Posts Tagged ‘counseling’
Being a parent, engaging in this unique and awesome relationship is one of the most challenging and hopefully joyful experiences of life. Bringing new life into this world, then helping shape and support that life, is unlike anything else. Most parents rely on their values and beliefs as they begin this daunting process. Nothing really can prepare someone for all the challenges and unpredictability parenting guarantees.
All parents generally do what they think is the best for their child. Despite this, there will be times when a parent does there best and their child still struggles, acts out, argues, tantrums, or flounders. Along with that torrent, parents may find themselves right along side their child, struggling. A good parent at times may feel, guilty, incompetent, powerless or enraged. In time, with patience, careful thought and care, the conflict hopefully subsides or resolves. There may be times, however, that parents find themselves unable to manage circumstances with their child/children.
All intimate relationships will help us find those places in ourselves that are not as yet fully resolved. There are old hurts, insecurities or self doubts. Being a parent will touch those same exposed nerves! Any parent from time to time will do well in seeking outside help and support.
Counseling is one avenue. Talking to a therapist experienced in family dynamics can help a parent not only understand where the child is stuck, but where he/she and the relationship is as well. All parents have times of difficulty with their children. If over time these problems do not improve therapy is an excellent source of support and help.
As certain as we are human, it is certain we will all encounter loss and grief. Loss is experienced by many things. It may come from loss of job, relationship, health, and of course loss through death. We may also experience loss of something that has been craved and never had or loss of a time of life or aspect of self. There are many things that can be lost, some tangible and some not.
Associated with loss is grief. Grief brings tumultuous feelings that can include great sadness, anger, numbness, feeling lost and alone and even feelings that can not be described by words. Grief is like a storm whose fierceness can not be predicted. Following loss, someone may be fine one moment and overcome with distress the next.
As a culture we do not deal with loss and grief well. After a loss other people may acknowledge it and give their condolences and then never mention it again. It leaves the grieving person feeling that much more alone.
Since some gay, lesbian and transgender people do not live openly or do not enjoy the support of family, friends and co-workers, losing a partner can be particularly difficult. When a grieving person can not share their loss with others, the suffering can be severe.
Almost more than any other emotion, grief has its own natural course. It is similar to a large wave at the beach. It may come in and hit just as someone struggles to stand and walk ashore. As it hits, the force knocks the person under the water. It is usually futile to fight the wave’s strength. It only creates panic as the wave overpowers its victim. But if that person allows the wave its moment and trusts the wave will lessen its grip, it inevitable does. Grief hurts and grief does let go.
Grief is the process that cleanses and eventually allows the new. If the loss has been of something or someone cherished and loved, grief’s fire blazes the beloved in the heart forever.
Life does not go forth as “normal” for a grieving heart. It requires great self care, time and gentleness for healing. Support is essential through this time. Loving friends and family can help tremendously.
Some people may need help to move through a loss. Loss will dredge up other losses which is why people sometimes need the help of a therapist to work through old losses that come up with the present one. Loss can do damage to self esteem and can quickly change a person’s life. Some people may find that the power of the emotion associated with grief difficult to manage. Therapy can help a person trust that the wave will let go and help the person ashore. A good psychotherapist can help a person make sense of what seems impossible to understand and find new directions for healing. Loss and grief are part of life, and then again, so is healing.
While life can be full of joy and happiness, it is also hard. There are many challenges that are assured. All people will at least from time to time have some difficulty and most people in their lifetime will suffer to varying degrees. Being human is difficult.
Throughout life there are many developmental challenges; growing up, developing a relationship to oneself and others, seeking meaningful work, friends, family and partnerships. Establishing these in fulfilling and satisfying ways is not always easy. We can all experience frustration. Things do not always go as planned.
Even the best things in life eventually bring challenges. Having a good job or relationship, enjoying good health, establishing financial stability, etc, it does not last forever. Loss is a natural part of life. Of course, this too, is very challenging and very painful.
In a world full of competition, when people do not always treat one another well or with respect, it makes life hard. There is dissention between nations, war, poverty and violence. It is no wonder this distress affects communities, families, couples and individuals.
Some people think it is a weakness to have trouble with some challenge, or even worse think it is weak to need help. Nothing could be further from the truth. Being social creatures, we live in relation to others. Every human needs help from time to time.
Friends and family are so very important in helping us through life. Sometimes, however they are not enough. Psychotherapy provided by a professional therapist can offer additional insight, perspective and guidance through the rough spots. Regardless of what anyone says, counseling is a courageous step that does not mean sickness. Instead it is a self caring step towards wholeness and health.
The prevalence of anxiety and its closest relatives panic, phobias and OCD has risen considerably over the last fifty years. These symptoms can create a sense of tension or tightening, feelings of fear, fright, and agitation. Many physical symptoms can also be felt such as a racing heart, sweating, “butterflies in the stomach” and more. Some people can focus on a thought, issue or problem that endures or can be unrelenting. Some people may be so fearful of an object or a specific situation, avoidance of it can dictate routines and behaviors.
Some anxiety is normal throughout life. Inherently it provides a warning system against danger. It heightens a sense of alertness which can be healthy and adaptive.
As the world has become more complex, the amount of stress that humans face has grown proportionately. Individuals will naturally feel anxious when difficult situations arise such as illness, loss of job or relationship or any life transition, just to name a few. If the anxiety that a person feels is manageable, if that person can adapt to the life stress and regain a sense of equilibrium, anxiety will naturally lessen.
Some people, however, find that anxiety, panic, fear and obsessive thoughts and behaviors become part of their daily lives and can interfere with functioning. These symptoms can create discomfort under certain situations, they can rule a person’s life or anything in between.
Causes of these symptoms are innumerable. As previously mentioned, modern life comes with a good deal of stress, creating anxiety. Traumatic events occurring in either the present or the past can create a great deal of distress. Injuries to self worth, loss and transitions can also make someone anxious. Being different can be the source of great anxiety as is sometimes the case for gay, lesbian, transgender and gender variant people. Ethnic, race, and class issues can also create various kinds of distress.
Part of what makes panic, phobias and obsessive thoughts so difficult, is that they can appear not to have a cause. People sometimes think they are crazy because for some reason unbeknownst to themselves, one of these symptoms appear “out of the blue.” Even if a person has lived with one of these for a long time, the reasons may not be readily apparent. These symptoms are so distressing for some people that they do think they are crazy….but they are not.
Anxiety, fears, phobias and obsessive thoughts and behaviors are perfect reactions to a person’s unique experience. With patience, understanding and exploration it is possible to understand the causes of a person’s distress.
There are many avenues now available to help with these symptoms. First, it is suggested that a person adopt a balanced and healthy lifestyle. Exercise, a good and well balanced diet, good sleep habits and rest are important. Meditation, yoga, Thai Chi, Qigong, stress reduction books and classes can all help. Therapy is also a wonderful resource in coming to understand the symptom/s that a person is having. People who are anxious, afraid, phobic and obsessive have come to believe things that perpetuate these symptoms. Psychotherapy can help people examine the causes of these symptoms and help people see the world differently. Then with time, patience and practice new ways of responding to the world can emerge. Finding new ways of coping with old pain and beliefs is central to healing all anxiety related distress. Understanding and resolving fears allow people to make better decisions all around and thereby increasing the quality of life.
If sexual orientation or gender identity is the cause of ones anxiety counseling can also help the lesbian, gay, transgender or gender queer person. It may be important to consider issues of identity, self acceptance, and family and work relationships.
Life need not be determined by ones anxieties and fears. While fear says that it is knows the truth, nothing could be farther from the truth. Inner peace and fulfillment come from moving beyond the false beliefs fear would purport. With determination, commitment and help, this is more than possible.
Do you know that there are cultures in this world that revere its older people? Both Native American and several ancient cultures looked to its elders for advice and direction. It’s hard to imagine in our society where idealized specimens of youth are plastered on television, in magazines, on the internet and bulletin boards and all forms of advertisements, that this is true. Unfortunately our culture does not recognize that the years we spend here on earth can bring great learning and wisdom.
As children grow up, become adults and age, there comes several stages of development. Each stage has its unique challenges and gifts. Children first learn about the world through the eyes of their families. Adolescents explore other possibilities through their peers. Young adults begin to form opinions and views of the world for themselves as well as begin to support themselves, begin careers, start families and find their place in the world. Mid life often brings a time of re-evaluation. The values and beliefs of youth are considered, careers and life partners evaluated. People begin to think about what regrets they may have or what they would like to be different and consider changes. As people age and as they begin to look at the end of life rather than a long life ahead, there can be a greater sense of urgency about what is important. At the same time bodily changes become more noticeable, a reminder of the natural course of life’s ebbs and flows.
All these stages offer the potential for a person to come to know themselves more deeply. Being human, all people are confronted with aspects of themselves that they like and some they do not. Coming to accept oneself is a major life challenge for all people. Aging, brings this to the forefront.
Additionally, as one ages there are losses; of relationships, careers, physical competence, status, and loved ones. Being human asks us to go beyond those values and beliefs inherent in those images of idealized youth and find within ourselves what is of value in life. Coming to terms with all the gifts and losses, both within and outside are challenges and opportunities of aging.
Believing only the superficial messages given to people by our culture, it is very painful to age. Considering, however our own inner truths of what life has taught us can help us accept aging. No one is too old to consider the meaning of their life, what makes it worth it and what might still make it worth it. Choosing to age with consciousness and be willing to consider what we know on a deeper level can bring about acceptance and healing to this inevitable process.
There are many places where a person can stumble while aging. Counseling can help someone come to terms with the numerous changes, losses and gains inherent in aging. Therapists and clients can move into a more meaningful realm of understanding its joys and challenges. Consideration of our lives is worthy at any point in life. It’s just that as we get older, on the surface, the losses and hardships loom. At closer look, there may be gifts that have great potential which is why the older years can be seen and experienced as the golden ones.
There are so many things in life that can be hard. We humans naturally want to make what is stressful less so and therefore seek different paths in attempting to accomplish this goal. We will choose the best, most healthy avenue when it is available. There are many reasons this better avenue may not always be possible and other choices are made. Alcohol and other substances may be one of these choices.
The initial inclination to seek the help of substances is understandable. When a person is around others who use, it is a feasible route. In fact, in some circles, socializing centers on the use of substances. Using then, becomes a way of life. For others, turning to drugs and alcohol is a hope for relief from stress, pain or some untenable situation in that person’s life. When things are not going well, when a person is suffering and/or when those around that person use, substances make sense.
The initial high and relief soon becomes a need to rely on that substance in order to feel better. Shortly after that, it may become a regular part of life. Daily routine may very well begin to center around ones drug of choice and before long that drug has control over the person who first turned to that substance in order to gain more control. While first motivated by a healthy need to reduce suffering, dependence on alcohol and drugs, will eventually increase suffering.
While studies showing the incidence of alcoholism and drug use within the gay, lesbian, queer and transsexual populations inconclusive, it is commonly believed that it is higher than that of heterosexual people. This is easy to understand given the homophobia and transphobia in our culture. How a lesbian, gay, queer or transgender person feels about their gender or sexual orientation, how openly that person can live and how much support someone has will greatly influence the GLBT person’s likelihood of developing problems with substances.
Deciding to become sober is a hard choice. However staying drunk or otherwise intoxicated is harder. Little by little a person who is dependent on drugs or alcohol finds that the good things in their lives fall away. As a substance becomes more important in ones life, other people, other interests, and career become less important. People often loose things that were once central to them. At the very least dependence or addiction to drugs and alcohol will reduce one’s vitality and potential fulfillment. Drugs and alcohol can also ruin people’s lives.
Becoming sober can involve many things. Twelve step programs offer a wonderful structure for sobriety as well as enormous support. Various types of rehabilitation programs offer a safe and structured environment that can support the initial phases of sobriety. Garnering support from family and friends, when available, is important. Therapy helps people come to understand the role that their drug of choice has provided. It can help people find new ways of coping with stress. Counseling can help people make better choices, find other, more adaptable ways of feeling better and finding solutions to life’s problems and pain. Good psychotherapy will also help a person relate better with themselves and others. Therapists with experience in working with drug and alcohol dependence understand this journey. Becoming sober is not easy. But ask someone who has been through it and they will surely say that has given them new life.
One of the most stressful things a person experiences is the end of an important relationship. What was once exciting and rich is no longer. Often the end of a relationship is does not stop there. There are losses in lifestyle, financial means, home, friends, extended family and more. For many, partnership and marriage becomes part of ones identity. It is not uncommon for people to feel that they have lost this too. One can feel alone, lost and that a part of them is gone forever.
In moments of great stress other symptoms can evolve. They may be new or those in which someone may have previously struggled. These may include, but are not limited to depression, anxiety/panic, drug and alcohol problems, addictions, eating issues, sleep disturbances and more. While it is not fact, sometimes people may feel that they can not go on, that their life is over or that they will die.
Loss of relationship will also make people think about and feel previous losses of loved ones. If not the grief of the current relationship were not enough, a person suffering this loss will also emotionally revisit old losses as well.
Lesbian, gay, queer and transgender people who experience the end of a relationship may be more vulnerable at this time. Depending on ones support system and feeling of acceptance of who they are, will depend on whether there is an increased vulnerability.
Whether someone is GLBTQ or not, this is a time in life where support and love are essential. A person facing separation and divorce should not isolate themselves and be alone. Telling others and reaching out for support is critical. Engaging in things that make that person feel good, whether that’s getting into the outdoors, spending time with good friends, taking hot bathes or doing anything that feels good is important. This is a time to take one day at a time. It is a time to only focusing on the present day and what is needed for that day or even in that moment. It is important not to look into the future. From the current perspective the rest of life will look bleak. Since all things in life change, this too shall pass. Things do get better.
All loss requires time to heal. If the loss is too difficult to manage or if several months go by and there is little or no improvement, a person may consider speaking with a therapist. If the loss of a partner creates significant depression or anxiety after this time, or if substances or any other behavior that does not bring health and fulfillment becomes what is sought, it may be a good time to seek the assistance of a psychotherapist. There may be many reasons a loss can result in a person getting stuck. This does not mean it will be forever or that there is something seriously wrong with that person. Loss is a large storm and after it has struck rebuilding can take time, attention and assistance.
Everyone suffers loss. In this regard, no one is alone. People can recover and go on to lead rich and fulfilling lives again.
Nothing can be scarier than coming out. If you’re reading this, it’s been with you a long time. It may be a secret that has not be spoken. It may challenge the way you think about yourself. You may fear the way others will think of you. It may feel that it puts you at risk for rejection, isolation and even hostility. There is no doubt that coming out is an act of courage. It shows that we humans must be ourselves.
Silence equals death has been a slogan in the gay, lesbian, queer and transgender community. It speaks to what happens when someone feels that they can not be themselves. If silence equals death then coming out must bring freedom and life.
We at LifeCourse Counseling Center want to assist you in living your life fully. Most people who come out, regardless of the difficulties and challenges, experience much greater wholeness, integrity and happiness when they choose to do so.
Coming out may require that your reach out and make connections to garner the needed support to make this journey. Therapists at LifeCourse Counseling Center being LBGTQ themselves are in a unique position in helping you with this process. We can help you in any point in your process. You do not have to come out to talk with someone about how you feel. Talking can help build a foundation that may help you decide when and if coming out is right for you. Talk with us too if you do want to come out. We’ve been there!
Depression is one of the most widespread symptoms of distress. In a lifetime, almost everyone will experience it to one degree or another. It is caused by many things including loss, trauma, childhood emotional injuries and low self esteem. No ones knows to what extent, but it is thought that biology is factor that may potentiate a person in this direction. Regardless of its cause, the result of depression can range can range from a decreased sense of well being to an inability to function in daily life.
Due to the stress of being in a minority group gay, lesbian, queer and trangender people can suffer from depression. Being closeted, lacking support, internalized homophobia or homophobia from family, friends and the work place, are some factors that can influence whether a GLBTQ person experiences depression.
Some of the symptoms of depression include lethargy and fatigue, apathy, hopelessness, despair, loss of appetite, limited or no sex drive, inability to sleep regularly or achieve regular sleep patterns, a tendency to isolate from others, loss of pleasure for activities and relationships and thoughts of suicide or desire not to be alive.
When a person is depressed, there is a slowing down and lack of life energy. Emotions are often stifled; they can not be experienced and often therefore unexpressed. People who can not feel or express emotion may experience feeling all “bottled up” or numb. Depression shows that something/s require attention; there may be losses not grieved, angers not expressed, dreams or goals thwarted, hurts and/or traumas not yet processed or potential not lived.
While depression is very distressing to the person experiencing it, if attended to, it offers an avenue for healing. With the help of a professional therapist, understanding where and how ones life energy is stuck, attending to the situation/s that have gone badly, learning new ways to cope and engage with life can make a dramatic difference. In some cases, someone make seek additional assistance of anti-depressant medications. Medications however, will not by themselves resolve an individual’s issues. Medications can help someone feel better and “take the edge off.” Medication and counseling often can be excellent partners. Therapy can help
someone choose which path/s is right.