A Guide to Social Learning Theory

There are some Instagram influencers who charge up to $1,000 per sponsored Instagram story.

Imagine being able to charge that much money to make 1 Instagram story. This is a small example of the power of the Social Learning Theory at work.

Humans are constantly watching, learning from, and even mimicking the people around them. Whether we’re watching our parents or a stranger on the internet (such as an influencer), many of us start to become mosaics of the people we watch most.

There’s much more to the Social Learning Theory in this quick guide. We’ll explain the theory and how it applies to different therapy approaches below.

What Is Social Learning Theory?

This theory states that humans develop social behavior by learning and copying the social influences around them- just as a child watches their parent. If you’ve studied psychology, social work, law, or criminology, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of it.

You may have even heard about Social Cognitive Theory- an advanced theory developed by Albert Bandura. This theory emphasizes how humans create and maintain behaviors.

Using the Social Cognitive Theory in education and public health is common. Many public health officials have stated that not only understanding the creation of a specific action is important, but it’s also crucial to understand the maintenance of an action.

The 4 Main Processes of the Social Learning Theory

To better understand the Social Learning Theory (SLT), take a look at the 4 main processes of the theory.

1. Attention

We learn the actions we pay attention to. It would be too overwhelming to study and mimics every action around us on a daily basis.

If you’re a parent, you’ve seen the harsh reality of this process. There may have been times in which you slammed a door while angry and thought your child wasn’t paying attention. But then you notice your child slamming a door the next time they’re upset.

Looks like someone was paying attention!

2. Retention

The retention of an action is the ability we have to remember an action. Retention rates increase the more times an action is repeated.

For us to learn how to behave a certain way, we must notice the repetition of a behavior around us. It’s much like a young student trying to ‘fit in’ with the cool kids. They start to remember the consistent behavioral patterns of the people they want to be.

3. Reproduction

Because we’ve seen someone change a tire several times, doesn’t mean we’re automatically able to change a tire. Reproduction speaks on the ability to reproduce a behavior.

Our physical bodies and environments sometimes limit the behaviors we retain from others. We can’t always reproduce what we see.

4. Motivation

Motivation is the willpower someone has to repeat a behavior. It’s typically determined by an individual analyzing the consequences of a behavior.

The more the outcome outweighs the cost of a behavior, the more motivated we are to repeat it.

SLT and Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy is what most people picture as someone laying on a soft velvet couch, telling a therapist how they feel. It’s your typical ‘talk therapy’.

Those practicing psychotherapy use a variety of tools and techniques to help patients recover from or cope with mental illnesses and trauma. Psychotherapists work with a client to reduce negative behavioral issues to promote healing and peace.

People struggling with addiction, insomnia, childhood trauma, anxiety, and grief often turn to a psychotherapist for help.

How is SLT Applied to Psychotherapy?

As stated above, humans can learn new behavior patterns by watching someone else perform them. Therapists use a controlled environment to teach clients new behavioral and thought patterns.

Have you ever heard a therapist saying something like, “The next time something like that happens, try this…”? Have you ever heard of roleplaying?

Many psychotherapists provide examples of better behaviors that clients can practice, giving them more favorable results. Clients can increase retention of these behaviors by roleplaying scenarios with their therapists.

Unfortunately, due to past coping mechanisms and trauma, re-learning behaviors is difficult for many clients. That’s why it’s important to consistently see your therapist.

What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)?

CBT is a popular form of therapy used by many practicing clinicians. Its aim is to change thinking patterns, then change behavioral patterns.

This approach has been effective for many people who suffer from addiction, self-esteem issues, trauma, PTSD, and eating disorders.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy brings to our attention the effect that unhelpful thought and behavior patterns have on our life and mental health. Reprogramming our minds to think and act in a different way is difficult, but can be done with perseverance and the help of a trained therapist.

Not only may a therapist offer new ways of thinking and acting, but they also build your motivation to perform healthy behaviors by building the confidence you have in your abilities.

A large chunk of the battle is believing in ourselves enough to carry out healthy behaviors.

Watching and Learning: Social Learning Theory

As a child, we learned how to navigate the world by watching our parents. This is the Social Learning Theory at work.

SLT states humans learn and perform behaviors by watching others. We can restructure our behavioral patterns through types of psychotherapy, such as CBT. Learning healthier behaviors than what we’ve been taught is difficult, but possible.

For those struggling with depression, anxiety, trauma, and other mental illness-related issues, Solara Mental Health can help. We’re located in the San Diego area and offer many helpful programs. Contact us today to get the help you need.


The Science Behind Positive Psychology and Well-Being

We study psychology to better understand the human mind and use our findings to improve the human condition. The brain is a complex organism — one that we hardly understand, relatively speaking — but psychology helps us better understand how it affects the way we feel, act and think.

Psychology is not a new practice. In fact, psychology practices date back to ancient civilizations such as India, Egypt, Greece, China, and Persia. Of course, today, it has become a discipline that can be quite refined.

One newer school of thought is positive psychology.

What is Positive Psychology?

Positive psychology is a humanistic approach to psychology that focuses on factors that contribute to happiness and well-being. It is designed to be complementary to other schools of psychology that typically focus on problematic behaviors and thought patterns and fixing them.

According to leaders in positive psychology, Martin Seligman and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, positive psychology is, “the scientific study of positive human functioning and flourishing on multiple levels that include the biological, personal, relational, institutional, cultural, and global dimensions of life.”

One may use principles of positive psychology to improve their self-esteem and self-confidence towards their inherent characteristics and events that have made them who they are. The goal is to foster acceptance and optimism about one’s future.

The PERMA Model of Well-Being

After working through initial theories, Seligman developed an acronym (PERMA) that represents his well-being theory:

  • Positive Emotions — such as satisfaction, awe, excitement, pride, and others typically translate to positive outcomes in other aspects of life. Positive emotions give us hope of a positive future.
  • Engagement — such as with activities that put us in “flow,” where we find ourselves passionate for and heavily concentrated on a task at hand. When we are really engaged, nothing else matters and we can lose a sense of the negative realities around us.
  • Relationships — through bad times a good times, help us strengthen positive emotions. And, many positive emotions are experienced in groups. Even introverted people need relationships, as they are fundamental to one’s well-being.
  • Meaning — or purpose, gives us drive. Meaning gives us context to why we may be engaging with our lives the way we do, through work, school, community, or any other aspect of life.
    Accomplishments — which can be work-based, hobby-based, community-based, etc. Having a sense of accomplishment gives us pride and positive emotions.

These elements of well-being are an end in themselves and are pursued for one’s own sake.

The Benefits of Positive Psychology and Well-Being

The goal of positive psychology is to improve one’s well-being. Positive well-being not only helps us feel good, but these positive feelings can translate to other benefits.

Benefits of well-being include:

  • Improved performance at work, school, and with hobbies
  • Improved satisfaction with relationships
  • Improved psychical health and stronger immune system
  • Improved cardiovascular health and longer life expectancy
  • Improved sleep
  • Improved emotional self-regulation
  • Improved social ability
  • Decreased depression and anxiety

Putting Positive Psychology to Practice

There are endless ways to practice positive psychology in your life and work towards achieving any of the five elements of PERMA.

Some more common examples of positive psychology interventions include:

Writing in a Gratitude Journal

Writing down what you’re grateful for is one of the best ways to find appreciation for life. If can keep you thankful for what you have and act as a buffer against negative thoughts and emotions. Rather than focusing on what could be, a gratitude journal keeps us focused on the present gifts we have in life.

Do this every day, or every other day, and take notice of how it makes you feel over the course of a month. You can always adjust the frequency, template, or focus if you need to change things up. If you’re having a hard time coming up with things to be grateful for, start looking for the smaller things in life that spark joy.

Expressing Gratitude

Has anyone had a positive influence on your life? Let them know.

Sometimes called the “gratitude visit,” expressing gratitude towards someone who has ever gone out of their way to support you — or anyone you’ve felt had a positive impact on your life — can be a powerful exercise. Making other people feel good about themselves, helps us feel better about ourselves.

State in detail what this person has done for you and express your gratitude in tangible ways.

Best Possible Self

Write down a narrative about your “best possible self.” Contemplate the satisfying possibilities for your future self and think about different areas of your life.

This practice can unlock your deeply rooted goals that you may have had a hard time defining. Revisit this practice and make your vision clearer and clearer through at least four revisions.

You may want to ask yourself questions such as:

  • What would I be doing?
  • Where would I be living?
  • What does your average day look like?
  • Would you feel fulfilled?

Measure Your Strengths and Virtues

Measuring your strengths and virtues is a great way to self-examine yourself, discover more about yourself, and reflect on what motivates you.

Seligman and Chris Peterson studied virtues across major religions and cultures to classify them into a system that can be used in positive psychology. The result was 6 classes of virtues with 24 character strengths.

virtues The Science Behind Positive Psychology and Well-Being[Image Credits: PositivePsychology.com]

Try using a template like the one below to measure your strengths and virtues:

Date Activity/Exercise Experience/Emotion Enjoyment Level
(1-10 scale)
Energy Level
(1-10 scale)
Strength(s) used in
the activity

Mindfulness Meditation

Directing attention to one’s own immediate thoughts, feelings, emotions, sensations and experiences can help you focus on the present moment. This is exactly what mindfulness meditation aims to achieve.

Meditation is a practice that dates back to early Buddhist practices but has had a resurgence in recent decades. With this resurgence, studies have largely proven meditation and mindfulness to be an effective tool to improve one’s well-being.

According to the American Psychological Association, benefits of mindfulness include:

  • Stress reduction
  • Improvement in working memory and insightful thinking
  • Reducing negative cyclic thinking
  • Improved concentration and less mental distractions
  • Better emotional stability and regulation
  • Improvements in neuroplasticity
  • Enhanced relationships

Final Thoughts

Living an intentional life, understanding ourselves, and treating both ourselves and others is a key component of a happy life. If we practice positive psychology and strive for positive emotions, engagement, relationships, meaning and accomplishments we may begin to find our lives more enjoyable and fulfilling.

Practicing positive psychology does not come naturally to most people, and we must actively counteract negative patterns to do so. But in time, and using some of the practices listed above, we can make our minds work with us and not against us.

If you or a loved one is struggling to maintain their well-being, consider talking to a therapist or psychologist that can provide the professional guidance you need.

Solara Mental Health in San Diego County is here to help you. Our mental health clinic is available to answer your questions at 844-206-9722.


  1. Al Taher, R., MSc. (2021, August 17). The Classification of Character Strengths and Virtues. Retrieved from https://positivepsychology.com/classification-character-strengths-virtues/
  2. Lino, C., MAPP. (2020, September 01). Positive Psychology Examples: 5 Ways to Put it Into Practice. Retrieved from https://positivepsychology.com/positive-psychology-examples/
  3. Seligman, M. E., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2000). Positive psychology: An introduction. American Psychologist, 5-14. doi:
  4. Davis, D. M., PhD, & Hayes, J. A., PhD. (2012, August). What are the benefits of mindfulness? Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/monitor/2012/07-08/ce-corner
  5. University of Pennsylvania. (n.d.). PERMA™ Theory of Well-Being and PERMA™ Workshops. Retrieved October 12, 2021, from https://ppc.sas.upenn.edu/learn-more/perma-theory-well-being-and-perma-workshops
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Strategies for Better Heart-Brain Communication

Your heart has a mind of its own… Kinda. While it may sound cliche to “follow your heart,” there may be truth in the phrase.

It turns out, according to recent research, that there is ongoing communication between the heart and brain that has a heavy influence on how we think and feel.

The Heart-Brain Connection

We’ve had proof that the heart communicates with the brain in significant ways as early as the 1960s. In 1991, Dr. J Andrew Armour coined the term “heart brain”, describing the heart as a complex intrinsic nervous system that is somewhat a brain of its own.

Research in the psychocardiology and neurocardiology field still has tons to learn, though consistencies in studies tell us quite a bit about the heart-brain connection.

Here’s what we currently know about the “heart brain”:

  • The heart starts beating before our brain has been formed
  • The emotional brain develops far before the logical brain
  • The heart has its own complex nervous system that is independent of the brain
  • The hearts nervous system is in constant communication with the brain
  • Signals from the heart synchronize with and direct many bodily systems
  • The heart makes many decisions on its own

Because of the early development of the heart and emotional brain, stress and emotions seem to have a strong connection.

This is to no surprise as we have known for decades that things like smoking, hypertension, PTSD, and emotional stress are closely linked risk factors for heart disease and strokes.

How the Heart Processes Emotions

In stressful situations, our bodies release adrenaline in a fight-or-flight response. This adrenaline increases heart rate and blood pressure and also signals blood platelets to release neuropeptide Y which can obstruct arteries in the heart.

Even emotional stress, such as a breakup, can cause abnormal contractions in the left ventricle of the heart — causing (quite literally) a broken heart.

Strategies for a healthy, happy “heart brain”

How do we leverage what we know about heart-brain communication? After all, controlling the thoughts of our minds can prove difficult enough. So, can you really control how your heart communicates with the rest of the body and mind?

To some extent yes. While the heart is an autonomous organ, we can take care of it in a number of ways.

It turns out, many things that make us smile and more appreciative of life also make our hearts happier.

Try the strategies below to make the best of your internal heart-brain communication.

Relaxation Practices

Relaxation techniques can have a surprising positive cardiovascular effect. There are a number of techniques that can achieve serotonin-boosted relaxation. A number of popular relaxation activities include mindfulness meditation, yoga, tai chi, breathing exercises.

Yoga has actually proven to be a mood stabilizer and stress reducer by raising levels of γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. And both Yoga and meditative practices have shown to increase serotonin — a crucial neurotransmitter in regulating mood.

Another technique is making a subtle change to the way you think about and talk to yourself. That internal monologue you hear all day makes a difference in how you feel.

Be mindful of negative thoughts and negative emotions; then channel positive energy to transform those thoughts into positive ones.

Comic Relief and Laughter

It doesn’t take a neurologist to know that happiness is a common result of laughter.

When we laugh, our body releases endorphins, which in turn releases nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is known to reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Laughter also loosens blood vessels and can lower signs of aging within them.

Exercise is another great way to stimulate endorphin release, as well as other neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin. If you’re looking for stress relief, there are no better ways to cool down to exercise and crack a few jokes.

Listening to “Dope” Music

Ever listened to a song and got chills? That pleasurable feeling is a consequence of dopamine release when listening to or anticipating your favorite music.

Listening to music has been known to reduce anxiety. This may be linked to the nostalgic connection music often has in our lives. Our favorite songs are often neurologically linked to positive feelings from our younger years when our brains are still in rapid development.

There does seem to be a correlation between what type of music is more mood-boosting than others. Studies have shown that upbeat music is proven to improve happiness in as little as two weeks, whereas non-positive-sounding music does not have the same effect.

A hug a day

… Keeps the doctor away!

Physical encounters like hugging or other forms of touch are known to release the hormone and neurotransmitter oxytocin.

Oxytocin lowers blood pressure and heart rate. It has also been shown to directly prevent heart tissue death (which results in heart failure). Human studies have even shown intranasal oxytocin to stimulate the vagus nerve and improve mental stress test scores. It even showed to reduce chronic pain.

Taking Care of the Heart Brain

Taking care of the mind and body is always a good idea. We tend to either focus on either our mental health or our physical health, typically not both at the same time. And rather than react to a time of needed change, it’s always better to act proactively and preventatively.

Science has made it clear that taking care of the heart and brain are among the most important things we can do to prolong our lives and make for a happier self.


  1. Miller M. (2019). Emotional Rescue: The Heart-Brain Connection. Cerebrum: the Dana forum on brain science, 2019, cer-05-19.
  2. Armour, A. J., Dr. (n.d.). Chapter 01: Heart-Brain Communication. Retrieved August 29, 2021, from https://www.heartmath.org/research/science-of-the-heart/heart-brain-communication/
  3. HeartMath Institute. (2015, March 03). Heart Intelligence. Retrieved August 29, 2021, from https://www.heartmath.org/articles-of-the-heart/the-math-of-heartmath/heart-intelligence/
  4. Halaris, A., MD. (2018, September 20). Psychocardiology: Understanding the Heart-Brain Connection: Part 1. Retrieved from https://www.psychiatrictimes.com/view/psychocardiology-understanding-heart-brain-connection-part-1
  5. Silvani Alessandro, Calandra-Buonaura Giovanna, Dampney Roger A. L. and Cortelli Pietro 2016 Brain–heart interactions: physiology and clinical implications Phil. Trans. R. Soc. A.3742015018120150181
  6. Yuna L. Ferguson & Kennon M. Sheldon (2013) Trying to be happier really can work: Two experimental studies, The Journal of Positive Psychology, 8:1, 23-33, DOI: 10.1080/17439760.2012.747000
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Why Spending Time Alone Is Good For Your Mental Health

Did you know that spending time alone can help you improve your quality of life?

Alone time is something that people either enjoy or fear. Unfortunately, many people struggle with being alone because they’re unsure of what to do.

While being alone can seem daunting, alone time benefits people in many ways if they know how to take advantage of it.

Here at Solara Mental Health, we regularly help people turn their lives around by changing how they think about being alone. We’ll outline why spending time alone is essential so you can also live a better life.

Read on to learn about how to spend time alone and the benefits of doing so.

The Benefits of Alone Time

When spending time alone, many people find it difficult to see what the benefits are. However, you can reap the benefits of alone time if you know how to approach things.

One of the main things we want people to understand is that being alone isn’t the same as loneliness. Alone time is simply time spent away from others, whereas loneliness is the feeling of being without someone.

Voluntarily spending time away from others can allow you to do the following:


When you’re constantly interacting with others, it can be challenging to think about yourself. However, self-reflection is crucial if you want to live a healthy lifestyle, as it also comes with many benefits.

Alone time will make it much easier to self-reflect because you won’t be focusing on others. Approach self-reflection with a positive mindset and use the time to improve yourself as a person.

Become More Productive

Alone time benefits those that are looking to get things done. If you’re never alone, you’ll have a hard time doing anything productive (unless it requires others).

Spending time alone will give you the chance to complete that project you’ve been putting off. The sooner you get things done, the quicker you can go back to being social.

Focus on Health

Similar to self-reflection, spending time alone lets people focus on improving their health. Whether it’s physically or mentally, alone time will ensure you can eliminate toxicity in your life and allow yourself to “reset.”

During alone time, think about the foods and beverages you have when surrounded by others. Not only will an unhealthy diet negatively affect your physical health, but it can also affect your mental health. Things like depression caused by a poor diet can increase the likelihood of feeling lonely, even when around others.

Find Comfort

If you’re someone that struggles with loneliness, spending time alone can help you learn how to find comfort when away from others.

Those who are afraid of being alone often feel that way because they’re unsure how to use their time. If you can learn how to get the most out of being alone, you can have more control over your life. The comfort that comes with accepting alone time will increase your overall happiness.

How to Get the Most Out of Being Alone

Learning how to spend time alone isn’t difficult; you’ll just need to use that appropriately. If you find that being alone isn’t comforting, you can fill up that time with things to do. Whether it’s work or school obligations, exercise, or hobbies, doing activities will help.

Getting the most out of being alone can be done by planning your alone time and eliminating distractions. Here’s how to do that:

Plan Everything

It’s easy to feel lonely when you have nothing to do, and no one’s around. This can be prevented by thoroughly planning how your days will go.

From the moment you wake up until you go to bed, your entire day should be planned, including the time you’ll dedicate to doing nothing. While it may seem excessive, it’ll help you stay active, so you don’t end up feeling lonely.

Creating structure in your life will make the time spent alone more enjoyable, especially if you don’t go out much. If you’re someone that actively hangs out with others, you’ll eventually start cherishing the time you get to yourself.

Get Rid of Distractions

Aside from planning your day, you must eliminate distractions if you’d like to ensure that everything goes smoothly. Distractions can prevent you from getting things done, which will make you feel worse if you’re alone.

Whenever you’re working on something, you should never start browsing social media or random things on the internet. Instead, leave your phone in another room and consider getting something that’ll block certain websites so you can work productively.

Another type of distraction is thinking about negative things. For example, you may be watching TV, and a negative thought may cross your mind. Instantly you want to go down the rabbit hole; next thing you know, your upset with yourself because your thoughts took you to a dark place.

Reframe your thoughts and put your thoughts into perspective. Stop the train of thought you are going down and tell yourself out loud that what you’re doing is not right. This will strengthen your mind in order to take control of your thoughts.

It’s best to be engaged with something as often as possible. You’ll notice that relaxing after a long day of work is enjoyable, even if you’re by yourself. This is because you’ve gotten the most out of being alone.

Start Spending Time Alone More Often

With all of this information, you’re ready to reap the benefits of alone time. All you must do is start spending more time alone to get a better understanding of what exactly makes you feel lonely.

We encourage you to prioritize obligations to make your days more satisfying. If you still feel lonely after getting everything done, you can pick up some hobbies to keep your mind off things.

If you’re having a hard time in life, contact us to learn about how we can help you.


10 Ways Wellness Retreats in California Can Help Your Mental Health

There are few places in the world where you can snag as much sun as you find in California. The carefree life of surfers and hippies looks pretty enviable when you find yourself stressed out by the corporate world.

If you need some relaxation, a place for an annual vacation where you can find mental clarity, and a break away from the daily routine, look into wellness retreats in California. The state with sunshine, mountains, beach, and just about any terrain offers the ideal place for a wellness retreat.

Keep reading to learn about what makes California the perfect place for a wellness retreat.

1. You Find a Full Range of Help Available

If you’re suffering from any mood, mental, or emotional struggles, you can find help at a professional wellness retreat. Professional wellness retreat centers understand how to treat a variety of conditions including the following disorders:

  • Depression
  • Major depression
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Anxiety
  • Social anxiety
  • Panic disorder
  • OCD
  • PTSD
  • Complicated bereavement
  • Childhood trauma
  • Borderline personality
  • Narcissistic personality
  • Dependent personality
  • Schizophrenia
  • Schizoaffective
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Impulse disorders

If your emotional or mental state is preventing you from living life fully, a weekend wellness retreat could help you.

2. You Experience More Than a Holiday

You may think of a retreat as a holiday. However, they’re more than just a holiday. They’re an opportunity for healing and restoration.

Holidays, especially those that involve family, rarely lead to the type of rest you receive from a retreat. You will find silence, rejuvenating nutritious food, and relaxing yoga.

Yoga is a simple exercise routine focused on stretching, deep breathing, and relaxation. You find yourself more rejuvenated and relaxed than when you started after just a simple session of yoga. Yoga has proven itself as an effective way to alleviate stress.

With a retreat, you receive the holiday rest you’re hoping to receive because of the purposefulness of a retreat center.

3. You Form Bonds

If you go on a wellness retreat, you’re bound to form some tight bonds with your companions. If you’re going on a corporate retreat or a retreat with a group of friends, expect to come away closer to your companions.

When you go to a retreat with a group of people, you have a focused, single mindset. You’re aiming to learn, rest, and relax. With this common purpose, you form strong bonds. Conversations turn from water cooler talk to meaningful discussions.

4. Retreats Encourage Stronger Work-Life Balance

Everyone is looking for a better work-life balance. A weekend away from the office, whether you’re going with corporate partners or alone, will encourage this balance.

You’ll quickly discover that you may be on the cusp of burnout. You’ll come away with a renewed sense to accomplish a balance that leads to a more productive and meaningful life both at home and at work.

Plus, a wellness retreat will educate you and your companions on the health effects of mental stress.

5. Retreats Encourage Whole-Body Wellness

Wellness retreats offer the opportunity for physical fitness. You won’t find yourself in the gym for hours, pounding away on a treadmill. Rather, picture hikes or casual walks through nature on trails, soaking in the scenes.

A wellness retreat will inspire individuals to live a healthier lifestyle. Once they receive a taste of how good wellness feels, they’ll want to keep up the routine at home.

Many retreat centers believe in holistic therapy that involves physical fitness, nutritious foods, as well as therapy for behavioral, mood, and emotional disorders.

6. You Learn to Manage Emotional Stress

Emotional stress has wreaked havoc on employees, especially in the past couple of years. The chances that have taken place in the office and the health fears that accompany working in close quarters lead to emotional stress.

A retreat will help you learn to manage this stress. You’ll come away more confident and able to do your job. You’ll learn the dangers of comparison and the power of responding to criticism positively.

As a result, people who go to wellness retreats will have improved mental wellbeing. They’ll be able to keep their emotions in check and be able to do their jobs better.

7. Retreats Give You The Gift of Time

We all know we need to slow down and take a break. But the demands of work and family are always calling.

A wellness retreat forces you to slow down. It gives you the gift of time to stop, breathe, and think. You leave the retreat with a new joy of life and the mental clarity to make better decisions.

You can work with your companions and co-workers to discuss more effective solutions and ways to care for each other. As a result, you’ll take the same care and concern back to the office, and you’ll improve the corporate climate.

8. You Draw Energy From Nature

When you go on a retreat, as much as you may want to, you won’t just stay in bed and drink champagne all day. Instead, you’ll be spending time in nature, drawing energy from it.

Natural environments affect human health positively. They allow you to recover from stress. Plus, you enjoy the physical healing effects of being in nature.

9. You Have Access to Experts

Individuals who lead retreats are experts in their field. They understand how to teach stressed-out people to relax. They know all the tips and tricks for lowering blood pressure naturally.

Additionally, you can personalize the session to your particular mental, emotional, and physical needs. You leave with the tools you need from experts on how to handle your stressful life.

10. You’ll Make Better Decisions

Earl Miller, an MIT neuroscientist, conducted studies that revealed multi-tasking actually negatively affects our brains. A wellness retreat will teach you mindfulness and the ability to focus on the task at hand. As a result, you’ll come away as a better and more efficient decision-maker.

Book Wellness Retreats in California Today

Wellness retreats in California will solve your anxiety problems. You’ll be able to soak in the California sun and breathe in the fresh California air. You’ll come away from the retreat a more productive employee and a better person overall.

Are you looking for a retreat center? Contact us. We can set up a retreat for you and your companions today.

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.


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 one-on-one therapy, 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.

San Diego Mental Health Treatment Center

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.

Mental Health Treatment in San Diego

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.

Psychiatrist and Therapy in San Diego

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.