Visit Us on Facebook! Marriage and Family Counseling The Woodlands - Call 936-697-2822 Now. The Woodlands, TX, Serving the Greater Houston area.
AchieveBalance.org, a complete counseling center, Professional Counselors, Counseling, Individual, Family, Therapists, Marriage Counseling, Premarital, Houston area, The Woodlands, Conroe, Spring Texas. Continuing Education Provider for Licensed Professional Counselors, Therapists, Social Workers.

Archive for November, 2012

Compassion Fatigue: Seeking a Caregiver Support Group and PTSD Support

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

What does a caregiver have in common with a soldier, firefighter, and doctor? Compassion fatigue. Compassion fatigue (CF) stems from the daily sustained amount of compassion and energy required when caring for an individual with special needs or a chronic health condition.

Symptoms of CF can be similar to the signs of PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) and may erupt as caregivers begin to absorb pain from the individuals they are caring for. Mental health symptoms such as anger, fatigue, depression, anxiety, loss of joy, and hopelessness are common. This is detrimental to both parties and ultimately deteriorates the quality of care being provided. Ultimately the caregivers may need the same kind of PTSD support.

We know self-care benefits caregivers but many times caregivers neglect their health and ignore the early warning signs of CF. As they push themselves to maintain the strength to forever care for their loved one, a superhuman mentality prevails and self care takes a backseat. This may lead not only to the symptoms of CF but also relationships issues.

As the mother of a young child with special needs, I know first-hand self care is critical in maintaining longevity as a caretaker. The first step is awareness. If you are uninformed about CF you may not understand the behaviors you must change and the ramifications if you do not. The second step is to re-train your thoughts about self-care. It is not selfish to refuel yourself as you care for your child. Think about the flight attendant telling you to put your oxygen mask on first – if you are not OK you cannot help your child.

The third step is to retrain your behavior as you retrain your thoughts. Simply stated one must exercise, connect with other grown-ups, talk, cry, journal, meditate, dance, eat healthy, sing, take a warm bath, pick flowers, doodle, pray, and most importantly, laugh out loud. A caregiver support group may be a good outlet for sharing your experience with others. If you find you are doing these things and not gaining any pleasure or benefit, talking with a professional can help.

How to Improve Communication and Listening Skills

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

Sometimes I think listening is a lost art. I had the following experience: Hurricane Sandy was just a few hours away from landfall, and my 21-year-old son lives in Manhattan. Naturally I was a bit worried. In light of the impending storm, many people asked, “Do you have anyone in the storm’s path?” I answered affirmatively, hoping to talk a bit about my son and my worry. However, the other person immediately began to tell me about all of the people she knew who were also somewhere in the storm’s path.

Her heart was in the right place and she probably thought she was being supportive by indicating that she was in the same boat. However, what it felt like was that she really didn’t care about me, or my son, and it was all about her.

Listening is not thinking about what you are going to say once the other person has finished speaking. Listening is not waiting for the other person to stop speaking so that you can say something about yourself. If you want to improve listening skills, it is important to know the listening definition: listening is doing the sometimes difficult work of really understanding what the speaker is saying and then verbalizing what you have understood.

When we listen, there are several things we can do to show the speaker we are really listening. First, let the speaker know you heard him by responding with a statement like, “It must be really scary having family in a storm when you can’t help.” Next, ask a question such as, “Does he have enough supplies to get through the storm?” This indicates to the speaker that you are trying to understand and hear him.

This process is called Reflective Listening, and it really does work as a way of how to improve communication! The process ensures that the person who is speaking feels heard and understood. To be listened to and understood feels like being loved. Love the people in your life today. Listen.

Types of Addiction: the Holidays and Addiction Support Groups and Overcoming Addiction

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

There is no season of the year quite like the Holiday and Christmas seasons. It’s the time of the year for social activities, excitement, decorating, spending time with family and friends, and entertainment. It’s also a time of additional pressure and worry. The holidays can bring on extra expenses, additional activities, less sleep, poor diets, unpleasant past memories, and an overall increase of stress and anxiety.

Sadly, many who suffer with different types of addiction will have a relapse this holiday season. It is important for those suffering from addiction, and the family of an addict, to to be conscious of the additional pressure so that they can develop plans to reduce the risk of relapse. The individual suffering with addiction can psychologically prepare themselves for the imminent events.

Positive things your folks and you can do includes using appropriate coping strategies like relaxation, meditation, exercise, healthful diet, and positive self-talk. You can use affirming and transparent communication with family and friends to stay on track. The holidays are a superb time to attend extra support group meetings as well. These addiction support groups aren’t only for the addict, but also for family and friends.

Finally, when attending a holiday party where alcohol may be served, it is vital to take a sober buddy or family member for additional support Also, take non-alcoholic drinks, and plan to leave early. Refuse to attend parties where drugs might be available. The holiday season is a great time to update names and numbers of sober family and friends who will be supportive of you in your addiction recovery efforts.

The holidays can be a challenge for sure, with high risk situations for those suffering with substance addiction. It could also be a period of replenished commitments and affirmations, and an opportunity to think on how much has been accomplished through the method of recovery. If you are fighting with substance abuse or addiction issues, be certain to find help. Remember that you are never alone in the journey in overcoming addiction.

Tia Parsley, LPC, LCDC  is a Licensed Professional Counselor and a Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor in Texas and Arkansas. She can be found at achievebalance.org and at her websites www.tiaparsley.com

 

The Very Best You

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

Everyone has buddies and relatives whom we love. Not only do we care deeply about them, we think a lot about what we will be able to give them. These emotions and thoughts are crucial! There’s a point, nevertheless, when giving might be negative.

The best thing you can give your loved ones is the very best you. What does that suggest? It means that you learn about yourself, how you are feeling in different situations, how your family of origin affected you for good (or not so good), how you deal with conflict, and what your wishes are. When you find out about yourself you begin to change. You can discover you are becoming as important as your mother or father. Maybe you never learned to request what you need and now you’re getting depressed due to resentment. You might even discover your intense wrath is a cover-up for your hurt. The result is that you may be good at going through the motions of giving, but the internal attitude is not so charitable because it consequently diminishes the value of your good works, thus leaving you feeling sad and alone inside. But it does not have to stay that way.

Consider Wayne* and Sandy*. Wayne and Sandy came to see me because Sandy was depressed and Wayne didn’t think he could handle it any more. As we conversed, Sandy discovered that in 27 years of marriage, she never asked for what she needed. She thought that her role as wife and mom was to only do for others!

Wayne spotted that, while he was fond of having Sandy take care of him and the children, he had become self-absorbed and disconnected from Sandy. As they gained understanding of themselves and one another, Sandy started listening to her feelings and wishes and Wayne started listening and responding. Sandy’s depression lifted and Wayne found out he was married to an interesting woman!

This is what I mean by becoming the very best you. Start today: invest in yourself, learn to love yourself, and begin making the changes you need so you can love yourself more. When you learn to love yourself more and love yourself first, everything falls into place. So the gift you can give is the gift of loving yourself. Everybody will be happy with that as a gift!

 

* Wayne and Sandy are pseudonyms and represent a host of couples who have received solutions in their marriage for matters surrounding this kind of issue.

Sue Watkins is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. Sue can be found at www.SueWatkins.net.

 

Main Menu