Wednesday, November 30, 2016


Gratitude, the practice of being thankful, has significant benefits for children. 

Gratitude can:
Boost overall well-being
Enhance group/team morale
Improve friendships
Protect from negative emotions associated with loss or stress
Encourage better grades
Improve pro-social behavior
Help promote good sleep

Practicing gratitude can be as simple as asking your child daily, "What are you thankful for today?" 

Teresa Handy M.S. Licensed School Counselor

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Bird Cage

If you doubt your ability to make a life-altering decision, to take on a daring aspiration, or to fend for yourself after many years, consider this:  Surely, if a bird with healthy wings is locked in a cage long enough, she will doubt her ability to fly.  --  Sandra Kring

Friday, November 18, 2016

Taking Car of Oneself

Do something special for yourself:  I am getting my brows waxed today.

Do something that gives you space from the tensions and chaos of life:  I get in my truck once a week and go for a ride.

Do something that engages your creativity or talents that gives you meaning and purpose:  I play the piano and sew.

Do something that you enjoy or relaxes you:  Meditation with The Honest Guys You Tube.

Do something that takes some of the chaos out of your life and gives you a sense of control:  I have a daily routine, for each day of the week.

Do something that cuts over against old negative self-talk:  I have a vision board with pictures of me on it.

Do something that connects you with other people:  I go to group therapy and I try to call my siblings.

Do something that connects you with your Higher Power:  I attend church, go to the temple, read my scriptures,  and pray.

Do something that symbolizes a new decision you have made about how you are going to live:  I put on make-up, jewelry, and perfume each day.

Do something that enables you to give of yourself to someone else:  I bake and share the good I prepare.

Do something that prevents old patterns from setting in:  I keep my commitments, and go outside my comfort zone.

Do something that challenges your thinking:  I am working on a jigsaw puzzle, I don't like jigsaw puzzles.

Do something that helps you reflect regularly on your life:  I keep a personal journal, study journal, and blog.

Do something that keeps you healthy:  I work out 15 to 20 minutes a day.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Certified Peer Support Specialist

Last week I took a class.  It was a 40 hour class to become a Certified Peer Support Specialist.  I learned so much about myself and my mental illness, and recovery.  The following are some of the Tasks or Duties and Qualifications for a CPSS:

The peer will:
·        Work collaboratively with clients, co-workers and the community.
·        Advocate on behalf of clients and help clients to navigate the health and social services systems.
·        Work closely with clients to address problems and answer questions, gather and provide information and advice, and  connect  clients  to  resources  and  to the  community.  
·        Meet clients both in the hospital and in the community.
·        Initiate, establish and maintain relationships with clients while developing trust and rapport.
·        Act as a coach and mentor, and help clients to set goals and work toward developing skills.
·        Share and discuss common experiences with clients.
·        Help to build a collective sense of community for clients, and help clients to create meaningful lives in the community.
·        Be responsible for planning, organizing, developing, leading and facilitating group activities, including education and awareness building efforts.
·        Complete administrative duties, such as sending and receiving email and telephone calls, and completing required documentation. 
·        Communicate and work collaboratively with team members, attend team meetings, and meet with supervisors to discuss performance.

Candidates must have:
·        Experience of mental health and/ or addiction problems.

They should have:
·        Knowledge/familiarity of the mental health and social service systems, and an understanding of client rights.
·        Possess a holistic perspective of health.
·        The ability to work effectively in a wide range of settings with people from diverse backgrounds, including clients and co-workers.
·        Be comfortable working either one-on-one or in group settings.
·        Excellent interpersonal skills and should be able to adapt to changing situations.
·        Active involvement in the community and a willingness to collaborate with others. Excellent communication skills.
·        Comfort with public speaking and facilitation of group workshops or activities.
·        Comfort coaching others
·        Negotiation skills.
·        Organizational skills.
·        Some experience planning and designing events and activities.

This job description suggests that candidates for the peer position require more than experience with mental health and/or addiction problems and familiarity with the mental health and social service systems through which clients must navigate. Expectations of the job indicate that strong communication skills are of paramount importance to the position. Because of the collaborative nature of the position, peers must be able to work in changing situations with a diverse group of people, interacting either in groups or individually. They should be actively involved in the community and willing to take on leadership and public speaking activities. Coaching and negotiation skills are assets for this position, as are planning, organization and computer skills. These job requirements describe the high level of skills necessary to be an effective peer support worker.  They also highlight the areas in which there are opportunities for training for peer support workers before they enter their positions as well as ongoing training to help them hone their skills.
It is also important to note that although job descriptions are extremely useful, they should not be considered fixed. Programs must be prepared to assess and reassess their own needs and local context, including the skills and experience of the peer workforce. Peer programming will evolve, as will the individuals employed as peers, and job descriptions should be adjusted to reflect this evolution. The job description in this article may not be appropriate for all settings, but it will contribute to a better understanding of the peer support worker position, the skills required, and the types of expectations that could define successful fulfillment of the role.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

The Way Life Is

1.  Everyone has the ability to learn and grow.
Being diagnosed with a mental illness/substance use disorder does not take away the ability to learn and grow;  people can recover and move on with their lives.

2.  People's beliefs determine their behavior.
What a person believes about herself, because she is diagnosed with a mental illness or substance use disorder, is the most important determinant of her success in creating the life he or she wants.

3.  People think their way through life.
Being diagnosed with a mental illness/substance use disorder does not take away the ability to think strategically and creatively.

4.  Whatever people focus on, they give power to.
While symptoms and "disability" bring people in for services, the focus needs to shift to wellness and strengths as soon as possible.

5.  Life's experiences are the best teacher.
Your recovery experience is your greatest gift to your peers.

Recovery is the process of gaining control over one's life - and the direction one wants that life to go - on the other side of a psychiatric or substance use disorder diagnosis and all of the losses usually associated with that diagnosis.

Hope is the belief that one has both the ability and the opportunity to engage in the recovery process.

USU Peer Specialist Certification Training Program

Sunday, November 6, 2016

I Am A Tree

I am a tree.  My roots and trunk (core) have always been weak, fragile, not strong enough to hold up my branches (self, friends, family).  I have been so blessed in the past 3 plus years to have a best friend who has patiently guided me onto a very good path.  I have been given the best counselor who ever existed to teach me and listen and guide me to being a stronger person.  I have been given a retreat that pushed me so far, in a 4 day span, in the right direction that I have been able to finally accept and love myself.  I have been given other counseling and classes through the area that I live in.  Now I am privileged to get to attend and become certified to help others who are on a similar path to me.  My roots and trunk are being strengthened and made so strong.  Sometimes they weaken and need nourishment, but they are stronger than they have ever been.  I am able to hold myself, family, and friends up.  It feels so good no not be that sick and withered tree anymore.  If feels amazing to be strong and powerful and healthy.  I must tend to my roots or I will wither again.  I must take care of myself so I can remain healthy and strong.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016


Each month my children's school sends home a paper with what is going on that month and there is always a Counselor's note.  I really liked this one. 

Hugs--why we need them 

Hugging can be described as a handshake from the heart.  The simple action of embracing creates feel-good energy for both the giver and recipient.  Science has been looking into its positive effects, and numerous studies related to hugging show that hugging is a crucial part of human development.

Hugging is Heart Healthy:  Embracing activates the hormone oxytocin, which makes us feel all warm and fuzzy.  Give your heart a boost with some hugs.

Hugging Reduces Stress Naturally:  If you are feeling a bit drained or pressured, find someone you care about and give them an all-enveloping hug.  Research has found that embracing reduces the amount of cortisol (stress hormone) in our bodies, releasing tension and sending calming messages to the brain.  Quick fix for relieving stress -- a hug.  

Hugging Babies Helps Them Become Well - Adjusted Adults:  Touch is critical to infants, especially in their early stages of life, as it helps them bond with others as they get older.  Hugging and showing affection are important for a baby's development.  

Hugging is Important For Adults Too:  Physical touch and hugging can combat feelings of loneliness that arise as people get older.  Seniors can improve their well - being with a tender embrace.  

Hugging Can Regenerate Muscles:  An experiment performed on mice found that older mice who were injected with oxytocin regenerated their muscles faster, matching the regeneration rate of younger mice.  Add hugs to your workout.  

Hugging Can Make You a More Mindful and Present Person:  Being in the present moment has been shown to increase happiness, and this simple meditation is a great way to combine mindfulness with a powerful dose of oxytocin.  Try the hugging meditation to center and connect.  

Hugging Can Minimize Fears:  A study on fears and self-esteem looked into the connection between human touch and reducing the fear of mortality.  Hugging can help alleviate fears.

Hugging For Longer Periods of Time is Better for the Body:  When people hug for 20 seconds or more, the feel-good hormone oxytocin is released which creates a stronger bond and connection between the huggers. Oxytocin has been shown to boost the immune system and reduce stress.

Teresa Handy