How to Select a Qualified Counselor

Have you ever tossed around the idea of going to see a counselor? Maybe one of those moments when you felt confused or unsure of the direction you wanted to take, maybe you’ve had some problems that you just wanted to discuss with someone who could be objective - but who?

Have you had a lot of head talk about this? "Maybe I should see a counselor. Oh yeah, what good would that do? Well it might help me make some decisions. You mean you can’t make these decisions by yourself? Who would I see anyway I don’t know any counselors? Probably just cost money I can’t afford. How do I know it would be worth it? Yeah, besides I know someone who went to a counselor last year and it didn’t do him/her any good."

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Okay Ladies Listen Up... (What Women Often Think)

Women often think that it is men who are keeping them from accomplishing their goals or thwarting their efforts. Men are not the enemy; fear is the enemy or indifference. Hillary’s run for president has brought the man/woman controversy to the forefront again, mostly with insinuation and innuendo of course. If Hillary doesn’t win it won’t be because the men kept her down, it will be because the women did. Everyone knows that women out-number men and believe me if the women wanted a woman president there would be one.

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Living With the Mentally Ill

"All happy families resemble one another; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own fashion."
("Anna Karenina" by Leo Tolstoy)

Mental illness in a family may be passed down from one generation to another. It can be hereditary or acquired. It may come from stress, brain injury, traumatic experiences, child abuse, substance abuse, a chemical exposure, organic causes or a family coping pattern. Statistics show that one in every four people has a short or long term mental or emotional illness. This creates confusion and often pandemonium in a family.

In the old days, people were locked in attics or basements or thrown into a sanitarium never to be heard from again. Would it surprise you to learn that in many areas this still happens with many variations? Mental illness is hard to pinpoint. Depression, anxiety, bi-polar illness, personality disorders often have to go on a long time before the person is willing to get help and this is also exacerbated by the family’s denial. Families often try to force the person to shape up using threats or bribery, or try to ignore the problem, or make excuses and plan life around the ill person’s behavior. The ill person may be self-medicating with drugs or alcohol or isolating from the rest of the family. They may appear hostile, lethargic or sad all the time, they may be suicidal. They are always self-absorbed. They might be cutting themselves or binging on food.

When there is a mentally ill person in the family the whole family might feel bad or crazy. There are feelings in the family of denial, guilt, embarrassment, distortion of reality, blame, fear and anger. How can the family be sure there is an illness? How is it to be dealt with? Couldn’t the person just get better on his/her own without all this confusion?  Maybe if we just ignore it then it will go away and is it really that bad anyway? Who can we go to for help?

There is an organization called NAMI (National Alliance for the Mentally Ill.) They offer a free 12-week course for family members of the mentally ill. Those family members who are at the end of their rope or who want the best for their loved one would be well advised to dial 211 the SD help line or go online to www.NAMI.org.  Or if it is an alcohol or drug problem call AA or Al-Anon. Put aside your fear of being disloyal, be willing to reach out and when you do you will find willing supportive arms waiting for you.

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Please Keep Your Mind Where Your Butt Is!

No Cell Phones While DrivingHe was sitting at a stop sign. He looked to be about 16 or 17 years old. He had the ear bud from an iPod in one ear and was holding a cell phone up to the other ear and bouncing his head in time to some unseen cadence.

I wanted to get out of my car and tell him to pay attention to his driving. I wanted to tell him his life is way too valuable to be taking such chances with it. I wanted to tell him sometimes people get hurt, even killed. I wanted to tell him that whoever was on the other end of the cell phone could wait until he parked his car. I wanted to tell him that, believe it or not, we used to have to wait until we were in a building or a phone booth and give telephone calls our undivided attention.

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Feelings and Suicidal Behavior

Feelings are not Right and Wrong. Feelings just are.

People in pain are often ashamed of their feelings and will attempt to deny or hide them. Assure them you can handle their feelings and whatever the feelings are they are ok. Tell them feelings just are and everyone has them.

It is important to be open to expressions of pain and remain calm no matter what is said. Do not react or show shock to expressions of hopelessness or anger, or foul language.

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