Are Quick Fixes Letting You Down?

As you walk through the grocery store or pharmacy there are medications for everything from headache relief to foot fungus. There’s medication that differentiates between morning to night symptoms. Do you buy generic or brand name? Aren’t they the same? Your guess is as good as mine.

I really do respect the drugs on the shelves for what they are. Just as I respect the drug, I also respect the therapy that needs to go along with medication (after all I am a therapist).

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For example, you go to your primary care physician and were diagnosed with Type II Diabetes. They send you home with medication and suggestions about diet and exercise management. So along with the medication there is a regiment that the doctor suggests you follow, “diet and exercise.” Yet, how many people eat the cheeseburger then take the Metformin (diabetes medication)? You cannot control the diabetes for long relying solely on medication.
As with most medical diagnoses our chances of a healthier lifestyle come from both medication AND lifestyle changes. Society and media continue to promote a quick fix. So in order to have lasting and better results please adhere to the other half of the doctors orders (better known as the dreaded “diet and exercise”). The same goes for addiction to drugs and alcohol, a lifestyle change needs to happen for lasting results. You cannot solely rely on a medication to cure your issues.

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If you’re tired of quick fixes letting you down, struggle with continued relapsing, or need a complete lifestyle make over, call me today. Nothing changes if nothing changes!

Written By: Amanda Mattick, MA, LMHC, CAP           Phone: 321-593-0759         Website: Counselinginbrevard.com

 

Secrets Keep You Sick

downloadWhen you think a loved one has an addiction we tend to be in denial. Saying things like “it’s just a phase… he just had a rough day and needed to let loose…she’s just tired, that’s why she’s nodding out.” Sure, all of these might be true but if the behavior continues I can grantee the consequences will get worse.

Most substance abuse users are confronted at some point, either at work or at home. However, it may take years before the addiction becomes apparent to the addict themselves. Why?

Well, it boils down to the title of this blog, “Secrets Keep You Sick.” Most family members can recall a time when the addict had an “episode.” However, these episodes far exceed the times when family members seek therapy and interventions to actually help the addict or themselves. The addict’s behavior becomes the family’s dirty little secret. It’s almost taboo to talk about it, yet each family member is suffering silently. It’s confusing, depressing, misunderstood, and worrisome.download-1

I understand that it is very difficult to confront someone with a possible addiction. The fear of how the person may react can be daunting. However, avoiding the person can lead to continued distress and worry. Speak up and seek help! Remember addiction is a family disease, one person may use but all suffer.  Written by ,  Amanda Mattick MA | RMHCI | CAP

 

 

Anxiety Can Be Good For You?

Anxiety Can Be Good For You?

Can Anxiety Be Good For You?

Heart racing, shortness of breath, mind racing, feeling overwhelmed… sound familiar? These are common symptoms of anxiety. So many people suffer from this “inevitable” diagnosis. I say “inevitable” because I believe everyone at some point experiences anxiety and there are pros and cons of anxiety aka: healthy vs. unhealthy symptoms.

Pros:

1) Task completion: If you have a project or deadline to meet one’s anxiety can assist you to get it done.

2) Motivation: Whether it’s a weight loss goal or job promotion.

Cons:
1) Blocking: Anxiety can lead to tunnel vision and unhealthy thinking patterns.

2) Daily functioning: If you experience anxiety more days than not, you may have trouble completing everyday tasks.

So to answer the question… YES! Anxiety can be good for you. It can motivate you to complete goals. However, it IS a problem when obsessions intrude on your daily functioning. Anxiety is one of the most common diagnoses yet so many people continue to struggle with this burden thinking “it’s just how I am… I’m a worry wort… I can’t help it.” I’m here to tell you that you CAN live a more peaceful life. Working with a therapist using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is proven to be the most effective treatment for anxiety and depression.

If you would like more information about CBT or to make an appointment please call me at 321-593-0759.

How to Nurture Self-Esteem in Your Child

How to Nurture Self-Esteem in Your Child

When children feel good about themselves, they have healthy “self-esteem”. Having a positive self-image has long-term effects on a child’s ability to take risks, self regulate their emotions, behavior, level of achievement, and more.    The benefits of having a healthy self-esteem are seemingly limitless.

Self-Esteem can be nurtured in so many ways.

But, what about self-esteem levels for kids with behavioral struggles that leave them feeling “less than”.  How can self-esteem be nurtured in a child with challenging behaviors that can make parenting tough?  When a child is struggling with behaviors from ADHD, Autism, adjustment to divorce, blended family issues, early childhood trauma (before adoption), and more, behavioral issues are often a pain point in the family dynamics.

For those hard days with situations that leave you feeling exhausted, upset, and hopeless as a parent…  Many of us reach out to express these feelings to our friends, family, teachers, therapists, and other people that are important in our child’s life. To “vent”.

Does this sound familiar?

“I have told her 50 times to put her backpack in her room.  She just doesn’t listen.  And the tantrums… I just can’t stand the way she talks to me.  Somethings wrong with her and things are going to change!”

What’s the best way to de-esculate this situation and lessen the probability of such emotionally charged situations in the future?  Having a positive mindset can make a difference.

It can be so helpful to reach out for support and sharing our frustrations with others.  It is so important though to keep your focus on the change you desire as much as possible.

“I would like for her to speak to me with respect and follow directions more.”

The words that we choose has the ability to shift our mood, energy and ultimately the child / parent relationship.  It is also important to not say things that could feel degrading and foster humiliation about her to others while our kiddos our present.  Feelings of inadequacy, shame, humiliation, and disgrace in a situation that feels like a verbal attack, which can create a strain, and sometimes even worse, a rupture in the relationship.  It can put a painful emotional wedge in your parent / child relationship.  Focusing on what is wrong, more than the positive behavior that you desire, can escalate situations much more.  The focus should always be on “de-escalating” rather than intensifying.  It helps our kiddos to self regulate their emotions.

As  parent, we are in a position to build our children up with encouraging comments, clear limitations, and lots and lots of love and respect.

This “speak mindfully with intention” mindset can make a HUGE difference.  When a child feels like the parent  cares,  they will want to satisfy their parent by making better choices, even when things get heated.  Children feel more motivated to try harder amidst struggles that they face when they feel believed in, loved and supported.

Nurture and cultivate your relationship with your child(ren) through mutual respect, love, and understanding – especially when things get stressful.

I LOVE Labryinths…and let me tell you why!

I LOVE Labryinths…and let me tell you why!

I use my labyrinth in a variety of ways in therapy sessions.  I direct my clients to move their fingers through the mazes (I like to incorporate sand from the sandtray to strengthen the effect) while focusing on their breath to can enhance brain performance through synchronization of the left and right hemispheres. This helps my clients focus and calm, as well as process through difficult situations much more effectively.  It is especially helpful for people that feel overwhelmed and stressed, as well as for those that struggle with focus issues due to ADHD, death of a loved one, divorce or breakup, and such.  Other common uses for it are meditation, prayer, insight, and much more.

Co-Parenting through the Pain of Divorce… and Beyond

Co-Parenting through the Pain of Divorce… and Beyond

Co-parenting can be one of the most difficult parts of a divorce.   Through the pain, parents are tasked with putting aside their hurt and anger to focus on the best interest of a child.  Sometimes, this can be a pretty tall order, but it is definitely worth the effort.  It is important to remember that the divorce is probably emotionally difficult for your child(ren) too, so KEEPING YOUR COOL and focusing on what it in the best interest of the child, even if it means being more humble than usual, is always the best course of action.

Parenting through the pain of a divorce can feel almost unbearable at times for sure.  But, creating an emotionally safe environment for your child before, during and after the divorce is so important to your child’s emotional health now and in the future.

Through your co-parenting relationship with your ex, your child(ren) should recognize that they are even more important than the struggle and disagreement(s) that ended the marriage.   Also, it is important that they realize that your love for them will remain intact regardless of any family changes.   Sometimes kids wonder, “If my mom and dad can stop loving each other, will they stop loving me?”.  So, be certain to let your child(ren) know, through your actions and words, that they are at the center of your focus and your love for them is never ending.

It is important that children feel secure during the entire process, as well. This will help your child(ren) adjust more rapidly and with less emotional impact to divorce, as well as have better self-esteem through it all.

Also, focus on being consistent with family rules, expectations, discipline methods, schedules and such.  A predictable environment, even with family changes that come with divorce, can help kids feel secure and emotionally safe.

It is imperative to communicate with your spouse in a respectful way, even when you don’t agree on issues.  Find the strength to resist the urge to “trash talk” the other parent to and/or in front of your child.  Talking bad about their other parent can feel confusing to them and foster feelings of guilt and shame, which can be incredibly painful.  Children need love from both of their parents, especially through a divorce. It is important to know that by working with the other parent in a respectful manner, you will establish a healthy parenting model for your child(ren) to use later on in life.

Sometimes, co-parenting can be extraordinarily difficult though when you still feel angry, hurt, and all of the other emotions that can surface during this time.    Therapy can help people heal their broken hearts and move forward with a happier, healthier life that is conducive to good parenting, even with someone that is difficult to get along with.

Take a deep, rejuvenating breath, be kind to yourself and others, and take it one day at a time if necessary.  Take care, Jackie

3 Tips: How to Bond with Your Adopted Child

3 Tips: How to Bond with Your Adopted Child

Creating secure, loving relationships is at the core of healthy child parent bonds in all families, especially in families of adoption where new relationships are formed.

Your child’s ability to feel secure within close relationships is ultimately an indication of his attachment health.  Attachment concerns can be noticed in people of all ages.

The foundation of forming a healthy attachment with your child is ultimately based on PRESENCE, RESPECT, and EMPATHY.

Attachment is not a process that can’t be destroyed in a moment or event, nor can it be created overnight.  The attachment process takes time, effort, love, cultivation and nurturing.

The early years, specifically from 0-3 are so important in the lifespan.  Unfortunately, sometimes children experience neglect, trauma, and / or just the continual connection from a caregiver during this time.  This can create a disturbance or absence in the attachment process.

Regardless of your child’s history though, he almost certainly has the ability to form a healthy, secure, attached relationship with you.  It does require some specific connection efforts though.  If early childhood trauma is present in these years though, therapy and specific, concerted parent connection efforts can help establish the neuro-pathways in his brain that are necessary for healthy attachment between a child and a parent. Long-term, healthy attachment supports someone’s ability to have healthy friendships and relationships later on in life as well.

Following, are 3 TIPS that can help support healthy attachment in your family, regardless of whether your child regardless of age.

The key is to keep focused on presence, respect, and empathy to enhance and support the relationships you want to develop with your children.

  1. Be PRESENT with your child

Use touch, eye contact, and emotional attunement.  Put away the electronics and block off time each day to truly connect with your child.  It will support his feelings of worthiness, connection, and emotional safety with you.

  1. Be RESPECTFUL

Treat your child with respect, regardless of age.  Talk to your child in tones and with words that send the messages of “I love you.”, “I respect you” and “You are important to me.”.  It will support his self-esteem development, feelings of worthiness, and create an emotionally safe relationship with you. 

  1. Be EMPATHETIC

Imagine what the situation is like for your child.  Behavior issues stemming from poor attachment or week emotional self-regulation skills can put a strain on your child parent relationship for sure.   It’s so important to KEEP YOUR COOL (step away, take some deep, rejuvenating breaths, and think about something else if necessary) when your child’s behavior(s) trigger emotional upset in you.  Remember, if your child feels like you care, the relationship (and healthy attachment) will flourish.

 

Cutting to Cope: There’s HOPE & HELP for Teens that Self-Injure

Cutting to Cope: There’s HOPE & HELP for Teens that Self-Injure

Imagine… wanting to inflict physical pain on yourself by deliberately hurting yourself.  For the purpose of feeling better.

You may be wondering, “why…”?!?  Why would someone intentionally injure themselves?

For some, self-injury, sometimes referred to as self-mutilation, rapidly diminishes physiological and psychological tension. Self-injurious behaviors include: cutting (aka “carving”), scratching, branding, marking, burning, scraping, biting, bruising, hitting and picking or pulling at skin and hair (Matas, 2016).  Specifically, it it is defined as a deliberate harming of your own body WITHOUT a conscious attempt at suicide (Attonito & Glovach, 2005).

It is more common with teens, than any other age group in the life span.  It has become an epidemic in some populations.

For some, “cutting” may be used as a way to “cut through” emotional and/or social circumstance (Brady, 2014).

For many reading this, you may not even know about the alarming epidemic of self-injury. You may have never even heard of it.

But for some parents reading this, unfortunately, you may know first-hand the terror that can be felt when one finds out that their  teen is “cutting” or injuring themselves in some way.  Yikes!  It can feel like your world is turned upside down. It can feel frightening, mysterious, and confusing for sure.

Self-injury is sometimes used as a desperate attempt to diminish tough emotions, to achieve proof of “alive-ness”,  or relieve socially related emotional pain.  Sometimes, when kids hear that someone in their peer group “cuts”, they may see self-injurious behavior as a choice for them as well.  Particularly, if they do not already have a healthy set of coping mechanisms in place.  It really creates a distorted relationship with one’s own body, as the person inflicting the harm, is also the person being harmed .

As a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Registered Play Therapist, specializing in Anxiety and Depression, I have experience with helping teens heal what is at the root(s) of the pain and to move past self-injurious behavior into healthier choices of coping and emotional self-regulation.

It has been my experience that teens that self-injure are often attempting to deal with overwhelming stress and difficult emotions such as loneliness, hopelessness, anger, isolation, and persistent thoughts.  In essence, self-injury is really a maladaptive coping tool. That’s why one of the goals of treatment is to put healthy, coping skills into place as a replacement.

The effects of self-injury can feel absolutely devastating. Unfortunately, self-injury can become somewhat addictive.  Sometimes teens go back to “cutting” to relieve emotional pain when the emotional disturbance feels heavy again if healthy coping skills aren’t integrated into their life. Addressing the tough emotions can decrease the desperate, determined search for relief from the emotional pain.

In therapy, I help clients heal from the emotional distress, as well as provide an emotionally safe environment for my clients to learn and experience healthier, more effective coping skills to use when the difficult emotions overwhelm.

Through my work, I have seen rapid, long term change with a combination of EMDR Therapy, Mindfulness Training, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and specific interventions to eliminate self-harm.  This type of therapeutic treatment helps clients reprocess what is at the core of the emotional pain and helps them to move past feeling the need to self-injure to feel relief, while providing tools to find clarity and calm.  Importantly, the goal of therapy doesn’t stop at keeping teens safe and emotionally stable, but it really goes far beyond that – to help them feel PEACE, JOY, and HOPE in their life again.

If you or someone that you love self-injures, there is HOPE.  This can feel scary for everyone involved.  Support is vital.  Therapy can help.

 

References

Attonito, K., & Glovach, D. (2005). Self-injury in children. [electronic resource]. Millis, MA : Aquarius Health Care Media, 2005.

Brady, M. (2014) Cutting the silence: Initial,impulsive self-cutting in adolescence, Journal of Child Psychotherapy: Vol. 40, 3

Matas (2006). Stressed teens self-mutilate: Two psychologists to discuss depressive behaviors tonight at Old Vail Middle School. AZ Daily Star (Tucson, AZ).