By: Lisa Philippart
As a counselor, I make an attempt to be familiar with many forms of therapies. The more tools I have in my toolbox, the better chance I have of matching helpful techniques to the individual. So, today I would like to introduce you to an amazing healing technique that is easy to learn and can have profound effects. EFT, or Emotional Freedom Techniques, is based on the belief that the cause of all negative emotions is a disruption in the body’s energy system. EFT works by tapping with the fingertips on various body locations. The tapping works to balance energy points, which become disrupted when the client thinks about or experiences an emotionally disturbing event. The memory stays the same, but the charge is gone. The proponents of EFT believe that a negative emotion is caused by a distressing memory creating a disruption in the body’s energy system, which then produces a negative emotion.

EFT is sometimes referred to as EEFT because it is a meridian energy therapy, like acupuncture. But instead of needles, we stimulate the major energy points by tapping on them. Tapping then sends kinetic energy through the energy system, clearing blockages, and allowing energy to flow again, removing negative emotions. To begin, take a rating of the intensity of your distress on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being extreme distress. Now let’s take a look at the process in 5 stages:

1.The Set Up: In this stage, you will either rub the lymphatic drainage point or tap the “karate chop point,” while saying your set-up phrase out loud three times. The set-up phrase is a description of your issue in this format – “Even though (problem), I deeply and completely accept myself.”

2.The Sequence: While holding the problem in mind, you’ll tap 7 times in succession on each of the meridian points, and at each point, you’ll repeat a shortened reminder phrase of the problem.

3.The Gamut Point:
The gamut point is located on the back of the hand between the knuckle of the ring and little finger. Tapping continuously on this point engages the two hemispheres of the brain and sets your system to working on the problem.

4.The Sequence (again)

5.Adjustment Rounds: If you do not achieve complete relief in a single round, you can repeat the process, adjusting as follows – “Even though I still have some of this (problem) I deeply and completely accept myself.”

At the end of the process, scale the problem again. Has its intensity reduced? For EFT to be effective, you have to learn the correct location of the tapping points. Rather than describe them here, I recommend doing a search for EFT tapping points’ diagrams. Try to keep in mind that your issues are like puzzles. A problem may have many different aspects attached to it. So in some cases, collapsing just a few of these pieces can resolve the entire problem, by discovering the core issue.

The information on EFT is extensive, but I hope I have piqued your interest to further explore this technique on your own.
By: Lisa Philippart
Licensed Professional Counselor

By: Lisa Philippart
Welcome to 2018! I am excited about a brand new year full of possiblities, challenges, and successes. (I am a realistic optimist.) Even if you are a spontaneous-type person, I hope you are thinking about what you want for yourself, your family, and your community this year. I’m not talking about New Year’s resolutions that you will forget about by February 1. I’m talking about life goals. If you don’t have a destination, how will you know when you get there? So, here is my plan for us for this year: every two weeks, we will be exploring the ABC’s of mental health. With 26 letters in the alphabet, and 26 issues published a year, you can see how perfectly this will work. Today we will take a look at ANXIETY, but from my perspective as a holistic therapist and human being. (I will not be going in alphabetical order…that’s too predictable!)

I have always had anxious-tendencies. But for most of my life, I was able to manage my anxiety through a variety of coping skills: positive self-talk, affirmations, reframing, and grounding. I even decided to become a mental health counselor mid-life because I felt like I was an expert at managing my own stress, so why not share what has worked for me with others? About 5 years ago, I was under a lot of stress. I remember thinking my anxiety level was constantly riding around a 9-10, with 10 being unbearable. I noticed I was periodically short of breath and constantly battling fatigue. One night I came home and just felt “off.” I went to bed and woke up at about 5 in the morning with my head spinning. I felt my eyes moving back and forth as I stuggled to focus and stand up. I thought I was having a stroke. At the hospital, the doctors ran every kind of test from an MRI to CT scan to blood work. The good news, everything came back normal. The bad news, the doctors believed I had stress-induced vertigo.

I tell you this story because as a holistic healer, I believe that our bodies, minds, and spirits form interconnected circles. What affects one area affects all areas. The stress of my mental health finally spilled over in to my physical health. So after this vertigo event, I made some changes. If you suffer from anxiety that is becoming harder and harder to manage, this is what I recommend. Physically, listen to your body. Ignoring pains or body changes is not helpful. Can you make one small dietary modification…cut out diet Coke? How about walking 20 minutes a day? Maybe take a supplement? Get more sleep? Pick one thing and do it. Mentally, are you your own worst critic? Do you wake up every day worrying about everything? See a therapist for some effective coping skills. Find work that challenges your mind. Read. Listen to self-help podcasts. Volunteer.

And finally, spiritually…what is your source of strength? Most of my clients believe in a higher power, but have forgotten that this belief allows for them to have a purpose. Your spiritual side can be nourished through gratitude, prayer, worship, and meditation. We all need a direction, guided by our morals and values and faith, which brings me back to: Where are you going this year? Write it down. And don’t allow anxiety to interfere with discovering the best you that you can be.

In conclusion, I want to share with you a book I am reading by Andrea Petersen called, On Edge A Journey Through Anxiety. My number one take-away from this book was her definition of anxiety. According to Andrea, anxiety is the anticipation of pain – emotional pain, mental pain, physical pain, and spiritual pain – which is why anxiety can affect more than one area of the self. So, as you prepare your course for the year, include specific plans for growth of the mind, body, and spirit.
By: Lisa Philippart
Lisa Philippart is a Licensed Professional Counselor, who divides her time between her own private practice in
and providing personal counseling services at Athens State University./strong>

By: Lisa Philippart
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) used to be considered an anxiety disorder, but because of its complexity, it is now considered to be a unique condition. Do you double-check the locks at night or worry about the safety of a family member? This is “normal.” But for those with OCD, these types of thoughts and behaviors become so extreme that they interfere with daily routines, work, and even relationships. For example, people with OCD have been known to wash their hands for eight hours in a day. (Think Jack Nicholson in the movie, “As Good As It Gets.”)

OCD does not just go away by itself. And in my opinion, it takes more than willpower to try to manage it. I have seen people with OCD who are trapped in patterns of thoughts and behaviors that are beyond their control. The obsessive part involves ideas or thoughts that continuously intrude on a person’s mind, such as fear, worry, dread, or perfectionism. The compulsive piece is repetitive actions driven by these obsessions, such as hand washing, checking, and hoarding. For some people, OCD actions like counting, aren’t as obvious, so they continue to suffer in silence.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder may develop gradually, moving from thoughts to actions, which will eventually produce symptoms that affect daily life. People with OCD often feel embarrassed and will avoid talking to anyone about what is going on…even to their healthcare provider. OCD can develop at any age, but the research indicates that it often begins in adolescence, with the average age being 19. If you or someone you know is suffering with OCD or OCD-like indicators, what can you do? Because OCD is chronic, it is important to understand that you can learn to handle it and be in recovery, but there is no cure.

I believe that the concept of doubt is what an OCD-sufferer struggles with daily. Doubt can override even the most intelligent person. It causes the person to check things hundreds of times or ask endless questions. And only when the OCD-sufferer recognizes the challenge of trying to resolve this doubt, can he or she make progress. You can resist acting out a compulsion, but it is extremely difficult to refuse to think an obsessive thought. This is where cognitive-behavior therapy (CBT) comes in. CBT will help you to confront fearful thoughts and situations, while resisting the carrying out of your compulsions. Once you start questioning the likelihood of your fears actually coming true, you can challenge that logic. But this can take time as there is no quick and easy fix….and no partial recovery.

As with most of life, balance is the key. And achieving balance is the result of being healthy and choosing a healthy lifestyle, which includes getting enough sleep, a proper diet, exercise, positive social relationships, and purposeful work. So take care of yourself. Start now in this season of hope and joy! Merry Christmas!
By: Lisa Philippart
Licensed Professional Counselor

By: Lisa Philippart
“It may seem pointless, but you should always talk to us—we’re still in there.” (Harry Urban, someone who has lived with an Alzheimer’s diagnosis for 7 years)

In my last article, we discussed the most recent statistics and facts concerning the reality of Alzheimer’s disease, and recognition of November as National Alzheimer’s Awareness month. Today, I would like to share with you the more personal and emotional aspects of Alzheimer’s, from my perspective as a mental health clinician, having worked in nursing homes for over 8 years.

1. Be educated about the disease. The more you know about Alzheimer’s, the more you can understand and empathize with your loved one.

2. Develop routines and schedules. While most of us do better with agendas anyway, those with Alzheimer’s will appreciate knowing what happens when and where. Writing out a calendar of activities weekly can reduce confusion and frustration.

3. Don’t argue or criticize! This is a big one. The person with Alzheimer’s will become upset, and you will become frustrated. Please be willing to let most things go. “Join the journey.”

4. Non-verbals are now truly important. Do not be condescending or express heightened emotion. I am asking you to stop treating your loved one like a child! It is embarrassing for both of you. Use a calm voice and warm tone. Keep eye contact and smile. This can help your loved one stay at ease and know that you are someone familiar, even if she doesn’t recognize or remember exactly who you are. It always made me sad when someone with Alzheimer’s wanted me to be their daughter, simply because I was nice to her.

5. Use names and relationships in conversations. “Hi Mom, it’s your daughter, Lisa. I’ve missed you.” Your loved one won’t have to struggle to remember who she is or who you are. This helps to create a comfortable atmosphere and allows your loved one to focus all their mental energy on the conversation.

6. Meet your loved one in the now. Please don’t try to change your loved one back into the person they used to be. It’s okay to grieve the loss of the one you knew, and then love who she is right now.

7. Don’t assume that mental challenges translate into physical challenges. As tempting as it might be to do everything for your loved one, it is important for her to do as many things as possible by and for herself. You may either need to ask if help is needed or start the activity.

8. Use every method of communication. Experiment to determine effective ways to connect with your loved one…art, music, singing, and reading may open that door to who she once was. Even a simple touch on the arm can help communicate that she is loved.

9. We all remember emotions. Your loved one will remember how she felt even after she forgets the actual event. So, your words and actions matter!

10. And lastly, it can be hard to watch a loved one change before your eyes. Remember that she is not changing, but the disease is progressing. When someone is diagnosed with dementia, it is devastating to the loved one as well as the family members and friends. Hold on to who you know she was before the diagnosis, and take advantage of the time you have together.
By: Lisa Philippart
Licensed Professional Counselor

By: Lisa Philippart
Does that word frighten you? Chances are, you or someone you know has or has had some form of dementia. I provided counseling services in nursing homes for many years, and have painfully watched as residents and their families struggled daily with this disease. November is National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, so I wanted to take this opportunity to share with you some facts first, and then next time, my own personal thoughts on this difficult subject.

Let’s start with the statistics:

1. Alzheimer’s currently affects more than 5 million Americans and that number is likely to triple by 2050.
2. Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States and is climbing steadily.
3. Every 66 seconds someone in the United States develops Alzheimer’s.
4. One in three seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or some form of dementia.
5. Alabama ranks 17th in number of deaths due to Alzheimer’s disease as of 2014.

I know these numbers are sobering, but here are some facts you need to know:

1. Alzheimer’s is often not detected until the end-stage of the disease. Alzheimer’s generally follows a 14 YEAR course! This means that from the onset of the first symptoms until death, it is typically about 14 years, with the diagnosis being made in the 8-10 year time frame. So the symptoms go untreated and undiagnosed for 7 years, while the lesions spread throughout the brain.
2. Memory loss is not a normal part of aging. Unfortunately, many people resist medical attention because they fear being labeled or are misinformed to believe that Alzheimer’s can’t be treated. Regardless of the cause of the memory loss, addressing the problem early can improve the effects of treatments currently available.
3. Many Alzheimer’s drugs are more effective than you might think. Unfortunately, late detection has negative consequences. With early intervention, treatment can be provided for those with healthier brains, which will respond more vigorously. Obviously, those with an end stage diagnosis already have massive brain damage.
4. Alzheimer’s disease can be treated. And while there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, there are plenty of treatment options. What this means is that preventing or slowing further brain damage is desirable to letting the damage spread without restriction. A good diet, exercise, socialization, and certain drugs can also help to preserve quality of life.
5. Better treatments for Alzheimer’s are on the way! The good news is that because of intense research over the past twenty years, insights about Alzheimer’s disease mechanisms and factors that increase risk are being discovered every day. Much has been learned and promising drugs are in clinical trials right now.
6. Taking care of your heart will help your brain stay healthy. The health of your brain is directly related to the health of your heart. This means that high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and obesity all contribute to a greater risk of cognitive decline. Again, this can’t be stressed enough…good vascular health will help to improve cognitive vitality.
7. Managing risk factors can delay and even prevent cognitive problems later in life. Risk factors that can be controlled include diabetes, head injuries, poor diet, inactivity, and isolation.

So, why bother with Alzheimer’s awareness? Because it is a terrible disease that will destroy our aging society. Through education and stigma reduction, maybe more people will be willing to take a more proactive approach to early intervention. Please share this information with a friend and take care of yourself now.
Until next time…Lisa

By: Lisa Philippart
Now that you know a bit more about high sensitivity and its characteristics, it’s time to ask the question…how can an HSP not only survive, but thrive in a non-HSP world? According to Dr. Elain Aron, there are four steps to using our talents and gifts as HSPs to flourish in our daily environments.

First step is self-knowledge. You have already done this! As an HSP, you recognize four areas or indicators of our sensory processing sensitivity. 1. You reflect more than others about the way the world is going, the meaning of life, pondering the direction of a relationship, and feeling more deeply about the suffering of others. 2. You are often overstimulated by sights, smells, sounds, and people, which can lead to confusion, poor memory, and an activation of the “fight or flight” response. 3. You are emotionally intense! Yes, you feel deeply. HSPs are sentimental, full of compassion and worry, and are easily moved to tears or laughter. 4. You are sensory sensitive, which means that you are keen observers. You notice the smallest details, have low pain thresholds, and can sometimes identify feelings of positive or negative energy.

Second step is reframing. Reframing means seeing something in a new way or in a new context. Now that you are aware of your gift, you will want to reframe your past. So many of your “failures” were inevitable because neither you nor your parents or teachers or friends or co-workers understood you. You are considering your responses in light of what you know now about how your body automatically operates. Reframing your past and your perspective can lead to improved self-esteem, which can then lead to a decrease in becoming over aroused in unanticipated or highly stimulating situations.

Third step is healing. How can you survive as an HSP? Here is a brief list of suggestions from Dr. Ted Zeff’s book, The Highly Sensitive Person’s Survival Guide: prepare for the overstimulation in your daily life, learn to calm your senses and cope with time pressures, take care of your body, allow yourself to sleep when needed, maintain harmonious relationships, create a peaceful work environment, and nurture your HSP soul. I am giving you permission to spend more time in serenity and quietude. I promise you will notice a positive change in your energy and spirit.

Fourth step is being an HSP in a non-HSP world. How can you thrive as an HSP? This involves three areas of an HSP’s world. 1. HSPs require more self-care than non-HSPs, so diet and exercise are vitally important. In addition, your mental and emotional processes can deliberately and intentionally alter all other areas of health and life. The happiness factor is crucial! Your self-care also includes quiet time to create that inner peace, which will allow your body and mind to realign and repair. 2. HSPs tend to experience discomfort in social situations. You will want to develop ways to reduce the chaos while creating a social life “persona.” In some situations, it may be appropriate to explain your trait. 3. Handling conflict is a difficult topic for HSPs. You tend to avoid it at all costs! But when you can’t, it helps to be as prepared as possible whenever you can, and to counter each negative thought with a positive one. A sense of humor and the natural gift of compassion can often de-escalate an uncomfortable situation.

Can you tell I am passionate about being an HSP? Until next time
By: Lisa Philippart
Licensed Professional Counselor

By: Lisa Philippart
The purpose of my previous article was to introduce you to the trait of high sensitivity. If you completed the self-test at http://hsperson.com/test/highly-sensitive-test/ and decided you were not highly sensitive, the chances are that you know someone who is. This article is part two of three parts designed to present you with specific characteristics to hopefully give you a clearer picture of yourself or the HSP in your life. We will look at the mental, physical, sensory, spiritual, and psychological/behavioral characteristics in an abbreviated form.

Mental:

  • Better at spotting errors and avoiding making errors
  • Highly conscientious
  • Able to concentrate deeply (better without distractions)
  • Often thinking about our own thinking
  • Deeply affected by other people’s moods and emotions


Physical:

  • Specialists in fine motor movements
  • Good at holding still
  • “Morning people”
  • More right-brained
  • More easily affected by stimulants
  • Nervous systems are designed to react to subtle experiences



Sensory: (sensitivity to)

  • Touch—fabrics, water, temperatures
  • Sound—loud noises, music, white noise
  • Sight/Light—visual beauty, fluorescents, bright lights
  • Taste—warm foods, textures, alcohol, caffeine
  • Smell—chemical sensitivity, aromatherapy

Spiritual:

  • Meditative, prayerful, soulful
  • Intuitive
  • Search for meaning, purpose, and wholeness
  • Vivid dreams and active imaginations
  • Visions, divine intervention, miracles


Psychological/Behavioral:

  • Empathic
  • Affected deeply by environmental stimuli
  • Big picture/serious thinkers
  • Conscientious, methodical, perfectionist
  • Boundary difficulties
  • Avoid conflict and criticism
  • Require meaningful work and personal relationships

So, what do you think? Do you see yourself or someone you know with most or all of these characteristics? The next step is for HSPs to figure out how to function in a non-HSP world. I’ll share some tips and ideas in my next article. Until then…..Take time to appreciate the HSP!
By: Lisa Phillippart
Licensed Professional Counselor

My New Life As An HSP

By: Lisa Philippart
“And those who were seen dancing were thought insane by those who could not hear the music.” —Nietzsche

Several years ago, I had a client ask me if I was an HSP. At the time, I was too embarrassed to inquire what an HSP was, so deflectively I asked her why she wondered. She told me that our connection felt so deep and empathetic that it was almost like I could feel her emotions. Her words began my journey into understanding the trait called HSP, or highly sensitive person. I am forever grateful to this client because my life now makes so much more sense to me, as I embrace the gifts and challenges of this characteristic of my personality. Let’s look at what it means to be a highly sensitive person.

The trait of high sensitivity is found in about 15-20% of the population and, surprisingly, equally divided in numbers between men and women. There are way too many of us for it to be a disorder, but not enough to be well understood by the majority of those around us. This incredible trait is innate and can be found in over 100 species of animals, reflected by a certain type of survival strategy…being observant before acting. The brains of highly sensitive people actually work a little differently than non-HSPs. We are more aware of subtleties because our brains process information and reflect on it more deeply. We can become more easily overwhelmed. When you notice everything, you are naturally going to be overstimulated when things become too intense, complicated, chaotic or unfamiliar.

The HSP trait is not a new discovery, but it has definitely been misunderstood. HSPs prefer to “assess” (I say this word all the time!) before entering new situations, and this has been misinterpreted as shyness. But shyness is learned, not innate. In fact, you can be an introvert or an extrovert and an HSP. High sensitivity has been mislabeled as introversion, inhibitition, fearfulness, and even neuroticism. And it seems to be valued differently in different cultures. In the United States for example, HSPs are told “don’t be so sensitive,” so we tend to have low self-esteem issues and suppress or ignore our compassion and understanding.

Are you highly sensitive? I encourage you to complete the self-test to find out! Take a few moments and go to www.hsperson.com which is Dr. Elaine Aron’s website. Dr. Aron is a psychologist who made this discovery of high sensitivity and published her findings in her international bestseller, The Highly Sensitive Person. In my next article, we will summarize some of the mental, physical, psychological, spiritual, and behavioral characteristics of the HSP. I look forward to sharing with you more about this fascinating attribute.
Until next time…..Lisa
Lisa Philippart LPC is the only HSP-trained therapist in Alabama!

By: Lisa Philippart
Can you be happy by yourself? Have you had periods in your life where you were by yourself, but wishing for the company of others? In both of these situations, you were alone, but you were most likely only lonely in one of them. Lonely and alone are both adjectives with very different meanings. Lonely describes a feeling of sadness stemming from isolation or abandonment. Alone describes a single person or object, separate from others. So, and stay with me, a person can be alone without feeling lonely, since alone is a state of being in separation or solitude, and lonely is an emotional response of feeling sad or abandoned. You can also feel lonely without being alone.

Why am I so concerned with the semantics of these two words? Because sometimes in my practice, clients confuse the terms, or more often they believe the words are interchangeable. I think it is important to understand how being alone is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, I believe that we each need time alone every day to allow our thoughts to settle and to focus on the present moment. Women in particular, seem to have a more difficult time with aloneness than men. And it is generally for one of two reasons: (1)Either we are usually so busy with taking care of family and work and the home and others, that we don’t MAKE the time to ground ourselves. In fact, we multi-taskers often feel guilty spending time alone. There’s too much to do! We can’t waste time seeking alone-time! (2) Or we fear being alone because we might become lonely. And being lonely feels sad. I have counseled women who are terrified of being alone. The very thought sends them into a panic. These women have worked to ensure that they are never alone, to the point that their phone is never out of their hand. Their phone has become their constant connection to others.

I am going to suggest that fear and busyness are not effective ways to avoid being alone. The time will come when you will be alone. And when it happens, what will you do? Those are the moments when our minds take over and choose a path for us. One direction leads to loneliness, sadness, fear, or rejection. The other route leads to contentment, solitude, serenity, or mindfulness. So we are back to the skill of accepting ourselves, flaws and strengths, and appreciating our uniqueness and worth. Now is the time to practice being alone. You can learn to appreciate who you are and actually enjoy spending time with and by yourself. You need to be your own best friend. It’s being content in your own company, and for some that can be extremely difficult. “Loneliness expresses the pain of being alone and solitude expresses the glory of being alone.” Paul Tillicd.

Until next time, spend a few moments each day taking pleasure in your tranquility.
By: Lisa Philippart
Licensed Professional Counselor

By: Lisa Philippart
Did you reach out to someone after reading my article two weeks ago? I really HOPE so. Today, my article will be HOPEFUL and HOPEFULLY HELPFUL if you have ever wondered about trying to HELP those possibly considering suicide. (OK, I’ll stop with the “H’s!”) I could regale you with statistics and information about suicide and its epidemic proportions in our country, but what I would rather do is give you some application for what you can do personally…one on one. Even though I know it can be scary and uncomfortable, you may be the one who makes a difference for that person in need.

The first H is Here and Hear. The most important thing you can do for someone who is hurting or depressed is to be present. You are both with them and listening. Most of us just ask, “How are you?” Expecting the answer to be “Fine.” And we both move on. But if the answer is not fine, then maybe that person needs you. Maybe that person was waiting for someone to ask, so they could connect, even if just for a few minutes. You can learn to read body language and verbal cues. Even if you have never done this before, take just two minutes to ask, “What’s going on?” That person may only need your presence to reaffirm that they do matter.

The second H is Help. How can you help? Just ask. “Is there anything I can do?” You will be surprised that some people will take you up on it, so be prepared when you might actually have to do something! There is a fine line here because you are asking as someone who cares, not as a professional. So, if you sense that this person may need more than you are able to provide, you can suggest a couple of options. One is for that person to seek counseling. Secondly, did you know that there is a Helpline through Crisis Services of North Alabama? This is a wonderful resource for all types of crises. Their number is 256-715-1000. And lastly, you might recommend that the person seek out someone in the church family. Some people are more comfortable seeking help through their faith base.

And the last H is Hope. As a friend or fellow human being, you can be encouraging and supportive providing that feeling of hopefulness and optimism. Simply saying, “I believe things will get better,” or “I’m here for you,” or even “I care about you” will go a long way. Many of the clients I see have become stuck in a life that is no longer working for them. They can’t figure out how to get unstuck and have sometimes even given up on ever being able to be happy again. Hope is a powerful word because it provides people with the belief and faith that their lives can get better. You can have an impact on someone in need. If you get a chance, check out the movie, “The Five People You Meet in Heaven.” You might never know how your life has affected another, but it is still worth the effort. May you be that giver of hope.
Until next time…..Lisa Philippart
Licensed Professional Counselor

Everything that is done in the world is done by hope.” Martin Luther