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?...

Now What – how to handle the post holiday blues

Jan 2nd………..ugh. What was once a lovely display of holiday lights, shiny wrapping paper with velvet bows, blooming poinsettias and white perfect snow has now become a pile of ripped torn crumpled balls, tangled knots of extension cord wire, bloated bellies and pounding heads and the dirty, cold, frozen residue to be chipped off the windshield at 7 am. Yep – it’s the Post-Holiday Blues……. The above paragraph purposefully exaggerates the image to make a point – that many do experience a true depression following the holidays. The truth is between Thanksgiving and Christmas many of us are living in a haze of anticipatory excitement – family on their way to visits, old friends reconnecting, waiting for the “gift” you are hoping for. The unstructured work weeks, the happiness that seems to be catching from one person to the next – holidays for most can provide a bit of an escape from realty – if only for two weeks or so….the problem is, it is temporary. At some point we must all return to the normal schedule, the empty house and the regular meal times. This can be both welcomed as well as unwanted. The trick is to get ahead of the post-holiday “mood”. Plan something to do with the family. For the month of January, make sure to plan a family get together of some kind – just for the immediate family (you, your husband, boyfriend, girlfriend, kids) – have something to look forward to so that it is not all about what has already passed. Make the most of the “alone” time. Meditate, listen to music, and...