Episode 31 Reinvent your Counseling practice with Holistic Mental Health Strategies, with Katy Rader

Oct 6, 2021

How is movement scientifically proven to assist emotional processing? What can clinicians do to help their patients commit to forming healthy habits? Can you integrate the principles of movement, sleep, and nutrition into your counseling practice for treatment?

MEET KATY RADER

Katy works with clients to manage anxiety and trauma responses through the lens of Holistic Mental Health. She is a Certified Mental Health Integrative Medicine Practitioner (CMHIMP). Katy utilizes physical health and lifestyle methods, like nutrition, movement, and sleep, to help clients manage their mental health symptoms.

Katy works in private practice as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in the north Indianapolis/Carmel area. Katy lives in Indianapolis and is married with three children.

Visit her website, Beacon of Change. Email her at Katy@beaconofchangecounseling.com, or contact her practice at 317-530-3050

IN THIS PODCAST:

  • Movement for mental health
  • Forming healthy habits
  • Sleep for mental health
  • Nutrition for mental health

MOVEMENT FOR MENTAL HEALTH

Bilateral movements such as swimming, walking, cycling, and running all help clients process their emotions.

This is because the constant alternating repetition of movement helps their brain to move through the issue and complete the emotional cycle.

When the body is stuck, so is the mind. Move the body to help the mind find new perspectives and ways of interacting with a situation or problem to solve.

FORMING HEALTHY HABITS

The trick is getting it enough in a routine that it reinforces itself … typically that’s about three times a week. (Katy Rader)

Once a client has practiced a new activity three times a week for three weeks, that is when the new habit starts to be formed.

Getting a client to carve out that time to commit to trying something new three times a week will make it easier for them to assimilate this new habit into their lifestyle.

Keep in mind that it is important to validate their emotions as committing to a new routine may be difficult for them in the beginning.

SLEEP FOR MENTAL HEALTH

When we’re low on sleep we have increased stress hormones, we have more cortisol coursing through our veins and that’s never good because it impairs thinking and emotional regulation. (Katy Rader)

A patient must decide for themselves that their sleep, health, and movement are worth the effort to take care of.

Often teaching a patient about the importance and benefits of getting good consecutive sleep is enough to motivate them to try correcting their sleep schedule, because they desire those benefits.

NUTRITION FOR MENTAL HEALTH

There are benefits to keeping a food diary. This is not to have people keep count of their calories, but instead to keep track of what they eat, how often they eat it, and when they eat it.

These insights can be greatly helpful to discerning how the client copes with stress or anxiety throughout the day when it comes to food.

It’s something that helps you take a look at what you’re actually taking into your body and what the things [are] that you’re low on. It’s not about calories … it may [show that someone] is not getting enough magnesium, and magnesium is something that helps our bodies fully relax. (Katy Rader)

It is also beneficial to see which food groups of nutrients they are missing out on because properly nourishing the body is a foundation of mental and emotional health.

Be sure to have a disclaimer that states that you are not a doctor and nutritionist, and refer your patients out to them if your patients are asking about nutrition specifics.

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Resources Mentioned And Useful Links:

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Transcript

[CHRIS McDONALD]

The Holistic Counseling Podcast is part of the Practice of the Practice network, a network of podcasts seeking to help you market and grow your business and yourself. To hear other podcasts like Behind the Bite, Full of Shift and Impact Driven Leader, go to www.practiceofthepractice.com/network.

Welcome to the Holistic Counseling Podcast, where you discover diverse wellness modalities, advice on growing your integrative practice, and grow confidence in being your unique self. I'm your host, Chris McDonald. I'm so glad you're here for the journey.

Welcome to today's episode of the Holistic Counseling Podcast. I'm your host, Chris McDonald. I am so thrilled for today's guests. She has so much to share about holistic counseling, and I know so many of you will be excited to learn about it. All Caty Rader works with clients to manage anxiety and trauma responses through the lens of holistic mental health. She's a certified mental health integrative medicine practitioner. Caty utilizes physical health and methods like nutrition, movement, and sleep to help clients manage their mental health symptoms. She works in private practice as a licensed mental health counselor. She lives in Indianapolis and is married with three children. Welcome to the Holistic Counseling Podcast, Caty.

[KATY RADER]

Thanks. Thanks for having me

[CHRIS]

Can you tell my listeners a little bit more about yourself in your work?

[KATY]

Yes. So I've been a therapist for 18,20 years now, but have been in private practice for about three and have really focused on the holistic mindset and using that lens to treat the clients that I work with mostly with anxiety or trauma responses, but I've used it with all kinds of things, depression, anger, outbursts, bipolar disorder, things like that.

[CHRIS]

So what interested you in getting that certification?

[KATY]

It's just been a personal interest of mine throughout my life. It's something that I've noticed such a benefit for myself and using movement and proper nutrition and things like that so that I feel better both physically and with my mental health. So when I saw additional training in that that's something I definitely wanted to move towards because it's something that I have a personal interest in and I have just learned more about in general and it just seemed like a natural path for me to follow.

[CHRIS]

That's usually the theme I'm finding with people. It's like we find these things that are great for us personally, but then we want to use it with clients and share it with other people.

[KATY]

Exactly.

Especially when something's working. So I was wondering about the assessment process for it. So how is assessing for our holistic mental health sessions? Is that different than traditional sessions?

[KATY]

It can be. If you do the holistic health assessment, it takes more into account because I would do the full assessment. It's really pretty detailed. I look at people's diet for a week. I have them track their diet for a week and their movement, their sleep, their social connections, things like that. So getting a look at all of those areas and then saying, and of course what happened in the last week doesn't mean that's what you always do, but taking at least that snapshot to say, Hey, it looks like maybe you're a little low in these areas. And because you have anxiety, you want to make sure that you're addressing this more or something like that or these are some interventions or things that you can try that might help.

[CHRIS]

So just to get a basic overall picture?

[KATY]

Yup.

[CHRIS]

See where they are. So I know you mentioned that movement is very helpful with the anxiety and stuck emotions. What do you find are the positive benefits of movement?

[KATY]

Movement is so helpful and I frame it as movement as opposed to exercise because I think so many of us ---

[CHRIS]

I do that as well.

[KATY]

Yes. So many of us have different connotations that go with exercise, whether it's like high school gym, or it's exercising to burn calories or lose weight or what we look like physically. And movement to me is more about what our body needs and how it helps us with our mental health and emotionally. So movement is something that with the stuck emotions, it's along the same lines of EMDR, those that are trained with EMDR and the bilateral motion movement. So the bipedal motion, like walking, running, biking, swimming, all of those have alternating movements.

So it helps our brain process emotions in a similar way. So if anybody has experienced, like being overwhelmed with emotions or maybe having a big decision and not knowing what to do, and then you go on a walk and throughout the course of your walk, you kind of work things out and by the end of it, you say, okay, I know what's next. That's a really good example of how our brain processes, emotions and deals with kind of that overload of emotions to kind of work out those emotions and complete the cycle. So if you've heard about completing the cycle of emotions having a beginning, middle and end movement is one of the most effective ways.

[CHRIS]

So that completes the cycle of emotion.

[KATY]

Exactly.

[CHRIS]

I've not heard of that before. So I guess when I go on my spin bike, if I'm feeling overwhelmed, that's what really helps. That I'm completing my cycle of emotion because I find because I can't breathe and I'm puffing, but yes, I guess I didn't even think of it as the movement itself too, just back and forth, back and forth. It's almost meditative for me.

[KATY]

Exactly. And it does get into that bipedal, the back and forth does help us focus and hone in and do that presence. Especially if you're doing something really high intensity, like spin bike or running, it's like your brain can't, we think our brains couldn't focus on anything else except keeping us moving forward. But it's something that does allow processing to happen when we are moving.

[CHRIS]

Are there certain types of movement that you tell clients to use, or is it up to them? How do you go about that process?

[KATY]

Yes, I think in general, I always start with whatever you like to do. So whatever you truly like to do, because that can be different than what people do because some people run because it burns more calories or something like that. But what they really like to do is walk or yoga or something like that, that's slower and calmer. So really focusing in and being able to tease apart what do you enjoy most? So, whatever you enjoy do more of that. And it also depends on what the symptoms are, like with an attention or concentration issues. Moderate to intense exercise is a good one because it improves focus. It works through that restlessness, gets that excess energy out of here. Same with the anger. The high intensity movement is going to clear out some of those high intensity emotions and restlessness and allow an easier way to focus.

[CHRIS]

And what about anxiety is that, moderate or?

[KATY]

Yes, anxiety is often a more moderate, is helpful. A lot of people with anxiety get a lot of benefit out of yoga. Often if they're brand new to it increases their anxiety because obviously anything new, but also just the having to be still having that mind, body connection, having a lot of that presence can initially increase anxiety, but once people stick with it, there's so much benefit to what does my body feel like? This is what the rhythmic breathing, a lot of time in the yoga classes, they'll say, breathe in, breathe out. They'll really structure the breathing. And that can be really helpful. Even something as simple as stretching, just doing like 10 or 15 minutes of stretching can be helpful for anxiety.

[CHRIS]

And depression? What are your thoughts on that?

[KATY]

So the study that I read that was just fascinating to me is that three or more sessions, a week of aerobic exercise, which they said moderate in intensity and resistance training was included in that. So that could be weight training, 45 to 60 minutes per session, three times a week has a similar effect to antidepressants. So it's, you have to keep up with it. You can't do it for a week and expect it to be as effective. But they said the training should be continued for 10 to 12 weeks for the greatest antidepressant effect. That's meta analysis of a lot of different information. And it's one of those things that if you can stick to it, that's the tricky thing. But a lot of people, once they get into the routine or the habit of it, it becomes indispensable. It's their treatment. So it's something that really can be incredibly helpful.

[CHRIS]

How do you help clients to keep track of their exercise or, I'm sorry, movement, because I find the problem is I can talk to one in the face and then they still aren't starting or they're having trouble keeping it going. So what are your suggestions on that?

[KATY]

Some of it's just a time management, which I try to phrase as energy management, because beginning to do a more structured movement routine does take energy, especially if you're new to it. So you have to validate all that and say, yes, it's hard to do something new when it's hard to do something that takes a lot of energy, but seeing it as an energy input to doing something new and doing the movement itself and how much it gives back to you. And movement is something that often you see give back to you pretty quickly. Sometimes after one session people can say, "Wow, I'm glad I did that."

How often do we say, oh, I don't feel like it and then we finally get ourselves talked into it and then afterwards we say, "Wow, I'm really glad I did that." And the trick is getting it enough in a routine that it reinforces itself. So typically that's about that three times a week. Once we hit three times a week for about three weeks, that's a lot where you hear a lot about how to establish a habit. It's a three weeks, a lot of times is what they say. So if you can do three times a week for three weeks and get yourself to do that and carve out that time and prioritize the time. It's like anything else, deciding it's worth your time to give it a shot.

[CHRIS]

I think that's helpful too, to think about because some clients get so overwhelmed that, "Oh my God, I have to do this forever." But knowing that three weeks is the sweet spot that that's what you got to really notice, to see some benefit. It's not going to be six months later. It's going to be sooner than you think.

[KATY]

And a lot of times it's about doing that time analysis. Like a lot of people will say, I don't have any time. How could I possibly take a 45-minute walk? I'm so busy. And then people really don't like me when I say this, but I'll say what's your screen time? Like how much time do you spend on your phone? How much time do you spend watching TV? How much time do you spend on Facebook, YouTube, whatever those things are? Those can be good things. It can be positive, a good way to connect with people but often, most of us spend a lot more time on there than we really need to. And if we needed to find 45 minutes often we can find it in our screen time.

[CHRIS]

For sure. I know you also mentioned sleep was part of the holistic mental health. So how can regulating sleep and the sleep cycle regulate your mood?

[KATY]

Sleep is the way that our brain integrates our daily activities and what we've done, what we've learned, our experiences. There are different studies that say, when we're getting low sleep, our learning isn't reinforced, it's not integrated fully and any experiences we have, we don't fully integrate those. We don't learn from our experiences if we're not getting appropriate sleep. When we're low on sleep, we have increased stress hormones. We have more cortisol of course, and through our veins and that's never good, impairs thinking and emotional regulation. Any of us who have had a bad night of sleep and then the next day we're just on edge, our emotional intensity is just, we have a little less room to deal with difficulties or triggers or things like that. So imagine if that was happening more and more, our emotional regulation gets really ---

[CHRIS]

Really thrown off.

[KATY]

Yes, exactly.

[CHRIS]

So how do you help clients that have the sleep issues?

[KATY]

So it's, I mean, I guess a lot of it's the same with movement. You have to decide that it's worth it because once again, it's hard to change your sleep habits. You know, habits are in gray and that's why they're habits. And we tell ourselves that that's how, just how we are. I'm just kind of a night owl. That's how my brain works. But in reality, we can manage and change our habits if we decide that it's worthwhile. And a lot of times it's just knowing more about the importance of good sleep. A couple of the studies that were so impactful to me was, the one that I'd probably say in session at least once a week, is that a study of people who got five hours of sleep for two weeks in a row tested cognitively on the same level of those who'd been awake for 48 hours.

[KATY]

Wow.

[KATY]

So that's just two weeks. That's not your whole life getting five hours of sleep. It's just two weeks in a row and you test similarly on a cognitive level of people who've been awake for 48 hours. That's a really long time. So that's just something, you know in five hours, some people can convince themselves that they can get away with five hours of sleep. I don't think that's true. I don't think people can function in a healthy way with five hours of sleep on any kind of regular basis. One or two nights we can maybe get away with it as long as we get back on a regular schedule, but we really have to take a look at what our sleep schedules are and the effects of those.

[CHRIS]

Yes. I know I talk to clients a lot about that too, and have that discussion about the impact of sleep on everything affects all parts of us. I think that they don't realize how important that is.

[KATY]

Yes. And just being able that, that cognitive processing, the verbal abilities and memory, all of it, and obviously depression, anxiety, all of those are exacerbated by our sleep.

[CHRIS]

Yes, exactly. So I know you mentioned the nutrition piece too. I was wondering how that works because I think you mentioned maybe using like some kind of food diary.

[KATY]

If I do a full holistic health assessment, I will have people track their food that they eat. I'm a little hesitant with that because I know that goes along with people who are dieting and there's a lot of negative feelings that go along with dieting and why people diet and things like that. So I am hesitant to do that, but it's not about how many calories you eat because quite frankly, most people often eat too little rather than too much. And if anything, that's an issue, especially with women. So it's something that helps us take a look at what you're actually taking into your body and then what are the things you're low on? And it's not so much about calories or anything, but it may be, gosh, you're not getting enough magnesium. And magnesium is something that helps our bodies fully relax. It helps relax our muscles. That's why Epsom salts is magnesium sulfate. So that's an easy way to relax your muscles, but eating enough, magnesium is a way to help us feel more relaxed.

[CHRIS]

That's interesting. I never knew that about the Epsom salts. That's really cool. So how do you know, is it through that course that you learned some of this too?

[KATY]

Yes. So that's something, of course that I took outlines a lot of specific things about this type of food is what's best for depression or anxiety or something like that. But it's also something that I was, like I say, a personal interest of mine and I like looking into health and why we should eat different things and okay, broccoli's good for you, but what about it is good for you? And not just that it's a vegetable and it's low calorie, but it's, tie-in [inaudible], Which is good for this type of health and things like that. So it's just learning about that sort of thing has always been interesting to me.

[CHRIS]

And I know some listeners might be wondering too, about scope of practice as far as nutrition because I know we're not nutritionists and we got to be careful with that scope of practice, scope of competence. So how can you address that as far as holistic providers in any kind of discussion about nutrition or diet?

[KATY]

So I just do the disclaimer whenever someone gets into, oh, what should I be eating? I just say I'm not a doctor, I'm not a nutritionist. I'm not a dietician. This is my training. I am a holistic mental health integrated medicine practitioner and I have some training within that. So that allows me to talk about it, but I encourage you, if you were thinking about changing how you're eating or have more questions go to your doctor. Nutritionists are incredibly valuable. And as a holistic practitioner, it's always good to have somebody that you know to refer to.

And if somebody is really interested, oh, I want to make sure I'm eating well to manage my mental health symptoms I'll refer them out. I'll say a couple, you know highlight type of things. But if they're really interested and want to know, oh, what should I eat then? Well, I'm not going to give you exactly what to eat. That's not my role. It's just saying, "Hey, it looks like you may have some deficiencies in this area. If you're really interested in changing how you eat, I would encourage you to go see a nutritionist."

[CHRIS]

That sounds like that's almost more like general ideas and information you get, but it's not, they're really detailed here's your whole eating plan and all that. I think that's good for people to remember too, keeping that in mind. Were there any other parts of the holistic mental health that you want to address?

[KATY]

Well, it's something that I think any therapist deals with, but I think it falls into the holistic health is just social connections. It's such a big part and something that, sometimes it's easy to forget about the benefits of social connections and that is something pretty holistic, who are the people who really support you and when you're around them, you feel better and are nonjudgmental and understand you and what you're struggling with and spend more time around them. And if you can spend less time around people who don't support you, then that's something to think about as well.

Another aspect of social connections that I often discuss is the concept of doubling up on interventions or things that help you, including like say taking a walk outside with friends or with a friend that you trust. So we've got the movement, you've got the outside, so you've got the vitamin D from sunshine and all that. And then you've got the social connection. So that's something that I guess, triple on the different, other things that can be helpful and it's something simple. Oh, well I'm just walking with a friend. Yes, but you're helping yourself out and multiple different.

[CHRIS]

And I think, especially over the past year with a pandemic, how difficult that has been for everybody, not having the social connections in person and recovering. I feel like we're all recovering, still recovering from that. And I think just as much as you can now to safely, if you can get together with people it's so important to re-integrate those connections.

[KATY]

Yes, absolutely. And I think it's been such a social experiment with all of this, of what happens when we're not around as many people. And we've seen a lot of negative effects to that just emotionally how we are able to make those connections. So I think it's been a real wake up call for a lot of us to say, this is how, what benefits me socially. So these are the people that I want to re-establish connections with, and this is the way that I want to socialize that's most supportive to me.

[CHRIS]

I like the way you frame that too, "that is most supportive to me." Because I think people can have friends or other family members, but they're not always the most supportive or nonjudgmental. And I think that gets some people in trouble because then they might feel bad about themselves. But like you said, if you're hanging around people who feel good, they make you feel good, then you got to really think about hanging around with them more.

[KATY]

Or like crowds versus just one or two close friends. It's really common with young adults to be expected to go out and be at parties or bars or big events where there's lots of people. Not everyone feels comfortable and feels most supported that way. So if someone doesn't feel as comfortable that way, it's like, okay, what can we do? So that's just those one or two or three people that I feel really close and supported by and still get that social connection.

[CHRIS]

So what's a holistic strategy or technique that you use as part of your daily routine?

[KATY]

Ooh, good question.

[CHRIS]

My favorite.

[KATY]

So I am really big on sleep. Sleep is something that I really protect and that's been really tricky. I have three kids. They're four, six and eight. So I'm just getting to the point where my sleep is back to mine, which is pretty amazing. And it was kind of an experiment for me over the pandemic as well, because we were at home, my kids were all virtual school all year, so that had its own challenges. But what it did mean is that we didn't have the 45 minute commute in the morning to drop everybody off at a couple different schools. So I could sleep in 45 minutes and that extra 45 minutes made a big difference.

And it's to the point where I realize that I am eight hours, I need eight hours. And if I get 7, it's not going to kill me, but if I get seven for a week in a row, I will notice a difference. So it's something that I realized just emotionally, I had better emotional regulation and I've had better cognitive functioning. I've been able to handle more things cognitively than I did before. That's something that has been significant for me. Sleep has always been important for me, but being able to find out exactly what actually works for me has been a pretty important thing.

[CHRIS]

I know you said social experiment in the past year, that sounds like that was an experiment for you to start getting that sleep and noticing the difference.

[KATY]

Yes, absolutely.

[CHRIS]

So what's a takeaway you could share today that could help listeners that might be just starting their holistic journey?

[KATY]

I think that just to be open to different ways to managing our mental health. And the cool thing about these different holistic health interventions is that they're all really accessible. This is not about doing a certain kind of therapy that you have to find a certain therapist or anything like that. This is about sleep. You have control over that for the most part. This is about how we nourish our bodies and the kind of things we put into that and then the movement that we do. And again, this is not about joining a gym and you have to do this much. It's just putting on your shoes and going out and taking a walk and just seeing how you feel and being open to trying different things, to see if that might make a difference for you.

[CHRIS]

So have I missed anything else you want to share? I don't think so. I think we ---

[KATY]

We covered a lot.

[CHRIS]

Made a lot of the highlights.

[CHRIS]

So Caty, what's the best way for listeners to find you and learn more about you?

[KATY]

I can give you my website, which is beaconofchangecounseling.com. So that's beacon, B-E-A-C-O-N of change counseling.com.

[CHRIS]

Oh great. I will put that in the show notes for our listeners to find you.

[KATY]

Great. I appreciate it.

[CHRIS]

Well, I thank you so much, Caty, for coming on the podcast because like before we hit record, I was just saying I was so excited to talk to you because there's so many things so, I have not even heard of the certification. I think that can help so many listeners out there who might be interested in holistic counseling. And it sounds like simple things too. It's not like you have to do a complete overhaul as you teach clients some of these things.

[KATY]

Yes. And a lot of things are things that people have heard about and we all know that taking a walk might clear your head, but sometimes it's just helpful to know why. Sometimes knowing a bit more about why helps people say, gosh, that's got some science behind it or that makes a lot of sense or whatever. And it helps people take the next step of following through.

[CHRIS]

Yes. And that's the important thing; is taking that next step. And you're there too, for the accountability to that partner, which is so helpful. Awesome. Well, thank you so much for coming on.

[KATY]

Of course, my pleasure. I appreciate the opportunity.

[CHRIS]

And a big thanks to all my listeners and please support the podcast by subscribing, rating and review wherever you get your podcasts. This is Chris McDonalds, sending each one of you much light and love. Until next time, take care.

If you're loving the show, will you rate review and subscribe on your favorite podcast platform? We just started this and that helps other people find this show. Also, if you're feeling uncertain about your modalities and you want to build your confidence to be your unique self, why don't you to join my free email course, Becoming a Holistic Counselor over at holisticcounselingpodcast.com.

In my Becoming a Holistic Counselor course, you'll get tips for adding integrative care into your practice, what training you need and don't, and the know-how to attract your ideal holistic clients. If this sounds like the direction you are headed, sign up at holisticcounselingpodcast.com.

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