Category: Mental Health

woman sitting in mindfulness

Mindfulness Is Much More Than Present Moment Awareness.

It is rather unfortunate that mindfulness has become trendy. The watered-down definition I hear most often is that mindfulness is awareness of the present moment. Mindfulness does indeed encompass present moment awareness as opposed to thinking about the past or worrying about the future. But by that definition, one could say that a shoplifter is mindful. I would imagine that a shoplifter does not want to be arrested and is very much in the present moment. However, because shop-lifting lacks integrity and morality, it would not be an accurate application of mindfulness to say you are a mindful shoplifter.  Mindfulness practice is much deeper than just present moment awareness. It has the qualities of peacefulness, morality, and integrity as well as insight and wisdom.

Got Peacefulness?

Mindfulness contains peacefulness and peacefulness contains mindfulness. Another reason the shoplifter is not mindful is that she is not peaceful. Avoiding arrest sounds like the antithesis to peacefulness.

There are many techniques to help establish mindfulness, but they all bring us to a place that establishes a sense of grounding and ease. For many people, the greatest sense of relief comes from the mind slowing down. Mindfulness  puts brakes on the racing mind. We relax as the body and mind are reunited in the here and now.

Morality & Integrity

When the energy of mindfulness begins to get stronger, our actions, thoughts, and words are moral. We don’t hurt one other. We don’t hurt ourselves. Mindful morality and integrity cultivate self-care and propels us to use the right actions and efforts to care for our precious human body. The gentleness that organically grows from our practice propels us to take care of others that are suffering. We become generous and give of ourselves and share our resources when we feel peaceful and relaxed. Fearfulness and anxiety, on the other hand, is conducive to rigidness and tightness.

Insight & Wisdom

When mindfulness is firmly established, and the mind has settled down we begin to have insight and understanding. Mindfulness is like a mirror. It reflects the image of our true nature.  We begin to understand ourselves very deeply. Subtle intentions, beliefs, and perceptions that are hidden in the deep crevices of our subconscious mind rise to the conscious mind. We can also begin to understand others with deeper insight and wisdom. Your suffering and my suffering begin to look more alike than different. We begin to understand the influence of this thing to that thing. We understand how what we consume, with our eyes, mouth, ears affect our self, others and the planet. We begin to see that your suffering has the same qualities as my suffering.

I hope this blog has helped to deepen the understanding of mindfulness. It is quite profound!

If you would like to leave a comment, I would love to hear from you!

In peace, diane

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FAMILY ALIENATION – WHEN YOUR FAMILY MAKES YOU THE ENEMY

Family alienation is a far-to-common occurrence in the modern family. The destructive and devastating, family alienation occurs when one person in the family becomes the enemy and is wrongly blamed as the root cause of family problems. The family member who is alienated might be a parent, child, grandparent or spouse.

Family alienation is more typical in family systems that are marked by substance abuse or mental health problems. An example is the family member who refuses to enable substance abuse, while the rest of the family condones and supports the addict. Refusing to let the user borrow money or leaving family gatherings when a family member becomes intoxicated becomes irrational and cruel excuses to reject and even ridicule. When mental health problems are present the family member who is alienated is often the person who sounds the alarm of problematic behaviors or endorses mental health treatment.

Family Alienation – The Process

Family alienation walls off the alienated family member from the rest of the family. The alienated family member is often ridiculed and repeatedly rejected. She is called “too sensitive” or “hard to please”. Irrational and untruthful labels are used to justify the rejection. Colluding and division are used to create a narrative that makes the role of the alienated family member the enemy. At first, the alienation and cruel treatment are denied or minimized. After enough rejection, the alienated family member might bargain with the family members in order to re-enter the family structure. When the rejection becomes excessively mean-spirited and intolerable, the alienated family member begins to come to terms with the anger or depression he feels. In addition to adjusting to the emotional upheaval, the alienated family member struggles to find a new identity after alienation. Much of their life has been uprooted. Their roles, financial security, sense of purpose must be re-identified.

Self-Care

For the alienated family member, self-care is crucial. Professional treatment with a counselor is always recommended and helps the family member to process her emotions and strategies for rebuilding and reclaiming her life. Other self-care strategies include:

Healthy Distraction – Find a way to distract your mind when you feel a frightening sense of being up uprooted. Don’t deny what has happened. However, because of the intensity of the pain, it is common to engage in obsessive thinking in an attempt to make sense of the rejection. Know that your mind is racing trying to make sense of something that may never make sense.  A healthy distraction will stop the mind from racing and perhaps, eventually let the heart catch up. Once you have accepted the condition, reframing what your new life might optimally look like will begin to take form.

Support – If you have been made the enemy in your family, support is critical. Lean into your friends. If you do not have friends, try to find a support group. Processing what you are feeling will release some of the intensity of the strong emotions you are feeling.

Take In The Good – It is very hard to see rays of sunlight in the midst of a downpour. But if we look deeply we know that there is some element of light, although it is faint, even in storm clouds.  Practice gratitude and finding the good. Perhaps you have your health, friends, a good job. One of the most influential spiritual teachers is Thich Nhat Hanh. He reminds us to see the non-tooth ache. When we have a toothache it is difficult to focus on anything but the pain. But, when we are liberated from the pain of the toothache we are mindful of the relief from pain for only a moment.

Be in peace – diane

 

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The Link Between Aging And Feelings Of Loss Of Control

By Guest Blogger Christian Worstell

As we age, the feeling that we are in control of our lives often diminishes. There are many choices we make that don’t seem significant in our day-to-day lives until we lose the ability to make them on our own. 

In addition, changes to our physical, mental, and emotional state can cause us to feel like we have lost our grip on our own lives. 

Aging and Loss of Control

The first step to dealing with feelings of loss of control is to understand the factors that are contributing to that feeling.

 Here are a few ways that aging is linked to a perceived loss of control: 

Bodily Changes

Getting older is often accompanied by physiological changes that are not always preventable. Common issues include weakened bones, slowing of the metabolism, tooth enamel decay, reduced elasticity in the skin, heart conditions, and sensory loss.

These shifts in the body’s conditions can cause you to feel like you no longer have control over your own body. 

Losing Friends and Family

The unfortunate reality of growing older is that you will most likely lose people you love at some point later in your life. Whether it’s a friend, spouse, or parent, losing someone you love is extremely difficult and can make you feel helpless. 

Inability to Pursue Hobbies

Sometimes when you age, you are no longer able to take part in activities that you once loved. It may be too physically demanding, too expensive, or not considered acceptable for your age.

When you stop pursuing a passion, you can feel like you are missing something in your life and you don’t know how to fill in the gaps and find fulfillment elsewhere.

Medical Issues

With age comes a greater risk of medical problems. Medical conditions can cause great feelings of distress as they are often unpredictable and out of your control. 

Stress and Forgetfulness

As you age, regulating stress hormones becomes harder for the brain, so it can be much harder to manage feelings of stress effectively. Therefore, the older you get, the harder it is to manage stress.  

Unfortunately, high levels of stress can also trigger a decline in the immune system and harm your hippocampus (the part of the brain responsible for memory retrieval). This can often cause memory loss and increased feelings of frustration. 

Feelings of loss of control are valid. Life is full of changes and having to adjust accordingly can be incredibly challenging. But while there are uncontrollables in life, there are also effective things that we can do to help manage these feelings and get a firm grip on the direction of our lives. 

Effective Ways to Manage These Feelings

Studies have shown that having a high sense of control over your life, abilities, and options is associated with “being happy, healthy, wealthy, and wise.”

While some aspects of aging cannot be prevented, there are actions that we can take to increase control in our lives. 

Here are a few important steps you can take to regain control in certain aspects of your life: 

Positive Emotions

Maintaining a positive attitude can be difficult, but shifting your perspective can be the most important step you can make to feel more in control of your life.

If you look at changes as something everyone goes through rather than something happening to you, you will have an easier time adjusting to changes and overcoming adversity. 

One way that you can begin to adopt a more positive outlook is to recognize that your feelings are valid, but that doesn’t mean you have to feel like this forever. 

Seek Help

It is important to recognize that you are not alone in your efforts to regain a sense of control over your life and change your perspective.

Surrounding yourself with people will help you stay positive. This can be done via support groups, visiting public places, traveling somewhere new, trying a new hobby, or spending time with family and friends. 

It is also important to seek professional resources and find a counselor you can talk to. Check in with your insurance provider to see what mental health services may be covered. If you have Medicare, you may be eligible for services such as psychotherapy, wellness visits, depression screenings, and other age-related services. 

Exercise

Exercise is important for all ages. Exercise has many benefits including weight control, chronic pain relief, better sleep, boosting the immune system, muscle loss stabilization, and improved balance and will help you feel more active and in control of your own body. 

Healthy Diet

The World Health Organization reports that malnutrition is common for people aged 65 and over. It can lead to dizziness, muscle weakness, and weight loss. Malnutrition is often under-diagnosed because it is frequently thought to be associated with another illness. 

Maintaining a healthy diet, drinking plenty of water, and taking supplements will help prevent malnutrition and allow you to feel healthy and fueled so you can pursue the things you love. 

Mental Exercises

It is possible to combat brain deterioration through mental exercises. This may sound a bit silly, but learning something new, playing challenging brain games, or adding variation to your normal routine will stimulate your mind and allow you to stay sharp and alert in your life. 

Preventative Action

Being proactive in your awareness of age-related problems will give you a sense of control. Seeing your physician for age-appropriate screenings will help detect any upcoming problems and give you time to determine the best way to move forward. 

As you grow older, you may feel worn out by feelings of loss of control as you age. If you feel this way now, know that you are not alone. You do not have to live a life that feels out of your grasp forever. There are many options for regaining or maintaining control of your life and employing them will lead to a happier and healthier well-being. 

Author Bio: Christian Worstell is a health and lifestyle writer living in Raleigh, NC.

Guest Blogger Christian Worstell

 

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stressed eldery man holding his head

Stress In Seniors

By Guest Blogger Christian Worstell

   

Too much stress can be bad for anyone, but safeguarding against the impact of stress for seniors is particularly important. Identifying signs of stress in seniors and taking action to reduce that stress can be critical to their mental, emotional, and physical health.

How Stress Affects Seniors

While frequent stress isn’t beneficial for anyone, it is particularly concerning for seniors. The root of the problem has to do with the functioning of seniors’ brains and immune systems.

As we age, our brain loses the ability to efficiently regulate stress hormones. The rise of stress hormones such as cortisol can eventually lead to severe health problems such as damage to the hippocampus, which is the part of the brain that is responsible for retrieving memories. And this kind of damage has been linked to stress-related memory loss in older populations.

Also, our immune system over time loses its defense mechanisms and is less efficient at fighting off stress-related illnesses such as increased inflammation. As a result, seniors are more vulnerable to the negative effects of stress such as heart problems, dental issues, and stomach problems, to name just a few.

Another thing to note is that seniors tend to have a harder time coping with stress than younger adults.

Unfortunately, there are stressful elements in the lives of most seniors that are hard to avoid. For example, while some seniors may be dealing with the stress of losing a close friend or family member, others may be taking on the stress of caregiving for a spouse while dealing with their own health problems.

The negative health implications of stress for seniors is clear, but the outlook does not have to be a bleak one. There are numerous steps seniors can take to reduce the impact of stress in their lives.

Signs of Stress in Seniors

The signs of stress in seniors are similar to those of people of all ages. The difference is that in senior populations, the signs may be misinterpreted as simply normal parts of aging.

This is a mistake, and when older adults begin to suffer from such symptoms, it is important to look to stress reduction as well as considering whether other conditions could be responsible.

Possible signs of stress in seniors can include:

  • Insomnia or irregular sleeping patterns
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Feelings of helplessness
  • Poor concentration
  • Changes in appetite

It is important for family members, caregivers and seniors themselves to recognize that stress and depression are not just a normal part of aging. Stress and depression can cause confusion and memory loss that may look like the early stages of dementia.

Older adults may be less likely to talk openly about the stress they are experiencing. It is important to be alert to changes in the behavior of seniors and realize that stress could be at the root of those changes.

Tips for Stress Reduction in Seniors

The good news for seniors is that there are many avenues available for stress reduction. Below are some of the most effective.

  1. Exercise

Exercise can help with stress relief in people of all ages, and seniors are no exception. Exercise in seniors can be tailored to their ability. Some seniors may still be able to engage in more strenuous exercises, but there are also many modified exercise programs available for seniors at most levels of physical ability.

In addition to stress reduction, some types of exercise can offer specific physical benefits that are important to senior health. For example, yoga can improve balance, lower blood pressure, increase bone strength and help with blood circulation among many other benefits.

  1. Getting Involved

Senior isolation can be both a source and symptom of stress for seniors, but becoming involved in volunteer activities, church groups, activities offered at a senior center or engaging with people in other ways can significantly reduce that stress. Some colleges offer reduced or even free tuition for seniors.

Rather than seeing retirement and the senior years as a time to step back from involvement, seniors can take this opportunity to finally pursue interests they had to set aside in their working years.

  1. Therapy and Lifestyle Changes

Like people of all ages, seniors suffering from stress may benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy, meditation and other approaches that focus on changing thought patterns.

Eating a healthy, balanced diet and getting enough sleep can also be critical aspects of reducing stress.

  1. Getting Help

Some seniors may still wish to remain in their home but may need help with some tasks such as household chores, yard work or grocery shopping and meal preparation. Struggling with these tasks can be a source of stress. There may be programs in your community specifically geared toward seniors that offer these services.

Stress and the problems it causes for seniors are not an inevitable part of aging. By recognizing and addressing the signs of stress in seniors, caregivers and seniors can take steps to ensure that these years are as full and rewarding as the ones that preceded them.

 

Author Bio: Christian Worstell is a health and lifestyle writer living in Raleigh, NC.

Guest Blogger Christian Worstell
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Being Authentic When You Feel Imperfect

By Dr. Matthew Welsh J.D., Ph.D – Guest Blogger

Founder of Spiritual Media Blog

https://www.spiritualmediablog.com/

One of my life goals is to be authentic. Initially, this may seem or sound simple. Being authentic simply means to be yourself, speak your truth, or be true to yourself. However, one of the hardest parts about being authentic is recognizing that I am not perfect. Thus, part of being authentic is giving myself permission to be imperfect.

This has been a struggle for me at times. I strive for perfection, have high goals for myself, and push myself beyond what most would believe to be comfortable thresholds. The advantages of this are that I have become extremely discipline with how I spend my time and my behavior, I often achieve my goals, and when I fall short I of my goals I am still able to feel good about my results.

The Downside Of Perfectionism

However, the down side of striving for perfection is that when I fall short in ANY aspect of my life, then I am at risk of not being happy with myself or feeling unsatisfied. Additionally, I can be excessively hard on myself when I don’t reach my goals. Further, I often put so much pressure on myself that it is difficult for me to enjoy the inevitable ups and downs, twists and turns, and zigs and zags that come with living life and being a human.

Part of the antidote for this is recognize that in order for me to be authentic, I must give myself permission to be imperfect and accept myself for who I am at this moment in time and accept the current circumstances of life.This does not mean lowering standards or not trying to change your circumstances. It is simply accepting where you are in this moment, feeling good about the progress you have made in some areas of your life and recognizing that you would prefer to change other areas of your life.  Helpful thoughts to aid in this process include:

  1. My self-worth encompasses more than my external circumstances (e.g., weight, financial worth, career, relationships)

 

  1. My invisible self is shining right now and worthy of love

 

  1. I am going to give myself permission to be happy, even if everything is not exactly how I would like it to be in my life right now

 

  1. I may not prefer my current circumstances, but I am willing to accept them.

Accept The Imperfections

Plus, when we fight our current circumstances, then that often leads to unhelpful thoughts such as:

I should/must/need to have more money, improved relationships, or better body in order to be happy, let myself relax and accept myself for who I am.

This distracts us from being in tune with our higher self or spirit. Plus, our self worth and attraction is often viewed by others to be completely different than how we view ourselves when we are demanding perfection. Finally, if we really want to be authentic, then it can help to learn to accept ourselves for our strengths and imperfections.

Peace,

Dr. Matthew Welsh J.D., Ph.D

Founder of Spiritual Media Blog

Spiritual Media Blog is a website that features guest posts, articles, interviews, and reviews about spirituality, psychology, and inspirational entertainment. Please visit http://www.spiritualmediablog.com for more information

Dr. Matthew Welsh J.D., Ph.D. is the founder of Spiritual Media Blog. After graduating from law school Dr. Welsh created Spiritual Media Blog to be a source of inspirational content, media, and entertainment. He began his career in Hollywood working for an entertainment agency, the William Morris Agency, and then as a trial lawyer for the Department of Child Services in Indiana. He realized that he was not happy working as a lawyer. So, he quit his job as a lawyer to pursue his calling to become a psychologist and obtained his PhD in Psychology. He now works as a full-time psychologist. Spiritual Media Blog is a creative outlet for his passions related to psychology, spirituality, and inspirational entertainment. His hope for Spiritual Media Blog is that it provides you with content that is practical, inspirational, and entertaining.

 

 

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vintage drawing of sections of brain

I Endorse Buddhist Psychology

Buddhism – Religion or Psychology Theory?

Psychology theories provide explanations of emotional and cognitive patterns to predict the trajectory of “normal” mental health development. After enough data has been collected and analyzed, reliable-ish predictions can be made about “normal” developmental patterns. After a consensus is reached on what constitutes  “normal” and “abnormal” behavior,  clusters of abnormal are categorized and mental health diagnosis or labels are born. From the various clusters of mental health diagnosis, mental health treatments are formulated.

Based on this criterion, Buddhism could rightfully be re-designated from a word religion to a theory of psychology.  Non-secular Buddhist teachings illuminates maladaptive psychological patterns and the source of those patterns, as well as provide treatment plans to alleviate emotional and mental suffering.

I am a psychotherapist in private practice, specializing in mood disorders. I am also a Buddhist who practices daily meditation, mindfulness and studies Buddhist teachings. These non-secular  practices foster many benefits in my life, including improved cognitive and emotional health and better relationships. When I share the same teachings and practices with clients, they realize therapeutic value. I endorse Buddhist Psychology, which to me means using the teachings of Buddhism to label maladaptive mental/emotional/behavioral patterns and draw from the Dharma to formulate treatment plans so that clients can reach their treatment goals and improve their emotional, cognitive, and relational health.

Buddhist Psychology and the Clinical Treatment Plan

The language of Buddhist Dharma is very different than traditional psychology theories. In my humble opinion, Buddhist Psychology is much easier to understand, explain and translate than the psychobabble found in many theories and treatment plans. The treatment plan is the guideline for the client that identifies what changes are needed to reach his or her treatment goals. If done well, the treatment plan provides a realistic road map that identifies opportunities for change that will help the client achieve her goals. Usually this road map contains a combination of emotional, behavioral or cognitive changes.

For example, in treating anxiety, it is helpful to see anxiety producing thoughts as a mental process, rather than an accurate interpretation of your current condition. We all have a human mind. The nature of our mind is to engage in processes such as perceiving, interpreting, analyzing and judging. The slope becomes slippery when we confuse our thoughts with reality. Just because we have a thought does not mean it is accurate. Many times our thoughts are wrong.

When we see a mental process such as an anxiety producing thought as though we are an observer of the thought, we create space between our psyche and the thought. In other words, there is the thinker and something that can observe the thinker.  You can think ‘today is going to be an awful day’ but witness that you just had this thought. As opposed to having the thought ‘today is going to be an awful day’ because blah blah blah. There we go down the slippery slope, believing the thinker and going down the abyss of anxiety producing thinking.

Observers Mind

Women with thought bubbles around her
Buddhist Psychology suggest practices such as observers mind to slow down the mind and reduce anxiety.

Buddhist Psychology suggest witnessing our mental process as though we are an observer. Pannatti insight is a type of observing  that recognizes the name and form of phenomenon.   If one recognizes and keeps their minds eye on the mental process of “worrying” the descension down the rabbit hole of anxiety producing thoughts is reduced. If this process is done often enough, neuro-biology tells us that the neural web that is activated while we are having anxiety producing thoughts becomes disconnected and we change our mental health.

There are countless other applications of Buddhist Psychology. It has been an honor and a privilege to study these teaching. They have benefited me greatly, as well as the many clients who I have had the privilege to work with.

Be in peace – Diane

Diane Chrestman is the author of Zenergy Mindfulness.
Available on Amazon February 2019.

 

 

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drawing of brain with caption energy psychology

Energy Psychology – Fast & Effective Treatment

When I began studying modalities of energy psychology I was skeptical. The techniques and interventions were strange. But after using these techniques I realized energy psychology was fast and effective for many mental health disorders and clients were pleased by the relief they felt.

I wish energy psychology was a mainstream intervention for psychological disorders. Why? Because energy psychology is fast and effective.

These are some physiological changes that occur in the body that explain how energy psychology works.PICTURE OF ALBERT EINSTINE WITH QUOTE THAT EVERYTHING IS ENERGY

  • Tapping on acupuncture points is thought to down regulate areas of the brain such as the limbic system and amygdala which are activated during stress. These points help to turn off the fight/flight/freeze response.
  • Techniques used in energy psychology change brain wave patterns to lower frequencies. These lower frequencies indicate relaxed states and higher frequencies indicate greater arousal.
  • Hormones such as cortisol, are reduced. Cortisol is known as the “stress hormone” because it is used to activate the body’s stress response during anxiety or panic attacks.
  • Acupuncture points and meridians correspond with connective tissue in the body.  Connective tissue is made of collagen which is a conductor. Therefore, tapping on acupuncture point triggers the endocrine system to regulate the body’s parasympathetic chart showing results for vets with ptsd after using energy psychologynervous system

The simplest answer may be that everything is made of energy and therefore our thoughts and emotions have energy. We can use the interventions offered in energy psychology to instill healthy thought patterns and diminish the intensity of unhealthy thought patterns through the manipulation of the associated energy fields.

The scientific evidence regarding the effectiveness of energy psychology is mounting.

103 Studies have been reported in Scientific Peer Reviewed Journals. 102 of those studies reported benefits of Energy Psychology. This chart shows results after 49 vets used an Energy Psychology technique know as tapping. The results are astonishing.

Clients report that not only are the techniques effective but the benefits are lasting.

be in peace – diane

 

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man yelling into megaphone. Text that reads "Affordable counseling in Georgia"

Affordable Counseling in Georgia- Resources & Contact Information

In 2016, 13.9% of Georgia residents were uninsured. For uninsured individuals, comprehensive mental health care, including therapy, is often a rare commodity. The following resource list contains agencies in Georgia who offer affordable counseling, and other mental health services.

       Brenau University 

Low cost clinics are available in two locations: Norcross and Gainesville. In addition to counseling, psychological assessments are available at a reduced rate.

Care and Counseling Center of Georgia

A nonprofit, ecumenical organization offering low cost counseling, pastoral care and education to individuals, couples, and families. They have several counselors in training. Located in Decatur, GA; 404-636-1457.

Emory University Outpatient Psychotherapy Training Program

A Department of Psychiatry training program for new psychiatrists, providing evaluations and individual, couples and group therapy, as well as medication management, on a sliding fee scale; 404-727-0399.

Emory University Psychological Center

A Psychology Department therapy training center providing individual, couples, family and group psychotherapy on a sliding fee sale. They also provide a variety of lower cost psychological testing, including IQ, learning disability, attention deficit disorder and neuropsychological assessment services; 404-727-7451.

Georgia Community Mental Health Service Boards

The publicly funded adult and youth community-based mental health service system in Georgia, provides affordable counseling treatment for mental health and addiction disorders; 404-657-2136.

Georgia State University Psychiatry  Clinic

A Georgia State Department of Psychology training center for new therapists providing individual, couples, family, group psychotherapy, and psychological testing on a sliding fee scale; 404-413-6229.

Heartwork Counseling Center

A therapy training center providing some low fee counseling through their “Project Open Heart” program.  Located in Inman Park, near the Marta station; 404-658-1222.

Jewish Family & Career Services

An organization that provides health, career and human services, including low fee counseling services, serving people of all faiths. They have several locations and counselors in training; 770-677-9305.

Karuna Counseling

Located off Clairmont Road just north of the Emory campus; 404-321-4307.

The Link Counseling Center

A nonprofit community counseling center located in Sandy Springs, 404-256-9797, and Cobb County, 770-541-1114.

Mercer Family Therapy Center

A Mercer University training clinic for new therapists, providing couple and family therapy; located at Piedmont Hospital, near Buckhead; 678-547-6789.

Metropolitan Counseling Services

A nonprofit community counseling center and training center for new therapists providing affordalbe counseling services to adults, located in Atlanta, on Buford Highway; 404-321-0305.

Open Path Collective

Website where therapists register and clients can search for therapist by zip code. This site is for discount sessions $30.00-$50.00 per session. Client’s must pay an initial registration fee of 50$. Individual therapist set their own prices for their counseling services.

Sage Center, Sage Therapy and Education Partnership (STEP Program)

The Mission of the Sage Center is to promote comprehensive wellness in the community by providing quality support services through counseling, consultation, education, and mentorship to individuals, professionals and organizations. Sage Center is committed to serving with integrity, compassion and respect in a balanced and collaborative environment. Reduced fee counseling services available now between $40 – $95. Clients seeking services through the STEP program may complete a short application at www.sagecenteratlanta.com that will help identify the counselor that can best meet the client’s needs and also determine fee. For more information or to inquire about services, please visit www.sagecenteratlanta.comor call Sage Center at 404-419-4221 Extension 103. Sage Center is conveniently located in North Atlanta near interstates 85 and 285 inside the perimeter.

The Training & Counseling Center at St. Luke’s (TACC)

An outreach of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church serving people of all faiths, providing sliding fee scale. Located in downtown Atlanta just south of Crawford Long Hospital off of Courtland Street; 404-876-6266.

Authentic-Life Counseling does not have first hand experience working with any of these agencies.

The reference list of agencies offering affordable counseling in Georgia has been provided as a resource.

Special thanks to Allyce Wellons, psychotherapist, who originally posted this content.

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confused, indecisive woman holding a ball that says Yes and one that says No

Responding to Wishy-Washy People

If you love a person who is wish-washy, unreliable and commitment-phobic (WWUCP), I feel your pain. Many people feel your pain. The unreliable person is a far to common complaint.  We give a pass to serial no-shows, last minute change of plans, and an inability to make a commitment.  Because of the passive-aggressive nature of the WWCUP actions, we are made to feel unjustified in expressing our unhappiness with the constant disappointment.

We should recognize that trying to cultivate a meaningful relationship with unreliable people has a negative impact our mental health. It is not good for us. It is time to respond to the Wishy-Washy, Unreliable and Commitment-Phobic People (WWUCP) in your life.

Stop Feeling Guilty About Setting A Boundary.

If a friend or family member was stealing from you, you would set a boundary and put a stop to it. If you do not, you are enabling their behavior.

Unreliability and an inability to make a commitment is a passive-aggressive form of theft. It steals your time which is a precious commodity.

Time manipulation is often tolerated because of the passive-aggressive nature. We don’t see it as a form of disrespect and theft, but it is.

Stop Accepting The Never Ending Excuses

We all have busy lives. Your time is not more valuable than mine. Unreliable people cancel with weak excuses. Don’t accept them. Weak excuses include canceling plans at the last minute because “Something else came along” or “I changed my mind at the last minute” is more than inconsiderate, it is disrespectful.

lady sitting at river bank
Social isolation and loneliness are one of the effects of having unreliable people as friends.

Call Out Minimizing

WCCUPS friends and family members are great at minimizing their behaviors. “What is the big deal?” “You could have still gone without me.” “Why are you getting so upset?” are familiar justifications. Minimizing their inconsiderate behavior while attempting to shine a light of hard-to-please, demanding, and needy behavior on you.     

Opportunity Cost

Often used in business, an opportunity cost is defined as –  A benefit, profit, or value of something that must be given up to acquire or achieve something else. Since every resource (land, money, time, etc.) can be put to alternative uses, every action, choice, or decision has an associated opportunity cost.

Your time is valuable, and when it is manipulated, unreliable people make you pay an opportunity cost.

Social Isolation

Loneliness and social isolation has been linked to depression, low-self esteem and shame. If you are experiencing lack of social contact because of WCCUPS’s manipulation of your time, you should understand these mental health implications. It is time for you to set a boundary.

Setting Boundaries with Inconsiderate People

Don’t Wait

You should feel confident and assured when setting a boundary. You are not being mean or inconsiderate by expressing your feelings and insisting on respect. The longer you tolerate the WCUUPS behavior the more resentful you will become. Inevitably this leads to you expressing how you feel when you are angry. Don’t wait.

Boundary Setting With WWUCP

If you do not know what to say, use this basic boundary setting format. It allows you to express how you feel while minimizing the risk of creating defensiveness.   

“I feel blank when you do blank.”

Examples:

I feel manipulated when you cancel our plans at the last minute.

I feel sad that I missed the opportunity to go out and have fun on my only day off.

Use Appropriate Levels of Firmness When Setting Boundaries

Start with a lower level of firmness and increase as necessary.

A lower level of firmness might include explaining your feelings of disappointment. Lifting the firmness level up a little would include an more assertive body language such as raising your voice slightly, changing the tone. Be mindful that when you set a boundary you never use an apologetic tone. Use a tone of voice which is confident and assured but kind. Give the WCUUP the benefit of the doubt that they do not understand the impact of their behaviors.

Ask for what you want and need in terms of commitment and reliability. For example, canceling plans at the last minute without a good reason is frustrating.    

Use Higher Levels of Firmness When Necessary

After determining your needs and asking for what wait to see how they respond. If your needs and desires continue to be ignored you have some tough decisions to make. This may include limiting contact and declining future invitations. The relationship may only be able to continue in a  superficial manner. You may need to face the fact that it is time to find new friends.

 

I hope this was helpful. Please leave a comment below and tell me how you are affected by WWUCP’s.    Be in peace – diane

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Santa Clause wearing boxing gloves

Surviving Christmas in a Dysfunctional Family

Visions of the perfect story-book holiday is a particularly difficult idea for many people.  Surviving Christmas in dysfunctional families requires us to pull out all the tools we have learned in therapy so that we are not triggered by mal-adaptive thinking and emotional patterns.

 Let This Dose of Encouragement Strengthen You

You have probably survived a lot already and will survive another Christmas too. Strengths, capabilities and wisdom are in you. Feel them and know that they are in you. Access your strengths now. In the words of the remarkable Louse Hayes:

“You have the power to heal your life, and you need to know that. We think so often that we are helpless, but we’re not. We always have the power of our minds…Claim and consciously use your power.”
― Louise L. Hay

 

  • Create Your Own Traditions – Surviving Christmas in dysfunctional families requires an authentic expression of new traditions. We do not have to engage in traditional rituals that do not work for us. If traditional family dinners or family visits create arguing and fighting, you might consider not participatichristmas tradition woman sitting in front of Christmas treeng. Emotions run high during Christmas and maladaptive patterns run rampant. If Christmas creates the perfect storm for family members to act at their worst, give yourself permission to not participate.

 

  • Be Aware of Your Expectations – For years I tried to create an ideal Christmas despite a great deal of dysfunction in my family. Of course, after the “big event” was over, I felt exhausted, anxious and sad. I had to accept that my expectations were irrational. An idyllic Christmas was not in my future. Once I accepted this reality, the holidays became much easier.

 

  • Set Boundaries – Surviving Christmas in dysfunctional families involves understanding your personal limits when you are exposed to mal-adaptive or abusive behaviors by family members. Perhaps that line in the sand is when too much alSleeping puppy with santa hatcohol is consumed, or passive aggressive actions are directed your way. Know what your limits are, and plan your escape strategy. Perhaps setting boundaries is limiting the time you spend with dysfunctional family members, or declining to participate in gift exchanges. Know your limits and protect your sanity.

 

  • Lean into Your Coping and Self-Care StrategiesIf you come from a dysfunctional family, hopefully you have developed coping skills and self-care strategies to get you through the holidays. Lean into them or develop new ones. Be creative and give yourself permission to do what you need to do. Practice self-compassion.

If you have established a new traditions or coping strategies that has helped you survive Christmas in your dysfunctional family, please share your wisdom. It may help those of us who are still trying to master the art of Surviving Christmas in a dysfunctional family.

Be in peace – diane

 

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