A Science-Backed Stress Reliever

There is robust scientific evidence establishing a scientific link between spirituality and mental health.

For example, a scientific and medical review of 148 published studies in 2002 with over 98,000 subjects sought to determine a connection between spirituality and mental health.

Here’s the authors’/researchers’ overwhelming conclusion: the more spiritual a person is, the greater the positive effects on his or her mental health.

Also, another study was published in the Journal of Aging and Health in 2009, with 800 enrolled subjects and 8 years follow up.

The researchers found that being spiritual and having church attendance gave people a stronger sense of purpose and lesser tendencies to depression.

The American Journal of Psychiatry backed this up with a 10-year landmark study in 2012, claiming that spirituality has a protective effect – 76% less risk to develop genetic or familial depression.

Noted Harvard psychologist, Dr. Gordon Allport, based on numerous scientific evidences and studies such as these, asserted that spirituality or faith is indeed a psychological necessity for mankind.

From the mental health perspective, spirituality gives a struggling or traumatized individual with supportive life-giving guidelines. To find meaning and direction for his or her existence.

The faith of a person is a science-backed stress reliever.

It allows one to weather all storms while exploring the healing of his or her deepest internal wounds that affect perspective and functioning.

Truly, spirituality is the most natural thing there is.

It’s simply your own conscious awareness of your self to be more than physical or material … that you’ve a soul where your real essence lies.

Is the treatment part of the problem?

In a community group session that I was conducting in QC many years ago, one of the teenage girls attending suddenly dropped to the floor. Trembling. Convulsing. Crying.

I observed she’s very conversational prior to this. I had not known then how she got to a strange point in front of others in the group.

Members of the group pulled her away and brought her home. I was with them. Talking to the teenager. Pacifying and listening to her.

In her home was her mother lying half-naked on the sofa. She just stared at us when we arrived. The father was nowhere to be found. And the other children in the house just appeared unfazed.

Here’s a sad story of a family afflicted with untreated mental disorders. The way it looked, the teenage girl and her family members have been suffering severely for so long.

Recently, the Bill of Mental Health or RA 11036 (National Mental Health Act) was passed into law by the Philippine government.

The new law is traditional, a medicalized bill. With such bill, the poor are now given access to mental health care, which is comprised of psychiatric consultation, drug treatment or even perhaps lobotomy.

In days when I was doing practicum and doing visits in the mental hospital, I witnessed horror. Patients slipped into catatonia or Jekyll-and-Hyde monsters after prolonged drug treatments.

I’m reminded of the popular movie “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” in 1975, starring Jack Nicholson. That’s the picture of psychiatric and mental health hospital care.

In the US, Dr. Peter Breggin, called the “Conscience of Psychiatry” and other mental health advocates warned of the dangers of psychiatric drug medication and treatment globally (https://breggin.com) (www.psychintegrity.org).

I wonder about that teenage girl and her family as well as multitudes of others in need of mental health treatment in the country.

Does RA 11036 carry the proper and right treatment for them? Or, the unamended law and its treatment will become part of the problem?

Do you really want to be free?

Therapy is freedom work. It affirms and protects everyone’s God-given right to be free.

Yet I found that a lot of individuals, couples, families, and even cultures still choose to remain oppressed. Even when they realize they need to be free.

Slavery and oppression has become their home.

“I’ve a right to do whatever I want to do with her, she’s my wife,” said Ric in a marital session with his wife, Donna, of 20 years.

All throughout their marriage, Donna endured her husband’s physical beatings and verbal abuses. Sexually, she’s often overpowered and forced.

For such a long time, she never knew how or had the courage to set her self free. She made her husband’s slavery and oppression of her her home.

Slavery and oppression are of various kinds. This case is domestic/marital.

Other kinds are: political, economic, psychological or emotional, addiction, racial, parental, religious, corporate, informational, injustice to the poor, among others.

I find it appalling to see how much an oppressor, dictator, or slavemaster is able to control and dominate a victim’s life. He abuses and suppresses the victim down.

And the victim just submits and thinks it’s the way it is to be. Until the he or she feels at home to remain an oppressed slave.

I’m reminded of this man enslaved by drugs and vices. “I can’t help it!,” he claimed. When he lost everything, hit bottom, he finally chose to find ways to rehabilitate.

No oppressor wants a slave to be free. The slave has to awaken and fight to be free.

As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once declared, “Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.”

Focus on your Goal

Many years ago, Harvard psychologist Dr. Gordon Allport pointed out a secret power. It seems applicable to whatever stage of life we’re in.

Dr. Allport said that the striving for a goal beyond one’s reach is thought by numerous psychologists to be the greatest power to unify the diverse elements in a personality.

As an adolesent, the overriding goal of playing world championship chess against the Russians affected every part of Bobby Fischer’s life.

It established his priorities. What he did each day. Where he went. How much he slept. How he viewed the world and life in general.

Bobby came from a broken family. Abandoned by his father. Raised by a single mom. As it turned out, the goal of being a great American chess champion was his “beyond reach.”

His whole life was ordered by His desire to be a world chess champion. This single dominant goal unified his life during a period which could had been very fragmented.

I’m reminded of Brandon, who’s a serial womanizer and bar owner. In our therapy work, he’d push to save his family and want to indulge in his addictions. He felt split and torn.

Then, one day, he came to know Christ. He made a total commitment of his life to Him. That changed everything about him and how he lived his life from thereon.

Imperfect though he was, Brandon’s energies and abilities gradually became more focused and working together.

He now have a point of reference to unify everything about his life. His self. His family. His relationships. His business. Old values and experiences are seen by Brandon as Christ sees them.

“The staking of an overall goal compels the unity of the personality in that it draws the stream of all spiritual activity into its definite direction,” as psychologist Dr. Alfred Adler put it.

Are you mentally healthy?

Mental health is the absence of mental illness. It’s more than “normal” or “natural.”

Mental health comes from purpose, discipline, habits.

If you have the following qualities, you’re most likely a mentally healthy person:

• stable personality with no awkward unexplained moods

• self controlled, good nerves

• relaxes easily, sleeps well

• good self esteem: self assured, modest, guards self respect

• independent, personally responsible

• admits mistakes and imperfections

• moderate in all things

• communicates easily and respectfully

• lives in present moment

• takes good care of physical body

• able to have fun and laughter

• offers encouragement and appreciation

• unselfish, giving, sharing

• courteous, respectful language

• lives with faith and a definite purpose in life

• high tolerance for chaos, confusion, disorder when unavoidable

Take note: mental health is an inside job. You don’t get it from anything external!

Location-Independent Psychotherapy

It used to be a traditional way.

I once worked in the office. On armchair and tools.

But with it, the problem of high costs. Wasted time. Enduring more than 2 hours travel daily. The cost of fuel. Increasing weight, blood pressure, anxiety, fatigue.

I’m glad times change.

With the growth of the mobile and the internet, society has progressively moved work channels from the physical to the digital.

The lines between work and life are being erased in the process. Time and money are saved. The threat of burnout and mental health challenges are addressed.

Distance is no longer a problem between people engaged in a working process.

Whenever I do Skype or phone Psychotherapy sessions with counsellees from the Philippines, Qatar/Dubai, Australia, USA, Japan, or anywhere else around the world, I’ve come to feel that I’m more productive.

I experience refreshing working remotely than when sedentarily confined in a clinic cubicle. I’m glad I can do running or recharging while helping anyone, anywhere!

Productivity happens more in the comfort of home. Or, natural environs of individuals engaged in life session.

There is a beneficial domino effect to this location-independent Psychotherapy.

Its natural fruit is seeing that the main value exists not in the structure of a fixed physical space of an office. But in the value of output made.

I think I’m not alone in believing this to be so in our times.

The working world in general is showing a a rising trend of decreased need for a central physical hub to do work.

I’m reading US National Library of Medicine, which suggests that remote, digitally-based workers have higher performance outputs. The less office means increased productivity by up to 70%, according to Time Doctor Stats.

With technology spurring growth and saving costs, don’t be surprised if you see me championing a non-traditional office-less “psychotherapy without borders.”

Via Skype or phone. Or, in coffee shops, beaches, or malls. It’s organic. Natural life flow. Time/cost-effective.

In short, a more healthy option towards your search for healing and wholeness in your life.

How to Save an Addict

David Kennedy, son of Robert Kennedy, died of drug addiction. He died of cocaine in his system as well as medically prescribed antidepressants and tranquilizers.

In David’s case, the best medical care (besides his family’s wealth) available couldn’t save him from his addiction. Despite having been under many treatment programs, he failed to stay in one place and reform enough.

This is horrible. Tragic. Is medical treatment and brain drugs the cure for drug addiction? We all may ask.

In the Philippines nowadays, we see a “futile” drug war. My opinion is, both the government and the medical establishment make the same basic error.

Both have a wrong focus — they focus on the drug rather than the addict’s life fabric.

Drugs scare, yes. But one gets addicted to it not because of the drugs’ chemical components. The addiction is a product of the addict’s life circumstances and expectations.

In a front page of an international newspaper, drug rehab experts asserted that crack addiction can be treated successfully.

But, “the addict must be given a place in family and social structures where they may never have been before.”

In my therapy sessions treating persons addicted to drugs, there are also the factors of values and goals. Addicts are often characterized by impulsivity, alienation, and mental disorder.

And many of the roots I found were mostly from ancient family and social system patterns. They predate the addict’s adolescence and initiation to drug use.

This is where life-process psychotherapy diverges dramatically from mainstream medical model and drug rehab programs.

Instead of only focusing on surface issues, such as drug detox, life-process Psychotherapy gets to the deep-level inner roots and wounds of the addict. That’s where permanent healing lies.