Suicide Can Wait

It’s okay if all you do today is survive.

Vineyard with hills in the background

If you are considering ending your life, do nothing for 24 hours. That is an accomplishment you can build upon. Avoiding an action is an action. 

How many small moments will you have today? Spend a little time outside, or just looking outside from inside. What do you notice? What made you smile, surprised, or captured your attention? What thoughts did you have? Those are the everyday moments that make life interesting. Share them with someone. What did they say? Did they share your feeling? What did they say? Those connections make life a shared experience. 

At this moment, it may be difficult, or even impossible, to see a life that doesn’t look like the one you have. But the experience of life is not constant and situations will change. Some may deteriorate and some may strengthen, but it is certain there will be change. Think of your life before it was how it feels now; maybe that was a year ago, or 5 or 10 years ago, but it was different. You haven’t always felt this badly. You won’t always feel this way, either. But it can take time. That might feel heavy to hear, but compare that other time to this one. Now compare this time to 1, 5, 10 years from now, even if may be difficult to imagine, know that it will be changed. You have to stick it out, get through this rough part to get to that good part again. 

This is a valley surrounded by hills. Keep climbing.

Autumn Hahn is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist practicing at Clear Mind Group in Florida, Georgia, Nevada, and Virginia. Call 954-612-9553 for a consultation. Follow Autumn on Twitter & Facebook.

The Benefits of Not Using your Insurance

Most people believe that going to therapy is a process earmarked by privacy. And it is, sort of, if you don’t use your insurance. I have worked in therapy both as a therapist and as a medical biller for a therapy agency, so I know both sides of this fence intimately. When you see your therapist, the therapist, by law, generates an intake, a treatment plan, and notes. They likely also diagnose you with one or more conditions, which may be transient or permanent, depending on the client.

If you use your insurance, this information is all available to the insurance company, and is part of the contract either your therapist or their agency signs when agreeing to be paid by the insurance company. The insurance company can reject payment if they do not have “justification” that your problem is significant enough, which can result in a therapist making an addendum to the note to state you are worse off then you are, or that they require more information about your case; this results in the therapist sending more information from your file (extra copies of notes or additional notes or summaries) stating your problem, when it began, problems with treatment (perhaps you missed an appointment, were late, or did not do a homework assignment), or additional facts about your case that were not initially captured in the session note. While, ethically, all of this information should be factual, it is also private and is not the business of the insurance company.

If you are seeking treatment for substance abuse, for example, it needs to be cited what drugs you were taking, but what means, in what amounts, for how long, and what previous steps you have taken to try and quit. If you have not tried unsuccessfully to quit on your own, most insurance companies will not cover your inpatient services. If you have tried to quit several times through inpatient and outpatient services, they may deny you as too big of a risk for failure. The insurance company is not on your side in these matters, but looks at you as part of risk-analysis.

I believe the client-therapist relationship is one based on honesty, privacy, ethics, and rapport. I want my clients to know that their information stays with me and no one else. I do not believe that most people understand how their information will be used and to whom and how it will be disclosed. Now you know. Feel free to share this.

Autumn Hahn is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist practicing at Clear Mind Group in Florida, Georgia, Nevada, and Virginia. Call 954-612-9553 for a consultation. Follow Autumn on Twitter & Facebook.

Consultation: Write Better Notes

After a session, we are taught to write brief, but “good” notes. What does that even mean? Notes should take you 5-10 minutes to write. They should include a mini-mental status exam, what you did, how the client responded, and what you will do for next time.

I have streamlined this process and can teach you to do them quickly and well. My notes have gone through subpoena and I have been an expert witness with excellent results based on my notes.

Consultation is offered individually or in small groups and I am happy to work with your agency or group of interns. Cost is $100/hour and is estimated to take 1-2 hours. I am also happy to customize a training for you on what to include/exclude, working with specialty populations, treatment planning, and more. Please call to schedule an appointment at 954-612-9553.

Autumn Hahn is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist practicing at Clear Mind Group in Florida, Georgia, Nevada, and Virginia. Call 954-612-9553 for a consultation. Follow Autumn on Twitter & Facebook.

For the Sheer Joy of Doing it

Have you heard the expression “for the sheer joy of doing it”? As in: Look at that kid skipping down the sidewalk, just for the sheer joy of doing it.

Halloween child friendly treats with bananas and clementines made to look like pumpkins and ghosts

When is the last time you did something just for fun? Now take it even deeper. When is the last time you did something just for the sheer joy of doing it? I do lots of things for fun, but is it for joy? I thought about this for a couple of weeks and found that one thing I do for the sheer joy of doing it is dancing. Most of my hobbies are enjoyable, but don’t bring me joy. Perhaps I need more hobbies, or more dancing in my life.

What do you need more of, or to start doing?

Autumn Hahn is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist practicing at Clear Mind Group in Florida, Georgia, Nevada, and Virginia. Call 954-612-9553 for a consultation. Follow Autumn on Twitter & Facebook.

Reframing Guilt in Faith

I once worked with a Catholic woman in her 40s who felt that her history of serial monogamy had ruined her desire of dating in the future because it was in the way of her relationship with God. She felt that her four 5-year relationships were “failed” as they were all ended, and she did not know if she would or should ever date again as a result. She was erroneously linking past relationship with future relationships as if a pattern existed, and that it was a repetitive fractal.

We began with reframing the thought of “failed” versus “ended.” There were good things about the relationships that made each of them last for many years. There were also things about them that were not so good that made them worth ending. I challenged her belief that just because something doesn’t last forever, it does not mean it was failed. After all, she does not have the same job now that she had in high school. She agreed and it clicked. 
She responded “it must be the Catholic guilt.” I asked what was “Catholic” about guilt? She told me that, in her understanding, you are supposed to be with someone forever. I asked if she meant her first crush or the boy she lost her virginity to? She laughed again. “Well, neither…”
I asked her about her concept of God in order for her to envision her deity exactly as was true to her faith, and let that model do the reflection for her. I wanted to know what he/she looked like, wore, got around, and did for fun? She said that he wears Birkenstocks and rides a bicycle, and probably has flowers in his beard. She laughed and smiled; you could see the spiritual connection, strong in that moment. I asked about his personality – was he forgiving and kind or vengeful and smiting – as certainly both versions exist in Catholicism? She said “he is hip, but not a hipster.” I asked if he is with the times and gets what modern life is like, and she said he changes with the times. 
“So then, to him, does he get what dating is like?” She said he does.
“Does he think all first dates should be marriages?” She said he’d find that ridiculous, that you have to try people out for awhile to see what they are like and if they will be a good fit. “And if they are going to be a long-term good fit? Say, longer than the relationships you’ve had thus far? Even if it takes a few tries, even in your 40s?” She said he does.
“So you were guilty over what, again?” Nothing but smiles.

Autumn Hahn is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist practicing at Clear Mind Group in Florida, Georgia, Nevada, and Virginia. Call 954-612-9553 for a consultation. Follow Autumn on Twitter & Facebook.

Simple anxiety and depression technique

Zooming in, zooming out

Sometimes, I’m looking at my life through a microscope. Other times, through a telescope. When I’m feeling extra stressed or extra sad, I know that my attention is on the wrong things, and I need to zoom into a different direction.

For example, if I am focused on politics and world news, and that is causing me to feel off balance, out of control, and to worry about things over which I have no ability to make changes, I am zoomed out too far.

technology eye scan radar

On the other hand, if I am focused on the health problem, bills, things that are happening only in my world, I need to zoom out.

The difficulty in this technique is noticing your zoom. A way to get around this is to either notice what you’re thinking about, or notice the feelings that you’re having. You can follow your feelings to the thoughts, or your thoughts to the feelings. Once you identify the level of zoom, change it by moving your attention, your thoughts.

Autumn Hahn is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist practicing at Clear Mind Group in Florida, Georgia, Nevada, and Virginia. Call 954-612-9553 for a consultation. Follow Autumn on Twitter & Facebook.

Not a Reflection

What someone else does or says or how he/she acts is no reflection on you. Even if someone were to speak directly to you, about you, their words, their meaning has everything to do with them and nothing to do with you. 
Imagine you went to the doctor’s office and were sitting in the waiting room. Near your chair is a table with a variety of magazines upon it. You look at the magazines and pick up one that looks as if it may be interesting to you. Opening it up, you flip through past some photos and articles that don’t interest you and eventually land on something that does. You look at the pictures and read the article and you think it was pleasant. You did not write the article, nor did you take the photos, nor work for that magazine. You have no personal investment in what was said, or how, or why. What does that article say about you? Nothing. It is simply an article that happened to be in your path that you happened to find interesting.
So it is with the comments of others. What someone else feels, thinks, or says has everything to do with him or her and nothing to do with you. Even though their comment may be directed at you, or even about you, without their frame of reference, it would be completely different. He or she speaks from that point of view, which is a reflection on him/her and not a reflection of you. 

Autumn Hahn is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist practicing at Clear Mind Group in Florida, Georgia, Nevada, and Virginia. Call 954-612-9553 for a consultation. Follow Autumn on Twitter & Facebook.

Important vs. Useful

When you say something is Important, it means that it is necessary, that without it you will come to great harm or death. It starts with a capital letter and has an implied underline.

What in your life do you nonchalantly refer to as Important? Is it important that your spouse pay attention to you when you’re talking? Is it important that you exercise in the morning? Is it important that you pay your bills on time? And if these things don’t happen – as life is so often wont to not do as we would prefer – what happens then? Do things fall apart? Does the earth shatter because your spouse was preoccupied, your morning routine was disrupted, or you forgot to pay a bill that was due when it was due? Certainly not, but there is an implied sense of failure when something important does not get accomplished.

Of course, it would be useful or practical if those things were true; but herein lies the difference. If we think of things as practical or useful, certainly there is an implied desire, but no emphasis on need. Desire all you like, but when you depend on some facet for your happiness, you will surely be disappointed time and again.

When you talk to yourself, ask if something is useful, say it’s useful (if it is), and pursue that which is useful/practical/beneficial to your life. When therapists talk to clients, we find out what is useful to them and light with appeal that which is useful/practical/beneficial so they can pursue it with ease. But throw out Important with all it’s negative weight of “should” and “must” and “have to” that is so quietly implied behind that silent capital letter.

Autumn Hahn is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist practicing at Clear Mind Group in Florida, Georgia, Nevada, and Virginia. Call 954-612-9553 for a consultation. Follow Autumn on Twitter & Facebook.

What are Boundaries?

Healthy boundaries are those lines in the sand drawn by individuals who have figured out at least part of what they need to keep them happy and sane. They are the conversations between self and others that garner mutual respect and take the desires and needs of both parties into consideration. 

Setting healthy boundaries is relevant because it shows self-respect, respect for others, and examines our needs, desires, and wishes. For example, a parent may speak to their child’s teacher about the amount of homework their child is doing each night at home. The parent is aware of the time and effort spent on the assignments, and can advocate for the child – and this is modeling good behavior for the child to learn from to advocate for themselves later in life – about good work/life balance. The teacher may suggest a tutor, change their grading scale, examine the homework efforts of other children at parent/teacher conferences, or speak to their administrator about policies. 

Boundaries can take many forms. Emotional, intellectual, material, physical, and time. Emotional boundaries include how much effort  one is willing to give another person. For example, if a coworker spends every lunch hour complaining about their life and ruins your mood, you might suggest that the topic be changed, or that you have lunch together less often. Intellectual boundaries include respect for the ideas and thoughts of others. For instance, you might tell your spouse that you would like them to hold their criticism on your new idea for a podcast until you have some of the details worked out. Material boundaries include respecting others’ property. For example, a parent may ask that their car be returned with a full tank of gas. Physical boundaries include the respect for personal space, like not standing too close to someone in line. This has many cultural implications as well. Lastly, time boundaries include respecting the time of another, like being punctual to meetings or not going over your scheduled time.

Setting healthy boundaries can be difficult. Working with a therapist can be a benefit in navigating the roles one has in their family, friendships, intimate relationships, and work relationships. Families are often the most essential and most difficult boundaries to set and enforce because of the power balance in these roles. Some people cut contact with family members because setting a more reasonable boundary, or a boundary that is respected or enforceable can be difficult or impossible. Some families have a high level of dysfunction, such as with substance use, and setting a firm boundary means enforcing tough love, which is often painful for both parties. Other times, family boundaries include things like who will call how often, expressing your needs and wants, and asking for more or less in-person contact or physical contact. Similarly, friendships and intimate relationships grow and change throughout time and boundaries need to be flexible enough to move with those changes. Friends may see each other less often when one of the friends enters into a serious relationship, but the needs of the friend should also be considered and an effort made to find balance in both roles. Work relationships need to be considered by degree of formality or casualness, amount shared in the workplace, amount of time spent on the friendship during work hours to be kept in balance with both person’s jobs, and if any splintering of the work groups or power dynamic, if in different positions, is a distraction or detriment to their jobs. 

There is much to consider about boundaries, roles, and the individual. This is precisely why working with a therapist on these issues can be impactful. Whether with a professional or on your own, you will want to consider: What do I need, want, and prefer in this situation and how can I do that with respect for myself and others? 

Autumn Hahn is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist practicing at Clear Mind Group in Florida, Georgia, Nevada, and Virginia. Call 954-612-9553 for a consultation. Follow Autumn on Twitter & Facebook.