At $50 a session, client working through ‘pretty serious’ anxiety calls Hard Feelings a lifeline
A new Toronto counselling centre is proving to be popular because it is based on the idea that working through difficult emotions shouldn’t bankrupt clients who need a little help.
Hard Feelings, which calls itself a non-profit social enterprise, offers short-term counselling, or 10 to 12 sessions, at a low cost. It opened its doors on Bloor Street, east of Ossington Street, about 10 months ago.
The centre sells books as one way to generate revenue, and from the outside, it looks like a bookstore.
“We are growing so fast,” Kate Scowen, founder and president of Hard Feelings, told CBC Toronto. “Demand is huge for this project.”
The centre started with eight counsellors in September and now has 23. There’s also a wait list of counsellors who want to join the practice, according to Scowen.
Scowen, who has a masters degree in social work from the University of Toronto and has worked as a counsellor, program manager, writer and consultant for community organizations, said she founded the centre because the cost of mental health services can be out of reach for people who need emotional support.
“There’s a real gap in service for people who can’t afford counselling, and the wait times for free counselling are really long.”
She said she also wanted to work in a private practice, at low cost, in a welcoming space within a community. Scowen said she is working with other people to try to remove the stigma surrounding mental health issues.
“To house that all in one space just felt like a good idea,” she said.
The centre says on its website that it aims “to reduce barriers and increase access” to services in what it calls an “innovative” practice or model of service. Clients pay $50 to $80 for one session with a social worker. The majority of counsellors at the centre are graduate-level registered social workers.
Unlike other diseases, addiction is a problem that impacts not only the person directly involved but also their friends and family members. When someone you care about has a problem with substance abuse, the effects spill over into your own life. Yet even when you recognize the signs that your loved one needs treatment, you may still feel confused about how you can help.
Recognizing the Signs
The Mayo Clinic lists some common signs that indicate your loved one has a problem using drugs or alcohol:
- Problems at school or work, such as missing days or poor performance
- Physical health changes, such as weight changes or lack of energy
- Neglecting their appearance
- Drastic changes in behavior, especially in relationships with family members or friends
- Money problems, especially sudden requests for money
Even when you recognize these signs, you may face some barriers to helping your loved one get treatment. To begin with, the person may not be ready to come to terms with what’s going on. They may be in denial about the problem, fearing the changes and uncertainty of seeking treatment. Some people who recognize they have a problem may worry about the stigma and what others would think of them if they were labeled as an “addict.” Despite these barriers, as someone who cares about this person, you are one of the greatest resources they have for recovery. Showing that you will be there for them long term is instrumental in helping them overcome these barriers.
Knowing How to Help
Addiction is a complicated disease, and there isn’t a single solution that works for everyone, but the way you approach your loved one will make a difference in how they react. The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) recommends learning all you can about addiction. The more informed you are, the better you will understand what they are experiencing. Don’t wait for the person to hit rock bottom before having a conversation about treatment, though. They could be in danger of overdose and other negative effects on their lives before reaching that low point.
When you talk to them about getting treatment, make sure the person is sober, and express your concerns with love and support. Avoid lecturing because they are more likely to push back if they sense judgement. Regardless of how they respond initially, don’t expect your loved one to quit on their own. Stay in contact and continue to show your support so that they will hopefully come around to getting the professional treatment they need.
Understanding Types of Treatment
Every situation is unique, and that means that the treatment program that is right for one person may not suit someone else. Some people choose outpatient treatment, which usually involves visiting a facility during the day but then returning home at night. The other option, or what most people mean when they refer to rehab, is inpatient treatment, which involves staying at a facility 24 hours for round-the-clock care.
Once you choose outpatient or inpatient rehab, there are also different treatment approaches to consider. Some, such as 12-step programs, are faith-based and are built on Christian principles. For someone who isn’t religious or has a different faith, there are alternative programs. Some of these follow a model similar to 12-step programs, while others are more holistic, integrating other aspects of mental health into treatment.
Some people with substance abuse disorders will have a dual diagnosis of addiction along with another mental health condition, such as depression. In this case, the person will need treatment that addresses both conditions. You can help your loved one by searching for a program that suits their beliefs and other factors in their life.
You can’t force anyone to get treatment, but you can provide the strong support system they need. Keep in mind that recovery, like addiction, is a long-term process, not a one-time fix. If you can stick with them and be the solid rock in their life, they will have a greater chance of getting help and staying sober.
Photo credit: Pexels
All-star DeMar DeRozan copes with troubled times — hinted at in all-star weekend tweet that sparked a wave of support — by throwing his life into his family and his basketball: “Sometimes . . . it gets the best of you.”
They appear to be invincible, professional athletes do, with so much money, so much fame, so many people to help with everything — a first-class life, everything taken care of.
And then the difficult, lonely moments hit — maybe in the middle of the night, or maybe just out of nowhere — and they struggle as many do to handle them, the tugs of life overwhelming.
DeMar DeRozan, who would seemingly have it all, knows those struggles — those times of depression, anxiety, loneliness — as well as anyone and they are his demons to deal with.
“It’s one of them things that no matter how indestructible we look like we are, we’re all human at the end of the day,” the 28-year-old Raptors all-star said. “We all got feelings . . . all of that. Sometimes . . . it gets the best of you, where times everything in the whole world’s on top of you.”
DeRozan is unimaginably wealthy, uncommonly famous and has at his disposal a virtual army of family, friends and support staff arranged in part by the Raptors.
Be Vocal is a partnership between Demi Lovato, who is living with bipolar disorder, five leading mental health advocacy organizations and Sunovion Pharmaceuticals Inc.
Visit the amazing website here, and listen to Demi Lovato’s story.
For 13 years, British author Johann Hari says he took the maximum possible dose of antidepressants. In Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Cause of Depression – and the Unexpected Solutions, Hari draws from his personal experience to challenge how depression and anxiety are understood in society, particularly in the West.
“There are plenty of people who were, like me, taking chemical antidepressants and they didn’t help,” says Hari. “This isn’t an argument for or against chemical antidepressants, it’s an argument for expanding what we think of as an antidepressant.”
Spending more time in nature, enjoying work and building lasting relationships are some of the cultural and societal solutions Hari says need to be considered as part of treatment for depression and anxiety.
“Nobody denies that there are social and psychological causes of depression and anxiety,” says Hari, “but that has not informed most of how we respond to these problems.”
“I think part of the cruellest thing we’ve done is, we’ve put the onus for solving this problem onto depressed and anxious people,” says Hari.
Leah Pells is three-time Track and Field Olympian, who represented Canada at the Summer Olympics from 1992 to 2000. A silver medalist in the women’s 1500 metres at the 1999 Pan American Games in Winnipeg, Leah was once ranked first in the world in the 1500 metres. She is also a survivor of mental health issues, overcoming her upbringing in a household of addiction, abuse and poverty to become an accomplished athlete.
Determined to use her experiences to help others, Leah is now a school counsellor and registered clinical counsellor. She tells her incredible story of survival and courage in her book, “Not About the Medal”. We talked to Leah about her difficult upbringing, how the Olympic games helped her overcome her mental health struggles, and how she ran her way to wellness.
When did you begin struggling with your mental health?
Leah: Growing up there was a lot of trauma in my home life. My Mum, who I loved very much, was an alcoholic and that brought a lot of instability and abuse to our home. It was not a safe place.
I was in my early teens when I started to have difficulties sleeping and began to notice different symptoms, which I know today was Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). I would get startled easily, had panic attacks at school and was terrified of the dark. To this day, I struggle with being in our house alone. I have two dogs who are with me wherever I am in the house.
What inspired you to get into running track and how did it impact your journey towards mental wellness?
Leah: My dad took me to the track as a little girl and I loved seeing kids running around it. This inspired me to join a track club and it was then that my love affair with running began. Running, really saved me. When I felt extremely anxious and sad, I would run and that helped me feel calm. Today I run for the same reasons, to feel well and to connect with myself and nature.
In order to be calm and at ease with ourselves, we need regular periods where we do something rather strange-sounding: process our emotions. Here is a guide to this essential psychological move.
Anxiety is one of the biggest day-to-day challenges that my Autistic daughter faces. It’s one of those dark sides of Autism that many Autistic people struggle with. From coping with change to sensory needs to difficulty understanding emotions and black and white thinking, anxiety likes to creep in and roar…loudly. This list of 15 Apps for Kids with Anxiety has done wonders for helping us navigate the negative thinking, difficult social situations, and anxiety.
We personally are an iOS family, but I did manage to find quite a few of these on Amazon Underground to be used for Android devices or on the Leap Frog Epic (see tutorial on how to put Amazon Underground on your Epic here).
And make sure to swing by and check out these Ten iPad Cases that can Survive Young Kidsbefore you hand your tablet over to your child 😉
“We act how we think and feel. When we remove the negative thought, with it goes the drama and pain.” – Anon.
Negative thoughts serve absolutely no purpose. Zero. None. Not-a-one. Know what else?
Negative thinking has absolutely nothing to do with you as a person. Toxic thoughts don’t define your character, and they can’t determine your destiny. Wedetermine the power of each negative thought. Unfortunately, we often grant negative thoughts too much influence – and this is what causes damage.
The Buddha once said: “Your worst enemy cannot harm you as much as your own unguarded thoughts.”
Notice the word unguarded in Buddha’s teaching. As he is with most things pertaining to the mind, Buddha is once again supremely wise. Sometimes negative thoughts have a tendency to hang around – this is when cognitive reframing (i.e. ‘cognitive restructuring’) is essential.
Dr. Alice Boyes, a former clinical psychologist and author of The Anxiety Toolkit, describes cognitive restructuring as “a core part of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT),” which Dr. Boyes says “is one of the most effective psychological treatments.”
No, you don’t need to participate in CBT to learn cognitive restructuring.
In fact, in this article, we’re going to teach some fundamentals of cognitive restructuring. While you may not become an expert on the technique, you’ll walk away informed and – more importantly – empowered.
HERE ARE 5 WAYS TO REFRAME NEGATIVE THOUGHTS:
1. OBSERVE THE THOUGHT
Take a seat in the far back of your mind and simply observe the negative thought. (Think about how you’d watch a bird flutter about on a rooftop.)
Negative thoughts are generally a product of cognitive distortions, or irrational thought patterns, something recognized by psychologists and psychiatrists the world over. You don’t require psychotherapy or medication – you only need to observe a thought, and then watch it dissipate.
2. QUESTION ANY RUMINATIONS
Ruminations are patterns of overthinking, e.g., “I have this problem, which I can solve if I just keep thinking about it.” Unless you’re actively engaging the frontal lobe of your brain – that is, attempting to solve a problem – most ruminations are pointless.
The question then becomes “How do I reframe these thoughts?”
Here is a suggested course of action:
(a) Create two columns on a sheet of paper. Label the first column “Thought” and the second column “Solution.”
(b) When the rumination appears, write down the time. Write anything of use in the “solution” column.
(c) At the end of the day/week/month, count the number of times the thought appeared and any insights.
Is there anything of value? If not, re-read #1.
3. DETERMINE THE EVIDENCE
Another way of reframing your thoughts is to evaluate the evidence behind them.
For example, if you’re always thinking “I never have enough money,” it may be helpful to assess the evidence and come to a solution (if needed).
Once again, you’ll create two columns. In Column (A) write any supporting proof that you “never have enough money,” e.g. bank account balance, always asking for money, etc. In Column (B) write any objective evidence demonstrating the contrary, e.g. having shelter, food, clothing, and so on.
What information is conveyed through this exercise? Can you say with 100 percent honesty that you “never have enough money”? If so, what’s the next course of action? Do you create a budget and limit your spending?
4. PRACTICE MINDFULNESS
What better place to mention mindfulness than after talking about money – a near-universal stressor?
Christopher Bergland, a three-time champion of the Triple Ironman triathlon and scientist, explains mindfulness as “much more basic than most people realize.” Bergland breaks down his approach to mindfulness in three steps: “Stop. Breathe. Think about your thinking. Anyone can use this simple mindfulness technique throughout the day to stay calm, focused, optimistic and kind.”
Structured mindfulness meditation practices and techniques, such as Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR) exist for those people seeking more formal training.
5. UNDERSTAND IMPERMANENCE AND NEUTRALITY
We touched on this during the introduction, but it’s worth repeating: negative thoughts are fleeting and temporary; without any real power of their own.
No matter what negative thoughts cross your mind, it is crucial to understand these concepts. In fact, you can even create and recite a maxim, for example, “This is a negative thought. I’ll observe but not engage, as it will quickly flee.”
One terrific way to demonstrate the powerlessness of a negative thought is to distract yourself. Do something that will occupy your mind, so there’s no room for the negative thoughts.
We wish you peace, happiness, self-love and self-compassion.