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Archive for June, 2012

Parents, Adolescents, and Drug Abuse: Using a Substance Abuse Professional

Thursday, June 28th, 2012

No parent wants to believe their child could be using drugs.  Yet, statistics prove that many teenagers are engaged in using mood altering substances and many die each year due to substance use. Such troubling information may prompt some parents to consider the possible drug-related issues in their own child’s life.  Though the realization of a child’s struggle with addiction may be devastating, there are several ways parents can be proactive in order to recognize signs of substance use and help their adolescents.

First, the signs and symptoms of substance use, or substance abuse evaluation, may assist parents in determining if their child has a drug problem. Children who are using mood-altering substances may have a change in school performance including failing grades, absences from extra-curricular activities, or increased disrespect toward school faculty and other authority figures.

Second, there may be a drastic change in dress, language, beliefs, music preference, behaviors and friends. Teenagers using drugs may exhibit increased withdrawal from the family unit and increased conflict with parents, especially when parents attempt to set limits. Often times, adolescents using mood-altering substances have sudden changes in moods, lose motivation, and present an uncaring attitude.

Finally, parents should pay attention to smells on clothing or in the bedroom, and look for excess use of eye drops, room deodorizers, and cologne or perfume. Consider contacting a substance abuse professional for other symptoms and signs.

Open lines of communication between parents and adolescents can assist adolescents as they develop a sense of self-identity and learn appropriate socialization.  Parents need to be involved and open to the struggles their adolescent may be facing and encourage professional help when needed. These early steps may decrease an adolescent’s chance of continued substance use in adulthood, and defer the consequences of drug abuse as well.  Parents must remain educated and aware in order to assist their child overcome avoid and overcome substance abuse and dependence.

What is an Intern? Defining “Intern” and “Counseling Internships”

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

When you hear the word intern, you probably think of a time between sophomore and junior year of college when students can “try out” their chosen profession. This is not the case in the counseling world when it comes to counseling internships. When you choose a Licensed Professional Counselor Intern (LPC-I) or Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Associate (LMFTA) in the state of Texas, you are getting a professional trained to help.

Interns and associates in Texas receive their license to counseling only after completing an undergraduate degree (bachelor’s degree) and a master’s degree. The master’s degree must be in counseling, psychology, or a related field. University programs are accredited by a national accrediting body that insures course work is rigorous and comprehensive.

In addition to their master’s degree, licensed interns and associates in Texas have passed the Texas State Board of Examiners Licensing Exam for Licensed Professional Counselors or Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists.  This is a national exam that covers not only the core components of their field but also federal requirements. Once the interns and associates pass their exam, a board of professional counselors that are licensed and highly trained supervise them for 3000 hours. These professionals oversee each and every case.

What you may not expect when you hire an intern is the wealth of experience. Many counselor interns have come from other fields including medicine, business, and university-level teaching. For example one counselor intern earned her medical degree and completed training in obstetrics and gynecology. Another intern logged over 12 years of experience as a professional psychotherapist in Mexico and Europe.

Counselor interns and marriage and family therapist associates are qualified, experienced providers. Because they are generally not paid by insurance, your diagnosis and treatment plan will never be shared unless you request it. When it’s time for help, confidently call on them.

Parent Counseling and Counseling for Teenagers: Attending the First Session

Thursday, June 14th, 2012

Asking for help from a marriage and family therapist is a serious decision. Even if the problems at home are heartbreaking, the thought of sharing family issues with a stranger can be scary and intimidating. Knowing what family therapy can look like starting with the first appointment can help alleviate those fears. Here’s one fictional family’s story that includes parent counseling, and counseling for teenagers.

Joanne and John sat nervously in the waiting room. Julie, the family therapist they had decided to see after using their local therapist finder, had scheduled an initial meeting with both of them. She told them this first session would take about 90 minutes and it was a chance for everyone to get to know one another, identify some issues, and decide if she would be a good fit for their family.

When Julie appeared they handed her their completed paperwork and went back to her office. The service agreement outlined Julie’s background and philosophy, limits of confidentiality, fees and meeting times, and contact information for both Julie and the state therapist licensing board. Joanne and John had also signed a release of information so Julie could talk with John’s psychiatrist.

Joanne and John were slow to share at first, but eventually the dam broke and they shared what their family had been and what it had become. Julie listened and assured them they were resilient and she would help them work on a plan to capitalize on their strengths, not just focus on their weaknesses. It was agreed that Joanne and John would meet with Julie weekly at first, and then taper to an as-needed basis.

Joanne and John left that first meeting with hope. Neither had felt that way in a long, long time.

When you decide to seek help for your family, it is important to familiarize yourself with the different mental health professions and choose the professional with whom you feel the best fit. And remember, it’s okay to keep looking if your family is not making progress.

Finding the Right Therapist for Your Family

Thursday, June 7th, 2012

Joanne finally picked up the home phone, realizing this was the most difficult call she had ever made. She was about to ask for help in the one area of her life that she’d thought she had held together: her family.

At the last appointment, Jake’s psychiatrist mentioned marriage and family therapy programs but she had felt too angry (or was it embarrassed?) to call for further information. After all, this was Jake’s problem, wasn’t it? How could therapy for the whole family do any good when Jake was the one causing arguments, getting in trouble at school, and sneaking out at night doing who knows what with who knows whom?  Family therapy techniques sounded so… intrusive. The therapist would probably pick apart her parenting and tell her she had done everything wrong.

So why was she finally changing her mind? Strangely enough it was because of Jake’s little sister Jenny. Yesterday afternoon, Jenny had asked, “Why are you and daddy so mad at Jake all the time?” In that moment, Joanne realized Jenny had not been immune to the turmoil surrounding their efforts to help Jake. Somehow she knew that her family could not get better if they stuck to the problem-focused idea that their only hope rested in “fixing” one person. Whether she liked it or not, this was a family problem.

Family therapy is a core mental health profession. It is brief, solution-focused, and it focuses on specific, attainable, therapeutic goals. Joanne’s decision to seek help for her family was very serious and choosing the right family therapist was important. She started with her insurance company and researched possible providers who could help. After consulting with a trusted family physician, she made the appointment.

When you decide to seek help for your family it is important to familiarize yourself with the different mental health professions. Remember, it’s okay to keep looking if your family is not making progress. Choose the professional and the family therapy center you feel the best fit so that you can receive the right help.

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