What is Mindfulness Therapy?

Pyramid Online Counseling      Education Center, Treatment & Therapy  
woman sitting on rick on edge of cliff

How can mindfulness therapy help me reassess my negative thinking?

Mindfulness therapy is predicated on one truth: thoughts precede moods. Negative thoughts can quickly contribute to compromised quality of life, reduced productivity and a depressed sense of self. In tandem, positive thoughts can help you over time take back the life you’re looking to live, restoring self-confidence along the way.

Mindfulness therapy, then, aims to help you control the same thoughts that so heavily influence moods. Specifically, mindfulness therapy deploys strategies like meditation, which draws conscious attention to clients’ thoughts and feelings. In fact, mindfulness builds on the foundation that cognitive therapy lays, helping patients avoid depression, its triggers and the moods and actions that follow, in helping you reassess train of thought.

What can I expect from a mindfulness therapy session?

Mindfulness therapy builds on itself, as patients become more and more accustomed to its taught modes of thinking. Weekly therapy can help you refocus your own mindfulness, through practices that include concentrated meditation, breathing techniques and the creation of a non-judgmental frame of mind.

Other pillars of mindfulness therapy include:

  • Reflections on your states of mind throughout the week, and how those thoughts directly and indirectly contributed to your actions.
  • A deliberate focus on how your breathing can affect your state of mind
  • Taught breathing techniques that help you control heart rate
  • Various types of meditation
  • Various integrations of meditation with other cognitive behavioral techniques

Ultimately, you can expect a variety of treatment modalities that help you focus on controlling your thoughts, with a focus on breathing and meditation that help deliver you increased control on your mood and on your actions.

What skills can I expect to learn from mindfulness therapy?

Just like no one experiences end-stage benefits from therapy on the first day, it takes time to experience major benefits from mindfulness therapy. However, over time you can expect to yield concrete, lasting benefits from sustained mindfulness therapy, including all of the following skills:

  • Learning to commit to decisions, rather than allowing indecision to affect productivity
  • Learning to focus on the moment, rather than allowing potential future situations and decisions to affect current decisions
  • Learning to assess a situation without overtly judging all individuals involved, including yourself
  • Learning to assess situations rationally
  • Learning to pay attention to both internal and external influences on your health and mind

These simple, concrete skills can benefit daily life in so many ways. Maybe you’re experiencing judgmental or destructive thoughts during life’s simple tasks. Maybe you’re having difficulty keeping negative thoughts from overtly corrupting your mood. Maybe daily routines like morning preparation or meal-making have become massive mental exercises. If you’re finding that there’s no barrier between your negative thoughts and the negative moods that develop as a result, mindfulness therapy is available to help.

How can I introduce mindfulness into different types of therapy?

Here’s another benefit to mindfulness therapy: you can learn to integrate its strategies and techniques into other therapy methods you’re practicing. At its core, mindfulness simply means learning how to be more aware of your thoughts and your mental state, and how those thoughts contribute to the moods you experience and the actions you take as a result.

Here are 3 mindfulness techniques you’ll learn in mindfulness therapy that can easily be carried over into other therapy modalities.

1 – Basic mindfulness meditation

Mindful meditation entails being mentally present in the moment. Sometimes, it means taking the time away from your busy day to simply sit and comprehend your own thoughts. Sometimes, it means turning off technology and other external distractions, while paying particular notice to feelings, passing thoughts or physical influences during this time.

Here’s one important note: during a period of mindfulness meditation, your goal is to take inventory of those thoughts, moods or feelings. Your goal is not to dwell on any single influence. Rather, you’re taking notes on what you’re feeling and how you’re taking those feelings in, before letting them go and continuing to focus on the present moment. Only after your period of mindfulness meditation concludes do you revisit what you identified and experienced previously.

2 – Controlled breathing

You’ll be amazed at how much you can control your thoughts, moods and actions simply by controlling your breathing. Take the time to consciously inhale and exhale during the extent of your controlled breathing exercises, rather than leaving breathing on autopilot.

Controlled breathing can also be a big help in maximizing the benefit of mindfulness meditation. Breathing exercises that include controlled, regulated inhaling and exhaling can yield big dividends for your mindfulness therapy, especially with regard to monitoring the thoughts that directly contribute to moods and actions. You’ll oftentimes find that controlled breathing helps you enhance mental clarity, relax the mind and help organize thoughts in general.

3 – Deliberate physical movement

Often performed in tandem with meditation or even controlled breathing, deliberate physical movement like walking, jogging or yoga help you concentrate and fully realize all aspects of the present moment. No matter the physical movement you elect to integrate into your mindfulness therapy, make sure it’s relaxed enough that you’re more focused on taking in all aspects of your surroundings, and less focused on overall stamina. Remember, you’re not looking to run a marathon or set weightlifting records here; the goal of deliberate physical movement is only to maximize mindfulness, to notice all of the aspects of each new moment.

Get the help you need through mindfulness therapy today

Mindfulness therapy helps you maximize your understanding of your own mind, and how individual thoughts and feelings contribute to actions. If you’re interested in leveraging mindfulness therapy to improve your health and happiness, understand that licensed therapists from Pyramid Online Counseling are standing by, ready to help. Schedule your appointment with a licensed online counselor today, after browsing therapist profiles to find the right individual to help you manage and overcome whatever behavioral health challenge you’re facing.

Self-improvement starts when we become increasingly mindful of our thoughts, positive or negative, and how those thoughts contribute to our actions. Mindfulness therapy helps you assess those thoughts in a non-judgmental way. Ultimately, mindfulness therapy goes a long way toward helping you transform positive thoughts into positive actions, while at the same time stopping negative thoughts in their tracks before they have the chance to manifest into actions you’ll regret.

Answering the 5 Biggest Objections to Online Counseling

Pyramid Online Counseling      Education Center  
woman wearing headphones on laptop call with counselor

Especially during a global pandemic, online counseling allows so many individuals to receive the therapy and the care they need, all the while conforming to appropriate social distancing policies. In addition, online counseling offers a distance that in-person counseling cannot, and further allows clients to receive personalized counseling services in the comfort of their own homes.

Unsurprisingly, many individuals today are hesitant to participate in online counseling. The added distance between client and counselor, and the uncertainty of using new technology to receive vital care, are only two of the obstacles that potential clients must overcome.

We understand that these are only a few of the hesitations you might be experiencing when it comes to online counseling. That’s why we’ve taken the time to answer a few of those concerns below. While in no way does online counseling totally replace in-person therapy, it does provide a suitable outlet to receive much of the same treatment, and to work toward healthier, happier lives.

1. Concerns with security

This is a primary concern among many individuals considering online counseling: will my connection and my private information remain private?

With an increase in used technology comes an increased threat that the technology could be manipulated or compromised. Understandably, that’s enough to keep many individuals from seeking the counseling care they need.

These same security concerns are the reason why we use a different method to keep your data and your files safe. Pyramid Online Counseling  doesn’t rely on public video conferencing platforms to get the job done. Instead, we’ve adopted a private, secure system for all of our online counseling sessions, one that connects clients to therapists and counselors ready to help.

2. Varying reliability of technology

Somehow, technology never seems to work when you need it most. No matter the issue – wireless connection, audio or video quality, even scheduling – technology often fulfills Murphy’s law: whatever can go wrong will go wrong.

As with any service that incorporates technology, online counseling is not without its shortcomings. However, dismissing online counseling as a treatment method altogether is a bit extreme. In fact, refusing to use online counseling just because it relies on technology is a bit like refusing to bike because the ride might get bumpy.

Despite all of the challenges that technology can bring to the table, reliance on technology is what makes online counseling possible. And where there are difficulties, Pyramid Online Counseling is dedicated to helping you work through them.

3. Online counselors cannot accurately read body language

Body language is one of the key indicators that therapists and counselors study during therapy. Since a majority of human communication is non-verbal, body language is an immensely important indicator for all certified medical professionals.

That said, the online counseling model, though convenient, does present a new set of challenges for counselors and therapists who rely heavily on body language for client insight. After all, most video communication sessions only capture the upper portion of the body – typically the chest and the face – all that’s necessary to maintain communication.

We can openly admit that a counselor’s ability to read and to translate body language is not helped though the online counseling format. However, we’ve seen our own counselors combat this difficulty in a variety of unique ways, including asking clients to adjust their cameras so that a fuller portion of the body is on the screen at one time.

And of course, our online counselors are also experienced in dealing with our secure platform; even though body language limitations may prove difficult to overcome, Pyramid Online Counseling therapists have made successful changes to their sessions in order to reach the same conclusions they otherwise would during an in-person therapy session, despite the lack of proximity. Whether that’s through more comprehensive follow-up questions or asking clients to see and explain their own body language, our health professionals are confident that online counseling can provide the same sustained benefits to traditionally in-office clients.

4. Insurance won’t cover online counseling

It’s true that some forms of insurance may not cover or reimburse clients who partake in online counseling. However, Pyramid Online Counseling does offer services that are still covered by a wide range of insurance providers, under a scope of services that is only expanding given the pandemic’s effects on insurance coverage of virtual therapy. We encourage you to reach out to your specific insurance provider before seeking out our online counseling services, to determine the coverage that applies in your situation.

5. Online counselors can’t prescribe medication

This is a common misconception about online counseling services. The reality is that psychiatrists are fully-licensed health professionals, and can prescribe FDA-approved medication to clients who connect remotely. In-office interaction is not required in order to prescribe medications. However, therapists must still follow the same course of action when determining medication and dosage, despite the distance. If and when therapists determine that an individual client can benefit from medication, they will prescribe and monitor appropriate prescriptions.

Happiness, health and healing through online counseling

Pyramid Online Counseling is committed to helping you become the best version of yourself. And despite the difference between online and in-person counseling, many of the same benefits remain. If you’re ready to take back control of your life, our licensed online counselors and therapists are standing by to help.

Online counseling will never be in-person counseling. However, online counseling services do provide a number of distinctive benefits to clients, especially clients who need help addressing behavioral or mental health issues in their own lives. Despite the physical distance, connecting with a licensed medical professional online can help clients receive the care they need to improve confidence, self-worth and overall wellness. Contact us to schedule your appointment today.

How to Prepare for an Online Counseling Session

Pyramid Online Counseling      Education Center, Treatment & Therapy  
woman speaking with counselor through laptop

4 things you can do to prepare for an online counseling session

Especially if you’re familiar with a typical in-office counseling session, online counseling can feel like an entirely new experience. Rather than sitting down for a face-to-face conversation with your licensed counselor or therapist, you are now logging in to a secure, online counseling platform, and having the same conversations from home.

If it’s your first time trying online counseling, we can understand the nerves. We want you to know that the online counselors from Pyramid Online Counseling are all fully licensed to provide online therapy, and they have extensive experience with this specific type of care.

Just like our counselors individually prepare for each new client they see throughout the day, we want our clients to prepare before their sessions begin. This means not only calling to mind the items you’d like to discuss with your counselor, but also setting a comfortable mood and establishing the right frame of mind for an at-ease, productive session.

If you’re looking for suggestions on how you can prepare yourself for a productive online counseling session, we’re here to help. Here are 4 easy ways you can prepare before your online counseling session begins:

1. Find an environment where you feel comfortable.

Obviously, you don’t want to take your online counseling call in a busy coffee shop. However, even in the comfort of your own home it’s important that you create an environment where you can be honest and open with yourself and with your counselor or therapist. If that means finding the comfiest chair or couch in the entire home, take the time to make that happen. If that means playing soft music on a loop, find a radio station or online streaming audio channel that can provide that for you. And if that means preparing a (healthy) snack to ease the pre-counseling nerves, don’t feel guilty in the kitchen. The goal is to eliminate distractions and create an environment where you feel comfortable and free to discuss everything on your mind.

2. Troubleshoot your technology before your online counseling session.

Whenever technology is involved, you can trust that at some point, technical difficulties are likely to arise. To ensure that your computer and your internet connection are both performing correctly, we suggest taking the time to make sure everything is up to par. It’s also a great idea to log into whatever video conferencing platform you’ll be using – ideally a private, online counseling-specific software – to make sure that your video call link, calendar invite and login credentials are all functioning correctly. Better to address any issues beforehand than in the moment.

3. Keep the conversation private.

This sounds like an obvious step: make sure that this conversation stays between you and the counselor or therapist licensed to help you live a better life. And to be sure, we want you to make sure that when it comes time for your online counseling session that you take the time to close any doors and any windows that might betray the privacy of your call.

However, sometimes a busy house can’t be helped. And when there might be other individuals in the home who might inadvertently overhear a sensitive conversation, it’s also important that you take steps to protect both yourself and your counselor. Especially if you’re in a busier location, consider playing white noise from your phone or a noise-making machine. You don’t want to compromise the audio quality of the call, but playing white noise outside of your closed door can help to create a sound barrier. In addition, consider the use of headphones, so that audio is fed directly into your ears instead of into the air through computer speakers.

4. Take the time to identify your emotions.

One of the disadvantages of the online counseling model is the fact that it makes reading body language and non-verbal cues more difficult. Because of this, it benefits both you and your counselor if you take a few minutes before the session begins to grow familiar with your emotions. What are you feeling in the moment – about yourself, about your environment, about online counseling in general?

In the event that something during your online counseling session makes you feel a certain way, don’t be afraid to take a moment and identify that feeling for the benefit of your counselor’s notes. Make “I feel” statements to concretely outline feelings and emotions that surface before, during and after your online counseling session takes place. And don’t be afraid to admit that you’re not sure how you’re feeling in the moment.

Online counseling: making change your own

It’s the goal of your online counselor to help you identify and pursue positive changes in your life. Pyramid Online Counseling offers extensive experience to help you accomplish just that: pursuing and adopting practices in your own life that help you accommodate and overcome behavioral and mental health challenges you might be facing. Our certified counselors have experience in offering therapy online, and are ready to help you thrive despite the distance between you and your service provider.

The first step toward benefitting from any type of counseling – online or in-person – is admitting to yourself that you need the help. And just because you’ve scheduled an online counseling session, doesn’t mean you necessarily believe you’ll benefit from the communication that follows.

Take the time to answer the following questions honestly:

  • Do I believe I need this help?
  • Do I believe I can benefit from online counseling?
  • Do I believe my online counselor can help me become a better person?

Don’t be afraid to discuss the answers to these questions with your counselor at any point during your online counseling session. It’s better to address your concerns with the software platform and the counseling model before the session gets going.

The licensed counselors at Pyramid Online Counseling are ready to help. Contact us to schedule your appointment.

What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

Pyramid Online Counseling      Education Center, Treatment & Therapy  
teenager speaking on couch with counselor

Everything you need to know about cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)

Most people share similarly simple goals for life: maintain happiness and health, spend time with the people we love and create a peaceful earth for those who come after us.

Even though our goals are the same, the obstacles that can hinder us from achieving them can vary widely. When we experience these challenges, difficulties that are best addressed through therapy, it can be difficult to see past the issues we’re facing in the moment. That’s where cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help, in helping us replace negative thoughts and behaviors with a more positive, productive outlook.

Cognitive behavioral therapy – psychotherapy which helps individuals transition away from negative or destructive thoughts, behaviors or patterns regarding how they see and interact with the world – often serves as the first step back to a balanced view of life.

The way we respond to the world around us is often automatic. Our body will often respond to something we experience before our minds even finish crafting an opinion. Frequent life challenges can condition our bodies to negatively respond to triggers automatically; cognitive behavioral therapy helps to change that, by helping replace negative reactions that worsen the situation with realistic reactions that help individuals see the experience objectively.

What conditions benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy?

Many different mental and behavioral health challenges can see positive benefits from even short-term cognitive behavioral therapy. Here are some of the disorders where cognitive behavioral therapy can yield positive benefits:

If a disorder is contributing to automatic, negative thoughts of destructive behaviors, cognitive behavioral therapy from a licensed medical professional can help. Since the mid-1960s, cognitive behavioral therapy has helped individuals address the above disorders, and others, as they pursue life goals and navigate ongoing challenges.

Are there different types of cognitive behavioral therapy?

Depending on the diagnosed disorder, the severity of the disorder and the details of your individual situation, any one of a number of cognitive behavioral therapy types might be recommended as therapy. We’ve outlined some of the most popular types of cognitive behavioral therapy below:

  • Cognitive therapy: therapy that helps individuals overcome misaligned or incorrect thinking patterns or automatic emotional responses
  • Multimodal therapy: therapy that benefits individuals by helping them address seven distinct, but related, “modalities” including behavior, affect, sensation, imagery, cognition, interpersonal influences and drug/genetic factors
  • Dialectic behavior therapy: therapy that helps regulate emotions, limit self-destructive behaviors and promote mindfulness and self-discipline
  • Rational emotive behavioral therapy: therapy that targets and replaces eliminate irrational beliefs or reactions with rational life responses

Though different in practice and in application, the different types of cognitive behavioral therapy are linked in their shared replacement of destructive tendencies with rational, productive responses to life. By definition, cognitive behavioral therapy not only helps individuals address the disorders that might be adversely affecting their quality of life; it also helps those same individuals to identify the causes of their issues, and work toward eliminating or minimizing their influence of the decision-making process.

What can I expect from a cognitive behavioral therapy session?

Pyramid Online Counseling offers remote online counseling therapy, allowing you to work toward improving health and mental wellness from the comfort of your own home. Whether your counseling session takes place in an office, or virtually while at home, if cognitive behavioral therapy is involved you can expect the core concepts to remain the same.

Three cornerstone principles of cognitive behavioral therapy sessions include:

1. Identification & addressing of negative responses

The first step in replacing destructive behaviors with positive, productive alternatives, is to identify and address the negative responses that occur as a result of the disorder you’re facing. This step can prove a difficult one, especially for those individuals emotionally triggered by their disorders, or anyone progressing through the identification step for the first time. This is where a therapist can be extremely helpful, in helping to mitigate any negative reactions in the moment and concentrating your focus on your disorder as separate from your identity.

2. Establish goals, not dreams

There’s nothing wrong with a dream. In this case, think of goals as dreams with roadmaps. Make sure that your goals are concrete, achievable and understandable. You should understand exactly what your goals mean to you and the steps you can fulfill to help them become a reality. It always helps to establish goals with the help of the therapists guiding your cognitive behavioral therapy session, for additional support and encouragement.

3. Implement new, productive responses

It’s not enough to work toward eliminating destructive responses from your life. Without positive reactions to take their place, the changes won’t stick. That’s why it’s so important that you and your therapist take the time to identify productive reactions to life’s challenges, and that you take it to heart. Make it a priority to identify the best ways to react to life’s ongoing challenges, and don’t be afraid to celebrate the victory when you find yourself experiencing a challenge and reacting positively.

Cognitive behavioral therapy: finding gradual, concrete progress

The first step toward change through cognitive behavioral therapy is simply the willingness to change. If you feel as though cognitive behavioral therapy could help you bring about the changes you need to see in your own life, Pyramid Online Counseling is ready to serve as your advocate in personal change. Don’t let a fear of change keep you from interacting with our team of licensed online therapists, experienced in professional medical care and well-versed in cognitive behavioral therapy.

Cognitive behavioral therapy provides you with a definitive roadmap toward appropriate responses to life’s challenges. It’s not always a roadmap that’s easy to follow; in fact, you’ll often find that changing your behaviors is one of the most difficult practices to implement and maintain. Don’t be afraid of the setbacks you experience along the way, and make sure you take the time to celebrate the moments when you meet any goals you set.

Pyramid Online Counseling’s licensed therapists are ready to help. Contact us today to schedule your appointment.

What is Motivational Interviewing?

Pyramid Online Counseling      Education Center, Treatment & Therapy  
in-person counseling session between male client and female counselor

Change in life is frequent. Whether we decide to change the television channel or our wardrobe, maintain healthier eating practices or pursue a healthier work/life balance, we change far more on a day-to-day basis than we typically realize.

There are so many external factors – media, family and peers, etc. – that together influence the changes we make. But ultimately, that desire to change, and to uphold our new practice once the change has taken place, must come from within us.

Motivational interviewing – communication between client and health expert, to strengthen the client’s motivation and foster a commitment to better practices – proves that change can start externally. In guiding an individual through concrete steps where they identify issues, outline a path toward change for the better and then go about realizing that path, motivational interviewing actually provides a roadmap for anyone struggling with recurring, negative behavioral habits.

The success of any motivational interviewing session hinges on the relationship between anyone involved. It’s not a class, or a teaching opportunity; rather, each individual learns about the other, through a partnership that sees everyone involved work toward a better version of themselves. Rather than position the client as somehow beneath the medical health professional, motivational interviewing really emphasizes a readiness for change, and the steps required to make those changes permanent.

What can I expect from a motivational interviewing session?

There are a few things you can expect from motivational interviewing, as a communicative form of treatment. Any therapist hosting a motivational interviewing session will first and foremost look to make anyone else involved feel comfortable. Clear, honest communication can only take place if the session is hosted in a non-judgmental, supportive environment.

Here are 3 other pillars of most motivational interviewing sessions:

1. A session defined by empathy

An empathetic therapist during a motivational interview can make all the difference. Empathy – being able to understand what others are feeling – is critical for a successful session, especially early on. Therapists will be able to see the world through their clients’ eyes, and to feel what they feel when they describe their experiences, good and bad. Clients during a motivational interviewing session need to feel like they are heard and understood, to provide the groundwork for a constructive discussion.

2. A venue for open discussion

A successful motivational interviewing session provides a venue for open discussion. As a client, you should feel comfortable bringing absolutely everything to the table. In addition, therapists are used to dealing with feedback, even with resistance. Motivational interviewing allows you the platform to talk freely and openly about your life, without restriction.

You can expect that your therapist or counselor, during regular conversation, will suggest best practices, alternative coping mechanisms, and alternative points of view to help you better pursue a healthy, happy life. Both ends of the conversation benefit from open discussion, which the motivational interview format always offers.

3. A conversation with someone who believes in you

Even if you don’t believe in your own capacity for change, know that you will be conversing with a therapist or a counselor who does. In fact, motivational interviewing is built on that premise: that you have the ability to foster and to maintain positive change in your own life. Especially if you have difficulty seeing that potential in yourself, your therapist will make a point of highlighting your capacity to positively control your own life. Through a conversational format, motivational interviewing helps you overcome self-doubt and reach a place where you can begin to take small, concrete steps toward the life you want to live.

What is communication like during motivational interviewing?

Therapists who regularly hold motivational interviewing sessions with clients follow a simple acronym – OARS – when it comes to leading thoughtful, comfortable, productive conversations with clients. OARS as an acronym outlines the type of interaction that defines motivational interviewing:

Open-ended questions – Questions with no immediate or factual answer. These questions are meant to promote discussion and prompt thought. There isn’t often an easy “yes” or “no” answer when it comes to open-ended questions; rather, they’re questions offered by the therapist or counselor that allow the client to dive deeper into their own reasoning or outlook.

Affirmation – A recognition of the positive aspects of a client. More than a compliment, an affirmation means taking a moment, as a therapist or a counselor, to recognize a particular strength of a client, or something that the client does well. As a client, enjoy the moments when you can pause and take affirmations to heart. Affirming a client’s strengths helps to provide a balance between polished areas of a client’s life and areas where the therapist finds opportunity for improvement. Affirmations also help the client see that opportunities for change aren’t as far off as self-doubt often makes them appear.

Reflection – The moments when a therapist or client takes the time to listen, rather than speak, to absorb the other’s words and thoughts. Reflection is what provides balance during the conversation format that motivational interfering follows, especially during those moments when a client is describing specific details of his or her life, or when the therapist in turn outlines positive life practices. Reflection doesn’t mean blindly following suggestions; rather, it means taking the time to really register the other’s words, and to put them to use toward the betterment of the conversation itself, and their own life.

Summary – A specific type of precise reflection, summary means essentially summarizing the high points of a specific motivational interviewing session. Before allowing the conversation to move toward another topic, or to focus on another specific area of interest, your therapist or counselor will often seek to summarize what has taken place in the conversation thus far. Whether it’s just a summary of your last few comments, or of their points regarding life improvement, summary allows you to benefit from conversation points without overly dwelling on them.

Achieving positive life change through the motivational interview format

A demonstrated benefit for clients who benefit from discussions, motivational interviewing helps to make the desk between therapist and client fade away. Therapy quickly becomes a conversation between one individual and another, where treatment, life, challenges, struggles and victories can all be discussed openly.

Through it all, the goal is change. Positive change comes from within, and when motivated by the right factors, will remain permanent after the change has been installed. Whether you’re answering an open-ended question, identifying your goals and aspirations or identifying with your therapist’s suggestions, motivational interviewing helps you take defined steps toward a better version of yourself.

Pyramid Online Counselors are here to help. Please contact us today to schedule your appointment.