Archive | January, 2009

Grief Recovery Handbook Added to Library

30 Jan

jeff_1_finalThank you Jeff for suggesting The Grief Recovery Handbook: The Action Program for Moving Beyond Death, Divorce, and Other Losses by John W. James and Russell Friedman.

I was able to pick-up a cheap used copy for reference by our counselors and clients.  It joins the bookshelf of workbooks the Aberdeen PRP has recently acquired.

— Michael


Full Spectrum Client Lounge Lighting!

29 Jan

We have received a contribution of BlueMax(TM) replacement fluorescent tubes from Joelle Kolhagen, Marketing Director for Full Spectrum Solutions, Inc.  Full spectrum lighting mimics the light color and quality output by the sun.  Replacing ordinary lighting may help with mood disorders like seasonal affective disorder when you spend significant amounts of time each day under the improved lighting.

Please see here and here and here for more about seasonal affective disorder.

Full Spectrum Solutions, Inc. is also a well-established light therapy lamp manufacturer with over 11 years of experience in the field.  Their online catalog of light therapy lamps can be found here.

Aberdeen PRP, with the help of Full Spectrum Solutions, has been able to replace all 24 lighting tubes in our client lounge.  Please note the significantly different before and after pictures:

before_lounge_2_mod. after_lounge_4_mod.
before_lounge_5_mod after_lounge_3_mod

The pictures don’t quite do the lighting justice — the lounge is MUCH brighter and the light notably less yellow than standard flourescent bulbs.  Everything is much sharper.   (We actually have to vacuum more often since dirt shows up!)

So far client reactions have been positive.  One client thinks that classes in the client lounge (Psychology 101 and Music) tend to be more active and participants have less trouble staying awake.  We’ll continue to collect feedback about the lighting.

bluemaxbulb fullspectrumlogo

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) Light Therapy Boxes!

29 Jan

The Aberdeen PRP is thrilled to announce that we have received somereading_light_original31 generous lighting donations to help our clients fight the effects of seasonal depression due to less exposure to light during the winter months.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a mood disorder in which persons experience symptoms associated with depression (sadness, low energy, weight gain, loss of interest in activities, & more) during the winter months when exposure to sunlight is diminished.

Jennifer Christie of Alaska Northern Lights donated two light therapy treadmill_light_original1boxes.  Alaska Northern Lights is one of the older and most respected companies in the light therapy business.  One of the light therapy boxes is a desktop model and the other comes with a tall stand.  We have created a reading station in the community room which will soon be equipped with a tablecloth, magazine stand, and other comfortable touches.  We have placed the light box with stand in front of our treadmill in the exercise room.

Over 25 years of scientific research points to the efficacy of light therapy.  Some emerging scientific evidence points towards the possible usefulness of full spectrum lighting and light therapy boxes for regular depression and sleep disturbances.workoutwithlight

Interested clients sit (or walk) with the light box shining into their eyes from slightly above for about 20-30 minutes once per day.

Therapists and psychiatrists who diagnose SAD or other disorders responding to light therapy may wish to consider communicating with their patients and PRP staff about the possibility of clients utilizing the light boxes while at the PRP.  A helpful lay questionnaire can be found here.    The Center for Environmental Therapeutics has information on environmental therapies for SAD and other disorders, including the use of light therapy boxes.  They have a useful online self-assessment instrument instrument for depression, including questions for SAD, which can be found here. The results should be discussed with a therapist or doctor.

table_lightbox stand_lightbox


Book Review – PTSD Workbook

20 Jan

The PTSD Workbook by Mary Beth Williams is FULL of exercises in each chapter. I outlined the first 3 to give you an idea. It describes many techniques that can be used while maintaining a feeling of encouragement. What I liked most was on page 38 it gives 11 different things to look for that may mean the person is doing too much work out of the work book. I did notice some of the language may be too hard to understand for lower functioning clients. I would recommend this book because it gives very visual, specific, and recordable ways to rate feelings and experiences. A number of exercises in this book would work for a variety of client issues. Any client that is in need of taking a harder look into their feelings and experiences would benefit from some of the exercises. If tackled head on it is a lot for one person to do but broken down I believe it is an awesome resource.


Chapter 1: A look at trauma: Simple and complex

I noticed the wording the very positive and encouraging, “By picking up this book, you have shown that you are not denying any need to look for change. You may still have some resistance but at least you are willing to begin to look.”

The first sentence of the book is, “What is trauma?” Goes through the trauma story, then into defining and reacting to trauma.

Exercise: My ability to cope with trauma

Explains Acute Stress D/O and PTSD

Goes into true and false memories

Am I a healthy person?

My trauma related beliefs

My healing history

Committing to the work – asks person to commit to working on their PTSD

Journal exercise: Drawings of self and environment


Chapter 2: Safety – what it means to be safe


My sense of safety

Safety assessment

My safe place

Journal exercise: Safe place collage/drawing

Exercise: Getting to my safe place – involves developing and using a symbol or phrase to return to your safe place and draw strength from it using visualization

Next goes into checking in with yourself, relaxation and breathing techniques

Deep breathing


Quick relaxation (PMR with bigger muscle groups so it does not take as long)

Page 38: When to take a break from doing work out of the workbook – 11 things to look for and 5 self-care things to do when taking a break

My safety net


Chapter 3: Identifying and writing about what has happened to you

Subjective Units of Distress – SUDS scale; person is asked to chose a level of the scale they feel they are experiencing and explain why.

Trauma inventory

My positive traits

Page 45: do you have PTSD

My symptoms

Create trauma time-line

Healing by writing

Journal exercise: My traumatic experience – over 4 days the person is asked to write about an experience for 20 minutes each day without stopping

Exercise: Learning from my traumatic experiences – person asked to reflect on what they wrote for 4 days and what they learned about the trauma, self, and their world.

Using metaphors to describe trauma – explains there is no one way to tell your story

Time to Heal – asks person to pick specific symptoms that are bothering them to be worked on then use the exercises in the rest of the workbook to assist with recovery

Yoga for Depression Book Review

20 Jan

Yoga for Depression

By: Amy Weintraub

This book is written by an author who is suffering from depression herself and started practicing yoga on a daily basis which began her road to recovery. Yoga for Depression goes into a lot of detail in the philosophy of yoga that may not be relevant to PRP use, but there are a lot of great stories of people’s journey through their recovery that may be able to help to give some of our higher functioning clients hope. This is also a great resource to use for teaching clients’ deep breathing exercises. Anyone who is interested in yoga can benefit from the various examples of exercises throughout the book.

Chapter 1: This chapter lays the ground work for the organization of the rest of the book. It discusses the author’s journey to recovery as well as:

What’s Wrong with the Medical Model?

The Science of Positive Mental Health

Two Yoga Strategies for Depression (willful practice and self-study)

Getting Started

Finding a Teacher


Chapter 2: This chapter goes through a variety of mental illnesses and their symptoms as well as the benefits of yoga for each of them. There are great success stories in this chapter as well. The mental illnesses discussed are:




Bipolar Disorder

Major Depressive Episode

This chapter also has a great way to visualize deep breathing that may help clients better understand how to breath deeply by presenting how to do it in this manner (found on page 53).


Chapter 3: This chapter goes into great detail on how yoga works. I found the exercises at the end of this chapter to be some that I am currently using in the yoga class and some that I may incorporate at some point.


Chapter 4: Again this chapter uses a lot of yoga terminology which is not helpful for our clientele.


Chapter 5: This chapter talks about the importance of breathing in yoga. It does a great job of explaining the importance of listening to your body when practicing yoga as well (page 98-99). “You are an individual with a different body, a different set of life experiences, injuries, and abilities than the twenty-something or the sixty-something practicing next to you. You can hurt yourself in Yoga if you push or strain or forget to breathe. Relax into the pose by breathing deeply, using micromovements to move in and out of your body’s full expression of the pose”. I like this passage because it is important to constantly remind the clients while in yoga to not push too hard or they will injure themselves.

Biofeedback for Stress, Anxiety, and Sleep

16 Jan

Picture of StressEraserThe Aberdeen PRP is training staff and clients in the use of the StressEraser — a biofeedback device proven to assist with stress, anxiety reduction, and some sleep difficulties.  This effort is part of our overall initiative to strengthen and diversify our scientifically proven holistic health offerings.  Biofeedback joins yoga, exercise, and nutritional training already available at the PRP.

The StressEraser uses heart rate biofeedback to teach you to learn how to breathe right.  Heart rate biofeedback is when you see a graph on the device screen of how your heart rate is rising and falling between breathes.  Biofeedback is a treatment technique in which people are trained to improve their health by using signals from their own bodies — in this case by looking at the graphic display.stresseraser_screenshot

Proper balance is primarily achieved through proper breathing. Your heart rate goes up and down with your breathing. When you breathe in, your heart rate tends to go up. When you breathe out, your heart rate tends to go down.  Relaxation and stress are also tied to these changes in heart rate.  More in-depth information about how StressEraser and biofeedback works and the science involved can be found by clicking here.

We are hopeful that clients will take to biofeedback.  We are training clients in morning classes, as well as approaching them one-on-one.  We will be offering regular times when use of the units is encouraged.

Upgrading Class Instructional Materials

16 Jan

We’ve slowly been working to upgrade the quality of our classroom instructional materials.  Today I purchased two books at Erin’s suggestion for social skills class:

1 “Activities to Enhance Social, Emotional, and Problem-solving Skills: Seventy-six Activities That Teach Children, Adolescents, and Adults Skills Crucial to Success in Life” by John M. Malouff

2 “Navigating the Social World: A Curriculum for Individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome, High Functioning Autism and Related Disorders” by Jeannie McAfee.

This should inject some new ideas and direction into an important class.

I also purchased a copy of Mavis Beacon — a typing tutorial program — for the computer lab.

I try to rotate my attention — getting something new for each class periodically — and I’m especially on the look-out for professional curriculums.

This past fall we purchased a homeschool art curriculum suggested by Liz to add understanding of art history and famous artists to our art class.  We also built-up our library of workbooks suitable for use by rehabilitation counselors and clients.  Counselors were required to each pick a book, and write a short book report on it to present at staff meeting.  Some of these books now in use for classroom and individual goal plan completion include:

  • The PTSD Workbook
  • Yoga for Depression
  • The Addictions Workbook
  • The Depression Workbook
  • Surviving Schizophrenia
  • Anxiety & Phobia Workbook
  • The Angry Book
  • The OCD Workbook

— Michael