All Posts in Category: Mental Health Basics

Let your mind exercise well!

In this write-up, we’ll uncover the miraculous power of meditation and learn why it’s indispensable to practice it and to add to your everyday life. We will also explore its religious roots and explain the goal of meditation, including a fool proof guide on how to get started. By the end of this article, you will have a clear understanding of how to use meditation to be more at one with yourself.

Meditation: What is it?

Meditation is an archaic skill that’s been proficient for thousands of years, yet, there is still a misconception that meditation is only practiced by saints and mahatmas sitting with crossed legs on the hilltop. In reality, meditation is something that anyone can do, and it can enormously improve one’s life. Meditation is an act of self-calming. You let go of what you cannot control and strive to boost clarity. This action is one of voluntary commitment and not a directive. In the practice of meditation, you make a promise to yourself and your goal and gain insight into your identity. Meditation is a technique for relaxing the mind in which one tries to clear all the thoughts, worries, and stress. 

What are the benefits of engaging in regular meditation practice?

Meditation is a substantial practice that holds many benefits in one life.

  1.  Increase your self-awareness: Meditation is a tool for calming your mind and concentrating on your thoughts, ultimately allowing you to come face-to-face with the real you, thus enabling you to gain a better understanding of yourself.
  2. Reduce your stress: Meditation helps to relax the body and mind and reduce the production of cortisol, the stress hormone.
  3. Improve your concentration: Meditation works wonders in developing concentration. It increases the capacity of the brain to process information, enabling us to think more clearly and efficiently.
  4.  Healthy sleep patterns: Meditation helps to slow down the racing thoughts that interfere with sleep, making it easier to relax and drift off into a deep sleep at night.
  5. Enhanced Immunity: Meditation can boost the body’s immune system, helping to ward off infections and illnesses.

Meditation and Religious Practice 

Though the nature of meditation is not religious but, the meditation practice has been associated with religious traditions. During meditation, one will sit still in a comfortable body position, most often in the dhyana mudra, which involves keeping your hands open and laying on your lap, with your thumbs lightly touching. This allows your focus to be single-pointed, turning inward towards the divine. However, one has not had to be compulsorily religious to engage in meditation practices.

Goal of Meditation

From a young age, we have been solely educated only to observe and verify things in the external world. No one has ever taught us to look inside, find ourselves, and recognize our genuine being. Hence, this lack of self-awareness results in our difficulty to connect with others, leaving us feeling disoriented and let down in life. The goal of meditation is to uncover the true self. Meditating go beyond the mind and connect with our true state of peace, love, and bliss. The mind, which is usually unruly and disobedient, can prove to be an obstacle when trying to do so. It is normal to experience daydreams, fantasies, and even hallucinations when first attempting to still the mind and achieve meditation. Nevertheless, the effort is worth it to experience the genuine tranquillity of meditation.

Preparatory step for Meditation

  1. Fix a time schedule: Fix a particular time to meditate. Early morning between 3:30 and 5:30 is Brahma muhurta and also, the mind is more refreshed, calm, and peaceful. This time of the day is dominated by sattva guna which signifies purity in the mind and in the atmosphere too.
  2. Choose a location: Pick a place that is comfortable, quiet, and free of distractions.
  3. Get Comfortable Position: Find a position in which you are comfortable, whether it’s sitting in a chair, cross-legged on the floor, or laying down. 
  4. Set a Timer: Set a timer for the length of time that you’re going to meditate to ensure you don’t become lost in the practice. 
  5. Focus on Your Breath: Concentrate on your breath as it moves in and out of your body. Notice the sensation of air entering and exiting your nostrils. 
  6. Observe Your Thoughts: When thoughts arise, acknowledge them without judgment, and then let them pass away.
  7.  Practice Non-Attachment: Let go of any attachment to the outcome of your practice and allow yourself to observe the present moment.
  8. Make a Commitment: Commit to practicing meditation on a regular basis, no matter how long or short the sessions are.
  9.  Close Your Practice: When the timer goes off, take a few moments to reflect on your experience before bringing your awareness back into the present moment.

Meditation can be an effective tool to help us connect more deeply with our inner selves. By practicing meditation regularly, we can gain a greater understanding of ourselves, leading to better physical and mental health, improved focus, and a greater sense of peace and well-being. With its diverse benefits, meditation can be an invaluable part of our journey toward greater self-awareness and self-compassion.

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Building Healthy Boundaries for Remote Work

With a drastic rise in remote work and the advanced use of technology, work, and life has become more intertwined. Unlike an office job, remote work does not offer equal physical boundaries. In this writing, we will explore why it is of the utmost importance to set relationship boundaries when working remotely. Moreover, we will confer the importance of setting boundaries, how to do this effectively, and how to manage a remote team environment with boundaries in place. We will also cover certain boundaries related to work and the home.

If you are feeling stressed working remotely, then you are not alone. It has been observed by Blue Jeans in a survey that many remote workers who are new to this kind of work are notching up more hours of work than usual, which could be a result of feeling the pressure to work from home. As technology has advanced, remote work has become increasingly common. Though there are many benefits to remote work, as it allows for greater flexibility in schedules and the lives of workers around the world, it can be tough to set a line between professional and personal relationships. Without these lines, remote workers can experience burnout, stress, and feelings of isolation. Additionally, remote workers may be less likely to develop meaningful relationships with their peers, as there is less of an opportunity to build strong connections through in-person interactions. To ensure a successful remote working environment, it is necessary to establish clear boundaries between work and personal life, set achievable goals, maintain regular communication with colleagues, and take necessary breaks. Additionally, remote workers should take advantage of virtual tools, such as video conferencing, to stay connected with their team. By these proactive steps, remote workers can maximize the potential benefits of working from home while avoiding the risks associated with the remote working lifestyle.

Relationship boundaries in remote working

Relationship boundaries are essentially invisible lines that help to maintain healthy relationships and prevent people from feeling taken advantage of, uncomfortable, or violated. In remote working, these boundaries are

1. Avoid communication with a co-worker outside of working hours.

2. Avoid discussing personal matters.

3. Maintaining professional language and behavior.

4. Do not engage in any physical contact. 

Furthermore, it is imperative to be clear and consistent when setting and communicating expectations, so that everyone knows what the boundaries are, what is acceptable behavior and communication, and what is not. Respect and politeness should also be an integral part of any remote working relationship, and any boundary violations should be addressed immediately and resolved as soon as possible.

Always remember that boundaries are flexible and can evolve as the relationship and working conditions develop.

 Boundaries around work

 It’s better to define healthy boundaries around work. As many employees have shifted to working from home, employers and employees alike are coming to realize the advantages of remote working. However, it is also true that remote working comes with its own set of challenges. In order to overcome certain challenges, it is necessary to set certain boundaries.

1. Set specific timeframes for when to start and when to stop the work: If you are working around the clock, it can leave you feeling burnt out and counterproductive. Working remotely gives us the flexibility of when to work. However, it shouldn’t mean always being available. When we set timeframes, we create structure and self-discipline. It also helps us to be more aware of where our time and energy are going during the workday. Having an established start and end time also helps to focus and prioritize what needs to be done in the allocated time while avoiding procrastination. Knowing that at a certain point of the day, you have to wrap things up encourages us to complete our tasks in a timely manner.

2. Establish Clear Areas of Responsibility: With remote working often comes the need to establish clear areas of responsibility. Without clear boundaries when it comes to understanding roles and tasks, problems can quickly arise. It is paramount to clearly define roles and responsibilities beforehand so that everyone is aware of their duties and responsibilities. When everyone has clarity over which tasks they are responsible for, it can reduce confusion and frustration.

3. Set Deadlines: Setting deadlines while working remotely can help us to stay motivated to finish tasks and can be essential in avoiding procrastination. Deadlines provide a sense of structure to our day and allow us to stay productive. They allow us to break up our tasks into achievable pieces and personalize our workflow to fit our personal needs. Whether you prefer to work on one big task for the day or break up your work into small mini-tasks, setting personal deadlines can help you stay motivated and on track.

Boundaries around the home

Establishing boundaries around the home is vital for soothing stress and maintaining productivity. In order to set clear expectations, some boundaries need to be outlined:

  1.  Designate a specific workspace within the home. Consider that space as the ‘office’ and use it solely for work-related activity. The space should remain free of any kind of distractions to ensure that you can focus completely on work tasks.
  2.  When you’ve finished work for the day, it’s necessary to leave that space and step away from your computer. 
  3. Communicate to your family that you’re in the workplace, they must refrain from contacting you unless it’s an urgent matter.Always remember

Structure in the age of remote work is much more challenging because you have fewer natural boundaries. But for a more productive, enjoyable, and sustainable lifestyle, one must establish relationship boundaries in remote working to manage personal and professional relationships. It is important to remember that boundaries are different for everyone, and it is up to each individual to decide what is best for themselves. Creating a set of regulations and guidelines will help to maintain a sense of clarity, respect, and trust between colleagues. This will help create a sense of comfort and security in the workspace, ultimately resulting in a more productive and successful working environment.

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Relapse is not an indication of failure!

The following article explores the concept of relapse as an opportunity for growth and reflection. We will delve into the meaning of relapse and discuss the causes of relapse while providing strategies for developing resilience and self-awareness to prevent it in the future. Relapse can be a daunting and shameful experience for many people, but with the right mindset and approach, it can become a powerful tool for personal growth and development. By examining what led to the relapse and identifying areas of vulnerability, we can learn how to avoid similar situations in the future and become more resilient. Furthermore, relapse can provide an opportunity for reflection on our values and practicing self-care.

What is Relapse?

Relapse is a common occurrence in the recovery process of substance use disorder, mental health issues, and other behavioral health challenges. It is the reoccurrence of precarious substance usage or behaviors that can lead to feelings of shame and guilt. However, if approached appropriately, relapse can be a powerful tool for personal growth and development.

The nature of Relapse

Understanding the nature of relapse is crucial in preparing for the potential of its occurrence. It is important to assert and accept that relapse can sometimes be a part of the healing process and not an indication of weakened motivation or a failure on the path to recovery. People in recovery often get diverted from their plans due to triggers such as stress, emotions, or even boredom. These triggers can lead to a relapse, and it’s important to note that it does not always occur abruptly. It can be a gradual process that begins with small lapses in sobriety, such as having a few drinks or using several drugs. Generally, relapse occurs in patients who have been receiving treatment for a long time. However, it does not mean that one has to commence the treatment from the initial stage but rather, an adjustment in the treatment is necessary.

There are several triggers of relapse:

1. Stressful Life Events: Life transitions such as losing a loved one, divorce, job loss, or illness can heighten stress levels and trigger a relapse.

2. Poor Coping Skills: Some individuals have difficulty coping with difficult situations and may turn to drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism, making them more susceptible to relapse.

3. Unsupportive Environment: Lack of support or understanding from family and friends can make it difficult to maintain sobriety and may lead to relapse.

4. Overconfidence in Recovery: Individuals who feel overly confident during the treatment process may prematurely end treatment, only for the illness to resurface later.

5. Challenging Emotions: Negative emotions such as sadness, loneliness, shame, guilt, or anger can trigger cravings and may lead to relapse if not addressed appropriately.

Some people are bad at coping-up with any difficult situation in life, and these people are more prone to relapse. If family and friends do not provide adequate support or do not understand the challenges of recovery, it can create an arduous atmosphere for staying sober. There are people who are overly confident during the treatment process, and they might cease their treatment prematurely if they are feeling better, only for the illness to come back later. Substance abuse can be often sparked by negative emotions such as sadness, loneliness, shame, guilt, or anger, and when faced with those same emotions during recovery, the brain’s instinct may be to turn to drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism, triggering cravings.

After relapsing, it’s important to turn the experience into an opportunity for growth. Several steps can be taken to prevent future relapses.

1. Identify the cause of your relapse: Reflect on the circumstances and triggers that led to your relapse. Was it a stressful life event, poor coping skills, lack of support, or overconfidence in your recovery? Understanding the root cause can help you avoid similar situations in the future and develop strategies to cope with them.

2. Be vocal with your support system: Reach out to your support system, whether it’s family, friends, or a sober network. Share your experience and utilize this opportunity to strengthen your connections. Be open and honest about your struggles, and seek their guidance and support to help you stay on track.

3. Be honest with your treatment needs: If your relapse involved multiple slips, it may be time to reassess your treatment needs. Consider seeking detox or returning to inpatient treatment. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and be honest about the treatment that is necessary for your recovery.

4. Make healthy choices: Taking a proactive approach to your recovery can help you prevent relapse in the future. Make healthy choices, such as setting healthy boundaries, eating nutritious food, avoiding stressors, seeking support from a sober network, limiting contact with triggers, and ensuring that your environment is safe and supportive. Remember, relapse is not a failure but an opportunity for growth and development. By taking the necessary steps to identify the cause of your relapse, seeking support, being honest with your treatment needs, and making healthy choices, you can overcome your challenges and continue on the path to recovery.

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The Art of Moving On: Taking Steps Towards Healing

The article explores the importance of healing and moving on after a difficult time. We’ll discuss the challenges of overcoming trauma and grief and provide practical tips for recovery. We’ll also discuss the power of self-care, the value of seeking professional help, and the benefits of connecting with peers. Additionally, we shall highlight the importance of finding a balance in life and taking the time to acknowledge our feelings. We understand that the journey to healing can be arduous, and takes courage to take the first steps. We hope this article can provide insight and guidance to help you.

The healing process is an incredibly personal journey, and the art of moving on is a decisive part of it. Learning to move on from a difficult situation or experience can be challenging, but it is also necessary in order to make progress on the path to healing. Let’s delve into the steps you can take toward healing from trauma. 

Strategies for Coping with Trauma

1. Understand your emotions: Don’t hesitate to expose your real sentiments during this tricky period. Make sure to invest time in pinpointing the array of feelings you’re experiencing and work through them instead of trying to overlook them.

2. Look after yourself: Don’t neglect yourself. Allot time for self-attention and ensure you consume nutritious meals and get adequate rest.

3. Interact with acquaintances: Interact with friends and relatives, participate in a help circle or consult a psychologist if required. Communicating can aid in decreasing emotions of alienation and turmoil.

4. Recognize the challenge: Although it could be tempting to act bravely, it is essential to admit the hardship that accompanies a downturn. It is alright to weep, giggle, or be livid.

5. Cultivate awareness: Live in the moment throughout your daily activities and nurture realization. Recognize your emotions, and don’t attempt to disregard the grazed.

6. Solicit aid: If you’re having difficulty managing your sorrows, don’t be worried about appealing for expert assistance. A specialist or adviser can give the care and direction necessary to aid you through this sturdy period.

Identifying the Roadblocks to Moving On

Moving on can be a difficult process of emotional growth, but understanding common roadblocks can help you take more control of your emotional healing. Grief and anxiety, in particular, are two of the most common emotional roadblocks that can stand in the way of letting go and moving forward. Awareness of indicators of bereavement and worry can assist you to distinguish and deal with the dilemmas that are impeding you from psychological recuperation. Symptoms may dwell in physical and psychological fatigue, sleep disturbances, difficulty concentrating, alterations in hunger, and sentiments of despair, fury, and misery. Warning signs of nervousness can incorporate physical reactions like accelerated breathing, chest pressure, tiredness, and difficulty sleeping. People who have uneasiness can likewise feel a sensation of dread, concern, and powerlessness.

In case you notice any of the indications, it is essential to receive professional aid. A mental health specialist can help you to comprehend your triggers and feelings, and give you the methods and encouragement you need to move ahead. Additionally, engaging in activities such as exercise, meditating, jotting down your thoughts, and mindfulness can all contribute to reducing the signs of sorrow and tension and enhance emotional healing. Ultimately, keeping mindful of your opinions and being conscious of the truth can aid in achieving a healthier and more balanced outlook. By taking these actions, you may start to seize control of your psychological healing and advance.

The art of moving on is an ongoing process that requires effort and dedication. It involves confronting the pain, understanding the reasons why it happened, and learning how to process and heal from it. With patience and a willingness to work through the pain, it is possible to move on and begin to heal.

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Advantages and Disadvantages of Video Sessions in the Therapy World

Video Sessions

During Covid-19, video sessions Telehealth has become a convenient method in providing services for both practitioners and clients. What advantages are there to this form of treatment when it comes to counseling and therapy? The obvious factor is time. This method helps those with busy schedules save valuable time in traffic getting to the appointment. This form of treatment also expands care to those who would otherwise not be able to make it to the session, such as women with babies or young children or people with physical/emotional disabilities that prevent them from leaving the home regularly.

In order to increase safety during Covid-19, video sessions have also become popular. On one hand, this method provides ease and removes barriers. This major advantage allows underserved populations to gain the support during critical times. On the other hand, what are the implications of video sessions on the therapeutic relationship?

There is something about the in-person connection that appears to be very healing for those struggling with certain issues, especially depression. The basis of psychotherapy is the therapeutic relationship and how technology affects that relationship is important to discuss. In my experience, it’s been easier to work with clients who may have already started the therapy process in person and then transitioned to some form of tele-therapy that works for their schedule and lifestyle. The initial connection has been formed and then the therapy process is able to sustain the issues that technology poses. I have found it much more difficult to begin the therapy process using technology initially with clients. Those who were already in therapy prior to COVID-19 already established that supportive relationship with their psychologist or therapist, making it easier to adapt to the changes that have come along with COVID-19. Another disadvantage is that there is no way to completely guarantee privacy or confidentiality with the use of tablets and computers for video sessions.

From a clinical perspective, video sessions can easily create interruptions that are not part of traditional therapy. As a therapist, it’s pertinent to pay attention to the non-verbal communications that occur that can easily go unnoticed with video sessions. Clarifying and slowing down the therapy process may help clinicians and therapists within a session recognize the non-verbal cues that can often times go unnoticed with video sessions. Utilizing the advantages while minimizing the disadvantages of video sessions is key in approaching therapeutic work using technology.

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What Questions Should I Ask My Health Insurance Company Regarding Mental Health Benefits?

Health Insurance

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  1. Is mental health coverage included and what services? The most common CPT code that can be provided when calling to verify benefits for a 60-minute therapy session is 90837.
  2. Do I met my deductible yet? If not, what portion of the sessions am I responsible for until the deductible is met? What portion of my sessions am I responsible for once my deductible has been met?
  3. Is there a limit to the number of sessions per week, month, or year?
  4. What conditions qualify for treatment?

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Compassionate Ways of Responding to Abuse and Trauma Memories of Loved Ones

Love ones

Healing from physical, emotional, or sexual abuse is an ongoing journey. For those who go on to develop trauma symptoms as a result of these experiences, relationships become difficult to master. There are a host of concerns with feeling safe in relationships in general with their loved ones due to the fact that the abuse is generally perpetrated by a close relationship or acquaintance.

Whether you are a friend, spouse, or a family member of someone who has endured abuse, tapping into your own discomfort in hearing about the traumatic experiences of your loved one may help you avoid unhelpful responses. Responses should foster safety, intimacy, and trust so that your loved one can begin feeling the support he or she may need in order to heal. If your loved one is having trauma symptoms, your responses need to support the recovery for your loved one rather than hinder it.

The following general tips can help you respond in a compassionate manner when a loved one share’s these difficult memories with you:

  • Allow for him or her to decide how much to share and what to share.
  • Allow him or her to express feelings including sadness, anger, or even shame around the trauma.
  • Do not pressure him or her to share details or aspects of their trauma he or she is not willing or ready to share.
  • Do not invalidate your loved one’s experiences by denying the memories of abuse your loved one is sharing or by asking if he or she is sure the trauma occurred.
  • Be sure that your response does not relay blame to the victim for the abuse. For example, by giving advice of what he or she could have done differently to avoid the abuse from happening.
  • Validate their emotions by making supportive statements that show you have been listening. “I can see the sadness you’re experiencing as your share this with me.”
  • Learn to respect boundaries that he or she is setting when saying yes or no to requests. This helps your loved one feel safe or more in control over their environment.
  • Understand that at times your loved one may need space and at other times closeness.
  • Physical contact may be difficult for some time, if your loved one is having active symptoms.
  • Show a gesture of support, such as holding their hand or giving a hug if he or she is open to it.
  • Lastly, recognize that your loved one may be feeling vulnerable by sharing such memories. Your response can be an opportunity to foster emotional connectedness and closeness.

Taking the brave step of approaching these memories and sharing them with you is probably difficult enough for your loved one. This crucial step in another step toward recovery. Your response can foster love and acceptance, which can lead to feeling supported in a way that can help your loved one heal and recover in a healthy way.

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Mindfulness Practice

Mindfulness Practice in this Busy Life..

Most people have heard of the term mindfulness. Mindfulness comes from eastern Buddhist philosophy. In a world where life has gotten busier by the minute, it has become more and more difficult to fully engage in any one moment without thinking of what needs to be done in the next, worrying about moments in your past, or multitasking in the present to increase productivity. The practice of mindfulness is training yourself, to redirect focus to the present moment when you find yourself in the future or the past by simply directing your attention back to the present moment. Although this sounds simple, the practice is actually much harder when you first begin. It can be an eye-opening experience to recognize how much of your present-day and time is actually being spent in the future or the past. Whether you are enjoying a cup of coffee, driving, or talking with a loved one, you can easily engage in the practice of mindfulness in daily activities by making a conscious effort of focusing on the details of that particular moment or activity.

Mindfulness Practice

Mindfulness can be practiced by utilizing your senses, such as sight, sound, smell, touch, or taste to help ground you to the present moment more easily if redirecting your thoughts is difficult for you. Breathing is another method used to help ground you to the present. Learning to be in your present moment will help alleviate difficult emotions you may experience about your past or the worries that all humans experience about the future. Mindfulness practice has been shown to help improve emotional and physical well-being. Mindfulness helps you live the day with a fuller quality, reduces the level of everyday stress and anxiety, and establishes a fuller presence in anything you do. Mindfulness practice in the simplest form is exercising gratitude for the present moment.

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Differences between 12-Step and 12-Step Alternative Programs

A 12-step alternative program utilizes methods to treatment that differ significantly from the 12-step approach in a few fundamental areas. The philosophy of the 12-step approach is that an individual is powerless over their addiction and encourages surrendering. The 12-step also encourages one to identify as an addict or alcoholic. The 12-step alternative takes an empowerment approach where the individual is self-directing their recovery in initiating healthy choices and learning tools. By empowerment, it means people can learn to manage their substance use and addiction over time through psychological therapies and medical interventions.  Alternative programs discourage labeling oneself, but rather recognize that the individual suffers or struggles with addiction as a mental health issue.

A 12-step alternative approach includes recovery methods that incorporate relapse as a learning experience within the recovery process. This approach accepts that relapse is part of the recovery process for the majority of individuals struggling with addiction. In other words, the program does not require complete abstinence immediately, but rather helps the individual come to this decision on their own through approaches such as motivational enhancement therapy, relapse prevention techniques, cognitive behavioral therapies, moderation techniques, and rational emotive behavior therapy, and other approaches. Over time, sobriety is extended as the individual begins to learn tools and gain confidence in their ability to manage their addiction. Smart Recovery meetings are generally used as an aftercare tool, which continues to remind individuals to utilize tools that have been researched.  Many alternative programs create an individualized plan or approach and recognize that there is not a standard protocol that works for all.  The AA model utilizes the Big Book, which goes over a sequence of the well known 12 steps each person in recovery must follow. AA meetings are used as an aftercare resource since these are readily available in the community in many rural and urban areas.

The 12-step alternative programs generally incorporate individual and group therapy that is provided by mental health practitioners. Groups include tools based off of psychological therapies and principles that have been researched. There are additional services that may be included such as continued medical assistance and monitoring. The 12-step programs utilize AA meetings as a primary tool in aiding individuals in becoming sober. It utilizes chips to mark sobriety and has individuals who have attained long-term sobriety pair up and assist newer members.

Spirituality and religion are not the foundation of 12-step alternative programs, though it may be incorporated through their individual therapy if this is an area that is important to the individual. AA model was initially founded with a religious affiliation and over time the language has been amended to use words such as spirituality or God in order to generalize to different religious backgrounds and faiths.

In the end, it is a matter of choice and preference. Individuals who have been unsuccessful with 12-step programs or found that they do not connect with 12-step philosophy may benefit from considering alternative approaches. Those who have co-occurring mental health issues such as anxiety, trauma, or depression could also benefit from an alternative approach since this usually incorporates some form of individual counseling by licensed mental health professionals to address underlying issues, which may affect a person’s ability to recover or could be exacerbating the addiction issues.

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