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Negative Thought Patterns & their Association with Addictions

19 Apr

At the Harford PRP, Melissa Potemra is the instructor of the Mental Illness & Substance Abuse (M.I.S.A) class, which is held on Mondays. Alcoholism and Drug Addiction are major conditions that not only affect the abuser, but their entire family and friends as well. Addiction in and of itself has plagued our society and caused some major challenges.  When it comes to thinking and thought patterns, I have recognized just how powerful a persons thinking can be.  Positive thinking is empowering, motivating, and increases self-esteem, while negative thinking is distorted or black and white thinking. Changing your thoughts can  lead to  different emotions, which produces different outcomes.

Some helpful resources:


Is Mental Health Stigma still prevalent? Check out this article!

11 Apr

The results of this study showed that while more people are understanding that there may be neurobiological causes of mental disorders, we’re still a long way off from removing the prejudice and discrimination that accompanies a mental disorder diagnosis: However, the results show that although believing in neurobiological causes for these disorders increased support for professional treatment, it did nothing to alleviate stigma. The results show that, in fact, the effect increased community rejection of the person described in the vignettes.  Pescosolido said the study provides real data for the first time on whether the “landscape” is changing for people with mental illness. The negative results support recent talk by influential institutions, including the Carter Center, about how a new approach is needed for the fight against stigma.

By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 25 Sep 2010
Published on All rights reserved.

When I think about Stigma as it relates to mental illness, I am reminded of Stigma as a general problem and concern for many, in all facets of life. In my opinion, Stigma, as it relates to mental illness is a form of discrimination that is automatically placed on an individual due to their specific mental illness.  There are a variety of misconceptions and prejudgments about those who cope with mental illness on a daily basis. These misconceptions could possibly imply that one who suffers from a mental illness is not capable of  contributing to society as much as someone who doesn’t have a mental illness, when in fact, persons with mental illness can make just as much of a positive impact on society.  With mental illness, it is very easy for society to make judgments, but often times, stigma is prevalent specifically with mental illness due to lack of knowledge and awareness.  The topic itself is often taboo in certain respects and it almost suggests that if you have a mental illness, you are not able to hold a job, raise a child, go to school, etc. This is false.  Many individuals with mental illness are actively involved in treatment and participating in programs and community resources that will aid them in getting the best care possible. Reducing stigma requires more community education and for advocates to willingly challenge unfair treatment and discriminatory stereotypes.

So, in essence, Is Mental Health Stigma still prevalent? Yes! And something should be done! It begins with you!

Some Helpful Resources

Fight Stigma: Become A StigmaBuster!

Mental Health America,


Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

25 Mar

Dialectical Behavior Therapy, also known as DBT, was developed and implemented by Marsha M. Linehan who is a well-known psychology researcher at the University of Washington.  DBT was targeted to treat persons with Pervasive Emotion Dysregulation.  DBT is a combination and use of standard cognitive behavioral techniques for emotion regulation and reality-testing with concepts of distress tolerance, acceptance, and mindful awareness.


On March 14, 2011, Alisha Simmons, Rehab Counselor at the Harford PRP, Keypoint Health Services had the opportunity to attend a presentation at Jewish Community Services, facilitated by Mrs. Pat Harvey, LCSW-C. During the presentation of DBT, Mrs. Harvey revealed some pertinent information regarding DBT such as:

* DBT is supportive. Skills trainers support people in their attempts to decrease problem behaviors, help people to acknowledge strengths and encourage them to use their positive abilities.

*DBT is behavioral: Problem behavior patterns are analyzed and replaced with more skillful behaviors.

*DBT is cognitive: The focus in DBT is on helping to change beliefs, expectations and assumptions that are no longer effectively helpful; change may occur in all or nothing, rigid and judgmental thinking.

*DBT is skill oriented: Structured skills training is designed to teach new skills and enhance capabilities.

*DBT balances acceptance and change: In DBT, there is a focus on helping consumers to increase their ability to accept and tolerate painful feelings, their current life situations and themselves.  There is a second, and equally important, focus on learning new skills and behaviors that will enhance life.

*DBT requires a collaborative relationship: In DBT it is important that people work together and function as a team to achieve goals.  It is essential that all team members work on their communication and collaboration to facilitate progress.

For more information on Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, take some time to review Pat Harvey’s website, © Pat Harvey.

DBT Consortium

Some additional resources can be found below:


Interventions for Schizophrenia

21 Jan

I’ve obtained a spiral-bound workbook for staff that could be very useful entitled  Interventions for Schizophrenia.  This manual  has programmed modules full of easy-to-use instructional materials, worksheets, and short tests falling into 5 broad areas:

1)         Engagement and treatment preparation

2)         Individual analysis of person and schizophrenia

3)         Understanding and managing positive symptoms

4)         Maximizing mental health

5)         Bringing it all together

It’s potentially a whole curriculum for a schizophrenia class.  This book could be useful for class lesson plans as well as help with IRP goals.

I’m especially interested in the material on working with positive symptoms – such as auditory hallucinations.

Borderline Personality Audio Resources

21 Jan

Tami Green is a coach who specializes in Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD).  She runs online and telephone skills building groups, as well as 1-on-1 telephone coaching for Borderline PD.

I have purchased 4 audio lessons (about 4.5 hours of material) from her covering a wide variety of useful skills for our Borderline clients.  These are live recordings so our clients will also be able to hear Q&A between Tami and her BPD students.

These materials are now part of our library and available for use by clients.  As interest may indicate, I am open to forming a group to listen and discuss the material.

Harford County does not appear to have any DBT (Dialectical Behavioral therapy) skills groups so I am introducing what material I can for persons with Borderline Personality.  These recordings join my existing Emotional Management class largely utilizing the STEPPS material out of University of Iowa.

Online Free WRAP Plans!

21 Jan

Maryland residents have access to a free online WRAP plan development system.  This is located on the Network of Care website for Maryland.

Basic information about WRAP (Wellness Recovery Action Plans) can be found here and also through our previous blog articles located here and here.  WRAP plans are a strong organized method by which consumers can create their own living recovery plan for recognizing triggers, daily self-care, and emergency plans for what to do when mental health deteriorates.

Consumers can access it in the following way:

Click on your county on the map

Here are a few direct links for convenience:

On each of these nearly identical county pages in the lower left-hand corner is a “Learn More About WRAP” consumer training link.  This contains a slideshow and a video about WRAP.

In the button bar on the upper right-hand side of the screen is a link entitled “My Folder / WRAP”.  This link will let you create a logon account.  It gets a bit confusing at this point because it talks more about Personal Health Records (PHR) here for awhile.  The state of Maryland is mixing the ideas of storing all your vital health records online where doctors can see them with the idea of having an online WRAP.

Once your account is created, there will be a link to WRAP in the left-hand column when you are logged-in.  You will first have to create a new subfolder for personal information before this WRAP link shows up.  From this point follow the online directions to create a complete online WRAP plan.

I am very happy to see this online tool become available.  It’s a bit confusing the navigate to, but easy to use once you’ve found it.   Various agencies around Maryland periodically offer WRAP trainings, including On Our Own of Maryland and our local Aberdeen SPIN client drop-in center.   You can also obtain a book on the subject from Amazon by clicking here.

— Michael

Staff Training in Online Tools

21 Jan

We recently conducted a two-hour online training for staff in some of the tools available to mental health consumers.  I have previously mentioned Ecouch, MoodGYM, and Optimism Online.  Staff got a refresher course in how to utilize these tools with clients.   We also covered:

Online WRAP – Maryland state residents now have access to a free online version of the Wellness Recovery Action Plan.  Key Point’s company trainer Cyndi Lewis has previously run classes for clients in WRAP plan construction.  The nearby SPIN client drop-in center is currently teaching a several week-long class in this topic too.

BlueBoard – An online discussion group for persons with depression.

Beacon – A database aimed at mental health professionals.  It contains peer-reviewed critiqued website links to all manner of mental health topics.  I will be exploring these suggestions for more online programs to utilize at the PRP as time permits.

BluePages – Psycho-educational materials on depression, short depression quizzes, and expert ratings as to the effectiveness and scientific evidence for dozens of depression treatments.