How to stop overthinking.

By David Joel Miller.

Overthinking is harmful to your mental health.

Overthinking

Overthinking.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

People who do a lot of overthinking, sometimes called rumination, increase their anxiety and their sadness. Unchecked overthinking, far from being helpful, can result in worry and leads to mental health issues such as anxiety disorders and depression. In overthinking your mind becomes your adversary, not your ally. If your mind is constantly turning things over and over and is wearing you out or if you find your overthinking has begun to interfere with your sleep and your relationships, it’s time to do something to put a stop to that over thinking.

If you suffer from overthinking here are some ways to get off that destructive path.

Notice when you overthink.

Overthinking can become an insidious habit. Become aware of when you are feeling distressed or anxious. The first step in getting overthinking out of your life is to become aware of how frequently you are overthinking. Avoid the trap of overthinking your overthinking.

Practice thought stopping.

When a child is doing something, they shouldn’t, we tell them to “knock that off.” When your mind starts taking you into bad neighborhoods, tell that mind to “stop that.” Another technique for stopping negative thoughts is to shift your focus to something positive. Search your memory for the happiest event in your life or imagine a happy event. When your brain begins to overthink possible negative occurrences, tell it to move to the positive.

Focus on the things that are likely to happen.

Most worry and overthinking is the result of an excessive focus on things that might or could happen but are very unlikely. Don’t spend large amounts of time thinking about things that are unlikely to happen. Most of the things we worry about never happen. Overthinking low probability events distracts you from dealing with the things that need doing today to prevent problems in the future.

Become a happiness expert.

Overthinking makes you an expert on unhappiness. Having a laser focus on what could go wrong obscures your vision of what could go right. People who are high in anxiety and depression develop a cognitive bias towards the negative. They don’t see the positive in their lives, and when they do they discount it. Notice small positive events in your life. When something good happens, don’t blink right away. Continue to look at and think about those positive, happy occurrences.

Avoid perfection paralysis.

Frequently people who are high in overthinking consider themselves perfectionists. An excessive focus on a perfection can leave you paralyzed. Pursue excellence. Try to become the best person possible, but avoid an emphasis on absolute perfection. Whatever you achieve should be valued.

Accept yourself as you are.

Failure to accept yourself, as you are, leads to a lot of unhappiness. However, you are, is perfectly acceptable. Acceptance values how far you have come. If you spend all your time looking for flaws you will miss your unique, individual qualities. Acceptance of yourself, others as they are, and the world the way it is rather than insisting that people places and things must be the way you want them to be will increase your happiness and reduce your anxiety provoking overthinking.

Inventory what you have not what’s missing.

Our society today, with its emphasis on the lifestyles of the rich and famous, has resulted in a lot of people believing their life is missing something. Constantly thinking about what’s missing from your life robs you of the enjoyment of the things you do have. When your focus is on keeping up with the Trumps, you will never have enough. When you adopt an attitude of gratitude, you can enjoy the people and the things you do have rather than grieve over your lack of those things that others have.

Take the long view.

Overthinking takes the short view. The focus is on what’s lacking now, the problems of today. Ask yourself what difference today’s problem will make 20 years from now? How about 50 years from now? When you start focusing on where you want to be in the future the problems of today shrink and become insignificant.

Reframe the scary as exciting.

Before an athletic contest, teams try to psych themselves up. If you expect to be beaten badly, it will take all the energy out of your performance. Worry about failing a test is likely to result in lower scores. Go into life’s adventures expecting them to be exciting and regardless of what you do you can have fun. Focusing on the scary parts of life prevents you from ever-living.

Get into action.

A great way to overcome overthinking is to get into action. Stop ruminating about what could go wrong and start doing. Some of what you do today will be the great memories you will be storing up for the future.

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Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books

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Bored.

Sunday Inspiration.     Post by David Joel Miller.

Bored.

Bored.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Bored.

“If you end up with a boring miserable life because you listened to your mom, your dad, your teacher, your priest, or some guy on television telling you how to do your shit, then you deserve it.”

― Frank Zappa

“I warn you, if you bore me, I shall take my revenge.”

― J.R.R. Tolkien

“Before you were born, your parents weren’t as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you thought you were. So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parent’s generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.”

― Bill Gates

Wanted to share some inspirational quotes with you.  Today seemed like a good time to do this. If any of these quotes strike a chord with you, please share them.

“Is life not a thousand times too short for us to bore ourselves?”

― Friedrich Nietzsche

How long are assessments and treatment plans good for?

By David Joel Miller.

When do you have to do a new assessment or treatment plan?

assess

Assessments.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

At 1st glance, it would seem like we ought to be able to come up with a specific number to answer this question. It’s a whole lot more complicated than that. Think of this like asking how long the food you buy at the grocery store is good for. The correct answer should be – it all depends.

For the counselor or therapist, this matters because redoing assessments and treatment plans can take a lot of time, time you would rather be spending with the client. For clients, this comes up when they must redo paperwork they have completed previously.

Three possible answers to these questions, the theoretical answer, the answer that pleases the funding source, and the program’s policies.

Theoretical reasons to reassess.

There’s a difference between an assessment, the form you fill out, and assessment, the process. Initially, the counselor does an assessment to gather information, define the client’s problem, and develop a plan for treatment. This process is documented by filling in an assessment form. The information should be used to develop a plan of care.

Assessment, the process, continues throughout treatment. Any time new information becomes available, the assessment, the diagnosis, and the plan of care, may need to be revised. If it’s a small piece of information, a note in the chart may be sufficient. If a whole new problem is discovered, it may require a new assessment.

Reassessing is primarily a matter of clinical judgment. As long as the client stays in treatment and nothing changes, the original assessment should still be valid. Presumably, a client in treatment should be getting better. At some point, it would be good practice to reassess to verify whether the original problem still exists and needs treatment.

Clients who leave treatment, and then return, should be interviewed, to see if anything has changed, and a new treatment plan is developed.

Funding sources have their assessment rules.

People who pay for other people’s treatment what to know they’re getting their money’s worth. Insurance companies, criminal justice, Medi-Cal, Drug Medi-Cal, Medicare, Medicaid, may all have varying requirements. A lot of the rules beginning counselors learn about how long assessments and treatment plans are good for come from the rules of the funding source their program works with.

Your program or agency’s rules about treatment plans and assessments.

Some agencies set their own policies and procedures for how long an assessment and treatment plan are good for. One agency locally creates treatment plans good for a full year, another creates treatment plans for 90 days, and does updates every 30 days. When an agency works with multiple funding streams, they frequently do their assessments and new treatment plans frequently enough to satisfy the funding stream with the shortest time requirement.

Thanks to the reader who sent in the original question on this topic. I hope it helps you understand why there’s so much variation in how frequently assessments and treatment plans are done and revised.

Want to sign up for my mailing list?

Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books

Psychologists disagree about what psychology is.

By David Joel Miller.

Psychology does not mean the same thing to everyone.

The Psyche

What is Psychology?
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

There appears to be a lot of disagreement about what psychology is and what psychologists do. Many people look to psychology for answers to everyday life problems like why are they are anxious or depressed or how can they be happier or more productive. Unfortunately, a lot of the psychological research is completely unhelpful in solving people’s everyday problems.

Looking the word psychology up in the dictionary gives us things like; the study of the human mind, or the science of behavior and mind. Some of the definitions include efforts to classify psychology as a science, a field of study, an academic discipline, an effort to understand either individuals or groups. Every definition I looked at included a great deal of ambiguity.

For example, on the one hand, we say psychology is the study of the human mind, but a great deal of research is conducted on rats or other lab animals. One criticism of psychology is that it is a soft science. It occurs at the intersection of a great many disciplines, including sociology, medical science, anatomy, the humanities, and philosophy. The boundary between psychology and counseling or therapy is hard to define.

No one theory has arisen which explains all the phenomena psychology attempts to study. Frequently it is difficult to decide what topics are outside of psychology. Parapsychology, hypnotism, and the supernatural are generally excluded from the definition of psychology.

Other accounts of psychology try to define it by specifying what it is that psychology studies. Psychology often studies thinking, referred to as cognition, brain function, motivation, intelligence, and personality. In general, definitions of psychology exclude the topic of emotions or feelings. Occasionally affect, the way emotions are displayed, get investigated.

In recent years, psychology appears to be diverging into two unrelated areas. Many recent inquiries occur in the field of neurobiology, the structure and functioning the brain and nervous system. The other area of study involves metacognition, that is thinking about thinking. Lots of psychological research involves interviews, questionnaires, and global tests in an effort to understand what people think about and how that thinking affects their behavior.

The practical applications of psychology have been disappointing.

Early in psychology’s development as a science, there were high hopes. Some proponents hoped it to be used to cure the diseases of the mind. Businesspeople hoped it would be useful in convincing people to buy a certain product. Politicians and religious groups hope psychology could be used to get people to think correctly and to identify those who might commit crimes or cause problems. Despite advances in psychological thinking, psychology still has limited ability to predict who will become violent or commit a crime.

Efforts continue to apply psychology, the discipline of trying to understand the mind and the process of thinking about a particular endeavor to practical issues. The American Psychological Association, the principal organization for all psychologists in America currently has 54 separate divisions, each with a distinctive focus.

Here are some of the ways that the study of psychology has developed.

Evolutionary psychology.

Evolutionary psychology overlaps, to some extent, other disciplines such as anthropology. It tries to explain how certain patterns thinking may have been useful to the human species and resulted in our survival. Common thinking patterns in humans may be the result of having to solve similar problems repeatedly.

Cognitive psychology.

The primary focus in cognitive psychology is the processes that underlie human and animal mental activity. Most of cognitive psychology is directed towards research. Some of this research has been applied to therapy and counseling using the cognitive behavioral model. Cognitive psychology studies memory, problem-solving, attention, learning, perception, and reasoning. Sometimes feelings and emotions are also included in the topics cognitive psychology studies.

Social Psychology.

Social psychology focuses on the topic of how humans interact with each other. Why do people conform and how are people persuaded to do or think something? Beliefs and attitudes, as well as stereotypes and prejudices, are topics for social psychology. Social psychologists investigate groups, why some people become leaders and some followers. There’s been some effort to apply the findings of social psychology to individual life events. The topics of how self-esteem, social class, nationality, or migration affect people’s thinking.

Educational psychology.

Educational psychology might better be referred to as the psychology teaching. It studies how humans learn in an educational setting. Its focus is on teaching students and meeting their learning objectives. It would look at curriculum and teaching activities and would need to be very depending on student characteristics. Educational psychology could include teaching those with learning disabilities, meeting the needs of advanced gifted students, making school campus safe and supportive and encouraging socially acceptable behaviors on the school campus.

School Psychology.

School psychology is sometimes seen as a part of educational psychology and sometimes as a separate discipline. While educational psychology views things from the teachers and administrator’s perspective, school psychologists look at things from the student’s perspective.  Many school psychologists focus on the problems the student has in being academically successful. What classes should the student take, what personal problems may be interfering with students’ academic successes and what classes client may need to take to graduate on time. School psychologists may use some clinical counseling psychology techniques, but their primary goal is often academic success.

Organizational psychology.

This subfield of psychology has been referred to by many names. Is sometimes called industrial psychology, workplace psychology, personnel psychology or employment psychology. Its primary interests are selecting employees, retaining employees, and maximizing productivity.

Industrial psychologists study the effects work environments, management styles, pay scales and job satisfaction may have on employee’s productivity.

Positive psychology.

The focus of positive psychology is on people who were currently healthy and maintaining that health. The effort is to focus on having a happy life rather than on what is wrong. Some conclusions from positive psychology being applied to the fields of counseling psychology and coaching psychology.

Forensic psychology.

Forensic psychology studies psychology as a relates to criminal justice population. It looks at what causes people to commit crimes, which criminals should be granted parole and which need to remain in prison. While we need to rely on this field for making some decisions, its ability to predict future behavior has disappointed a lot of people. Saying that a certain percentage of criminals if discharged from prison will never commit another crime, is not much help when we know that another percentage will re-offend.

Clinical psychology.

Clinical psychology technical is psychology which occurs in the clinic. Generally, this refers to people with a serious and persistent mental illness. Clinical psychologists are licensed professionals with a doctoral degree. Some clinical psychology work in private practice where they may do testing for IQ, ADHD, disability applications, or custody evaluations. Clinical psychologists are specially trained to use batteries of tests and to write reports rendering their evaluation. Some clinical psychologists see ongoing patients for psychotherapy, particularly those with serious mental illnesses that need frequent contact to function outside the psychiatric hospital.

Counseling psychology.

Counseling psychology tries to apply principles learned in psychological research to the treatment of mental, emotional, or behavioral disorders. Some counseling psychologists practice as licensed clinical psychologists, others may be licensed under one of the other mental health specialties.

Coaching psychology.

Coaching psychology is a new specialized part of psychology. Coaches are generally not licensed and may or may not have had formal training. The scope of practice for coaching psychologist includes those people who want to improve their performance and reaching life goals. Treating people with a mental or emotional disorder is outside the scope of practice for coaching psychologist or life coaches unless they are trained and licensed to treat mental illness.

Research psychology.

Most research psychology involves either physical neuroscience or studies of presumably normal people. The majority of research psychology is conducted by faculty members at the larger universities. Occasionally research psychology happens in a mental health setting but even here is usually restricted to a very small group of patients with one specific disorder.

Comparative psychology.

Comparative psychology studies thinking and behavior in species other than humans. There have been some efforts to compare animal behavior to human behavior. What we learned in animals often doesn’t apply to human thinking feeling and behaving.

Community Psychology.

The effects of housing on people’s thinking and behavior.

Health psychology.

Health psychology works in the area of how to keep people healthy and the effects that physical illness may be having on their mental and emotional health.

Abnormal psychology and adjustment psychology.

Abnormal psychology is the realm of those things we call mental illness. Adjustment psychology is about the problems of living life. When most people ask psychology for answers these two disciplines they are thinking of. Abnormal psychology and adjustment psychology are the principal topics of the counselorssoapbox.com blog.

There are probably a great many other “psychologies.”

It seems every time I read another article about psychology, I find another label for a specific subset of psychological research, thinking or practice.

The conclusion.

This is a short list of some of the types of psychology. It does not include all of the 54 divisions of the APA, and this is clearly my opinion. If any of you read this work in the field of psychology, I would welcome your comments and your opinions. When you see how specialized the various types of psychology are, I think you can see why we’ve been expecting results from the study of psychology it hasn’t been able to provide.

In future posts, I want to look at the many ways in which psychology has affected our current thinking and those ways in which psychology has let people down.

Want to sign up for my mailing list?

Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books

Bewildered.

Sunday Inspiration.     Post by David Joel Miller.

Confused and Bewildered

Bewildered.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Bewildered.

“I have never been lost but I was bewildered once for three days.”

― Daniel Boone

“No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true.”

― Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter

“I’ll be all right in a minute, I’m just bewildered – by life…”

― Tennessee Williams, The Glass Menagerie

Wanted to share some inspirational quotes with you.  Today seemed like a good time to do this. If any of these quotes strike a chord with you, please share them.

Do you overthink things?

By David Joel Miller.

The more you think about things, the worse you feel.

Overthinking

Overthinking.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Overthinking, sometimes described as rumination, is a common feature of several emotional problems, especially anxiety disorders. These constant thoughts can leave you both physically and emotionally exhausted. At times, you may feel as though your thoughts are racing away without you. Because you think these thoughts so often and they are so upsetting, you may begin to believe that the things you think about are very real possibilities.

Overthinking what might happen in the future increases your anxiety. Overthinking your past, beyond the point of learning from your mistakes, can result in depression. Don’t fall into the trap of believing that going over and over the same issue in your mind, in the same way, will result in additional insight. Overthinking increases self-doubt. The over-anxious brain is constantly on the lookout for threats and magnifies the smallest risk to terrifying proportions. Here are some of the common causes of overthinking.

Overthinking is about judging yourself too much.

Overthinkers judge themselves more harshly than they judge others. Self-evaluation, looking at both the things you do well and the things that you could improve on can be helpful. If your self-evaluation does not move beyond repeatedly reviewing less-than-perfect behaviors, you are judging yourself too harshly. Using the same scale to judge yourself that you use to judge others can reduce excessive self-criticism and prevent overthinking.

Comparing up causes overthinking.

Overthinkers always compare themselves to others who are better looking, more successful or seem more important. Constantly comparing yourself to others who have more or accomplish more, results in discounting everything you have accomplished. Rather than comparing yourself to someone you admire and feeling you are inferior, look for ways to learn from what they do and improve your performance.

Focusing on the negative increases your anxiety.

When you constantly look for the negative, that’s what you will find. Avoid focusing on what’s wrong in your life. Look for opportunities to improve yourself and the life you’re living. Spend less time thinking about what’s wrong and more time focused on the actions you need to take to reach your goals. Overthinkers look for the negative and disregard the positive.

Too much attention to other people’s opinion is harmful.

If you constantly are focused on other people’s opinions of you, your self-doubt increases. Everyone will have an opinion about your life. Sometimes it’s helpful to seek out advice and information from teachers or mentors. Too much attention to other people’s opinions results in you not having an opinion of your own. Be very careful whose opinion of you receives your attention. You are living a real life, and the person whose opinion matters most is yours.

Not knowing who you are creates confusion.

Not having a clear picture of who you are, results in a great deal of confusion and uncertain. Be careful not to be simply a reflection of other people’s opinions. Get clear on your values, your goals, and the person you want to become. Learning about yourself is one of the most important tasks you will undertake in your life.

Believing mistakes mean you are flawed undermines your self-confidence.

Focusing only on your mistakes put you on the path to overthinking, self-doubt and anxiety. Don’t fall into the trap of believing that you must be perfect to have value. All humans make mistakes. Cut yourself some slack. Accept that making mistakes is a necessary part of learning, growing and becoming who you can be. Learn from life experiences but don’t judge yourself harshly. Looking only at your mistakes leads to a very negative, biased, opinion about your self-worth.

Being overly judgmental of others creates uncertainty.

Avoid judging others using a stretched yardstick. If you expect an unreasonably high standard from others, you will find that you are unable to measure up to the standard you have set. The more judgmental you are of the people you meet, the more difficult it will become for you to feel good about yourself. Humans are not infallible computers, but then computers frequently make mistakes also. Avoid expecting impossibly high standards from yourself or others. Accept that you like all other humans are a work in progress.

Work on making overthinking a thing of the past. If you’re overthinking has gotten out of control, consider working with a counselor or therapist to get your thoughts back on a helpful path.

Want to sign up for my mailing list?

Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books

Confident.

Sunday Inspiration.     Post by David Joel Miller.

Self-assured

Confident.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Confident.

“I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”

― Henry David Thoreau, Walden: Or, Life in the Woods

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”

― Eleanor Roosevelt, You Learn by Living: Eleven Keys for a More Fulfilling Life

“Man often becomes what he believes himself to be. If I keep on saying to myself that I cannot do a certain thing, it is possible that I may end by really becoming incapable of doing it. On the contrary, if I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it even if I may not have it at the beginning.”

― Mahatma Gandhi

Wanted to share some inspirational quotes with you.  Today seemed like a good time to do this. If any of these quotes strike a chord with you, please share them.