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Dr. Kacey Greening is Getting Back to Her Roots


It’s hard to find somebody as dedicated to learning as Dr. Kacey Greening. After years of working primarily in college counseling centers, Dr. Greening made a bold move and re-routed her career path back to her original plan: working with kids and families.

And the timing couldn’t have been better. Just as Dr. Greening was launching back into pediatric work, Intuition Wellness Center opened a position for a new clinical team member. Her thoughtful approach to her work, gentle presence, positive attitude, and devotion to ongoing training are just a few of the many ways that Dr. Greening won over the Intuition Wellness team. There’s also a lot more about Dr. Greening to like…

Who is Dr. Kacey Greening?!?

Where are you originally from? I was born and raised in Chillicothe, Ohio.

Favorite vegetable: Carrots.

What do you do to relax? Some of my favorite ways to relax are hiking and mountain biking, watching college basketball, and spending time with my husband, family, and friends. I also love to cook and bake.

Name an unusual thing that you know how to do that many others do not: I grew up watching my dad compete at his Archery club so I learned how to shoot a bow. It’s a lot of fun and a great stress reliever.

Name a guilty pleasure: Watching my favorite Netflix reruns.

What’s a professional topic that you get especially excited about? I’m a big believer in self-compassion. I practice it daily, many times a day! My hope is that in being kind towards myself it will encourage people to be kinder to themselves too.

What led you to decide on joining the Intuition Wellness team? Working with kids, young adults, and families has been a passion of mine since I started working in this field. Intuition’s mission to inspire others to live in health and joy is consistent with my own philosophy, and I wanted to be on a team with people who share my values. Another key factor that led to me joining the team at Intuition is my colleagues. When I was getting to know the Intuition team, I instantly felt a warmth and a kindness that put me at ease. I was also impressed by their commitment to continued growth and quality services. I remember thinking that Intuition was a work environment where I would be supported and challenged to grow, while also being able to offer support and challenge others to grow.

What if someone is feeling nervous about coming in to see you? Is there something they should know? My personal approach is that everyone needs some support and help from time to time, myself included. Engaging in counseling can be a wonderful form of self-care. I know that for many people reaching out for help, it can take a lot of strength and courage, which is one of the reasons why Positive Psychology is so important to me. I think being mindful of pleasant and meaningful experiences are just as important as being mindful of the areas we’re struggling in. When I provide counseling, I not only try to be attentive to the areas where a person feels stuck, but I try to use their strengths to problem solve and create healthy changes.

What’s something that parents and kids might like to know about your approach? I work very hard to find helpful strategies that are consistent with client and family values. I enjoy using art, therapeutic games, and creative approaches to identify client and family needs and to build a trusting relationship. I also incorporate skills from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Positive Psychology, Dialectical Behavior Therapy, and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. Many of the things that are important to me as a person also come through in the therapy room, such as kindness, creativity, and collaboration. When I work with clients and families, I see my role as being on the journey with them and collaborating with them to decide what’s best for them.

For more updates on Intuition Wellness Center’s services and programs, subscribe to our newsletter or pop on over to our Facebook page for lots more great stuff.

At Intuition Wellness Center, we specialize in integrated behavioral health services and wellness programs for children, young adults and families. Call 520-333-3320 for a free phone consultation.

Written by: Dr. Brandy Baker, PsyD and Dr. Kacey Greening, PsyD

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Kids’ Self Care: How sick is too sick?

On my graduation day from high school, a good friend was given a fancy certificate for maintaining a record of perfect attendance every single year of his entire history of schooling. He hadn’t missed a single day since he started in kindergarten. Not for illness. Not for a death. Not for vacation. Not for anything. Not one day missed for 13 years. I remember how, in the months leading up to the end of our senior year, he balked at “senior skip day” and how he came to school with the flu and all sorts of other symptoms. He was determined to keep up his unmarred record and his teachers and classmates, myself included, egged him on. There was something I found respectable about his willingness to power through, as if he was some sort of martyr for having survived cases of pink eye and the chicken pox while concurrently completing his multiplication tables and learning state capitals. It does seem a pretty remarkable feat.

Now, a full-on grown up, I still fight an internalized message— one that says things like, “you’re not going to let a little thing like a cold stand in your way, are you?” Somehow, whether through a family cultural message or through a broader societal message, I seem to have gotten confused about the value of caring for myself and allowing my body to rest and heal. There are other underlying messages contributing, too, of course. Outright denial tends to complicate things as does my own family’s hesitation to pay for health care when I was a kid or to miss work due to the financial implications. These days, I’m usually able to engage with my rational brain in these instances, but it still takes a good amount of effort. Another thing that I understand much better now also is the importance of thinking about how my own actions impact others— that is, the spread of my illness to others is something that I take far more seriously, especially given who I work with at Intuition Wellness Center.

Today my fellow team members and I work with a vulnerable population of children and young people. Some of them are living with chronic illness, both physical and mental. It can be very difficult, even for a seasoned professional, to determine what symptoms are rooted in a physical ailment and what is purely emotional. Part of the difficulty is that, the more we understand, the more we realize that often they are not truly distinct parts or processes in our bodies. Symptoms such as fatigue, decrease in appetite, stomachaches and headaches could be part of the flu or an ongoing chronic “body-based” medical issue and they could also be symptoms of depression or anxiety. Those with chronic physical disease are also more susceptible to mental illness as the impact on their social relationships and everyday functioning can weigh heavily on their emotional health. Because proper diagnosis is more complicated when there are both physical and mental health issues, many people do not get proper care for one or the other or both. Mental illness is often associated with poorer diets and exercise routines as well, which make it both more difficult to stay physically healthy and to recuperate from physical illness as well as to improve from the mental illness itself.

Not everyone has been inundated with the same messages that I received as a kid. Among the team members I work with and the clients I see, many are stellar at listening to their bodies and giving themselves the proper time to rest and recuperate. We do often get the question from parents, however, as to whether they should bring their sick child in for their psychotherapy appointment. It does feel like a tough thing to navigate for some kids who seem to be so susceptible to illness that they rarely seem to be symptom-free come flu season. Many parents also do seem to understand that the discomfort of physical illness seems to intensify some of the symptoms of mental illness (and be intensified by mental illness) and want support for their children during this time. While often I do emphasize the importance of regular attendance in psychotherapy sessions, when a child is truly physically ill with something like the flu or has some other contagious condition, my answer is consistent— stay home.

Keeping your kids home from school, community events or their counseling appointments when they are sick helps them recover sooner and prevents them from spreading the illness to others. Staying home from an appointment with a team member at Intuition Wellness Center due to a contagious condition, also means helping to prevent particularly vulnerable children and young people from potentially catching something that could contribute to worsened mental illness as well.

But how sick is too sick for an appointment at Intuition Wellness Center?

• A temperature over 100 degrees;
• Throwing up or diarrhea;
• Pink and crusty eyes;
• Doctor states they should stay home;
• Too sick for school;
• Any other condition that is infectious/contagious/spreads (including head lice).

It may be ok to go to an appointment at Intuition Wellness Center if your child doesn’t have any other symptoms besides a runny nose and a little cough. However, it’s always a good idea to consult with your child’s pediatrician and call your clinician prior to the appointment.

Please help the Intuition Wellness Center community and other vulnerable populations to stay healthy by resting when you’re sick. At Intuition Wellness we consider clients staying home due to illness an important act of self care and waive our cancellation fee for such instances.

When is sick too sick for you or your child? Let us know in the comments section below how you can tell when your child needs extra rest so that other readers can benefit from your wisdom!

At Intuition Wellness Center we specialize in integrated behavioral health services and wellness programs for children, young adults and families and supporting other like-minded professionals in doing good work. Call us at 520-333-3320.

Written by: Brandy Baker, PsyD in collaboration with Co-Founder Yoendry Torres, PsyD & H.S. Intern Manasa Swaminathan

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When Your Child Says She Hates to Learn (Part 2)

Now that you’ve identified that your child is a refusal-to-put-in-the-work, acting-up, perfection-or-bust, or seeking-constant-reassurance bright kid (or just a kid with a nose), perhaps you would like some guidance? Last month I talked all about a fixed mindset and how it leads to these unfortunate presentations (and if you haven’t read it, no judgment, but you’ll want to read that post before you go any further). Then I said nothing, not even a single word, about what you could do to help your child. You were left wondering, should I say no to ribbons and trophies? Should I discourage my child from counting the freckles on her ankles? What, Dr. Baker?!? What shall I do to help my child love to learn again?!?

Do you see what I did there? So clever of me to rope you in and then leave you wondering, though I do hope that you signed up for our monthly newsletter as it gave a nice little intro to this post. Wait no longer loyal readers, here’s what you came for…

Super speedy review first!

Fixed mindset is:

A belief that your qualities are carved in stone–that you have a certain amount of talent and that’s that. In a fixed mindset, effort is only for those who can’t make it on talent and success is about being more gifted than others.

Growth mindset is:

A belief that basic qualities are things that you can cultivate through effort– that, while people may differ in initial talents, interests, aptitudes and temperaments, everyone can change and improve through application and experience. People in a growth mindset are able to look frankly at their weaknesses, challenge themselves, learn something hard and stick with it. Effort, finding strategies that work, and seeking input from others are seen as the keys to success.

We ALL have a fixed mindset sometimes. We ALL have a growth mindset sometimes. And in many cases, we have a smattering of both. However, it’s a real service to our children and ourselves to strive for a growth mindset ALL the time as too much of a fixed mindset can literally undo the natural love of learning we were all born with.

Instill a growth mindset:

Talk to your children about mindset. The very act of teaching the difference between a fixed mindset versus a growth mindset makes a difference! Research by Dr. Carol Dweck indicates that telling children about stories of a growth mindset helps them adopt a similar outlook. For an example to share, you might tell your child about some of Dweck’s research on students entering junior high who were matched on grades. Dweck concluded that those with a growth mindset improved their math grades incrementally over the course of their junior high experience while those with a fixed mindset demonstrated worsened math grades by the end of junior high. Another super fun example of how a growth mindset can be beneficial can be found in this little video that I like to show children, especially if they have interest in athletics. Spoiler alert: it includes some friendly banter between olympic runners who seem pretty committed to improvement despite their obvious success.

Model a healthy response to failure. The next time you don’t master something, you have the perfect opportunity to discuss your experience with your child. Struggling to get out the door on time in the morning? Burned the meal at dinnertime? Forgot about a deadline? These are all instances when you can fess up to your mistakes and talk out loud about how you might improve. This normalizes the learning process and reminds your child (and you) that there is always work to be done in order to get better.

Encourage studying to learn, not to memorize. Repetitive review of material to ace an exam is memorization and a lot less likely to stick than true learning of the material such as going over mistakes until you’re sure you understand them. Looking for unique strategies that suit the learner and studying with the purpose of understanding will result in better grades! It should be noted that, for those in a fixed mindset, rather than trying to repair or learn from a failure, they are likely to try to repair their self-esteem by looking for others who are worse.

Allow progress, improved learning tactics, and effort to be the basis for success. Making your 15-year-old daughter’s phone privileges dependent on her getting all A’s and B’s at school may be very tempting given how motivated she seems by her phone usage. One problem with this, however, is that it sets a tone that you value good grades not good study habits and fails to acknowledge that school is a place for learning (and seems to suggest that she should have mastered the subject already). A better strategy? Praise your child for improvements in study habits. Question how she studied and discuss how well those tactics worked for her or help her study and have a conversation about what you notice. Reinforce the work that your child puts into learning (such as attending after school tutoring or asking for additional practice). Don’t emphasize scores, grades, or trophies.

Teach the importance of strategy and goal-setting. Think of a time you were enjoying doing something and then it got hard and you wanted out. Unless you were just in it for fun, chances are that you didn’t have a realistic perspective on the work that it would require. If there’s something that your child enjoys and wants to get better in, help him create realistic, short-term goals for himself and figure out what he needs to achieve it. Consider hiring a coach or tutor and creating a practice schedule. If your 5-year-old son is expressing interest in learning how to write all of his letters by the end of summer, make a plan to introduce 2 or 3 new letters each week and help him map it out on a calendar so he can see his progress toward achieving his goal. Praise his work toward his goals.

Use the word “yet” regularly. People with a fixed mindset thrive when things are safely within their grasp. Depending on a person’s current capacity, this could signal some pretty big limitations. The concept of “yet” is simple. If your child says, “I don’t understand the math…” you add ”YET!” Again, this sends the message that working toward something is the norm and reinforces a value around effort.

Stop saying “You’re so smart.” In fact, re-think labels altogether. Labeling someone as smart actually has a negative impact on them! Likewise, saying things like, “Ben is such an artist” or “Elizabeth is so bright, she got an A without even studying” lead to Ben thinking to himself  “I shouldn’t try too hard, they’ll see I’m not that talented” and Elizabeth thinking “I better not study or they won’t think I’m bright.” Making these sort of statements devalues the effort needed to be exceptional at things and reinforces a fixed mindset.

There you have it folks– 7 things that you can do that I guarantee will help you and your child begin to love learning again. One more reminder also that no one is ALWAYS in a growth mindset. If you’ve been making some mistakes due to fixed mindset issues, you’re one of many. Now that you know these things, put on your observation goggles. You’ll notice lots of opportunities to support a growth mindset in your children. Know also that a lot of this may not feel intuitive since many of us were the victims of empty praise ourselves, but don’t give up just because you haven’t mastered the growth mindset… yet!

At Intuition Wellness Center we specialize in integrated behavioral health services and programs for children, young adults and families and supporting other like-minded professionals in doing good work. If you think you need more than what this mindset series offered or, if after trying this, you still think your child (and/or those around her) could use some extra support, call us. We offer school success consultations and a variety of evaluations as well as parent guidance and a slew of other supportive services. Call 520-333-3320 for a free phone consultation.

You might also pop on over to our Facebook or Pinterest pages for lots more great stuff.

Written by: Brandy Baker, PsyD

Image Credit: Steven Depolo. via creativecommons.org

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My Child Was Exposed to Media Coverage of a Tragic Event… What Can I Do?

With in-depth minute-by-minute coverage of news now literally at our fingertips, it’s impossible to shield our children from the tragedies of the world. While this may be ok in some cases, some children are particularly sensitive. In addition, many parents also worry about desensitizing children to violence and cruelty. If your child is fearful or anxious following exposure to a media-covered event, you may be wondering about how to proceed. For this reason, I offer some tips on how to help your child.

 

Talking to Children about Tragedy:
  1. Be your child’s news source. However you decide to talk about the situation, it’s much better for the child if you’re the one who tells them. You want to be the one to set the tone and share the facts. Doing so in a calm and developmentally-appropriate way is important. Give them a break from watching the news even if they are interested in getting the latest developments. When you’re ready to turn on the news again, watch it with them so that you’re available for questions.
  2. Follow your child’s lead. Invite them to tell you anything they may have heard about the situation and how they feel. Try not to ask leading questions. Be prepared to answer their questions, too, but avoid language that will encourage their fear and don’t give more than what they are asking for.
  3. Validate your child’s feelings. Listen to your child and be empathic. It’s important to accept their feelings and let them know it’s ok to feel what they are feeling, but don’t give power to the fear. Help your child understand what they’re anxious about, while sending the message that “we” can handle it.
  4. Be reassuring and realistic. Your child may be fearful because they are worried something bad could happen to them or someone they care about. Reassure them that you are going to help them get through their fear and let them know of any safety measures in place to protect them. Sometimes it may also help to talk through what would happen if your child’s fear came true. For some kids, having a plan in place helps to reduce their uncertainty and worry.
  5. Be consistent. Kids find great comfort in the predictable and usual. Fear of something bad happening can sometimes lead to avoidant behaviors, but avoidance can actually reinforce anxiety. Keep as many things stable as possible and preserve the family routine. Sometimes just spending time with your child may help them feel safer.
  6. Model a healthy response. Let your child see you cope with worry. Kids are very perceptive and they will notice how you manage stress and anxiety. Let your child see you managing it calmly, tolerating it, and feeling ok about getting through it. If you’re having trouble managing your own anxiety, seek support from other adults— family, friends, religious leaders, or a therapist.
  7. Take action. Some children may feel better by taking on a prosocial pursuit in the aftermath of tragedy. Find a developmentally-appropriate activity for them to take action such as sending a card, raising money, or organizing a vigil. Help them see the good that can come out of trauma— heroic events, helpers stepping forward, etc.
  8. Watch for signs. If your child seems to be expressing excessive fear and worry or avoiding their usual places or activities a few weeks after the event, seek consultation from their school counselor or psychologist, pediatrician or a private therapist.

There are a lot of resources for parents and therapists out there who are helping children navigate these stressful encounters. For more resources, here’s our FREE list chock full of clickable links– Download Caregiver Tools: Talking to Children About Tragedy

And, if you are a member of the media, please visit the National Childhood Traumatic Stress Network’s tips for covering traumatic events.
Subscribe to our Newsletter for service and general practice updates or pop on over to our Facebook or Pinterest pages for lots more great stuff.

At Intuition Wellness Center we specialize in counseling children, young adults and families and supporting other like-minded professionals in doing good work. Call 520-333-3320 for a free phone consultation.

Written by: Brandy Baker, PsyD

Image Credit: Randen Pederson via creativecommons.org

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Taekwondo Wellness Therapy Group Announcement

TKDKidsFlyerHello,
We have exciting news about a new Taekwondo Wellness therapy group for kids ages 7 and up that will be starting on May 24, 2016 at Intuition Wellness Center. We are currently accepting referrals for kids, teens, and adults who may benefit from an alternative approach to overcoming emotional, behavioral, and social challenges. The cost will be $35 per 60 minute group session. We are a provider for BCBS insurance and group therapy services may be billable. Please note that this can be an adjunct to current counseling services or a standalone service for clients.
Please call 520-333-3320 to register or visit us online to learn more about Taekwondo Wellness therapy groups and other services we provide. Here are two flyers, one for kids TKD and the other for teens and adults TKD. Please feel free to email (contact@intuitionwellness.com) or call (520-333-3320) if you have any questions about Taekwondo Wellness therapy groups. Below is a bit more info about Taekwondo Wellness.

Taekwondo Wellness Difference

What sets Taekwondo Wellness apart from your typical Taekwondo school? We incorporate three distinct services into our classes that are aimed at helping youth, adults and their families improve their mental health and family and peer dynamics. The first key component is psycho-education, which teaches psychological hygiene, coping skills, and social skills. The second key component is parent coaching that helps families improve their communication and interactions with their kids and others. Mindfulness meditation is the third key component, which is incorporated into each session to take advantages of its many benefits such as improved attention span, pain relief, and decreases in anxiety to name a few.

Taekwondo Wellness Core Curriculum

  • Clinical Interview & Treatment Plan: Participants will each be evaluated by one of our clinicians who will help identify mental health needs and treatment plan.
  • Taekwondo Philosophy: Students will learn about the core Taekwondo principles and how yin jang concepts of Taoism can be applied to our daily lives to reach a state of harmony.
  • Poomsae: Students will learn and practice a set pattern of defensive and offensive techniques as a means of improving power, speed, and balance while striving for self refinement.
  • One Step & Self Defense: Students will learn to apply Taekwondo blocking and striking techniques to real-life situations building self-esteem and sense of security.
  • Olympic Style Sparring: Intermediate rank students will learn sparring rules, skills, and strategies of Taekwondo sparring while developing good sportsmanship, coordination, balance, self control, and self-reliance.
  • Board Breaking: Students will learn to focus their minds and overcome fear to achieve feats of strength and build confidence.
  • Physical Fitness: Through rigorous exercises using interval training students will see improvements in their endurance and strength as well as managing their weight.
  • Flexibility Training: Students will practice stretching regularly for improved range of motion not only for higher kicks but for its physical and stress relieving benefits as well.
  • Psycho-education & Mental Training: Students will learn about self talk, goal setting, and energy, stress and anger management in addition to other psychological issues and risk factors.
  • Parent Coaching: Parents observing class will get parenting tips and learn how to manage or redirect unwanted child or adolescent behavior.
  • Meditation: Students will learn and practice mindfulness meditation for its physical and psychological benefits, including stress, pain, and mood management.
  • Body Awareness: Students will became aware of their bodily sensations and the difference between tension and relaxation, as well as, a better understanding of how stress can be stored in the body.
  • Fun: Last, but not least, is fun! Students will laugh, smile, and have lots of fun while practicing Taekwondo. Humor has been shown to have physical benefits such as boosting our immune systems and energy and diminishing pain, in addition to improving mood and relieving stress.

Written by Yoendry Torres, Psy.D., Clinical Psychologist

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Gardening for Stress Management: Get your free cilantro tips here!

cilantroIt’s no surprise to most that time spent in nature— unplugged from technology and without everyday burdens— can reduce stress. But I bet you didn’t know these facts…

 

 

  • The actual components of soil may increase serotonin and lead to a decrease in depression! (See the Journal of Neuroscience, 2007)
  • Gardening reduces one’s levels of cortisol (the body’s natural stress hormone) and, in turn, can lower levels of anxiety! (Journal of Health Psychology, 2011)
  • Exposure to a natural environment— even looking out the window at a natural scene or having potted plants in the room— improves our ability to tolerate stress, think creatively and problem solve! (Journal of Affective Disorders, 2012)

As a token of our appreciation and to inspire people to do something joyful like gardening, Intuition Wellness Center will be distributing over 100 coriander seed packets to teachers and staff at Tucson local schools. These coriander seeds, (when planted with care and joy), will grow into cilantro plants that can be eaten, frozen, or enjoyed simply for their fragrance and the mental health benefits of growing them. We know not everyone has developed their green thumb just yet, so for all of our new friends who are taking home seed packets and to any others inspired by the joy of gardening, here’s some basic “how-to” info on planting coriander seeds, storing cut cilantro leaves, harvesting seeds from your cilantro plant, as well as a quick and easy recipe for a tasty and unconventional cilantro pesto.

How to: Plant Cilantro (Coriander Seeds)
Tucson falls are ideal for growing cilantro! Plant in your garden or make your cilantro a potted plant. Either way, you’re sure to enjoy the refreshing “fruits” of your labor with fall or spring planting.

Method

  1. Plant seeds just under the surface of the soil in a sunny or light shade location about 6 to 8 inches apart.
  2. Keep the soil moist.
  3. From the time of sowing seed, cilantro leaves can begin to be harvested in about 3 to 4 weeks. Cut or pinch the large leaves down about once a week to keep it bushy and productive. Eventually it will flower, signifying it’s nearing the end of it’s lifespan.
  4. To enjoy cilantro all season long, plant successive sowings every 2 to 3 weeks.

How to: Store Cilantro
Have you ever had trouble keeping fresh herbs fresh? This super easy trick is a surefire way to keep your cilantro perky and tasty for up to two weeks in the fridge!

Method

  1. Snip off the bottom of the stems.
  2. Make sure the leaves are completely dry. Better to hold off rinsing them until you’re about to use them.
  3. Fill a jar or a water glass partially with water and place the stem ends of the herbs into the water in the jar.
  4. Store in the refrigerator, cover loosely with a plastic bag.
  5. Change the water after several days if the water starts to discolor.

Cilantro can last up to 2 weeks or longer when stored this way. You can also freeze! Put the leaves in a freezer storage bag and voila!

How to: Harvest Cilantro Seeds
Cilantro is a forgiving and relatively cooperative plant. Though a cilantro plant may not produce new leaves for more than a month or so, it’s so easy to harvest seeds and re-plant, you can still enjoy fresh cilantro all season long!

Method

  1. When the cilantro grows its stalk, you can either leave it be and let it self-seed or choose to store the seed (called coriander).
  2. To store coriander seeds, cut off the seed heads when the plant begins to turn brown and put them in a paper bag.
  3. Hang the bag until the plant dries and the seeds fall off. You can then store the seeds in sealed containers.

Beyond being used to grow a new cilantro plant, coriander seeds are also often used in cooking and are enjoyed for their distinctive flavor!

How to: Make a Fragrant and Refreshing Cilantro Pesto
Prep time: 15min; Cook time: 15 min; Ready to eat: in no time at all!

Icilantro pastangredients
1 (16 ounce) package pasta of your choice
1 bunch fresh cilantro
3-5 cloves garlic, minced (to your preference)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 cup walnuts, pecans, or pine nuts
salt to taste
1/4-1/2 cup olive oil (to your preference)

 

Method

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and return water to a boil. Cook pasta according to package instructions.
  2. In an electric food processor or blender, blend cilantro, garlic, lemon juice, cheese, cayenne pepper, nuts, and salt. Add 1/4 cup of the olive oil, and blend the pesto. Add more olive oil until the pesto reaches your desired consistency.
  3. Pour pesto in a small saucepan and place over low heat, stirring constantly until pesto begins to simmer.
  4. Pour pesto over cooked pasta and toss. Enjoy!

Want more ideas for bringing joy and health into your life? Like us on Facebook to receive regular updates on Intuition’s activities, practical tips for families, creative inspiration, and links to educational material.

 

Images courtesy of SOMMAI and KEKO64 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Men, Fathers & Mental Health

ManJune is a great month for men of all ages to take time to reflect on their health and wellbeing, as it is Men’s Health Month. There are a number of health issues impacting men such as heart disease, stroke, and cancer, but this blog post will focus on mental health issues affecting men, particularly depression and suicide.

Suicide is a lethal symptom of depression and should not be taken lightly. Although women tend to have higher rates of depression, men are still susceptible  to experiencing its debilitating symptoms. In fact, the CDC reported that between 2009 and 2012, 5.8% men ages 18-39, 7.2% men ages 40-59, and 3.4% men over 60 years old experienced moderate to severe symptoms of depression. More importantly, suicide was the tenth leading cause of death for all ages in 2010 and men comprised 79% of all US suicides according to a CDC suicide data sheet; in addition, the CDC reported in the same data sheet that men are four times more likely to commit suicide than women. Sadly, men, like most Americans (about 65%), do not seek out treatment with a mental health professional for severe depressive symptoms, which include suicidal thoughts. People suffering from depression also tend to give less attention to their medical needs, which can lead to medical complications or the development of chronic illnesses. If that doesn’t give you something to think about then consider the impact your health can have on others, particularly your family.

Thoughts that no one cares often accompanies feelings of depression and thoughts of suicide. But, that is likely not the case since most people experiencing depression have family members who are deeply concerned for them and would be devastated if they committed suicide. Children and partners are often the most affected but parents, grandparents, extended family, and friends would also suffer tremendously at the loss of a loved one.

Father’s Day falls on Sunday, June 21st, and can act as a annual reminder for the important role that men have in families, especially to their children. If you are experiencing any of the warning signs of depression (summarized below), please seek out a mental health professional that can help you. Depression is a treatable disease.

Signs of depression:

  • Feelings of sadness nearly every day of the week
  • Feelings of hopelessness and pessimism
  • Feelings of worthlessness, guilt, and helplessness
  • Anhedonia (loss of pleasure in activities one used to love to do)
  • Problems sleeping either too much or too little
  • Appetite or weight changes
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty concentrating and focusing
  • Decreased energy and feelings of fatigue
  • Thoughts of suicide

I have also included some men’s health resources that can help you connect to more information about these issues or to a mental health professional.

Men’s Health Resources:

My colleagues and I at Intuition Wellness Center specialize in counseling children, teens, and families. We have clinicians who specialize in treating depression. If you believe you or someone you love could benefit from our services, we are here to help. Call 520-333-3320 for a free phone consultation.

Written by Yoendry Torres, PsyD, Clinical Psychologist

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Thyroid & Mental Health

Girl_suffering_form_anxietyDid you know that January is thyroid awareness month? Problems with the thyroid, a gland in your neck, can manifest in anxiety or depressive symptoms. There are two types of thyroid problems that can develop gradually over years:

  1. Hypothyroidism signs and symptoms include:
    • Decreased metabolic rate
    • Fatigue
    • Increased sensitivity to cold
    • Constipation
    • Weight gain
    • Reduced appetite
    • Reduced heart rate
    • Reduced blood pressure
    • Depression
    • Impaired memory
  2. Hyperthyroidism signs and symptoms include:
    • Increased metabolic rate
    • Nervousness
    • Anxiety
    • Rapid heartbeat
    • Hand tremor
    • Excessive sweating
    • Weight loss
    • Sleep problems

Like many diseases, symptoms can gradually become more severe if left untreated. Moreover, many of these symptoms mimic depressive and anxiety disorders and are sometimes misdiagnosed as such. If you have been experiencing depressive or anxiety symptoms, it is a good idea ask your primary care physician to help you determine if there is any medical cause for what your are experiencing.

Here are a few resources if you want to learn more about hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism:

Intuition Wellness Center specializes in looking at clients as a whole, which means that we are not just treating symptoms but rather assessing lifestyles factors, considering medical as well as psychological causes, and social influences to help determine the best course of treatment. If you believe you are struggling with anxiety or depression, we are here to help. Call 520-419-6636 for a free phone consultation.

Written by: Yoendry Torres, PsyD, Clinical Psychologist

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Grieving All Souls


Halloween kicks off Allhallowtide, a time dedicated to remembering the dead celebrated in many countries around. For example, Dia de los Muertos  (Day of the Dead) is a holiday celebrated throughout Mexico while All Souls’ Day is observed by some Native American and Latin American societies with roots in Christianity. Both traditions honor deceased loved ones with rituals and public mourning. These traditions of remembering the dead date back many years, sometimes thousands of years as in the case of Day of the Dead, which dates back 2500-3000 years.

People experience grief in many different ways across the world and this is especially true for children and adolescents. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, an American Psychiatrist, proposed in 1969 the five stages of grief that are thought to be universal and they include:

  1. Denial & Isolation: This is typically the initial reaction that helps absorb the shock of the loss and protect our psych from the intense feelings of associated with a loss.
  2. Anger: This intense emotion follows once the reality of the situation sets in and we are faced with resentment towards the situation that is causing us pain.
  3. Bargaining: This stage is an attempt to regain control of the situation and feelings of helplessness and vulnerability by making deals with high powers.
  4. Depression: Sadness and regret take hold in this stage where we begin to realize the implications of the situation.
  5. Acceptance: This stage is not about forgetting but rather remembering loved ones as they were and celebrating their life rather than focusing on their death.

The above stages of grief don’t necessarily occur in any particular order but are commonly seen by counselors working with people who have lost loved ones. Our counselors at Intuition Wellness Center are trained at working with youth, adults, and families experiencing grief. Lastly, it is important to mention that experiencing grief is a normal part of life, some would say an existential given, and does not imply that there is a psychological problem unless there is a presence of significant symptoms such as feelings of worthlessness, suicidal ideas, and impairment in overall functioning that might suggest a larger problem than the normal response to a significant loss.

There are a two upcoming All Souls Processions in Tucson on November 8th (For kids) and 9th (Grand Finale) that may be of interest for those wanting to experience this long-held tradition. Here are some additional resources for those experiencing grief:

 

Written by: Yoendry Torres, Psy.D., Clinical Psychologist

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Depression 101: Treatment & Tips To Ward Off Depression

Stress Management
Depression is a common mental health illness in the US and around the world. In fact, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention states that 1 in 10 adults in the US report experiencing depression. What is most troubling to me is that only about 51% of those people suffering from depression seek out treatment according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Depression may begin at any age and may be caused by any number of triggers such as bullying, parental or marital conflict, sense of isolation, loss, seasonal causes, etc.

As a result, I wanted to write a blog post specifically on depression, its treatment, and offer wellness tips to ward off depression. Please note that depression is one of several mood disorders and is different than bipolar, dysthymia, and other mood disorders. This blog post will focus on depression technically known as Major Depressive Disorder. I also want to make it very clear that depression is a treatable illness but, like many illnesses, it can require ongoing “maintenance.”

First let me review the symptoms of depression, followed by the treatment, and then offer some tips to ward off depression.

Symptoms of Depression: To meet criteria, five or more symptoms must be present for at least a 2 week period according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. It is also very important to rule out physiological effects of a substance/drug, other psychiatric disorders such as bereavement, and medical conditions such as thyroid problems that may cause depressive symptoms.

  • Sad or depressed mood most of the day, almost every day.
  • Anhedonia, which is loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities.
  • Sleep problems, usually hypersomnia but can also be insomnia.
  • Weight gain or loss not due to diet or exercise.
  • Low of energy or fatigue even with sufficient rest.
  • Psychomotor agitation or retardation, which is usually moving or talking slower.
  • Poor concentration or ability to think.
  • Feeling of worthlessness or excessive guilt.
  • Thoughts of death or suicide, which could be the most serious of all the symptoms and must be taken seriously even in children.

Here are some other symptoms to look for that are frequently present in depression:

  • Thoughts of helplessness
  • Thoughts of hopelessness
  • Isolation
  • Changes in appetite
  • Irritability
  • Crying
  • Decrease in sex drive

Treatment for Depression
Treatment for depression begins with an evaluation by a licensed mental health professional to determine severity of depression, to rule out other possible issues, and to refer for appropriate services. Treatment usually entails either counseling or psychotropic medication or a combo of both, depending on severity. Severe depression usually requires a psychiatric evaluation by a psychiatrist for psychotropic medication to help improve symptoms enough for counseling to be effective, while mild to moderate depression can usually be treated with counseling alone. It is important to know there are a countless approaches to counseling such as cognitive behavior, psychodynamic, humanistic, and many more. Many approaches explore the person’s feelings, thoughts, and behaviors. The trust developed between the client-therapist relationship is what many approaches have in common and what research has found to be an essential ingredient to effective treatment. That is why it is imperative that one choose a therapist that is a good fit.

In addition, there are other interventions or activities such as exercise and meditation that have been found to be effective treatment for mild to moderate depression. Family therapy can also be helpful at alleviating tensions at home that may be impacting one’s depression and hindering treatment progress.

Tips to Ward Off Depression

  • Exercise Regularly as it has been found to be fantastic not only for managing stress and preventing physical problems but also at reducing depression and anxiety.
  • Be Present is where people often report being happy while being in the future can create anxiety and being in the past can lead to feelings of regret, guilt, and depression. Focus on being more mindful about how you are feeling right now rather than how you felt weeks or years ago.
  • Seek Support from licensed mental health professionals, friends, family and even animals, whom can be helpful. Surround yourself with people that are positive and validating.
  • Know the Signs of depression so that you know when you or someone you in your life needs help.
  • Know your Depression and be proactive. If you know that you happen to be extra susceptible to depression during the winter months, prepare for it by scheduling regular activities or seeking extra support during this time.
  • Get Outside because sunlight can be helpful and so can nature. Experiencing the grandeur nature can help put one’s problems into perspective and when our problems seem small they don’t bother us as much.
  • Find Meaning or a reason for living as it can be a powerful motivation to keep living. One’s meaning can be their partner, children, or even a cause.
  • Sleep is vital to good health and mental functioning. Avoid sleep problems by having a regular bedtime even on weekends, keeping distractions from the bedroom (e.g., TV), and creating a bedtime that is conducive for relaxation.
  • Visit Your Primary Care Doctor regularly to prevent, catch, or treat medical illnesses early that can create depressive symptoms.
  • Eat Healthy meals to improve physical, mental, and emotional functioning. Eating unhealthy foods erodes your physical health, impairs cognitive functioning, and also impacts how you feel about yourself.
  • Respect your Emotions rather than stuffing them. Bottling your feelings can be toxic to your body while expressing how you feel can be very relieving especially when your feelings are validated.

Author: Yoendry Torres, Psy.D., Clinical Psychologist

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