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by Sylvia B. Bodell

Evolution and Growth Through Counseling

While it’s been a dark year for many, The Center has been shining a bright light on the fact there is help.

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During the past year, we have witnessed an unprecedented increase in the number of people experiencing mental health problems.

While it’s been a dark year for many, The Center has been shining a bright light on the fact there is help.

May is National Mental Health Month. The pandemic has helped us humanize conversations around mental health. We’re reminded more than ever of the importance of taking care of ourselves mentally and physically. We’ve also witnessed how our 35+ therapists and our support team at The Center continue to be there for their clients with a greater passion, while navigating the pandemic.

“I can’t imagine doing anything else,” said Dr. Jane Toler, Staff Therapist at The Center. “I’m doing exactly what I’m supposed to be doing and exactly where I’m supposed to be doing it. Even while we were working remotely, I’ve felt very supported. Thanks to technology, collaboration with my peers has been wonderful even though we've been apart, and I'm grateful.

“This is a second career for me. I came from a business environment. This field (counseling) always interested me and when the time was right to make a change, I was able to shift gears and pursue counseling and never looked back. My clients have encouraged me daily, especially during the pandemic.

“One client who stands out is Ann* who I’ve been seeing for anxiety and depression. She had high anxiety and panic attacks, but over the course of therapy, she has done beautiful work. Ann has been faithful in coming to counseling, resulting in her evolution and growth – that’s what makes it worth it. She recognizes the benefits of therapy and has functioned well in the past year, even with all the things that could have gone wrong. She does her own research, shares it and we talk about it. Ann’s invested in her health care. Our approach is collaborative which makes it successful.”

Be kind to yourself
When it comes to self-care and taking time for yourself, Dr. Toler often reminds her clients to focus on self-compassion and grace. Acknowledge this has been an extraordinary time. Be kind to yourself. Enjoy the ordinary moments in life such as walking your dog, listening to the birds, watching the sunrise.

Living a healthy lifestyle and incorporating mental health tools to thrive may not seem easy at first because you’re doing something different, but can be achieved by gradually making small changes and building on those successes.

“Take in the good moments,” continued Dr. Toler. “Put into practice the taking in the good – research shows that can rewire the brain. If we continue to do this, it becomes second nature. Also, recognize the importance of daily structure and routine.

“Life right now feels unsettling at times. People are talking about feeling tired and fatigued, but I remind my clients and myself – we’re not where we were and we’re not yet where we’re going to be. Things are opening up and we have a lot to look forward to.”

Dr. Toler sees individuals, couples and families and is a frequent presenter at conferences and groups. Areas of focus include:

  • Depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts
  • EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy)
  • Grief and loss
  • Guilt and shame
  • Life changes/transitions
  • Relationship issues

She earned her Ph.D. in Counseling from the University of North Texas and M.S. and B.A. degrees from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Dr. Toler has been in the mental health field since 1996 and is also certified in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR). She has taught in the graduate teaching program at the University of North Texas, had her own private practice, and worked with an agency that specializes in domestic violence. Dr. Toler has also led support group for mothers who were estranged from adult children. She volunteered at the Suicide and Crisis Center in Dallas and is an affiliate of the Stepfamily Association of America, now known as the National Stepfamily Resource Center.

*Ann's name has been changed.

Take Time for Yourself

There are always a handful of roles that each of us are juggling. The idea of taking time for yourself may seem impossible, but there are small things that can be done to make self-care and taking time for yourself a little easier.

  • Accept yourself as you are. Remember you are running your own race.
  • Focus on the basics. Live a healthy lifestyle, good hygiene, eating nutrient rich food, moving your body – these are good building-blocks to self-care.
  • Find what makes you happy. Build in time to do the things that you enjoy and makes you feel accomplished or happy.
  • Practice mindfulness. Slow, deep breaths, focus on your senses. Be present in what you’re doing.
  • Make small goals. Set small goals like a 15-minute walk outside each day. Journal 10 minutes every night.
  • Set some boundaries. This will allow you to devote your time to other relationships and things you enjoy doing.
  • Remember that you are not alone. Reach out to friends and family.

We're here for you
The Center offers a wide range of services for children, teens, couples, individuals, and families. The Center is in-network with most major insurance companies, Medicare and Medicaid for counseling services.

To schedule an appointment with any of The Center's therapists call 214-526-4525 or go to TEAM to learn more.