An addiction is a chronic disorder in which an individual is blinded by a substance, or engages in an activity, that gives them an immense amount of pleasure but has become detrimental to their everyday life. Compulsive behaviors and addictions can temporarily provide confidence, control, validation or other emotions lacking in one’s life, but the behavior may not stop until the root of the problem is addressed.
Addiction changes the brain through the limbic system, also known as the “brain reward system.” This part of the brain is responsible for producing feelings of pleasure and will manifest thoughts such as, “I deserve this,” or “Let’s do that again.” The abuse of addictive substances and behaviors triggers this system which can prolong a continuous cycle of destructive behavior.
Common addictions include but are not limited to:
Drug or alcohol abuse
Seek Professional Assistance
People who have developed an addiction may be unaware that it is out of control, which is why counseling is an essential part of working through and managing this condition. An addiction of any sort can be exhausting and one should never go through the recovery process alone.
Many treatment plans focus on talk therapy and behavior therapy and can be performed in a group or through one-on-one sessions. During these sessions, patients analyze the reasons behind their addiction(s), what triggers are and what helped them control impulses in the past. Patients also learn coping skills so they can manage the compulsions without relapsing.
We all have moments of frustration whether they be associated with a friend, a family member, or a disagreement in your everyday life, but there are several positive strategies to utilize when it comes to dealing with conflict.
What qualifies as a conflict?
According to the Office of Human Resource Development at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, conflict is understood by analyzing various behaviors and the consequences each behavior produces on individuals living the dilemma.
Avoidance: This is the person who wishes to ignore the problem and will allow it to dissipate or squander. Unfortunately, quite the contrary is happening in this situation. The problem then swells under the surface until it’s no longer avoidable and will need to be addressed.
Standing your Ground: People who use this technique may appear controlling and aggressive in their means of communication. They fear not having their needs met if they don’t set the rules and direct the conversation.
Surrendering: Often perceived as the diplomat, the person using this tactic concedes to the needs of others. They place the needs and opinions of others on their own because preserving the relationship(s) is the ultimate goal.
Compromise/Sacrifice: This method is a sort of concession and, while it seems to be a good route to take, it’s not the best approach. People in this category make a sequence of tradeoffs which means they are focusing on what they want as opposed to understanding the other’s viewpoint.
Collaborate: People who practice collaboration care about win-win solutions. This simply means that they scout common aspirations and needs, to where every party knows their opinions and feeling are important and are going to be heard. This style needs a lot of cooperation, assertiveness and communication among the parties.
Ultimately, understanding your wants and needs as well as your behavior patterns will establish internal insight. You will have a better understanding for not just yourself, but for others around you and how situations may or may not unfold. This knowledge will give you the preliminary tools for conflict resolution.
Factors of everyday life can put an abundant strain on a relationship. Severe stressors may include resentment, infidelity, intimacy issues, lack of trust, and miscommunication. When problems go unresolved, or a partner is suffering from mental illness or health complications, one can feel helpless or have feelings of guilt or shame. Communicating effectively on both parts can alleviate emotional anxiety from subjects of all kind.
Couples often seek couples or marriage counseling when the relationship is at a standstill, or if they are unsure whether or not the relationship is worth salvaging. This type of therapy can benefit families with children who have been affected by relationship issues such as divorce, and confront the source of the conflict.
Treatment techniques may include the following depending on the therapist:
• Gottman Method
• Narrative Therapy
• Emotionally Focused Therapy
• Positive Psychology
• Imago Relationship Therapy
• Analyzing Your Communication
• Getting to the root of the problem
• Enhancing Intimacy
• Individual Counseling
• Couple Retreat
When a relationship is showing signs of addiction, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, and/or severe depression, seek guidance from a counselor immediately, for your safety and your partner.
Depression commonly manifests physically, through stomach pains, headaches, disrupted or excessive sleep, and motor control difficulty. While the causes of depression are unknown, a predisposition for it runs in families and it can be triggered by trauma and adverse life circumstances. Depression is diagnosed more frequently in women and tends to display differently in women than in men.
People tend to suffer higher rates of depression after giving birth and in late fall. Depression and anxiety often exacerbate each other and people with depression commonly have difficulty concentrating on tasks and conversations. Some people abuse alcohol and drugs or overeat as a way of coping, causing them to develop other medical problems. Depressed people are also at increased risk for self-harm.
Depression is a mental illness which is characterized by prolonged emotional symptoms including:
Diagnosing depression involves a psychiatric evaluation and physical tests to determine whether a person’s symptoms are actually being caused by a different disorder. A person must have been experiencing symptoms for at least two weeks to be diagnosed with depression. Every case is unique and requires individual attention, but there are a number of effective complementary ways of treating depression, including:
Adopting a healthier lifestyle
Body image is the mental representation that one creates in their mind, but it may or may not relate to how others see an individual. The skewed view that someone has of their body is a culprit affecting people across the globe, where ethnicity, culture, gender, and age may all fall prey to it. According to ANAD (National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders), about 30 million Americans suffer from some sort of eating disorder. Eating disorders hold a record for having the highest mortality rate when compared to other mental illnesses; someone dies of an eating disorder every 62 minutes.
Types of Eating Disorders
There are copious numbers of eating disorders and, unfortunately, the statistics mentioned above don’t begin to scratch the surface. Here are few examples of eating disorders:
Anorexia Nervosa: People reduce the amount of energy intake required for their weight, age, gender, development and physical health.
Bulimia Nervosa: Individuals consume large amounts of food, and then induce themselves to vomit to stop weight gain.
Binge Eating Disorder (BED): Eating large amounts of food in small periods of time.
Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID): Children are not just finicky when it comes to this disorder, but they become malnourished because they restrict themselves from eating certain foods.
Diabulimia: People with Type 1 diabetes purposely underuse insulin to control their weight.
Like other mental disorders and illnesses, care should involve a diverse team of experts. It’s recommended that professional caretakers include the following:
Primary care physician
Due to the severe toll that eating disorders may have on an individual’s physical health, psychological therapy is not enough. It’s also important, if possible, to incorporate family therapy and support groups. Family-Based Treatment, according to NEDA, is a method used for patients who are minors.
In severe cases, inpatient care may be necessary; the person suffering from the eating disorder will be hospitalized or placed in residential care.
If you or someone you care about is suffering from an eating disorder, call the helpline now at 1-800-931-2237. An eating disorder is a serious medical and health concern that needs to be addressed as soon as possible.
Is your family going through a rough patch? Whether the issue itself, stems from a lack of understanding between those involved, sibling conflict, or developmental disagreements with a child, a difficult situation can have an effect on the entire family. Family counseling, or family therapy, can be helpful when problems arise and can help restore and improve communication.
Some situations that may benefit from family counseling include:
If a family is going through a loss.
If a family member is suffering from substance abuse
Issues between parents (parenting issues or going through a divorce)
If a teenager is experiencing behavior issues such as anger outbursts
How can family counseling help?
Family counseling can help open up a line of dialogue and communication and can help family members understand each other’s perspectives. This makes it easier to resolve disputes. During the counseling sessions, each member has the ability to learn ways of communicating better, as well as developing techniques to de-escalate arguments while making sure that everybody is getting heard. This can also help with parenting problems such as conflicting parenting styles, rule enforcement and remaining consistent with your child once the rules are established.
How is it accomplished?
Family therapy or counseling can be used in addition to individual treatment. The goal is to improve relationships and improve methods of communication and conflict resolution. Families are a unique ecosystem, and issues affecting one member of a family can reverberate and affect the whole unit. Additional benefits of this type of counseling are that in some instances, the sessions can heal emotional wounds in a short period of time.
Throughout the course of our years, we all experience a loss at some point in our lives. In fact, statistics show that 1 in 5 children will experience the death of someone close to them before 18 years of age. Feelings of grief and loss are not always associated with death, however, but commonly surface after a loss of some kind – whether it is the loss of a loved one, a severed relationship, a pregnancy, a pet, or a job.
When a person loses something or someone valuable to them, feelings of grief can be overbearing. Grief can leave a person feeling sad, hopeless, isolated, irritable, and numb by affecting them mentally, emotionally, and physically. It’s important to understand that healing from grief is a process and everyone copes with this emotion differently.
Many people don’t know what to say or do when a person is grieving, but be sure to have patience with the individual (including yourself) throughout the entire process.
An alternative treatment method includes psychotherapy. Through psychotherapy, a patient may:
· Improve coping skills
· Reduce feelings of blame and guilt
· Explore and process emotions
Consider seeking professional support if feelings of grief do not ease over time.
Grief is the emotional response to any type of loss. Perhaps of a loved one due to death or divorce, but also the loss of a job, a pet, financial stability, or safety after trauma. Feelings of grief can be overwhelming, and it can be hard to know how to manage and overcome these emotions. It is important to have patience with yourself and others during this process as it is a healthy part of healing. If you are having trouble coping on your own, or know of someone who could use extra support, a therapist can assist.
There is no orderly process of passing through stages of anger, denial and acceptance. Everyone experiences loss differently based on their personality, culture, and beliefs, among many other factors.
Common symptoms of grief include:
Shock and disbelief: feeling numb about the event, having trouble believing it happened, denying it, or expecting to suddenly see the person you lost.
Sadness: crying, or having feelings of emptiness, despair, yearning, or loneliness.
Guilt: regret over things unsaid or undone, feeling responsible for the death or the event, or shame from feeling relieved by a person’s passing.
Anger: blaming someone for injustice.
Fear: feelings of anxiety, helplessness, and insecurity, or having panic attacks.
Physical symptoms: fatigue, nausea, weight loss or gain, aches and pains, and insomnia.
Coping with Grief and Loss
An important part of healing is knowing that you are not alone. Seek support from your friends, family, or faith, or join a bereavement support group. Sharing your loss can make the grieving process easier. Remember to take care of yourself; to eat, sleep, and exercise even when you’re too stressed or fatigued to do so. A healthy alternative is to seek the help of a professional therapist. A therapist can help you work through your intense emotions in a safe environment.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a disorder that develops in some people who have experienced a shocking, scary, or dangerous event.
It is natural to feel afraid during and after a traumatic situation. Fear triggers many split-second changes in the body to help defend against danger or to avoid it. This “fight-or-flight” response is a typical reaction meant to protect a person from harm. Nearly everyone will experience a range of reactions after trauma, yet most people recover from initial symptoms naturally. Those who continue to experience problems may be diagnosed with PTSD. People who have PTSD may feel stressed or frightened, even when they are not in danger.
When to See a Therapist
If you have disturbing thoughts and feelings about a traumatic event for more than a month, if they’re severe, or if you feel you’re having trouble getting your life back under control, talk to a mental health professional. Getting treatment as soon as possible can help prevent PTSD symptoms from getting worse.
If You Have Suicidal Thoughts
If you or someone you know has suicidal thoughts, get help right away through one or more of these resources:
Reach out to a close friend or loved one.
Contact a minister, a spiritual leader or someone in your faith community.
Call a suicide hotline number — in the United States, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) to reach a trained counselor. Use that same number and press 1 to reach the Veterans Crisis Line.
Make an appointment with your doctor or a mental health professional.
When to Get Emergency Help
If you think you may hurt yourself or attempt suicide, call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.
If you know someone who’s in danger of attempting suicide or has made a suicide attempt, make sure someone stays with that person to keep him or her safe. Call 911 or your local emergency number immediately. Or, if you can do so safely, take the person to the nearest hospital emergency room.
Children, just like adults, can participate in and benefit from counseling. Counseling can help children and adolescents learn how to identify causes of their distress, develop their skills in asking for help and expressing emotions, and improve their problem-solving abilities.
Why would I send my child or adolescent to counseling?
Children, just like adults, experience stress. Common stressors for children include school and family issues. School stressors may include excessive or difficult homework, test anxiety, peer pressure, bullying, and learning difficulties. Family issues may include parental arguing, divorce, moving homes, new sibling, major illness, death, loss, and transitions.
If you notice a change in your child’s behavior (e.g., inattention, arguing, withdrawing) or emotions (e.g. depressed, angry, worried, stress) and think they may need help, child/adolescent therapy may be a good resource.
What is the goal of child/adolescent therapy?
Specific therapy goals are customized to meet the needs of the child and their family. The overall goal of our child and adolescent therapy approach is to alleviate symptoms of distress; improve the child’s social and emotional resources; increase their use of effective communication skills; and strengthen family, community, and peer relationships.
Intimacy problems widely occur behind a variety of closed doors. Conflicts may include a loss of harmony between the sheets, a lack of sexual desire between either partners or failure in communication. There are often psychological factors that may contribute to a sexual disorder such as erectile dysfunction, or a lowered desire after a new mother has given birth. Intimacy issues are common, but if one or more become severe and there is no resolution in sight, it may be time to seek therapy for guidance.
What Makes a Satisfactory Relationship?
• Mutual Respect
Some of the signs that sex problems are affecting a relationship include:
• Disappointment in oneself or the relationship
• One or both partners are feeling dissatisfied
• Couples lack communication and disconnect from one another
• One or both partners feel neglected or unwanted
• A feeling of sexual boredom or unhappiness
Steps to take for treating intimacy issues begin with:
• Psychosexual Therapy: this technique allows couples to express themselves in a safe environment with a trusted and supportive professional.
• Relationship Counseling: healthy relationships require strong connections and time to build trust. Whatever the issue may be, a counselor can work with individuals together or separate to overcome the problem.
Panic attacks are brief episodes of extreme fear. They may be mistaken for heart attacks or strokes, but are actually psychological rather than physical. Panic attacks can occur suddenly and usually peak within ten minutes. Most panic attacks end within 20 to 30 minutes.
Some symptoms include:
Feelings of suffocation
Sometimes panic attacks are isolated incidents, but if a person has had at least two panic attacks and lives in fear of having another, they may have panic disorder. A panic attack can happen without an obvious cause, but people with panic disorder may develop phobias related to something they associate with panic attacks, including open spaces, and large crowds.
Panic disorder is classified as an anxiety disorder, and like other forms of anxiety, it is commonly treated with a combination of therapy, medications, and healthy lifestyle changes. Anxiety patients are also encouraged to do breathing exercises, get regular exercise, and to avoid stimulants.
The number of situations associated with parenting and families is endless, but common conflicts can include in-laws sticking their nose your relationship, difference in opinion when it comes to raising children, and even trauma, such as domestic violence, or alcohol and drug abuse. It can be challenging to watch family members struggle, and in most cases, you may not know how to resolve the problem. Seeking support from a mental health professional can help parents and families develop acceptance and skills to repair relationships that may seem unsalvageable.
Other parenting and family issues may include:
Being a single parent
Problems caused by divorced parents entering new relationships
Fewer opportunities for parents and children to spend time together
Parenting and family issues are oftentimes intertwined. Treatment methods vary and will depend on an individual or family situation. The healing process may focus on improving communication between family members, as well as finding healthy ways of resolving a conflict. Setting clear boundaries and communicating effectively as a parental unit can set a good example for your children and/or your spouse. If a child is suffering from a genetic disorder or a mental health condition, these are topics that can be addressed with family or individual counseling. Couples counseling is effective at supporting parents in child-rearing.
You don’t have to face parenting and family challenges alone. Seek help from a qualified therapist or a professional support group to gain some much-needed perspective that will allow you to effectively work through the problems at hand.
Being a parent carries a lot of responsibility, and the process can be difficult at times. Whether you are married or single, you may have feelings as though you are on your own, especially if you are dealing with a difficult situation or behavior issues with your child. It’s important to address these problems, and seeking the help of a therapist and/or parent support group can alleviate the stress.
Why is parenting support necessary?
Sometimes a parent needs guidance when reinforcing rules and setting boundaries for a child. If a person is going through a divorce, this can affect a child or children involved. Each of this issues can affect a family unit, and its important that you don’t weather the storm alone. Parent support groups can assist with improving parenting skills, as well as relationships between the parent and child.
What does parenting support look like?
Therapy can be in the form of a support group with other parents, one-on-one sessions with a therapist, or may involve family counseling. Support can be helpful if you have a young child who is going through some kind of developmental or genetic disorder.
Parenting support can take the form of group therapy which involves meeting with other parents to discuss your child’s behaviors and offer advice to one another.
Encountering certain obstacles or situations may leave one frightened, such as being afraid of the dark, high heights, or animals. Most of us are able to remain calm, rationalize the situation, and find a way around it, but this doesn’t work everyone. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, more than 10 million adults live with some kind of phobia.
What is a phobia?
Phobias, according to the American Psychological Association, are intense fears that result in distress and can be intrusive. Individuals with this anxiety disorder have an irrational fear of things that don’t pose any real threat.
Here are a few examples of common phobias:
Arachnophobia, which is the fear of spiders
Acrophobia, this is the fear of heights
Agoraphobia, which is the fear of being in a situation you can’t escape from
The American Psychiatric Association simplified the symptoms into two points:
An out-of-proportion reaction, as well as the age playing a role in being inappropriate
The individual’s capability to behave normally is compromised
Unlike anxiety disorders, such as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, there isn’t extensive research that has been completed on phobias, but that hasn’t stopped mental health professionals from finding ways to help patients.
Therapists help treat phobias by using psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy. The patients receive CBT (cognitive behavior therapy), where they can learn how to think, react, and behave to whatever it is that they fear. It is meant to reduce the feeling of overwhelming anxiety.
Medications, on the other hand, aren’t a cure but they help patients deal with symptoms.
Individuals can also learn stress-management techniques, such as meditation, yoga, or other holistic approaches.
While one of these methods may work for some, professionals may provide their patients with a combination of these treatments and remedies. Unfortunately, the cause of anxiety disorder is unknown. It may be due to genetics, the environment, or even developmental. But until then, people dealing with phobias should seek help.
Everyone encounters stress during their lives at one point—never-ending bills, demanding schedules, work, and family responsibilities—and that can make stress seem inescapable and uncontrollable. Stress management skills are designed to help a person take control of their lifestyle, thoughts, and emotions and teach them healthy ways to cope with their problems.
Find the Cause
The first step in stress management is identifying your stressors. While this sounds fairly easy—it’s not hard to point to major changes or a lot of work piling up—chronic stress can be complicated, and most people don’t realize how their habits contribute to their stress. Maybe work piling up isn’t from the actual demands of your job, but more so from your procrastination. You have to claim responsibility for the role you play in creating your stress or you won’t be able to control it.
Strategies for Stress Management
Once you’ve found what causes your stress, focus on what you can control. Eliminate the realistic stressors and develop consistent de-stressing habits. Instead of watching TV or responding to texts in bed after work – take a walk, or read a book. Maintaining a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and getting enough quality sleep, will ease feelings of stress and help you relax.
Also, make a conscious effort to set aside time for yourself and for relaxation. Alone time can be whatever you need it to be. Some people like doing activities such as tai chi, yoga, or meditation, but you can also treat yourself to something simple, like taking a bubble bath, listening to music, or watching a funny movie.
Finally, don’t feel like you have to solve your stress on your own. Reach out to your family and friends. Whether you need help with a problem or just need someone to listen, find a person who will be there to positively reinforce and support you. If stress becomes chronic, don’t hesitate to seek the help of a therapist.
Most of us spend more time at work than at home, therefore the workplace should be an environment where we feel safe and comfortable. However, because work is where a bunch of different personalities, communication styles, and worldviews gather around, things don’t always go smoothly. In fact, workplace bullying is on the rise and though statistics vary, some studies reveal that nearly half of all American workers have been affected by this problem, either as a target or as a witness to abusive behavior against a co-worker.
Examples of common workplace issues include:
Poor job fit
Sexual or verbal harassment
Low motivation and job dissatisfaction
How a Therapist Can Help
Therapy for work and career issues can help a person develop a better understanding of their wants and needs as well as approach alternative ways to handle tension while on the clock. Therapy is a neutral setting where patients can discuss their fears, worries, or stressors, and regain control of their happiness.
Psychotherapy tends to work well when addressing workplace issues because talk therapy such as this can effectively treat depression and anxiety that can stem from these conflicts. A mental health professional can also teach coping skills that will help a person manage work-related stress.
Challenges with life’s transitions occurs when a person has great difficulty coping with, or adjusting to, a particular source of stress, such as a major life change, loss, or event. Because people who are experiencing challenges with life transitions often have some of the symptoms of clinical depression, such as tearfulness, feelings of hopelessness, and loss of interest in work or activities, this is sometimes informally called “situational depression.” Unlike major depression, however, adjustment challenges don’t involve as many of the physical and emotional symptoms of clinical depression (such as changes in sleep, appetite and energy) or high levels of severity (such as suicidal thinking or behavior).
Life is continually unfolding. Sometimes it meanders and other times it twists and turns abruptly. And other times it stagnates or gets stuck. If life’s transitions are troubling you, it can help to seek guidance on how to navigate your way onto a better course.
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a brain disorder marked by an ongoing pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development.
Inattention means a person wanders off task, lacks persistence, has difficulty sustaining focus, and is disorganized; and these problems are not due to defiance or lack of comprehension.
Hyperactivity means a person seems to move about constantly, including in situations in which it is not appropriate; or excessively fidgets, taps, or talks. In adults, it may be extreme restlessness or wearing others out with constant activity.
Impulsivity means a person makes hasty actions that occur in the moment without first thinking about them and that may have high potential for harm; or a desire for immediate rewards or inability to delay gratification. An impulsive person may be socially intrusive and excessively interrupt others or make important decisions without considering the long-term consequences.
Signs and Symptoms
Inattention and hyperactivity/impulsivity are the key behaviors of ADHD. Some people with ADHD only have problems with one of the behaviors, while others have both inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity. Most children have the combined type of ADHD.
In preschool, the most common ADHD symptom is hyperactivity.
It is normal to have some inattention, unfocused motor activity and impulsivity, but for people with ADHD, these behaviors:
are more severe
occur more often
interfere with or reduce the quality of how they functions socially, at school, or in a job