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New IOS Mobile App to Schedule Appointments

Our new SimplePractice Client Portal iOS mobile app allows you to manage your care while on the go. This HIPAA-compliant app is now available for download on the App Store.

The SimplePractice Client Portal app combines the client portal’s critical functionality with a mobile app’s convenience. With the app, you can:

  • Manage appointments
  • Join Telehealth sessions directly from the app
  • View invoices
  • Make payments
  • Review shared documents
  • Send Secure Messages
  • Opt to receive push notifications when new messages, invoices, and documents become available
  • Manage multiple profiles
  • Enable a Passcode, Face ID, or Touch ID for quick and secure login

Download it now: App Store

Featured

The Upside of Toxic Stress

When it is chronic and untreated, adverse events can become toxic stress and severely impact individual health, social and cultural structure, and economic stability. 

Trauma affects everyone and has known no boundaries. It affects children and adults from all socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds. It is one of the common denominators for individuals receiving services from social services organizations, and its structural disorganization shows up in correctional institutions, jails, schools, hospitals, and the workplace. 

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), “individual trauma results from an event, series of events, or set of circumstances experienced by an individual as physically or emotionally harmful or life-threatening with lasting adverse effects on the individual’s functioning and mental, physical, social, emotional, or spiritual well-being.” [https://www.integration.samhsa.gov/clinical-practice/trauma-informed

The upside of recognizing the commonality of adversity and toxic stress causes us to respond compassionately to ourselves and others! 

Bessel van der Kolk, a leading researcher and author of the book “The Body Keeps the Score,” notes that “trauma is not the story of something that happened back then… it’s the current imprint of that pain, horror, and fear living inside people.” https://www.psychotherapynetworker.org/blog/details/311/video-when-is-it-trauma-bessel-van-der-kolk-explains

This continual horror, triggered by events in the individual’s world, leads to a nervous system shutdown that has repercussions in the ability to read and express social cues, access executive brain skills, and find motivation or purpose in life. For researchers like van der Kolk, the body is key to understanding trauma treatment. This insight into toxic stress opens the doors of hope to helpers burdened by the cold cognitive concepts consisting of thought processes alone. 

Recognizing the body’s role on the mind and the mind on the body has opened the door to new therapies that allow for deeper healing!

Get more healing for you and your family with Ron Huxley’s online courses at FamilyHealer.tv or schedule a session with Ron today.

Featured

Telehealth for Trauma: An effective treatment strategy

According to the National Center for Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, Telehealth or TeleMental Health services are an effective treatment strategy for trauma. Telehealth uses information technology, such as email, phone calls, FaceTime video, and Secure Online Video to conduct therapy services. This technology allows a therapist and a client to engage in real-time two-way interaction. Services that can be provided via Telehealth include assessments, individual and group therapy, psychoeducational interventions, and general therapeutic interactions.

Traditionally, mental health services are engaged in face-to-face, office visits. Just because this is traditional, doesn’t mean that is is more effective. There are times when face-to-face visits are preferred due to lack of adequate technology, challenges with privacy at home, or personal limitations of the client in using technology. In all other situations, TeleHealth is a unique service that provides several benefits, including:

  1. Savings in time and money,
  2. Overcome geographic distance for rural populations,
  3. Increased access to care for individuals with mobility issues (lack of transportation),
  4. Flexibility of appointment times (e.g., out of town for work, babysitting concerns, or other restriction on clients availability like a lunch hour, etc.),
  5. Promotion of physical health by avoiding spreading a contagious illness (COVID-19 or general sickness, like a cold).

Telehealth is not new. It has been used for six decades, in the medical field, and is now being adopted by TeleMental Health as a flexible option for individuals. It is not a “lesser” alternative to mental health care. Outcome research has proven it to be very effective in many areas of mental health issues, like anxiety, depression, and trauma. It also offers convenient support for many general concerns, such as parenting education, life transitions, spiritual direction, and more.

A recent article from the Washington Post points out how global pandemics, like the COVID-19 virus, have shifted the landscape of mental health services through the use of technology allowing more people to attend to their mental health needs. Therapists and individuals may be just blocks away from one another geographically, but medical issues isolate and create an insurmountable “distance” between them. The use of Telehealth or TeleMental Health eliminates geographic and social distance.

The reality is that people around the world are suffering and in need of mental health treatment, education, and support. Children and adults who have experienced trauma cannot wait for medical cures or be punished for lack of mental health access. Telehealth/TeleMental Health is a powerful tool to bring immediate hope and healing.

Learn how to use TeleHealth with Ron Huxley by clicking here!

Read about our security measures and informed consent for Telehealth services here!

SOURCES:

https://www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/treat/txessentials/telemental_health.asp https://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/releases/ser-a0034963.pdf https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/03/23/coronavirus-is-mental-health-emergency-too-we-must-remove-barriers-care/?fbclid=IwAR3JK9PIihf_5_nbwbPtgtC1coPpflzmWnAPEDE5FL5kgjsvCnUix_N74aY

Winter Blues, Go Away!

The winter blues are a real thing. Seasonal depression, also known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD), is a type of depression that occurs at the same time every year. It usually starts in the fall and continues into the winter months. In a given year, about 5 percent of the U.S. population will report symptoms of seasonal depression. Seasonal depression is more common in women than men. The main onset of seasonal depression is between 20 and 30 years of age but it can happen earlier. It is also more common in people who live in northern climates.

Typical symptoms of seasonal depression include loss of self-esteem, hopelessness, diminished interest in activities, low tolerance for stress, extreme mood swings, sleep problems, lethargy, overeating, avoidance of social contact, and loss of libido.

There are several theories about what causes seasonal depression. One theory is that it is caused by a lack of sunlight. Sunlight helps our bodies produce vitamin D, which is essential for our mood. Another theory is that changing seasons can disrupt our body’s natural circadian rhythms. It’s certainly no surprise that this time of year brings a lot of stressors into our lives, and people can feel lonely and isolated on top of it all.

Even if we don’t know why the winter blues come this time of year, the good news is that you can do things to ease your symptoms and beat seasonal depression.

Here are a few tips:

  • Get outside: Spend time in the sunlight, even if it’s just for a few minutes. This can help improve your mood and boost your energy levels. One option is light therapy, which involves sitting in front of a special light box for 30 minutes daily.
  • Exercise: Exercise releases endorphins, which have mood-boosting effects. A moderate amount of activity is the key to maintaining your mental health.
  • Connect with others: Isolation can worsen seasonal affective disorder symptoms. It can be a vicious cycle where we feel cut off but don’t want to reach out, and the process spins on. Make an effort to talk to friends or professionals.
  • Practice gratitude: Studies have shown that gratitude can have a powerful effect on your well-being. It can improve your physical health, mental health, and overall satisfaction with life. Reflect on the things you’re grateful for, no matter how small.
  • Another option is an antidepressant medication. If you think you might be suffering from seasonal depression, talk to your doctor. I know lots of people don’t want to take medication, and there is certainly no “happy pill” but medication may alleviate a lot of your symptoms.

Survival Tips for the Holiday Season

Did you know that 65% of people with mental health issues report that the holidays worsen them? Even if you are not struggling with significant depression or crippling anxiety, you may feel the stress and overwhelm that come during Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year. It is two months of overwhelm and possible re-traumatization. 

This can be due to increased loneliness, financial pressures, memories of past trauma, physical exhaustion, unrealistic expectations, and having to engage with challenging people. All these things turn the time of comfort and joy into the holiday blues.

You could take a pass for the holiday season, go on your own vacation, or pretend it is just another day but if you do choose to try and carry out the traditional activities, here are a few ideas to help you survive them: 

Manage your time and take on a manageable amount of things. Prioritize your day-to-day schedule so there is a fair amount of to-do’s each day. Plan ahead and try to avoid cramming everything into the day before. If you can do shopping ahead of time or order things online versus fighting crowds in the stores, do it! You can order complete meals from restaurants or grocery stores. If you can afford that luxury, divide the tasks among friends and family members, so you need to do more. 

Set boundaries that you are comfortable with and help you feel safe and secure. If you or someone in your family struggles with alcohol, set a limit that doesn’t allow it at the holiday party or dinner. Start your festivities early enough so people can go home at a decent time to keep up your rest, enabling you to wind down after. 

Be realistic about your time and energy. You may only be able to visit some friends’ and relatives’ homes during the holidays. It is hard to say no, but you may have to spend one holiday function on one side of the family this year and with the other next year, or Thanksgiving at one home and Christmas at the other. You don’t have to spend the actual holiday date with someone. You can pick the weekend prior or after to celebrate. Financially you may have to do a zoom Christmas with some who live far away and can’t travel during the holidays. We all hated this arrangement during COVID, but it has its benefits. It is better than no contact.

Give yourself the gift of self-care. Take time to relax, plan evenings alone, meditate and pray, exercise and eat well, and get as much sleep as possible. Keep a schedule for personal grooming, warm baths, massages, play with your kids, a book, and your favorite treat. 

Stay connected to positive, healthy people. It is tempting to stop attending church or support groups or cancel therapy appointments. Now is the time you need it more than ever. Your positive connections will help you manage the stressors of all the negative encounters and pressures. 

Keep up or create traditions and rituals. Many families already have specific practices during the holidays. We always cook the turkey a particular way, share about things we are thankful for around the table, do a Christmas puzzle, open stockings the night before, read specific devotions and journals, and attend a Christmas eve service or mass. Setting traditions and rituals provides structure, stability, and positive feelings. If you still need one, create one or add a new one to your holiday activities. Let it remind you of the reason for the season (hint, it isn’t about the presents). 

If you want help managing the stress of the holidays or experience challenging feelings of depression, anxiety, or trauma, let Ron Huxley help you. Schedule a session with him today! 

Breaking out of Negative Thoughts and Rumination

Do you ever feel like your mind is racing or your thoughts are stuck in a loop? You might be experiencing what’s called negative thinking or rumination. People who engage in this tend to overthink things, strive for perfection, look at the downside of events and miss the good stuff that happened to them.

Coping with negative thoughts and rumination can be a challenge. But it’s not impossible to overcome, and it’s not something you have to live with forever.

The good news is that you can learn ways to cope with negative thinking and rumination without using medications. Here are some things that might help:

1) Practice mindfulness meditation. This involves focusing on the present moment without judgment, especially when you have negative or repetitive thoughts. You can try this by focusing on your breath, listening to music or nature sounds (like rain or waves), or simply sitting quietly in silence and noticing what’s happening around you (or inside yourself).

2) If you are spiritual, pray! Prayer is a powerful weapon against depression and anxiety. It can be hard to pray when you are overwhelmed by negative thoughts, but if you commit yourself to prayer as a daily routine, it will help keep your mind focused on what matters most.

3) Get some exercise. Exercise releases endorphins into the brain, making us feel better about ourselves and more optimistic about our lives. So if you’ve been feeling down lately, try getting out for a run instead of staying cooped up inside all day!

4) Eat healthy foods! Eating well helps regulate hormones in our bodies that are responsible for mood swings (like serotonin). So if you’re feeling down, try eating something like strawberries or almonds—they contain nutrients that promote happiness and contentment. Ever heard the expression: “Your mental health is at the end of your fork”? It’s true.

5) Try writing down your feelings instead of keeping them bottled up inside where no one else can see them except for yourself (and even then, only if you want to share them with others. Grammer and punctuation aren’t necessary. The point is to let that negative go.

6) Identify the areas where you were hurt or traumatized. Destructive thought patterns can result from betrayal, abandonment, unfair actions, and traumatic events. We can internalize external actions and believe we are the problem or too broken, leaving us in a vicious loop of negative thoughts and feelings.

7) Work with a professional therapist specializing in trauma-informed practices and Cognitive Behavior Therapy. Together, you can get to the unhealthy core beliefs causing so much pain and suffering and find alternative perspectives on your life.

Negative thinking and rumination are exhausting. It ruins your sleep, and it interferes with your day. If you want help finding a way out of this destructive pattern, contact Ron Huxley and set up an appointment to start feeling good immediately! Click here now…

6 Steps Adoptive Parents Need to Learn

When you adopt a child, it’s not uncommon to find yourself parenting a child who has been traumatized. The emotional regulation skills that all children learn in their early years were probably not developed as well as they could have been in the child’s pre-adoption life, and now you’re facing the task of helping your child learn how to manage their emotions.

It’s not always easy, but some strategies can help make this process easier. Here are some tips for dealing with emotionally dysregulated children who were adopted:

1.) Learn about trauma and its effects on developing minds and bodies.

2.) Learn about emotional regulation and how it develops in children.

3.) Identify what emotional regulation looks like for your child—what do they do when they get upset? How do they express anger? Frustration? Sadness? Joy? What helps them calm down when they get upset? What makes them get upset or escalate into inappropriate behaviors? And most importantly: what doesn’t work when they feel overwhelmed by intense emotions?

4.) Since every child is unique, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Learn brain-based parenting skills and methods.

5) Identity the attachment styles for each family member and discover techniques that create greater security.

6) Take care of yourself. Self-care is not a luxury. It is necessary to be more patient and resilient with your dysregulated child.

Take a free course on Trauma-Informed Care in the home, school, and community at TraumaToolbox.com.

If you need specialized help, contact Ron Huxley today by clicking here and scheduling an appointment.

Tackle the Tech: Screen Time Tips

Parents frequently complain about how much time children spend on their screens. It can become a daily battle for technology, reaching addictive proportions for many children and teens. They seem obsessed with social media, snaps, and games. When denied, they tantrums and rage.

Before the pandemic, I used to advise parents to limit screens to a few hours per week. During the pandemic, the screen was the only access to school and social support. Being held “captive” in quarantine opened the apps and social media again, forcing parents to yield to children’s demands. Now, after the pandemic, I have to help parents with new ways to negotiate screen time.

According to the website, Defend Young Minds, here are 9 questions that can help tackle the technology by setting doable boundaries:

Here are 9 questions to help you establish family screen time boundaries:

  1. Mealtime. Are devices allowed when we are together at meals at home or at restaurants?
  2. Being present. Do we allow face-to-face conversations to be interrupted by a phone call or text?
  3. Time limits. How much screen time should we spend each day?
  4. Location. Where can devices be used? We strongly recommend that children’s devices are used only in common areas of the house and never in bedrooms or bathrooms.
  5. Bedtime. Where are devices recharged at night? We recommend that devices be charged in the parent’s room at night or where kids will not have access.
  6. Asking permission. Do I need to ask before I download apps or games? We recommend utilizing parental controls to disable downloads without permission.
  7. House rules. When friends come over, what restrictions apply to their devices? Some families use a cell phone basket on a counter to corral devices during the visit.
  8. Family visits. When and where can we use our devices when visiting friends or family?
  9. Courtesy. When we are in public, what are the rules for using our devices?

Instead of dictating all of the rules, involve children in the discussion so that they take more ownership. Democracy is better than a dictatorship! Be sure to negotiate consequences for not following the guidelines. Will there be a warning? Parents always have the final word but working together as a family team is the secret to screen management.

Adoption and a “child of my own”

Adoption is the action or fact of legally taking another’s child and bringing it up as one’s own or the reality of being adopted.

It is a social, emotional, and legal process in which children whose birth parents do not raise them to become complete and permanent legal members of another family while maintaining genetic and psychological connections to their birth family.

In this new family, the adopted child becomes the lawful child of the adoptive parents with all the rights, privileges, and responsibilities attached to the biological child. It is incorrect to assume that adopting is the same as having “a child of your own,” although they are both ways to create your family. Many families who make this error are frustrated and resentful at the child or the adoption constellation system when they realize the differences. This major misunderstanding could lead to a disruption of the adoption process or a disillusionment of the legal adoption.

Individuals who dream of having a “child of my own” and choose to go the way of adoption can have false ideals about a child that “acts and looks like me.” It removes the child’s ability to be uniquely loved for who they are and disqualifies their background, history, culture, and genetics.

A better view would be to have a “child who is mine” and “I am theirs.” This bond is not about ownership but connection. It is not about genetics but generation. It is not about sameness but oneness.

Adoption is not just a legal term; it also has profound psychological meanings. It is not just about who the child belongs to but also who belongs to the child. The constellation of members surrounding the adoptive child includes the adoptive family, extended family, biological siblings, parents, extended birth family, adoption professionals, legal professionals, and more.

Get more support and help with adoption and creating a healthy, happy family by contacting Ron Huxley, LMFT, by clicking here!

School Behaviors: What’s behind it?

Use a trauma-informed lens when dealing with school behaviors / Ron Huxley, LMFT

The school is back in full swing, and parents and teachers may be trying to manage misbehaviors. Don’t be too quick to assume that it is all about MOTIVATION and MANIPULATION. I call this the M and M misunderstanding. Take some time to look behind the behavior and answer the problem under the problem for greater school success.

Consult with Ron Huxley today for additional help…

5 Steps to Overcome Perfectionism

We all have moments where we fall into perfectionism. For some of us, this might happen kind of often. For others, it’s reserved for those special occasions where we have a project where we can’t rest until we get it right.

While occasional super-attention-to-detail is okay, it’s when we make perfectionism a way of life that it becomes a problem. Those are the times when we finally need to take charge of our lives and learn to let go.

Try this:

Start at the Core

Why are you so wrapped up in perfectionism? Are you genuinely trying to become a better person somehow, or are you just trying to impress someone else or meet expectations from those around you? Neither of these reasons is very healthy, and both need to be addressed.

Drop the “Should”

The moment you start using this word in a conversation, especially regarding your action, you’re already driving yourself crazy. Remind yourself you don’t need validation from anyone. You’re good just by being you.

Rewrite the Script

What are you telling yourself as you throw yourself into perfectionism? Do you think this is the path to success? Or do you have other unrealistic expectations of the outcome? Here’s where you switch up your self-talk to get out of any negative spaces and unrealistic outcomes.

Drop the Comparisons

Speaking of self-talk, just who are you holding up as role models? Has this, too, become unhealthy, going from “I want to be more like them” to “Why can’t I have everything they do?” Wouldn’t it feel better to celebrate where you are and all the effort you’ve been putting into things?

Show Some Mercy

Perfection never allows for excuses. If you can’t succeed, you’re automatically a failure. By chasing imperfection, you learn the value of self-forgiveness and the ability to let go of your mistakes in favor of embracing the lessons you can learn from them.

You wouldn’t think these steps are all so essential at first glance. After all, is chasing imperfection worthwhile?

The answer is a resounding, “Yes!” Perfection pulls us away from others and gets us so tangled up inside with worry and stress about getting things right; that we negatively impact our mental and physical health. 

With this in mind, isn’t it time to let go and enjoy life once and for all?