Due to the popularity of FLEX's first external blog, Wellness Wednesday with Jessica Danilewitz, we are proud to introduce our readers to FLEX's newest blog project: Self-Disclosure with FLEX's founder Michael Decaire.
Each week (or so), Michael will discuss some health and wellness topics that have had personal meaning to him over the years. At times, Michael promises to divert to general commentary on psychological practice, community mental health advocacy, and other topics that are dear to him. The blog will be of interest to the public, our clients, and our professional peers.
Michael's first two entries are live now, with more to come in the weeks ahead:
Chapter 1: Welcome to Self-Disclosure
Chapter 2: Mindfulness - Attention and Intention
Parents and educators know how valuable play is for children. It is an opportunity to explore the world with an open mind and learn how to navigate the world adaptively. Play provides lessons that cannot be learned by sitting at a desk or being stuck in one's habitual routines. Curiously, many of us seem to presume that this opportunity for growth ends when we enter adulthood. This week #WellnessWednesay blogger and FLEX therapist Jessica Danilewitz breaks from her routine and jumps into a new hobby to see what learning opportunities lay ahead.
CLICK HERE to read what Jessica learned and what's next on her wellness journey.
FLEX's resident blogger Jessica Danilewitz is back for another #WellnessWednesday. This time Jessica looks at how we can be informed by the traditional parenting styles of other cultures to find a new way to engage with our children and promote self-regulation in the face of strong emotions. It is an interesting look at how we can examine the old way (for many) to find a new way (for us).
CLICK HERE to read this weeks Wellnesses Wednesday.
Last week FLEX therapist and blogger Jessica Danilewitz explored the concept of mindfulness and how it can assist us to move through life in a more aware and deliberate manner. As mindfulness is always a hot topic, Jessica is back with an exploration of how tools like the Muse Headband can provide a bit of support and accelerate your mindfulness journey. It is a popular tool at our clinic with both staff and clients and something that has certainly led to significant gains for a lot of those we support.
CLICK HERE to read this weeks Wellness Wednesday and learn how the MUSE Headband may be right for you.
FLEX Psychotherapist and Wellness Wednesday blogger Jessica Danilewitz provides a great look at we really mean when we encourage clients to be more mindful. Mindfulness is something many our our clients have put on their to-do lists, but few of them really know what it means. Jessica does a great job of introducing the core concepts of mindfulness to help people take that first step to being more present.
CLICK HERE for this weeks #WellnessWednesday entry.
FLEX therapist and resident wellness blogger Jessica Danilewitz is back for another #WellnessWednesday offering. This week, Jessica provides the tough questions we all should ask ourselves when evaluating our relationships, how they are working for us now and, whether they will likely work for us in the future. Jessica does not provide the answers, but these questions will undoubtedly guide readers in understanding how their relationships meet their needs, when change needs to occur, and whether those changes can be made within the current relationships they have.
CLICK HERE for this weeks #WellnessWednesday entry.
FLEX's star blogger and psychotherapist Jessica Danilewitz is back for another #WellnessWednesday entry. This week Jessica is discussing journaling as a tool for challenging fleeting thoughts and fostering gratitude. Gratitude journaling is a powerful, research supported, and relativley easy activity that can make real change in one's life in a relatively short period of time.
Jump over to Wellness Wednesday for some of Jessica's thoughts on journaling and how it can support your wellness journey.
CLICK HERE for this weeks #WellnessWednesday entry.
Over at Wellness Wednesday, FLEX Psychology's Jessica Danilewitz is starting a series on "change". Recognizing the need for change can be challenging, but there are signs along the way that can highlight the need to look for a different path forward. The road towards change requires multiple steps and people can find a number of barriers ahead of them. Join Jessica each week as she explores recognizing the need for and then tackling change one step at a time.
Change Week 1: Recognizing the Need for Change
Change Week 2: Readiness for Change
Change Week 3: Fear of Change
Change Week 4: Getting a Helping Hand on Your Change Journey
FLEX Therapist and Blogger Jessica Danilewitz has been running an Exploring Therapy series that takes her readers through an introductory dive into some of the treatments offered by members of the FLEX team. Other members of the FLEX team will be also offering some guest posts during throughout the series, as Jessica practices a little #Wellness on her own for a late summer getaway.
Week 1: Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (Author: Jessica Danilewitz)
Week 2: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (Guest: Michael Decaire)
Week 3: Emotion Focused Therapy (Guest: Jennifer Marcus)
Week 4: Clinical Hypnosis (Guest: Michael Decaire)
FLEX Psychotherapist and Wellness Blogger Jessica Danilewitz looks at the many competing demands we need to balance each day and how one can integrate self-care into their journey to help maintain that balance. Another great and simple read that can add to all of our wellness journeys. CLICK HERE to visit Wellness Wednesday and help compliment your own self-care regime.
Image used under Creative Commons license. Click HERE for the source.
FLEX Psychotherapist Jessica Danilewitz has another #WellnessWednesday post up on her blog. This week Jessica looks at some of the smallest things we can do to really turn around a negative day or moment. It is certainly true that some of the littlest things we do can have the biggest difference in any particular moment. A good read and an easy opportunity to turn your day around. CLICK HERE to read Wellness Wednesday.
FLEX Therapist and Blogger Jessica Danilewitz shared a timely Wellness Wednesday post this week that dug in to the experience of travel anxiety. While we often long for time away from our daily grind, it is not unusual for the first steps towards that vacation to bring on a whole new set of anxieties. CLICK HERE to see Jessica's thoughts on why travel anxiety occurs and how you can reframe it to have a better start to your time away.
This #WellnessWednesday has FLEX therapist Jessica Danilewitz looking at why tears can come out in treatment and why that is ok. While some people will be fearful of crying, this is usually a fear of embarrassment that is definitely not warranted in therapy. CLICK HERE to visit Jessica's Wellness Wednesday blog to learn about some of the benefits of crying and why it is also alright if those tears never arrive.
FLEX Therapist and Blogger Jessica Danilewitz returns for another #WellnessWednesday Book Club entry. This month Jessica shares The Ripple Effect by Greg Wells. The Ripple Effect explores how our actions and behaviours overlap to contribute to a pattern of wellness or struggle. It also discusses how a series of small changes can compound for impressive benefits in our daily lives.
CLICK HERE to read the latest Wellness Wednesday posting!
Cover image used under Creative Commons license. Source: Hernán Piñerra
This week FLEX's Jessica Danilewitz looks to the summer ahead and how we can do a little mental spring cleaning when are spirits are up. There's no need to wait until New Years, spring and summer is the season of growth. CLICK HERE to read Jessica's newest tips at Wellness Wednesday.
Image sourced under Creative Commons from Mayastar.
Last week, FLEX therapist Jessica Danilewitz explored how her readers could find a therapist to fit their needs if they felt they could benefit from a bit of support on their wellness journey.
On this #WellnessWednesday, Jessica discusses the next step and looks at what readers can expect in their first treatment session. Jessica provides some valuable insight that may reduce the inherent anxiety that nearly everyone who decides to take this next step will feel. CLICK HERE to learn a little more and better prepare yourself as you move forward.
While the goals of Wellness Wednesday is to engage readers in ways they can persronally enhance their wellness journey, it is important to recognize that this journey is rarely a success without a helping hand along the way. That hand may come from friends or family, but, at times, a professional ear and voice can be valuable in overcoming hurdles or providing unique insight into a situation.
This week FLEX therapist Jessica Danilewitz discusses how her readers can find a therapist that fits their needs. CLICK HERE to learn where to first look for a therapist and what to keep an eye out for.
This week FLEX therapist Jessica Danilewitz introduces the Wellness Wednesday Book Club. Her first Book Club looks at the collection of writings and available speaking engagements of Brene Brown, a US based therapist who is working to make self compassion and embracing vulnerability the next step on your wellness journey.
CLICK HERE to learn about Brene's work and see how you can integrate her work into your daily life.
FLEX therapist Jessica Danilewitz returns for #WellnessWednesday to discuss one of the most common complaints we hear in the clinic: Difficulties with concentration and distraction. In reality, while the exact cause is unique from person to person, nearly all emotional and learning concerns result in difficulties in attention. Regardless of the cause, Jessica highlights a number of strategies that can assist anyone with staying on task and getting things done. CLICK HERE to view this weeks Wellness Wednesday and see what strategy may work for you.
On her inaugural #WellnessWednesday post, FLEX therapist Jessica Danilewitz shares her thoughts and strategies on tackling issues with sleep. CLICK HERE to visit her Wellness Wednesday blog to learn what you can do to have a better rest tonight.
Members of the FLEX team are always working to find new ways they can support their clients and the community as a whole. We are excited to share the newest initiatives from FLEX therapist Jessica Danilewitz, who is launching her Wellness Wednesday blog tomorrow.
Wellness Wednesday is a weekly checkin on how individual's can introduce a few steps forward on their journey towards improved mental health and wellness. Join Jessica each week as she introduces some great ideas, reviews books and online resources, and pulls back the curtain on therapy to give readers insight on when a little outside assistance may be helpful.
Each Wednesday you can review Jessica's latest guidance by visiting Wellness Wednesday.
FLEX is excited to offer a focused training on exam preparation, study techniques, and test-taking strategies. Anchored in the neuro-science of how we acquire and retrieve memories, students will leave with an understanding of how early they should start preparing for exams, how to design and implement effective study schedules, and how to work strategically during examinations to show all that they know. Test anxiety will also be discussed, with a demonstration of techniques to resolve anxiety and keep your brain "online".
Date: January 7, 2018, 1pm to 3pm
Location: Cornerstone Clinic - Suite 313C - 1 Promenade Circle (Promenade Mall), Thornhill, ON
(This session is a education lecture and is not covered by insurance plans for psychology)
Presenter: Jessica Danielwitz
Did you know that on top of all the individual workshops and seminars that our team members attend, the FLEX team completes in-house continuing education sessions each month to advance our practice and to support our clients better?
Septembers session was hosted by FLEX's neonatal and paediatric consultant Esther Decaire, BScN, MN, NP-Paeds. Esther provided a comprehensive workshop for our assessment and treatment teams in order to expand their knowledge of how complications during pregnancy and birth can impact a child's development and self-regulatory capacities. These trainings assist our team in considering the multitude of factors that may contributing to the challenges are clients are experiencing.
The session was a huge success and we would love to share it with our clients, treatment partners, and peers. We hope to announce the workshop as an on-demand webinar soon.
FLEX’s founder Michael Decaire recently sat down with Michael Lander, MSW, RSW, to discuss his and role at FLEX and the services he has been providing to our clients over the last year. Michael [Lander] is a registered social worker and specialist in supporting those with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Michael helps adolescents and young adults identify and work towards their goals and, more generally, to move towards a life of increased wellness, successes, and happiness.
MD: There is a misperception that therapy for those with Autism Spectrum Disorder is narrowly focused on social skills training, sensory, and behavioural interventions. While there is an obvious place for these supports, in my experience it is important to recognize that those with Autism are experiencing the exact same range of wellness and mental health concerns as any other client we see. The difference is that this population may come to those problems with some unique perspectives and needs. I was hoping you could discuss some of this uniqueness and how your work in this area has shaped you as a therapist.
Michael Lander: I agree with you Michael. I think that there is a misperception out there that therapeutic interventions for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) should only be oriented towards social skills, sensory, and behavioural interventions. However, as you say, people with ASD experience the exact same range of mental health and wellness concerns as neurotypical people. It should follow, then, that evidence-based therapeutic approaches used in treating common conditions such as anxiety disorder among neurotypical individuals should also be utilized in treating those with ASD. For example, there is a high prevalence of comorbid anxiety disorders with ASD. But there is a lack of empirically supported anxiety-specific interventions for the ASD population. What is needed is the modification of effective therapeutic approaches that are adapted to the unique needs, styles of thinking, and perspectives of individuals with ASD.
Working closely with people with ASD for over ten years has given me the chance to understand ASD as being expressed and experienced uniquely by every individual. However, there are a limited number of common characteristics of ASD that I believe are keys to developing and implementing effective therapeutic practice for those with ASD. People with ASD often experience executive functioning deficits, problems with ‘central coherence’ (the ability to see the “the big picture”) and procedural learning skills. Combined, these different ways of thinking often cause barriers to generating alternative thoughts, beliefs or solutions, difficulties judging the potential usefulness of alternative strategies, or speculating on the outcome of various courses of action. Integrating these core characteristics of ASD into my therapeutic approach, I have shaped my practice around working collaboratively with clients to work through the relational and social emotional issues they face daily, and to develop concrete alternatives to disordered, or self-destructive thinking.
MD: It strikes me that the therapeutic relationship with clients with Autism Spectrum Disorders can pivot from therapist, to advisor, to coach or mentor. Could you discuss the fluidity of that relationship and your role in providing the type of support that our clients need when they need it?
Michael Lander: I believe that a strong therapeutic alliance between a therapist and client with ASD is tantamount to providing effective therapy, and can be cultivated by fostering an environment and relational style that is driven by the communication styles, competencies, and needs of every individual client. Due to the varied and unique characteristics of individuals with ASD, my therapeutic practice is flexible and adaptive, largely driven by a solution-focused approach which holds that all clients have knowledge of what would make their life better, but often need support in achieving these solutions. Therefore, my role is constantly adapting and changing to provide every individual with tailored supports in setting and achieving goals, and in developing the tools and skills necessary for cultivating a better future, and achieving their goals. Sometimes, this calls for me to be an advisor, and mentor – one who can work collaboratively with the client to untangle the meanings of complex social interactions and relationships. Sometimes, I can take on the role of a career counsellor or life coach – working with clients to better conceptualize short-terms and long-term educational and employment goals, and put strategies in place to achieve these goals. No matter what role I take on – my priority is always to tailor the supports that I am giving to the unique needs, goals, perspectives, and thinking styles of every individual.
MD: Early in my career I worked extensively with clients with Autism Spectrum Disorder during their transition to College or University and then into the workforce. At the time, the education system was making leaps in bounds in supporting those with ASD to be met with success in school. At the same time, it felt like we were not preparing them well for the transition into the work force, and unemployment was rampant with my clients despite their obvious skills and ability to contribute towards their areas of professional interest. I was wondering if you could discuss how this sort of transition looks today, what types of supports are available, and what kind of assistance you are able to provide through your work at FLEX.
Michael Lander: I believe the reality today is much like what you recall, in that supports are offered to individuals in school and throughout teenage-hood, but when high school is over, these supports largely dissipate. The transition into the workforce, then, with the goal of being an independent and self-sustaining person, becomes a transition and a task that many people with ASD struggle with, and is a primary concern for almost all of my clients.
There are many agencies within the General Toronto Area (GTA) which provide employment supports to individuals with ASD. Most of these agencies operate through the Ontario Disability Support Program, which many individuals who I meet rely on for income – despite obvious skills, abilities, and training in various professional fields. Unfortunately, most of the employment support agencies in the city which support individuals with ASD are cross-disability serving. Meaning that the supports put in place are not specific or adapted to the needs of individuals with ASD, but are the same supports provided to anyone with a disability accessing employment supports. This means that there is an alarming lack of ASD-specific employment support services in the GTA.
I believe that effective employment support for individuals with ASD looks quite different than the employment support that is most commonly offered to individuals with ASD, in that what is required is more relational and social emotional support rather than job task oriented. Most of the individuals I meet are more than capable of doing their job tasks successfully, but often face social and relational barriers to success, both in the hiring process and on the job.
Through my work at FLEX, I am able to offer supports related to employment which are specific to people with ASD, working with individuals to collaboratively set and achieve goals in regards to many aspects of employment, often focusing on the relation between person and environment. I provide supports in developing strategies for dealing with anxiety in the workplace, pre-employment skill building, self-esteem and confidence building, developing strategies for disclosure of diagnoses, and developing self-advocacy skills. I also provide supports in terms of communication with co-workers/managers, and the collaborative process of understanding, deciphering, and sometimes re-framing social emotional communication, cues, and unwritten rules that exist at work and in the job search. Through these supports and others, I am able to provide assistance to individuals with ASD to tackle the most common barriers to success which are faced in the crucial transition into the world of employment and independence.
MD: Conversations about gender and sexuality have exploded in public forums and the media. It feels like this is an area that had been swept under the rug with the ASD population for many years, but is finally becoming a part of the conversation. Given the role relationships and partnerships have on one’s wellness, it is exciting that this is an area our clients are now tackling. Could you speak a little about how we support clients in exploring these areas, understanding themselves better, and moving forward in a manner that promotes happiness and wellness.
Michael Lander: Despite discussions concerning gender and sexuality exploding in public forums and in the media, widespread social stigma and misunderstandings surrounding the intersection of gender, sexuality, and disability makes it hard for people with ASD to have a platform to talk frankly about their thoughts and feelings concerning gender and sexuality, even though these are primary concerns for many clients who I see. Part of my work involves confronting this stigma, speaking literally, acceptingly, and with verbally expressed non-judgement about sexuality, relationships, and gender if these are concerns brought forward by the client.
One of the lynchpins of my practice is supporting individuals to address and engage with stage-specific social emotional desires, strengths, and competencies. For many young adults who I see, romantic relationships and dating are a primary social emotional priority – and I support my clients in setting and achieving goals in this area of their life, one which is commonly overlooked by loved ones and professionals involved in the lives of those with ASD. Whether pursuing a passion in relationships, education, or employment, I work collaboratively with clients to set and achieve short-term and long-term goals in the areas of their life which promote happiness, wellness, and fulfillment.
MD: Thank you for taking the time to chat with me today about your work within the ASD community. I look forward to seeing more success stories with your clients at FLEX!
Michael Lander: Thank you for the chat! I look forward to my ongoing work with the FLEX team.
If you feel that Michael Lander could assist yourself or a loved one to move towards wellness, please consider contacting FLEX now for more information and to inquire about availability.
People are starting to hear about FLEX's use of the Muse brain sensing headband with patients to develop mindfulness and accelerate gains in treatment.
Muse is a portable and low-cost EEG device that uses neurofeedback when paired with your phone or tablet to teach you how to meditate and become more attuned to your moment to moment experience. That state of mindful awareness has been shown to lead to a variety of wellness gains, mental and physical health growth, and improved attention. Many of FLEX's clients have been using Muse for over a year and our director Michael Decaire has spoken to professional audiences on its use at conferences across the province and the world through online webinars.
Last month, Dr. Cody Rall from YouTube's TechForPsych did a lengthy interview with Michael about his use of Muse and where he sees the future of psychotherapy going over the next decade. It's an exciting hour for clinicians, but also has some additional tidbits for Muse users.
Members of the FLEX team are available now to introduce Muse as your primary course of treatment or as an add-on to traditional talk therapies.
Michael Decaire is available for in-person, online, or institutional trainings for implementing Muse in treatment. He is presenting on Muse at Leading Edge Seminars in Toronto this October and as part of his Future of Psychotherapy Series in November.
The information provided on the Think FLEXibly Blog is for educational purposes only. These documents are not intended to be considered therapeutic guidance, nor should they be followed as a substitution to a well established therapeutic relationship.