Tag Archives: counseling

Is Online Counseling Safe and Effective?

It can be. Here’s what you need to know:

Telecounseling, using the telephone to conduct legitimate counseling sessions with licensed therapists, has been occurring for close to 50 years.  Telemedicine is what they call it when doctors and other healthcare providers provide services via telephone and Internet video connection. Now, it is a common practice, a clinical mode that is studied and taught to doctors and therapists, and in many cases, covered by health insurance.

As an older Licensed Mental Health Counselor, a boomer, I have been slow to accept the rapid advance of our culture into the digital age. I was even slow to accept the idea of distance counseling via telephone, without the eyeball-to-eyeball and close-up intimacy of live personal human contact. But circumstances forced the issue, with established clients sometimes homebound, and more and more people living an hour or more away who wanted to work with me. I found that counseling over the phone worked quite well, and actually had some distinct advantages over in-person sessions. No travel time, for one thing. It’s also convenient with less stress for busy people and those uncomfortable with going to a “shrink’s” office.

Today, telecounseling is routine and accepted, and the issues that were raised as potential problems, like privacy, confidentiality, compliance with the HIPPA laws, protection of personal health information and your most guarded secrets, have been answered with services that use technology and accreditation to insure those things. Counseling via phone or video calling, if done appropriately, can be as safe and effective in many cases as in-person counseling.

The same rules apply as with any healthcare services you seek. You need to make sure you are dealing with a licensed health professional in your state. You need to check what the counselor presents in their website or other public information to see if they might be a good fit. You need to be willing to invest in at least one session to see if the fit feels right. Also, you need to be prepared to try a different counselor if your first choice doesn’t feel right.

When COVID-19 hit early this year, telecounseling was a godsend. So many people needed help to cope, and distance counseling was perfect to meet the needs for social distancing and stay-at-home protocols.

Right at that time, I noticed a lot of advertising on NPR by BetterHelp, an Internet company that promised connection with licensed counselors through your computer, tablet or smartphone. I did a little checking and found they offered access to a professional counselor 24/7 via text (the counselor would respond within 24 hours if not sooner), for $40 per week and up, depending on how much service you wanted, and you could also arrange phone or video sessions.

I balked at the idea of counseling via text or chatting. I had a lot of experience as a user of social media, and I’m certain that real counseling or therapy cannot occur with texting or chatting. However, I have also served as a mental health expert in media where “ask the expert” questions were invited, and I would provide information that was very helpful to people. It was kind of like a “Dear Abby” column and it turned out to be very helpful to the people who wrote in. In fact, lots of people get lots of help with personal problems with therapeutic ideas and information they glean from books and other quality sources. That could not be called counseling, but it is in fact referred to as “bibliotherapy” when a counselor gives you a book to read. So, while it’s not counseling, communicating with a professional counselor with questions, issues and problems can be quite helpful. As one of the “Ask the Expert” experts when answering a message from those writing in about a problem, I’d sometimes suggest, after answering their question, that they connect with a professional for real counseling if it seemed like it was what they needed. As it turns out, I believe that’s what happens when you connect with a counselor at BetterHelp.

While I was spurred to write this article by BetterHelp’s community outreach, I don’t want to give the impression that I am endorsing them. I don’t know anymore about them than you’d know by reading what they say at their website. If you are interested in looking into online counseling, I’d suggest you do what I did and Google it. You’ll get pages of things to look at and there are some good articles to read from good sources like Psychology Today and The New York Times.

One thing I’ll heartily endorse is the experience of working with a counselor. I think it’s something everyone should do. Of course, it’s my life’s work, so you’d expect that I believe in the value of it. And I think it has value even if you don’t have a terribly troubling problem, like my specialty, infuriatingly stubborn weight control. In fact, talking to anyone rather than keeping everything inside is usually helpful. Sometimes though, if the person is not a professional, they can do more harm than good. It’s better to talk with someone who knows the right things to say and how to avoid making things worse.

Talk to a counselor, it’ll do you good.

One Breakfast Here Will Make You Lose Weight. The Other Will Make You Fat. Which One Is For You?

 

(The author is a psychotherapist who lost 140 lbs. when he developed his unique method, and he’s kept it off for over 30 years. Read about it in his book at the right, or listen to his audiobook, free sample provided here.)

Pictured above is one of the breakfasts I had regularly while I lost 140 pounds. Its only 200 calories. It tastes great, made up of my favorite foods, keeps me going all morning, and at 1/8th of the breakfast pictured below, had me shedding pounds like crazy. Now, to maintain my loss, I eat more than the 200 calorie breakfast above, but still only a fraction of the American norm that is making people obese and sick.

meat lovers omlette

This above is Denny’s Meat Lovers’ Omelette at a whopping 1730 calories. That’s the kind of thing I used to pick that made me over 300 pounds. Think about that. 200 calories versus 1730. No wonder we have an obesity epidemic.

To lose weight, you need to learn how to eat what you like, not go on a diet.

For years I have resisted giving my clients food plans or telling them what to eat. Instead, I teach them how to succeed. I know how to help people be successful at weight loss, and its almost always contrary to what they think should be done. They think they need to follow some diet and exercise plan that some personal trainer or dietician will prescribe. Nope. They need to train in methods of behavioral science. I can guarantee that my client will lose weight if they follow me.

Clients who have trained in my method and people who have read my book know that the secret to success is learning how to eat what you like and learning the behavioral techniques that change the way you think and act habitually. Success does not come from diets and exercise plans that you know will come to an end when you want to live normally again.

To learn what I teach, read my book or listen to my audiobook, pictured at the upper right.

How I Lost 140 Pounds and Kept It Off For Three Decades

I was put on my first diet at the age of seven, and things went downhill from there. I became a  yo-yo dieter, gaining more every year, until, at the age of 33 and 330 pounds, I finally discovered the formula for success.

Then, in 1984, as a behavior therapist and addictions counselor, I discovered methods in behavioral psychology that enabled me to solve my weight problem for good. I lost 140 pounds, and I have maintained an ideal 180 lbs. ever since, for over 30 years. You may not have that much to lose, but  thousands of clients and readers have learned to apply my methods to solve their weight problem. Like learning to ride a bike or play the piano it’s not effortless, but there is no maybe about it. It works. I have never had a client not lose weight following what I teach.

I have volumes of information here at my website and I’ve written a book, now an eBook and audiobook, (listen to a sample of it here) that explains everything I teach my clients. I hope it can help you too.

Here’s some of what I learned:

1) To lose and manage weight, it requires more than just learning about the calories in food and what your body needs. You need to learn how to program yourself and master that part of yourself that manufactures your desires, urges, habits and feelings.

2) Acquiring the right habits is not a matter of intellect and will power. It is a result of training and conditioning in technique from the behavioral sciences. It is a matter of learning how to reprogram yourself, your habits and your feelings.

3) Diets and exercise crusades don’t work. Doing something for a while, even if you lose weight, and then going back to “normal”, will make you worse, not better.

4) Success comes not from denying yourself pleasure and good food, but by forming habits that are more pleasurable, with food that you really like that causes you to become healthy and fit instead of overweight.

You can become successful at permanent weight loss.

Bill Anderson, creator of “The Anderson Method”, before and after his 140 lb. weight loss.

I have volumes of information here at my website (check the “Table of Contents” at the bottom left of the page) and I’ve written a book, now an eBook and audiobook, that explains everything I teach my clients. I hope it can help you too.

This story was first published on ThriveGlobal.com

How Much Should You Weigh?

Is “Ideal Body Weight” important? What about the BMI?

I was not always the “Weight Loss Guru” who lost 140 pounds and kept it off for 30 years. Before I discovered how to succeed with permanent weight loss and wrote The Anderson Method, I was and out-of-control overeater for several decades, getting worse with each diet failure.

I’d have a moment of truth on a regular basis, usually after some health crisis. “This time I really mean it,” I’d say. “I gotta lose weight.” One time, as I approached age 30, I was in the doctor’s office on a follow-up to a “medical event” due to my weight. I was around 300 pounds after years of yo-yo dieting, and this serious health crisis in my late twenties really scared me. I was determined to change, I swore to the doctor.

“What weight do you think you should be?”, the doctor asked.

I thought for a moment and said “I’d be happy at 225”.

“No!”, he said. “You need to be under 185! 225 is way too much.” He handed me his dietician’s diet and sent me home feeling defeated even before I started.

Ignore people telling you what to weigh. Dismiss them. It’s not their body or their life. It’s none of their business!

That doctor was a jerk. And he weighed about 250 himself! He did me no favors discouraging me. Weighing 225 would have been a lot better than weighing 300. He might have helped if he had been encouraging. He discouraged me when I was open to change and set me back. I tried his dietician’s diet for about a day and gave up, like all the other times. I hated it, felt hopeless, and continued my unhealthy ways.

Sometime later, I learned how to succeed at permanent weight loss through principles he and his dietician knew nothing about. One of the important things I learned is that to be successful, you’ve got to work to be the weight you want to be, with foods and behavior patterns that you prefer, not someone else.

Pick a weight that you think you’d be happy with, and shoot for that. When you get there, you can decide if you want to lose more. That’s what I did, and it worked out fine.

You can become any weight you want to be, if it’s what YOU want.

You can’t lose weight to make someone else happy. You’ve got to do it for yourself. You’ve got to do it in ways you can live with.

I discovered methods to lose weight that are guaranteed to work when you learn and apply them, no if, ands or buts. They are based on the irrefutably reliable sciences of physiology and thermodynamics, and I discovered the psychotherapeutic techniques to make them possible to apply. Because I was doing it for myself, with my own chosen goals, foods, and eating patterns, I was able to muster the power to achieve them.

Don’t buy into “Ideal Body Weight” worship.

“Ideal body weight” was an idea cooked up by the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company in 1943 and embraced by the medical community. You saw it on that chart at the doctor’s office. It had the height and weight listed, and the standards we were all held to. It was developed as a result of actuarial studies that determined at what weight we had the lowest morbidity and mortality, what the very healthiest weight was for our height and frame size. There were also simple formulas that more or less coincided with the correlations the Metlife statistics revealed, changing a bit here and there over the years. Click here and scroll down the page to see the common formulas. Roughly, they equated to: 1) For women: 100 pounds for the first 5 feet of height, plus 5 pounds per inch over 5 feet, and 2) For men- 106 pounds for the first 5 feet of height plus 6 pounds per inch over 5 feet.

You’ll notice (perhaps with horror, as I did) that these are really skinny weights! At 320 pounds, I could not even imagine myself at 180 or so. Most of my 5’4″ female clients are in shock when they hear they “should” weigh 120. They just about give up hope hearing that.

The reality is that you do not have to be the “Ideal Body Weight” to be healthy. Many people who are 20% or more above their IBW are perfectly healthy. Get to the weight you’d be happy with and then go to your doctor and find out what your bloodwork and vitals say. See what he or she says about your health at that weight. The heck with the ideal. Get to a happy weight. If the doctor says you need to lose more, ask why, and ask for the evidence that says it’s healthier. We know that real obesity, 150% of the IBW or more, is unhealthy, but the weight you’d be happy with? Where’s the proof that it is not OK?

How about BMI, the “Body Mass Index” that is used today?

The BMI is another measure that I can’t stand. Click here to see the BMI chart. It says I’m overweight at 6′ and 184 lbs.! An insult! It says my 5’4″ client is overweight at 128 lbs.! What an outrage!

Honestly, do we need these charts to tell if we need to lose weight? To be healthier? To be happier? I don’t think so.

Forget thinking you need to be at the weight the charts say. The heck with them. Just think about the weight you’d like to be, what weight you’d be happy with. Follow me, and you’ll get there. Then you can decide if you want to lose more weight. That’s what I did. With the right approach, using real science, reaching a healthy happy weight and maintaining it is absolutely possible, even enjoyable!

One Appetizer Will Make You Lose Weight. One Will Make You Gain. Which One For You?

bloomin-onion

This is Outback’s Bloomin’ Onion. It’s a nuclear 1946 calories! That’s 500 calories if you eat 1/4 of it when you’re out with 4 friends. Of course, we overeaters usually ate more than our share.

shrimp cocktail

This is Red Lobster’s Classic Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail. It’s only 100 calories, sans sauce. And the sauce is only  45 calories (if you use it all).

Want to solve your weight problem? You can, by learning to eat what you like and enjoy it even more than you do now.

I’ve helped thousands of people lose weight and live a healthier happier life for the rest of their lives, taking my program, reading my book, or both. Read my book or listen to my audiobook, and then take action to make your life better! This can be the year you solve your weight problem.