Meet George!

Meet George Nyakundi! He is our newest medical provider here at Affiliated Family Counselors. George is an Advanced Practitioner Registered Nurse (APRN), and his experiences includes Med Surg, Cardiac specialtes, and In-patient Rehabilitation for complex neurological and orthopedic conditions. Mr. Nyakundi “believes in advocating and serving diverse and underserved populations’ mental health needs across the lifespan”. If you would like to schedule an appointment with George, give us a call at (316)636-2888, where we would be more than happy to assist you!

To learn more about George, go to the link in our bio! 🙂

Welcome Carri!

Carri Flores, LPC

Please help us welcome Carri onto our team! We are very excited to have her with us. Carri is a Licensed Professional Counselors.

Carri says:

“My Goal is to Help You Reach Yours

Hello! I fully understand that seeking a professional to help manage our mentality is a brave step to take. It’s important to me to provide a comfortable and safe place that will enable you to best explore your challenges and obstacles. As we collaborate, I will help guide you toward creating individualized strategies through various therapeutic modalities to achieve your personal goals.

Along with earning my master’s degree from Wichita State University in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, I am a veteran professional teacher/college professor and athletic coach, as well as a former college athlete. I understand the aspects of counseling student-athletes, as well as kids of all age ranges, including young adults. My therapeutic strengths are not limited to just children and in general include: Anxiety and Stress Management, Depression, PTSD, Conflict Resolution, Grief, LGBTQ, Athletic Teams, Various Groups, Body Image, Couples Therapy and Bullying.

As your therapist, I will be committed to helping you in your journey to overcoming your obstacles and discovering a healthier and happier version of yourself.”

Check out our website to see more of what Carri specializes in. http://afcwichita.com/carri-flores/ .

Call us at 316-636-2888 to schedule with Carri!

Welcome Keith!

Keith McCann, LCPC

We are very happy to welcome Keith into our team! Keith is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor.

From Keith:

“I approach life’s challenges with a focus on specific goal setting, defining relevant behaviors, measuring outcomes, and accepting personal accountability. I believe that each of us writes our story by the decisions we make. The more decision-making tools we have the better the story we write.

I have always felt privileged to be present with others when they are seeking new outcomes for their lives. I hope to bring a background of varied experiences and assist those who seek a new chapter for their story.

I understand that it is difficult to see how the decisions we make change out story when we are looking through the lens of our personal challenges. These often involve things such as the following: trauma, substance abuse, aggressive tendencies, depression, anxiety, psychosis, unstable mood, poor boundaries, fear of change, and overwhelming feelings.

It is tempting to see some of these as greater challenges and others as lesser challenges. The reality is, that any obstacle to achieving your goal is significant in your life. Whether this is a question of simply gaining a new perspective or of taking a new approach to life and relationships, I believe that I can benefit you in addressing your needs. I bring diverse experiences to the process.

I began my career working with those in crisis. I was a member of an ambulance crew at the age of 18. When I started college, I moved into working in mental health. This was largely with teenagers in crisis. When I returned from school, I began working with law enforcement and with those who have challenges related to anger and aggression. More recently I have worked in crisis intervention. This has been in community and hospital settings, and as a mental health consultant to law enforcement.

In my thirties I returned to school. In 2008 I completed a Master’s Degree in Christian Counseling and a Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. While in school I began working extensively with athletes. I worked as a trainer for both professional and amateur fighters as well as with people who were working to develop overall athletic discipline. Much of my work during this time involved continued work with teenaged and college-aged students. I developed a strong skill set in helping manage the challenges, and specific needs, that this group faces.   

Since becoming a licensed therapist, I have continued to work with those who have challenges related to managing anger, aggression, and violent tendencies. This has often involved helping them understand their own needs and understanding the rights of others.

You may feel overwhelmed and at a critical point in your life. You may feel that you need some direction or help making a decision. You may feel that you need to change directions in life. You may feel that it is time to address something that you know has been an obstacle for too long. I would like the opportunity to help you address your needs.

I have been fortunate. I have had the opportunity to help others clear obstacles from their lives so they can have a better path to achieve their goals. I am grateful for this ongoing opportunity.”

Call us at 316-636-2888 to get scheduled with Keith!

Mental Health & Food

Gut health. It’s not something that is well known to be a big part of the mental health field.

It’s not something we normally think of when we think mental health. We think of the basics – meditation, therapy, practicing self-love and being kind to ourselves, amongst others. But have you ever thought about the correlation between what you eat and your mental health?

The brain has a direct effect on the stomach and intestines. For example, the very thought of eating can release the stomach’s juices before food gets there. This connection goes both ways. A troubled intestine can send signals to the brain, just as a troubled brain can send signals to the gut. Therefore, a person’s stomach or intestinal distress can be the cause or the product of anxiety, stress, or depression. That’s because the brain and the gastrointestinal (GI) system are intimately connected.

So what can you do?

To maintain or restore the health of your microbiome (the microorganism environment in your gut) and support good overall health, it is important to maintain a strong balance in favor of beneficial bacteria in your digestive tract. The first step is to eat a well-balanced diet that includes foods with probiotic or prebiotic ingredients that support microbial health by helping to restore balance to the gut microbiome.

Eating a well-balanced diet may help you regulate your anxiety, stress and depression. Eating poor foods and not getting enough nutrients in your body has a negative effect in your body. Working out & eating right play an important part in being mentally healthy.

So the next time you go for a snack think about how much your gut and your brain will thank you in the long run if you choose to fuel it with good nutrients. And remember, consistency is key.

Articles used:

https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/a-to-z/d/diet-and-mental-health

https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/the-gut-brain-connection

https://www.psycom.net/the-gut-brain-connection

Types of Eating Disorders

TW: EATING DISORDERS

Eating disorders are any range of psychological disorders characterized by abnormal or disturbed eating habits. There are many different types that are apart from anorexia or bulimia. Today we’ll be talking about pica as well as other more common eating disorders.

Pica is when a person craves or eats nonfood items like sand, ice chips, dirt, clay, hair, burnt matches, chalk, soap, coins, or paint chips. Most medical guides consider pica as an eating disorder. Some pregnant women will develop pica during pregnancy. We will discuss what pica is and other types of eating disorders and what you can do to treat them.

Pica will usually develop in people with mental health conditions, but not all people who suffer from pica have a mental health condition. Pica is more common to show in children and pregnant women. Children will often hide the behavior from their parents or caregivers. Other groups that are a high risk for developing pica include autistic people, people with other developmental conditions, pregnant women, people from nations where dirt-eating is common. Pica is different from healthy behaviors of babies and young children who put objects in their mouths, and they will persistently try to eat nonfood items. They will also develop other symptoms, including broken or damaged teeth, stomach pains, bloody stool, nutrient deficits (low iron, hematocrit, or hemoglobin), and/or lead poisoning.

There are also other types of eating disorders such as:
Bulimia Nervosa
Bulimia nervosa is a condition that typically develops during adolescence or early adulthood. Studies show it is more common in women than men. They tend to devour large quantities of food very quickly, and then takes steps to purge their body of the extra calories. Standard purging methods include self-induced vomiting, taking diuretics, taking laxatives, or excessive amounts of exercise. Signs and symptoms of bulimia can include:

  • obsession with body weight and size
  • repeat binging episodes that accompany a sense of loss of control
  • purging episodes to prevent weight gain
  • a general fear of gaining weight
  • acid reflux
  • a sore or inflamed throat
  • tooth decay
  • severe dehydration
  • electrolyte imbalance that can lead to stroke or heart attack

Anorexia Nervosa
Anorexia is one of the more well-known eating disorders that tend to develop in adolescence or early adulthood and is more common in women than men. There are two subtypes of anorexia:

  • Binge Eating and Purging Type: An individual with this type usually purges after eating. They will consume large amounts of food and might try to excessively exercise to burn off the calories they consumed.
  • Restricting Type: People with this type do not binge eat. They will turn to dieting, fasting, or overexercising in an effort to lose weight.
    Signs and Symptoms of Anorexia:
  • Abnormal restricted eating habits
  • being underweight compared with others of similar height and age
  • a fear of gaining weight, even if they are already underweight
  • obsession with being thinner
  • distorted view of their body
  • basing their self-esteem on body weight or shap
  • avoid eating in public or around others
  • obsessive-compulsive tendencies (in some people)

Rumination Disorder
A condition in which a person regurgitates partially digested food, chews it again, and will either swallow it or spit it out. Unlike self-induced purging, rumination is involuntary. The first episode usually is in response to illness, physical injury, or psychological distress, and regurgitation may provide some relief. This disorder can develop as early as infancy and will get better without treatment. However, persistent rumination could lead to fatal malnourishment. Rumination in older children and adults usually requires psychological treatment.

Signs and symptoms:

  • Nausea
  • A need to burp
  • Feeling of pressure or discomfort
  • Bloating
  • Heartburn
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Electrolyte Imbalance
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Sleeping Difficulties
  • Weight Loss
  • Malnourishment

Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID)
ARFID used to be called selective eating disorder and is similar to anorexia in that it is restricting calorie consumption. However, a person with ARFIT does not obsess about their body size or weight gain and can occur due to a lack of interest in eating, or they may avoid eating because of the sensory characteristics of feed. This disorder can occur at any age and could be more challenging to detect in children who are fussy eaters.

Signs and Symptoms:

  • Significant weight loss
  • Stunted Growth (in children)
  • Severe nutrient deficiencies
  • A dependence on oral nutritional supplements
  • Considerable interference with social functioning

Other Eating Disorders:
Orthorexia: This eating disturbance is an obsession with eating healthful foods. Healthcare professionals do not recognize it as an official condition.
Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder (OSFED): A person with OSFED may show signs and symptoms of bulimia or anorexia but does not meet the diagnostic criteria for either condition.
Unspecified Feeding or Eating Disorder (UFED): When a person does not meet the criteria for any particular eating disorder but will present with similar symptoms and psychological distress.
Laxative Abuse: This is not technically an eating disorder, but laxative abuse involves excessive use of laxatives in order to lose weight and become thinner.
Excessive Exercise: When someone does an excessive amount of exercising in order to burn calories and achieve unhealthy weight loss.

Treatment options for all of these could include:

  • Psychotherapy (Family Counseling or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy)
  • Medications (Antidepressants, Antipsychotics, Mood Stabilizers)
  • Nutritional Counseling
  • Medical Care and Monitoring

If you suspect that a loved one has a eating disorder you should encourage them to speak to their doctor. Doctors may refer the person for psychotherapy, psychiatric treatment, or for care at a specialist center for eating disorders.

SOURCES:

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/326266.php#anorexia
https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/326751.php

How to Support Your Loved Ones with Anxiety


Most people come wired to respond to situations with the fight, flight, or freeze response. By understanding and paying attention to how anxiety manifests itself in your loved one, you will learn their patterns and be able to help them. It is essential to listen to them non-judgmentally, and if they are wondering why you are inquiring about them, tell them you are concerned and what signs you have noticed. Usually, asking them what type of support they prefer is better than guessing.

Two common ways can include displays of concrete practical support or emotional support depending on whether they prefer specific options for how to deal with difficult situations, or respond better knowing they are a part of a strong team. It is also important to make sure they are included in giving insight into their own anxiety. People suffering from anxiety often tend to think about worst-case scenarios. If this is the case, ask them these three questions:

  1. What’s the worst that could happen?
  2. What’s the best that could happen?
  3. What’s most realistic or likely?

Try not to overly reassure your loved one that their fears won’t come to pass, instead emphasize their coping ability. An excellent example from greatergood.berkeley.edu is “if they are worried about having a panic attack on a plane, you could say that would be extremely unpleasant and scary, but you’d deal with it.” If your loved one is anxious about someone being angry or disappointed in them, it is often useful to remind them that they can only choose their own actions and cannot control other people’s responses. Sometimes we feel the need to “help out” by doing things for our loved ones and feed their avoidance. Do not take over their feelings or actions; let them make their own choices and decide on how to proceed with a situation that is making them uncomfortable.

For those who suffer from more severe issues such as panic disorder, depression mixed with anxiety, post-traumatic stress, or obsessional thinking, you can still be supportive in many ways. It can be helpful to reassure them that your overall perception of them hasn’t changed, they are not broken, they’re still the same person, and the issue they are facing is just a temporary problem. Mental Health First Aid states to encourage them to try some self-help and other support strategies such as relaxation training, meditation, self-help books based on cognitive behavioral therapy, exercise.

Original articles: https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/seven_ways_to_help_someone_with_anxiety
https://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org/2018/12/how-to-help-someone-with-anxiety/
https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/shyness-is-nice/201706/loving-someone-anxiety-disorder

How to Compose Under Stress

Stress is just a part of life that comes and goes, but some people find it difficult to calm down in stressful situations. Here are seven ways to calm down based on evidence. Today’s blog is based on an article from the Medical News Today website as well as some help from one of our amazing LSCSW counselors who is trained in EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), Robert Funcheon.

  1. Diaphragmatic Breathing
    Deep breathing is the most commonly recommended ways that healthcare professionals suggest to calm yourself down. According to the authors of a study done in 2017, diaphragmatic breathing can help you relax your body. During this time, one group of participants participated in diaphragmatic breathing, and the other group did not receive any treatments. At the end of the study, the group that practiced the breathing technique had lower cortisol levels (a hormone liked to stress) and better attention levels. This method involves pushing your stomach out while inhaling, and your chest should not expand during the breathing. This method should only be used while you are calm, so you know how to do it when you are anxious, stressed, or upset.
  2. Chew Gum
    Chewing gum while multitasking may help reduce stress and improve mental clarity. People who chew gum while stressed experienced improved mood, reduced stress at work, reduced anxiety, and reduced symptoms of depression.
  3. Write things down
    Negative feeling are often toxic if you fixate on them, but recording your thought could help you process negative emotions. Some people find that writing in a journal can be helpful, and some take notes on their phones. Most people will write a letter to the person they are upset with but without sending it. It can help clarify feelings and help you calm down.
  4. Listen To Music
    Some people feel that listening to music can help calm them down when they feel stressed. Music can also be an effective way to reduce a person’s psychological response to stress.
  5. Practice Yoga
    Yoga’s popularity is thanks to its health benefits for the person practicing it. Yoga can help those who need help reducing stress, lowering anxiety, improving depression symptoms, lowering chronic pain, enhance strength, improve flexibility, promote cardiovascular health, improve well-being and quality of life, and improve sleep pattern.
  6. Body Scan/”Wet Noodle”
    This is when you relax each tense muscle for 5 seconds and then tighten the tense muscle for 5 seconds. Start head-to-toe by relaxing the tense muscles for 5 seconds, tighten the tense muscles for 5 seconds, then relax. Alternate back and forth from toe-to-head as well.
  7. Pelvic Floor Relaxation
    For this technique, you need to sit in a chair with your spine resting on the back of the chair, feet flat on the floor.
    Lengthen the spine up towards the ceiling in a gentle, unforced manner.
    Have your arms resting on your lap with the hands gently touching your abdominal wall. Put your attention to your pelvic floor muscles which will be resting down towards the seat of the chair.
    As you breathe in, notice the tummy wall expanding into your hands almost like a balloon softly inflating, and then as the air leaves the lungs, the tummy softly falls.
    Stay with your focus on the gentle flow of the breath while allowing the muscles of the pelvic to soften, lower, and lengthen down towards the seat of the chair.

Original article: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/326453.php

Robert Funcheon resources: Self-Regulation Skills Taken from “The 10 Core Competencies of Trauma, Grief & Loss” workshop
By: Robert Rhoton, PsyD, LPC, D.A.A.E.T.S
Eric Gentry, PhD., LMHC

Self – Harm Misconceptions

TW: SELF HARM. If you have a hard time talking about this issue please do not read on. We will be going over the common myths that people believe about self-injury.

According to an article written by Penelope Hasking and Stephen P. Lewis on theconversation.com, self harm is very common among young people. Community samples show that 17% of adolescents and 13% of young adults had tried self-harm. There usually is psychological distress that goes hand in hand with self-injury, and people are generally engaging in the act to cope with intense emotions. As we all know, there is still a stigma around mental health in general, which can make people reluctant to seek out help or disclose that they are harming themselves and can leave many people feeling isolated from others. One way to squash the stigma is to debunk common myths about self-harm. Let’s move on to the myths.

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Myth # 1: Self-injury is only a “teen fad,” specifically revolving around teen girls. While yes, self-injury usually starts around the adolescence age, people of all ages and genders suffer from self-injury. Studies also showed that the early 20’s age group is another common age to start self-injury, mostly university students. Although it is more common for females to report self-injury and seek out help, both males and females suffer from this issue.

Myth # 2: If you self-injure, then you are only seeking attention. Yet, it is a very secretive behavior, and people tend to hide their self-injury actions. The majority of people say they only self-injure to cope with intense/unwanted emotions. Other reasons that have been reported is to communicate distress, to punish themselves, and to stop a cycle of painful thoughts and/or feelings.

Myth # 3: People who self-injure are suicidal. The definition of non-suicidal self-injury is not motivated by a desire to end life. According to the article, suicide attempts are infrequent, and non-suicidal behaviors can occur more often. Everything about them differs from each other, including the methods used, the outcomes, and treatment responses. People at risk of suicide require more immediate and intensive attention. They both should be taken seriously and responded to compassionately. For those reasons, it’s essential to be clear if you are talking about self-injury or suicidal thoughts and behavior.

Myth # 4: There is a self-injury epidemic going on right now. This myth is not true. Very few people report repeated episodes of self-injury. Furthermore, there are no reports on increase rates of self-injury in recent years.

Myth # 5: Social media contributes to self-injury. In a technology-based society, the internet and social media are relevant to many people who self-injure as it offers a way to get support, share their experience with others who are going through similar issues, and getting coping and recovery-oriented resources. There is a positive and negative side of everything. Despite those benefits, there are graphic images and videos depicting self-injury, which may be a trigger for some.

If you know someone who self-injures, let them know you are there for support in a non-judgmental and compassionate way and try to encourage them to seek out help. It is crucial to keep in mind to not make it seem like you are barking orders. A listening ear and support can make all the difference in the world.

Original post authors: Penelope Hasking & Stephen P. Lewis

Original post: https://theconversation.com/its-not-only-teenage-girls-and-its-rarely-attention-seeking-debunking-the-myths-around-self-injury-120214

How To Alleviate Mental Exhaustion

Have you ever felt mentally exhausted? Sometimes we don’t know where to turn or what to do. We take a nap and hope for the best.

What can you do when you’re headed towards burnout? Here are some solutions to help you.

  • Changing working conditions: When a job causes a person to feel fatigued, making a change in their work life may improve things. For example, a person might need more time off, a reduction in their workload, or more support from colleagues.
  • Medical disability leave: Many people don’t know this may be an option at their workplace. A good source to find out would be your HR or supervisor. You can also click here to read an article on how to take time off of work.
  • Practicing good self-care: Exercising, eating a healthful diet, getting plenty of sleep, and staying hydrated can all help improve a persons resilience. This may ease symptoms of mental exhaustion or prevent its onset.
  • Trying mindfulness: Mindfulness practices, such as meditation, help a person become more aware of their emotions. This can make it easier to manage burnout, fatigue, or depression.
  • Making medication changes: Some people find that certain drugs, including some antidepressants, cause them to feel fatigued. People should consult a doctor about whether or not a different drug might be more beneficial.
  • Seeking therapy: Seeking mental health support, such as seeing a therapist, can help a person better deal with stress. A therapist can also recommend positive lifestyle changes that may reduce the impact of stress.
  • Seeking mental healthcare: People with mental health conditions such as anxiety or depression need treatment. It is not possible for them to “think” themselves out of the condition, and delaying treatment may actually increase exhausted.

You’re not on this boat alone. Experts predict mental health issues will continue to rise – especially with the stress of the pandemic we’re currently in. A sense of stress that can affect you physically, mentally, and emotionally, the effects of which are not limited just to work hours. Burnout can follow you at home and interfere in other areas of your life. Long-lasting burnout can affect your mental health and cause anxiety, depression and low self-esteem.  

First, and foremost, mental health needs to be taken serious and dealt with to be able to be a good employee. Don’t let outside opinions decide if time off of work or taking medications is right for you. That’s something that only someone who is going through mental exhaustion can decide.