Counseling Q & A
I was recently asked by some local students to provide some insight into the counseling process and,
specifically, stress management. The insightful questions provided an outline that I thought could be useful to
anyone who is not familiar with counseling, or who may want to expand their coping skills. (who couldn’t benefit
Q.) I saw on your website that the main age group you target are adults and those 65 years old and older. Why
are adults so reluctant to seek help for their mental health?
A.) Unfortunately, people hesitate to acknowledge that they need to talk to someone, (a therapist) until they are
in some type of crisis that is making their life difficult. Also, as much as has been done to normalize therapy,
many people still feel that there is a stigma attached to mental health counseling,
Q.) What commonalities do you see amongst patients relating to their mental health?
A.) We live in a culture of over-stimulation, and our attention is split by constant interruptions or pop-ups on our
computers that distract us and, often, take us down a rabbit hole. This overstimulation can cause anxiety and
even depression. A great example is social media. How many times a day do you find yourself picking up your
phone to answer an email or go to a website for a project you’re doing and, THERE IT IS, a notification that
someone has added a comment to your post. You take a moment to read it, and 15 minutes later you’re still
scrolling your newsfeed and measuring your life against the fabricated life images people create on social
media. Doing this never makes us feel better, and it’s usually quite deflating. Another common issue is
unaddressed trauma from childhood. People think, “That was so long ago, that can’t be an issue now. I’m over
that.” Not so fast. Unresolved childhood trauma–bullying, parents’ divorce, physical trauma, grief—still lives at
the core of our sense of self and affects how we see the world around us. These unresolved issues get
“triggered” and people often lash out in anger, go into a depressive state, self-medicate with substances, or
become anxious, sometimes to the point of having a panic attack.
Q.) Are there some online resources that you provide to your patients that target mental health and stress
A.) I’m a big believer in yoga and meditation. There’s a YouTube channel called “Yoga with Adriene” that I
personally use, and I recommend it to almost all of my clients. There is some great meditation music on
YouTube, too. The Calm app is a wonderful resource as well.
Q.) What is different about stress management between young adults and older patients?
A.) The difference is basically stage-of-life type things. Young adults get stressed over school pressure, money,
balancing career and parenting, relationships and wanting to be liked, usually through people-pleasing. Older
adults have stressors like re-defining long-term relationships, loss of relationship, (divorce or death) physical
issues and coming to terms with our mortality.
Q.) Why do you think it is important that people should seek help from a licensed professional instead of just
looking up ways to help their mental health and manage their stress?
A.) There are many great self-help resources available, and that’s a great place to start. But the individuals’
unique issues are what keeps them stuck, and a self-help book or podcast can’t provide the personalized
attention that allows clients to have breakthroughs and make real progress. The client – therapist relationship is
quite sacred, and people respond differently when they feel that they’re in a safe space.
Q..) What type of stress do you deal with most, and what recommendations do you give in those
A.) I’m not sure that there’s a front runner here, but stress attached to significant relationships and stress due to
unresolved trauma are certainly very common.
It’s important to note that when thinking about stress, there are two prongs: stress reduction and stress
management. Stress reduction includes limiting your exposure to stressors where possible. For instance, add
an extra 15 minutes onto your daily commute to work or school so you’ll be less frantic when I-4 is backed up or
you have to stop and get gas. Also, limit or eliminate your exposure to toxic, negative people. (“energy
Stress Management is how you work through unavoidable stress. We can’t escape stress entirely, and here
are some helpful techniques to calm yourself and do what needs to get done. In my experience, a really helpful
cognitive shift is to, when you feel stress or anxiety, don’t struggle against it. “Ugh, I feel so anxious, I hate
feeling this way!” This response feeds the anxiety and inhibits your ability to problem-solve. Instead, say, “OK,
I’m feeling anxious—I know what it feels like. What elements of this stressor do I control, and steps do I need to
take?” Then calmly proceed to make a list of a few things that you can take charge of doing, and LET GO of the
parts that are out of your control. Step away from the problem so that you can see it better, give yourself a
break to breathe, take a short walk or listen to something soothing.
If you’re experiencing excessive stress, anxiety, depression, or any other emotional concern, feel free to reach
out to one of our experienced and skilled therapists. From the Life Skills Resource Group home page, click on
the therapist’s bio page and follow the “contact” information listed for that therapist. Schedule your free phone