Why the Focus on Technology?
The phenomenon of being constantly connected to the information, products and people around us hasn't been around for too long; 'smart' screen-based devices have only been around for a little over a decade. The question of just how disruptive device [over]usage can be to our mental well-being and our relationships still remains unanswered, and is the primary focus of my current work.
What is Digital Wellness?
The latest addition to the global wellness movement, digital wellness is concerned with how our relationship with our technology and our consumption of digital content impacts our psycho-emotional, social and physical well-being, and what actionable steps we can take to regulate that consumption and improve that relationship. The field is still in its infancy, which is why I am incredibly excited to be a member of the early wave of digital practitioners not only in New York City, but in the world too. For more information about digital wellness, please visit the website of The Digital Wellness Collective, of which I am a proud member.
Life coaching is a relatively new addition to the helping professions: what exactly is it?
Life, or personal coaching, is a way of creating a safe and supportive space for an individual to share their challenges as well as goals with a trained individual and get help with overcoming those challenges and accomplishing those goals. It involves an exchange that often includes a lot of humor and fun, but has no shortage of hard work as well. And empathy, always empathy. Life coaching sessions can be carried out over the phone, via video-conferencing, in-person, and even while strolling in the park. The life coach's goal is to understand their client as best as possible, get a sense of their life goals as soon as possible, and help them strategize an action plan that is compatible with their values. It can take 1-2 sessions for some people, while others may choose to work with their coach for years- it really depends on each individual's specific needs. Depending on the particular coach's training, they may employ a variety of different techniques in their approach, and tailor them according to the individual client's needs.
What is Strategic Intervention (SI) Coaching?
"What we do is take the time to understand a person, with no other agenda, understand their objectives, dreams, goals, relationships, and world, and help them achieve what they want most in life... that's something that most people have never experienced before." This is a quote from the Strategic Intervention Handbook, written by Magali and Mark Peysha, two of the founding members of the Robbins Madanes Training institute that trains coaches in the SI methodology. The other two founders are Tony Robbins, arguably the world's most successful life coach, and Dr. Cloe Madanes, one of the world's leading family therapists. SI draws from the fields of Ericksonian hypnotherapy, human needs psychology and neurolinguistics, among others. This approach can be used with individuals, families as well as wider workshop-style groups.
What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)?
A form of psychotherapy developed by Dr. Aaron Beck in the 1960s, CBT uses the cognitive model to explore how a person's perception of a situation influences their thinking, feeling and behavior. In doing so, this approach helps clients to adjust their unhelpful thoughts and behaviors so as to create a balance in their mood and an improvement in their well-being. CBT was the first psychotherapeutic approach to directly address negative thoughts and identify their role in mood disorders, after Dr. Beck realized that all of his depressed clients reported having them. To this day, it remains the most-researched form of psychotherapy and according to some, it is the most effective treatment for both anxiety and depressive disorders.
What is Emotional Intelligence (EQ)?
EQ is all about being smart with your emotions. What does that mean? Knowing your emotions and having an extensive emotional vocabulary to name them, being able to detect them in your body as well as in your relationships, being able to regulate them, and finally, being able to choose how to express them.
What is Positive Neuroplasticity?
Positive Neuroplasticity is a relatively recent discovery that gives us great hope that we can change our brains for the better. For a long time we wrongly believed that we are born with a fixed number of brain cells that only decline in quality and number with age. We now know that our brain changes and grows just as we do, and this is what we call "neuroplasticity." Positive neuroplasticity is an approach championed by Dr. Rick Hanson, which consists of practices that create positive habits and by extension, an increase in psycho-emotional well-being.
What is Positive Psychology?
A relatively new field within psychology, positive psychology is concerned with what is right with people, as opposed to what is wrong with them. A strengths-based model, it is interested in how people obtain and maintain states we consider to be "positive," such as empathy, joy, generosity and compassion to name a few. The main misconception when it comes to this psychological model is that it completely ignores what we consider to be "negative" states and emotions. Positive psychology researchers study "positive" emotions, habits, relationships, and generally positive states of mind, and this informs those of us working as therapists and coaches how to help improve our clients' well-being; the goal is never to surgically remove negative emotions and/or thoughts because those play a vital role in our psyche as well. The goal is always to find a healthy relationship between the two.
What is Mindfulness?
This is a mental process that involves paying attention to the present moment. Jon Kabat-Zinn, who was one of the first Westerners to popularize mindfulness and employ it as a healing method, defines it as: "Awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally." As you read this, notice the little toe on your left foot, become curious about how it feels, and be open to sensing it- something you probably don't do consciously very often. Congratulations- you were just mindful!
What is a Strengths-Based Approach?
Central to the field of positive psychology is the belief that each individual has a pool of inner resources that can be tapped into in both good and hard times - the role of the therapist or coach is to help their client become aware of their particular strengths and learn how to use them in an intentional way. In my work with my clients I use the VIA Character Strengths framework as a guide, and start off by exploring all the ways in which they are already using their strengths in their daily lives, whether consciously or unconsciously.