Long before we knew people had a brain or a mind, we knew they had a life.

A fellow professional working at a mental health organization focusing on psychosocial rehabilitation shared the following testimonial from someone I referred to them:

I just wanted to take a moment to tell you how appreciative I am of your efforts, concerns, and successes in regards to my two children, and our entire family. When I had just about given up hope of ever having a normal, healthy, productive life for my children, I was introduced to the LAT. Following your advice and direction, and sticking with it, even when I wanted to give up, has been the best thing that has ever happened to our family. My daughter is more stable, happy, healthy, productive, and more optimistic than ever before. My son is getting the guidance he needs and is gaining traction on his road to success and happiness, also. You have also given ME the guidance and direction to help both my children and me. The results have been tremendous and I look forward to continued successes.

On behalf of all of us, thank you so very much.

We'll be in touch soon and my best regards to all of you,

Reading that, made my day and compelled me to write this blog.

Having written Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder for Dummies, every day that I hear about another incident related to it (as in the recent Ft. Hood shooting), I think there has got to be a better way to deal with PTSD.

It has recently occurred to me that we don't live in our minds or even in our brains; we live in our lives. And it may be that we have things backwards. Too often focusing so much on our brains and our minds and chasing down this or that symptom, may cause us to not make it back into our lives.

Given the work over the past few decades on "neuroplasticity" where we have discovered that our brain is not fixed but can change based on experiences and a change in focus in our lives (or minds), perhaps the time has come to put the focus back on how people live their lives.

In my search for better approaches to PTSD and mental illness in general I have become acquainted with an organization called the Life Adjustment Team in Culver City, CA. For more than 35 years they have been successfully helping non-functioning adults 18+ to become independent and in many cases working members of society.

I have been so impressed with them that I now refer any of my non-functioning psychiatric or drug and alcohol patients to them. You can find out more about them at: Life Adjustment Team.

My focus in this blog is to bring your attention to part of their approach that is called the DPN method and is the brainchild of LAT Founder, Pete Linnett. DPN stand for Domains, Principles and Needs.

At first, given all the other approaches swirling in my brain, I resisted having Pete teach me about DPN. Then one day, I ran out of excuses and he proceeded to teach me about it.

For the purpose of brevity, I am only going to focus on the Domains aspect and how LAT approaches them and I'm hoping you will pick up on my enthusiasm for this approach:

Here are the Seven Domains as excerpted from the Life Adjustment Team website:

1. Psychiatric / Medical
2. Social / Interpersonal
3. Recreation
4. Self-Management
5. Family
6. Education / Vocation
7. Belief System

1. Psychiatric / Medical
Understanding one's illness and medication is essential for successful rehabilitation. Knowing how to manage symptoms and recognize warning signs improves stability and helps prevent relapse. Medical and dental issues can also be addressed, when necessary.

2. Social / Interpersonal

Appearance, attitude, and confidence have a major impact on how one gets along with other people. The Team offers training in social problem solving and basic conversation skills. There are also specialized programs that teach skills on how to overcome obstacles, such as answering questions that are intimidating in a social setting. In addition the Team teaches appropriate levels of disclosure, such as how and when to share personal information.

3. Recreation
Using leisure time to recreate adds balance to life. Being inactive often results in boredom, which produces stress, negatively impacting stress-vulnerable illnesses. Exercise helps us to look and feel better, thus improving physical and mental health. The Team uses recreation to motivate people to become active, enhance social networking, and build self-confidence.

4. Self-Management
Feeling organized and on top of one's personal business is comforting and rewarding. Being unkempt or overwhelmed with legal issues, SSI problems, or overdue bills can be very stressful and diminish self-confidence. Planning, budgeting, and tracking are essential skills for independent living. The Team teaches organizational skills and systems for time management and money management, and can address all of the activities of daily living, such as hygiene, grocery shopping, house cleaning, etc.

5. Family
Family relationships often become strained when one family member has a mental illness, even when family members try to be helpful. The Team can assist with communication and problem solving within the family, and can assume the management role in treatment. Advice or direction is often met with resistance when offered to the patient by a family member, but is generally received more favorably from a trusted professional. This helps keep treatment on course and provides a buffer to avoid confrontation during stressful times within the family. Our Family Services Program provides many benefits for family members.

6. Education / Vocation
The overarching goal of recovery is to enjoy a useful and productive life. The role of the Life Adjustment Team is to help define our client's abilities and talents, provide direction to create short, medium, and long-term goals, and implement the plans to carry them out in a supportive, respectful, and empowering manner.

7. Belief System
Our belief system is a combination of our experience, knowledge and insight. When faced with a difficult situation in life, we tend to focus on the problem and not the solution, which leads us to fear-based decision making. What we focus on determines our state of mind and our attitude. It is essential to teach clients to focus on solutions by developing a positive attitude toward rehabilitation, based on belief in themselves and the Treatment Team.

After Pete explained these to me, I paused and was overtaken by a sense of hopefulness with regard to mental illness and especially PTSD that I hadn't felt in a long time.

My hopefulness resulted from my going through the seven Domains in my own life (as all the Case Managers at LAT do). After doing so, I felt that my life made sense, was doable, manageable and that I could approach it in a way that was less scattered and less hodgepodge than I usually do.

I would suggest you go through the seven Domains regarding your own life and see if you have a similar experience of being able to take back control of your life.

If doing that enthuses you as it did me, go to: Life Adjustment Team/Our Approach to find out more and if it really pumps you up, spread the word to others that you think might benefit from it.

About the Author

Mark Goulston, M.D.

Mark Goulston, M.D., the author of the book Just Listen, is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine at UCLA's Neuropsychiatric Institute.

You are reading

Just Listen

Breaking Through to a Suicidal Mind

Pain is pain; suffering is feeling alone in pain.

Talking Down Angry Protesters and Hate Crime Perpetrators

Whether you agree or not, angry people have their reasons for being angry.

The Elephant in the Middle of the American Psyche

How the election will put America's object constancy to the test