Category Archives: coaching

Study on Playfulness Helps With Depression

Playfulness Training Exercises Show Promise as a Way to Ward off Depression

New research suggests that one week of daily “playfulness training exercises”—which are done 15 minutes before going to bed and are designed to make adults more playful—can lead to increased playfulness for weeks after the seven-day intervention.

Playfulness To help with Depression

Notably, boosting playfulness in someone’s daily life was associated with fewer depressive symptoms and an uptick in well-being scores. These findings (Proyer et al., 2020) were published on Aug. 25 in Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being.

First author René Proyer of Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU) in Germany and co-authors found that their playfulness-based interventions “increased expressions in all facets of playfulness, had short‐term effects on well‐being, and ameliorated depression.”

For this study, Proyer and Kay Brauer of MLU collaborated with the University of Zurich’s Fabian Gander and Garry Chick of Penn State. According to an MLU news release about this study: “Until now it had been unclear whether playfulness could be trained and what effects this might have on people.”

This randomized, placebo‐controlled playfulness intervention study involved 533 participants assigned to one of three different “seven-day playfulness training groups” or a placebo group. To the best of my knowledge, this is the first study to use a placebo-controlled design to test trait‐wise changes in adults’ playfulness.

What Is Playfulness?
“The quality of being light-hearted or full of fun” is the cut-and-dry definition of playfulness. But there is more to this definition: About 13 years ago, Lynn Barnett of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign set out “to determine if playfulness could be identified as a meaningful psychological construct in adults.” Her pioneering research (Barnett, 2007) on “the nature of playfulness in young adults” identified fifteen qualities for both men and women that describe a so-called “playful individual.”

In a Personality and Individual Differences paper, Barnett states that “playful people are uniquely able to transform virtually any environment to make it more stimulating, enjoyable and entertaining.” She also provides an evidence-based description of playfulness:

“Playfulness is the predisposition to frame (or reframe) a situation in such a way as to provide oneself (and possibly others) with amusement, humor, and/or entertainment. Individuals who have such a heightened predisposition are typically funny, humorous, spontaneous, unpredictable, impulsive, active, energetic, adventurous, sociable, outgoing, cheerful, and happy, and are likely to manifest playful behavior by joking, teasing, clowning, and acting silly” (p. 955).

What Playfulness Interventions Were Used by Proyer et al. (2020)?
As mentioned, people in Proyer’s study were assigned to a placebo group (which involved performing a daily task for seven days that did not influence playfulness), or they were assigned to one of three groups that performed daily “playfulness exercises” every night before going to bed for seven days. Here are three playfulness interventions:

Counting Playfulness: Study participants were asked to set aside 15 minutes before bedtime to reflect and briefly write about any playful experiences they had that day (irrespective of whether this was an observation of playfulness or if they were the one being playful).
Three Playful Things: Study participants were asked to set aside 15 minutes before bed to think about three playful things that happened during the day and to write down the three playful things. Additionally, they were asked to note who was involved and how they felt in the situation.
Using Playfulness: Study participants were asked to set aside 15 minutes before bedtime to reflect on ways they might use their playfulness differently than they are used to (e.g., doing something playful at the workplace) and to write down some details; they also documented who was involved and how they felt in playful situations.
Before and after completing one week of playfulness interventions or placebo exercises, everyone in the study filled out a questionnaire that measured various personality traits. As part of the follow-up research on the short- and long-term impact of the playfulness interventions, participants filled out the same questionnaire two weeks after the intervention, a month later, and again three months later.

“Our assumption was that the [playfulness] exercises would lead people to consciously focus their attention on playfulness and use it more often; this could result in positive emotions, which in turn would affect the person’s well-being,” Brauer said in the news release. “And indeed, these tasks did lead to an increase in playfulness.”

The authors acknowledge that this study has limitations and is only a starting point for future research that will dial-in on playfulness interventions that are individually tailored to someone’s baseline of playfulness. “Our findings lend initial evidence to the notion that playfulness can be stimulated by following short self‐administered tasks on a daily basis,” the authors conclude. “Future research should further clarify the robustness of the findings over time and address the hypothesis that interventions will be more effective if they are better tailored to an individual’s level of playfulness.”

For more ideas on how to combat depression, make a telehealth appointment.

Courtesy of Psychology Today.

Life Coaching to Help with Coronavirus Stress

Mental Health Coaching Strategies to Help During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Life coaching strategies to help stress during COVID-19.Have you been noticing a spike in your stress as a result of COVID-19? If so, you certainly aren’t alone. Pandemics are not declared lightly, and an increase in your stress is actually a normal response. However, not only is stress unpleasant, it can also hinder your immunity. The World Health Organization emphasizes that preventative care plays a crucial role in fighting the Coronavirus, therefore, it’s helpful to boost your coping in an effort to improve your overall well-being. Here are four strategies to help you maintain your mental wellness during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Recognize your stress

Stress is a normal part of life. It is a natural response to an external pressure that disrupts your equilibrium. It often causes symptoms such as:

  • Sadness, confusion, irritability, anger, uneasiness, and suicidal thoughts
  • Reduced concentration, efficiency, and productivity
  • Social withdrawal and isolation
  • Interpersonal problems (e.g., lies, defensiveness, communication concerns)
  • Tension (e.g., headaches, jaw clenching, teeth grinding)
  • Body pain (e.g., headaches, muscle spasms)
  • Reduced energy (e.g., tiredness, weakness, fatigue)
  • Sleeping problems (e.g., insomnia, nightmares)
  • The first important step to managing these symptoms is to recognize that they are related to stress. According to the Four Branch Model of Emotional Intelligence, the ability to recognize your emotional state is essential in order to understand and manage your emotions. Therefore, if you skip the phase of acknowledging that you are stressed, you impede your ability to manage your stress.

This notion may seem simple, but it’s often easier said than done. It’s common to miss the signs of stress early on, preventing your ability to handle them before they grow. Even if you notice these symptoms, it’s also tempting to think that you can manage them by brushing them under the rug. The danger in this tactic is that it doesn’t allow you to tackle the problem head on, and the catalyst of time can cause you to miss the crucial moment to intervene before your stress becomes overwhelming.

If you have been noticing these symptoms since you learned about the Coronavirus, it is possible that you may be experiencing a normal stress response. Not only is it natural to be concerned about physical illness, but the uncertainty about a spreading virus can increase your stress level as well. The World Health Organization has declared COVID-19 a pandemic to highlight the level of concern and spark measures of precaution. In a parallel process, your stress is doing the same for you as it sets off a warning alarm that calls you to action.

Manage what you can; release what you cannot.

Once you acknowledge your stress, tracing the stressor can help you tackle the problem at hand. Understanding the issue can help you to problem solve. If used as a signal, your stress can motivate you to manage what you can. Taking action to combat a part of the problem can help you to reduce your symptoms.

As information on COVID-19 continues to develop, it is important to stay updated with information from reputable sources such as this prevention guide and this myth busting list from The World Health Organization.

While the current knowledge we have pertaining to the Coronavirus is increasing, there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding the virus. Recognizing this, it is important to manage what you can with the information you are provided but also release the need to control what you cannot. A key difference between stress and anxiety is the false sense of control that may arise from over worrying and overcompensating. While there are a lot of attempts to fill in the gaps to inform us about COVID-19, falling in to false information or conspiracy theories may not be the best method for your stress management. In addition to seeking information from reputable sources, try to be mindful of the myths that may be misleading and pulling your focus from what you can control.

This is not a suggestion to abandon your methods of preparation, but to do so in an informed manner. Instead of adding to your stress by trying to control elements beyond your grasp, try to follow expert guide to manage what you can and let go of the temptation to try to control what you cannot.

Continue reading at Psychology Today.

If you are feeling stress during COVID-19 isolation and looking for help, contact me to set up a Telehealth appointment.

Mental Health Coaching to Prepare for Life With COVID-19

Life Coaching to Help with Isolation Stress, Anxiety & Depression

Mental health is a growing concern after the stresses and losses of the COVID-19 pandemic. For many, the pandemic feeds stress over health and finances. It can also exacerbate the challenges of managing underlying anxiety.

Life coaching to help COVID-19 isolation life.Also, the social distancing measures needed to slow the spread of the virus separates the most vulnerable people from their support networks. Our natural wiring to seek comfort from other people, especially during times of stress and fear, is short-circuited by the need to distance.

In the general population, evidence from early COVID-19 studies suggests we should expect elevated levels of anxiety, both through fear of contamination, and the stress, grief, and depression that can be triggered by actual exposure to the virus. Even without exposure to the virus or fear of the virus, anxiety can be compounded by high levels of stress driven by unemployment, lack of social contact, and/or the difficulties that come with working from home.

WORLD ISOLATION FINDINGS
China is a few months ahead of the United States in terms of the coronavirus. In the province of Hubei, a large segment of the population went into an unprecedented lockdown for 11 weeks. People were not allowed to leave their homes except for essentials. Images on the news showed overwhelmed hospitals and healthcare workers wearing full-body protective gear. Understandably, many people were frightened.

As in Hubei, many Americans have experienced a significant period of quarantine and isolation. Although enforcement in the United States is less rigorous, the quarantine was still unexpected and extremely stressful for many people. In addition, the isolation period may extend for a longer amount of time in the United States.

In China, researchers have had the opportunity to assess the mental health effects of the pandemic on the population in a nationwide survey. Study findings indicate that the pandemic triggered a wide variety of psychological problems such as anxiety, depression, and panic disorder.

EXPECT DIFFERENT REACTIONS IN DIFFERENT SUBGROUPS
Research found women were much more likely to experience high levels of stress compared to men, and women were more likely to develop PTSD symptoms.

There were differences found across age groups as well. Individuals aged 18 to 30, migrant workers, and those over 60 reported the highest stress levels. Researchers suspected higher stress levels among the 18 to 30 group may have been a result of high levels of media consumption while those over 60 were experiencing heightened stress due to increased vulnerability to the virus. Migrant workers were likely concerned over a variety of reasons including loss of income.

UNEMPLOYMENT AND RISK OF SUICIDE
The global lockdown measures are causing widespread unemployment. In April, in the United States alone, more than 20 million private-sector jobs were lost and the numbers continue to rise.

Previous research has indicated unemployment can raise suicide rates by 20% to 30%. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), each completed suicide is accompanied by more than 20 suicide attempts.

Given the current global crisis, mental health workers can expect an increase in the number of people in distress and a spike in the number of people expressing a need for services. As a society, we need to increase awareness of mental health issues and develop a better understanding of the link between unemployment and suicide.

HOW SOCIAL DISTANCING IMPACTS STRESS RECOVERY
When we connect to and bond with other people, oxytocin is released in the body. Oxytocin is a hormone associated with touching, love, cuddling, and boding. Oxytocin is also known to be associated with a range of health benefits including aiding in the physiological recovery of psychological stress. For example, oxytocin plays a role in lowering heightened blood pressure, reducing cortisol levels, and encouraging growth and healing.

Many mental health experts have voiced concern over the potential mental health effects of social distancing and isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic. We know isolation is a major risk factor for depression and anxiety. In one study researchers investigating the effects of isolation in mice found lowered oxytocin levels correlated with an increase in depressive and anxious behavior. Once the mice were injected with oxytocin, anxiety and depressive behaviors were reduced.

In humans, researchers have found that while experiencing psychosocial stress, on average, oxytocin levels increase by 51%. While this oxytocin release does not reduce the stress response in the short-term, after a period of time had passed, higher oxytocin levels were associated with faster physiological recovery times from the stress response.

These findings are important in assessing the mental health fallout of COVID-19. One of the dangers of chronic stress is the ongoing reactivity of the nervous system. For some people, it is very difficult to calm themselves when they are experiencing worry or stress. Not only does the mind continue to replay continuous worst-case scenarios, the body is also responding with high cortisol levels. This is concerning as chronic stress can have serious consequences for long-term physical and mental health.

Oxytocin is known to be connected to the sensory system, and studies show that the release of oxytocin is linked to touch. This is likely why many people may automatically be inclined to reach out and pat someone on the hand or hug them in an attempt to provide comfort when they are distressed. In the current environment, this is challenging. Exactly the kind of supportive behavior that would stimulate the release of oxytocin at the time we need it most is severely limited for many people.

PSYCHOLOGICAL SUPPORT DURING COVID-19
During this period, when hugging and touching is problematic, we can apply other tools that can aid in coping and even stimulate the release of oxytocin in our bodies and the bodies of our loved ones.

Evidence suggests that purely psychological support can trigger the release of oxytocin. This means connecting to others.

For individuals struggling to cope with anxiety, depression, and stress, reaching out to a mental health professional helps. Life coaching can not only help you learn good coping strategies to reduce anxiety and depression, but it can also help you reduce conflict in your relationships.

If you are struggling, connecting to others who can support you even if you can’t engage in face-to-face contact is still helpful. Try talking on the phone or using online meeting platforms such as Zoom, Facetime, or Skype. In addition, Telehealth and online coaching offer an opportunity to connect to professionals who can help you reduce your stress levels and recover from the mental health effects of the pandemic.

Choose your support network carefully to select supportive contacts. Reaching out to people who are not supportive or who tend to increase your anxiety will be counterproductive. Reach out to family or friends that can help you reduce your anxiety or set an online appointment with a therapist.

The emotional difficulties triggered by COVID-19 – lockdown, social isolation, and uncertainty – are substantial. Connecting and receiving support may make a greater difference in how you feel than you expect. I am accepting TeleHealth appointments for Life Coaching & other counseling in the Portland area.

Courtesy of Good Therapy.

Coaching Tips for Life During COVID-19 & Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

How is Our Motivation Changing In Pandemic Life? Coaching Do’s & Don’ts

Coaching tip: Facetime is a do of pandemic life.Understanding human motivation has been one of the goals of psychology founding fathers and current theorists to date. Motivation is often at the core of studying psychological processes in humans and understanding why we do the things we do.

Motivation is defined as “the process of arousing, directing, and maintaining behavior toward a goal” (Greenberg, 2002). Although this definition seems simple, human motivation is often more complex. In light of the current crisis situation we all find ourselves in amid the COVID-19 pandemic, how can one understand their own motivations and the motivations of others?

One way to understand this is to apply a classic theory of human motivation: Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. The basic premise of the theory is that “people will not be happy or well-adjusted unless they have their needs met” (Greenberg, 2002). Not only are humans motivated by meeting their needs, but their needs are ordered in such a way that if basic needs aren’t met first, then humans will not have the motivation to meet needs that aren’t considered basic. Basic needs are described as lower-order needs, while needs beyond basic are described as higher-order needs.

MOTIVATION AND THE FIVE STAGES OF NEEDS
In order to understand these hierarchical needs in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, let’s look at each need individually.

1. Physiological needs
The lowest order needs involve satisfying biological needs such as water, shelter, and food. Not only does this level of need require meeting basic needs, but it also requires that one’s body is healthy. A healthy body is also achieved through the proper amount of sleep, exercise, and appropriate balance of healthy foods, free of toxic substances.

2. Safety needs
Once one’s basic needs are met, Maslow believed that the next level of needs are triggered in an individual. The need for safety includes functioning in an environment that is physically and psychologically safe. In addition, the environment must be free of harm or perceived harm.

3. Social needs
These needs are activated once the first two needs are met. According to Maslow’s theory, if the first two needs are not met, then the person will not be activated to achieve higher order needs such as social needs. This need involves feeling loved by others and belonging to a social group. As social beings, humans have the need to connect with others.

4. Esteem needs
Once one feels accepted by their peers, the next higher-order need can be activated. The esteem need is characterized by feeling successful and having others recognize one’s accomplishments.

5. Self-actualization needs
The highest-order need for humans, once all of the above needs are met, is self-actualization. This need involves pursuing one’s maximum level of creativity and becoming all that one is intended to be.

MASLOW’S HIERARCHY OF NEEDS AND THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
1. Physiological needs during COVID-19
The current state of our world right now has caused many people to be motivated by more basic needs than they were before this pandemic. Due to the fact that many people’s employment situations have changed, meeting basic needs might now be more of a priority than it was before.

In addition, now that many people are on stay-at-home orders, the option of going to the gym or other things that one typically does to stay physiologically healthy might not be available at this time. Finding creative ways to keep yourself healthy might be all that you can focus on right now, and that is okay.

Do

Try to meet your basic needs first.

Don’t

Engage in activities that are unhealthy for the body and the mind.

2. Safety needs during COVID-19
If you are fortunate enough to not have to worry about meeting your basic physiological needs during this crisis, you are now motivated to achieve safety. For some, depending on the area you live in and the rate of infection, staying safe and keeping your family safe is your main motivation right now, and that makes the most sense. In addition, if you are an essential worker or married to an essential worker or medical professional, you will most likely be striving to meet this safety need throughout the crisis.

Do

Educate yourself about the facts about the rate of infection in your area.

Don’t

Put pressure on yourself to achieve higher order needs.

3. Social needs during COVID-19
Perhaps you are fortunate enough to have your basic needs met. Given your current profession and financial situation, this crisis has not greatly affected your basic needs or your safety needs. You most likely live in an area that is not dense in population or rate of infection.

Based on this, you can now focus on having your social needs met. During the current social distancing orders, it might be hard to achieve this goal. If you are at home with a loving family, these needs are met by them. If you are in a home with others, but the environment is not connected, then this time may be particularly challenging for you.

Do

Attempt to connect with others in your home daily through family activities. Attempt to connect with others outside of your home through virtual means such as FaceTime, group chats, and positive social media outlets.

Don’t

Ignore the attempts for connection from healthy members of your family.

Don’t

Assume that passive involvement in social media is satisfying social needs.

4. Esteem needs during COVID-19
If you are fortunate enough to have your basic, safety, and social needs met during this time of crisis, your next motivation on the order of needs (according to Maslow) is the need to achieve success and have others recognize your achievements. During this time, these types of needs might not be able to be met because many members of our culture are focused on meeting more basic needs. If you are currently working, you might be having these needs met by supervisors or peers. If you are in a loving home, perhaps your family members are encouraging you in your efforts at quarantine.

Do

Encourage family members and other peers in their current efforts at surviving this pandemic.

Do

Consider giving back to others who are struggling to meet basic needs. Altruism or the act of giving back to others in need was associated with “better life adjustment, better marital adjustment, and less hopelessness and depression” (Southwick & Charney, 2018). This might be a way to meet your esteem needs while also giving back to others who are working hard on the front lines of this pandemic.

Don’t

Meet your esteem needs through others’ achievements, especially your children. According to Maslow, a human can only meet these high order needs through their own accomplishments. Basing your happiness on how your children are doing puts too much pressure on them, especially during a time of such uncertainty.

5. Self-actualization needs during COVID-19
According to Maslow, this need occurs when all other needs are met sufficiently. In the light of the current crisis that most of the nation is facing right now, the majority of people are not able to focus on these higher-order needs.

Do

Be creative about how you can give back to and help others who are struggling.

Don’t

Assume that all others are able to focus on their creativity at this time.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is one theory in many theories of human motivation. Some critics have questioned his theory, and like any theory in psychology, there are other competing theories of motivation. If you are interested in this topic, you can also check out this article.

Are you or someone you love needing a little extra help during COVID-19? Make an online life coaching appointment.

Article courtesy of Good Therapy.

With Life Coaching Many Youth Want to Discuss Spirituality

Study Finds Spirituality Is An Important Aspect of Life Coaching Treatment

Spirituality important aspect to life coaching treatment.Regular attendance of religious services has declined with time, according to data from Gallup. Yet many Americans still say spirituality is an important part of their life. Over half (51%) of Americans say religion is “very important” to them, and 89% believe in God.

Spiritual beliefs (religion-specific or personal) can affect mental health. A new study published in Spirituality in Clinical Practice suggests spirituality may be an important aspect of quality treatment. According to the study, most young adults seeking treatment for serious mental health issues think spirituality is relevant to their well-being.

The relationship between mental health and spirituality is complex. It is neither consistently negative nor consistently positive. Clinicians who want to explore spirituality must be prepared to discuss a wide range of experiences and perspectives.

YOUNG ADULTS VALUE RELIGION, SPIRITUALITY IN MENTAL HEALTH TREATMENT
The study used qualitative interviews to gather data on 55 young people aged 18 to 25 years old. Participants had been diagnosed with serious mental health issues such as schizophrenia and bipolar. They had all sought emergency mental health care. Researchers assessed how young adults seeking psychiatric care talked about religion and spirituality.

Thirty-four participants (61.8%) brought up spiritual topics in their interviews with little to no prompting. Many emphasized the important role spirituality played in their mental health. Some recurring themes included:

Positive and negative effects of spirituality on mental health.
Relationship with God.
The role of religion in support systems and emotional wellness.
Many participants emphasized the complex role of spirituality in their lives. Thus, culturally sensitive counseling may be critical to helping youth explore the connection between spirituality and mental health. Some youth may be eager to discuss spiritual concerns, but uncertain about how to begin the conversation. Others may fear they will be judged for their religious conflicts.

UNDERSTANDING THE LINK BETWEEN RELIGION, SPIRITUALITY, AND MENTAL HEALTH
Research has long suggested that spiritual beliefs can serve as a protective mechanism. Religious people might even live longer. A 2017 study found people who regularly attended religious services were 55% less likely to die during the 18-year study period (compared to secular peers). A 2016 study of women found similar results. Women who attended services more than once a week were 33% less likely to die during a 16-year period.

This apparent connection between spirituality and longevity may be because religion offers a sense of community and purpose. A 2014 review suggests religion and spirituality can bolster mental health by:

Offering positive coping skills (such as prayer and meditation).
Providing access to a supportive community.
Encouraging positive beliefs, such as the idea that continued self-improvement offers a chance at a better life.
The effect of spirituality on mental health is not universally positive, however. The same study says religion and spirituality may damage mental health by:

Encouraging unhealthy coping tools (such as excessive self-criticism).
Leading to poor communication.
Promoting harmful beliefs, such as the notion that mental health issues are a punishment from God.
Abusive or discriminatory religious beliefs can lead to harmful practices in therapy. Conversion therapy—a discredited form of therapy designed to alter a person’s sexual orientation—often draws on religious beliefs.

Spiritual issues can also play a role in mental health issues. For instance, a person who feels abandoned by God may be more vulnerable to depression. A crisis of faith can be a source of immense anxiety and guilt.

INCORPORATING SPIRITUAL BELIEFS INTO THERAPY
Even people of the same faith may have vastly different views on spirituality and religious experience. Some strategies that can help therapists respectfully and effectively discuss religion include:

Understanding the role that religion and spirituality play in their own life. This can help therapists avoid projecting their own beliefs onto clients.
Treating spirituality as one aspect of a person’s belief system, similar to their views on marriage or politics.
Allowing the client to discuss their values, then working with them to set and achieve goals consistent with those values.
Being cautious about integrating spirituality into treatment. Research is still in its infancy, so clinicians should avoid over-reliance on religious models and lean heavily on research-supported practices.
It is possible to incorporate spirituality into therapy without endorsing a specific religion. Many clinicians use therapeutic techniques with roots in spiritual practice, such as mindfulness and meditation. These strategies can offer people immense comfort.

Religion and spirituality can be very personal, emotional issues. If you are a person seeking therapy (or already in therapy), you may benefit from bringing these topics up in treatment. A skilled therapist can help you address your spirituality without offering judgment.

If you or someone you love is interested in learning more about life coaching, contact my Portland office.

Courtesy of Good Therapy.

References:

Discuss religion, spirituality when treating young adults with severe mental illness. (2018, July 30). EurekAlert. Retrieved from https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-07/bu-drs073018.php
Ducharme, J. (2018, February 15). You asked: Do religious people live longer? Time. Retrieved from http://time.com/5159848/do-religious-people-live-longer
Newport, F. (2016, June 29). Most Americans still believe in God. Retrieved from https://news.gallup.com/poll/193271/americans-believe-god.aspx
Oxhandler, H. K., Narendorf, S. C., & Moffatt, K. M. (2018). Religion and spirituality among young adults with severe mental illness. Spirituality in Clinical Practice. Retrieved from http://psycnet.apa.org/record/2018-28099-001?doi=1
Religion. (n.d.). Gallup. Retrieved from https://news.gallup.com/poll/1690/religion.aspx
Weber, S. R., & Pargament, K. I. (2014). The role of religion and spirituality in mental health. Current Opinion in Psychiatry, 27(5), 358-363. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25046080

Coaching Helps Develop Healthy Relationships with Dependent Personalities

Dependent Personality Disorder Can Have Healthy Relationships with Coaching

Dependency on others is the hallmark characteristic of dependent personality disorder (DPD). This can create problems within relationships, since nearly all adult relationships need a degree of interdependence to be considered healthy. Interdependence, simply put, means the people in the relationship maintain their sense of self while working together to meet each other’s needs as well as their own.

If you live with DPD, you may have an intense and overwhelming need for others to take care of you, so much so that you fear being abandoned or left alone. To avoid the possibility of abandonment, you might find yourself going out of your way to make certain you have the continued support of your romantic partner, family members, or friends. This might cause you to go to great lengths to please them, often by doing things you’d prefer not to do.

This behavior may seem to help you get your needs met, but it often leads to unhealthy or imbalanced relationships. You might end up staying with a partner who isn’t right for you, or even one who’s toxic or takes advantage of you, simply because you don’t want to be alone.

Relationship coaching for Dependent Personality.But it is possible to build healthy relationships when you have DPD. Awareness of the condition, and how it affects your interactions with others, is a good first step.

If you live with DPD, you may have an intense and overwhelming need for others to take care of you, so much so that you fear being abandoned or left alone.

WHAT IS DEPENDENT PERSONALITY?
In basic terms, dependent personality means you rely on other people to take care of you. You might experience serious distress at the thought of having to do things on your own, because you don’t think you can care for yourself. You might feel helpless or unable to make decisions for yourself—both significant decisions, like the career you choose, and minor decisions, like what you’ll make for dinner.

You might lack well-developed self-esteem and have little confidence in your own abilities. This can contribute to beliefs like, “I can’t do anything myself,” “Someone else can do a better job,” or “If I upset them, they’ll leave me.” Because you need continued support from loved ones, you may withhold normal, healthy responses, like anger, frustration, or disagreement, even if they do something problematic or upsetting.

This condition is diagnosed in adulthood, and only in people who do have the ability to make decisions on their own without excessively depending on others. People sometimes experience dependency as a result of a health condition or other mental health condition, and this isn’t quite the same as DPD. It’s also important to note that people in abusive relationships may display traits that seem similar to those associated with DPD, such as extreme submissiveness or fear of disagreeing with the abuser. If these behaviors only happen in the abusive situation, DPD wouldn’t be diagnosed.

It’s important to understand these characteristics aren’t your fault. Personality disorders are complicated issues that develop from a multitude of factors, and it’s not always easy to recognize there’s something problematic about your behavior. These traits are ingrained—a part of your personality—and they can be difficult to change. But change is possible.

ROMANTIC RELATIONSHIPS AND DPD
There’s nothing wrong with consulting your romantic partner about decisions you make, especially those affecting you both. In fact, this is pretty normal (and beneficial) in a healthy relationship. What sets this type of dependency apart from DPD? In a healthy relationship, you don’t wholly depend on your partner. You ask their advice, consider it, then make a decision that works for both of you.

If you have DPD, it may seem natural to turn to your partner for help with decisions, since you may feel incapable of doing anything alone. You might ask them to choose what stores you shop at, what kind of clothing you buy, what you do with your free time, and whether you should go for a promotion. You might harbor your own opinions about these choices, your partner’s behavior, or other issues that pop up in daily life. But because you worry expressing your true feelings will lead to disapproval and withdrawn support from the people who take care of you, you don’t say what you truly feel. This can eventually diminish your sense of self.

If these behaviors resonate with you, it can help to practice making your own decisions in your relationship. A caring partner can support you by:

Stepping back to let you make your own decisions
Encouraging you to take responsibility for household matters
Encouraging you to express your true opinions
Many people with DPD end up in relationships with people who take advantage of them. A few signs of abuse include:

Threatening to withdraw emotional or financial support
Belittling or attempting to control you
Insisting on sexual acts you aren’t comfortable with as a condition of support
A therapist can offer guidance and support if your relationship is abusive.

PARENTING AND DPD
Having dependent personality means you may not trust yourself to make your own decisions. You believe you can’t function without the help of others. This can contribute to the distorted view that your child is more capable of making decisions for you.

Accordingly, parents living with DPD may overly rely on children to handle tasks or decisions children aren’t emotionally capable of making. This may be more common in situations where you’re a single parent living with DPD and don’t have another person to rely on.

It’s normal for children to have opinions on things like meal planning, where to purchase their clothing, or how to spend free evenings. And children, especially older children, should also contribute around the house and help manage their own schedules and responsibilities. But it’s not healthy for parents to ask children to take care of all household tasks and responsibilities or make decisions about adult responsibilities or social situations.

As a parent, you may have interest in what your child thinks of your romantic partner. But there’s a difference between asking, “What do you think about (Partner’s name)?” and “Should I keep dating (Name) or should we break up?”

WORKPLACE RELATIONSHIPS AND DPD
DPD can make workplace interactions challenging, if you struggle to get necessary tasks done on your own. Your coworkers may notice your difficulty with self-starting, and some might consider your continued need for prompting and encouragement troublesome.

Presenting yourself as incapable or needing regular support and assistance to do your work can create challenges, even conflict, in the workplace. If you’re left to work alone, you might believe you can’t complete the task or project successfully and end up not doing it at all. However, you might do fairly well when you have supervision or support from someone else.

FRIENDSHIPS AND DPD
If you have DPD, you may notice your friendships follow a pattern similar to your romantic relationships. Your fear of being left alone can play out in ways that make you seem clingy and needy. You may worry disagreeing with friends will result in them no longer caring for you and avoid expressing personal opinions and desires to ensure their continued support.

You might also readily volunteer to help friends out, even when you’d rather not do something (like help them move or clean their house). Because you want them to continue to be there for you, you sacrifice your time, but less-than-ethical friends may take advantage of this trait.

Good friends should be there for each other and support each other in times of need, but true friends should also encourage you and support you in doing things for yourself.

TREATMENT FOR DEPENDENT PERSONALITY: DOES IT GET BETTER?
It’s very difficult to address personality disorders without help from a therapist trained to recognize symptoms and help you work through them effectively. But therapy can always have benefit. Personality disorders can’t be cured, but therapy can help you address behaviors causing problems in your life and learn new ways of relating to others.

Dependent personality treatment can be incredibly beneficial, since it can lead to more fulfilling, healthy relationships. A trained therapist can support you as you work to realize your own capabilities, both when it comes to making decisions and taking care of yourself. Since people with DPD can sometimes transfer feelings of dependency to their therapist, it’s important to work with a therapist experienced in helping people with DPD.

In therapy, you might:

Practice self-sufficiency and assertiveness skills
Learn to cope with fears of being alone
Practice decision-making
Become comfortable spending time on your own
Learn to express disagreement in productive ways
DPD can often occur with other conditions. Childhood illness, attachment issues, or separation anxiety sometimes play a part in its development. But DPD can also factor into the development of concerns like social anxiety or depression. Therapy can help you address symptoms of these conditions, as well.

Healthy relationships should be fairly balanced. Some of the time, you might need more support from your partner than usual, and at other times, they may need more from you. But typically, it’s unhealthy for one person to rely solely on another.

If you or someone you love has questions about dependent personality disorder, contact my Portland area office to learn more about relationship coaching.

Courtesy of Good Therapy.

References:

American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, fifth edition. Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Association.
Blair, O. (2018, October 23). Dating someone with dependent personality disorder: Balancing support and self-care. Retrieved from https://www.bridgestorecovery.com/blog/dating-someone-with-dependent-personality-disorder-balancing-support-and-self-care
Dependent personality disorder. (2007). Harvard Mental Health Letter. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/Dependent_personality_disorder
Dependent personality disorder. (2017, March 30). Cleveland Clinic. Retrieved from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/9783-dependent-personality-disorder
Maccafferi, G. E., Dunker-Scheuiner, D., De Roten, Y., Despland, J. N., Sachse, R., & Kramer, U. (2019, October 15). Psychotherapy of dependent personality disorder: The relationship of patient-therapist interactions to outcome. Psychiatry. doi: 10.1080/00332747.2019.1675376

10 Good Reasons to Seek Relationship Coaching

Is Your Relationship In Crisis & Looking for Coaching in Portland?

One of the main reasons people seek therapy is for help with intimate and close relationships. And while couples coaching tends to be viewed as something for only relationships in crisis, there are many reasons people in relationships might pursue it. Some are small, some larger, but all are important and deserve to be explored and worked on.

Here are 10 good reasons to look into relationship coaching:

1. COMMUNICATION ISSUES
10 reasons to seek relationship coaching in Portland.Communication is the foundation of all relationships. Communication comes in many forms, both in person and over the phone, text, or social media. Therapy teaches couples how to communicate with each other in a positive manner that works. The type of communication a person grows up around tends to strongly affect how they communicate in their adult relationships. coaching can help couples make a conscious choice of communication style and not just fall back on what they know from their history.

2. PREMARITAL COACHING
There are many issues couples face before they tie the knot. Premarital coaching is a place to discuss many things. One example is finances. Will bank accounts be shared? What about making decisions about what to purchase? Another consideration is household duties. Are children part of the picture? What role(s) will in-laws play in your life? Couples coaching can be a safe place to start the conversations that need to be addressed.

3. SEXUAL ISSUES
Sex can be something that heals and brings a couple together, or it can be a battleground fraught with anxiety, embarrassment, anger, and hurt. Coaches encounter sexual issues frequently and can help.

4. INFIDELITY AND UNFAITHFULNESS
Infidelity within a relationship can be the most hurtful and damaging thing a couple ever goes through, but it does not mean the relationship has to be over. Couples coaching provides a healing space to begin the journey toward resolution. It can help find practical and meaningful ways to navigate the treacherous waters of unfaithfulness.

5. ASSISTANCE MANAGING OTHER RELATIONSHIPS
Couples have relationships with people outside of their relationship together. Friends, extended family, children, coworkers, and supervisors/bosses/professors are just a few. These relationships can be either healthy or unhealthy. Some things that can be discussed are boundaries with members of the opposite sex or same sex, communication with exes, and together and alone time.

6. NONTRADITIONAL RELATIONSHIPS
Nontraditional intimate relationships, such as polyamory, open relationships, and swinging, can have problems and struggles—some of which are specific to their lifestyle and identity, some that all couples deal with. It can be intimidating to seek relationship therapy for fear of not being valued or understood because of the type of intimate relationship one is in. Many relationship coaches are comfortable and have the background and understanding to work with people in nontraditional relationships and can provide an open and safe place to work on the struggles a couple is having.

7. BLENDED FAMILIES
When one or both partners have children from another relationship, blending has its own specific struggles and difficulties. Parenting differences, the role of the other parent, and the new identity of the family all need to be explored.

8. THE END OF A RELATIONSHIP
When a relationship has ended, whether by mutual agreement or otherwise, managing life can be difficult. Often, individuals need to express anger, sadness, and grief. There may be practical issues to sort out as well, such as housing and children. Agreeing how and when to communicate is another example of a matter to be discussed in couples coaching.

9. DIGITAL-AGE ISSUES
Facebook. Twitter. Texting. Sexting. Instagram. YouTube. Snapchat. These are just a few ways technology can infiltrate and affect relationships. Communicating via social media has its own pros and cons. Couples often have conflict regarding who to “friend,” what to “like,” and who to text, block, or chat. Communicating that is not done face-to-face or even on the phone is hard. No matter how many emojis are used, words can be misconstrued and misread. Tone of voice and body language are important to understanding what is being conveyed. Relationship coaching can help couples work through problems technology has caused, and create boundaries with each other to help restore trust when social media have hurt the relationship.

10. TRUST ISSUES
After trust is broken, relationships can be harmed or even destroyed. Part of having a solid and healthy relationship is to be able to trust one another. Learning to trust again is a slow and hard process, and it can be painful and frustrating when it doesn’t happen quickly. Coaching can educate and assist couples with understanding the process of regaining trust, and provide tools and direction to help.

All relationships are difficult in some form or another. There will be disagreement, conflict, and hurt even in the best of times. Relationship coaching can help individuals and couples grow and heal. Like all types of therapy, the lessons learned and behaviors changed will continue to serve each person for much longer than the therapy itself.

It takes work to have a solid and positive relationship. Couples coaching is worth considering for any couple and can promote mutually beneficial change for years to come. Contact me for more information and to schedule your consultation.

Courtesy of Good Therapy.

10 Good Reasons to Seek Relationship Coaching

You Don’t Need a Crisis for Relationship Coaching

One of the main reasons people seek therapy is for help with intimate and close relationships. And while couples counseling tends to be viewed as something for only relationships in crisis, there are many reasons people in relationships might pursue it. Some are small, some larger, but all are important and deserve to be explored and worked on.

Here are 10 good reasons to look into relationship counseling:

  1. COMMUNICATION ISSUES

Communication is the foundation of all relationships. Communication comes in many forms, both in person and over the phone, text, or social media. Therapy teaches couples how to communicate with each other in a positive manner that works. The type of communication a person grows up around tends to strongly affect how they communicate in their adult relationships. Counseling can help couples make a conscious choice of communication style and not just fall back on what they know from their history.

  1. PREMARITAL COUNSELING

10 reasons for relationship coaching Portland.

There are many issues couples face before they tie the knot. Premarital counseling is a place to discuss many things. One example is finances. Will bank accounts be shared? What about making decisions about what to purchase? Another consideration is household duties. Are children part of the picture? What role(s) will in-laws play in your life? Couples counseling can be a safe place to start the conversations that need to be addressed.

  1. SEXUAL ISSUES

Sex can be something that heals and brings a couple together, or it can be a battleground fraught with anxiety, embarrassment, anger, and hurt. Counselors encounter sexual issues frequently and can help.

  1. INFIDELITY AND UNFAITHFULNESS

Infidelity within a relationship can be the most hurtful and damaging thing a couple ever goes through, but it does not mean the relationship has to be over. Couples counseling provides a healing space to begin the journey toward resolution. It can help find practical and meaningful ways to navigate the treacherous waters of unfaithfulness.

  1. ASSISTANCE MANAGING OTHER RELATIONSHIPS

Couples have relationships with people outside of their relationship together. Friends, extended family, children, coworkers, and supervisors/bosses/professors are just a few. These relationships can be either healthy or unhealthy. Some things that can be discussed are boundaries with members of the opposite sex or same sex, communication with exes, and together and alone time.

  1. NONTRADITIONAL RELATIONSHIPS

Nontraditional intimate relationships, such as polyamory, open relationships, and swinging, can have problems and struggles—some of which are specific to their lifestyle and identity, some that all couples deal with. It can be intimidating to seek relationship therapy for fear of not being valued or understood because of the type of intimate relationship one is in. Many relationship counselors are comfortable and have the background and understanding to work with people in nontraditional relationships and can provide an open and safe place to work on the struggles a couple is having.

  1. BLENDED FAMILIES

When one or both partners have children from another relationship, blending has its own specific struggles and difficulties. Parenting differences, the role of the other parent, and the new identity of the family all need to be explored.

  1. THE END OF A RELATIONSHIP

When a relationship has ended, whether by mutual agreement or otherwise, managing life can be difficult. Often, individuals need to express anger, sadness, and grief. There may be practical issues to sort out as well, such as housing and children. Agreeing how and when to communicate is another example of a matter to be discussed in couples counseling.

  1. DIGITAL-AGE ISSUES

Facebook. Twitter. Texting. Sexting. Instagram. YouTube. Snapchat. These are just a few ways technology can infiltrate and affect relationships. Communicating via social media has its own pros and cons. Couples often have conflict regarding who to “friend,” what to “like,” and who to text, block, or chat. Communicating that is not done face-to-face or even on the phone is hard. No matter how many emojis are used, words can be misconstrued and misread. Tone of voice and body language are important to understanding what is being conveyed. Relationship counseling can help couples work through problems technology has caused, and create boundaries with each other to help restore trust when social media have hurt the relationship.

  1. TRUST ISSUES

After trust is broken, relationships can be harmed or even destroyed. Part of having a solid and healthy relationship is to be able to trust one another. Learning to trust again is a slow and hard process, and it can be painful and frustrating when it doesn’t happen quickly. Counseling can educate and assist couples with understanding the process of regaining trust, and provide tools and direction to help.

All relationships are difficult in some form or another. There will be disagreement, conflict, and hurt even in the best of times. Relationship counseling can help individuals and couples grow and heal. Like all types of therapy, the lessons learned and behaviors changed will continue to serve each person for much longer than the therapy itself.

It takes work to have a solid and positive relationship. Couples counseling is worth considering for any couple and can promote mutually beneficial change for years to come. Make an appointment at my Portland area office for more info on relationship coaching.

Courtesy of Good Therapy.

Posting a Daily Photo May Improve a Person’s Well-Being

Life Coaching Tip for Improving Well-Being

On Instagram, more than 1.5 million photos have been tagged #365. People use this tag when they plan to post a photo each day of the year. Taking a daily photo and posting it to social media may improve well-being, according to a new study in the journal Health.

The study says people who post about daily practices (such as writing, photography, etc.) do so as a form of self-care. This mindful commitment may improve well-being or offer greater connection to others.

Could Photography Make People Happier?

How your life can be improved with a selfie and Portland coaching.The study followed social media users for two months. Researchers gathered data on the photos people posted and the text they added to the photos. They also recorded users’ interactions with others around the photos.

Users found posting daily photos encouraged them to be mindful. Many spent time each day seeking something interesting or unusual. Some found looking for the perfect photo encouraged them to get out of their homes. Taking daily photos helped many users feel accomplished and get more exercise.

In some cases, sharing daily photos reduced loneliness. It helped users meet people with shared interests and encouraged new friendships. Sometimes communities formed around the process of sharing photos.

Social interaction around the photos often added meaning to the activity. Captions helped users communicate narratives and memories connected to the photos. Adding text to photos cultivated more mindfulness. Comments from other photographers often gave more social meaning to the photos.

Healthy Use of Photography on Social Media

Many studies have assessed the risks and benefits of regular social media use. They have shown mixed results.

A 2016 study found social media can harm mental health in certain circumstances. Users who negatively compared themselves to others were more likely to have depression.

In 2017, a report by the Royal Society for Public Health said Instagram users were more likely to experience anxiety, depression, and bullying. Yet the report also said social media can promote community involvement and self-expression.

Another 2017 study found quitting Facebook immediately lowered people’s stress levels. Yet quitting Facebook also lowered life satisfaction.

The way a person uses social media platforms may change how they affect mental health. When daily photos are a form of self-care or friendship-building, they may improve well-being. When people use social media to dwell in envy or negativity, the effects may be harmful. If you are looking for help with your day to day life, contact me for a life coaching appointment at my Portland office.

Courtesy of Good Therapy.

Tips For Trying to Manage Your Anger

Coaching Tips For Anger Management

It may seem that anger is increasing everywhere you turn, whether in people around you or in the world in general.  There isn’t much you can do to change other people’s anger. But there are a few things that may help you with your own irritation or rage.

Holding on to anger can lead to emotional distress and wear a person down. If you struggle with anger, a compassionate counselor can help you address its causes and explore new coping strategies. These tips, which involve things you have control over, can also help you make a difference in your anger.

  1. Make your physical health a high priority.

Coaching tip for anger management is healthy foods.

We’ve all seen how cranky kids can get when they are hungry, tired, or have been sitting still for too long. As adults, we may be better at hiding this type of agitation, but physical discomfort still affects us. Going for long periods of time without eating, running on sleep deprivation, or sitting for hours in an office or your car, can easily lead to an irritable mood.

Eating nutritious food every three or so hours during the day, sleeping eight hours every night, and not going for more than two days without exercising are some steps you can take that can help minimize outbursts of anger.

Drugs and alcohol can also take a toll on physical health and may lower thresholds of tolerance and the ability to give others the benefit of the doubt. Avoiding these can also help you minimize anger and irritability. Taking care of your physical health can help you better about yourself, which is likely to lead to your having more generous feelings to those around you.

  1. Remember anger is a secondary reaction to fear.

Traditional anger management techniques may fail to work because they do not address the underlying cause of the anger itself. Anger is not a primary emotion. It only comes after (sometimes very, very quickly after) feelings like fear or hurt. Anger is a protective emotion. It gives us a feeling of power when we’re afraid we’re in danger. When we are afraid of being hurt, embarrassed, left, inconvenienced, taken advantage of or fired, anger may be triggered in an attempt to keep us safe.

To combat this, focus on developing coping skills for your fears. Coping skills can make controlling the subsequent anger much easier. For instance, giving yourself extra time to drive to work can help minimize the fear of being late. Learning to take yourself less seriously can provide relief from the fear of being embarrassed. Developing your self-confidence and believing you could find another job can reduce the fear of losing your current one.

Cultivate the belief you will be able to handle whatever life may bring your way. Attending individual or group therapy can help you build confidence and believe you will be able to find solutions to whatever comes along. You have handled many difficult situations in the past. You will be able to do the same in the future.

  1. Develop an attitude of gratitude.

Anger and its preceding emotion, fear, are run by the concern that something may go wrong or become out of control. One way to counter these feelings is to pay attention to what is going right in your life. Practice gratitude by taking notice of the blessings that show up every day. Keep a gratitude journal of what you’re grateful for each day. Make it a habit to comment on the unexpected pleasures or joys that happen to you, no matter how small they might be.

Some things you might notice:

  • A bill that was just a little less than you thought it would be
  • A parking space that opened up just as you arrived
  • The natural beauty of the world around you
  • Comforts in your day, such as good coffee, a delicious meal, or a good book
  • A compliment someone gave you
  • A friend or family member you are grateful to have in your life.

Practicing gratitude changes neuropathways in the brain. You can literally rewire your brain to notice what is going right with your life rather than what is going wrong. Practice complimenting yourself and others. Doing so will help you focus on what is safe and good.

Using these three techniques may help you feel calmer and more at peace. Remember to be kind to yourself. If you have long practiced responding with anger to the frustrating situations in your life, it may take some repetition to develop a new response. Commit to a calmer life. You deserve to have serenity no matter what is going on around you.

For more information on how coaching can help with your anger management, make an appointment at my Portland office.

Courtesy of Good Therapy.