Isn’t it time to Get Your Life Back on Track?
Addiction is a disease that is incurable, progressive and if left untreated, fatal. It is often useful when contemplating addiction and recovery to refer to The Stages of Change theory (Prochaiska/DiClemente).
- Pre-contemplation: not yet acknowledging the problem
- Contemplation: acknowledging the problem but unsure yet about change
- Preparing: getting ready to change
- Action: Changing behavior
- Maintenance: maintaining changed behavior
- Relapse: recovery is never a straight path so learn from old mistakes and get back on the horse
It is vitally important to be informed of what will be involved before a real lifestyle change can be implemented. The role of therapy is to help people to explore and overcome their ambivalence. Once the possibility of change is explored then a commitment can be made and appropriate action taken. Plans can be developed and emotional and social tools identified to help prevent relapse and stay the course.
Anxiety is part of the body’s “fight or flight” response which prepares us to act quickly in the face of danger. Symptoms may include: worry, fear, dread, avoidance of places or situations, panic attacks, and repetitive behaviors and compulsive hygiene rituals.However when our symptoms start to become chronic and interfere with our daily lives it may be necessary to seek treatment.
Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is a pattern of frequent, constant worry and anxiety over many different activities and events. Generalized anxiety disorder has the following symptoms:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Difficulty controlling worry
- Excess anxiety and worry that is out of proportion to the situation most of the time
- Excessive sweating, palpitations, shortness of breath, and stomach/intestinal symptoms
- Muscle tension — shakiness, headaches
- Restlessness or feeling keyed up or “on the edge”
- Sleep disturbance (difficulty falling or staying asleep; or restless, unsatisfying sleep)
Based more on Coaching than Psychotherapy, career counseling services involve three practical goal setting sessions aimed at helping clients identify realistic career paths and employment opportunities. Outside of session the client completes two online assessments,the DISC and the WOWI.
The DISC, is an assessment used to promote productivity, communication and teamwork, it provides a detailed report about your personality and behavior.(http://www.onlinediscprofile.com)
The world of work inventory is a career counseling tool based on psychometric testing (www.wowi.com) which is designed to give you a customized list of occupations specifically suited to your unique profile.
- Review of assessments and realistic career choices
- Resume Critique and goal setting
- Cover letters, interview role plays and dress for success techniques.
It is very easy to lose heart when you are isolated and spending non-productive days at home, getting a new routine and focus can help you see unemployment or job changes as an opportunity for a better quality of life.
I have found that using the Prepare/Enrich program can facilitate the counseling process and reduce the number of sessions needed as it offers both an objective diagnosis and a proven program for healing troubled relationships. Each person takes a online test covering personality and relationship functions, the test results immediately reveal what needs to change based on the couples own responses. Using this system allows the therapist to gather all of the information needed as well as identifying the behavioral changes which will improve the relationship within two sessions. It is a program that can help prepare couples for marriage as well as rapidly improve existing relationships. I am also a Family Mediator and can assist couples when they are able to recognize it is time to move on and they want an easy divorce although I prefer to build reconciliation when possible.
Over 3 million couples have taken the PREPARE/ENRICH Program (6 million people) since it began in 1980. It was developed by David H. Olson, Ph.D Professor Emeritus, Family Social Science, University of Minnesota and it is recognized as one of the soundest clinical tools available to address the challenges of building a functional relationship.
The PREPARE/ENRICH customized couple assessment can be completed online or by a written questionnaire which both parties answer independently and confidentially. The couples responses are analyzed in the following areas:
- 12 Relationship Scales – communication, conflict resolution, roles, sexuality, finances, spiritual beliefs, parenting, and more
- 5 SCOPE Personality Scales
- 4 Couple and Family Scales – based on the circumplex model
- 4 Relationship Dynamic Scales
- 30 Customized Scales
Depression is a condition in which a person feels discouraged, sad, hopeless, unmotivated, or disinterested in life in general. When these feelings last for more than two weeks it may be more than a case of “the blues.” The good news about depression is that it is treatable. Therapy and in some cases medication are extremely effective tools for managing depression.
- Persistent sad, anxious or “empty” mood
- Feelings of hopelessness, pessimism
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness
- Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities, including sex
- Decreased energy, fatigue, feeling “slowed down”
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering, making decisions
- Insomnia, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
- Loss of appetite and weight loss or overeating and weight gain
- Thoughts of death or suicide, suicide attempts*
- Restlessness, irritability
- Persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment, such as headaches, digestive disorders and pain for which no other cause can be diagnosed.
Symptoms of depression and anxiety disorders often occur together. For many people, combining psychotherapy and medication is the most effective treatment.
Several forms of psychotherapy are effective, particularly cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) which works to replace negative and unproductive thought patterns with more realistic and useful ones.
* If you are worried about a loved one who is exhibiting these signs it is important that you sit down with them and discuss your concerns. Depression is very treatable and if it is not addressed then thoughts of suicide or self harm may start to seem like a possible option.
Recovery for the adolescent means finding a stable sense of self and learning to manage painful feelings without recourse to self medicating. It normally will include sessions with the family helping everyone to understand the disease and how to set healthy boundaries. In addition to helping the teen and family learn about both addiction and recovery, Therapy can help the teen to discover who he is and how a substance free life will allow him achieve his/ her goals for the future.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder which occurs after a threat to life or bodily integrity. It can also include a close encounter such as witnessing violence or death or any traumatic event that caused intense fear, helplessness, or horror. Examples of traumas include: terrorism or war, rape or assault, natural disasters, domestic or sexual abuse, serious accidents, and captivity or prison stay. For example, the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 may have caused PTSD in some people who were involved, or who saw the disaster, and in people who lost relatives and friends.
Having a history of trauma may increase your risk for getting PTSD after a recent traumatic event.While it is common to experience a brief state of anxiety or depression after such occurrences, people with PTSD continually re-experience the traumatic event; avoid individuals, thoughts, or situations associated with the event; and have symptoms of excessive emotions. People with this disorder have these symptoms for longer than one month and cannot function as well as they did before the traumatic event. PTSD symptoms usually appear within three months of the traumatic experience; however, they can occur months or even years later.
What are the symptoms of PTSD? PTSD changes the body’s response to stress. It affects the stress hormones and chemicals that carry information between the nerves (neurotransmitters). While symptoms for individuals with PTSD can vary considerably, however they generally fall into three categories:
Intrusive memories which may include: Flashbacks, or reliving the traumatic event for minutes or even days at a time; Upsetting dreams about the traumatic event;
Avoidance and numbing: Trying to avoid thinking or talking about the traumatic event; Feeling emotionally numb with a limited range of emotion; Avoiding activities you once enjoyed; Trouble concentrating; Difficulty maintaining close relationships; A feeling of detachment from others; Memory problems or an inability to recall aspects of the trauma, and/or feelings of hopelessness about the future.
Increased emotional arousal (Hyperarousal) Irritability and/or rage; Overwhelming guilt or shame; Self-destructive behavior, such as self medication; Trouble sleeping; Hyper vigilance, Heightened Startle response
These are also symptoms of PTSD:
- Panic attacks: a feeling of intense fear, with shortness of breath, dizziness, sweating, nausea and racing heart.
- Physical symptoms: chronic pain, headaches, stomach pain, diarrhea, tightness or burning in the chest, muscle cramps or low back pain.
- Feelings of mistrust: losing trust in others and thinking the world is a dangerous place.
- Problems in daily living: having problems functioning in your job, at school, or in social situations.
- Substance abuse: using drugs or alcohol to cope with the emotional pain. Relationship problems: having problems with intimacy, or feeling detached from your family and friends.
- Depression: persistent sad, anxious or empty mood; loss of interest in once-enjoyed activities; feelings of guilt and shame; or hopelessness about the future.
- Suicidal thoughts: thoughts about taking one’s own life. If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
Post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms can come and go. You may have more post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms when things are stressful in general, or when you run into reminders of what you went through. You may hear a car backfire and relive combat experiences, for instance. Or you may see a report on the news about a rape and feel overcome by memories of your own assault. The good news is that PTSD can be treated with success however treatment and support are critical to recovery. My treatment approach includes both Psychotherapy and /or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, and/or Couples Counseling and Family therapy
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing
EMDR has been shown to be helpful in resolving many kinds of trauma and anxiety based symptoms including intrusive thoughts, panic, phobias, painful sensations, and emotional distress. Many adult, adolescent, and child survivors of single incident traumas, multiple traumas, and of childhood abuse have responded positively to EMDR treatment.
Studies show that PTSD related symptoms from a single traumatic incident can often be resolved in a total of three to six sessions. This includes sessions for history taking, treatment planning, preparation, and reevaluation. Treatment for survivors of multiple traumas will take longer. Survivors of prolonged trauma such as combat trauma and persistent childhood neglect and abuse have also been shown to benefit from psychotherapy with EMDR, but to achieve comprehensive improvements, more lengthy treatment will be needed. Your EMDR psychotherapist can often give you an estimate of the anticipated length of treatment after the first two or three visits. Published reports indicate when longer treatment is needed, use of EMDR may significantly shorten the total number of sessions needed.
You can view some common questions often asked about seeking mental health counseling or a psychotherapist by clicking here.