Clients do not always have healthy, functional coping skills. As those of us in direct services are aware, productivity standards are often set at 100%.
This can induce burnout in the practicing professional, and may influence agency turnover rates, although some may see this as a challenge to self-improvement. This can impact clients who may have to deal with yet another stress of becoming re-assigned to a different professional.
Holistic approaches combine modalities, such as the cognitive/affective piece with healthier eating, being able to forgive others and oneself, and incorporating humor.
There are other powerful, holistic tools available, too. Mindfulness is a word we are hearing more and more in mental health. This means being present in the moment, very different from the state of mind with which our clients present.
Daniel Goleman and others have been active in research which shows that meditation can reduce anxiety and heart rate, induce better self-regulation, and generally calm a person down. Using meditation may help a client improve emotional intelligence and self-awareness. While stress may not decrease, the way a client handles them should get exponentially better.
It makes perfect sense to teach our clients mindfulness through forms of meditation as a preliminary intervention leading into cognitive/affective approaches. Doing this may enhance the entire learning experience and with practice, as our brains’ neural connections strengthen, greatly improved coping results will emerge. Encouraging clients to refrain from eating foods which adversely impact moods, such as grains and sugar, should make the effect even better.
Before doing this, we should practice mindfulness ourselves! Promoting an intervention which we do not also at least try may come across as hypocritical, and clients may sense this. I practice meditations (shorter, 10-minute ones) and use binaural beats. These practices help keep me focused and more fit.
Try it – you might like it…I know I do!
Dr. Donna Poppendieck (Dr. P) has over 30 years of experience in the mental health care field. She is a seasoned college professor and instructor for providers. She uses credible, proven holistic health strategies in instruction for parents of children with mental health challenges looking for another approach as well as healthcare providers seeking to implement or understand holistic strategies.