counsel's

Sometimes people think they know you. They know a few facts about you, and they piece you together in a way that makes sense to them. And if you don’t know yourself very well, you might even believe that they are right. But the truth is, that isn’t you. That isn’t you at all.
—  Leila Sales
8 Things we can Learn from Introverts

1. Solitude and loneliness are not the same thing.

2. You can be alone and enjoy your own company.

3. You can be alone and be at peace with who you are.

4. Being alone can help you access your authentic, genuine self.

5. It can help you to discover who you want to be, and the goals and achievements that are meaningful to you.

6. Being alone can help develop your creativity.

7. It can help us to establish healthy personal boundaries.

8. It can make us more alert and sensitive to others’ needs.

Why We “Ghost”

During the 1980’s my friend Martin developed an interesting habit of simply disappearing at some point during an evening out without saying a word to anyone. One minute he’d be there and the next he’d be gone. It became an expected punctuation in the evening. “Where’s Martin?” “He must have gone”, and then we’d just continue as normal. We didn’t realise it at the time but he was “ghosting”.

My friend Simon once told me about someone he knew with a very senior position in a corporate business but, when the pressure built too high, his strategy would be to go and sit in the toilet hoping that by the time he emerged, the crisis would have eased. He was “ghosting” too.

These days, if you’re familiar with the term “ghosting” at all, you will be aware that it most usually describes the process of someone with whom you believed you were building a relationship or had a relationship with suddenly going silent or disappearing without warning, sometimes never to be heard of again. It seems like strange behaviour and, on the receiving end, it’s decidedly distressing, so what’s going on? Why do we “ghost” and what does it mean?

At the root of the ghost is a lack of emotional fortitude. Quite simply we ghost because we lack the courage or emotional intelligence to do what is constructive, thoughtful or just plain courteous. Ghosting is the act of avoiding emotional difficulty in ourselves and therefore inflicting more than is necessary onto someone else.

Being ghosted in a relationship hurts so much because it screams “indifference” and that’s a painful feeling, implying that “you don’t matter”, and we definitely want to matter. It’s emotionally cruel and denies us a right of reply, making it harder to explore our own emotions. Sometimes we don’t know how we really feel until we have the chance to hear ourselves speaking about it.

Ghosting creates ambiguity, an ending without explanation and most of us struggle with the unexplained. We have a tendency to chase for an answer, but ghosts don’t like to be chased, they just float through walls where we can’t follow and where we can’t see them anymore anyway.

But far from being regarded as a destructive scourge of twenty first century life it seems as if we are actively encouraged to ghost. The protocol for online dating is to stay silent in rebuffing an approach from someone who doesn’t light your fire and that seems to extend to letting go of someone you’ve examined and decided not to pursue.

Ghosting is also encouraged by the plethora of choices available to us. We have potentially so many partners from which to choose that dropping one in the road like a sweet wrapper makes little difference because the next sweet shop is unlikely to be more than a few steps away. It’s absurdly easy but extremely worrying for human communication where silence and emotional abdication appear to be valued more highly than the truth and a sense of emotional responsibility.

But ghosting isn’t just the preserve of the tech generation, where dating is conducted on the basis of swiping left and right. Ghosting has existed for all time, and whenever we do something purely to avoid emotional discomfort we are ghosting and ghosting is damaging. Neither is it something which we do only to other people.

Did you ever procrastinate over a task you felt to be important to you? Did you ever hold back from saying or doing something because you feared the consequences? Did you ever overlook yourself in a painful way so that someone else could feel more comfortable? If so, you’re ghosting on yourself.

I hear people constantly giving examples of how they are unwilling to assert themselves for fear of embarrassment or conflict, and that’s ghosting. Someone always suffers when a ghost is at work because the ghost’s strategy for getting the result desired is to take the line of least resistance while the other party is left with whatever scraps remain. So if you’re ghosting on yourself, it’s inevitably going to be you that ends up with the dissatisfying crumbs.  

Recently I talked to Martin about his ghosting way back in the past. From the outside it looked like a calling card, a badge of honour but his perspective was markedly different, spoken from the many painful intervening years. “I didn’t want to say goodbye because I didn’t want to go home, but I knew that I had to, and saying goodbye meant admitting to myself things I didn’t want to admit”. I didn’t know it at the time but he was at the start of a very long and destructive battle with alcoholism. He knew neither what he wanted nor where to find it, and so ghosting on his own emotions seemed to make absolute sense. Through the years which followed we have spoken a great deal about the twists and turns we have taken, and we have both come to realise that it is honesty with ourselves and a refusal to ghost on our own needs and desires which is the single most powerful way of avoiding the temptation to ghost other people.

Time out: Removal from reinforcement that gives a child a chance to calm down. It is not a punishment.

 1. The regular environment (time in) must be positive and reinforcing… this means that being put on time out actually removes the child from an engaging and warm interaction or situation. 

2. Time out is implemented immediately after misbehavior, or after only a single verbal warning… this means that you need to put the child in time-out as soon as they disregard a request, or act inappropriately for the situation.  

3. All disciplinarians (parents/caretakers) must be consistent in time out structure… it does not good to have one parent follow the timeout structure, and another caretaker ignore it. children thrive with consistency.

4. No stimuli, reinforcement, or activity should be available at the time out location, and timeout typically lasts a minute for every year the child is old... dont send the kid to their room. put them in a specific area where they dont have books, or their phone/tablet, TV, video games, friends, the dog, whatever. they need to focus on self-soothing and processing the situation in a developmentally appropriate way. a 2 yr old should be on timeout for about 2 minutes, ( i usually tell little kids that they are on timeout until they are done crying, as that seems to give them more control over their own emotional coping and is more developmentally appropriate, as time is arbitrary at that age) and a 10 yr old can manage 10 minutes. while you would hope that a 15 year old should be able to figure their life out; but if they cant, stick the kid on timeout for 15 minutes and process with them.

5. Timeout is enforced, and child is returned to timeout if they escape or leave without permission… they dont get to get return until they process. the caretaker is in charge, not the child. also, if the caretaker puts the kid on timeout longer than is developmentally appropriate, the child has the right to call attention to that fact. The time is VITAL. if the kid isnt ready to process at the end of the time, it is ok to start the time again. 

6. Timeout ends when the child is calm and the adult determines release after processing the situation with the child. caretaker and child discuss the misbehavior and how the timeout could have been avoided through appropriate behavior. the child commits to act appropriate and as a team, caretaker and child determine a consequence if the misbehavior occurs again. I also believe that this is a great time to give your kid a hug and let them know that you really care about them and your relationship.

7. Follow through and compliance of original command after timeout has ended. child does the required action, (maybe chores, or apologizes to others, or whatever) and the situation is moved past. I believe that it is a perfect time to figure out if the required command needs some assistance (maybe the chore was too overwhelming and a parent can assist with showing the child how to complete it, or provide step by step instructions)

anecdotally, ive found it helpful for a caretaker to place themselves on timeout when they get overwhelmed with the kids… tell the kids that “mom/dad/whoever” needs to take a timeout. once you catch your breath, call the kiddos over and let them know why you were needing a timeout, and what they can do to help keep things smooth for the rest of the day. if you do this, all of a sudden timeout is a powerful tool that can be modeled for every age and enhances everyone coping and communication.

adapted from chapter 14 (family interventions) of McWhirter, J.J., McWhirter, B.T., McWhirter, E.H., & McWhirter, A. C. (2017). At-risk youth: A comprehensive response (6th ed.). Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole. Cengage Learning. ISBN: 978-1-305-67038-9.

How to Build Emotional Resilience

1. Talk to someone: Sharing how we feel helps to reduce the inner tension (but make sure it is someone who cares about your feelings).

2. Work on improving your self-esteem: Self-esteem is the way you see and feel about yourself … and there are lots of lots of things that undermine our self esteem. For example, experiencing a break up, putting on unwanted weight, doing badly on a test or being excluded by our friends. It’s important that we keep on working on our self-esteem by treating ourselves well and noticing when we succeed (instead of noticing the negatives).

3. Manage your stress levels: If we’re always feelings stressed then it’s hard to cope with life. We tend to over react and have a negative mind set … which drains us of our energy and saps our will to fight. So take a look at your lifestyle and see what you can drop. You may be doing too much, and don’t have time to relax.

4. Make the time and effort to enjoy yourself: Doing things that we enjoy helps to improve the way we feel. So build in little things like having coffee with a friend, or going to a game, or taking time to watch some sports.

5. Choose a healthy life style: Pay attention to your diet and how much you exercise; try to limit alcohol, and don’t deprive yourself of sleep.

6. Develop good relationships: Do your friends make you happy? Do you enjoy their company? Are they kind of people with your best interests at heart? Do they treat you with respect and help to boost your self-esteem? If not, then work on finding new relationships!

ncregister.com
Sidewalk Counselors Tell Women: 'We Love You, We Support You, and You're Not Alone'
Sidewalk counseling is rightly considered the last line of defense in the pro-life movement, by saving lives through genuine compassion.

I have seen and heard people scream at you to go away, and you don’t. 

That isn’t counseling. 

It’s harassment. 

“ The Sidewalk Advocates’ webinar explained to participants the guideposts for sidewalk counselors called the “five-point method”: 1) smile and greet with love; 2) give literature and explain the pro-life help; 3) ask and listen about why she is there or what she needs; 4) solve the problem by offering concrete solutions; 5) empower her to leave, which includes an invitation to the local pregnancy-resource center. “

BUT YOU DON’T LISTEN TO PEOPLE.  YOU KEEP GOING ON AND ON WHEN THEY ASK YOU TO STOP. 

MAYEM: Marriage Counseling Pt. 1

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Gaster couldn’t feel the jump. He couldn’t see anything until a few moments later when he forced a hole for an eye and flickered the light of it a few times before keeping it on. After realizing they were in the machine he turned to Kid.

“K͢id,͡ ̛w̴ha͟t͝-”

The jump succeeded.

Kidster slumped in front of the controls, head falling between his knees as he let out a long breath.

They were in Gsaster’s adopted world. They’d be safe, here.

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Therapy 23.08.16 // taking the long way round

“I have both your emails here, the one about d3 and the one about not speaking. Which one do you want to talk about - or maybe you have something else to talk about?”, my therapist asks me. After only a relatively (for me) brief pause, I say “The not speaking one first, but maybe only for a short while. Then the other one” So we agree to talk for about 15 minutes on the first one, then move on.

See me! Taking some responsibility for the session! I find it very hard to express what I want to talk about, to sound too willing to express my needs. This is something from my childhood I think, some idea that I might be scorned for being vulnerable, so best to keep quiet and let someone else make the choice - and then the relief over not having to take that risk then outweighed the chance of not getting what I wanted.

We look at the email I wrote trying to explain to her how it feels when I am unable to speak. “Hmm, like your mouth is glued together…” T says, “that is a helpful description. I can see how difficult speaking would be if that’s how you feel in your body.” We go back and forth, brainstorming ideas that might help.

“I really don’t want to say you can text me the answers to questions, because that will not help you learn to speak out your words - which is what therapy is all about and what we are trying to help you learn to do. But how about if you get really stuck, you could text me just one word or two, it would have to be kept really short. Maybe that would give us something to unlock the talking with”

“Or” I say, “what if I tried writing down in session what I can’t say, since it’s so much easier for me to get the words out through my fingers, and then I could read it out to you?” This is my optimistic idea to bypass the whole brain-mouth pathway. Reading aloud surely involves different pathways than speaking your thoughts, I’m wondering whether those pathways would be less of a fight to follow, although I’m still nervous because I don’t know if it would actually work when it came down to it. “We can definitely try it” T says.

The fifteen minutes is nearly up - my therapist is keeping her eye on the clock. She asks if I am ready to move on, and although in the past I would have let her, I just have one more thought I want to get out. “Sometimes when I can’t speak, I get stuck, thinking now I’ve waited so long to say anything, I really can’t speak now because it’s so stupid that it was so hard to say maybe just one word. But maybe when that happens, it would help if you could ask me the same question again, because it might reset things.”
“Ah yes” says T “Reset, that’s a good word. I can see that might help. But how would I know when it would be helpful to ask the question again and when you actually just need a few more minutes of silence - because sometimes I know you are just taking time to find the right words? Do we need a signal of some sort?”
I pause, because I see her point. “Well……maybe I could…….just ask you? To say the question again?”
T beams. Maybe I am gradually learning to use my words. I’m just taking the long way round.

Ethical Dilemma for Therapist Bloggers - Advice?

So surely I am not the first person to struggle with this on here. But, as I shared in my last post, I am starting clinical work next week. I will be doing individual therapy with college students at a university counseling center. 

Now, I started this blog in undergrad–in the beginning of undergrad, in fact. I believe I was a freshman. Chose psychology as my major and here I am now in grad school. This blog has always been a sort of sanctuary for me. A place to share my thoughts, my feelings, struggles, and joys. There were times where I did this more or less, but it’s always been this sort of vulnerable and honest place for me. I’ve shared a lot of myself, some personal details of my life, and my photos of myself. It’s personal, and I’ve connected with many lovely people. 

I don’t want to delete this blog, nor do I believe that makes any sense. But, I am thinking about how this blog might affect my relationship with clients if they saw it. I have to consider that now. I don’t really know the likelihood of the people I am working with knowing about this blog, but I have to assume that it is out there. Furthermore, along the way, I’ve linked my full name to a lot of quotes. Mostly because, I enjoy having an online presence, and I’ve always enjoyed blogging and being in the social community, trying to model vulnerability and connection. But this is a dilemma for me, because too much self-disclosure can impede the therapeutic process and prevent potential opportunities in the therapeutic relationship. I still am not sure about my full beliefs on self-disclosure, but I think it’s better to be on the side of caution, maybe at least for me, because of just starting out and because of the information I’ve already provided about myself (not having started this blog being a therapist). 

My last job in mental health work was residential, and involved a population that I had minimal worry about self-disclosure, internet access, or how any of that impacted my relationships with clients.  

So any of those of you out there in the field–what are your thoughts and opinions on this subject? I assume they differ a lot, and that’s ok. 

Do I delete my photos and keep my personal posts? Do I delete my photos and personal posts? Do I keep my personal posts but delete the photos of myself and try to take my full name off of any of the quotes I’ve linked? 

See, there is nothing wrong with blogging and also being a therapist. Many therapists have a blog, and generally its educational in nature but also fosters connection and discussion.. maybe it is personal, but more inspirational than getting into serious life details. They may self-disclose, but their self-disclosure is thought-out and considered. Some therapists are okay with disclosing more of their life on here… everyone differs in their feelings and opinions on this and it also depends on their field. Some people have “therapist” blogs, and separate personal blogs. In general, my personal preference is that some self-disclosure is okay and potentially very helpful if relevant and beneficial for the client. That being said–do I want a client to know all of the things here? No, I don’t. 

So, this is just something I’ve been struggling with. And thinking about how to handle it. 

Therapy

Me: “Remember my last major anger episode where I let it out and then just sat on the ground and cried? You told me that I was just taking care of myself, and I just kinda crinkled my nose. Then you said, “You still don’t view doing things like that as an act of self-care, do you?” I shook my head no because I thought it was just a piss poor reaction to a piss poor situation.”

Therapist: “Yes, I remember that.”

Me: “Well, now I can understand that that’s an act of self-care and that I’m supposed to do that to get the feelings out of my system.”

Therapist: *taking the info in and shaking her head* “Wow, that’s a really big thing for you.”

Me: *smiles a little* “I know.”

Therapist: *starts moving around giddily in her chair, looking at me intently with a huge smile on her face*

Me: *rolls my eyes* “I knew you’d love that.” *smiles*

Business Meetings

The benefit of having marriages that didn’t work is you have an opportunity to get really clear on what you do and do not want in a future relationship. One of the things my partner and I both were very clear on was our desire to put our self care and our relationship first, and so the weekly Business Meeting was born. It’s extremely helpful to us, and I wanted to share in case it helps someone else. 

Weekly, we take turns leading the meeting. The questions we ask each other are: 

-What did I do this week that made you feel loved?

-Where do you feel I did a great job this week?

-What is an area in which I can improve?

-What are your personal goals for yourself?

-What are our goals as a couple?

-Did we meet or make progress on the personal and relationship goals we set last week?

This conversation usually takes about an hour, but we’ve done it more quickly when short on time. At first, it felt hokey and weird, but now it’s something we both look forward to every week. We think it keeps us mindful and focused on our personal selves and the way we show up for each other. It also keeps us striving to be loving and show up in our relationship with intention. 

I think I am going to do a radio show with J about all this. It will be interesting to get the male perspective on it. Hopefully, it will be helpful to others as well. 

As long as you look for someone else to validate who you are by seeking their approval, you are setting yourself up for disaster. You have to be whole and complete in yourself. No one can give you that. You have to know who you are - what others say is irrelevant.
—  Nic Sheff