Whether you have read or heard about my approach to therapy, you may have read on my Facebook page that I highly recommend Happy Lights (AkA therapy lights). I incorporate many other interventions in my work with my clients but from my experience in the field one element that is often neglected when working with clients is -the home. This could be for a number of reasons: 1) Outpatient settings require a client to engage in services in an office- outside of their environment. 2) For home based counselors/therapist the fear of destroying the therapeutic relationship may make this area difficult to address.
Before I go on with my explanation-You can purchase therapy lights here- THESE ARE NOT THE NORMAL, RUN-OF -THE -MILL, LIGHT BULBS. These are specifically to help alleviate depressive symptoms.
As a professional, I have experience in both settings and well- there are pros and cons to both.
Pros of either setting (in-office/in-home)-
1) An outpatient setting is "safer"- there are policies that are followed and a safety system set in place.
2)Colleagues know where you are
3) At least 1 supervisor is always available
4)Clients can feel safer knowing that the information shared with the therapist stays within the office walls.
5)The home shows more of a glimpse into a person's mindset and how the home could be negatively impacting their mental health or vice versa
Cons of either setting (in-office/in-home)-
1) A home/neighborhood can be unpredictable and possibly unsafe
2) Colleagues can assume you are at the home- but the session may have led to another location
3) Supervisors or staff are not readily available if something occurs.
4) Confidentiality can be limited or information is not age appropriate for others in the home
5)The office setting may encourage "masking" of symptoms and personality traits
6) Again the home arrangement could be negatively impacting a person's mental health, but without viewing it or understanding it, it will not be addressed.
Research shows, the lighting in your home can significantly impact your mental health leading to depressive symptoms. Therefore, at the very least, I suggest ways to incorporate more lighting into a clients’ home. This can occur during an online therapy session, office visit or in-home session...I don't have to be present to address this topic but it is more beneficial to do so.
According to the article, How Light Deprivation Causes Depression, neuroscientists placed rats in the dark for 6 weeks. The study revealed three results:
1) Long exposure to darkness can lead to damages in the brain.
2)Neurons involved in emotions, pleasure, and cognition became inactive and less communicative.
3) Negatively impacts your sleep/wake cycle
It is believed this could be the reason why individuals develop Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) throughout the winter months as natural light is limited- as you know, the days are shorter and during that time there is decline of exposure to sunlight. For those with major depressive disorder symptoms throughout the year, the lack of natural light may increase your depression.
So...although I had a long explanation, the answer is simply-
"I address my clients’ environment so they can be at their best and have control as to how they reduce the re-occurrence of their symptoms."
So what are your thoughts on today’s topic? Any changes your thinking of making to your home?
If you're in need of working through some issues and feel you would benefit from holistic therapeutic approach, Contact me today for a session.
-Reynelda Jones, LMSW, ADS