Christian Therapists Blog

Find a Christian Counselor

Saturday, October 21, 2017

The Daniel Plan

Saturday, October 21, 2017 @ 10:57 AM

The Daniel Plan is a plan for health utilizing faith, food, fitness, focus, and friendship. It was authored by Pastor Rick Warren and Drs. Mark Hyman and Daniel Amen. It is a research driven, evidence based program to get fit both spiritually and physically. Here’s some excepts from the book:
FITNESS:
DO'S
• Do choose activities you enjoy; the best activities for you are the ones you’ll do.
• Do get an exercise buddy or accountability partner to keep you honest.
• Do start off moderately, with a few minutes of exercise, and slowly increase.
• Do drink lots of water before, during and after your workout.
• Do cool down after exercising to relax your muscles and gradually lower your heart rate.
FOCUS:
The Daniel Plan is unique because it is based on the Bible. It is based on God’s best plan for our lives. And while change of any kind is never easy, it is a necessity for our emotional, physical, and spiritual health.
Making radical changes in our lives requires radical commitment, perseverance, and doing a lot of hard work on our hearts. Pastor Rick Warren teaches us about five key elements to make sure the changes that we make actually stick.
1. Lasting change requires building your life on the truth. Nothing will change permanently until you dig down to the bed-rock of truth about your life and God’s purpose for it.

“If you continue to obey my teaching, then you are truly my followers. And you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” John 8:31-32 (NCV)

2. Lasting change requires making wise choices. You won’t change until you choose to change.

“Get rid of your old self, which made you live as you used to—the old self that was being destroyed by its deceitful desires. Your hearts and minds must be made completely new, and you must put on the new self, which is created in God’s likeness” Ephesians 4:21-24 (TEV)

3. Lasting change requires new ways of thinking. If you want to change how you act, you must begin by changing how you feel.

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2 (NIV)

4. Lasting change requires God’s Spirit in your life. You cannot change by willpower alone. You must have God’s power.

“Why don’t you choose to be led by the Spirit and so escape the erratic compulsions of a law-dominated existence?” Galatians 5:18 (MSG).

5. Lasting change requires honest community. The deepest changes in your life will only happen as you open up to a few trusted friends who will support you.

FOOD:

Dr. Daniel Amen

Cravings can be the culprit that derail your good intentions to stick with a brain healthy program. Here are 10 simple changes you can make to your daily habits to get better control of your cravings.
Avoid your triggers
To control your cravings, you have to control your triggers. Know the people, places, and things that fuel your cravings and plan ahead for your vulnerable times. For example, take a snack when you go to the movies so you aren’t tempted by the popcorn and licorice.
Balance your blood sugar
Low blood sugar levels are associated with lower overall brain activity, including lower activity in the PFC, the brain's brake. Low brain activity here means more cravings and more bad decisions. Low blood sugar levels can make you feel hungry, irritable, or anxious—all of which make you more likely to make poor choices. Here are tips to keep your blood sugar levels even throughout the day so you can reduce cravings and boost your self-control.
Eliminate sugar, artificial sweeteners and refined carbs
If you really want to decrease your cravings, you have to get rid of the artificial sweeteners in your diet. Things like candy, potatoes, white bread, pretzels, sodas, sweetened alcohol, and fruit juice causes your blood sugar to spike and then drop, so you feel great for a short while and then you feel stupid and hungry. Be very careful with high-fat, high-sugar, high-calorie foods because they work on the morphine or heroin centers of the brain and can be addictive.
Eat slow carb, not low carb
Carbohydrates are so important for good health. Bad carbohydrates such as simple sugars and refined products are the ones to avoid. Choose high fiber carbs like vegetables, fruits, beans, and whole grains! They will keep you fuller longer and help you with weight loss.
Drink More Water
Dehydration can contribute to increased hunger. When your body sends signals that it is hungry it can actually be an attempt to get more water. Sometimes hunger is disguised as dehydration. If you drink a glass of water before your meals to make you will feel fuller and can moderate your food intake.
Prioritize Protein
Do you want to feel satisfied longer? Make sure protein is an important part of your diet. Protein fills you up and regulates your blood sugar while making your body release appetite suppressing hormones.
Manage your stress
Chronic stress has been associated with increased appetite, obesity, sugar and fat cravings, addiction, anxiety, heart disease, cancer, and depression. To decrease your cravings, get on a daily stress-management program including deep-breathing exercises, prayer, and other relaxation methods.
Follow the 90/10 rule
Make great food choices 90% of the time. For the remaining 10%, cut yourself a little slack and allow yourself margin to enjoy some of your favorite foods on occasion.
Get moving
Scientific research has found that physical activity can cut cravings whether you crave sugary snacks or things like cigarettes, alcohol, or drugs. Instead of immediately giving in to your cravings or focusing on how much you want something, get moving if at all possible. Make this a high priority and stay committed to exercising each week.
Get 7 to 8 hours of sleep.

AT THIS CLINIC WE ENJOY ENCOURAGING YOUR JOURNEY TO IMPROVED HEALTH AND JOY!
847.784.9667

Sunday, October 15, 2017

GROWING THROUGH CHANGE - by Veronica A. Zinkham, LPC, NCC, CPC

Sunday, October 15, 2017 @ 8:15 PM

Change is inevitable; we cannot escape it. And change is hard!!! Whether change is something that hits us by surprise, or we are enveloped in some long-suffering pain, we are called to examine some of those habitual behaviors that keep us bound in a comfortable controlled environment, rather than dare push that circle of comfort. Once we do make the decision to step out of that comfort zone, we must boldly move forward and never stop moving, always implementing our innate potential.

Ecclesiastes: "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might..."

We must accept that pain is a necessary part of life, but pain and change are opportunities for growth. Regardless of age, the seasons of transition are many: puberty, graduation, first job, marriage, kids leave home, job loss, death, retirement, etc. THE DEMANDS OF LIFE DON'T MATTER NEARLY AS MUCH AS HOW WE RESPOND TO THE LIFE CHANGE. Attitude, open mind, creativity, positivity, and trusting yourself are key.

WHY IS CHANGE HARD?

Change is stress inducing and risky. Change causes us to make adjustments to our habitual way of being. We are forced into the unfamiliar. Our brains have stored up certain chemicals based on our life experiences. When we are forced to deal with change, the brain experiences shock and discomfort. It is accustomed to operating at ease, in the habitual style. It becomes scrambled when patterns change and it has to create new chemical cocktails. This brain scrambling is transferred to us by the effects of anxiety, stress, shock - an entire host of emotions that leaves us confused and seeking clarity. We need faith, a strategy, a plan and goals to execute our plan, and know that it is okay to ask for help.

Proverbs 3:5-6 "Trust the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding..."

HELPFUL STRATEGIES

Attitude/open mind/positive/creative
Accountability/self discipline
Adaptability/dare to risk/ INNER WISDON
Vision/dreams/plans/goals
Proactive/prioritize
Don't give up/ask for advice/try a new strategy
Remain flexible and adaptable/ LISTEN
There are no failures/ INTENTION
Eliminate guilt, fear, regret/
Use DISCERNMENT
Know that you have made a difference/ ZEST FOR LIVING
Maximize what works and give gratitude/ Implement CHOICE
Free will
Surround yourself with positive, supportive people
Be brave BRAINSTORM IDEAS

The demands of life are opportunities for GROWTH. Our purposeful response to them is necessary.

"I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by conscious endeavor." Henry David Thoreau

1 Corinthians 5:17 "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.

Mind Matters - Care Starvation

Sunday, October 15, 2017 @ 12:45 PM

Mind Matters: Care Starvation
Navigating and Healing from Broken Relationships

For those who feel completely disconnected and inconsequential to their existence, some part of you still cares enough to read this blog-----now please, I want to talk to that part of you...the part that seeks to understand you and your actions even while battling an unknown condition called “Care Starvation”.

Over time, as a trauma therapist, it has become apparent that so many of my clients, regardless of their current issues, have the underlying problem of experiencing unhealthy attachments to their primary caregiver. In addition, they attempt to navigate toxic relationships often with this same person. I have spent years studying attachment theory, bonding theories by Bowlby and early imprinting, but the therapist side of me keeps asking “How can I apply these theories to help someone heal and get ‘past their past’ in the present day?”

Often these clients are being negatively affected by the people in their lives that they should by now have a loving, caring relationship with? We commonly accept that our past relationships often define our current relationships and therein lies the problem. While every clients’ history, family and individual circumstances are unique, I have found there are still certain common threads that must be addressed by anyone suffering from something I have termed “Care Starvation.” So, what exactly is “Care Starvation” and are your current problems being caused from this?

The Roots of Care Starvation

Care Starvation starts very early when one does not properly bond with their primary caregiver and especially if one’s emotional or physical needs are not met early on. Often one begins to feel distrustful and hopeless. In response to these situations, a child develops behaviors that serve and protect them. They may split off this “injured part” of themselves, they may act out for attention, get “sick” often, show unstable moods or retreat into a fantasy world. As the individual ages, they may do high risk behaviors such as medicate their feelings through drugs or food or be incapable of maintaining a stable relationship. As a suffering adult, we tell ourselves to “just get over it” or there is no benefit in reliving the past. The important thing to know is that if we do not get help for our Care Starvation, it will continue to surface in ways that do not serve our higher good. The truth is that we often reject these “dissociated parts” of ourselves that are in pain and unhealed. We can only ignore them for so long.

One of the most common symptoms of Care Starvation is the feeling of disconnection or feeling shut out or distanced. Not feeling like you belong anywhere, for any purpose, in the entire universe is recurring theme during session. This is because early on you were given the message that you were not important, that you shouldn’t have been born or that you were simply not wanted. In other words, you were “inconsequential.” Even if these messages are not spoken, a child can hear them loud and clear and accept it as truth. Once this belief sets in, all kinds of unwanted, self-destructive behaviors can result.


Common Symptoms of Care Starvation

• Loneliness, even when others are around, including family members that love you
• Sadness and not understanding where the emotion is originating from
• Feeling like you don’t fit in regardless how much people try to reassure you
• Not feeling good enough even if you have over-achieved
• Feeling like something bad is going to happen when everything is going well
• Doing things to sabotage yourself or displaying behaviors that do not serve your higher good
• Feeling on edge, constant alert and distrustful for no good reason

Worth the Risk--Treatments to Heal Care Starvation

The best way to begin healing is to be honest with yourself and give yourself permission to “feel and explore” your emotions in a safe environment with someone that will have unconditional positive regard for you—this may at times not feel so great. Often a client feels guilty about saying anything negative about their parents or care-givers and their pain is palpable, but I remind them that it’s not about “blame” but about how things affected them and their emotional self and once expressed, healing is free to happen. It’s fine for this to feel risky since we are accustomed to shoving down our own feelings and disconnecting—the payoff is almost always worth it!

Secondly, we have to be willing to accept any parts of ourselves that we have previously rejected. That means exploring the parts that we are sad about, feel disconnected from and are angry about. Then we must begin learning how to accept ourselves. In theory this sounds easy, but in real life it has to be a purposeful act and usually will need a specific path facilitated by a therapist based on your goals.

We have to grieve. Once we realize that we did not receive what so many others got by having their needs met, we have to come out of denial and come into acceptance. This can take different forms:
• Choosing to forgive
• Processing through different stages of grief
• Allowing yourself to experience and feel the emotion of anger.

As the noted therapist Irvin Yalon states, “Sometimes I have to remind clients that sooner or later they will have to relinquish the goal of having a better past”.

Lastly, putting all the pieces together and letting go of shame (which never serves us) proves the catalyst that can propel us to healing and joy. This means we can see patterns over time, understand ourselves better and choose whether or not to forgive. Suddenly, we have the power we need to allow our strong, wise adult self to make healthy choices. Our rejected, immature parts no longer have to be driving our emotions and actions. At this point, we set good healthy boundaries that are right for us and when Mom calls mad and hangs up abruptly, our day is no longer ruined or defined.

To read more about the specific treatments I use to accomplish healing for Care Starvation, see my website at www.freeindeedtherapy.com

Live Free

Renee Trimble, MS, LPC, LCDC
Founder Free Indeed Therapy

Sunday, October 01, 2017

Ladies' LIve Online Bible Study

Sunday, October 01, 2017 @ 10:26 AM

Wanted: Ladies to share in online, live Bible study (Maximum 5 participants). Will be provided via Google Hangouts. You will need a Google Hangouts account, webcam, microphone and speakers (built into most devices).

Title: Graceful Living

An 11-week Bible study to help you grow in knowledge of God's grace and how to incorporate these truths into a life of grace-filled living. Sessions run 6-8 pm.

Cost is FREE. Text is FREE.

RSVP revshaberkorn@gmail.com

First come, first served.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Treatment of Animals - Remembering the birthday of St. Francis of Assisi

Thursday, September 28, 2017 @ 12:29 PM

Treatment of Animals



October 4th is the birthday of St. Francis of Assisi.  Born in Italy, he has become associated with causes in the treatment of animals and the environment.  In fact, in 1979 Pope John Paul II declared Saint Francis the Patron Saint of Ecology.

Around this time many churches celebrate St. Francis with the Blessing of the Animals services.  People in the neighborhoods bring their pets to the church and the animals are blessed by the pastor.

What Does the Bible Say?


Blessing of the Animals. Ascension Lutheran Church, Citrus Heights, CA. Pastor David Mullen blesses a German Shepherd
The Bible does not address souls.   Animals do not have the capacity to sin and therefore the Cross is unnecessary for them.  I would like to think I will see all of my pets in heaven.  That will be up to God's sovereignty.



We remember St. Francis as one of the few famous people of religion to even mention animals, though God gave a lot of ink to the animals in the creation story.  In Genesis chapter one we read that God spoke "Earth, generate life!  Every sort and kind:  cattle and reptiles and wild animals --all kinds."  God saw that it was good.  And then God made humans the stewards of animals.



Unfortunately, while millions of people are good stewards of animals others are not.  There has been historically widespread abuse of domesticated animals and wildlife.  Being a steward means to be a kind caretaker of the animals as well as the environment.

Our Stewardship

As October 4th appears on the calendars we can remember a man who took that stewardship to a new height.  He actually preached to them and legend has it that he tamed them as well.  He was known as a lover of animals and the land.  So let us wish St. Francis a happy birthday by treating animals with the respect they deserve.  We are God's stewards.

Rev. Dr. Craig Brewick 916-769-4673

Monday, September 18, 2017

Is God Answering Your Prayers? Look More Deeply You May Find the Answer

Monday, September 18, 2017 @ 9:49 PM

Answering your prayers

Recently a client was telling me that that she still has anger toward  God because He wasn’t answering her prayers as she went through a divorce.  She remembered that God ‘told her’ to leave the house three years after she discovered her husband had been continuously unfaithful.  Afterwards, she kept calling for God to help her have the strength to get through all the muck that a divorce brings.  God was silent, She said, “I haven’t been able to shake off the anger.”

As a counselor who believes that God intervenes in our lives with and without prayer, I thought for a moment how I was going to reply to her.  At this moment, she is enrolled in college and working two part-time jobs.  She is stresses over school but no longer stresses about the divorce which is now final.  In fact, she said, her life is so much better than before.

I queried as to what she is asking of God and, for which, she is not receiving an answer.  She said she was asking for strength.

God Will Answer Prayers

My client was facing an age-old mystery.  In the Bible Jesus tell us that if we ask for something and we really believe, we shall have it.  Mark 11:24.  But Christians can tell you they believe that God will answer the prayer but they don’t always see any physical evidence of that happening.  Well, God never said how He was going to answer our prayers.

In 1 Corinthians 13:12 Paul writes to the church at Corinth:   For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.  In ancient times there were no modern mirrors that could exactly reflect our image - face-to-face.  The looking glasses at that time only gave us a distorted image.  Therefore, when God answers a prayer we cannot always tell it was answered as we understand ‘answered prayer.’   The answer to prayer in our minds is often what we want in a particular situation.

God can only answer prayers perfectly.  So when we pray we must have the faith that God is working behind the scenes to bring us to His perfection.

 

How God Speaks When We Don't Hear Him

The Bible is full of answers to our prayers.  If you’re looking for what God is saying go no further than the Bible.  My client was praying for strength.  Strength is mentioned in the Bible many times.  Philippians 4:13 ‘I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.’   My client prayed for strength but heard no audible voice or any real change in the divorce proceedings.  But, by her own accord she said ‘I got through it and now I am living better life.’  Seems to me that God answered that prayer.

Finding Power In Your Weakness

Monday, September 18, 2017 @ 4:18 PM

The world cares very little for those with broken hearts. 💔 People often break the hearts of others by their cruelty, their falseness, their injustice and their coldness. But God cares! Broken-heartedness draws Him down from heaven. He comes to the broken and bruised, with the sweetest tenderness.

Jesus said this about His mission on earth :
"He (the Heavenly Father) has sent Me to bind up the broken-hearted.”
(Isaiah 61:1)

God repairs and restores the hurt and ruined life. He takes the bruised reed, the wilted flower and, by His gentle skill, makes them whole again until they grow into the fairest beauty.

The love, pity, and grace of God ministers sweet blessings of comfort and healing to restore the broken and wounded hearts of His people. The God of the Bible is the God of those who have been brought low, whom He then lifts up into His strength.

God is the God of those who fail — (not that He loves those who stumble and fall better than those who walk without stumbling) — but He helps them more. The weak believers get more of His grace than those who are strong believers!

There is a special divine promise which says,
"My power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor 12:9)

When we are aware of "our own insufficiency", then we are ready to receive His divine sufficiency. So in reality, our very weakness is actually a component of strength!
Our weakness is an empty cup which God fills with His own strength.

You might think that your weakness disqualifies you for, strong, beautiful living, or for sweet, gentle, helpful serving. But really it’s something which if you give it to Christ, He can transform it into a blessing, a source of His power.

Dear friends. I encourage you today to take a moment, right now, and enter into His presence. Know that His desire is for you to trust Him completely. Allow Him to minister to your deepest need, for truly...
...His grace is sufficient.

Mary Lindow 2017
www.northgatecounselinggroup.com

Sunday, September 17, 2017

FORGIVENESS

Sunday, September 17, 2017 @ 5:08 PM

written by Veronica A. Zinkham, MA, NCC, LPC. C{C - incorporating resources of Gerald Jamplosky and Everett Worthington.

1. Forgiveness is a Choice. Choice empowers clients to engage in a healing process that promotes relationships with mutuality and satisfaction, and frees them from debilitating emotions and resentment-filled relationships. Forgiveness can play a powerful role in healing. Forgiveness is a process of readying oneself to let go of a deep betrayal or inflicted emotional wounding . Forgiveness does not mean forgetting what happened. In Matthew 6:14-15; Mark 11:25 we learn God requires us to forgive, because He forgave us for our sins.

2. Forgiveness is a JOURNEY OF TRANSFORMATION that involves jumping the hurdle of difficult emotions and self-preservations that block the desire to renew trust. Initially, the choice to forgive gives us a fresh perspective. Secondly, it prepares us to work through difficult emotions. And thirdly, it challenges us to transform our pain and suffering into a significant, meaningful event. "Forgiveness is a path to freedom." R.D. Enright.

3. It's OK to REMEMBER while forgiving. Forgiving does not imply forgetting. Forgiveness begins by perceiving the offense. Clients are often unwilling to forgive because they fear forgiveness eliminates justice, overlooks a grievous wrong, or provides an offender with an easy way out. This misperception is clearly stated in the idiom "forgive and forget." Forgiving does not mean forgetting. Individuals learn to forgive in order to HONOR THE SELF and eventually LET GO of DEBILITATING EMOTIONS.

It takes great courage to forgive. We must forgive because God forgives us and expects us to forgive. It is not healthy to carry bitterness and vengefulness in our hearts. Just as letting go is a process, so too, is forgiveness. One of the hardest things we will ever do is to forgive ourselves. "The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is an attribute of the strong." M. Gandhi

4. Forgiveness has two sides: MERCY AND JUSTICE. For integrity to exist in relationship, the harmful behavior must be entirely stopped. Reconciliation is an ideal following forgiveness. In order to reconcile, the following is desired: an honest heartfelt apology, assuming responsibility and making amends for the wrongdoing, asking for forgiveness, and promising it will not happen again. If the offending party is unwilling to work toward this goal, then (if married) professional marriage counseling is recommended. The only choice for the wounded party is to maintain SELF-RESPECT, DIGNITY, and SAFETY.

5. C. S. Lewis - "don't excuse the wrongdoing, forgive it. Real forgiveness is a tough process; but it is absolutely necessary for mental health. James instructs us to submit ourselves to God and get rid of anything impure. "Cleanse your heart" means to examine your motivations and feelings that are displeasing to God. Through the cleansing process you become ready for all that God has for you.

6. Because forgiving involves changing emotions, it takes a very long time. Trauma disorganizes our worldview. It obliterates our sense of security, causes loss, and destroys our belief in justice. We may obsess about the tragedy, ask why, or what we could have done to prevent it. Retelling the story is the brain's way of reducing the anguish and pain and reconstructing a new worldview. Forgiveness in traumatic events is not always won.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Worry. Thinking Like Jesus

Tuesday, September 12, 2017 @ 11:53 PM

Christian Hope Counseling. -Rev. Dr. Craig A. Brewick. 916-769-4673

Thinking like Jesus: Peace.

Jesus offers salvation. Of course, that is at the end of our lives. In between birth and ‘right now’ there is life and problems to solve. Sometimes those problems are overwhelming to the point of extraordinary worry. Worry is the intellectual thought that something in our future will go badly. Anxiety, the feeling of fear, is the emotion that follows a worrisome thought.

In Matthew 6:25 Jesus addresses the issue head-on. He commands us directly not to worry. If we are having worrisome thoughts we are, in effect, in a sinful state. Jesus tells us not to look around and see what could be going wrong in the future because He is there in our future. He says in Jeremiah 29 that He has plans for us to prosper. But instead of thinking about that, we are like Peter looking down at an angry sea instead of keeping our eyes on Jesus.

In Philippians 4:7 Paul tells us that Jesus offers us a peace that transcends understanding that will guard our heart (that are now pounding from anxiety) and mind (what we are worrying about) with His peace which transcends all human understanding.

We don’t always understand the feeling of peace that Jesus offers us. It is not just a physical resting, though His peace will give us that. It is a peace we feel because our thoughts are on Him and not on the problems in our lives. When we focus on the problems and not Him, we are not receiving that transcending peace. So ask the Holy Spirit to change your thoughts and focus on Jesus helping us instead of the problems that are trying to sink us.

Friday, September 08, 2017

Five Common Eating Disorders Myths

Friday, September 08, 2017 @ 10:29 AM

By: Laura Oyer, PhD, HSPP, Clinical Specialist

When you hear this phrase, “a person with an eating disorder,” what type of “person” comes to mind? Seriously. Close your eyes right now for five seconds and imagine this person before you continue reading.

I’m going to take a guess at what you imagined. There’s a good chance you imagined a young, teenage girl, maybe somewhere around thirteen to sixteen years old. She’s probably pretty thin. Maybe too thin. She likely doesn’t eat much and is always dieting. I would also bet she’s white and moderately to highly affluent. Was I right? I’m hoping I wasn’t, but I imagine for some of you, my description was pretty spot-on.

Why is this? Why does our society have such a stereotype for people with eating disorders? There are many factors that have contributed to this stereotype, but one major contributor has to do with the depiction of eating disorders in our media. In the 1990’s, the media began to highlight eating disorders as a real concern. Movies, TV shows, articles, and books began to shed light on this life-threatening illness. While this was helpful in increasing awareness about eating disorders, the stories and characters depicted were predominately white, teenage, affluent girls who were struggling with Anorexia Nervosa. All of a sudden, the public began to associate eating disorders with this narrow population. Unfortunately, this association has stuck, even though it’s not entirely accurate. Eating disorders do not discriminate. They affect all genders, orientations, races, socioeconomic levels, body types, and ages. They also include various behaviors with food, not just restriction. Let’s start to break down these stereotypes by looking at five eating disorder myths and what researchers have discovered.

Myth #1: Anorexia is the only eating disorder. Restriction is the only eating disorder behavior.

This is one of the most common misconceptions. As mentioned above, when people think about eating disorders, they often think of someone who doesn’t eat or eats very little. Surprising to many people, Binge Eating Disorder (BED) is the most common eating disorder and has an estimated lifetime prevalence rate of .2% – 3.5% for females and .9% – 2.0% for males (Stice & Bohon, 2012). BED is more common than breast cancer, HIV, and schizophrenia, and is more than three times more common than Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa combined (National Eating Disorders Association – NEDA). BED is characterized as recurrent and frequent episodes of binge eating, defined as eating an amount of food that is definitely larger than what most people would eat in a similar period of time under similar circumstances AND a sense of lack of control.

In addition to restriction and binge eating, other behaviors go along with eating disorders. These may include: vomiting after eating, laxative abuse, frequent diet pill consumption/abuse, compulsive/obsessive exercise, over-exercise, obsession with clean eating, eliminating foods or food groups, food aversion, chewing and spitting, manipulating insulin, frequent body checking, obsessive calorie counting, obsessive weighing of oneself, and eating rituals, just to name a few. Just because these behaviors exist does not necessarily mean a person has an eating disorder; rather, it’s important to be aware of these various behaviors and use them as red flags to ask more questions. If a person associates only restriction with eating disorders, there’s a good chance he or she will miss warning signs in themselves and loved ones who struggle with other behaviors.

Myth #2: Only females get eating disorders.

This statement is absolutely false. Men DO get eating disorders. Although they are less common than females, males constitute about 25% of all eating disorders (Sweeting et al., 2015). Males represent approximately 11% – 25% of individuals with Anorexia Nervosa, 8% – 25% of Bulimia Nervosa, and 40% of Binge Eating Disorder (NEDA; Sweeting et al., 2015). Moreover, subclinical eating disorder behaviors (i.e., eating disorder behaviors that are not severe/frequent enough to meet diagnostic criteria) are nearly as common among males as they are among females (NEDA).

Recently, more men in the media have opened up about their eating disorders and/or past eating disorder behaviors, including Dennis Quaid (actor), Billy Bob Thornton (actor), Richard Simmons (fitness guru, actor, and comedian), Russel Brand (actor), Elton John (singer), Caleb Followill (singer), Zayn Malik (singer), and Joey Julius (collegiate football player), just to name a few. Again, if your mind took you to thinking all these men had Anorexia Nervosa and restricted, you would be wrong. Some of these men struggled with Anorexia Nervosa; however, several struggled with Bulimia Nervosa and others with Binge Eating Disorder. Learn more about men and eating disorders, including risk factors and warning signs here.

Myth #3: Only teenagers struggle with eating disorders.

Although many eating disorder symptoms and behaviors appear during adolescence, individuals can be impacted by these behaviors and preoccupations with their body and food throughout the lifespan. Researchers and clinicians have reported children as young as seven or eight meeting criteria for an eating disorder diagnosis. Similarly, more studies and anecdotal evidence are highlighting that many adults, even into their late 60s and 70s are struggling with eating disorder symptoms.

Margo Maine, PhD, a well-known clinical psychologist and author in the eating disorder world, shared some ideas as to why older adults may struggle with eating disorders. She offers that some of these older individuals may have struggled since youth and never sought help and/or recovered, some may have recovered and have relapsed, some may have struggled with food and weight for many years but the behaviors have become more severe over time, and finally, some, after facing challenges of adulthood (e.g., pregnancy, divorce, death, empty-nesting), develop rituals related to diet and exercise which progress into a full-blown eating disorder. Unfortunately, there is a lack of research to know exactly what percentage of the population struggles with eating disorders in the older adult population; however, researchers found eating disorder symptoms in 13% of women ages 50 and above over a five-year time period (Gagne et al., 2012).

Myth #4: Only people in the U.S. and white people get eating disorders.

Believe it or not, eating disorders are not a recent phenomenon. Many people think this is a disorder that has developed due to Western media and cultural values focused on thinness. While these do have an impact, we cannot say they are to blame as the primary cause. Writings and articles have noted examples of females starving themselves for religious reasons during the medieval period (i.e., taking fasting to an extreme to be closer to God), and some even being elevated to sainthood after their death (Davis & Nguyen, 2014).

Race is another harmful stereotype as much of the general public assume only white people are impacted by eating disorders. Unfortunately, even helping professionals and researchers have held this belief, causing the treatment and research to be biased and lacking in this area. Recently, researchers and practitioners have questioned this belief and found the prevalence of eating disorders is similar among Non-Hispanic Whites, Hispanics, African-Americans, and Asians in the United States, with the exception that anorexia nervosa is more common among Non-Hispanic Whites (NEDA).

Myth #5: You can tell by looking at someone if they have an eating disorder and how bad it is.

This eating disorder myth is so prevalent in our society. Even family members and clients themselves fall into this trap of believing this myth. Would you ever tell a family member, “Are you really sure you have cancer? You look healthy. Maybe the doctor was just being dramatic.” Or would you and say, “Wow! You really look like you have dementia.” Of course not! That seems absurd, right? Well, this is exactly what people do with eating disorders; assume one can judge if a person has or does not have this disorder based on their weight, and then make an assumption about how “bad” it is. As a psychologist who has worked with many clients with eating disorders, weight alone does not tell me how “sick” or “healthy” a person is. Although the research is inconclusive, one study reported mortality rates for 1,885 individuals diagnosed with eating disorders over a period of time. They identified crude mortality rates were 4.0% for Anorexia Nervosa, 3.9% for Bulimia Nervosa, and 5.2% for eating disorders not otherwise specified (Crow et al., 2009). These statistics highlight the seriousness of the disorder, regardless of a person’s weight.

As you can see, we have a lot of work to do to combat the incorrect beliefs and assumptions that exist in our society about eating disorders. I challenge you to notice yours and others’ biases and assumptions in this area and question them. Are they accurate? Additionally, if you or someone you know is struggling with disordered eating or an eating disorder, contact Crosswinds Counseling. We can help!

References:

Crow, S.J., Peterson, C.B., Swanson, S.A., Raymond, N.C., Specker, S., Eckert, E.D., & Mitchell, J.E. (2009).

Increased mortality in bulimia nervosa and other eating disorders. American Journal of Psychiatry, 166, 1342 – 1346. doi: 10.1176/appi.ajp.2009.09020247

Davis, A.A., & Mguyen, M. (2014). A case study of Anorexia Nervosa driven by religious sacrifice. Case

Reports in Psychiatry, 2014, 4 pages. doi: 10.1155/2014/512764

Gagne, D.A., Von Holle, A., Brownley, K.A., Runfola, C.D., Hofmeier, S., Branch, K.E., & Bulik, C.M.

(2012). Eating disorder symptoms and weight and shape concerns in a large web-based convenience sample of women ages 50 and above: Results of the gender and body image study. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 45, 832-844. doi: 10.1001/eat.22030

National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) – https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/

Stice, E., & Bohon, C. (2012). Eating Disorders. In Child and Adolescent Psychopathology, 2nd Edition, Theodore Beauchaine & Stephen Linshaw, eds. New York: Wiley.

Sweeting, H., Walker, L., MacLean, A., Patterson, C., Räisänen, U., & Hunt, K. (2015). Prevalence of eating disorders in males: a review of rates reported in academic research and UK mass media. International Journal of Men’s Health, 14(2), 10.3149/jmh.1402.86. http://doi.org/10.3149/jmh.1402.86

Monday, September 04, 2017

Are You Living The "Real" Privileged Life?

Monday, September 04, 2017 @ 2:50 AM

There I was... down on my knees in our hallway, with my head tucked deep in the bottom section of our linen closet putting away Kleenex and bathroom tissue from our latest run to Costco for household supplies. As I sat back to review my "compact stacking work", a deep wave of gratitude (as well as a moment of intense personal introspection), washed over me.

I sat back, looking at my full closet of supplies. I am able to go at any time and pull out a box of Kleenex or a fresh roll of tissue without the concerns of running out. Now, it may seem rather "inelegant" to mention these two specific "private human necessities" rather than something like laundry soap or bars of bath soap, but I'm reflecting over what a privileged life looks like, and when I look into my closet and see these items...
... I view myself as extremely privileged.

I'm wondering how many mothers tonight are cleaning their little baby's bottoms with leaves or grass in a mud hut somewhere, because they don't have even the foggiest idea where they would obtain something as luxurious as a roll of toilet paper. (Or a diaper.)

I'm thinking about the countless people tonight in the flooded typhoon zones in India and the southern parts of the United States, who have lost everything. I am certain that among them there are those who would weep uncontrollably over a fresh box of Kleenex or a place to use that toilet paper where it is sanitary and not submerged underwater.

Why am I allowed to have such grace and such provision when others are going without? And, even if I empty my entire closet out again and again and give it away, I will be able to go find my own basic supplies and replenish them with ease. (Although there were times in the past when we struggled just to make it.)

Oh my friends!
If tonight you may find yourself not feeling as blessed, well fed, or as opulent as others living around you, stop and check yourself! Check your heart! Many of us have clothing in drawers and closets that we will never wear that could go to someone else, (and would be viewed as treasure)! We have multiple pots and pans under our kitchen cupboards, lots of Tupperware and drinking glasses! The list goes on and on!

I'd like to encourage you to open your linen closets, your cupboards, your shoe closets, your clothing drawers, your pantries and garages. Begin to see all of the items contained in them with new eyes!

It is a privilege to "be privileged" to give!

Find some good sturdy boxes and put the best of what you have in those boxes! And yes, although
the families all over Texas are needing what you have, there are neighbors right down the street from you (who no one sees) that might need that Kleenex, the cans of soup, the fresh fruit sitting on your counter, or even that pair of tennis shoes that you keep thinking you're going to use again.

If you have been blessed with "the privileged life" (meaning you have food, clothing, housing and a warm place to sleep tonight), today is your opportunity to sit back and let a wave of gratitude pour over you!
Today!

This is your day to be thankful for the privileged life that you've been granted, and it's a day to rise up and be the hands and the heart of Christ extended outward to a troubled world where loss, constant pain and sorrow are raging through mass flooding, fires and wars.
We are privileged!
Yes indeed!
We are privileged!

Privileged to be able to extend what we have to bring them comfort!
"For I was hungry and you gave me food,
I was thirsty and you gave me drink,
I was a stranger and you welcomed me,
I was naked and you clothed me,
I was sick and you visited me,
I was in prison and you came to me.’

Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?
And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
And the King will answer them,
'Truly, I say to you, as you did these things to one of the least of these my friends, you did it to me.’
Matthew 25:35

Mary Lindow 2017
www.northgatecounselinggroup.com

Friday, September 01, 2017

Divorce Won't Make You Happy

Friday, September 01, 2017 @ 12:00 PM

People who are unhappy in their marriages tend to believe that the reason they are unhappy is because of their marriage. But, the research shows that people who are unhappy in their marriages are not any happier after a divorce.

Happiness is tied to circumstances. Sometimes being in the center of God’s will means that we are in a difficult and painful circumstance. God has never promised us happiness. He does, however, promise His peace. In the bible Stephen wasn’t happy when he was being stoned to death. Paul wasn’t happy when he was in prison. But they both had God’s peace. We don’t always need to leave a situation because we’re unhappy. Sometimes God is working in the situation to grow us, teach us, or prepare us.

Being unhappy in your marriage is an opportunity to learn to depend more on God and to focus more on healing and growth than on happiness. Even if your spouse is unwilling to go to counseling for their own issues or is unwilling to do marriage counseling, you can still go to counseling on your own. You can learn how to create healthier boundaries in your marriage, deepen your relationship with God, and establish healthy relationships with friends and family who can support and encourage you. Growth is not only possible during a difficult situation-that’s the time that it is most likely to occur.

Also, if unhealed emotional wounds from your past are what lead you to choose your current spouse, they are influencing your behavior in the marriage, and if you leave the marriage without dealing with these wounds—the unhealed wounds go with you and lead to more unhealthy choices in the future.

Ultimately, your marriage may not survive, but don’t give up until you have done everything you can to change the dynamics in the relationship including starting the process of your own healing from the past.

Lynn Owens, MS, LPC is a Licensed Professional Counselor and a John Rosemond Certified Leadership Parenting Coach. www.guiltfreestressfreeparents.com www.greenvillefamilycounselor.com

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

A Guide to Finding a Good Marriage Therapist

Wednesday, August 30, 2017 @ 7:09 PM

For couples seeking marriage therapy, it can be overwhelming to know who to choose from. A healthy google search can produce counseling options of every flavor. A counselor's bio or credentials, while important for establishing professional credibility, are not always enough to satisfy our need for some additional assurance.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

What To Do When You Are - "H.ungry A.ngry L.onely T.ired"

Wednesday, August 16, 2017 @ 1:28 AM

"Self-help" for life's stresses is often full of acronyms and a lot of them are more cute than useful, but this one is a keeper.

Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired
H.A.L.T.

When you feel irritated or anxious, one — or more — of those four conditions is likely going on, and if not noticed and tended to, they can lead you to very bad places. Explosions at others, self-destructive acts, relapses into addictions.

The beauty of "HALT" is that it reminds us of several things at the same time:
1. To halt before we act out, and reconnect with the God.
2. To tend to our physical and emotional well-being — not just go running around on fumes without eating and sleeping.
3. That these feelings are short lived, and once we see them for what they are and let go of our attachment to them, they lose their power over us.

HALT
Are you anxious or irritated? Are you beginning to attack someone or lose control?
Are you feeling hopeless, or like giving up and returning to an addiction?

1. HALT! Pause — especially if there is an escalating situation. Take a deep breath or count to ten.

2. HUNGRY: Did you eat at the last regular mealtime? Or did you skip it?

3. ANGRY: Is your judgment clouded by anger right now?

4. LONELY: Are you feeling disconnected from other people, whether alone or in a group, but without making an effort to communicate ?

5. TIRED: Did you get enough sleep last night? Many people are so unaccustomed to what enough sleep feels like that this may be new territory. (this is one of the biggest problems in our society right now!)

6.)If you identified with one of these problem areas, if possible, address it.
Eat, nap, calm down, or focus on socializing or helping someone else.

7. If you identified a problem area, but can’t address it right now, focus on being aware . Admit that you are feeling this way and that you let yourself get into a difficult state. Often just this awareness is enough to calm down the situation entirely.

8. Make a habit of spot-checking your self and see if you are really taking care of yourself. Are you getting enough sleep, eating well and regularly, and socializing and helping others?

The common thing with "Hungry, Angry, Lonely, and Tired" is that they take us away from conscious and fresh contact with God, which is our natural state. They kick up fear — either an obvious survival fear or a subtle fear that we’re not going to be OK down the road.

Fear is not a thing in itself; fear is the absence of God.
Fear means you’re not trusting that things are as they’re meant to be.
Actually, you’re not trusting God’s plan.

Never FEAR talking to a counselor or Pastoral Counselor when you know that you are not handling anxiety, depression, addictions or the changes that life might be excessively stressing you out with. God prepared them to help others... BE FREE!

Proverbs 13:10
Through insolence comes nothing but strife, But wisdom is with those who receive counsel.

Proverbs 15:22
Without consultation, plans are frustrated, But with many counselors they succeed.

Mary Lindow MA

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Divorce Recovery Workshop

Thursday, August 03, 2017 @ 6:35 PM

Over 16,000 have attended this Divorce Recovery Workshop since 1981. I have been privileged to be the speaker at it since 2009. The program runs 6 consecutive Thursday nights. Cost is modest because our team of almost 50 men and women volunteer pro bono. Please click on this link to learn more about this wonderful program.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Does Your Relationship Needs Urgent Repair?

Wednesday, July 26, 2017 @ 10:25 AM

Relationships can be messy. Many couples get in a negative spiral that has taken them so deeply down that they have lost hope. If you are one of these people, keep reading. This post is especially for you.

I've surveyed hundreds of couples and their most common causes for crisis include difficulties with communication, lack of time, fighting, and loss of connection and affectionate in their relationship. On top of these, many couples are afraid of their partner having an affair or have already been impacted by infidelity. In order to move forward you need to be able to get out of crisis mode, heal from pain and, learn better ways of relating.

One of the things that happen when you are full of negativity and in crisis mode is that your brain gets flooded with chemicals that make it impossible to think clearly and to problem solve. It becomes a defeating circle that gets you into depression, anger, and despair.

The first thing you need to learn is how to take responsibility for your own feelings and be able to calm yourself enough for recovering clarity of mind. That's why you need the guidance of someone that know how to guide you out of crisis so that you can plan your next steps.

Over more than 30 years helping couples, I have helped many relationships get out of crisis and back into a happy heart-connected relationship. Because I get many calls from couples in crisis I decided to create a very special intensive half day program I have called: Urgent Relationship Repair Challenge. You can learn all about my program by clicking the button asking for more information.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Sweet Ideas for Making Family Time Special

Tuesday, July 25, 2017 @ 3:09 PM

Family time is a great way to create strong family ties. Frequent family activities forge a shared identity, while togetherness builds closeness and develops relationship maturity. Children actually function better in day-to-day life when they feel connected to their family. Here are some tips:

Schedule Regular Family Time – Coordinate calendars blocking out time to schedule this valuable experience and be sure to protect it. Carving out the time is the key to making it happen.

Plan the Activity in Advance – Keep a list of fun ideas that each person in the family contributed and allow the children to alternate picking an activity. Decide in advance how to spend this special family time. It is important to be sure to prepare any supplies you will need ahead of time.

Family TimePlay Together – Families that laugh together share many light-hearted moments that encourage acceptance. Playfulness balances the serious sides of life. Encourage your kids to support each other’s activities and endeavors.

Avoid Plugging In – Resist the urge to turn to electronic devices. Instead, come up with creative ideas that encourage creativity, vision, and sharing.

Pray Together – You have heard the quote “A family that prays together stays together.” Sharing a faith, not only builds similar values and a core belief system from which discussion can emerge, but also promotes healthy relationships.

Keep it Simple – The more complex the project or activity the greater the number of variables that can go wrong. Therefore strive for something simple, easy and fun.

Sweet ideas for making family time special are simple but the challenge is to follow through, regardless of the age of your children your family can start now! If you remember to keep family as your priority, it will help to ensure a happy home.

Author: Robin Rosario
Robin Rosario, MA, LPCS is the Owner, Clinical Director, Clinician Supervisor, and Senior Therapist at Rosario Counseling Robin Rosario& Associates. She has over two and a half decades of experience helping people with positive results, treating Adults, Couples, Adolescents, Children and Families. Rosario Counseling & Associates was birthed from Robin’s heart to see excellent compassionate clinical care for those struggling with emotional pain, mental illness or family issues. Her desire then and now is to inspire hope, courage and restoration in hurting families and individuals who come to her.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

MIND MATTERS - MY BRAIN ON MARRIAGE

Sunday, July 16, 2017 @ 10:52 AM

MIND MATTERS
My Brain on Marriage

Last weekend my husband and I went for our “almost” daily walk around the neighborhood. We have a particular route we always follow and on this day our 3 dogs thought it would be beneficial for us to bring them along. My husband had the two smaller dogs which, for the first few blocks, act more like Alaskan sled dogs pulling him down the street as he leans backwards about 40 degrees to keep them from a full run. I had our 70 lbs. well-mannered Weimaraner named Greyson. Since my husband had been nursing an old foot injury, he decided to shorten the regular route and head back to the house. I, of course, had to complete the 1.1-mile route because, if you’ve read my other blogs, I’m OCD and not finishing a task causes me a certain level of anxiety.

He commented to me, as he redirected the 2 little urchins (as we call them) down the alternate path home, that the sky had gotten darker since we left the house and that little bit of thunder you heard could be bringing rain quickly. He suggested that I follow him home via the shorter route. Of course, I didn’t listen.

We parted ways and I began thinking about the clients that I had in store for tomorrow . As I walked down the long back street in our neighborhood, the wind began blowing and the clouds turned into a dark ominous boiling gray mass moving rapidly over me. A few strikes of lightning and claps of thunder later made it evident that my husband was right…again!

As I rounded the corner and headed for home, I still had 3 blocks to go before turning down our street. Four blocks away and across the main road entering our subdivision, I could see a developing blanket of water that began peppering buildings, trees and cars, making them almost obscure under the growing deluge. At this point, there was no rain in our subdivision, only across the main road at the entrance of the subdivision. Do you know that feeling you have when you are trying desperately to reach the open door of a building just before it closes and locks you out? That was my feeling. I was going to get drenched.

What I didn’t know was that my husband had dropped the dogs off at the house and immediately got in his truck and headed out to find me and Greyson. He rounded the corner at our street as the first large drops began slapping the top of my head. By the time he pulled up beside me, my dog was spotted head to tail from the large droplets and I had never been so relieved to see my husband.

He opened the back door of the truck and Greyson jumped in as I hopped into the front seat. As I closed the door, I stared at my husband for a few seconds and said, “I’m so grateful for you, not just for rescuing me from the rain, but for ALL the ways you care for me. “He grinned and said, “That’s what I love to do!”

I relate this little short story not to brag about the fact that I am blessed beyond measure with a great marriage, but to highlight the beauty of spouses that anticipate the needs of their betrothed. Selfless acts relay to the other how much they truly care for them and that their thoughts are constantly filled with that person.

This was not an isolated incident with my husband. He constantly and forever is meeting my needs, even when I don’t think I have a need. He keeps me filled up and never wanting for love, acceptance and security. That’s what I want to convey to my clients – what does it takes to keep a marriage fulfilled to the nth degree? Marriage is an ongoing relationship that needs constant interaction between the spouses to truly fulfill what God intended with this institution. We truly do become one flesh, knowing each other’s thoughts and needs.

Gottman, who has studied relationships extensively, says that we need to always follow what he calls the 5:1 ratio rule. For every single negative interaction, we have with our spouse, it needs to be followed with 5 positive interactions to refill our “love buckets”. Each of us spouses should do a quick check of our marriage from time to time by asking questions like:
• Are we just like ships in the night passing each other?
• Do we have humor, affection and active interest in each other?
• Do we feel a real emotional connection to our spouse?
• Would you count your spouse as your best friend?
• What is our shared meaning together?
• How would I feel and react if I lost my spouse?
• How are we doing on the “first base goals”: trust, love and respect?

If you are not happy with your answers, consider seeing someone experienced with couples counseling to give you tools and ideas to bring you closer to your “ideal relationship.”

As a therapist, many clients come to me looking for a solution to their current problems. Some relationship problems are solvable, but as I explain to everyone most problems are unsolvable, you simply need to learn how to manage your problems. And remember, choosing a partner is “choosing a set of problems” (Gottman). In other words, what Gottman is saying is that it is NOT about solving the perpetual problem, but rather it is the affect that surrounds the discussion of the perpetual problem. Learning to accept “problems” as part of any relationship and having the skills to dialogue about them is key to a productive resolution that does not escalate to anger and disconcertion. Something else important to remember is that romantic relationships and marriage often bring out our own “stuff”. This is good provided we take the opportunity to process our “stuff” and learn to heal as individuals. Often our own “stuff” is what is causing the “couple problems.”

I am grateful to be a therapist and I am also thankful to be a “marriage friendly” couples’ therapist and a member the National Registry of Marriage Friendly Therapist, because I know first-hand that having a great marital relationship offers so many benefits. I am not value neutral when it comes to marriage. I believe that marriage is important for our legacy, our community and our society at large.

Rescuing your spouse from an impending deluge, telling your spouse how much your life is better with them in it, knowing how to anticipate your spouse’s needs and genuinely taking care of every aspect of each other’s lives is essential to maintaining and growing a fantastic marriage.
Live Free

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

"Looking for Happiness in All the Wrong Places"

Tuesday, July 11, 2017 @ 3:04 PM

Happiness is a difficult concept for most people. Many see it as a point in one’s life where all the pieces come together and fit, just right. Others look for it in material objects. “When I get that next promotion, new car, IT bag…then I’ll be happy.” For others still, it is very elusive and they may even believe that they have no right to be happy. “Oh, I blew it while I was young, guess I’ll be paying for that mistake for the rest of my life” or “Happiness is just for kids, it doesn’t matter for adults.” I firmly believe that happiness is an essential part of a healthy life. The trick is to understand what you are doing that gets in the way of your own happiness.
The simple truth is that many of us waste valuable time, energy, and mental space on two things: past behaviors that don’t matter anymore and stuff we have no control over. For example, I have worked with a client who carried bitter feelings about his junior high school classmates for over fifty years. This person has convinced himself that everyone else was ‘perfect’ and that since he had acne, he could not make any friends. I am sure that if he were to run into any of his former classmates, he would find more similarities rather than differences. However, he assumes that they all are having ‘perfect’ lives in contrast to him, and he becomes frustrated and angry about his current situation. First of all, whatever happened in junior high school is long gone, and needs to be put to rest. Secondly, there is nothing he can do about the past. He cannot change who he was back then or anyone else’s actions toward him.
So, what is a person to do when they have memories of being hurt or disappointed by others? What if you are the one who caused the hurt and you can’t forget about it? The first step is forgiveness. It’s an old idea, I know, but one that is more needed than ever today. I see many people who let opportunities for happiness slip through their fingers because they are unwillingly to forgive others or believe that they do not deserve forgiveness. It is clear that many of us don’t understand what forgiveness is really about. Recently, I heard a wonderful explanation of how important forgiveness is: having an unforgiving spirit is like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies. When we hold on to things that damage our very souls, we are only hurting ourselves more. The solution is to learn to let go, rather than continuing to carry the burden of our hurt feelings and disappointments. Letting go is essential, because too many of us are being weighed down by the garbage that we try to stuff down, such as resentment, anger, and sadness. That is like drinking the poison, again and again. It only hurts you. It takes strength to release the pain, not letting it take root in our hearts and souls.

Some people mistakenly think that they won’t or can’t forgive until the offending party makes some effort. That sounds reasonable, but what if they never say “I’m sorry”? What if the person you hurt you is no longer living? You don’t need to carry that burden any longer. But, you have to be willing to let it go. I teach my clients that forgiveness is for their own benefit, the other person need not be involved. Forgive for you, not for them.
Now, if you are having trouble forgiving yourself for something you have done, think on this: are you putting yourself above Almighty GOD? If He is willing to forgive you, who are you to say “No, I don’t deserve it”? When we look at life from this perspective, it takes a lot of the burden off you and me. Don’t let bitterness and a lack of forgiveness stand in the way of your own happiness. Practice letting go of whatever has been weighing you down. Pour out forgiveness on others and yourself, and you will be closer to finding the secret of happiness in your own life.

Monday, July 10, 2017

An Office To Sub-Lease

Monday, July 10, 2017 @ 12:58 PM

I have recently leased an office located at 173 Sears Avenue, Suite 271 St. Matthews, Kentucky, 40207. There is a another office in the suite that I hope to sub-lease to another counselor. The uninhabited office is currently furnished; however, the furniture can be removed if any interested counselor would like to provide their own furniture. I have signed the required lease with the owner of the building and expect that anyone interested in sub-leasing also sign a lease for at least one year. The fee is set at $300. per month and includes utilities. I use a personal Wi-Fi (jetpack) as that is not included in the rental. Contact me at 502-802-9623 for any additional information.

Thursday, July 06, 2017

How to get FAST, EFFECTIVE RESULTS in Counseling

Thursday, July 06, 2017 @ 2:54 PM

Get the most out of the fewest appointments—for faster and cost-effective results!

Would you like to get faster (and better) results for your issues?

Would you like to spend less money?

There’s an easy, often overlooked way to get faster results. This approach is also more cost-effective, because you will need fewer sessions. It’s a win-win!

Motivation and consistent counseling helps you get the most out of the fewest appointments. And delaying appointments only delays the time before you get the results you want. Clients who are less motivated and prolong treatment by setting excessively long gaps between appointments usually end up needing more appointments overall than they would have needed.

Spreading out treatment with several weeks in between appointments can appear to be cheaper (paying less on a per-month basis). But that only makes it harder to get progress because session time is used on new issues, rather than addressing the root problem. A client who uses such an approach needs more sessions over time, and waits longer before getting the results they want.

--Understanding what counseling actually IS

To get the most out of counseling, it’s absolutely essential to understand what counseling actually IS. Put simply, counseling is effective GUIDANCE to help you SET AND REACH (realistic) GOALS.

The real therapy is what happens BETWEEN sessions, when you apply what you’ve learned in counseling to your life; making better choices, changing your behavior, and improving your relationships.

Making these changes can be challenging, and “backsliding” (returning to your standard, less helpful behaviors) is more likely the longer you wait between sessions.

--Optimal Treatment Plan

In most cases, it is recommended to begin with weekly sessions because this gives the client enough time to start implementing guidance from the session, and less time to backslide. Making positive changes gets the client ready for the next challenge. When a client is busy growing and adjusting to the therapist’s guidance, not only can they avoid backsliding, they can also minimize the risk of developing additional issues.

--Example of why consistency matters

Like counseling, health treatments also require consistency. They’re only cured when a patient follows their doctor’s recommendations—as referenced in this example:

If you’ve taken antibiotics, your doctor (hopefully) made a point to tell you to be consistent in taking your medication until you have completed the treatment. Many doctors report It’s common for patients to stop medication as soon as they start feeling better—but the strongest bad bacteria (the stuff you really want to get rid of) is hanging on, and comes back with a vengeance; this makes the patient sick all over again. (Referenced information: https://blog.oup.com/2011/11/antibiotics/)

In reality, counseling works in a very similar way. It is common for a client (or couple) to come for a session or two, feel better, and stop counseling, only to return a few months later—realizing that they stopped before working on or resolving the root of their issues. When deep, meaningful change has not taken place, the same issue or an issue that arises from the unaddressed root problem appears.

It might seem that the original problem was fixed, but the client (or couple) had only learned to avoid, or tiptoe around that problem. It alleviated the symptom, but not the “disease”.

Change (or more precisely, worrying about making a change) can make change seem painful. This is why it takes time—AND CONSISTENCY—to make a positive, permanent change. This pain often causes clients to cancel or unnecessarily appointments.

As mentioned, delaying appointments only delays the time before you get the results you want. It also allows additional time to develop unhelpful behavioral patterns which can create problems. Like the example with antibiotics—you could end up wiping out only the easiest problems first…but without learning to properly develop healthy behaviors and coping skills, you’re unable to tackle the remaining problems.

So, in short—
Get Motivated!
Get consistent treatment!
Get faster results for the positive, permanent change you need!

If you’re ready to make your happiness a priority, contact CrossRoads at 317-842-8881 for expert counseling—to start living your best life. (http://crossroadsindy.com/contact-us)

Living with OCD

Thursday, July 06, 2017 @ 1:10 PM

I have Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Some days are better than others and some days are terrible. This is not something I share lightly or even share with pride. It is debilitating and very real. On a day-to-day basis, it interrupts my life. I lose time. I lose sleep. I can perseverate on specific fears. It can result in depression and loss of relationships. It is not easily described, understood or tolerated.

I have fears and anxieties that compel me to act compulsively. These compulsions, I know do not fix any of my anxieties, nor do they take away my fear. On the contrary, they create a more vicious cycle. An internal cycle of obsession fed by compulsion. How would I begin to share this with anyone? How do I describe the symptoms of OCD with not being laughed at or worse yet, believed?

Let me tell you what OCD is and what it isn’t

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is an anxiety disorder. OCD is a disorder that it is clinically diagnosed when specific criteria is met; when anxiety reaches levels that causes significant deficits in a persons’ life. Usually at the root of OCD is a fear/s that may be connected to real life trauma. The person obsesses on the fear to the point that it causes anxiety and in severe cases panic attacks. From this point, the person creates ways to decrease their anxiety from the fear by creating a ritual/habit/compulsion. Initially, this compulsion seems to bring relief from the anxiety, but it is temporary. The anxiety usually returns, but much stronger and the person needs to engage in the compulsive ritualistic behavior at a much higher frequency. There are some similarities here with drug addiction. The first time someone gets high, they don’t need that much. The longer they do it, the body gets accustomed to the substances, the more they will inevitably need to do to get that same first high.

What OCD is not.

OCD is not something to be proud of. I have heard people talk about how they like cleanliness and things to be organized and they say things like, “I’m pretty sure I have OCD.” And they will say that with a smile on their face, as if living with this disorder is some kind of secret virtue. OCD is not stubbornness and it is not simply wanting things to be a certain way, due to selfishness.

That being said, I frequently am meditating on Romans 12:2, 1 Thess 5:18, 1 Peter 5:7 and 1 Corinthians 10:13

Questions that constantly flow through my head each and every day are:

Rom 12:2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. How do I not be transformed by this world?

1 Thess 5:18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. How do I give thanks in all my circumstances?

1 Peter 5:7 cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. How do I cast all my anxieties on the Lord and what does that look like?

1 Corinth 10:13 No temptation[a] has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted[b] beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted,[c] he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. How do I trust God to lead me through temptation?

I share this with the hopes that it may be helpful for those with OCD and for those who do not suffer from this disorder. There is still a responsibility from everyone that is in the midst of suffering to respond in a worshipful way Jesus. For me that looks like regular reading of the Bible so I can understand who God is, what He promises and who he has called me to be. It means going to church to worship Christ. For at least one day a week, I get to take the focus off myself and place it on the one who gave me hope. Finally, I must be in community. In community, there is hope for life, change and love. In my isolation, there is only loneliness and misery and no freedom from OCD.

If you feel this piece would be helpful for others, please pass it on.

Thanks

Christian Bringolf MA LMHC

Saturday, July 01, 2017

Mind Matters - Heart Centered Hypnotherapy

Saturday, July 01, 2017 @ 6:51 PM

My Brain on Heart Centered Hypnotherapy

“Talking gives you great insight, but experiencing gives you great healing.” These words came to me as I prepared to experience Heart-Centered Hypnotherapy for the first time as a client.

Over the past few years as a therapist, I have longed to go deeper with my clients. I have longed to help them heal their deepest wounds and inner self, yet while I have received excellent results from EMDR and other therapies, I felt there might be something else that would get them to a deeper understanding of their authentic self.

But before I go farther, I need to admit something to my readers…I was scared when it came time for my own sessions. I was asking myself, “What will I learn about my sub-conscious?” “How much healing do I still need in spite of years of my own talk therapy?” “Do I really want to know more about myself?” “What if I feel worse afterwards?” After all, I feel healthy and happy just the way I am. But then, a peace came over me and I felt God gently tell me that I can’t ask my clients to do something I was not willing to do myself. That’s when, I went for it, throwing myself on the couch, feeling the fear and doing it anyway!

But before I tell you about my own experience, let me lay to rest a few myths about clinical hypnotherapy. Clinical Hypnotherapy is NOT like stage hypnosis. The myth that someone can control your mind is erroneous. The people chosen for stage hypnosis and asked to “cluck like a chicken” are simply folks that will go along with simple suggestions. They are not doing anything against their will.

The type of hypnotherapy I practice in my office would best be described as intense healing therapy performed while the client is in a subconscious relaxed state of mind. Our feelings and emotions, along with intuition lie in the subconscious part of the brain. The conscious brain only makes up about 10% of our mind and the other 90% is the subconscious. Previously, my clients and I talked through an issue repeatedly, which often led to great insight, but did not necessarily result in healing the inner wounded part.

In spite of all of my research and excitement about this therapy, I still had a few of my colleagues that tried to discourage me by explaining that there is something “dark” about hypnosis. I’m sorry, but that is just not correct about clinical hypnotherapy. The truth is that all of us spend time in a subconscious state every day. An example of this is praying or meditating. Another example is fixating on the road while driving or just focusing our attention on something and not listening to what someone is saying to us. Sound familiar? None of these things are scary or have anything negative associated with them. It is important to note, at anytime you are receiving clinical hypnotherapy, you are able to snap back or “unrelax” yourself at any given moment. Any “suggestions” that might be given to you in a relaxed state can easily be rejected; besides, in clinical hypnotherapy, if suggestions are given, they are client driven.

So, back to my personal clinical hypnotherapy—First, the short version is…I received healing. Secondly, “experiencing the emotions” and not just talking about them, drove the healing process. Finally, the most important aspect is the “heart centered” approach of the therapy.

Without the heart-centered approach to hypnotherapy, you risk opening up your emotions and feelings, being left raw and re-traumatized. This is where therapy gets derailed. A client experiences what we therapists call an “abreaction” which is a fancy way of saying that you feel the same emotions as if the old trauma is happening again. The sad part is, often the client is sent home in this raw emotional state left to sort things out for themselves and feeling abandoned once again.

The gift of Heart Centered Hypnotherapy is that the risk of re-traumatization is mitigated by addressing the abreaction and teaching the client how to be the nurturing person (in that moment) that they so needed at the time of their old trauma.

During my experience, I have witnessed people that have been through severe trauma and after receiving Heart-Centered Hypnotherapy emerge with insight, restoration and unconditional love. While the process is much more detailed than can be explained in a blog, I can tell you one thing; this therapy is life changing for many people, including me.

While this blog has been dedicated to the discussion of trauma, Heart-Centered Hypnotherapy has been proven to help many other distressing symptoms, such as anxiety, depression, addiction, unresolved guilt and grief.
Live Free

Friday, June 30, 2017

Georgia Book Promotion/Signing

Friday, June 30, 2017 @ 2:03 PM

Dr. Sharon is doing a book tour in Atlanta Georgia to promote her books:

Weapons for Victory: Memoirs of a Perfect Storm

Christian Divorce Wars: A Biblical View

The Shepherd's Call: A Manual for Pastors and Church Leaders

31 Days of Wholeness: Women's Daily Devotional

Newbies in the Kingdom: Daily Devotional for New Believers

Friday, June 16, 2017

The Obsessive Love Wheel

Friday, June 16, 2017 @ 11:08 PM

Obsessive love is an oxymoron: it’s not about love at all. It is about owning and possessing another person.
Often people confuse an obsession with being in love. When the two are fused, it can lead to volatile, destructive relationships. Obsessive love is the kind of love that leads to murder, rape, stalking, false accusations and suicide among other things. An obsessive love wheel divides this kind of love into stages that can be clearly identified in certain behavioral traits.
The first stage relates to the initial attraction. This is an overwhelming, emotional or physical attraction that ignores any signs of incompatibility and focusses on physical and emotional traits rather than personality characteristics. The Obsessed begins to have magical fantasies about the person, and then signs of controlling, obsessive behavior begin to show.
The next stage is an anxious one, where the obsessed begins to create unrealistic and baseless notions about the other person abandoning you or being unfaithful. This can lead to depression or violent reactions.
The third phase is the stalker or obsessive phase, when the obsessed person may follow the target, continuously call, stop by the office unannounced, drive by and even monitor the targeted one. Obsessive questions are usually a characteristic of this phase.
Finally, the obsessed person enters the destructive phase. This is usually triggered by the targeted one fleeing or leaving. This phase is characterized by depression for the obsessed, substance abuse and thoughts of suicide. Obsessive love easily transitions from one phase to the next, even the slightest signs of it should be checked and preventive measures should be taken. An Obsessive Love is not love at all, it is all about control and possession of the targeted one.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Sexual Abuse Recovery Group

Tuesday, June 06, 2017 @ 3:52 PM

Sexual Abuse Recovery Group: Healing the Wounded Heart (by: Dan Allender)

Call for further info: 562-706-4251

Healing from Childhood Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse can profoundly damage a child’s sense of value, mainly by the perpetrator of the abuse, and secondarily by the non-abusive parent who either doesn’t believe the child, or somehow is oblivious to the abuse happening right in their own household. . So often child sexual abuse occurs in families, and in social contexts in which the family knows and trusts the perpetrators. Sometimes children are sexually abused within families in which the non-abusive parent resides mentally in a world of make-believe where no problem exists.

If you have been victimized by emotional incest, physical touch, rape, voyeurism, frotteurism, fondling, inappropriate conversations or non-verbal communication of a sexual nature or in any other way used by a person of more power than you as an object, then these steps will help you overcome the impact of your objectification and emotional hurt. There is no greater injury than being a small child who is used for the sexual gratification of an adult. Following is a list of healthy steps to take in order to heal and recover from sexual abuse:

1. Break your silence. The saying, “you’re as sick as your secrets” definitely applies to childhood sexual abuse. Children and adults who have been subjected to the dishonorable experience of having an adult use them for their sexual gratification, have no desire, ever, to tell anyone of their secret, because of their deep seated feelings of shame and humiliation. However, the only way to heal from this horrendous crime is for the victim to “find her voice.”

2. Journal often about how you have been personally affected by the abuse. List how you were betrayed by those who were supposed to protect you and nurture you. List and describe the different ways you suffered and what you lost because of the abuse. It is important to assess and face the damage in order to heal.

3. Face the Shame. There is great healing to be found in facing the shame your perpetrator put on you; talk about it, and place it off yourself and back on the shoulders of the person responsible for abusing you. Facing your shame and giving it back to your abuser (figuratively) helps you embrace your vulnerability and see yourself in a new light.

4. Grieve your losses. In order to recover from abuse, it is necessary to fully discover and complete the pain caused by your losses. You may feel many losses from being abused, such as, a loss of safety, comfort, innocence, trust, a childhood; a loss of being seen, known, and valued, etc. Think specifically about how your life has been impacted by abuse and write each loss, fully allowing yourself to grieve. Write about how you’ve been betrayed. Share your experience with a safe listening partner.

5. Be Compassionate with yourself. Do not abuse or neglect your value and needs as others have. Learn to talk to yourself with kindness and acceptance. Do not condemn yourself for the past or in the present. Recovery is a lifelong process and developing a constant “inner compassionate companion” will help the rest of your life be a satisfying experience. No longer do you have to be victim to others and to the negative dialogue within your own head. Remind yourself that being abused is not the fault of the victim, for any reason, ever.

Remember that sexual abuse is a form of trauma, and that those who have been affected, suffer with post-traumatic stress. Healing requires patience, understanding, safety, and validation. Therapists helping victims of abuse should offer clients a safe space and presence for facing difficult emotions, and should allow clients to work at their own pace. If a child was abused prior to age six, his memories may be repressed. Never imply that abuse occurred by putting ideas into your client’s mind, just listen to him as he remembers feelings, sensations, hurts, and allow him to talk about events when he’s ready.

When individuals are in therapy, learning to talk about their experiences and feelings, they will most likely have dreams, which are in effect, the mind’s effort at working through the deep feelings. Encourage your client to discuss his dreams, noting that dreams are metaphors. Have him personalize what each object in the dream signifies metaphorically.

Help clients realize that their healing is not dependent on confronting their abusers, but that healing, really is a matter of coming to terms with the abuse internally. Many times, confronting abusers can be very invalidating and counterproductive for victims of abuse. Remind clients that all abusers (especially sexual predators) are master manipulators, and when confronted will tend to do some strategy to minimize, project, deny, or otherwise invalidate the victim’s position. It is better for the victim to just adopt a policy of “no contact” with their abuser and if a confrontation is needed, then have it done merely on paper and read to a therapist.

The more all of the feelings with the abuse are processed by the victim, the more thoroughly the trauma is worked through and felt to completion. There will come a day when the victim will no longer need to process her feelings and she will realize she has been set free. Over time, the negative feelings and thoughts of abuse will dissipate, and not due to repression, but rather due to facing them and feeling their impact in the safe presence of a good therapist or other listening partner.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Should Christians ever seek professional counseling?

Tuesday, May 30, 2017 @ 5:18 PM

In the Christian faith, we like to label the dos and don’ts in life as black and white. While scripture is very clear on many practices, some are left up to individual decision and personal conviction.

Through the years, multiple (and even some oppositional) views have emerged on whether or not those of the Christian faith should ever seek or accept professional counseling.
Popular Christian Views on Professional Counseling

1. On one end of the spectrum are those who fully embrace professional counseling and the concepts of psychology. They view it as a science and believe psychological practices hold validity as part of modern medicine.

2. On the other end are those who feel professional counseling is based on secular concepts and therefore is anti-Christian by nature. Subsequently, they believe it should be avoided. This group often prescribes prayer and scripture reading as the only medicine needed to resolve personal issues.

3. Between these two extremes are a wide range of other approaches including, but not limited to: Christian Counseling, Biblical Counseling, Nouthetic Counseling, Theophostic Prayer, and a host of other healing modalities.

Monday, May 29, 2017

My New Digs!

Monday, May 29, 2017 @ 10:44 PM

I am excited to have you join me as I start on a new adventure of opening my own Psychotherapy office located in River Oaks Tower at 3730 Kirby Dr. Ste #800 Houston, Texas.

The decision to move was not an easy one. Leaving old friends and colleagues, buying new furniture, organizing my new office, opening bank accounts, and disturbing my clients’ routines has caused more than a little anxiety. (Anyone know a therapist?). However, my new digs are located within the offices of Premiere Educational and Assessment Services (PEAS). PEAS is an organization which tests and evaluates individuals for ADD, Autistic Spectrum Disorder and learning disabilities, among other therapeutic needs.

My new colleagues hold different licenses from mine and consist of Licensed Clinical Social Workers and Ph.D.’s. The synergy between us will be beneficial for my clients and my LPC and LCDC licenses will be an addition to their clinical resources.

Houston is a big, wonderful and high-energy city. It is proud to be named of the friendliest multi-cultural cities in the nation and I feel blessed to be called to help its residents. We all know this environment can have the downside for predisposing us to stress, anxiety, trauma, etc. that impacts our lives daily.

With specialty training in Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) and soon to be certified in clinical hypnotherapy, I am qualified to help you with many stresses that cause mental unwellness. Dually licensed in addiction, I stand ready to customize a plan that will help you understand why you “abuse” in the first place and help you find the motivation to heal. As a survivor of OCD myself, I am uniquely qualified to help you understand and recover from things like intrusive thoughts, anxiety and depression.

My office is inviting, warm and thoughtfully arranged for your comfort. From the incredible view of our city, to the aromatherapy, to the oversized comfortable couch, we will begin a peaceful, healing process.

Let’s learn to live free together.

Blessings, Therapist Renee.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

When the Church fails to help Abuse Victims

Thursday, May 18, 2017 @ 1:57 AM

Please note that this article addresses women who are abuse victims. While I realize that men can also be victims of abuse, my focus is on women for the sake of simplicity. Anyone who is abused, male or female, should be cautious about the advice they receive for handling the problem.

It is so sad when a person struggling with an abusive relationship, seeks help from clergy or Christian friends, only to be told that they need to “try harder,” or “be the bigger person,” or “overlook an offense,” or “forgive,” or “turn the other cheek,” etc. When a person, particularly a woman, seeks help from the church for domestic violence, addiction, pornography issues, or emotional neglect and abuse problems in her marriage, so often the church gives pat answers, throws a few verses at the problem, promises to pray for her, and/or sends her on her way.

Oftentimes, the pastor or an elder or some sort of lay counselor in the church may step in and offer Christian counseling to the couple, only to offer the same type of pat answers and short-term solutions as mentioned above. Be very careful and forewarned if you are struggling with severe spousal difficulties and you seek help from the Church. Realize that incompetency can exist in the Church just as often as it can occur within secular sources.

My advice for Christian women seeking real help for serious marital problems is to be very circumspect with the type of help she receives. More often than not, I have heard of complete ineptitude on the part of the Church. In fact, the Church has been known to actually hurt a victimized woman by:

* minimizing the abuse;

* reinforcing the manipulative husband’s tactics by not holding him accountable or minimizing
what he does to cause damage in the relationship;

* invalidating the woman’s feelings, causing her even further victimization;

* blaming her and telling her to try harder to not “cause her brother to stumble,” i.e. that she is
somehow responsible for his behavior;

* by telling her to submit and that God would hold him accountable for his poor behavior and
that she just needs to trust God more;

* telling her to pray more often, keep her mouth shut, be more meek, hold her tongue more
often, etc.

The damage caused to a woman receiving this type of advice in an abusive or addictive marriage will only cause an increase in poor behavior because now the husband has been further emboldened to continue in his unsavory ways, unchecked, while the woman feels completely demoralized and helpless.

The types of assistance the church needs to give a woman seeking help for serious marital issues should be firm, direct, truth-seeking, validating, and grace-filled. When a person seeks counsel from their church, they are looking for spiritual help.

Many times people feel pretty desperate by the time they are willing to actually go to a pastor and ask for help. It takes a lot to just get the words out of one’s mouth, particularly with matters of a personal and private nature. The last thing a woman needs to receive from a church leader is minimization and invalidation of the seriousness of her situation.

If a woman is being sinned against and she is looking for pastoral help, then the best approach the pastor can take is to apply accountability to the husband and provide support to the wife.

When a pastor treats an abusive husband as if his abusive or addictive behavior is no big deal and is partially the wife’s responsibility, then the pastor has actually contributed to the abusive behavior; enabled it; and most likely helped it to increase.

A woman who is trying to get help for herself may end up having to be her own best advocate.

My advice for a woman in an abusive or addictive relationship is as follows:

• Seek help from people who are trained in the area that you are dealing with.

• Trust your internal “instincts” about the advice you are receiving.

• A good counselor will validate you and reflect back to you your input to the point that you
feel understood.

• Always remember that you are not responsible for another person’s behaviors, choices, or
character.

• Ask the person you are seeking counsel from what their background is and philosophy is for
dealing with abuse and addiction problems in families.

• Understand that you do not need to be nicer when dealing with an abuser or addict, you
need to set boundaries – for yourself. What will or will you no longer tolerate?

• If at first you don’t succeed in finding good counsel for your situation, keep trying until you
do. A good counselor will speak truth and will not cause you to feel confused or invalidated.
A good counselor will show empathy and understanding and will have a definite plan of
action to resolve your problem.

• Be aware that often couples counseling will not work with abusers. Abusers are master
manipulators and will most likely manipulate the counselor. This can happen both in the
Church and in secular settings.

• Remember, you cannot change anyone but yourself.

Written by: Dr. Sharie Stines, Therapist, La Mirada, CA

HOPE FOR THE CHRISTIAN IN RECOVERY

Thursday, May 18, 2017 @ 1:45 AM

Are you a Christian struggling to overcome an addiction, abuse issue, the effects of a dysfunctional family, or some other stronghold in your life that keeps you personally ensnared? If you find yourself questioning God and wondering where he is during these trying times, then this article is written for you. Sometimes Christians falsely believe that their Christian life follows a formula. If I do a supposedly good thing, then God will bless me. If I try really really hard to be a good person then God will reward me.

Sometimes it appears to those walking “in righteousness” that the people who couldn’t care less about God seem to get all the breaks, money, children, good relationships, nice homes, nice jobs, or whatever it is we keep praying for and never seem to obtain. We start doubting the existence of God altogether because life is not following our preconceived formula of how life should work.

It may seem like a rude awakening for us, mere mortals, but God’s ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9). What we deem valuable, God may find irrelevant. While we keep looking for temporary comfort, reprieve from pain, human accolades, or some other lesser ideal, God is working on our hearts. Perhaps our strongholds serve a purpose in our lives that God has set up, and he uses these weaknesses for his ends. Remember the Apostle Paul who prayed three times for God to remove a “thorn in his flesh,” and God said, “no, my grace is sufficient for you” (2 Corinthians 12:8-9).

Recovery requires grace. It is essential that you develop grace for yourself, learning to forgive yourself for being weak, for failing, for messing up, for causing problems, for not getting it right. You may never get “it” 100% right and you need to give yourself grace no matter what. What is grace? Grace is bigger than mercy. While mercy reduces the punishment we must face for our insurrections, grace eliminates punishment altogether. Grace involves forgiveness and more.
According to the Old Testament, grace means deliverance from enemies, affliction, or adversity; it also involves daily wisdom, preservation and forgiveness. In the New Testament, grace means salvation in Christ.

On a human level, we can only give ourselves grace to a limited degree. We do this by taking ourselves “off the hook.” We don’t require ourselves to be any more than we are. I think we assume that somehow we’re supposed to be able to do so much more than is realistic or even necessary.

One verse that I find very helpful to keep myself in a proper perspective is, 1 Peter 2:25, which reminds us that we are all like sheep, have gone astray, and need a shepherd. We cannot do recovery without the great shepherd. We are best served by taking our recovery out of our hands and surrendering our lives to God, asking him to take the lead.
For those struggling with some serious recovery issues, who can’t seem to stop smoking, using, enabling, being abused, abusing, etc., help and wisdom can be found in Scripture. For the Christian, God’s word has power. God gave us his word to provide us with the “food” we need for our souls, to sustain us.

Written by: Dr. Sharie Stines, Therapist, La Mirada, CA