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Writing Therapy

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All of us write — some more than others. We write our names on documents. We send texts messages to our loved ones. We send work-related emails to our colleagues. Some of us write professionally or as a hobby. What if writing could be therapeutic?

Much like art therapy, writing therapy can be used to allow clients to open up to themselves and to others. When a client puts pen to paper or types out thoughts, feelings and emotions, he or she may be able to better address issues that plague him or her. Thus, this will enable a client to know sources of issues and work toward solutions with a licensed mental health professional.

Mental health practitioners can use writing as a form in therapy in a variety of ways including journals, logs, questionnaires and so on. While writing about negative emotions can cause stress in clients, it can also help them get past traumatic experiences and improve mental and physical health. Practitioners focus on telling clients to write about their emotions, as was as more focused thoughts.

For example, if a client went through a very difficult breakup with her abusive ex-boyfriend, then writing could help her forgive herself. She is feeling guilty for certain behaviours during the course of their relationship. Writing about her feelings could help her confront them and better communicate them to someone who can help her. Another example could be that another client is struggling with the loss of his child. He seems to relive the seven stages of grief over and over. Writing in a journal could help him record his feelings, positive and negative, about the experience.

While writing therapy may not work for everyone, studies indicate that writing on a long-term basis helps clients figure out their behavioural patterns and what they can change or keep the same. Kathleen Adams, founder of the Centre for Journal Therapy in Colorado, uses the 79 Cent Therapy approach. She writes key details of her life and everyday happenings and stressors in cheap spiral notebooks. She says this about using writing as therapy: “For nearly 30 years, I’ve had the same therapist. I’ve called on my therapist at 3 a.m., on my wedding day, on a cold and lonely Christmas, on a Bora Bora beach, and in the dentist’s reception room. I can tell this therapist absolutely anything. My therapist listens silently to my most sinister darkness, my most bizarre fantasy, my most cherished dream. And I can scream, whimper, thrash, rage, exult, foam, celebrate. I can be funny, snide, introspective, accusatory, sarcastic, helpless, brilliant, sentimental, profound, caustic, inspirational, opinionated or vulgar. My therapist accepts all of this without comment, judgement, or reprisal.”

Writing is an inexpensive way to unleash your thoughts. Even writing for 15 minutes per day can help clients sort out their thoughts and emotions. Talk with your mental health practitioner or someone online at BetterHelp to sort through your thoughts and emotions and see if writing therapy is a right fit for you.

Guest Post: E-Cigarettes are not the Solution

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Don’t believe the hype, e-cigarettes and vaping devices are not going to help you quit smoking says a new study. Let’s start with the promise first. The idea of e-cigarettes and vaping devices was two-fold. Firstly, they would reduce the amount of toxins and carcinogens inhaled by the user by such an amount to make them almost negative in harmfulness.

Secondly, there was a simple theory of how these devices could be utilised as quitting aids, much in the same way as nicotine patches. This is possible because users can adjust the nicotine dose of each cartridge so they can slowly reduce the amount they inhale. That being said, being able to do this requires a huge amount of will power. Furthermore, evidence is starting to pile up to bust both ‘facts.’

The Reality of E-Cigarettes and Vaping

Let’s take the first point – health. Studies into the long term effects of any kind of medication or substance takes decades and the technology is too new to understand these effects fully – though predictions can be made. However, scientists are able to look at the substances inhaled and exhaled. So far, test results show that while toxic materials are vastly reduced, they are still present. Not only that, but as e-cigarettes and vaping is often allowed in areas traditional cigarettes are not, and that there is no filter, the risks of passive smokers are increased.

A controversial study quoted in Medical News Today says that cancer patients trying to quit are far more nicotine dependent if they use e-cigarettes than those who don’t use them. This report has been criticised, however, for its poor methodology, having been accused of not counting unfavourable data and for a high dropout rate of participants.

The report’s assertion that nicotine reducing tech fails to help users quit the habit within 6 to 12 months is backed up by other studies, and studies into nicotine patches. Furthermore, surveys of American youths has shown that an additional 250,000 teenagers have become nicotine addicted through the appeal and flavors of e-cigarettes and vaping. Other reports suggest a high return to nicotine addiction from former smokers who believe these devices to be harmless.

Therapy is More Effective than E-Cigarettes

To be successful at quitting, users need to have will power. While a few can quit on their own, many need some kind of additional support. It is clear that these devices have commercial appeal and draw in people who think they are less harmful. However, professional counselling is by far the more effective method. Whether this is counselling sessions, group therapy, or even hypnotherapy, studies suggest they present the positive and healthier options for getting nicotine free.

Note: this article has been submitted independently to the UK Therapy Hub. It is not an endorsement or recommendation of the product. Please visit the websites above for further information.

Getting a website for your private practice

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Creating and maintaining a successful website can be a nightmare for the non tech-savvy. Here are our Top 10 Tips to keep you on the right track.

  1. Accept that you need a website. Nowadays, a quick online search is the first port of call for people looking for therapists. So in order to get more clients, you need to have an attractive online presence.
  2. Have a clear objective. What do you want your website to achieve? It is important that you know the answer to this question to help you or the design company to build it. For example, do you want clients to contact you via email, contact form or phone? How many extra clients do you want as a result? What is a priority? What is not? Having clear goals will improve your website’s SEO.
  3. Choose a domain name. Make sure it is relevant, short and easy to remember, and then check it is available to buy with search tools such as Domain Check.
  4. Choose an established hosting provider. Hosting providers rent server space for your website, with a pricing plan that depends on your content requirements, such as pictures and videos, and emails. Choose one who will answer your queries before asking for your money.
  5. Create your website. Depending on how much creative control you want to have, you can choose anything from a DIY website builder with templates, to a fully bespoke designed website. An important thing to consider here is the level of long term support you require. To help you decide which option is best for you, here are some reviews from the Private Practice Hub.
  6. Make sure your website looks professional. There is a reason why some DIY website builders are so cheap. These packages will often make your website look amateurish, and turn off potential clients as a result. To avoid this pitfall, think about how much you are willing to invest in your website and keep the design clear and clean.
  7. Use the right words. Your website needs to be able to attract and hold your visitors’ attention within 5 seconds. The right copywriting will help you do this. Good copy will consider the aim of your website, your target audience, and the benefits of therapy. It will also take a conversational style and appear in short, digestible chunks.
  8. Have a call to action on every page. In other words, prompt your visitors to take action and ‘give me a call on…to find out more’. To make this successful, make sure you provide your contact details on each page too.
  9. Consider social media integration. Like it or not, integrating social media on your website will pull in a wider audience and improve SEO. Most providers will integrate with the standard social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn), but do consider other platforms. For example, is an integrated blog important to you?
  10. Beat the competition. A recent survey found that 20% of therapist respondents do not have a website. It also discovered that 25 % felt their websites didn’t do the job they wanted; 67% didn’t know how many visitors they received; and 30% hadn’t updated their sites for 4 months or more. If you want to get ahead of the crowd, a good website is essential.

Online directories for therapists

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More often than not, marketing is a necessary but frightening concept for those who do not specialise in it. For therapists in private practice, it is crucial to be able to create a strong online presence whilst still dedicating time to the therapy side of your work. This can be a tricky balance to strike.

Nowadays, most potential clients look for therapy by searching online, so if you register your practice in an online directory, you will be contacted by more people than if you use business cards or newspaper ads alone. Plus, once you have signed up, you will save a significant amount of time on marketing and be able to focus on other aspects of your practice.

Registering with general online directories (such as Yell or Freeindex) can be helpful, but many successful therapists in private practice will tell you that therapy specific directories work more to their advantage, in terms of the number of clients that are referred through them.

This is due to the fact that industry-specific online directories have the power to increase your visibility to potential clients through their increased Search Engine Optimization (SEO). In effect, this means that your practice will appear higher up in their Google search results, leading to more prospective clients and increased referrals.

It is also beneficial to register with an online directory that is specific to therapy because it will enhance your reputation by association. If people feel that they can trust your practice, they will be more inclined to contact you.

On the Private Practice Hub website there is a comprehensive list of online directories specifically for therapists, which can be downloaded by becoming a member, free of charge. This includes UK Therapy Hub, an online directory for therapists which lets you have total control of your profile. UK Therapy Hub gives you the space to tell potential clients about your experience and what you can offer them. This will help you to build a connection with potential clients and encourage them to contact you.

Using an online directory like this can make marketing your practice so much simpler, cheaper and more effective – it doesn’t seem like such a frightening prospect after all!