When The Going Gets Tough….

As a clinician in the field of counseling, every day is not a good day.

We find ourselves working with clients that are challenging and being assigned clients that seem to be beyond difficult, leaving us to wonder if we really know how to provide services and help them to improve.

I want to remind each of you that on days like this, “When the Going Gets Tough….. Continue EMERGING”!!!!!

We are never going to be the perfect clinician.

We are always going to walk away from session wondering what we could have done different.

Better yet, we are going to question if we are even cut out to do the work required of a clinician.

Always remember, each experience is a learning experience.

What you learn from the experience and how you apply it to yourself and the work you do as a clinicians, is what is the most important.

Trust me, I was once in your shoes and experienced some of the same anxieties, fears, and doubts as you have and/or currently are. Believe it or not, I have days when I still have these experiences. It is human nature. It is in these moments we grow, evolve, and EMERGE the most.

Take some time out of your day to breathe and remind yourself that you are “EMERGING”.

EMERGE On!

Life Is Really All About…..

What is life is really all about?

Ultimately, it’s about FEELING the way you want to feel.

Grateful.

Confident.

Excited.

Inspired.

Joyful.

HAPPY.

It’s about knowing who you are and what you were created for.

It’s about being in alignment and walking in your purpose so that you can inspire others to do the same.

The secret is that you can BE all of that and FEEL all of that right now, as you are, with what you have.

Call To Action….. Let’s MAKE SOME NOISE!

As counselors, the work we do on a daily basis extends far beyond the clinical setting. Considered human/social service professionals, our most important work is that of advocating on the behalf of our clients; ensuring their well-being and overall quality of life is at its best.

Recently the world became familiar, almost 3 months to late, with the untimely, uncalled for, and senseless murder of Mr. Ahmaud Arbery in Brunswick, Georgia. Hunted down while jogging, the perpetrators had no compassion and/or regard for this young African American man’s life and up until the evening of May 7th, 2020, when arrested by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and booked into the Glynn County Jail, had remained free to continue living their lives as if Ahmaud’s life did not matter.

So many times, we are faced with hearing about and watching the news of other African Americans being senselessly killed, yet we don’t necessarily think that we will ever have to experience such in our own neighborhoods and/or surrounding counties.

While this case hits home for me, as I was reared and have resided in Coastal Georgia for 38 years of my life, I am well aware that this case resonates with so many more, directly and indirectly.

The violent, unjust, and oppressive acts perpetrated upon ethnic minorities has become all to common in our lives and there comes a time when we as human/social service professional, more specifically: counselors, social workers, marriage and family therapist, psychologist, and other behavioral providers, can no longer be complicit and begin to bring awareness not only to the social injustices and/or oppressive acts but also the the psychological impact these acts have on ethnic minorities and their allies.

With that being said, I am issuing a CALL To ACTION for the many Counselors, Social Workers, Marriage and Family Therapist, and Psychologist to come together and MAKE SOME NOISE!
It is time that we not only offer our clinical services to our community, but that we begin to ADVOCATE for and STAND alongside our communities.

Let’s MAKE SOME NOISE in the name of Multiculturalism, Social Justice, and Advocacy for not just Ahmaud Arbery but all of the African American men and women who have been unjustly killed.

Lets Rally, Use our Social Media Platforms to Educate, Empower, and Call out Injustices, Write our Local/State/National Legislative Leaders, Publish Op-Eds, Write and Sign on to Petitions demanding Justice!

Current Petition Campaign(s)

In order to Effect Change we must DEMAMD Change!!!!

Please sign this Petition to the State Bar to hold Jackie Johnson accountable for her gross diligence and Prosecutorial Misconduct!

Petition for J. Johnson Resignation

Dear Black Men…..

Dear Black Men:

I know, many have said they love you but that’s just not enough anymore.

I can only imagine what you are feeling inside….

Anger…..

Rage…..

Disgust….

Hurt….

Frustrated….

Upset….

Tired…..

Exhausted….

Fearful….

Scared….

….. and I am sure the list of emotions could go on and on.

I shared in this pain with you.

My heart aches at the thought of this world being so damn cowardly.

Your skin tone and your body stature is not intimidating, yet, there are some who menace at the idea of your black masculinity.

Black Men, you deserve so much more.

You deserve to be honored and revered for the amount of strength you display day in and day out in a world that continues to perpetrate harm upon you and doesn’t believe your life matter.

Black Men, your life matters to me and so many others and we stand beside and in front of you ensuring that everyone else know that we are in this with you.

We will fight these injustices and oppressive acts until we can’t fight anymore and when we are done know that the torch will be passed on to others that will continue the fight.

Black Men, you will get the the respect and justice you deserve. Trust and Believe we will make sure to see that through.

Black Men, I am here with you so never feel you are alone.

Black Men: you are my son, my brothers, my cousins, my uncles, my grandfathers, my nephews and my friends.

~Dr. Karla Sapp

May is Mental Health Awareness Month…..

Do You Know Your Tools2Thrive?

While 1 in 5 people will experience a mental illness during their lifetime, everyone faces challenges in life that can impact their mental health. The good news is there are practical tools that everyone can use to improve their mental health and increase resiliency – and there are ways that everyone can be supportive of friends, family, and co-workers who are struggling with life’s challenges or their mental health.

This May is Mental Health Month we are highlighting #Tools2Thrive – what individuals can do daily to prioritize their mental health, build resiliency in the face of trauma and obstacles, support those who are struggling, and work towards a path of recovery.

One of the easiest tools anyone can use is taking a mental health screen at mhascreening.org when they need answers. It’s a quick, free, and private way for people to assess their mental health and recognize signs of mental health problems.

This May, we are also exploring topics that can help you build your own set of #Tools2Thrive – recognizing and owning your feelings; finding the positive after loss; connecting with others; eliminating toxic influences; creating healthy routines; and supporting others – all as ways to boost the mental health and general wellness of you and your loved ones.

When it comes to your feelings, it can be easy to get caught up in your emotions as you’re feeling them. Most people don’t think about what emotions they are dealing with but taking the time to really identify what you’re feeling can help you to better cope with challenging situations. It’s ok to give yourself permission to feel. We also know that life can throw us curveballs – and at some point in our lives we will all experience loss. It may be the end of a relationship, being let go from a job, losing a home, or the death of a loved one. It is natural to go through a grieving process. By looking for opportunity in adversity or finding ways to remember the good things about who or what we’ve lost, we can help ourselves to recover mentally and emotionally.

It also is true that connections and the people around us can help our overall mental health – or hurt it. It’s important to make connections with other people that help enrich our lives and get us through tough times, but it’s equally important to recognize when certain people and situations in life can trigger us to feel bad or engage in destructive behaviors. Identifying the toxic influences in our lives and taking steps to create a new life without them can improve mental and physical health over time. And we know that work, paying bills, cleaning, getting enough sleep, and taking care of children are just some of the things we do each day – and it is easy to be overwhelmed. By creating routines, we can organize our days in such a way that taking care of tasks and ourselves becomes a pattern that makes it easier to get things done without having to think hard about them.

For each of us, the tools we use to keep us mentally healthy will be unique. But we are wanting everyone to know that mental illnesses are real, and recovery is possible. Finding what work for you may not be easy but can be achieved by gradually making small changes and building on those successes. By developing your own #Tools2Thrive, it is possible to find balance between work and play, the ups and downs of life, and physical health and mental health – and set yourself on the path to recovery.

For more information, visit www.mhanational.org/may.

Living on High Alert: COVID-19, Fear, and the Brain Part One: Understanding the Emotional Response

During this unprecedented time of COVID-19 many are experiencing one of the oldest reactions, also known as an emotional response, known to humans, FEAR.

FEAR of going out in the public…

FEAR of being in close proximity of others…

FEAR of contracting and/or being diagnosed with COVID-19…

FEAR of the potential consequences of contracting and/or being diagnosed with COVID-19…

FEAR of potentially infecting others with the virus, unintentionally…

FEAR of being asymptomatic and not knowing one has the virus…

FEAR of family members, especially those who are elderly and/or have significant medical concerns, contracting COVID-19…

FEAR of losing loved ones, close friends, and/or co-workers due to complications from COVID-19…

FEAR of what will happen to the world and its people…

FEAR of not being able to pay one’s bills…

FEAR of losing one’s job…

FEAR of not having enough money to buy food and/or necessities…

FEAR of going to the store and there are no necessities left for one to purchase…

FEAR of just about any and every things that is associated with this bleak time in our country’s history…

So where does one’s emotional response, more specifically FEAR, to COVID-19 originates?

Fear, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is an unpleasant and often strong emotion caused by the anticipation of danger (Merriam-Webster, 2020). It often initiates in the brain and extends throughout one’s body making adjustments for what it considers to be the best way to defend oneself.

The most common defense is known as the flight or fight response. This response originates in the region of the brain called the amygdala. The amygdala is an almond shaped cluster of nuclei located in the temporal lobes of the brain has several functions.

One of those functions is the processing of and controlling one’s emotional responses. Therefore, the amygdala not only processes the fear one may experience but is also controls the fear being experienced, which has been associated with most emotional disorders.

Now I am sure you are trying to figure what all of that means and if I was you, I would too.

Ultimately, COVID-19 has triggered a fear response in the amygdala of many, activating several areas in their brains needed to prepare the flight or fight motor functions responses.

As a result of the amygdala experiencing a response to the fear associated with COVID-19, several bodily reactions can, have, and will take place.

Those reactions include the following: dilated pupils, increased breathing as the bronchi begins to dilate resulting in an elevated heart rate and the potential for one’s blood pressure to rise, sweating, inability to sleep and/or restlessness, goose bumps, digestive issues, and many more physical responses.

Fear, as an emotional response, can be very taxing on one’s. However, it is important to note the response is different among individuals.

While it may seem and even feel scary, fear is one of the most important emotions one can experience as it influences how one may respond to situations that could potentially cause harm to you.

How has the FEAR you are experiencing due to COVID-19 influenced your daily routine?

Be on the lookout of Part 2: Understanding One’s Cognitive Response as a Result of their Emotional Response in the coming weeks!

References:

Amen, D. G. (2000) Change Your Brain, Change Your Life: The Breakthrough Program for Conquering Anxiety, Depression, Obsessiveness, Anger, and Impulsiveness. New York: Times Books.

“Fear.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fear. Accessed 27 Apr. 2020.

Psst…. I’ve Got Something To Say!

Can I have just a brief moment of your time?

I promise I won’t take long.

There is just something I really need to say to you……

…. is it okay for me to say it?

Okay, here it goes…..

I think you are AMAZING!

You are doing such a WONDERFUL job!

The WORLD needs more individuals like you!

You are truly making a POSITIVE IMPACT in the lives of others through the work you do each and every day!

Yes, you are APPRECIATED and you are being noticed!

Take a moment and just BREATHE!

Make your self a PRIORITY!

Sometimes as individuals we find ourselves so wrapped up in our daily task that we often overlook ourselves.

On this Fantastic Friday, I wanted to put a smile on your face and remind you that you are not alone. You have a support systen who believes in you and rooting you on.

Enjoy the small things!

Embrace what LIFE has to offer you!

You are PURPOSELY DESIGNED for this moment and many moments to come!

COVID-19 & Distancing: It’s More PHYSICAL than it is SOCIAL!!!!!

For many, adapting to the this new-normal brought about by the unprecedented coronavirus, also know as COVID-19, has been quite difficult.

We are consistently thinking about and yearning for what use to be our normal lives.

We aren’t as active as we once were, with many confined to their homes unless they are leaving for essential purposes, which includes work, grocery shopping, medical appointments and so forth. But let’s be real even those essential activities seem very isolating given the physical distancing guidelines of six feets (6 fts.).

Notice that I have re-termed the phrase “social” distancing to “PHYSICAL” distancing.

I am sure you are probably wondering why I did such and the explanation is quite simple.

When I hear the term “social” distancing, I immediately cringe because the reality is that while we have to maintain a “physical” distance from our peers and individuals in our community we live in a time where we are still able to interact socially with one another through the use of technology (i.e. Facebook, Instagram, video messaging services, virtual services, etc), . Therefore, we are practicing “PHYSICAL” distancing and not “social” distancing

We, as humans, thrive on social interaction and being able to communicate with others is such a necessity in our lives.

Social interaction is pivotal to individuals, young and old, overall development. Social interaction influences ones physical, emotional, and mental state. More specifically, social interaction has been found to boosted ones mood, reducing their risk for depression, provide sharper mind by giving individual the opportunity to engage in instrumental cognitive processing and reduces ones risk for severe and chronic medical illness.

Althougth COVID-19 has significantly impacted the world, we do not have to allow it to adversely effect how we interact with others.

Yes, it may take some creativity on our behalf and no we may not be able to interact with others how we use to, but what is important and that we can still interact with others.

Send emails…..

Schedule video calls…….

Host virtual get-togethers and even secure/supervised virtual play dates for your children…….

Have conference calls….

Do whatever it takes, within the context of the “physical” distancing to ensure you are still engaging in social interaction with your loved one and friends.

Just because COVID-19 has limited us physically, we should not allow it to limit us socially.

Let’s practice “Physical” distancing while engaging in “Social” interactions!

Self-Care if the Best Care……. A Reminder for Counselors during COVID-19!

I am sure by now your days and weeks are now running together and you are unsure of how much longer you can endure the new normal we are all trying our best to adjust to.

Our clients have begun experiencing a heightened sense of anxiety and our families seem to not understand exactly why we are having to, for some still go to work, and why others are having to find a quiet place in our homes to so that we can still provide counseling services during this uncertain and chaotic time.

I can only imagine that this all seems to much for even you, the HELPER and EMPHATIC Counselor, can bear; yet, in it all you are handling the intense pressure well.

Today, I wanted to ask you one question…………

How are you taking care of yourself during COVID-19?

Self Care is the Best Care and in these day and weeks SELF-CARE will be paramount to your ability to continue providing the services that you are to your clients, as well as maintain your health and overall well-being.

While it sounds good to say that you are practicing mindfulness or using stress relieving activities, the reality of it is that none of these techniques and/or activities will be beneficial to you if you are not taking good care of yourself.

But isn’t utilizing techniques such as mindfulness and/or engaging in stress relieving activities what taking care of yourself consist of?

Sure it is, to some extent, however, there is more to taking care of yourself that just therapeutic techniques and stress-relieving activities.

Taking care of ourselves, personally and professionally, consist of many aspects of our lives across various domains.

Physical Self-Care involves us making sure that we are getting adequate sleep, eating healthy, and engaging in exercise on a very consistent, or should I say DAILY basis?

Social Self-Care requires us to make sure that we are maintaining healthy and meaningful relationships with others, to include our significant other, children, other family members and our friends. Social Self-Care also requires us to have healthy communication and time spent engaging in activities that would nurture those relationships that are meaningful.

Intellectual Self-Care includes us doing things that will stimulate and fuel our mind/brain, as well as our creativity, to include: reading books, learning something new, drawing, coloring, completing puzzles, etc.

Spiritual Self-Care is about us as individual developing a deeper sense of meaning and understanding, as well as having a connection with the universe.

A-Vocational Self-Care involves us engaging in those leisure activities we enjoy doing, to include: writing poetry, taking a walk, playing video games, gardening, playing basketball, etc.

Emotional Self-Care is how we deal with and manage those unhealthy and uncomfortable emotions that we are experiencing. Emotional Self-Care includes activities that will help you identify, acknowledge, and express your emotions in an healthy manner on a consistent basis.

Economic Self-Care involves how we manage our finances, automobiles (transportation), and homes (living arrangements).

………………………….. and lastly;

Occupational Self-Care involves are ability to enjoy the work that we are doing and establish and maintain a work-home life balance.

Having realized that Self-Care involve so many domains, what we realize is that self-care is not a one size fits all strategy.

Ultimately, your self-care is specific to you as a person and professional and I encourage you to begin developing your a self-care plan today. You don’t have to tackle every area immediately, but rather, I encourage you to identify those areas in which you struggle more often than not and begin identifying activities that you can do so that you are not struggling and begin taking better care of yourself.

When care for yourself, you will find that you are able to doing things more effectively and efficiently.

Schedule time each day to focus on your individual needs and begin making your self-care a priority!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

* Please note that the self-care domains are adapted from Dr. Karla Sapp’s “WHOLE-Self Paradigm of Wellbeing”. For more information or to learn about the “WHOLE-Self Paradigm of Well-Being”, please feel free to contact Dr. Sapp. *