What 2018 looks like for ABHS

In the world of behavioral health, we are often the blank slate that clients know very little about. We would like to take the opportunity to lift the curtain for a minute and talk about what we hope 2018 looks like for ABHS.

-Increased access to quality services for children, families, and adults: We’re working hard to ensure that we have qualified, well-trained, staff available to those who seek services from us. We’re expanding our staff to meet the needs of the greater community and to ensure that there are limited to no wait times for individuals to receive services. If someone is at the point that they need assistance, the last thing we want is to ask them to wait an excessive amount of time.

Increased availability of programs to meet the needs of diverse individuals: We have no belief that outpatient counseling is a one-size fits all solutions. We are dedicated to increasing the flexibility of our service delivery model to help everyone find better outcomes. Whether that be through the coordination of medication management, ABA services, or telemedicine; ABHS is hopes to increase its programs this year to better serve whoever may need support

Better collaboration: The best outcome in behavioral health is always achieved when there is a team of support surrounding a family. No one provider or agency can provide that alone. Our hope in this year is to continue building on our relationships in the community to ensure that we know of the best services available for clients, that we can work alongside other programs, and do our part to close gaps in the community.


What are your goals for 2018?

The New Year Approaches

Every year there are a million ads and conversations in the media surrounding New Year’s Resolutions. For some its to get healthy, loose weight, run a 5k, work on their relationship with their family, save more money, stop smoking, or engage in a year of “no-yell parenting.” Whatever it may be that your considering for this New Year, let’s take a minute and consider what makes a successful start to any change.

  1. Identifying a purpose: Considering the reason behind a change is essential to the long term success. When we understand what our goal really is (better relationships, less conflict, less health concerns) we are more likely to stick with our plan for change and to notice the small successes along the way
  2. Replacing our habits: A lot of habits that we want to change start as some way of coping for stress. If we want to do away with these habits for the long term, we need to replace them with something. If we’re often eat when we are stressed, it might be an option to begin going for a walk. If we often become irritable and yell at our loved ones when we are overwhelmed, then it may be an option to begin practicing mindfulness.
  3. Setting up rewards: Ultimately, we all need a reward. From children to adults, we are wired to receive positive reinforcement for our work. Most of us are not altruistic enough to do a job that we love without a paycheck. Making changes in our personal lives in much the same idea. We need some form of “paycheck.” Everyone has different language for rewards. Some people need rewards in the form of time with friends, a trip to the movies, a “cheat day”, etc. Setting up timelines for these rewards is also essential. If your setting up changes for children, rewards need to be consistent and frequent-maybe even multiple times a day. For adults, its essential that rewards are predictable. Setting up a consistent reward every week/2 weeks is necessary to keep us on track and working for something. Otherwise we are likely to “need a reward” after a difficult day and the structure of change quickly disappears.
  4. Accountability: Think about who in your life might be an excellent source of support. Long term change requires that someone be around to support us on days when we just want to give up and go back to our old ways. Accountability means that we are not making these changes alone. It gives us someone to check-in with, vent to about our setbacks, and to celebrate with us when we succeed.

Another year’s over…

My father was always a huge fan of the Beatles. Lately, John Lennon’s song Happy Christmas has been on repeat in my mind. What does this mean for another year to be over? For a new one to begin? As much as the holidays bring about time for family, relaxation from work, and hopefully some enjoyment, they also bring about the end-the end to another year. Part of behavioral health is looking back and considering the meaning of things. This end of the year season is a fitted occasion for such reflection. What is it that was achieved this year? What was an occasion where you felt proud? Intelligent? Connected to those around you? Maybe your year wasn’t all you wanted it to be. Was there something left undone this year? A hope unmet? The process of ending anything, from a long-term relationship to another year, is also a process of grief. With grief there are often big emotions of fear, disappointment, sadness, joy for what’s remembered, and ultimately acceptance for where we are in life. Sometimes this process of grief needs some help and insight from an impartial third party-we’re always here.

Mindful Eating for the Holidays

During the holiday season, many family gatherings revolve around food. Thanksgiving turkey, holiday ham, fruitcake and kugel, eggnog and cider – the opportunities to overindulge are everywhere. Many people struggle with overeating, but there are a few ways to incorporate mindfulness into your meals that can help avoid the cycle of overindulgence. Mindfulness is a practice rooted in staying aware of your present experience by focusing on current feelings and sensations. Here are some ways to incorporate mindfulness into your eating to avoid overeating (and the discomfort and guilt that can come with it).

1) Avoid distraction. For many people, food becomes a part of multitasking. As a society we value optimizing our time, whether you are grabbing fast food on a long drive, having lunch at your desk at work, or snacking while catching up on your favorite show. When you divide your attention between food and another activity, you’re more likely to ignore the signals that tell you you’re full.

2) Be intentional. Mindful eating means being aware of your senses and thoughts. Take the time to taste, smell, chew, and swallow your food. Think about what you’re eating and how the blueberries in your slice of pie grew in the sun then were carefully harvested, picked out at the store, and lovingly baked into the delicious dessert you are intentionally enjoying.

3) Take your time. “Eat when hungry, stop when full” is far easier said than done. Your brain takes about 20 minutes to catch up to your stomach’s signals of satiety. Eating slowly and intentionally will not only help you enjoy your meal but also increase awareness of becoming full before you overeat.

4) Choose to eat. Mindfulness while eating means thinking about why you are eating – are you anxious or bored? Take a moment to consider your present state of mind and your body’s signals to make sure you aren’t eating to avoid a problem, cover up a feeling, or comfort a negative thought.

5) Let go of guilt. The holiday season is a time of celebration and generosity. Food brings people together and often represents the love we have for each other. Allowing yourself to enjoy the experience of food is a part of mindful eating. Food can be both physical and emotional nourishment, and if you find yourself uncomfortably full, take a walk, start a conversation with a friend, scrub some dishes – but let the guilt go. No one is perfect, and mindful eating takes practice.

Happy holidays, and happy (mindful) eating!

–by Catherine Tourangeau

5 Tips for helping kids with the chaos of the Holidays!

1) Give your child notice of plans: Children do best when they know what to expect. Its very helpful to them when they have an idea of what the schedule of events for a day might be. They should also be told who else might be there and what the activities are.

2) Set clear expectations: As much as children need to know about what the plan is for the day, they also need to know what their behavior should look like. Setting clear expectations will allow your family to enjoy both the church Cantata and kids party with inflatable jump houses.

3) Understand that your child might be overwhelmed too:  The holidays are full of unexpected changes, odd family interactions, and so many gifts! As much as we as adults become overwhelmed with making it all work, children get overwhelmed too. Often children show these emotions through their behaviors and not their words. If you child is beginning to act out or withdraw, ask yourself do they need a break?

4) Don’t overload your schedule: The holidays are supposed to be about time spent together, making memories, and enjoying those we love. That doesn’t always need to look like another event out of the house. It might be a movie night together, board games with carols in the background, or reading books about family traditions.

5) Stick to daily routines:  Especially in times of chaos, children need things to be predictable. Its important to stick to routines around sleeping, daily hygiene, and basic chores. These routines allow children to feel that they have some order and control to their day.