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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Codependency and the Fallout From It

Being raised in a family where there is addiction, mental illness, or any problems that cause an inordinate amount of stress, creates codependency and children learn:

  • That you are not important enough to be cared for properly.
  • That it is better to lie and steal than to say something adults do not want to hear.
  • That they could be severely punished if they are caught lying and stealing.
  • That adults are not to be trusted.
  • That it is not okay to care about yourself.
  • That you are expected to take care of yourself.
  • That other people's problems are more important than yours.
  • That the only way to get your needs met is to learn how to be manipulative and seductive.
  • That the only way to get approval and attention is by listening to other people’s problems and trying to solve them for them.
  • That if you have a problem or are in pain no one cares.
  • That accepting personal responsibility will only get you into trouble therefore it is best to blame someone or something else when things go wrong.
  • That it is safer to live a parent's dream than to have one of your own.
  • That you will feel lost, empty, and free floating much of the time causing you to feel different from other people.
  • That it is best to deny having feelings, neglect your own needs and develop a false persona.
  • That being helpless and victim-like will sometimes get you some sympathy, but the sympathy will never be based on the real problem.
  • That shame will be your constant companion and will hold you back from great accomplishments or cause you to over-work, over-produce and become compulsive about 'doing'.
  • That you will be a loner or accumulate followers who do not really know you.
  • That conflict is dangerous and therefore it is best to keep quiet and not stick-up for yourself.
  • That the only way to kill your pain or feel alive is to use alcohol, drugs, sex, work, religion or some other activity compulsively.
  • That perpetual anger colors every decision and action.
  • That as you grow older you will become cynical, intolerant, impetuous and controlling, or you will seek to go unnoticed and perform for others without complaint.
  • That you will feel like an outcast socially or become a social butterfly and neither will satisfy you.
  • That constant crisis is a way of life and without it you are bored.
  • That having been betrayed by the people who brought you into the world has set you up for a life-time of trusting the wrong people and listening to advice from inappropriate sources.
  • That you set up a grandiose way of thinking that says "I can do it all, be it all, and take care of others" and then develop self-hate when you can't "do it all, be it all, and take care of others".
  • That you will either idealize people places and things or negate them.
  • That the thing about you that no one knows or would ever guess is that you just want someone to take care of you.

This page may not be reproduced without express permission of the author.
© Evelyn Leite, MHR, LPC

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Just Do It - Part 3

Ultimately, we are our own worst critic and persecutor. To meet the challenge that fears present is a giant hurdle and requires a huge shift in thoughts and beliefs. Fear resides inside of self and behavior resides outside of self.

How many times have you been extremely afraid to do something and so put it off until it was too late? How many times have you faked illness, told a little white lie, and avoided doing things that made you feel fearful? Fear is like a monster that feeds on itself the more you put off doing something the bigger the monster grows. Have you ever considered yourself a loser?

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Just Do It - Part 2

How many times have you said to yourself or someone that you care about “for Pete’s sake stop talking about it and just do it?” This simple statement is often a complex problem in many lives.

Do you really want to know what is holding you back from doing the things you want to do with your life? If so, do a bold and courageous inventory of your life, your assets and your shortcomings. Give your friends a piece of paper with the questions written on it and ask them to be totally honest without fear of reprisal.

  1. Who are you when you are alone? (Who do they think you are when you’re alone?)
  2. What do you stand for? (What do your friends think you stand for?)
  3. What are your strengths? (What do your friends say your strengths are?)
  4. What are your limitations? (What do your friends say your limitations are?)
  5. What 3 things do you value most in the world? (What 3 things do your friends say?)

If you can’t answer these questions easily it is time for reflection and perhaps counseling.

Do not read any farther until you have answered these questions and asked at least two friends for their answers.

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Just Do It - Part 1

How many times have you said to yourself or someone that you care about “for Pete’s sake stop talking about it and just do it?” Or how many times have you beat yourself up because you have been planning to do something for days, weeks, or even months or years and you just never quite get to it?

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Help Me! I Think I am Going to Die - Part 3

Spiritual

People suffer from various kinds of anxiety and it often gets unbearable around holidays or special occasions. When you are feeling anxious it is hard to think and hard to know what to do about it. Know that what you are feeling is either fear of the unknown or fear of being exposed. Examine this fear and ask yourself how practical is it? Don’t try to talk yourself out of what you are feeling but learn some of the ways you can manage your anxiety.

To manage your anxiety there are three areas to look into: Physically, Mentally & Spiritually. In part one we discuss physical aspects and in part two we discussed mentally and in part three we will look into how your spiritual life can reduce your anxiety.

Spiritually:

  • Do you have a spiritual component in your life? If so, what do you do to honor it? Everyone must have someone or something in their life is that he/she can look up to. If you don't know God perhaps now is the time to explore who He is and what He stands for.
  • Have you tried meditation or yoga for calming and relaxation? Formerly the school of thought was that meditation and yoga was of the occult, now we know that is not true. Both are widely accepted as a superior way to combat anxiety.
  • Do you suffer from shame or guilt that does not belong to you, but has been passed on to you by parents or others? If so, how long do you want to carry it?
  • Have you sought counseling or spiritual direction guidance from someone you trust? Is misery a companion that you are willing to give up. Are you willing to do whatever it takes to find peace of mind? Some people have used anxiety as a crutch for many years, giving it up involves facing your reasons for keeping it. Just like leaving an abusive relationship opens one up to a whole new world so can leaving your anxiety. Are you willing? Are tired of being controlled? Have you suffered long enough? Only you can answer these questions.

Help is available and is as close as your phone or email. If you need it, get it!

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Help Me! I Think I am Going to Die - Part 2

Mental

People suffer from various kinds of anxiety and it often gets unbearable around holidays or special occasions. When you are feeling anxious it is hard to think and hard to know what to do about it. Know that what you are feeling is either fear of the unknown or fear of being exposed. Examine this fear and ask yourself how practical is it? Don’t try to talk yourself out of what you are feeling but learn some of the ways you can manage your anxiety.

To manage your anxiety there are three areas to look into: Physically, Mentally & Spiritually. In part one we discuss physical aspects and in part two we will discuss what aspects you can look at mentally to manage anxiety.

Mentally:

  • What kind of messages are you giving yourself? The way you talk to yourself can increase anxiety ten (10) fold. Negative Self-Talk is Very Destructive and can keep you constantly anxious.
  • To combat the negative messages you give yourself, you must change the negative into a positive and say it to yourself five times each time the negative message comes up. An example of this is: if you look in the mirror and say “I look terrible” you can overcome that by saying five times in a row, “I look great, I am beautiful (handsome), I am better looking today than I was yesterday”. For best results do this every day.
  • Whatever you tell yourself is true. If you say you can't do something, then you can't. If you say you’re not good enough, then you will prove to yourself that you are not good enough. If you say you don't like something, then for sure you won't like it even if you have never even tried it.
  • Have you or do you often feel inside that you are crazy? If you are reading this, you are not crazy and in fact probably everything you feel is normal and felt by hundreds of others.
  • Do you journal? Writing everything down is the most positive way to put things into perspective. Put it all down, everyday, hold nothing back, do not worry about spelling or making sense no one is to read this except you, and do not read what you have written for several weeks. When you do read it, you will see a predominate theme that will guide you in decision making. Many people avoid writing because it is “too much work”. If this is you, then you are enjoying your discomfort too much to try something to overcome it.

 

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Help Me! I Think I am Going to Die - Part 1

Physical

People suffer from various kinds of anxiety and it often gets unbearable around holidays or special occasions. When you are feeling anxious it is hard to think and hard to know what to do about it. Know that what you are feeling is either fear of the unknown or fear of being exposed. Examine this fear and ask yourself how practical is it? Don’t try to talk yourself out of what you are feeling but learn some of the ways you can manage your anxiety.

To manage your anxiety there are three areas to look into: Physically, Mentally & Spiritually. In part one it will discuss what aspects you can look at physically to manage anxiety.

Physically:

  • Look at your eating habits, do you drink a lot of caffeine products, such as coffee, energy drinks or soda? If so, cut back on them.
  • Do you smoke cigarettes or use chewing tobacco? Nicotine only calms for moments and then creates a restlessness that requires more nicotine.
  • Are you getting enough exercise? Research shows that daily exercise doing something you love reduces anxiety. Walking, running, dancing and weight lifting are all ways to reduce anxiety.
  • How hard do you work? Are you a workaholic? Do you not work at all because of fear?
  • Are you able to sleep or do you let yourself worry and think all night? There are ways to take care of an over active mind.
    • One way is to Pray and Learn to Let Go.
    • Another is to Count Backwards from 100...
    • And another way is to Concentrate on Your Breathing.
TIP: Your mind can only handle one thought at a time, you can teach yourself to sleep all night through doing one or more of these things.
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Are You a Victim?

Answer the following questions to help you assess whether you play the role of a victim and how it may be impacting you. At the end of the survey, there are three scoring ranges that would support, based on your answers, if you are a victim.

Please answer the following questions with Yes or No:

- Do you ever find yourself doing more than you want to do or have feelings of being out of control in any of the following areas:

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Problem Solving and the Art of Negotiation

Where ever there are human beings there will be differences in opinion and often open conflict. Most often open conflict is a power struggle.

Power struggles are recognized by the following signs:

  • Refusing to make eye-contact.
  • Giving the silent treatment.
  • Manipulation in an attempt to dominate or control.
  • Using blame, intimidating gestures, and loud voices.
  • Expressing bitterness, resentment and suspicion.
  • Using us and them language setting yourself apart. (you people)
  • Being secretive, hiding information or activities.
  • Showing disapproval or contempt for another’s point of view.
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Let Your Light Shine - Part 2

When sharing your faith remember:
  1. Acceptance. The people who you need the most are the ones who are most hard to accept. Chances are they will be surly, sullen, moody, arrogant, or egotistical. Opposite of this is the victim who doesn't want help but wants someone to feel sorry for them. When they look at you, they will be looking for the slightest sign of a judgmental attitude in your demeanor. Compassion is the key. Do not approach if you are trying to "help" them because that puts you in a one-up position. Many troubled people have nothing left but their false pride. Do not see them as a victim or encourage them to see themselves as a victim.

  2. Give them a smile and find something, one personal thing you can sincerely compliment them on. Every time you see them reinforce it.

  3. Invite them to tell you who they are with genuine curiosity. I have asked if I could write about them and I have never had anyone turn me down. Listen silently and don't show shock or judgement. Once I asked a woman if she would participate in a short survey, then I asked questions about what single mothers need to make their lives easier. I've made up many surveys like this, depending on who I am talking with.

  4. Ask their permission to tell them who you are by telling a short story about your life. Include a couple small references to some trouble that God has helped you with. Try to make your story relate to theirs. Tell them how much you needed acceptance or approval at some point in your life. Be brief. Short is the key word here.

  5. Ask them to do you a favor. No matter how they look or act, even if they resist, they will appreciate an opportunity to help you. So be very inventive with this part. e.g. I'm lonely and I hate to eat alone would you join me? Or I need help picking out a book or some music for a friend, would you have time to help? I need help talking to my friends, kids, wife about drugs, alcohol, danger? Could you tell me where a pawn shop is? Could you give me information on ----?

  6. Ask if there is anything they need from you? Be willing to do what they ask or find someone who will. With the exception of giving them money or buying them alcohol. Buy them groceries, pay for a cab or give them a ride, give them a blanket, or a coat, give them a reason to love themselves by showing them they are important to you. I once drove to a client's house, picked her up and took her back to my office for a counseling session because she didn't have a car.

  7. Find out what their interests are. What do they love? "If you could have one wish what would it be? Tell me more about this. And then what? And then what?

  8. Ask if they would like to meet again, if so set a date for a solid commitment. Tell them you would be very disappointed if they can't show up for the meeting and you would like to give them a call before the time to meet. Also give them your telephone number.

  9. Never make a suggestion about how they might do things better unless they ask you. Never make a promise or a commitment that you can't keep.

  10. Once you have their trust, a good thing to do is talk about your own walk to God and say "it's ok if you don't believe-will you just believe that I believe?

Before you speak to me about religion show it to me in how you treat other people. Before you tell me how much you love your God, show me how much you love His children. Before you preach to me of your faith, teach me about it through your compassion for your neighbors. I am not as interested in what you have to tell me as I am in how you choose to live your life.

Cory Boaher
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Let Your Light Shine - Part 1

As you know leading someone to God is not a job for cowards. It takes phenomenal courage to step out boldly and put yourself in a vulnerable position. It isn't what you say that counts it's what you do. The clique is true "I don't care how much you know until I know how much you care."

Here are some tips on reaching those who cross your path:

1. Memorize some Bible verses that you can use to shore up your courage.
2. Say your prayers before each encounter.
3. Be aware that anyone you encounter may only have two frames of mind: Fight or Flight.
4. Above all, make no assumptions. THEY DON'T NEED YOU AS MUCH AS YOU NEED THEM. (this is the attitude you must have if you want to make a difference.)

Always be willing to share your faith, pray with someone, or give them a Bible. The keys to a good relationship are: respect, consistency, encouragement, and support.

"Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep." Romans 12:15


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