A new online talk show filmed in Muskingum Township airs its fourth episode today at 6:15 p.m.
The host: Doug Pfeifer, CEO of Life and Purpose Behavioral Health.
The show: Therapy Talk.
The platform: YouTube.
The first two episodes feature Pfeifer and Director of Clinical Services Janice McFarland discussing mental health and some goals of going to therapy.
The third, which aired right before Thanksgiving, touched on self-regulation and listening skills in a politically charged time.
Today’s episode looks at trauma.
“This is a great way to maybe reach people and reduce stigma and educate people on just even what therapy is and different perspectives, different issues,” explained Pfeifer on Wednesday, noting that the project is rooted in modeling discourse and building understanding.
He said the idea grew out of a natural love of podcasts, and the consistent discourse he has with McFarland as the two strive to guide and grow the clinical business.
“Janice will come into my office and we will just talk for like an hour straight, no problem,” he described. “About clinical stuff, about treatment and the same thing (happens) with other people, I can sit down and just kind of chat and really enjoy it.”
So why not share those conversations, both with people of like minds and with those of different backgrounds, while letting the world to see the dialogue and better understand multiple facets of mental wellness.
“We really need to remove the idea that mental health is less important or less real than physical health,” said McFarland. “My hope is that people take from this that there’s more to mental health than just a diagnosis. Your journey with your mental health does not stop at a diagnosis. The diagnosis is meant to inform treatment.”
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, symptoms of anxiety disorder and depressive disorder increased considerably in the United States between April and June of this year, compared with the same period in 2019.
Of those studied, 11 percent reported seriously considering suicide this summer, 26 percent reported symptoms of trauma- and stressor-related disorder related to coronavirus and 13 percent reported substance use (illegal or prescription drugs, alcohol) to cope with stress or emotions related to coronavirus.
About 41 percent of adults completing the online survey reported an adverse mental or behavioral health condition.
The authors of the subsequent study then chose to recommend that community-level prevention efforts prioritize young adults, racial/ethnic minorities, essential workers and unpaid adult caregivers, who were more likely to report mental health challenges.
“Even though we see a lot of people in the community for services, there’s still a (part of the) community that struggles with mental health but might not be accessing those services,” said Pfeifer. “Or they’re struggling because, life is tough, but they don’t necessarily need full-blown mental health (treatment) but at least need to know that it’s safe to ask for help.”
That could be a single check-in to build a rapport or find a sounding board, Pfeifer and McFarland explained, a person doesn’t have to be in acute crisis to seek help.
“Nowhere else in the health field is (care) really stopped at a diagnosis, unless the diagnosis is terminal,” said McFarland. “And even then we have hospice, we have palliative care, we have things available to make people comfortable.”
REDUCING STIGMA OF THERAPY
“I think there’s still quite a bit of misunderstanding that as a therapist, I’m supposed to give you the answers,” McFarland explained. “That’s not my job, because it’s not my life, and they’re not my consequences, and I don’t have to live with them. My job is to create a relationship with you that’s different from any other relationship you’ve had with another human so that I can be completely non-judgmental.”
Then, she explained, provide assessment and feedback to work with you to help map out the steps for your goals.
“I don’t have a magic wand that I can wave that’s going to all of a sudden change your behavior so that your family is happy with you or your friends are happy with you,” said McFarland. “My job as a therapist is to help you identify the things that are in the way of you having your best life and then putting together a plan with you to address those things.”
The pair talk about therapy and the mental stretching and work which can be facilitated in therapeutic settings in the first two episodes of “Therapy Talk.”
But the company has also produced through Final Shine Productions a series of shorter video clips called “Teaching Gems” utilizing both Pfeifer’s clinical background and the voices of other active clinicians which Mid-Ohio Valley residents would see if seeking an appointment.
“These are skills that you shouldn’t have to come to therapy for, to get,” said Pfeifer. “We’d love to impart this knowledge just for everybody.”
In the last three weeks, those gems have focused on the power of breath, regulating stress and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
“Everybody should know how to breathe better, and use breathing to regulate,” explained Pfeifer. “(When thinking) well I’m not able to focus very well right now, I (must) have ADHD … so why not throw out a video about what ADHD is, what does it mean and what you can do to deal with it? How do you deal with stress?”
With more than one answer or pathway to deal with these “alarming” moments or diagnoses, Pfeifer and McFarland noted, the community as a whole can learn on its own time from these coaching videos.
“If somebody is constantly preaching at you, telling you what to do … and making it seem like that’s the only way to do things,” McFarland described. “That might be a red flag that perhaps this person is just a very direct team member and not necessarily the coach.”
BUILDING YOUR TEAM
Building a healthy, natural support system can look different for everyone, they explained.
But there are common characters in a team that is beneficial to one’s mental wellness.
“I tell everybody you need a coach,” described McFarland. “You need somebody that’s synthesizing all of the information from all of the players, and making sure that you feel supported. So for some people, that’s a family member. Other people, it’s a friend that’s become like a family member. For some people, their therapist is their coach or their sponsor in a 12-step fellowship is their coach. But there should be a coach, there should be somebody that you know, can balance all of these things.”
Then the rest of the lineup includes the funny friend, the listener, the reprieve and the mirror holder.
“I want to have a friend that if I call them they’re gonna make me laugh and I know that they’re gonna make me laugh,” Pfeifer described.
The listener, he explained, is the one that doesn’t provide a solution, but lets venting occur.
“Do I have that friend that is just going to listen and reflects back what I’m dealing with? That just makes me feel good because I feel understood,” he added.
In contrast, the mirror holder is the challenger, a reduction of the echo chamber.
“I have that friend that is going to hold the mirror up and let me know that I’m getting in my own way,” Pfeifer described. “So how do we use those support networks?”
Both described those networks working in tandem with one’s awareness of the variety of personal tools available for use when stress increases, one’s focus is impaired or crisis strikes.
“If we can help those folks understand mental health better, then they can better give help,” Pfeifer added. “A friend could be on the phone with you when you’re in Walmart (and say) remember the coping skill that your therapist talked to you about, you know, take some deep breaths …”
HOW TO PARTICIPATE
Today, Episode 4: “Trauma, Reporting, Safe Spaces and Listening” airs on YouTube at 6:15 p.m. and can be accessed here:
Past episodes may be viewed at https://bit.ly/TherapyTalk–LifeAndPurpose
Next week’s topic is suicide prevention.
Topic requests, suggestions and guest inquiries may be sent to [email protected]
Janelle Patterson may be reached at [email protected]
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