Self-help Links for Substance Abuse and Mental Health Problems:
The following links are provided for the use of my clients and the general public. Inclusion does not imply endorsement of a particular organization nor the suitability of the resource for an individual’s specific needs. This practice does not recommend any particular treatment program without a thorough assessment of the client, in order to match the treatment to the person.
Relaxation and Meditation Resources!
I try to update and add links here regularly, but some links may have changed. I usually recommend these as part of CBT for anxiety, so you may be directed here after a session with me to do some “homework” between sessions. But I always suggest that you try different behavioral and mind-body techniques and see what works best for you; and then stick with that.
The whole idea of these techniques is that you are re-training your nervous system to cue your body to be more relaxed, which in turn can cue your mind to experience less disturbance. Usually, we will also be working on identifying and tracking automatic thoughts, beliefs, and especially mistaken ways of thinking. These relaxation exercises can also be used to extinguish phobias and panic reactions by imaging situations that have triggered them while practicing relaxation (called “systematic desensitization”).
First, some “classic” behavior therapy relaxation exercises (progressive relaxation and a “safe place” imagery exercise):
Another technique I frequently recommend is mindfulness. The difference between mindfulness and other relaxation or meditation techniques is that in mindfulness, you “don’t fight’ the disturbing thoughts or feelings… You just “notice” them and let them drift by.
Here, Jon Kabat-Zinn speaking to Google employees and conducting a demonstration of mindfulness meditation. You can listen to his explanation (which is pretty interesting and helps you get the idea of mindfulness), and/or start where he begins to demonstrate the techniques after about the 20 minute mark:
There is also another mindfulness exercise recorded in another YouTube video. This one is specifically intended for anxiety:
If you don’t like the voices of the people in those recordings, you can search for others with the terms “mindfulness meditation audio” (or video, or scripts).
One other “classic” type of breathing-type exercise is the one that Herbert Benson (a cardiologist) first adapted from Indian meditation techniques for use in a health care setting. There’s a website that gives the basic technique from his book (which came out 30 years ago) at:
Relaxation exercises are pretty easy to find online as well. The three basic types are progressive relaxation, guided imagery, and breathing exercises. You can also record your own relaxation or imagery exercise from a script. One nice one (which also includes a version of the classic “safe place” imagery exercise) is here:
There are a couple books that have a lot of good techniques as well, and you can use them to record your own relaxation exercises. They are The Relaxation and Stress Reduction Workbook by McKay and Davis:
Also, The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook by Edmund Bourne:
Another couple links for meditation:
Vipanassā Fellowship – Buddhist Mindfulness and Meditation Audio Recordings (These are rather Zen-oriented):
Additional links for relaxation, breathing, mindfulness, and stress reduction can be found at the Loyola University Maryland Counseling Center’s “Relaxation Room”: