for those suffering with everything from ADHD to Parkinson’s.

Music has been shown to improve the symptoms of anxiety, depression, insomnia, PTSD, schizophrenia, and more. This is due in part to some of the neurotransmitter releases we mentioned earlier, but it also has to do with our emotional connection to music. Even if you’re in a place with your mental illness where you can’t find anything to be joyful about, listening to a song that used to make you happy can help you remember what it felt like to be happy and help you find a way back there.

Discover the Power of Music

Music is amazing and can improve anyone’s life, young or old, sick or well. The power of music can bring back people lost to Alzheimer’s and shine a light in on people fighting depression. It can make us more productive, happier, healthier, more connected people, so turn on the radio or your favorite playlist and start improving your life.

If you’d like to find more ways to improve your mental health, reach out to us at Solara Mental Health. We have expert medical and clinical treatment and can help you with everything from therapy to in-residence treatment programs. Contact us today and start living your best life.

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How To Heal Your Inner Child In Seven Steps

Today, self-care is more frequently discussed than ever before- and for good reason. Healthcare providers and therapists alike are sharing ways to reduce calm, alleviate anxiety, and make the present moment as peaceful as possible.

Yet, what do you do when your fears, trauma, and hurt run far deeper than the current events you’re experiencing? How can you initiate healing when it’s your inner child that’s screaming out for love, acceptance, and comfort?

Learning how to face the past without letting it control your present and future can be a challenging step to take, but it is possible. Today, we’re sharing seven ways you can combat the issue that cost you your innocence and start rebuilding the life you deserve.

1. Acknowledge Your Inner Child

Before you can start down the path toward restoration, you must acknowledge that your inner child exists. Though it might feel silly at first, talk to him or her if they were right beside you. 

Giving this person a real identity can help you work through the issues you faced together. Start by speaking statements of affirmation such as “I love you” and “I see you” in the mirror, or even visualize saying this to your younger, wounded self. 

You might find it easier to communicate these feelings to your past self through journaling. If this is the case, write letters to your inner child that cover the same sentiments. The goal is to give that child the feelings of validation and affirmation that were absent for so long. 

2. Validate What Happened

Pushing issues down or shoving them under the rug will only work for so long. If you’ve suffered abuse, neglect, or any form of trauma as a child, it’s necessary to be realistic about what happened.

With your inner child beside you, take the time to understand what happened fully. This might mean going over the events in detail, or it might mean revisiting a persistent feeling of shame or guilt. As such, it’s best to complete this step with a trained specialist who can offer coping techniques as you take that painful trip down memory lane.

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3. Identify The Form Of Neglect You Experienced

Even children who grew up in an idyllic environment can have wounds that originated decades ago. After you’ve identified a specific area of hurt, consider the bigger picture surrounding that event or series of events.

At the core of much trauma lies some form of neglect. This can range from a lack of love to a lack of protection, and anything in between. You might have wished you had more resources, more guidance, or more freedom. Allow yourself to feel that void again, and recognize it for what it is.

4. Embrace Your Emotions

Not all inner child work will bring up feelings of resentment or anger, though some might. For instance, you may feel remorse at your parents or furious at a friend or family member. Rather than trying to move past those emotions, go ahead and sit with them. 

This might mean experiencing rage, sadness, emptiness or embarrassment all over again. Talk to a therapist as these emotions travel up to the surface. Often, the only way to move past them and find true healing is to face them head-first. 

That said, be easy on yourself. You might not work through everything in one day or one visit, and that’s OK. Give yourself space and time to process the journey. Take breaks and seek support and guidance from trusted friends, counselors, and coaches.

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5. Identify Current Manifestations of Past Hurts

Do you find yourself engaging in self-sabotaging patterns that stem from past childhood hurts? For instance, if you felt abandoned when you were younger, you might now engage in toxic relationships with partners you know will abandon you down the road. 

Or, you might project emotions of distrust and suspicion on people who genuinely want to be in your life, afraid to let them get too close for fear that you’ll wind up alone again. Whatever the way these past hurts manifest themselves today, it’s important to be honest with yourself and identify them. Acknowledgment is the first step toward moving forward and making the shift toward healthier habits.

6. Take Steps to Fill the Gap

When you’re younger, you fall victim to your circumstances because you are unable to rise against them. As an adult, you can take proactive steps to provide for yourself the things you wish you’d had as a child. 

For instance, if you were in a cycle of poverty in your youth, you can take steps to improve your current financial outlook. Partner with an expert who can teach you how to budget, save for the future, and maximize your income. Or, if you felt neglected and invisible as a child, seek relationships with people who cherish their time with you and make time to keep those friendships alive.

In other words, give yourself what you wish your parents or guardians would have given you years ago and allow yourself to enjoy the freedom that comes with that reward.

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7. Mend the Hurt By Helping Others

Research shows that child abuse, neglect and mistreatment is a global issue, affecting millions of children each year. While you can’t go back in time and change your past, there are plenty of ways you can help change the future for someone who’s now in your shoes. 

From volunteering at a children’s home to serving meals at a homeless shelter, look for opportunities in your community where you can give back, especially if it means making a difference in the life of a young boy or girl. Even just lending a listening, empathetic ear to a friend or acquaintance in need can be your form of service. 

Understand that at first, these kinds of interactions might be triggering for you if they remind you of past abuse. However, over time, you should find that altruism and healing go hand-in-hand.

Heal and Release Your Inner Child

You’ve heard it before, but it’s time to believe it. Your past doesn’t define you.

However hurt your inner child might feel, there are resources available to help you address and work through that pain. 

If you’ve been abusing drugs or alcohol to help self-treat the pain, we’re here to show you a better way.

We’re an internationally accredited and licensed rehabilitation facility dedicated to providing expert medical and clinical care to our patients. Call now to speak to an addiction treatment specialist and let’s take this next step forward together. 

 

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Should Mental Health Be A General Practitioner’s Job?

The landscape of healthcare has frequently been changing – especially in its mental health division. The rate of mental illnesses has reached an all-time high in recent times, putting pressure on the healthcare industry to deliver proper treatment to sufferers of these disorders.

For example, certain statistics explain that, as of 2019, over 43.8 million people will experience a mental illness in any given year. Luckily, awareness is also growing in mental health struggles. Therefore, reaching out for help without shame is becoming easier for those who would have previously struggled in silence with depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or other mental health disorders. 

Under scrutinizing debate is the controversial topic of whether primary care physicians should be treating their patients for mental health concerns. It’s a fairly common phenomenon that, when people begin suffering from alarming mental health irregularities, their first course of action is to seek out a family care doctor. 

This decision is, perhaps, because people don’t know where to turn at first. This choice is likely the smartest and most proper course of action when someone is experiencing abnormal psychological symptoms. However, sometimes, patients make their stop at a family doctor and then go no further.

Psychiatrists Vs. Family Physicians

For multiple reasons, a specialized psychiatric medical doctor must be sought out for concerns specifically regarding mental health. Sometimes, it’s even necessary to seek a reputable in-residence mental health care center to stabilize a patient before they begin routinely visiting a psychiatrist.

General practitioners are trained excessively to treat a broad range of illnesses, but psychiatry is as delicate a branch of healthcare as any other specialty. Therefore, it requires a comprehensive initial assessment and thorough follow-ups. 

The human mind is complex and still being studied for all of its mysteries. Although family doctors are highly-trained professionals, MDs who are explicitly trained in psychiatry ought to be sought out for long-term treatment considering their career-long focus on the human brain. 

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What Exactly Makes Psychiatry Essential In Treating Mental Illness?

Doctors of psychiatry, or psychiatrists, have gotten some bad raps in the past. However, it’s important to remember that psychiatrists nowadays are regulated heavily by statewide professional entities called boards of psychiatry. 

The board of psychiatry in each state exists solely to monitor professionals that practice in the psychiatric industry heavily. They enforce proper ethics and ensure that no improper or illegal actions take place.

Psychiatrists are required to renew their licenses in psychiatry frequently. Besides this, these particular MDs devote their entire days and research time to the human mind. Often, they’re to work closely and in conjunction with clinical psychologists (therapists), thus providing a more specific and integrative treatment plan for clients seeking help for their mental illness.

Thorough Initial Examinations And Consistent, Specific Follow-ups

We encourage those who need mental health services to pursue assistance specifically from psychiatrists that will do a thorough initial assessment of a clients’ life and mind.

Initial psychiatric assessments serve a specific purpose: gather sufficient information to make an educated diagnosis. Initial psychiatric evaluations are typically:

  • Hour-long appointments used to collect well-rounded details of any particular client’s life and mental health history
  • The standard first step in establishing an outpatient treatment plan for psychiatric patients
  • An important way for a doctor to attain a much higher level of insight on a patient’s mental disorder than a quick check-in with a family physician

With an overall shorter amount of face-to-face time with patients, family care physicians and general practitioners are unable to draw extensively-accurate conclusions of a patient’s proper diagnosis (or diagnoses). Improper diagnoses have the potential to cause pervasive damage to those with mental disorders, considering that inadequate treatment may inevitably follow as a consequence. 

Individuals in need of mental health help deserve to have the proper time, diagnosis, and treatment provided to them so that they can reach a sustainable headspace.

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Expertise In Medication

Although many general practitioners are not hesitant to divvy out psychiatric medications, this is probably a better task to leave to a specialist. Sometimes patients visit general practitioners for immediate or urgent help, and it is necessary to treat them quickly with a temporary medication until they can make an appointment with a psychiatrist. However, even in these cases, it may be best to seek a reputable mental health treatment center instead.  

Psychiatrists spend lengthy amounts of time studying the effects of SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) and other mental health medications that are frequently prescribed. These specialists have the most knowledge possible of any type of doctor, including general practitioners. 

Often, these medications are able to work wonders for patients who have been correctly diagnosed and who do not have any adverse side effects. Psychiatrists have the capabilities necessary to closely monitor their patients and watch for any negative reactions until optimal mental stabilization is achieved.

Although a quick visit to a general practitioner regarding mental health isn’t awful, it’s still necessary to follow up on this appointment with a visit to a psychiatric specialist. An ethical, professional, and comprehensive psychiatric treatment plan has the potential to change one’s quality of life entirely and indefinitely. With a proper diagnosis and a well-rounded treatment plan, patients who seek assistance for their mental illnesses are – more frequently than not – able to alter their lives and minds forever.

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Attachment and Psychopathology Workshop

We are excited to announce that we are co-sponsoring “Attachment and Psychopathology” a three-day continuing education training February 18-20, 2019.

This unique training focuses on the development, prevention and treatment of psychological disorder. It weaves together theory, human development, assessment, case examples and treatment applications to reframe maladaptive behavior in terms of strategies for self-protection. The course covers development from infancy to adulthood, emphasizing the process of adaptation and developmental pathways that carry risk for psychopathology.

Not only is this training of particular importance to the clinical community, but Solara staff members have a personal connection to the event. This event is being held in honor of Benjamin Inouye, a fellow clinician who passed unexpectedly this year. Ben was a dearly loved and respected member of the San Diego therapy community, and we feel privileged that Solara is able to support Ben’s passion for prevention of adult psychopathology.

To register for this event please go to trieft.org/attachment-crittenden