From 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 15, mental hygiene workshops continue with Nancy Waite-O’Brien, Ph.D., SEP, and a program titled, “Where Do Upsetting Feelings Come From and What to Do With Them.”
The workshops, an offering from the Idyllwild Forest Health Project and its offshoot, Mountain Communities Mutual Aid, are a community building effort, focused on the idea of “mental hygiene.” Mental hygiene includes both the individual (self-awareness and self-care that allows us to maintain some equilibrium in difficult times) and the institutions of a community, seeking ways to foster interconnection and meaning.
Waite-O’Brien is a practicing psychologist, and for 18 years was the head of clinical services at the Betty Ford Center. She is a practitioner of Somatic Experiencing, has a practice in Rancho Mirage, is clinical supervisor at ABC Recovery in Indio, and does psychotherapy (including equine therapy) at her home in Mountain Center.
Waite-O’Brien said, “Emotional upset often come from thoughts and beliefs we have about how the world is treating us. Using the work of Albert Ellis, a psychologist who, in the mid-1950s, developed a model that helped people examine the beliefs that can cause unhappiness, we will examine our own beliefs that might be the cause of difficulties in our lives.”
The second part of the presentation will address one way to handle upsetting emotions. A model of therapy called Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) will be presented and participants will have an opportunity to try this approach with an emotion that might be troubling.
A tenet in many forms of therapy, and other paths, is that while we often cannot control the world around us, we can choose our responses, and manage our distress. These responses can either further draw us into chaos or help us find and maintain equilibrium. Waite-O’Brien spoke with the Crier about her program.
TC: “You are a resident of Garner Valley?”
NWOB: “I consider myself in a corner of Idyllwild. I have friends up there, I love the businesses, it’s just a nice place to be. I think this series of workshops is kind of innovative. We are going to be addressing things people might be struggling with particularly as they are emerging from the isolation imposed by COVID. They are aimed to help people coming out of this isolation. To help with community, how people connect, and help them understand that whatever they may be struggling with may be similar to what others are feeling.”
TC: “You mentioned how the world is treating us. When this doesn’t measure up we may experience resentment?”
NWOB: “Often times we believe that the world should treat us well, and unfortunately, it doesn’t always happen that way. If I stick with the belief that the world should go the way I want it to, I am going to be unhappy.”
TC: “You mentioned DBT. Tell us something about that.”
NWOB: “It’s a way of managing upsetting feelings by paying attention to what we think and feel. An amalgam of feelings and thought generally results in wisdom.”
TC: “I’ve heard a lot about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). How is this different?”
NWOB: “It’s an advanced version of CBT. Albert Ellis was the originator of the foundations of CBT. Then other people expanded upon and added a certain amount of sophistication to it. [DBT] is probably the best researched approach to therapy around. It was developed by a woman by the name of Marsha Linehan. She developed this approach to working with people with severe mental challenges. They were people who tended to rely just on their emotions and not incorporate thought. If you only experience emotions, you are probably going to have trouble managing them. Her idea of adding rational thought to this process helps people manage difficult emotions, building what we call ‘distress tolerance.”’
The workshop series continues Saturdays until Oct. 22. Cost is $15 per person per workshop or pay on a sliding scale. Donating more to cover someone else’s cost is appreciated.
Dr. Tima Ivanova, LMFT, facilitates a concurrent program for ages 6 to18. Ivanova is certified in Play Therapy with children and teens. She will help young people engage in ways “that will increase their self-knowledge and self-acceptance, as well as help build trust and healthy boundaries with other peers and participants.” Parents and guardians wishing to bring youngsters should contact her by email at [email protected]
Cost is $15 per person per workshop or pay on a sliding scale. Donations to cover someone else’s cost are appreciated. To reserve a place, register in advance at www.idyllwise.org/mental-hygiene. For general information, call (951) 468-0110 or email [email protected]