Articles & Trainings

You’re in the middle of a forest on a beautiful day in Maine. Sunshine peeks through the leaves and scatters in fascinating, eye-catching patterns on the moss-covered ground, soft under your feet. You breathe in the scent of pine and become aware of the stillness and the small sounds of scurrying chipmunks and birdsong echoing across the land. Green leaves, brown soil, and glimpses of blue sky fill your vision for as far as you can see. Warmth from the sun spreads across your face. You can feel your whole body relax as you walk slowly through the woods, breathing and sensing each moment fully.

Immersing ourselves in nature cultivates a sense of mindfulness, a practice that is now widely known for promoting mental wellbeing. What is it about being outside that restores us so?

Many workers spend hours indoors in a busy state of focused concentration, and one of the results can be mental and physical fatigue. Fatigue and stress are risk factors for depression, as is the lack of vitamin D many of us experience during Maine’s long winters. Treatment for mild to moderate depression may include cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) and other interpersonal therapies. Many also find strategies such as aerobic exercise, yoga, and the Japanese practice of forest bathing helpful, whether they are experiencing mild depressive symptoms or simply daily stressors.

In addition to sometimes leading to depression, fatigue can result in reduced attention, and forest bathing seems to provide a respite from the long hours of concentration that typical workdays require. Screentime, a modern near-requisite, can exacerbate the problem, as can urban living and spending much of our time indoors.

In psychological parlance, Stephen Kaplan’s theory of attention restoration proposes that when we use quite a bit of directed attention, or effortful attention employed to focus on a task we’re choosing to pay attention to, we need to exercise involuntary attention, which naturally occurs in nature, to restore our balance. Directed attention, in other words, such as you employ during the workday, can cause fatigue and mental exhaustion (even if you enjoy the work you are doing), and you need regular breaks to offset the effects.

Research has demonstrated that the Japanese practice of Shinrin-yoku, or “forest bathing,” has positive physiological and psychological benefits, including a reduction in blood pressure, an improved immune system, and improved mental health—and one study in particular, published in Environmental Health and Preventive Medicine in 2019, found the improved state of mental health especially pronounced for those with depressive tendencies. This natural remedy for mild depressive symptoms can alleviate negative emotions and moods such as anxiety, fear, anger, and disgust, and increase positive emotions such as joy.

Since a number of studies in the 1980s touting the benefits of Shinrin-yoku, Japanese doctors have included the practice, which they often describe as preventative medicine, in what is called “social prescribing.” Other social prescriptions include gardening, mountain walking, exercise and sports, swimming, caring for animals, and cooking—all activities, you may note, which engage our senses.

To practice forest bathing, we can fully immerse ourselves and our senses in a walk in the forest. Put away your phone. Slow down. Quiet your mind. Notice the details from all of your senses. It is not as simple as taking a walk outside; “immersion” is precisely the right word to truly experience all of Shinrin-yoku’s benefits. And if you don’t have access to a forest, parks can serve as a substitute space.

More research is needed to fully explore the therapeutic aspects of Shinrin-yoku, including studying whether its effects apply to those with high stress and depressive tendencies. In the meantime, forest bathing can be a stress-reducing, preventative, healthy outdoor activity for everyone to enjoy—and summer in Maine is a great time to try it out.

 

Sources: psychologytoday.com, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, mentalhealthtoday.co.uk

Sign Up To Receive Our Latest Blog Posts!

Learn more tips on living well and understanding mental illness. Help to end the stigma, and hear inspiring stories of recovery. Sign up here!

Many things happen in our lives that we cannot control or predict. Unexpected, large-scale traumatic events like the COVID-19 pandemic and the invasion of Ukraine can be sources of stress, as can daily life stressors, such as conflicts in relationships, money troubles, or an upsetting interaction. Psychological flexibility, or the ability to adapt our thinking and behavior when new or unexpected events arise, is an important skill we can use to increase individual wellbeing now and in the future.

Let’s say you are being tailgated by an aggressive driver on a two-lane highway. You feel scared and worried about what will happen if you need to use your brakes. No one is around to help.

Employing psychological flexibility in a given situation can be seen as a three-stage sequence of events:

  1. Evaluating the needs and demands of the situation or context;
  2. Selecting a response or coping strategy; and
  3. Monitoring the success of the approach you employ and modifying it as needed.

In the example we illustrated above, where the stressor was a tailgater, this sequence might look like:
Context sensitivity = There is potential for danger here. You need to remove yourself from its threat. The other driver may not react quickly enough if you brake.
Repertoire = Continue going the exact same speed and be extra alert for the possibility of needing to brake.
Feedback = You feel stressed and scared. You still don’t feel safe. They have not stopped driving too closely to your car.

You may then decide, from the feedback loop, to modify your approach and select a new behavior in your repertoire. Perhaps you can use your right turn signal to indicate you would like them to pass you, for instance. The feedback loop can continue until you have met your goals for the situation.

This sort of flexible thinking, as you might imagine, is a predictor of resiliency and creativity. Research shows psychological flexibility is associated with a better quality of life, particularly in older adults. In the workplace, exercising flexible thinking tends to lead to better job performance, improved learning on the job, innovation, and better overall mental health, including lower levels of stress and emotional exhaustion. In clinical settings, psychological flexibility training has been shown as effective in treating a myriad of disorders, such as anxiety, depression, and substance use, and this training works whether it is delivered in person or online.

The great news is psychological flexibility can be practiced and improved. But how?

Create optimal conditions for being flexible. By practicing mindfulness, doing yoga and aerobics, and engaging in relaxation techniques, we give ourselves a solid foundation to deal with stress in a purposeful, thoughtful manner.

Cultivate optimism. Rather than focusing on what the pandemic has negatively impacted in our lives, for instance, we can reframe our thinking and consider what has made us change for the better. Choose to view your struggles as part of being human, rather than something that happens to you.

Pause. Focus on your reactions and attitudes. What are you feeling? Why might you be
feeling this way? Allow yourself the space you need for an intentional response.

Exercise creative thinking. Consider unusual solutions. Seek outside perspectives. Frame issues from different angles. Challenge your own beliefs. By utilizing divergent thinking, we can overcome embedded thought patterns and see the situation from a new angle, which could provide a fresh perspective on the matter.

Keep your decisions aligned with your values. When you use your core values to guide your decisions, you gain peace of mind by keeping your integrity intact. At the same time, our values can change over time, and some situations present an opportunity to reflect on and evaluate which values are true for us and which may need to be reconsidered.

In clinical settings, we can employ cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) as well as structure learning, or the ability to extract information about the structure of a complex environment and decipher streams of sensory information, to promote psychological flexibility.

Psychological flexibility helps us see that what we’re doing in response to a given stressor is not leading to a successful outcome, and it shows us how to make the appropriate changes to our behavior to achieve our goal. It is a handy tool in our kit to cope with stress. The more we exercise flexible thinking, the stronger it gets, providing us with a protective buffer between everyday stressors and possible negative outcomes.

 

 

Sources: ethicalsystems.org, psychologytoday.com, weforum.org

Sign Up To Receive Our Latest Blog Posts!

Learn more tips on living well and understanding mental illness. Help to end the stigma, and hear inspiring stories of recovery. Sign up here!

As a compassionate behavioral and mental health care provider, you incorporate many modalities to treat your clients. For those clients seeking recovery from addiction or substance use, one lesser-known, relatively new model is Motivational Interviewing (MI). Developed in the early 1980s, MI requires an approach based on collaboration, understanding, and empathy. 

What is Motivational Interviewing?
Motivational Interviewing (MI) is a technique commonly used in the treatment of clients with addiction or substance use. This style of treatment can be thought of as an evidence-based conversation that truly encourages behavior change from within and guides clients toward a specific end goal (in this case recovery from addition). 

Motivational Interviewing is highly collaborative. Through approachable dialogue, the client is encouraged to explore their desire for change, receiving kindness, compassion, and acceptance both from their counselor and from themselves. 

This style of treatment is not meant to manipulate, coerce, or “get people to change” as in an intervention. Motivational Interviewing is an on-going conversation between clinician and client that takes time, practice, and the client’s own self-awareness.

Essential Processes of Motivational Interviewing
There are four main processes to successful Motivational Interviewing or “keeping the conversation going.” During the “conversation” (Motivational Interviewing treatment), the clinician must always be: 

  • Engaging. The foundation to MI: actively listening, reflecting on, and affirming a client’s experience and perspective. 
  • Focusing. Steering dialogue toward the end goal of positive change.
  • Evoking. Helping clients build on their “why.”
  • Planning. The “how” to the process of change for a client.

Signs Motivational Interviewing May Benefit a Client 
Although not an exhaustive list, a client may benefit from MI if the following is present:

  • Ambivalence: having mixed feelings about change
  • Low confidence: doubting their ability to change
  • Apathy: low desire or uncertain if they want to change 

Is this tool aligned with my treatment style and will it be beneficial to my clients?
Be honest with yourself if this tool may be right for you, your clients, and your practice. Not every clinician or behavioral health provider is a good fit for motivational interviewing, just like not every client will be a good fit for this type of treatment.

The following are important characteristics in clinicians for the success of Motivational Interviewing:

  • Partnership and collaboration. Clinicians guide toward change, not force it.
  • Acceptance. Clinicians are non-judgmental and actively seek to understand their client’s perspective and life experiences. 
  • Compassion. Clinicians express unending empathy and promote their client’s wellbeing in a selfless way.
  • Patience and understanding. Clinicians actively listen, ask meaningful questions, and provide affirmations to build up client confidence

Behavioral and mental health providers should consider if Motivational Interviewing would be an impactful approach for those clients who are willing and wanting to change. It is proven to be a successful, client-centered approach to encouraging change, promoting resilience, and building confidence particularly in those seeking recovery. 

Sign Up To Receive Our Latest Blog Posts!

Learn more tips on living well and understanding mental illness. Help to end the stigma, and hear inspiring stories of recovery. Sign up here!

In a previous blog, Moral Injury Part One, we discussed the differences between workplace burnout and moral injury. While often used interchangeably, the two are markedly different and require a differing approach to addressing and coping with them.

Burnout is the result of chronic workplace stress. It’s not a medical diagnosis, but if left unaddressed could potentially lead to physical and mental health concerns. For more information on burnout including common symptoms read Moral Injury Part One: Are You Experiencing Burnout or Moral Injury?

Moral injury, on the other hand, refers to psychological, behavioral, social and/or spiritual distress that is experienced by individuals who are performing, asked to perform, or exposed to actions that contradict their moral values and personal ethics. Moral injury is being recognized in frontline and healthcare workers of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Symptoms of moral injury could be acute or appear slowly months or years after the event. Symptoms can include:
• Feelings of guilt, shame, disgust, anger
• Self-blame, self-sabotage
• Feeling unworthy
• Feeling detached from sense of self

Note: If you’re feeling severe symptoms such as those related to PTSD, depression, anxiety or substance use issues, it’s important to see a behavioral healthcare provider as soon as you can.

Everyone has individual experiences and may require different strategies to cope with moral injury. What may work for one person may not work for another, and that’s okay. Consider the following:

Lean on existing support systems. Seek support from family, friends, colleagues, and spiritual leaders. Be vulnerable and express your feelings. Often, having a listener is helpful in relieving the burden of our feelings. Also consider reaching out to other support groups locally or even virtually for a place to share your thoughts, feelings, and help others by supporting them.

Create a stress management system. You know yourself best and know what strategies work for you. Common techniques include focusing on proper sleep, a consistent exercise routine, incorporating healthy foods, and a mindfulness practice. Would it be helpful to have an accountability partner? Ask someone from your support system if they will walk around the neighborhood with you a couple times a week. Or discover a new recipe with nutritious ingredients. Consider cooking the meal as a form of mindfulness and allow yourself to get lost in the process.

Slow down. Recognize that you may be in a vulnerable and raw emotional and spiritual place. Remind yourself that this is okay. We all go through traumatic events, witness unethical practices, or are asked to perform duties that go against our very nature. Allow yourself to slow down, feel and process your feelings. Take all the time you need. Healing yourself isn’t a race.

Attend therapy. If you don’t yet attend, we suggest that you start. As a behavioral healthcare provider, you know first-hand the benefits of scheduled therapy sessions. Additionally, it’s likely that your provider will be sympathetic to the effects of moral injury as they may have experienced it before themselves.

Take action. Experiencing moral injury has the potential to detract us from our sense of self. What we believe in, our ethics, our values. Reunite with your inner self by remembering what it is that you believe in. Take time to reflect inwardly on what strengthens your sense of self, your morals and your beliefs. Then take action! Maybe it’s in the form of activism for a cause you care deeply about or volunteering in your community. Determine what’s important to your deepest self, what reinforces your core beliefs, and then, reconnect with it.

 

 

 

Sources: hhs.gov, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, drpaularedmond.com, mentalhealthfirstaid.com

Sign Up To Receive Our Latest Blog Posts!

Learn more tips on living well and understanding mental illness. Help to end the stigma, and hear inspiring stories of recovery. Sign up here!

Your mental and emotional health directly affects your ability to provide quality care to your clients. Healthcare professionals in various industries—and mostly due to factors of the coronavirus pandemic—are feeling guilt, shame and exhaustion, all symptoms of burnout. But are you experiencing something more complicated?

What is Burnout?

First, let’s discuss what burnout is. Burnout is a non-medical diagnosis characterized as a specific type of work-related stress. Burnout causes physical or emotional exhaustion (or both) that typically includes a feeling that you’ve lost your personal identity and sense of accomplishment.
Experts don’t know the cause of burnout, but some believe that depression and other individual factors may be involved.

Signs of Burnout

One person may experience burnout entirely differently from another. Take a few moments to consider these work scenarios to see if you’re experiencing burnout:

  • You feel pessimistic, critical and/or irritable
  • You feel unmotivated, easily distracted, and less productive
  • You don’t feel satisfied by your achievements or your work
  • Your sleep habits have changed (extreme fatigue, insomnia, sleep disturbances)
  • You’re experiencing headaches, stomach aches or other physical ailments
  • You’re using food, drugs or alcohol to feel better or to not feel at all
  • You no longer have energy for the people or things you enjoy

Possible Reasons You May Experience Burnout

Again, reasons of burnout will be different for each individual. Common factors include:

  • Lack of support
  • Unclear job expectations
  • Toxic or dysfunctional workplace environment
  • Lack of work/life balance

You may also be experiencing a heavy workload, excessive or long hours, or having little control over your work or schedule. Unfortunately, if you work in a helping profession, you may be more susceptible to burnout. If you suspect burnout, discuss your feelings and possible options with your supervisor or an HR resource.

You can also seek the advice of a healthcare professional to help address and alleviate any physical or emotional effects that are troubling you. Without intervention, burnout could lead to excessive stress, sleep issues, substance misuse, high blood pressure and higher risk of other health-related conditions.

Identifying with typical job burnout may not be sufficient for those in the helping professions, particularly in the years of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is where moral injury is increasingly getting brought into the conversation.

What is Moral Injury?

Moral injury involves the stressful social, psychological, and/or spiritual effects of having witnessed or participated in behaviors that go against a person’s core beliefs and values.

The term was developed in the 1990s to describe the moral conflicts military professionals were feeling after returning from war zones. Later, it was used to describe healthcare professionals facing similar distressing environments.

In a healthcare setting, burnout is described as a type of “chronic work stress” while moral injury is explained as the “suffering that occurs in response to moral adversity.” Having our beliefs or ethics repeatedly dishonored at our workplace can create undue psychological injury including disrupting how we feel about our individual selves and how we show up in the world.

What does moral injury look like in the helping professions?

Moral injury can occur in any profession but is on the rise in the healthcare industry. Here are some examples of what that may look like:

Feeling a sense of responsibility to make decisions that entail conflicting morals, ethics and values. For example, taking on more clients to meet the needs of your community, despite the caseload size exceeding your typical self-care standard.

Doing something that goes against your beliefs (referred to as an act of commission). Behavioral health care workers may be faced with situations where they need to decide how best to prioritize clients in need of a session (e.g., which clients receive less/more frequent sessions and how to best use limited time when multiple clients need help or when many are waiting for services).

Failing to do something in line with your beliefs (referred to as an act of omission). Moral injury can also develop in behavioral health care workers when they feel unable to provide the type of care requested by the client (e.g., in person session) for sake of their own safety or their families.

Witnessing or learning about an act that goes against your ethics and beliefs.Some may feel guilt and shame because they felt numb in the face of suffering and death. Behavioral health care workers may also witness what they perceive to be unjustifiable or unfair acts or policies that they feel powerless to confront.

Experiencing betrayal by someone you trust. A person who experiences betrayal may also feel anger, resentment, and/or diminished confidence in peers, leaders or organizations.

In behavioral health and mental health professions specifically, moral injury is a common occurrence. However, neither moral injury nor burnout is the fault of an individual, and self-care alone will not eliminate them. If you’re experiencing or have experienced moral injury, consider the following:

  • If you don’t already, attend therapy sessions regularly
  • Connect with colleagues who feel or have felt similarly
  • Take the time to self-reflect often (journal, prayer, meditation, etc.)
  • Stay connected to your true self, beliefs and values
  • Align your personal values with your business’ values
  • If you’re not self-employed, look for a workplace that prioritizes care over quotas and encourages a work/life balance

Clinicians, therapists, and other behavioral health workers are in their line of work because they truly want to help others—but remember that being an impactful, successful, and respected healthcare professional doesn’t need to come at a personal cost.

Self-care for moral injury can be particularly challenging for people working in behavioral health care given that those in the field strongly value caring for others and may prioritize the needs of others over their own. It is often only in conversations with others that we can hear a different, more helpful way to think about or make meaning from morally distressing situations.

On the positive side, there is also evidence that indicates after potentially morally injurious experiences some people develop a redefined meaning in life and, with time and support, begin to incorporate the experience into growth or helping others. Further, some develop new insights about how to help the systems in which they work or that can help them grow in their own work or lives.

Behavioral health care workers, their colleagues, and leaders can use strategies to take care of themselves and each other both during and after potential morally injurious situations, to support recovery and growth.

Sign Up To Receive Our Latest Blog Posts!

Learn more tips on living well and understanding mental illness. Help to end the stigma, and hear inspiring stories of recovery. Sign up here!

Parts & People: An Overview of the Internal Family Systems Model

Presented by HAM affiliate Karen Hardy, LCPC, CADC 
Six CEUs (contact hours) 

Monday, March 14
Friday, March 25
8:30 am – 4:00 pm 

About This Training:

An evidence-based model of psychotherapy, Internal Family Systems is a way for people to understand themselves in a deeper way and offer insight about their relationships with others.

This interactive workshop will provide an overview of the Internal Family Systems model. Participants will have the opportunity to do some meditative, introspection work using this model, have the opportunity to ask questions, engage in discussion, and observe a recorded session.

If times allows, a live demonstration may be held for a member to experience the model first-hand while others observe.

Training Details:

Location: Online Event
Time: 8:30 am – 4:00 pm
Dates: Monday, March 14, 2022 OR Friday, March 25, 2022
Cost: $59; FREE for HAM affiliates


Register here for the Monday, March 14 session!

Register here for the Friday, March 25 session!

About the Presenter:

Karen Hardy, LCPC, CADC, worked as a counselor for 20 years at the Connecticut Department of Corrections. Upon her retirement in 2011, she began a Master’s program at Cambridge College in Springfield, MA. She now holds a M.Ed. in counseling psychology.

Much of Karen’s work has been related to addiction and trauma treatments, as she believes there’s a strong correlation between the two issues. She also works with family members affected by a loved one’s addictive behaviors. Her personal experiences offer a unique perspective to her clients; she values each individual as they are and helps them envision an empowered future.

Sign Up To Receive Our Latest Blog Posts!

Learn more tips on living well and understanding mental illness. Help to end the stigma, and hear inspiring stories of recovery. Sign up here!

Thinking about opening your own private practice? Way to go! Health Affiliates Maine is proud to help behavioral health professionals as they venture into entrepreneurship, making that potentially overwhelming experience a little easier to navigate.

Signs You’re Ready to Run Your Own Business

Entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart. However, odds are that if you’ve been thinking about it, you know deep down that you can do this! Here are some signs to look out for when considering if the time is right to strike out on your own:

  • You can think of better, more efficient ways of doing things
  • Your values no longer align with your employer’s or company’s values
  • You feel limited at your current position
  • You want more freedom and flexibility in your lifestyle
  • There’s a strong market or need for your unique services and abilities
  • You’ve outlined or thought about a business plan
  • You have support or know where to find it, such as creating a network of colleagues
  • You believe in yourself and are excited by the idea of owning your own business

Characteristics of an Entrepreneur

Although not everyone wants to run their own business (and that’s okay!), there also isn’t only “one type” of person who would be successful at it. Here’s a list of a few common attributes in entrepreneurs:

  • You’re passionate
  • You’re independent
  • You’re organized
  • You’re not risk-averse
  • You’re resilient
  • You’re not afraid to go it alone or ask for help

If you don’t immediately identify with any of those characteristics, it doesn’t mean that you couldn’t run your own practice if you wanted to. We suggest taking time to reflect inward on why you want your own business, what you would offer and how you would start taking steps to get there.

Feeling ready to open your own private practice? Take a look at five ways you can marketyour new business. Marketing yourself and your business may sound unnecessary (you already have clients!) but it’s important for maintaining your professional relationships, attracting potential clients, and keeping your new business relevant.

How Not to Become Overwhelmed When Starting a Business

We won’t lie—your private practice won’t happen overnight, and you’ll likely face challenges and hard decisions along the way. When you feel overwhelmed or stressed, try the following:

  • Take a walk or do an exercise workout
  • Try yoga or mediation to calm your nervous system
  • Turn on “do not disturb” on all your devices to limit distractions
  • Consider reaching out to someone in your network for advice or support
  • Mark a day on your calendar that’s just for you (take yourself out to lunch, do errands, go shopping, go the spa, anything to distract yourself from overwhelm and allow yourself to reset)

When running your own private practice, there will be days when you’re firing on all cylinders and other days when you may question your business decisions. Both are normal and a part of being an entrepreneur! Take a few moments to remember your why. Why did you leave your previous employer? Why did you want to be your own boss? Why did you decide to serve clients your way? These answers will remind you of the vision you have for your private practice and will re-inspire you.

Sign Up To Receive Our Latest Blog Posts!

Learn more tips on living well and understanding mental illness. Help to end the stigma, and hear inspiring stories of recovery. Sign up here!

This class meets the requirements for Domain 3, Ethics & Professional Conduct, of the Maine MHRT/Community curriculum.

About this event Tickets

 

This class meets Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:00am-12:15pm from February 1 to March 3, 2022 via Zoom. You must be able to attend all classes.

In this training, we will study the knowledge and application of ethics and professional conduct in your work as an MHRT/C.

The following knowledge competencies will be reviewed:

Knowledge Competencies for Domain 3: Ethics and Professional Conduct

Demonstrate a standard of professionalism and integrity in practice, and confront and resolve ethical challenges by seeking appropriate collaboration and consultation.

  1. Explain ethics and how to conduct practice within the context of a professional code of ethics. Give examples of inappropriate behavior. Define appropriate contexts for dual relationships and how to set and maintain clear, professional, and culturally sensitive boundaries.
  2. Relate the intersection of ethics with state and federal laws.
  3. Define confidentiality requirements and how to communicate these policies to staff, consumers, families, guardians, and others.
  4. Describe the evolution of HIPAA and what constitutes protected health information, including communication requirements within the context of health information technology.
  5. Explain how to secure informed consent from a consumer.
  6. Maintain sound documentation that reflects an adherence to individualized, person-centered care.
  7. Explain a provider’s ethical responsibility to empower consumers.
  8. Identify a number of strategies, consistent with professional practice, to empower consumers.
  9. Collaborate and interact effectively with community members and other professionals.
  10. Describe what it means to be an effective contributing member of an interdisciplinary team.
  11. Model appropriate professional behavior at all times, apply ethical guidelines and demonstrate the effective use of supervision.
  12. Practice using a supervisory relationship to resolve ethical challenges.
  13. Summarize the importance of evaluating the effectiveness of personal practice.
  14. Describe how individuals working in the behavioral health field practice self-care. Utilize supervision effectively to prevent compassion fatigue and vicarious traumatization.

Course Expectations

1. Attendance:

Students must attend each day of class (5 units) and receive an 80% or above on the final exam to earn a certificate of completion. If a student misses a day, they are responsible for arranging to attend the next offering of the missed unit, with either the same trainer or another organization. Unit 5 is optional for students with the required academic preparation.

2. Make‐up work:

Students must attend all five units (or four with a related degree) as stated above, and complete and submit any missed assignments.

3. Class size:

The standardized MHRT/C curricula are interactive. The recommendation is that classes have no fewer than six (6) participants and no more than 20.

4. Class participation guidelines:

  1. Students will arrive on time and stay until the end of the unit (no early dismissals).
  2. Students will demonstrate respect for others. This means:
    • Listening completely before interjecting.
    • Use appropriate pronouns. Respect the pronouns individuals choose for themselves.
    • Use person‐first language. This language puts the individual before the disability. For example, “a person with schizophrenia” or “an individual with bipolar” as opposed to “a schizophrenic” or “bipolar woman” or “mentally ill man.”
    • Use first person language, such as “I” messages. [For example, “I didn’t understand his response to my question” as opposed to “He overreacted to my question.”] This allows students to take responsibility for their feelings and experiences rather than blame them on someone else.
    • Keep personal reflections and stories shared in class confidential.
  3. Cell phone use: Cell phones should be placed on vibrate or silenced at all times during the class. Cell phone calls must be taken in the hallway or in private.
  4. This course requires demonstration of knowledge and skills, therefore, students are expected to participate in all activities.

5. Course evaluations

Participants will receive a link to complete an online evaluation the last day of their training. The Muskie School Center for Learning will summarize the evaluations and share results with the trainers and DHHS/OBH.

About the Presenters:

Marylena Chaisson, LCSW, is a clinical supervisor in the case management program at Health Affiliates Maine. She is a clinical mental health counselor (LCPC) who has worked in rural, under-resourced Maine communities for nearly 20 years both in agency and private practice settings. She also enjoys her work as a Disaster Mental Health contracted trainer for the state of Maine’s Disaster Behavioral Health Team, part of the Maine CDC and Maine DHHS.

Mary Gagnon, LMFT, is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and the Training and Clinical Development Specialist for Health Affiliates Maine. Mary has worked in private practice as well as a variety of community mental health settings throughout her career. Her most recent work at Health Affiliates Maine includes oversight of clinicians in private practice and development and facilitation of trainings for schools and conferences throughout the state. She is a certified trainer for Domains 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, and 7 for the MHRT/C Non-Academic Curriculum.

Tickets

Sign Up To Receive Our Latest Blog Posts!

Learn more tips on living well and understanding mental illness. Help to end the stigma, and hear inspiring stories of recovery. Sign up here!

The holidays can be a time of perpetual joy, faith and connection. However, there are many ways our mental health can worsen during this time. There’s the stress of buying gifts and attending family gatherings. The feeling of loss and nostalgia for those who are no longer with us. And the last two years during the pandemic, a lot of us are feeling more isolated and distanced than ever. But there is hope. You can manage your mental health, stay connected, and lean into the holiday spirit with the following reminders.  

  1. Reset routine: Think about your daily routine. What’s working for you and where can you improve? Keep in mind that your health practices such as eating nutritious foods, exercising regularly, and getting restful sleep are all beneficial to your mental health.  
  2. Boost brain power: Have you ever wanted to learn something new? Maybe it’s yoga, cooking a gourmet meal, or learning a musical instrument. Even 5-10 minutes per day of practicing a new skill or hobby can boost your mental and emotional health and take your mind off any stresses of the season. 
  3. Slow down: The way we gather and celebrate may have changed, but it has also forced us to slow down and take stock of our lives. Allow yourself to move at a slower pace to be more present and mindful of the holiday season. What or who are you grateful for? What memories or events bring you joy this time of year? Writing these things out in a journal or on a notepad and seeing them will help. 
  4. Adjust traditions: The way we come together has changed, but it can be an opportunity to adapt rather than to be upset for how the holidays “should be.” How does this time of year make you feel? Share this with your family (along with their feelings) to see where new traditions can align.
  5. Reach out: We can still be connected while being apart. Keep connected to your loved ones by text, phone or video call, or writing a letter or holiday card. Let them know you’re thinking of them, share how you’re celebrating, and let them know you’ll always be there. 

 

It’s important to recognize that having a mixed bag of emotions during the holiday season is normal and that existent mental health issues can worsen due to holiday stresses. We all may need extra help this holiday season and that’s okay. The following are signs that professional guidance may be necessary:  

  • Fear and worry 
  • Self-isolation 
  • Fatigue, sleep changes 
  • Irritability, mood changes 
  • Impulsive or risky behavior 
  • Worsening chronic health issues 
  • Worsening mental health issues (such as anxiety and depression) • Increase in substance use (such as alcohol, drugs and smoking) 

Sources: hhs.gov, usatoday.com, mayoclinic.org, clevelandclinic.org, nm.org

Sign Up To Receive Our Latest Blog Posts!

Learn more tips on living well and understanding mental illness. Help to end the stigma, and hear inspiring stories of recovery. Sign up here!

Running your own practice allows you to determine your caseload, clients, and your schedule so that your business aligns with your principles. However, if you’ve had your private practice for a while (or even if you’re just starting out) you may have experienced seasons of isolation or loneliness.

Being a solo entrepreneur has its advantages, but having workplace relationships can offer needed support, camaraderie, and guidance. We know you can go it alone, but you don’t have to for your practice to be successful! Consider our advice on building your community:

Attend trainings, workshops, and other CE opportunities. They will keep you learning and up to date with best practice standards and clinical intervention methods which will benefit your practice. They will also connect you with other mental health professionals that you can bounce thoughts and ideas off with.

Join professional organizations from local, regional, and national chapters. Reach out to small business owners via email, connect with mental health professionals with a similar niche and network during events. Don’t be afraid to make and maintain connections.

Offer consulting services to local businesses and organizations. Think employeeworkshops on interpersonal communications or HR topics such as diversity and inclusion among peers. This will grow your public speaking skills, grow your business, and expand your network and opportunities for referrals.

Submit advice to a local publication or website. Perhaps there’s an expert’s section where readers submit questions looking for professional advice or maybe it’s a monthly column with a guest speaker. Think of the audience of the publication and offer a proposed article that would benefit them.

Teach a class or workshop at a childcare center, community college or corporate event. Important and common topics are stress management, establishing boundaries, and effective communication.

Lean on one another and use colleagues for support. If there’s an individual needing help, but at the moment you are unable to take on new clients, refer them to another in your network. And let them do the same for you!

You started your private practice to serve clients your way. But when you have a community of colleagues lifting you up, your wellbeing, your clients, and your practice will thrive.

Sign Up To Receive Our Latest Blog Posts!

Learn more tips on living well and understanding mental illness. Help to end the stigma, and hear inspiring stories of recovery. Sign up here!