Even Paradise Requires Mindfulness
May 01, 2018 08:15PM
By Linda Sechrist
As a teenager, Ann Fisher, LSW noticed that she was the one her friends always opened up to when they needed to share their secrets or discuss their problems. Even then, Fisher recognized her intrigue for what made people tick, and that psychology was going to be her career path. “I’ve been a clinical social worker for more than 30 years, and I’m still feeling passionate about psychotherapy. I love my career, which keeps me excited,” says Fisher.
Reflecting upon her career, Fisher recalls that she initially worked with individuals that were affected by sexual trauma. “While I still do some of this work, I have expanded my sphere of practice into areas of couples and family relationships, as well as groups. More recently, I’ve been working with individuals around issues that deal with the aging process and leading my Aging Wisely programs. This work incorporates a significant amount of positive psychology and holistic health.
As I’ve personally evolved, my field of study has evolved, as well as the way in which I practice. No matter what area of counseling I’m involved in, it’s always about the importance of healthy relationship, whether it’s with ourselves, each other, our bodies or with the Earth that we inhabit,” explains Fisher.
Fisher moved from the Boston area to Naples a little more than three years ago. “Up until we moved to Florida, my husband and I lived in that area our entire life. I never thought we’d live in Florida but we have found that living in a warm climate where the sun shines most of the time, it’s easier to lead a healthier lifestyle,” says Fisher.
Fisher was surprised to discover that living in a resort city on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico, famous for its beautiful beaches, sophisticated dining and happy hours, could also pose a challenge. “A number of clients who were working on living a healthier lifestyle brought my attention to their concern about how social life here revolves around drinking alcohol. They voiced a desire to find another way of meeting other women that didn’t include drinking. They also wanted a place where they could discuss their concerns with women who might be interested in a similar conversation about how they used alcohol. Through discussions with these women, we conceived the idea of the Happier Hour, a group for women who are examining the role of alcohol in their lives,” advises Fisher, who understands the challenges that people can face when they decide to make changes in their drinking habits.
“Reasons for the decision can vary from not wanting to have a glass or glasses of wine to take the edge off social-anxiety or boredom to not wanting to use alcohol to relax after a busy and tiring day to taking better care of the body and improving a health condition,” explains Fisher, whose research on alcohol consumption among women led her to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Psychiatry where she learned that between 2002 and 2013 alcohol consumption among women has risen about 58 percent. Among older adults it rose 65 percent.
“My concern is how drinking alcoholic beverages increases not only a woman's risk of hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer but also other conditions such as heart disease, stroke and dementia. I also found it worrisome that older women are at a higher risk from adverse interactions between medications and drinking alcohol. Those were just two of the good reasons to start the Happier Hour,” notes Fisher.