All posts by shemby80

About shemby80

Sharise Hemby, LSW and Tess Kenney, LPC of HandinHand Counseling Services, LLC are Pittsburgh natives with a combined 25 years of experience the Human Services profession. Ms. Hemby and Mrs. Kenney met as college students at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and have worked together for various non-profit organizations that provide various mental health and behavioral health services to a diverse population. HandinHand Counseling Services is dedicated to promoting Hope, Health and Healing to individuals, families and couples dealing with a range of topics from day to day situational concerns to more pressing mental health issues. We are a practice formed on the heels of “America’s Campaign for Mental Health Awareness” and have strived to do our part in encouraging and normalizing the helping relationship within the community.

“I DON’T HAVE TIME”

If time is our most valuable resource; why do so many of us say we don’t have it? In fact, I have heard many people joke that they need more hours in the day. Each of us is granted the same 24 hours every day of the week. Instead of ruminating on the lack of time, let’s begin to make the best out of the time we have available to us.
Here are some questions to consider:
Do you prepare for the day or the week?
What time do you go to bed?
What time do you wake up in the morning?
What do you do with your spare time?
How do you stay organized? (To do list, calendar,  etc)
Are you happy in your current profession, relationship?
If used wisely, time can be our ally. If wasted or taken for granted, time can feel like an adversary.  Whether time is currently your ally or adversary,  in each instance you are the common denominator. Either you run the day or the day runs you. What can you do to leverage your time?
This is an open forum, feel free to share your thoughts, experiences and/or challenges.

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CONQUERING “MONDAY MORNING ANXIETY”

The realization that the weekend is coming to a close and the 5 day work-week will resume for most; usually begins on Sunday evenings. In fact, Sunday evening can feel like a part time job when you factor in the time spent preparing for Monday morning (and subsequent work days). Have you factored in the time spent thinking about work on Sunday evenings?
Monday morning rolls in and you hit the snooze button several times before getting out of the bed. The thought of going to work makes you physically sick, you become mentally drained from thinking about all of the deadlines for the week that you have no desire to meet. Congratulations, you have a case of the “Mondays!”
In my experiences, Monday Morning Anxiety is usually heightened in those who are unhappy with their jobs; dislike their bosses, under-compensated, unfulfilled and /or experiencing high levels of work stress on a daily basis. For people working 40 hours per week, over 30% of their lives are spent working, another 30% is spent sleeping. How one utilizes the remaining 40% is imperative for conquering Monday Morning Anxiety.
Some work related stress is normal, especially when you are passionate about your profession. Take the time to reflect on your current situation at work. Are you able to disconnect from work when you are no longer “on the clock?” Do you become tense when thinking or talking about work? Do you spend time off thinking about work? Are you “working” or “working toward a purpose/dream?” Has Monday Morning Anxiety consistently conquered you?
Now it’s time to hear from you! Maybe you or someone you know struggles with Monday Morning Anxiety. I would like to hear your thoughts on this topic.

FINDING YOUR PURPOSE: FROM DISCOVERY TO APPLICATION

We have to “go through to grow through,” is a quote that comes to mind when I think of finding our purpose. Each individual has his or her unique journey. Along this journey one often experiences the complexities of life.
The unpredictability of where this journey may lead can be frightening. While in the midst of our journey, obstacles may be viewed as struggles, making it difficult to embrace the process.
What if each difficult moment is meant to enhance one’s character? What if the struggle in the journey was designed to prepare one for success? There is no elevator to success you must take the stairs!
The tools we use to manage life’s trials and tribulations are the same tools we use to find our purpose during pursuit of success. I challenge you to view your approach in difficult situations. Where are you in the progression of discovering your purpose? How has your unique journey impacted you? Please share your thoughts and/or experiences.

From Multi-Tasking to Uni-Tasking

In the 21st century, we consider the following to be the norm; eating lunch in front of the TV with the lap top open. We browse social media sites, while simultaneously sending emails and text messages.
Why do we multi-task? It makes us feel good! On the exterior, multi-tasking appears to be more productive. We live in a society where multi-tasking is often times considered the recipe for success.
Our brains are not wired to multi-task. In fact, multi-tasking splits the brain. According to researchers, multi-tasking creates “spotlights” where your brain switches brashly between activities such as eating, sending text messages and watching TV. Those who consistently multi-task are worse at filtering nonessential information, and perform worse than those who uni-task when transitioning between tasks.
How do we transition into Uni-Tasking?
My mission is not to oversimplify the task of letting go of old patterns. Our brains are “habit centers” and we can become programmed to live in “autopilot.” We can begin the process of uni-tasking by being present in the moment. When was the last time you were present in activities such as breathing, walking and eating? I challenge you to begin this journey of uni-tasking by taking one minute out of your day to focus on one of the following activities of breathing, walking or eating. Allow your mind and body to be fully engaged while participating in this activity.
Upon completion of these exercises, please share your observations and experiences.
*The aforementioned techniques are derived from evidenced based research on Mindfulness Techniques that change the brain.

5 TIPS TO PROMOTING WELLNESS IN YOUR OWN FAMILY

Mental Illness affects people from all walks of life at the same rate (interesting side note: The African-American community is less likely seek help to address these concerns). Through this posting I will attempt to highlight the idea that mental illness does not only affect the individual, it affects the entire family. When a child or an adult has a mental illness, often times the family organizes around this illness and adapts in ways that may not always promote wellness. The purpose of this article is to give some general tips on how to promote wellness in a family whether you are a family with mental illness or not. This list by no means in all-encompassing but I trust that you will find some of these tips useful.

1. Understanding the “mutual influence.”
The mutual influence in a family looks at how the actions of one member influences the reaction of another member or members and vice versa. The tendency is to look at the outcome and assign an individually focused rational to this behavior, for example: “Johnny picks with his siblings because he’s bad.” In the case of Johnny if you are able to look at the mutual influence we may be able to identify the when Johnny picks with his siblings they go and tells a parent and that parent focuses on Johnny which can be fulfilling Johnny’s need for more attention from that parent/guardian, even if it is not always positive. So through this example you look at the behavior of Johnny somewhat differently (from Johnny being bad to Johnny attempting to activate his parents to focus on him more)which can influence you to find others ways to fulfill this need in a more peaceful, proactive way everyone in the house. By understanding this you are able to see the role that the family plays in problems and you can begin to implement ways in which the family can be the solution. When the focus is only on getting one person to do something differently the changes typically don’t last.

2. Be an example.
As parents you are charged with setting the rules and standards of the family. For the most part I think parents do a good job at this part. Where parents tend to fall short is the modeling of these rules. Parents often times correct their children for doing things that they do regularly. And I get it, “you are an adult.” All I am suggesting is that don’t forget that you are also a parent and as a parent you should be the example of what you want your child/children to be. If you don’t want your child to cuss don’t cuss in the presence of your children or play music that uses that type of language. You want your child to be responsible and respectful then do things that promote these actions such as doing what you say you will do and speaking positively and respectfully to and about others. You don’t want your child to hit others, consider not using physical discipline. Teach them alternative methods of resolving conflict by responding differently to them when they anger you. As a parent you are your child’s first teacher. You have the privilege of instilling in them the foundation of the morals and values you want them to have long before the “world”. By doing this you are decreasing the chances that your children will have behavioral problems and be labeled later on in life. Modeling begins from the beginning.

3. Invest in outside events and activities
With all of the demands that you have as a parent it is easy to overlook the importance of quality time. However quality time is not just about the activity that you engage in with your family. It is about letting them know that they are as important to you as everything else. The time that you spend as a family or with your child one-on-one can be used for a variety of things. If you have concerns about you may want to use this time to slip in some questions that could help you to understand what is going on in their world while they are in a more relaxed, laid back and willing to answer. This can also be an opportunity to bond with your child on a different level outside of mundane tasks or simply just to show your child that you see them, that you like to have fun with them and that they are important to you. I often hear people say things like I can’t afford to do fun things with my kids. My response to that is you can’t afford not to. With all that is going on around your children you have to make opportunities to connect with them. There are several free and low-cost events/activities that you can enjoy with your child/children. It may take a little research to find them but they are out there. Again having a secure and solid foundation within your family of origin is going to promote wellness in your family and have fun while doing it.

4. Invest in an effective support network.
Having a positive and effective support network is paramount to promoting wellness in your family. Isolation is a breeding ground for unhealthy habits. As a parent it is important to have other people who can be a support for you and for your family as a whole. Support can come in different forms from a listening ear, to financial support, to someone who helps you to regulate your emotions when life becomes overwhelming and helps to get you back on track. Individuals and families seek support through various avenues. Some families attend church and can identify people within the church that can provide support. Some people are involved in groups in their community. Some families rely on extended family and close friends to provide support. I believe that we all need other people in some form or another. The key is to identify people you can trust and that you believe has the best interest of your family at heart.

5. Trust your instinct.
You are the expert on your family! If you feel that someone in your family (or you yourself) is struggling with mental health or behavioral concerns consider seeking professional help. As a parent you have to take care of your family and one way to do this is to take care of yourself. If you are not well it is that much harder to ensure that your family is well. I understand that there is a lot of resistance to taking this step but as a parent this is the best way to advocate for your family. Whatever your hesitation may be speak these concerns to the professional that you or your family is working with. If you are uncomfortable you have the right to terminate the relationship and find someone who better fits your needs. All therapists are not the same just as families differ. This advice is also true for getting help for your children. If you suspect there is a problem with a child getting help sooner can indicate greater chances of success. Dealing with mental illness can take a toll on a family and a professional may be able to work with you and your family to manage some of these stressors and help you to see that there is hope.

Who needs therapy and why they should seek it?

In the 21st century, therapy is more readily received, but there are still stereotypes about the therapeutic process. Most individuals seek therapy from a more reactive standpoint. “I have a problem and I want it fixed yesterday.” The problem is the car and the mechanic is the therapist.
There are usually 2 types of individuals seeking therapy. One is looking to make sense of the current symptoms they may be experiencing (i.e: sadness, anger, depression, emotional dysregulation, instability in relationships, interpersonal conflicts) that can be a result of past and/or present environmental influences. The next individual is seeking therapy from a more proactive standpoint to prepare for events that may occur in life (i.e: premarital counseling, family planning, adoption/foster planning, life coaching).
The common denominators in both situations are the roles of the therapist and the individuals seeking therapy. The therapist is responsible for assisting individuals through the process of bridging the gap between the problem and the solution. Through this process, therapists encourage individuals to tap into their strengths, putting them in the driver’s seat as they determine the outcome of their lives.
Now it’s time to hear from you! What are some of the other reasons people should seek therapy? What are some possible solutions in encouraging people to seek help?

The Stigma(s) of Mental Health issues as it relates to keeping African Americans from seeking Counseling.

“What happens in this house stays in this house!” “YOU need to talk to someone!” “Can the counselor identify with me?”

Sometimes help hurts and seeking help can be a sign of weakness, especially in the black community.  Stemming from the days of slavery when the family structure was destroyed, African Americans found themselves searching for ways to cope with the negative and residual effects of slavery.  Counseling services were not in existence, seeking professional help was not an option.    African Americans had to find resiliency from within.  This coping mechanism became generational.  Allow me to explain, the grandparents passed these coping mechanisms onto their children, and their children onto their children, and so on. 

Historically black women have found therapy by focusing on other things such as scriptures, hymns, cooking and being the ultimate caregivers of their communities.  On the other end of the spectrum, black men have found therapy in things with temporary gratification such as, but not limited to high impact sports, infidelity, substance abuse, et al. 

In the 21st century, we find ourselves at the crossroads of embracing counseling versus our traditional upbringing.  This blog was composed to create an open forum between the readers and the author. Please share your thoughts and/or experiences on the things that may be keeping black people from seeking counseling.