An Alcoholic in Denial

“Don’t worry about me…I’m fine!”  “It is really not a problem at all.”  “Stop making such a big deal out of this!”  “Would you just leave me alone?” Sound familiar? If there is an active alcoholic in denial in your life, then I am sure you are nodding your head. Denial – the action of declaring something to be untrue. Have we all used denial at some point in our lives? Have there been times in our life that it seems as though others are seeing something we simply cannot or will not see? We kind of push that little voice of reason and truth to the side and go ahead with the behavior anyway? Sure for some denial is a defense mechanism that serves a very important purpose, it protects them perhaps from what they are not ready to see. In the grieving process, denial is the first stage for some. This defense needs to be there in order for that person to function. The problem for many is that there comes a point where the defense mechanism of denial no longer protects the individual from harm, but rather healing. For addicts and alcoholics much of the drive to drink stems from the feelings they are experiencing in the moment or the anxiety created by anticipation of the feelings they are trying desperately to avoid. Many of the alcoholics and addicts that I treat are intellectually intelligent people. They appear to have the ability to understand things, to make sense of things…as long as those things are not about their drinking or the impact their drinking has on...

The Other Victims of Addiction

Addiction is a chronic and if not treated, fatal disease. It captures the addict, imprisons the addict and hangs on with claws that have a grip tighter and more powerful than any animal you will ever encounter. The addicted individual suffers greatly and often finds themselves in the depths of despair they never knew could be possible. However, there are other victims of this awful disease and they often lose the most in this horrific battle……..they are the children. Children who grow up in alcoholic families are often the most damaged by the disease – unlike the addict, they have little escape. They are confused, they are frightened and more often than not, they blame themselves for the chaos that is going on in the household. Addiction is a selfish disease and without some kind of treatment or self-help the addicted individual is self-absorbed, cruel and thinks nothing of what their actions are doing to those who love them most – their kids. Take a moment and place yourself in the body of a 3, 4, 5 or even 10, 11, 12 year old. Look at the addicted parent through their eyes – they see their hero, their mother or their father acting in a way that is confusing, frightening and they know that something is “wrong”. It has been said many times that if you want the truth you ask a kid, that is because children are more perceptive and observant than most adults. Children have not yet been exposed to all the distractions of adulthood. They continue to believe that the adults in their world will protect...

Couples Therapy – Do we need it?

There have been several occasions where I sit with a couple for the initial session and I hear “I cannot believe that we are here – how pathetic”. The belief being that if you are entering into couple’s therapy, you have somehow managed to “fail” as a couple. This is a myth that I work on disproving the moment we begin our work. It is true, that there are couples out there who perhaps need to separate from each other that are somehow toxic for each other and some that can work through their issues and remain together. The only failure would be to pretend that perhaps, therapy is not needed. Entering into couple’s therapy is frightening and courageous thing to do. Anytime I have a couple in front of me I acknowledge that the fact that these are two people who are willing to take a look at what their part in the dysfunction may be. That is not always the case and there are those who seek out therapy so the therapist can “fix” the spouse. “Tell him that he is wrong!” or vice versa. Couples therapy is not about proving who is right or who is wrong It is about providing a safe place where thoughts, feelings, beliefs can be expressed without being shut down, dismissed or invalidated by your partner. The number one issues that presents itself in couple’s therapy usually is a lack of communication. Somewhere along the line the two have lost the ability to effectively communicate with each other. Part of the work is to find out how or why this breakdown...

Can Anybody Hear Me

“Perception is reality” – this is a belief that I hold to be true. As a clinician it is not my job to tell my client how they feel, what they feel or how to behave. It IS my job to LISTEN. If I want to know how to truly help my client…..I ask. What anyone feels, thinks or believes is true to that person and it is only until they are ready that this belief may begin to change. Those who struggle with an eating disorder believe they need to be thinner, stronger, better, different. They believe that the less they eat, the more they eat, the more they work out, the less they weigh (etc) the better they will be. These are ingrained internalized belief systems that they are not ready to give up and/or change – so…..I listen. So many who struggle with eating disorders have never felt as though they have a safe place where they could “speak”. Often, those who struggle have no clue how to verbalize what their needs are, so they use external objects, food, weight, numbers, miles, calories etc as a way to try and tell the people in their life what pain they are in. It is through the act of listening that recovery is possible. How often are you listened to? How often to you feel as though the person sitting across from you is actually listening to and hearing the things that you are saying to them? How often do you actually listen to the other person? More than ever, we live in a world where the art...

The New Year’s Resolution For Every Day

This year, my New Year’s resolution is to………… How many times have you said this to yourself, to someone else? What is it about New Year’s resolutions? Why is it that we need to put this exorbitant amount of pressure on ourselves to make a change that we have not been able to make for 365 straight days in a row? Is it the excitement that the possibility of change gives us? Is the hope that perhaps this time, it will be different? What is the definition of insanity again……oh yes, doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results? Yep – that sounds familiar. New Year’s resolutions – in my book a complete set up for yet another reason to scrutinize, punish and provide additional lines to the negative self-talk script so many already have going on in their heads. The truth is, that there are some who make resolutions and do in fact stick to them – to these I say “CONGRATULATIONS” but you are the minority. Many who make resolutions to change the negative behaviors or actions or habits that have been causing anxiety or stress in their lives more than likely lack to the skills to do so or perhaps they would have prior to December 31st . How many do you know say “this year I will quit smoking”… “…Lose weight”…”exercise more”….”work less”…..”Work more”….”be kinder”….etc etc….. Is it fair to do this to yourself? Is there possibly another reason why you have not made these changes up until now? What would it be like to make a daily resolution to yourself?...