Post Holidays

Starting in 2005, a British Psychologist, Cliff Arnall, believed that he calculated the most depressing day of the year.

He calls this Blue Monday and it occurs in mid to late January each year.

Arnall calculates this date on weather conditions, debt level (the difference between debt accumulated and our ability to pay), time since Christmas, time since failing our new year’s resolutions, low motivational levels and feeling of a need to take action Continue reading →

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 to Expect from Counseling

Many people are afraid to come to a counseling session because they find it too intimidating. I can’t blame them. Heck, I find it difficult to go to the doctor when I am feeling sick and can’t go to work. So, it is a new experience and often provokes some natural anxiety.

Your first session is the hardest and it gets easier from there!

Here are some of the questions I’ve been asked:

* Am I any less of a man for coming to counseling?
No. If counseling weren’t manly, I wouldn’t be doing it! I’ll tell you that its much more manly to deal with your problems, compared to being too proud and trying to handle everything yourself. This way of thinking usually makes things a lot worse.

* Are you trying to find a mental illness?
No, I’m not. I want to talk with you in order to gain an understanding of both the problems you want to work on, where those problems are coming from, and what is going RIGHT in on your life. Yes, its important to talk about the successes in your life and not just dwell on the negatives.

* Will you want to spend all the time discussing my childhood.
No, I want to help you work on what you came here to address. I find it to usually be a waste of time to have an emphasis on the past. It is over and done with. There may be times that it needs to be understood, but having a primary focus on the past is often frustrating on the client and does little good. Lets focus on the here and now, which will likely help you feel better quickly!

* Do I have to be mentally ill in order to go to Counseling?
What? No. Counseling is to help people work though problems. If you had to be mentally ill to have a problem, then we’d all be crazy as loons. There is no shame in seeking an outsider’s view on a problem you have. Actually, its a sign of good mental hygiene!

* How long will this take? Will I be in therapy for years?
Most people finish up their counseling sessions within 10 sessions or less. This is because we focus on the here and now. I also give homework assignments, so people can get more value out of their counseling. That is, they are able to work on their counseling when they are outside my office. This means that you will obtain quicker results and have less money invested. If you happen to take more than 10 sessions, don’t worry about it. It goes back to how everybody is different and not everyone moves at the same pace.

* Are you a mind-reader?
No. I wish I was! You’ll have to tell me why you are coming in and a little bit about yourself. 🙂

* Is this confidential?
Yes. What we discuss does not go beyond you and I, unless you give written permission for me to disclose information about your sessions, such as if you are referred by probation, a lawyer, and so on. The only time I can tell anyone your business is if you are going to kill yourself, you are going to hurt someone, there is child abuse, or a judge orders me to disclose your information.

* Is this anonymous?
No. Others may see you walk into my office. So, you could be seen. No one would know your business, though. If you feel that you could not risk being see at my office, some coaching via telephone or email is an option. That is pretty anonymous.

* What types of counseling do you do?
I specialize in anger management, anxiety, and sexuality of various types (such as transgender, sexual orientation, sexual dysfunction, sexual harassment, sexual addiction, and sexual questions in general). However, I also work with depression, bipolar disorder and a variety of issues. I do individual, group, family, and couples counseling.

* Do I need medication?
Counseling is the primary focus. A high number of people get better by therapy alone. Changing your thinking and your behavior usually is enough for people to return to functional lives. However, if therapy is not working, then we will discuss referring you to have a medication evaluation. Medication alone often masks symptoms and does not get at the root of the problem.

* Will you fix me?
No, I will not. However, I will help you fix yourself. I can give you ideas, you can bounce things off me, we can work together to find solutions. However, I cannot make things better for you. Remember, you are the one who needs to do the hard work and I can help.

* What is your primary focus on therapy?
I want to talk about what is on your mind. You are the one that guides the conversation. I can provide some information and direction and information, if needed. However, I really want you to be the one who is running the show.

Do you have any additional questions that I have not answered? Leave a comment and I’ll respond.

Family Therapy

Depending on the situation, family therapy is often one of the more helpful options. Think about this: We are all impacted by those around us. This means that we are all part of a system. If one person goes to therapy and changes, but the other family members (system) do not change, then how can we expect lasting results?

I encourage all of my clients to bring friends and family members to therapy. This will help to improve the environment for all. This also provides an opportunity for another person’s opinion and perspective to be brought into the room, which may shed new light on problems that are being worked on and point out progress that has been made.

Family therapy can be as simple as bringing one family member or bringing your entire household. I recognize that a person is not always comfortable discussing everything in front of their family members. That is why I often do some individual sessions as a chance to allow the client some privacy.

Family therapy is most helpful for:

  • Family communication problems
  • Children with behavior problems
  • A person who wants additional support in therapy
  • A person who needs therapy, but will not come alone