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Dr. T's Corner of the Blogosphere

Back to Balancing the Basics (2023.10.02)

People ask me why they're feeling stressed or anxious, or even moody. Before we do any further digging into the client's psychological profile, it's especially helpful to identify basic issues related to (1) sleep, (2) work-life balance, (3) underlying health issues, and (4) nutrition and exercise. Are there substances interfering with your anxiety? For instance, such as excessive caffeine from downing multiple soft drinks or lattes per day, or consuming excessive alcohol. Are there physical concerns that need to be ruled out with your physician, such as hypothyroidism (perhaps some blood work is in order)? Are you spending time in front of a screen late at night - an epidemic of sorts - which may be interfering with your circadian rhythm and restful sleep?  Bypassing the workaholic culture, are you setting enough time after work and on weekends to spend it with supportive friends and family, or simply to relax? Social support can act as an important buffer against depression, as does getting sufficient moderate exercise (getting your heart rate up for sustained periods of time) if you're physically cleared to do so. These points of self-reflection represent a starting point to help you on your path towards re-balancing your system within and beyond.  

Online vs Offline? (2023.10.02)

In recent years, especially since the tumultuous 2020, I have seen an uptick in the number of clients who wish to see me online; even after the pandemic ended, I continued to see numerous clients over telehealth. Clients often have different preferences about whether to work with a psychologist or counsellor online (via a secure telehealth platform such as Jane) versus in-person or face-to-face, the traditional way. There are certain logistical advantages and disadvantages to either approach which I thought I would briefly address here. First of all, the evidence base does not strongly support  one option over the other; in other words, both approaches can work well. I think it therefore ultimately comes down to personal preferences. The benefit of in-person is more obvious, you get to see your therapist's entire body-language, you are able to get out of your typical space and enter an office, especially when there are concerns about confidentiality at home. You also don't have to worry about any technical hiccups assuming your mode of transportation doesn't break down on the way! On the other hand,  it also means you have to spend time to get to your therapist's office, find parking or pay for transit and potentially get stuck in a traffic jam, especially if your therapist operates out of a busy area. The pros of online counselling are that you can be more flexible with location and time (if you have access to a confidential space) and it means you can spend that hour or so you would have spent in transit on something else that's more important to you, like family or friends or going to the gym. Perhaps you're feeling under the weather, and would still appreciate having a session, but are feeling you need to rest at home to recover. Perhaps you live in a remote area that makes accessing a mental health professional complicated. In these situations, and many others, online sessions have much to offer, given the evidence base supporting the use of tele-mental health. There are small risks related to technical hiccups of course, but fortunately online technology has improved dramatically over the last few years, especially if you have access to a decent camera, audio, a normal internet service provider, and can comfortably run Zoom on your smartphone or laptop. In sum, it ultimately comes down to your personal preferences and values, as both approaches have something to offer. Whatever modality you choose, make sure you find a therapist who you feel comfortable with. If you are interested in holding an online or offline session to see what it's like, don't hesitate to contact me or one of my colleagues.

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