Adjuncts to Your Individual Therapy Process
When I see a client for the first time, I do an assessment to gain a better understanding of where this person is currently functioning. I often take a look at everything from social and family relationships, to education and employment, and even leisure time. However, while I acknowledge many of these aspects affect a person’s overall well-being, I generally have to acknowledge that my professional discipline generally lies within the emotional dimension of wellness. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration often recognizes Eight Dimensions of wellness:
While coming to therapy is a great way to begin to address your emotional wellness concerns, here are some of my suggestions to develop other dimensions of wellness:
- Emotional- Individual therapy is a great way to address any emotional concern. Support groups through local mental health agencies such as the National Alliance on Mental Illness and the Depression Bipolar Support Alliance is another great way to learn ways to cope with difficult emotions.
- Environmental- Establishing a safe and pleasurable environment that is enjoyable for you to return to each day can be such an attitude changer. If you are having difficulty with maintaining a safe or clean environment, check your local county housing resource list. Establishing a household chore routine is helpful as well! Small bits each day make chores seem way more achievable. My household operates on the two minute rule: if it takes less than two minutes, do it right then.
- Financial- Finances are one of the biggest stressors in our lives. Check with your bank for a financial coach or advisor. I also recommend budgeting apps and software. A popular one is Mint by Intuit.
- Intellectual- Stimulating your mind is a great way to stay healthy. Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean you have to go back to school. I think a great way to bolster this aspect of your dimension is invest yourself in hobbies or other active ways to spend your time. Many communities have libraries with classes or other special interest groups.
- Occupational- Achieving satisfaction from work is something that is so important when we spend so much time at work each week. I recognize that leaving a job that we aren’t crazy about isn’t always possible, but can you find pieces of you job that are enjoyable? Can you change your mindset about work? “I have a job that pays my bills!” If you aren’t working, are their places you can volunteer to give back to the community? Try the local food bank or animal shelter.
- Physical- This incorporates a few separate pieces: exercise, nutrition, sleep, and healthcare. I encourage physical activity to help boost your mood, self-confidence and overall health. Most doctors recommend 150 minutes a week. That amounts to about 30 minutes for 5 days. Anything will do- walking your dog, lifting weights, group exercise, even dancing! Regarding nutrition, I often encourage all of my clients to consult with a registered dietician to learn better nutritional habits. Even a one hour consult can teach you so much information about small changes to help you eat well. Nutrition is vital to our physical and mental well-being! Did you know much of serotonin, a mood boosting neurotransmitter, is created in your gut? Eating well helps the synthesis of this neurotransmitter. Sleep is so critical. While everyone’s sleep needs are different, I encourage regular sleep schedules. Going to bed at the same time and waking each day at the same time helps establish healthy routines. Lastly, caring for your physical health by going to your doctor when you are sick is so crucial. Listen to your body and its needs to keep yourself from becoming overly stressed. I encourage all of my clients to regularly follow up with a primary care physician.
- Social – Engaging in social activities and having social relationships helps foster a wonderful sense of belonging and support. I encourage clients to make time with family, co-workers, or other friends weekly. Going to support groups or other community groups is a great way to establish other connections.
- Spiritual- This doesn’t have to mean religion! Spirituality is about establishing purpose in your life. Seeking your purpose can be addressed in counseling, but also through religion, self-searching, and connections to people.
Written by: Kristina Zufall, M. Ed., LPC-Intern