Over the past 10-15 years, people have been hearing more and more about cognitive behavioral therapy and its effectiveness for treating anxiety in particular, but also depression; the two most common mental health issues. In reality, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has been around since the 1950’s when its two biggest founders brought it to life: Albert Ellis and Aaron Beck. Over the decades countless studies and experiments have been conducted which is what has proven it to be one of the most effective forms of therapy. So what is it? Perhaps you recall the old saying; seeing the world through rose colored glasses. This of course means the tendency of someone to filter things through a bright and optimistic perception or lens. What we know is that many people, especially those with depression and anxiety, are not seeing things through rose colored glasses. In fact, their perceptual lens are rather warped and distorted when it comes to how they see themselves, others, or even the world. This is not to say they are paranoid or out of touch with reality, but that they have a lot of irrational thoughts and beliefs that are unfounded, yet nonetheless negatively impact their lives. CBT would suggest that these negative and distorted thoughts are often what is driving all sorts of negative feelings such as sadness, worry, anger, guilt and shame. CBT is designed to teach you how read more
The fine art of mastering emotions does not come easily or naturally, as you can see at your local grocery store where you can routinely find a two year kicking and screaming on the floor because they can’t get some gum at the checkout line. We certainly feel for the parents and thank god it’s not our kid, but quickly overlook how difficult it was for all of us at one time to manage and regulate our feelings. If you are still doubting, just ask your parents and I’m sure they will be delighted to recount the time you cried for 3 days when your goldfish died, how you were so mad at your brother when he won monopoly that you took a swing at him, or how you refused to sleep in your bed for a week because you were terrified of the boogeyman. If all goes well over the first 15-20 years of our life, you had good role models, and supportive family and friends; you slowly learned to regulate and manage your emotions, despite the gasoline that puberty dumps on our emotional fires. Unfortunately, for many of us, we may not have weathered the storm unscathed and continue to find ourselves wrestling to manage our feelings. When it comes to emotional regulation, it’s important to be able to both experience feelings internally as well as express them outwardly in a healthy controlled manner. This represents a nice healthy middle ground, however we certainly see people on both ends of read more
Self-care means taking care of yourself. Right? If you are defining this idea with the words themselves, it may mean you have a fuzzy idea about what self-care actually is and should look like. Let’s take a moment to try to better understand what this thing is so you stand a better chance of implementing it into your routine and can try to make your life better. With clients I often describe self-care as the counter balance to stress. Where stress will run you down and deplete you, good quality self-care should replenish and recharge your batteries. Self-care is actually made up of those activities people do when they need to relax and rejuvenate. There are three important parts to self-care in order to execute effectively on this tool. First, is having a well-tuned barometer. You need to know when the pressure is getting to you and it’s time to implement some self-care. Another metaphor is that self-care is like the fuel gauge on your car. You don’t want to break down on the highway before you realize that you have run out of gas. It’s important to have some internal awareness about how you are doing and how much reserves you have in the tank. Be sure to fill up some time before you wake up and realize you can’t get out bed. Second, you must be willing to give yourself permission to do self-care. This may seem a bit silly. Really? Do something fun and enjoyable? Boy, read more
The concept of content and process is probably one of the single most important concepts in mastering communication in your relationship.
- Content: The content, when we are talking about couples and their communication problems, refers to what they are talking or arguing about. Some common content issues include: sex, money, kids, in-laws, or whose turn it is to take out the garbage. It’s the “what” we are discussing.
- Process: The process refers to how a couple is talking to each other. Some common process pitfalls include: making assumptions, being critical, stonewalling, or switching topics to name just a few. The process is how our conversations break down, or goes smoothly.
- A to B: There are many little steps in getting from point A (the problem) to point B (the solution). All these little steps make up the process.
- Most couples are great at identifying and bringing up the problem (point A) but rarely seem to make it to any solution or resolution (point B). Things break down in the process and it gets swept under th
Addiction is a disease that does not just affect the person who is engaging in addictive behaviors, it also affects those loved one around them. The impact can be so sweeping that many people become obsessed with the person’s addiction and trying to do something about it. Below are attributes common to those with codependency.
- Collusion: Many people help support their partner’s addiction by covering up for them in some way. Social rules about family image and social perceptions pull many people into the addictive process and they become a party to the secrecy. Collusion can also take the form of participating in the addictive behavior. Some become drinking or using “buddies” or gambling partners. Rationalization is also a big part of collusion. Partners tell themselves such things as; “At least he’s not at the strip club, he’s only online”, or “At least she’s not shooting up”.
- Obsessive Preoccupation: Codependents obsess about their partner’s behavior and their lives. They think constantly about their partner’s addiction. They find themselves checking emails, texts, computer history, hiding spots, connections, dealers, checking and credit card statements. These efforts may provide temporary relief of anxiety and create the illusion of control, but in the end they simply help peopl
Problems with sleep is one of the number one symptoms and complaints we hear in therapy. Below are some tips to help you work into a good sleep routine.
- Taking a hot bath or shower before bed will increase your body’s core temperature and help you relax.
- Avoid caffeine after 10:00 am. If you need to have coffee or soda try to confine it to early morning giving time for the stimulating effects to wear off before bed. Try to avoid foods that have caffeine such as apples and chocolate.
- Avoid naps during the day. Even though they feel good at the time, this will catch up with you when you crawl into bed and find yourself awake and refreshed from your nap earlier.
- Use relaxation strategies. There are countless books and tapes that teach a variety of methods from breathing exercises, to metal exercises, to progressive relaxation. Find one that works for you and use it before and while getting into bed.
- Carbohydrates can be helpful for sleep. Having some toast, cereal, or popcorn before bed can help promote sleep.
- Avoid nicotine. If you smoke, try not to have any cigarettes 2-3 hours before bed. Nicotine feel psychologically relaxing to many people, but it is actually physically stimulating and causes veins and arteries to constrict, making your heart and body work even harder; i.e., arou
We always hear about the importance of stress management and the countless ways to help ourselves decompress from the impact of the various stressors we all deal with. Hopefully, this will be your aerial view of stress management from five thousand feet. One way to conceptualize stress is to visualize the stressors in your life on one side of scale measuring from 0-100, and your coping skills on the other side of the scale also measuring from 0-100. For most people their coping skills remain static and unmoving. They have what they have in order to cope with life and its stressors. Perhaps it registers at 68 and the person can cope with most things life brings reasonably effectively. On the other side stressors are rarely static. In fact, they usually fluctuate up and down in a given day or week. Perhaps ranging from 40-80 at any given point, after all most of us feel like we are routinely trying to juggle several things at once. Most people will continue to do fine in life so long as their coping skills exceed their stress level. For instance, a stress level of 56 relative to the above noted 68 on the coping side. In fact, most of will endure and get through even when stress goes above our coping level, so long as it comes back down reasonably quickly. It is vital that our stress level not exceed our coping abilities for extended periods of time or we fall prey to burn out a read more
Ensuring that you have a network of supportive people in your life is critically important. There are mountains of research confirming the value and benefits of having a strong support network. Many people utilize their support network as a way to manage stress, as a means of self-care, and a venue to process and regulate their emotions. A good support system can also be a sounding board to vent to, as well as check our thinking and conclusions. Beyond simply having a network of people, it is also important to make sure you have carefully vetted them out over time to ensure that they are safe and trustworthy. High quality people in your support network are mentally and emotionally safe; meaning they are kind, caring, supportive, and non-judgmental. You can share things and be vulnerable knowing you will not be ridiculed, judged, or belittled by them. You also want to choose to surround yourself with trustworthy people who have proven to be honest, dependable, and reliable. You don’t have to be a social butterfly or an extravert to create a solid support system. Having 3-6 really close people is often adequate for most people. Support networks also require on-going maintenance. Relationships that are not nurtured tend to fade and be less accessible when we need them. In today’s global economy it is more common that people will move away for work or travel seaso read more
- Don’t let things build up: The emotional energy intensifies the longer we wait to bring up an issue. Your ability to address the issue calmly after days or weeks of dwelling on it is not likely to go well.
- Express appreciation: When people receive reinforcement for an action, they are likely to repeat it again in the future. Everyone likes to know their efforts are recognized and appreciated.
- Pick the right time to bring up an issue: Five minutes before you have to leave; when you’re tired and getting ready for bed; when you’re really hungry; these are not good times to bring up an issue. Make sure you will be free of distraction before asking to discuss things and find solutions.
- If you stick your foot in your mouth, admit it and start again: Emotions run high in conflicts and sometimes we say things wrong that can make things worse. If you catch yourself in this moment, just admit it and try to get back on track. “I really blew that one, let me try again.”
- Show you care: This is best accomplished without presents and gifts, but by showing interest. When your partner takes the time to tell you about something that affected them in their day, make sure they know you care and hear them. Turn the TV off, put the paper down, look them in the eye, listen to what they say, ask some questions, demonstrate that you understand.