Archive: Holistic Health

Coach or Therapist? When to chose one or the other

Coach or Therapist

I’m both a coach and a therapist.  Even when I was offering only therapy, I would often get asked the question “Maryanne, what’s the difference? Why would I choose one over the other?”

I was asked this three times this past week, so I thought I’d address it in my blog, even though it’s dissimilar to what I usually talk about.

A therapist, meaning a psychotherapist – at least in Ontario – is a trained professional who is licensed by a regulatory body to practice. She has proven competencies and a minimum number of practice hours in the field of psychotherapy. A coach isn’t regulated, and the level of training and experience of a coach can vary widely – anywhere from a few weekends to a few years.

I’m going to assume for the purposes of comparison that both coach and therapist have comparable training and experience. So when would I want to see one over the other?

A coach is active, a therapist is more a listener.  Some, including many coaches, believe that therapists see “sick” people, and that coaches see “healthy” people.  I just heard that from a prominent international coach, who always gets this question.  This isn’t true.

What is a “sick” person anyway?  If you’re depressed are you sick?  What if you’re anxious?  Who isn’t depressed or anxious at times?  What about being stuck over some issue that ends up being a huge distraction? If you follow the medical model, then you might believe that someone suffering from depression is “sick”.  I’m not one of those who do follow that model, and there is a growing number of professionals who no longer follow it.

Why? Because labelling someone as sick when they are having emotional issues doesn’t help: if we decide a person is sick, then we look for some external source – like a drug – that will make them better.  But research is proving that no anti-depressant or anti-anxiety medication, on its own, works.  The only thing that works is the therapy that accompanies the drugs: it’s the trusting relationship that is built between the therapist and client that eventually leads to relief for the client (and growth for the therapist, because a relationship is always a two-way street). By the way, this is also true for the relationship built between a coach and client.

With this in mind, when to go to a therapist and when to go to a coach becomes a little clearer.  As a therapist, I work with someone at their pace to help them get unstuck from a very stuck place. I am limited by my regulatory college in what I can do, and it can often take some time before my client is able to resolve the issue they came with. As a coach, I offer a set number of sessions with a specific goal in mind: I give my client weekly actionables, with the expectation that they already have the ability to deal with whatever issues are blocking them with little or no resistance. If in the course of the program, we hit something deeper and less movable, then we can take some time out to deal with it, or I refer her to a therapist colleague, who deals with that issue separately.

If you’re stuck in a place that has you going nowhere and are wanting to know which to see – a therapist or a coach – ask yourself the following questions:

  • Am I hurting enough to be willing to do whatever it takes to resolve the issue; or am I reluctant to let go of the coping strategies that I’ve put in place, even if they make me miserable? This may seem like a no-brainer, but those strategies were put in place for a reason, and it’s scary to let go of them.  Are you ready?  If not – if you feel you need to deal with this at a slower pace, then a therapist might be the better answer.
  • Am I willing to take the time to work with a coach for 2 to 3 hours each week over the next 3 to 4 months? Therapy takes longer, and this might be the better option for you.  Coaching is more action-oriented – there’s more homework – and correspondingly leads to faster results.
  • Am I willing to commit to a 3 to 4 month program? Therapy sessions are one at a time (so that there is no pressure to achieve major changes in a set period of time), and paid for one at a time; coaching comes in packages and are typically paid for up front.  A good coach will be investing a great deal of their time in designing and facilitating a program for you, and to make it worthwhile, will ask for commitment in the form of compensation up front.

No answer is better than any other.  The only criteria are an honest assessment of your needs.

 

Maryanne Nicholls is a Registered Psychotherapist.  To find out more, gain access to her weekly newsletter, meditations and programmes, sign up at www.thejoyofliving.co .

Unrealistic Expectations?

I was inspired to write this after watching a past episode of Marie TV where she talked about times when we are told our dreams are “too big”. I’ve been a dreamer all my life. This worried my mother, who’s one constant refrain to me was “Come down to Earth!”. I know she was worried I’d be disappointed, but her worry created in me self-doubt.

At times, my dreams and expectations are, indeed, unrealistic. Those times always begin with incorrect assumptions on my part that I haven’t verified – often haven’t even considered. For example, as a kid, I spent one full summer turning the clay of the Alberta prairies into bowls and pots, sun baked and water-colored.  My brother and I worked in tandem – he spent his days digging tunnels, creating a maze of ‘forts”, and I gladly re-purposed his leftover clay.  Unknown to either of us – because we hadn’t considered it – was the inherent crumbliness of clay: his tunnels and forts could only work if confined to a relatively small area, being, in fact, shored up by the rest of the field.  We also didn’t consider the hundreds of Prairie Dogs, who habitually dug through constructed clay walls, weakening the structure.  So, if you haven’t guessed by now, the entire infrastructure collapsed one day – fortunately with no one inside.  And that was the end of that enterprise. A little forethought could have saved us a lot.

That was a fun experience, and I remember it that way (kids would not likely have a chance of doing something like that these days).  But other more recent ones weren’t fun – like the time I misjudged a contractor because I thought he came recommended but discovered – too late – that the person who referred him had been paid to do so.  My focus had been on what I wanted and what I was going to do with it, and it blinded me to the incorrect or incomplete assumptions I made going in, and upon which everything else was based. Those kinds of experiences made me doubt myself – maybe I’d bitten off more than I could chew; maybe I was indeed dreaming too big. But the truth is that I wasn’t dreaming too big; the truth was that I didn’t actually have enough trust in myself, and relied on others when it wasn’t justified.  Until I learnt that lesson, I kept spoiling my own dreams.  One friend called this jumping in without looking.

That’s what I did.  That isn’t the only way you can feed self-doubt. Another way is to listen to the nay-sayers that are going to be around whenever you dream big.

The best way to learn to trust yourself is to reality-check your dreams and assumptions. Marie suggests 5 very practical steps to do this:

  1. Frame your dream or expectation. Write it down, because the simple act of writing it down means that you are 40% more likely to achieve it.
  2. Fend off negativity.  Take responsibility for the energy you allow in your life; often we focus on one negative voice instead of the many positive ones.  Allow positive reinforcement, throwing out that one toxic negative voice among the many.  The only opinions that matter are from those who know us, who we admire, and who’ve been where we’re going.
  3. Flood yourself with positive, inspiring examples.  There are so many people who have achieved their dreams, and for most people around them, their dreams were “impossible”.
  4. Fast forward. And listen to that elder you’ll become some day. One big regret of people who are on their deathbed is that they didn’t live the life that was true to themselves but instead lived the life others expected of them.
  5. Focus on action.  The action step is the step that will move you past fear and into your dreams.
  6. And I’ll add one more: check your assumptions. Write them down and then verify them. You might save yourself much heartache, and instead ensure the fruition of your dream.

Dreaming, especially dreaming big, doesn’t mean you’re head’s in the clouds, but it does mean you need to make sure you can make them real, and for that learning to trust yourself and base your actions on solid ground is essential.

Dare to dream – Diana Nyad

 

 Quote of the Week
Expectations were like fine pottery. The harder you held them, the more likely they were to crack.― Brandon Sanderson, The Way of Kings
Announcements
At times we need more  – we know the logic, know what to do. And yet something is still blocking us.  As a registered psychotherapist and stress coach, I offer individual one-on-one consultations. For more information, visit my websitewww.thejoyofliving.co/programs or contact me directly at maryanne@thejoyofliving.co

Healthy body – healthy cosmos

When I look at the state of the world today, I see chaos:  in political changes, the falling apart of established treaties, the local work situation, even house prices and the weather.  It seems we hear one thing – that everything is settling down and the economy is good – and witness quite another.

When I begin thinking of these things, I know I can either feel overwhelmed and helpless, or turn my focus onto something I know I can do. That one thing begins with me – how I am in my world.

Tich Nhat Hanh reminded me of this in his recent quote: Keeping your body healthy is an expression of gratitude to the whole cosmos.

Keeping myself healthy takes daily effort and commitment.  I’m reminded of a young person I met recently who either overdoes or underdoes everything (not that I’ve ever done that!) – he either overworks until he pulls a major muscle, or stays in bed, not eating, isolating from his friends and the world.  At his age, he can get away with that self-abuse much longer than I can at my age.  But eventually, his own lack of self-care will translate into his inability to be present with what’s going on around him, and therefore his inability to make good choices that impact him and those he cares about.

What keeps people healthy? Being happy and contented. And what makes this possible? Good, solid relationships.

Robert Waldinger, 4th director of the long term study of Adult Development at Harvard made this point in a recent Ted Talk, the founders of the study asked the question: What if we could study people from the time they were teenagers into old age, to see what really keeps people happy and healthy?  They were able to study men over a period of 75 years, beginning with 724 men. About 60 men are still alive and participating; and they are now studying the more than 2,000 children of these men.  The men were tracked in 2 groups – the first were sophomores at Harvard; the second were a group of boys from Boston’s poorest neighborhoods.

Throughout the 75 years, these men were interviewed, their wives and children interviewed and observed, their medical records scrutinized.  The clearest message they got was this:  good relationships keep us healthier and happier. Period. Conversely, loneliness and isolation is toxic.

The second lesson: the quality of our close relationships matters.  Living in the midst of conflict is very bad for our health – possibly worse than being isolated. When looking at men who had reached middle age, and trying to predict how they would be at 80, the researchers found that it didn’t matter as much what the person’s cholesterol levels were as how satisfied they were in their relationships. On days where there was physical pain, those octogenarians that were in satisfying relationships reported being just as happy as they were on better less painful days, while those who were isolated reported magnified pain.

Third, happy relationships protect not only our bodies but also our brains. In general, our memories stay healthy longer.

Being human and busy, we mostly look for a quick fix – and building relationships isn’t quick.  Many of us focus on diet and exercise, sometimes to the exclusion of the people in our lives.  But in reality, focusing on building happy relationships is more long-lasting in terms of health than anything else. Yes, caring for our physical is important, but how we live with the rest of our fellows is the foundation.

Happy in Denmark – people helping people

denmark

Quote of the Day

There isn’t time, so brief is life, for bickerings, apologies, heartburnings, callings to account. There is only time for loving, and but an instant, so to speak, for that. -Mark Twain

Announcements

At times we need more  – we know the logic, know what to do. And yet something is still blocking us.  As a registered psychotherapist and stress coach, I offer individual one-on-one consultations.  For more information, visit my website www.thejoyofliving.co/programs or contact me directly at maryanne@thejoyofliving.co

 

 

Our body – the sacred temple that houses our spirit

Do you love and appreciate your body?

This topic came up in conversation with a friend, who reminded me that our bodies are precious. Without our body, we have no chance to learn and grow, or to connect with the world around us.

Most of us have no idea how we’ve cut ourselves off from knowing how we are physically.  Our focus is always on how much we can do or get done, and that can mean ignoring the back pain, or tight calf, or stiff neck … until it turns into something that can’t be ignored.  Then, if you’re like most of us, we deal with it, returning to ignoring our body’s messages once more the moment we feel better.

Our lives are filled with priorities, responsibilities and obligations. Some days are non-stop; we can easily fall into over-stressing ourselves physically. More and more demands are placed on us. We are trained to ignore our body’s signals; to “power through it”. Mind over matter.

And yet, there is only so much our bodies will take before breaking down.  Like the engine that it is, it needs regular maintenance and care; and like any other engine, if it runs continuously, it won’t be long before it begins to show signs of wear and tear.

Learning to sense what our bodies need at any moment is a skill that we as young children knew, then lost as we grew into teenagers. We lost the connection to the subtle signals our bodies give us – the “nudges” and whispers that are saying “slow down”, or “take a break”, or simply “stop!”.

Our body is the sacred temple that houses our spirit.  Without this body, we have no chance to grow and evolve.  It deserves our utmost respect and care.  On those days when I listen, I might hear “slow down!” from that twinge in my back.  If I listen, I’ll still get done what’s essential, finding a better, less stressed way to fulfill my obligations, responsibilities and priorities.

If you’ve lost that sacred connection to your body, and want to regain it, then get reconnected by trying this.

  • Greet your body every morning when you wake. Take a few minutes to feel out how it’s doing and what it needs. Discover how those needs can be met. It will be subtle.  For instance, when I woke this morning, I was reminded that yesterday was physically taxing because my neck felt stiff, and my body didn’t want to move quickly.  So I took things a little more slowly than usual, giving my body time to ease into the day.
  • Check in with your body at least three times during the day.  Set a timer so that you don’t forget.  Rebuild that habit you once had as a child.
  • Take a moment to connect before sleep, in gratitude for how your body has supported you today.

Warm-Heartedness for Healthy Mind, Healthy Body – Dalai Lama

Quote of the Week

Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.
-Jim Rohn
Announcements
At times we need more  – we know the logic, know what to do. And yet something is still blocking us.  As a registered psychotherapist and stress coach, I offer individual one-on-one consultations. For more information, visit my website www.thejoyofliving.co/programs or contact me directly at maryanne@thejoyofliving.co

Getting Healthy is a Team Sport

I was reminded this week by a friend who is going through stressful times, that physical health depends not only on eating well and treating our bodies well, it also depends on how well we feel.  For instance, I can eat three light and vegetable-laden meals a day, get in a healthy 10,000 steps, and a solid 8 hours of sleep, but if I’m also stressed and working 16 hour days, all that effort to maintain my physical health will eventually fail.  These efforts may delay the onset of something serious, but it won’t stop it.

Research shows that our bodies work differently when we’re stressed. In an attempt to conserve energy, our bodies when stressed convert sugars and carbohydrates into fats at a much higher rate than usual. The more we’re stressed, the more this happens.  When we’re in our 20’s and 30’s, we might not notice this as much as we do when we get into our 40’s and 50’s because we have energy to spare and can easily compensate.  But when we hit our 40’s, things change; it gets harder and harder to keep up and our health begins to break down. For this reason, medical experts call diseases caused by stress, such as type II diabetes and hypertension, diseases of slow accumulation.

One activity that can definitely help us in dealing with stress and poor health is to turn the effort into a community one. Humans are social animals. When we isolate, we increase our stress levels. So it makes sense to support ourselves in reducing stress and regaining our health with the mutual support of our friends.

Marie Forleo interviewed Dr. Mark Hyman on how getting healthy requires (i.e., not an option) working and connection with other people.

He found from working around the world that chronic disease is actually communicable, in that it’s a social disease.  Social drivers impact the prevalence of diabetes, obesity and other habits and available foods that ultimately cause disease.  Think of the last time you were out with friends – did everyone order a desert after? And if they did, did you too?  Probably, because we are influenced by who we’re with.
He therefore recommends three things:

  • “Friend” power is more powerful than will power. Use your social network to get yourselves and your community healthy.  We can intentionally help each other live better lives: instead of meeting and sharing ribs and fries, with cake afterwards, why not support each other to eat well, exercise weekly, shop together.  Small groups who do this are more successful getting healthy than most people doing it on their own.
  • Live in a supportive area.  Studies show that just changing your zip code can influence your health.  Does your area support walking?  Are there grocery stores available where you can get affordable produce? It makes a difference.
  • Eat healthy. Food influences our immune system, our metabolism, and the way we store fat.  It affects all hormones, the bacteria in our gut – which regulates food processing. He claims that “By transforming food, you can upgrade your biological software literally within days”.

One thing we don’t realize is how close we are to health – you don’t need a doctor or a nutritionist. What you need is a mutually supportive team.

Sebastian Junger: Our lonely society makes it hard to come home from war

war

Quote of the Week

If you ask what is the single most important key to longevity, I would have to say it is avoiding worry, stress and tension. And if you didn’t ask me, I’d still have to say it.
– George Burns

 Announcements

At times we need more  – we know the logic, know what to do. And yet something is still blocking us.  As a registered psychotherapist and stress coach, I offer individual one-on-one consultations. For more information, visit my websitewww.thejoyofliving.co/programs or contact me directly at maryanne@thejoyofliving.co

Children with PTSD

Some of you may be sitting there this Friday wondering what you have to go home and face. I get it, the weekend is supposed to be relaxing but for many – the opposite can be true. Life is hard and terrible things happen, sometimes to children. It is hard enough to be a parent with a child suffering from PTSD, but then to be a working parent – well, you have a battle ahead and I hope some support. If not, please contact me. I do offer FREE consultations to get you started in the right direction.

If you have a child with PTSD, don’t feel different. Many people have children with challenges as a result of uncontrollable circumstances or violence. You are not alone.  If you are not sure if your child is suffering from PTSD, please know that they act differently than adults with PTSD.

For example; many children will refuse to do things which remind them of what happened, for example refuse to get into a car if it was a car accident.

Many children have sleep problems – they find it scary to go to sleep, and have lots of nightmares or shaking during sleep.

Children with PTSD do have separation problems – not wanting to leave their parents, wanting their parents to be with them at night (even older children and teenagers) and they do ‘regress’ in their behavior, losing skills they recently learned (such as wetting the bed, not being able to talk).

More so, children become irritable, easily upset, easily startled and have panic attacks – usually they are always  on the watch for something bad to happen.

If you know something is wrong at home, and there has been a traumatic life event or change in your life with your children or within your child’s life, please seek help. There is no shame in seeking help for you and your child and no reason to be weary of what you will face at home during this up and coming weekend.

http://thejoyofliving.co/

What Is PTSD?

The myth around Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is that only those who have been to war or beaten and abused as children can end up with it in life. In fact, there are many people who don’t even believe that PTSD is real.

Yes, it is real and NO you don’t have had to go war or have been the victim of childhood physical abuse to suffer from PTSD. Thus, I want to clarify a few things about PTSD in today’s post.

First, let me repost the clinical side of PTSD. PTSD symptoms are grouped into four types: intrusive memories, avoidance, negative changes in thinking and mood, or changes in emotional reactions.

Second, PTSD can come from any type of trauma. Emotional abuse, sexual abuse, childhood bullying, witnessing a violent crime, being a teller at a bank that has been robbed, etc. We all have different levels of tolerance, which impacts how we cope (or don’t cope) with various scenarios.

Now- on to the symptoms:

Intrusive memories

Symptoms of intrusive memories may include:

Recurrent, unwanted distressing memories of the traumatic event
Reliving the traumatic event as if it were happening again (flashbacks)
Upsetting dreams about the traumatic event
Severe emotional distress or physical reactions to something that reminds you of the event
Avoidance
Symptoms of avoidance may include:

Trying to avoid thinking or talking about the traumatic event
Avoiding places, activities or people that remind you of the traumatic event
Negative changes in thinking and mood
Symptoms of negative changes in thinking and mood may include:

Negative feelings about yourself or other people
Inability to experience positive emotions
Feeling emotionally numb
Lack of interest in activities you once enjoyed
Hopelessness about the future
Memory problems, including not remembering important aspects of the traumatic event
Difficulty maintaining close relationships
Changes in emotional reactions
Symptoms of changes in emotional reactions (also called arousal symptoms) may include:

Irritability, angry outbursts or aggressive behavior
Always being on guard for danger
Overwhelming guilt or shame
Self-destructive behavior, such as drinking too much or driving too fast
Trouble concentrating
Trouble sleeping
Being easily startled or frightened
If you feel that you have more than half of these symptoms, it is time to seek out help. No, pills are not the full answer. Prescriptions can help with sleep or help with anxiety, but cognitive therapy is a very important element of recovering from PTSD.

Free Online Counseling

Many people are busy. You’re on LinkedIN networking. You have work to do. Maybe you have kids or parents to take care of. When do you have time to get caught up with all of your personal and then professional obligations in order to take care of yourself?

I offer individual counseling sessions online. Yes, they are secure and confidential and – best of all- the first one is FREE. Yes, a free session of counseling with me. After all, you want to know how this works and if I am a right match to help you with a variety of problems or a specific challenge. If you want to sign up, click here: http://thejoyofliving.co/programs/

How can counseling help? Well, there are a variety of ways to counsel people to help with different emotional and mental health issues. The reasons people seek out counseling is for growth and help and support, not because they are different or that something is wrong with them. With the ability to now offer online counseling, I am able to truly help people in a convenient and confidential manner.

The Huffington Post recently published a great article on the 8 Signs You Should Seek Counseling. The article states, ” Everyone experiences periods of stress, sadness, grief and conflict, so when you’re feeling off it can be hard to know if it’s time to see a professional about the problem. And apparently, those who would benefit from some therapeutic intervention are not seeking it enough: While one in five American adults suffer from some form of mental illness, only about 46-65 percent with moderate-to-severe impairment are in treatment, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

And while identifying and managing diagnosable mental illness is a priority in the psychiatric community, psychological help for those without a clear condition to manage can be just as important. Aside from suffering needlessly, those in distress may actually make the problem worse by avoiding professional help.”

You can read it in its entirety here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/08/11/8-signs-you-should-see-a_n_4718245.html

Want to know more about me and my programs, or just want to read my prior blogs? Please check out my company, The Joy of Living, here: thejoyofliving.co

Abuse At Work!

Do you work with abusive people? It’s very possible and probable. We don’t get into relationships with abusive people willingly (it usually happens for a variety of reasons) and we can’t select the people we work with, either. This is not to say that we are not working alongside, if not for, some very emotionally abusive people.

Do you know how to spot a workplace bully? If not, I’m putting some tips below.

According to a recent study, 72% of all people bully at work. But what is the difference between bullying (not that its right) and being downright abusive? If your co-workers or your boss are constantly slamming doors, being verbally rude and insulting or erupting in angry tirades, but then appear to act reasonably on the surface – abuse is being dealt out.

In fact, isolation is a form of workplace place abuse. If your boss or a coworker instigates malicious rumors and gossip, provides excessive work with unrealistic deadlines, shuns or ignores you in meetings, giving unwarranted, invalid or public criticism, blames without factual justification, swears and provides excessive micromanagement, the abusive actions and bullying are taking place!

I found a great free website that deals with bullying and abuse at work. It has quizzes and resources, which can be accessed here: http://www.workplacebullying.org/individuals/problem/being-bullied/ I can also help you discuss how to be proactive within your organization or company to prevent employees from abusing and bullying one another. Want to learn more about my workplace therapy programs? Please click here: http://thejoyofliving.co/

Stress- What NOT To Eat!

I do spend alot of time talking about how to stay stress-free or find the right therapist to help you work on environmental issues that cause stress, anxiety, etc. It isn’t often that I talk about food. I’m no nutritionist. This said, I recently had a lady come to me because she was having panic attacks. They just started and I couldn’t find any environmental change that was a pivotal stressor for the cause behind the attacks. Then I noticed it…

A large coffee from Starbucks. Each and every session. Black coffee sipped throughout the session. When I asked her if this was her first one, she said ‘no’ without much thought. I then asked what she was eating. Well, it started with a pastry and coffee in the morning. Sugar and caffeine. Lunch was a redbull and often nothing else. Followed by a few Cokes and then a nightcap coffee, she had dinner – which usually had an element of sugar. Do you see where I am going with this? Sometimes the most obvious answers aren’t so obvious.

Her case is one in a million. It was the sugar and the caffeine that were contributing to her mental health issues. Most of the time, however, it is our environment or genetics that cause mental health issues. This said, I’ve done some research and I’ve pulled an article from The Huffington Post on the top foods that can contribute to stress levels.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/07/worst-foods-stress_n_2773760.html

Enjoy!