Clinical Psychotherapy

I often hear people saying that they do not want to have a clinical experience with therapy.  I am told that people of think of a sterile room with a cold therapist who only says “how does that make you feel?”  Another thought is that therapy is a procedure.

The client sits there and is changed…much as the idea of how a car is dropped off at a mechanic.  Again, this is not true.

Then what is therapy?

First of all, the client is in charge.  It is important to focus on what the client feels will be helpful.  Yes, the therapist may step-in from time to time, if needed.  The client needs to be working harder than the therapist.  By this, I mean therapy sessions are actually meetings where ideas are formulated.  It is then up to the client to practice, further research, and implement these ideas.  The harder the client works outside my office, the better his/her results.

I believe it is important to focus on the positives in life.  Yes, the client came to talk about problems and we will certainly cover that.  However, if we only talk about problems and ignore the good in life, that will not be helpful.  When I work with my clients, there is less of a focus on pathology and more of a focus on self-improvement.

So, is it clinical if you do a therapy session with me?  I don’t think so.  It is more about how we conduct our meetings and what mindsets we use!

The Wealthy Could Even Benefit from Financial Counseling

My wife and I recently went to the Biltmore Estate.  In case you are not familiar, it is the largest privately owned house in the United States at over 175,000 square feet.

I found it amazing that the Vanderbilts, who are an incredibly wealthy family who built the estate, were unable to afford to maintain their estate during the Depression.  In order to raise funds, they opened their house for tours.  In 1956, the family relocated and turned the house into a museum that charged for admission, presumably because the maintenance cost was too high.

As I learned more about this house, I thought of my past post about living within your means.

It looks like no matter who you are, you have to be careful with your finances and live within your means.

Mental Health First Aid

I recently became certified as a Mental Health First Aid instructor.

I am looking forward to helping the Lafayette Indiana Community increase awareness of mental health issues and train community members to help those in need.

What is Mental Health First Aid?  According to www.MentalHealthFirstAid.org “Mental Health First Aid is a groundbreaking public education program that helps the public identify, understand, and respond to signs of mental illnesses and substance use disorders. Mental Health First Aid USA is managed, operated, and disseminated by three national authorities — the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare, the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and the Missouri Department of Mental Health.”

“I Don’t Believe in Counseling”

I sometimes hear people say, “I don’t believe in counseling.” I can’t completely understand this statement.

Essentially, counseling consists of talking about problems and finding a better way to work through them. What is there to “not believe in?” The person does not believe in talking? Or suggestions or changing ways of thinking and behaving? If a person says they do not believe in medications, I can somewhat understand that.

Another criticism I hear is that a therapist is a “hired friend.” I must disagree with this one. Friends go to lunch, do a variety of activities together, and usually talk about things other than problems and feelings. A therapist usually does one 45 minute appointment per week and focuses only on the client by listening and helping the client find ways to get through the problem by using various theories, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Solution Focused Therapy, Sex Therapy, and a variety of other techniques. When was the last time a friend did that? Would that be a very good friend? Not to mention…I charge each time a client comes to see me!

If we really look at the root of the statement “I don’t believe in therapy,” the person is most likely saying that they do not want to face his/her problem. Facing problems are difficult, especially when you come to a stranger’s office to do so. People often lead a life of suppressing the problem by avoiding talking about it, covering it with food, alcohol, sex addiction, or another maladaptive behavior and/or chemical.

If you find yourself saying “I don’t believe in therapy,” challenge yourself to find the root of your statement.

Rules for Fair Fighting: Couples Therapy

This is used in couples therapy to help my clients have productive conversations.  If you can follow these rules, you are much more likely to have productive discussions.

1. Decide upon a time of day and time limit before you begin and stick to it. Make this session last around 20 minutes-don’t overdo it. If you don’t finish in that allotted time, schedule another time the next day.

2. Decide how many “zaps” you’ll permit before you (or the other) walk out. A zap is a hurtful remark, an insult, a threat, a sarcastic dig and so on. Any attempt to threaten, shame or blame is another zap. When you get to the number agreed upon ahead of time, walk out.

3. Choose one problem per session and stick to the point. Have a session every day for awhile if you need it, but stick to one problem per session.

4. Stay in the present. Don’t bring up what happened 12 years or 12 days ago unless it very specifically relates to the present.

5. Own your own feelings. Avoid blaming your partner for your feelings- they are not anyone else’s.

6. Listen to the other person. You need both of your points of view to find an agreement for both of you.

7. Agree upon a solution that is good for both of you.

Sex sells: a fact that continues to entrance and entangle people worldwide

By Zakk Mabrey

Sex sells: a fact that continues to entrance and entangle people worldwide. The commercialization of sex is now a worldwide phenomenon and is becoming common place. Nearly everywhere you look, sexual signals are being placed into the minds of people of all ages.

“Sex drive is something we all have to deal with,” Lara West, a professional sex therapist, said. “And because it is a basic drive, we have a hard time overriding it.”

Companies and businesses use all forms of media to advertise their brands, from television and commercials to computer advertising. With such a spike in media and internet usage, it is nearly impossible to avoid all of the advertisements.

“Internet can expose you to literally anything, whether intentional or not, and regardless of age,” Matt Marshall, a counselor at North Central, said.

More often than not, websites include advertisements all over the screen. All of these advertisements also flood the television screen. It is estimated that, out of a 30 minute television show, about eight minutes of its air time is devoted to commercials. Also more often than not, these commercials are flooded with sexual signals.

“My little game I play is to try to figure out what they are selling with all that sex, and sometimes it is not so clear,” West said.

Sexual commercials are becoming more and more common. With regularity, companies such as GoDaddy release commercials that seem to be increasingly suggestive. Some of these commercials can be a bit much for viewers to absorb, especially considering the fact that in the 1960s, it was pushing the limits to show a woman in her bikini on TV.

“These commercials have become more and more prominent with the time, and they are just pushing the limits of what is acceptable,” Buck Black, a clinical social worker in Lafayette said.

All of these sexual images can have a profound effect on the actions of adolescents. In the teenage years, the brain is still developing. During this stage of life, boys and girls are very impressionable and can fall into habits based upon the things they see and experience. When inundated with such a volume of stimulations, the teenage brain is incapable of handling all of the signals it is given.

“Kids get sexual images, but they aren’t mature enough to grasp the severity of the issue,” Marshall said. “This puts them in a bad spot. They don’t know how to handle the images, and they then begin to portray the images without fully grasping the message they send.”

When the promise of instantaneous sexual opportunities mixes with the natural teenage rush of hormones, the average teenager with an unstable and not yet fully matured brain is made susceptible to falling into the traps of sexual marketing that big businesses use.

Axe deodorant, for example, makes claims of the “Axe effect” with promises to attract women. This message has helped the company in gaining a 9.2 percent share of the male grooming market.

As teachers and school teach abstinence, society and commercials preach against it. The drive for sex runs rampant in nearly all of society’s messages.

“There is a lot of contradiction in society,” Black said, “Actually, society in general is biased toward sex before marriage, and sex with little to no commitment.”

Many of the sexually-charged advertisements’ promises go unfulfilled, such as promises to attract multitudes of women.

“It is all a little contradictory,” senior Troy Thompson said. “The teachers say to us that we shouldn’t be having sex, but these companies are basically saying that we can have sex if we buy what they have. Alcohol, cigarette, and Axe commercials all use sex to sell their products.”

Sex sells; there is no easy way around it. With the growth of businesses and media, the commercialization of sex is bound to continue as companies try to keep up with one another. Every day, countless adolescents and impressionable youths are exposed to sexual images, ideas and situations. With exposure at younger and younger ages, the desensitization to sex can only continue to affect society.

About the author:
I am Zakk Mabrey, a senior at North Central High School in Indianapolis. I am going to Indiana Wesleyan University to double major in sports management and sports ministries, with a minor in journalism. This is my second year writing for a journalism group. I hope to one day write for ESPN.

The End of Identity

I.
I can’t
not think
and see, through OCD<--break->
my kitchen table
with thoughts of fire
bursts into flames.
Those images,
they,
keep coming
every minute
making a friend’s movements
into a musical.
I am
not alone
by myself
the world
my unwanted guest
my mind, myself.
Thoughts played
never willed
make me wish
I could make
the world die,
to live.
I hate
to think the world
doesn’t love me,
but fate
flows indiscriminately
necessarily.
I scream
unheard
in my own head
and desire
strength
to lose my mind.
They play
I fight
and won’t
go away
growing stronger equally
as we are the same.
I am
strength
desperation
burning brighter
by feeding
on myself, weakness.
II.
From the empty planet of myself, I look across
a cold grey landscape which runs forever, barren
without nature’s blood.  The sky pulses under
image after unbidden image, a kaleidescope
where snakes constantly crawl over themselves.
Once there was a light, an image
that never changed, an anchor, immune
to involuntary influence, the promise of tomorrow,
of being, of bloody survival.  The world
of which I am a part, would never have me.
What can be done, can be undone, and the light
froze into a circle and cracked like a dinner plate.
The Intruder Mind, the state of nature
never needed me, breaking me, the individual,
into everything, unstoppable images linked inseparately.
III.
We are eternal
are
forever.
We are the wind blowing through the trees
are
each note of a symphony.
We are lust and passionate need
are
a lover’s delicate fingers.
We are reason and cold calculation
are
the insatiable mind.
We are legion
are
Submitted by a client

Do You Have PTSD?

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, (PTSD) is often thought of for people who have been involved in war. However, there are many people who have PTSD from various traumas that can happen throughout one’s life, such as car wrecks, domestic violence, a near fatal illness, being abused, or witnessing a horrific event—even a natural disaster.

It is important to understand that PTSD is a type of anxiety disorder. The symptoms of PTSD may include flashbacks (reliving the trauma), nightmares about the traumatic event, symptoms of avoidance and emotional numbing. This may include trying to avoid thinking or talking about the traumatic event, avoiding activities you once enjoyed, difficulty maintaining close relationships, irritability or anger, overwhelming guilt or shame, substance abuse, trouble sleeping, suicidal thoughts or suicide attempts, being easily startled or frightened.

PTSD can manifest itself in physical form. For example, people with PTSD show higher instances of fibromalaysia, arthritis, ulcers, and high blood pressure, just to name a few. If the person develops a substance abuse problem as a result of self-medicating, there may be legal, health, financial, and family problems.

If you have been involved in a traumatic event, you do not necessarily have PTSD. Some people are involved and witness very horrific events with little or no problems, whereas, others may have many PTSD symptoms as a result.

Creating a Peaceful Holiday for your Family

Aren’t holidays great?  There are presents, food, time off work (for those fortunate enough), and time with family.  However, the time with family can quickly turn into disagreements, which then lead to out right fighting.

Its all too often the times we all think should be enjoyed turn into episodes of family drama.

Before getting together with family this holiday season, think about the triggers that cause these family problems.  Maybe Uncle Bobby is the one who starts problems by drinking too much.  Possibly it is Aunt Mildred who starts on a rant because Uncle Bobby is drinking too much, which then sends him into a defensive rant.  Maybe there are past resentments that have not been dealt with since the previous year(s) and they are now resurfacing while everyone sits down to the table.  I think you get the point…there can be a multitude of problems that can cause a family to dinner to become a scene of dysfunction.

What can you do different this year?  Identify those triggers that have caused anger and/or arguments in the family and approach things differently this year.  Is there a need to hold family gatherings at a different location?  Would having an alcohol-free family get together likely make the day more pleasant?

If the problems during the holidays seem to hinge on one particular person, then I would recommend talking with this family member before the holiday season begins.  It would be ideal to meet with them in person, if possible (or at least over the phone).  This would allow you to express the concerns in a calm and caring manner.  For instance, you could discuss how you would be more comfortable if a particular topic (insert family feud issue here) were avoided, so that everyone can have a nice family gathering.  Be sure to use “I” and “we” language, instead of  “you.”  By discussing how “We would feel more comfortable if…” this will avoid making the family member with whom you are talking feel as if they are being accused.

I hope everyone has a very happy and enjoyable holiday season.  Please remember that in order for things to get better, there has to be change.  So, approach this season with the idea of  “What can we do different?”  When things are done differently, there is a chance things can get better.  Holidays are for enjoying family, not starting or perpetuating feuds!

What Women Drivers Should Know About Verbal Encounters

We have been asked on a number of occasions what is the best way to handle verbal encounters with male drivers and warehouse staff.  Here are few suggestions from our Women’s Personal Safety and Defense classes.

Rule #1…   If you cannot control yourself … you cannot control situation.

  1. Lets face it, people say stupid things. Don’t react to casual comments.  The purpose of the comment was to get a reaction from you. Let casual comments slide and focus on responding vs. reacting.
  2. Don’t allow yourself to be baited into a verbal exchange with a potential heckler.  Control the encounter. Don’t become the victim.  Resist the urge to come back with a smart put down comment.  If you feel like you won, you actually lost.  If an encounter continues to escalate, establish eye contact and say “ Back off.  Be firm. Say it once and keep moving.
  3. Every encounter is different. Follow your instinct and don’t be embarrassed to take some direct action.  ALWAYS TRUST that small voice inside your head. If you feel something is wrong it probably is.
  4. The first 30 seconds of any confrontation sets the tone. If you look and act confident and prepared, you will avoid trouble most of the time.
  5. Never go with someone even if you are threaten with a weapon.  Your job is to spoil their plan. If they tell you to be quiet, yell Back Off at that the top of your lungs. Feel free to add other words for additional color. If they tell you to come with them and that you will not be hurt — run the other way. If you go with an attacker you have a 10% chance of surviving.
  6. Carry pepper spray. It is legal to possess and use in most states.  We recommend the use of a stream spray and aim for the eyes.  If you use it in a state that has legal restrictions, you typically may pay a small nuisance fine but potentially saved your life.
  7. If it gets physical. Never give up fighting.  Do as much damage as you can to sensitive targets such as eyes, ears, nose, knees, fingers and groin.

Consider taking a street proven self-defense program like Girls Strike Back that shows women how to use their most powerful weapons to protect against attack.