Learning to Structure Your Children’s’ Time During School Closures

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It is known that professional therapists and counselors express considerable worry over risks with families locked up 24/7 together for an indefinite period. Parents may be joking on social media about their childcare experiences as more and more states go into lockdown with the Coronavirus.

Being locked down gives us the chance to spend lots and lots of time with our children which can be a wonderful thing. But when we have to work from home and we are all stuck together in a small space, tensions can escalate.

Your child’s school has canceled in-person classes due to the Coronavirus outbreak, and you are worried about an academic freefall or a home-schooling free-for-all where you end up playing the homework police all day, every day — while also working from home?

Regardless of the situation, this is a great opportunity for parents to learn how to structure their children’s time when school is out. For example, wearing pajamas signals to children that their day hasn’t started or that they are on vacation.

Structuring a Routine While at Home

Kids of all ages, and adults too for that matter, perform best with structure. When they know what to expect, they can adjust better and more successfully moderate their mood and behavior.

Maintain a consistent bedtime.

When kids say, “But there’s no school tomorrow!” reply with “Yes, but your brain and body are still growing, and tomorrow you will learn something new.”

Maintain a consistent wake-up time.

While you may not need to drag your teen out of bed to look bleary-eyed at a geometry workbook at 6am, and studies have shown that teenagers do not perform best early in the morning, continue to create and maintain a daily routine. Have your child get dressed, eat breakfast, brush their teeth, and do any typical “before school” chores or activities.

Maintain consistent meal times.

Your school-aged child can likely tell you exactly when lunch is, and their body and brain will function best if they’re kept on that schedule.

Set a reasonable schedule that mimics the school day.

Many schools are providing materials or Internet resources for children. Structure your child’s day to include focused time on subjects, such as scheduling math from 9–9:40am. Model good behavior by focusing on your own quiet tasks at the same time. Separate work times depending on their age, as if they were at school such as a “recess.”

Each day does not have to be identical.

Remember your child is used to special days like gym, art or music. Gym can mean playing leap frog. Art can mean building a fort for action figures out of a cereal box. Music can be playing a favorite song with a soup pot and spoon for“accompaniment.”

Sample Schedule:

  • By 9 am: Out of bed, eat breakfast, get dressed, brush teeth/hair, make bed, complete other routine “before school” chores
  • 9–9:45am: Set out expectations for day. Morning physical activity such as walk outside, stretching or dance party inside.
  • 9:45–10:45am: Focused academic time
  • 10:45–11am: Transition break: Quick game of tag, Simon Says, Frisbee, walk the dog
  • 11am–12pm: Creative time: Build, draw, paint, create
  • 12–12:30pm: Lunch time
  • 12:30–1:30pm: Quiet fun time (no electronics). Look at books, color, build with Legos, dress up dolls, paint toenails.
  • 1:30–2:30pm: Focused academic time
  • 2:30–2:45pm: Break
  • 2:45–3:45pm: Focused academic time
  • 3:45–4:15pm: Clean up all activities
  • 4:15–5:15pm: Outdoor play time: Bike ride, climb a tree, walk around the block.
  • 5:15–6:15pm: Dinner preparation, eating, and clean up
  • 6:15–9pm: TV time, baths or showers, plan for next day
  • 9pm: Bedtime

Alternative Activities Should be Fun!

The best breaks involve movement and exercise! Get up, move around, go outside, have a snack, toss a ball, make a paper airplane, fold the laundry, have a pillow fight. Remember that your child is used to structured activity at school with social interaction.

This may not the time to tell your child “go play outside” without providing some suggested activity. Plant seeds (indoors or out) and mark the progress daily in a journal. Take the break with your child; you will find that your focused work time is more productive, too. Make sure “break” isn’t your child trading one screen on a tablet, computer, or iPad for another.

Be sure to limit “screen time” and technology to reasonable sessions. If you are unsure about age vs. screen time, make sure to discuss this theme with a counselor.

Create celebrations or events to look forward to!

All of us are disappointed by the cancellation of fun upcoming events, from school band concerts to birthday parties to major vacations. Yes, many children love to attend school and would “opt in” to weekend classes.

So, create excitement and anticipation by planning fun events at home. The planning of and preparation for an event is often more fun than the actual event. These events need not be elaborate or cost a lot of money.

For example, have a costume party.Get out old Halloween costumes or other dress-up supplies and have a fashion show. You can even invite another family over FaceTime or similar platforms.

Another fun example may be to declare next Friday “polite night” and get out your best entertaining supplies, wear your fanciest clothes and use excellent manners. The next week, have Pirate Night or ‘80s Night and dress accordingly.

When you have a good idea, share with other friends and family so they can try it at their own home.

Parents! Remind yourself to take a time out.

If you feel overwhelmed, stressed, tired, hungry, or are reaching your limit in some way, remove yourself from the situation. Assure that your child is safe, then take a few moments to yourself to calm down. Take a shower. Walk outside. Vacuum. Lie on your bed in the dark. Call a friend. Watch a silly video. Recharge, forgive yourself, wash your hands and start again.

The sense of complete chaos is more anxiety-provoking for kids than having a schedule.

Support tips and suggestions from a counselor will be enlightening.

A plan and a schedule can help reduce conflict for school-age kids who might have academic work to do during school closures. It’s easier to get buy-in from kids to do a worksheet or reading or writing time if they know what to expect, rather than surprising them with a request to do homework when they were settling in with a video game or TV.

If you are a parent and need additional support, someone to speak with for suggestions, or feel overwhelmed, please contact Foundations Counseling today! We are here to help parents throughout a myriad of communities in Texas!

How Isolation Can Affect Mental Health

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How Isolation Can Affect Mental Health

As countries across the globe hunker down, long-term isolation can have profound physical and psychological effects. In Texas alone, as with the United States in whole, isolation will affect about half of the population with cases of anxiety and even depression, or both.

As the Coronavirus pandemic continues, millions of people are coming to terms with being increasingly cut off from society. Loneliness is a feeling of sadness or distress about being by yourself or feeling disconnected from the world around you. It may be felt moreover a long period of time. It is also possible to feel lonely, even when surrounded by people.

Isolation is being separated from other people and your environment. Sometimes this occurs through decisions we make ourselves, or because of circumstance like doing a job that requires travel, relocation, or currently, it may be due to the Coronavirus.

Beyond the inconvenience of working from home, or not being able to go to bars, restaurants or movie theaters, however, therapists have found that social isolation can have a profound effect on people’s physical, as well as mental health.

Long-term, isolation even increases the risk of premature death. By some, we can also label this phenomenon as a social recession to match any economic downturn also caused by the growing pandemic and it can have profound physical and psychological effects.

People who are more socially connected show less inflammation, conversely people who are more isolated and lonely show increased chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation has been implicated in a variety of chronic diseases such as prolonged anxiety and depression.

What do Statistics Tell Us about Isolation?

Loneliness increases earlier death by 26%, social isolation by 29% and living alone by 32%. With that being said, a period of a few weeks in isolation should not lead to the inflammation of severe mental health issues. Yet, many people will still see an impact on their health, however.

One of the reasons people can suffer in social isolation is because personal relationships can help us cope with stress.

The ongoing uncertainty of what’s going on right now in the world, your body’s response to that may differ. Depending on the extent to which you feel like you have the resources you need to cope with that. And that in large part may be dependent on whether or not you feel like you have others in your life you can rely on; that you’ve got someone who has your back or you can count on, or you can get through it together.

The fact is that short periods of isolation can cause increase anxiety or depression within only days.

Traditional Reasons that You may Feel Lonely or Isolated include:

  • Losing a loved one or friend through death or relocation
  • Lack of close family ties
  • Living alone
  • Difficulties in meeting new people due to access issues, having an introverted personality, or feeling like you don’t belong
  • Feelings of loss or grief
  • Poor physical health, frailty, mobility issues
  • A mental health condition such as depression or anxiety
  • Fear of rejection from others or feelings of being “different” or stigmatized by society
  • Inability to participate in activities due to access issues, mobility, illness, transport
  • Retirement from work, home relocation, starting out in a new role or community
  • Lack of purpose or meaning in life
  • Language or cultural barriers, or reduced connection with your culture of origin
  • Geographic isolation
  • Feeling lost in the crowd

Texas is a Community-Driven State

We have evolved to be social creatures. For all the history of humanity, people have been in family structures, people have been in groups, we’re evolved to kind of crave and rely on that interaction with other human beings. Most therapists realize and understand the importance of socializing.

The paradox is that yes, the quarantines and isolation may help our physical exposure to the Coronavirus. While on the other hand, Texas is one of the most social states where people love to gather, watch sports, go on family outings, and places of worship.

So, when we don’t have that it’s a huge void in the way that we go about being human. This is something that has been kind of hard-wired into who we are as beings.

Texting, video calling, or even the phone could potentially help avert the sense of isolation or loneliness but it isn’t the same.

Tech isn’t a perfect substitute but it is a temporary solution, in the short-term. Physical contact, being face-to-face with people, there’s all sorts of subtle social cues that we pick up on that we rely on, that are ingrained in us over generations in Texas.

We do think you can get part of the way there by engaging with others digitally. We think the richer the format, probably the better – so a phone call is better than a text, a video conference is probably better than a phone call.

What did our team decide to do given the health crisis? We immediately integrated a “telehealth methodology” consisting of video conferencing to meet our patients, see their faces, and interact as much as humanly possible during this challenging period. As well all know, this too, will eventually pass.

How Does Loneliness and Isolation Affect Your Mental Health?

Everyone feels lonely from time to time, but long periods of loneliness or social isolation can have a negative impact on your physical, mental and social health. Some signs include:

  • hysical symptoms: aches and pains, headaches, illness or worsening of medical conditions
  • Mental health conditions: increased risk of depression, anxiety, paranoia or panic attacks
  • Low energy: tiredness or lack of motivation
  • Sleep problems: difficulty getting to sleep, waking frequently or sleeping too much
  • Diet problems: loss of appetite, sudden weight gain or loss
  • Substance abuse: Increased consumption of alcohol, smoking, medications, drugs
  • Negative feelings: feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness or thoughts about suicide

The Most Vulnerable to Isolation?

Over time, almost anyone and everyone can be vulnerable to loneliness and isolation. Oftentimes, and for a variety of reasons, older people tend to be the most vulnerable in these situations.

Older people, who are more at risk of the Coronavirus, may be less technologically savvy, and may have fewer connections to begin with. They might not be able to video conference or even send a text message. Family members and friends must remain diligent by reassuring them that help is just about everywhere.

We truly want to make sure that all of us our reaching out to the older generations around Texas, the elderly, and ensure that they’re doing OK. It is important that they know there are still people looking out for them, that they’re bonded with, and that they’re connected with.

How to Seek Professional Help and Support?

If loneliness and social isolation are causing you, a loved one, a family member or a friend distress during these challenging times, please contact one of our professionally licensed counselors today, at Foundations Counseling.

Tell-Tale Signs that You Have a Shopping Addiction

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It’s one thing to surrender to the occasional impulse buy a watch gleaming from behind the display case, or a pair of black shoes that will add the perfect dash of sophistication to your favorite business suit. But when your purchases shift from impulsive to compulsive, it’s the first sign that you might be grappling with a more serious condition: a shopping addiction.

Researchers estimate that up to 6 percent of Americans are so-called “shopaholics”. And with retailers ramping up their promotions on television and even more intensely online, this number is constantly on the rise over the last five years. In our society, the phrase “shop till you drop” translates as frivolous and fun, but when spending presents a real problem, the glamor fades rapidly.

Professional counselors and therapists are seeing it all-too-often and call it “Compulsive Buying Disorder”, which is characterized as an impulse-control issue, just like gambling or binge eating, and has the potential to create a whirlwind of emotional and financial distress.

Are you or a loved one a shopaholic and addicted to spending?

The following seven signs represent a potential problem. Of course, there are more signs to watch out for but if a few from the list below stands out, we highly encourage people to contact a professional therapist.

1. You have many unopened or tagged items in your closet.

We’re not talking about the sweater your aunt gave you last holiday season, but about items you selected on your own that sit unopened or with their tags still attached. You likely even forgot about some of these possessions. These may include boxes of shoes lining the bottom of your closet or jackets that have never seen the light of day. Any unopened item, or stacks of products stowed away in closets or around your house represent a potential problem.

2. You often purchase things you don’t need or didn’t plan to buy.

You’re easily tempted by items that you can do without. A fifth candle for your bedroom dresser, a new iPod case, even though yours is fine. You get the idea. You’re particularly vulnerable if you’ve admitted to having an “obsession,” like shoes or designer handbags. Just because your splurges tend to stick to one category doesn’t make them any more rational.

3. An argument or frustration sparks an urge to shop.

Compulsive shopping is an attempt to fill an emotional void, like loneliness, lack of control, or lack of self-confidence. Shopaholics also tend to suffer from mood disorders, eating disorders, or substance abuse problems. So, if you tend to binge on comfort food after a bad day, professional therapists will probably suggest that you may be more likely to indulge in a shopping spree too.

4. You experience a rush of excitement when you buy.

Shopaholics experience a “high” or an adrenaline rush, not from owning something, but from the act of purchasing it. Therapists say dopamine, a brain chemical associated with pleasure, is often released in waves as shoppers see a desirable item and consider buying it. This burst of excitement can become addictive. This action is repeated in order to induce the adrenaline, over and over again.

5. Purchases are followed by feelings of remorse.

This guilt doesn’t have to be limited to big purchases, either; compulsive shoppers are just as often attracted to deals and bargain hunting. Despite any remorse that follows, though, shopaholics are adept at rationalizing just about any purchase if challenged.

6. You try to conceal your shopping habits.

If you’re hiding shopping bags in your daughter’s or son’s closet or constantly looking over your shoulder for passing co-workers as you shop online, this is a possible sign that you’re spending money at the expense of your family, your loved ones, or even your job.

7. You feel anxious on the days you don’t shop.

It’s one thing to feel anxious if you haven’t had your morning cup of coffee, but if you’re feeling on edge because you haven’t swiped your debit card all day, you should be concerned. Shopaholics have reported feeling “out of sorts” if they haven’t had their shopping fix, and will typically admit to their therapists that they go shopping online if not able to physically pull away from their day’s responsibilities.

If the characteristics above sound a lot like you or someone you know, consider speaking to a professional prior to a shopping addiction getting even more severe. And if you’re on the fence about whether you really have a problem, trying to figure out on your own why you’re always shopping and how you can change could be a big relief – for both your well-being and your budget, definitely consider contacting a licensed therapist immediately.

Some recommendations to help you kick a shopping habit in conjunction with professional therapy may be:

Find a new activity.

 Jogging, exercising, listening to music, and possibly watching more TV to entice your brain with different stimulation. Any of these activities could potentially substitute for shopping and would be a much lighter burden on your wallet.

Identifying triggers. 

Take note of what’s likely to send you off to the nearest department store; whether it’s an argument with your significant other or frustration after a business meeting. When these feelings overcome you, resist shopping at all costs and find a healthier way to work it out.

Remove temptation. 

It’s no secret that you shouldn’t walk through your favorite boutique if you’re trying to curb your spending. Try to limit your shopping trips and go only when absolutely necessary. If online shopping is your weakness, resist the urge to surf your favorite stores’ sites and even consider keeping your laptop out of reach.

Carry only enough cash to buy what you went for.

Leave your debit and credit cards at home. Create a shopping list with estimated costs, and stick to it when you’re at the store.

Ask for help. 

If you’re still struggling with compulsive spending, don’t be afraid to ask a professional therapist for help. You can start with self-help books or by asking a friend or family member to help keep you in check, but it is always most cost-effective and wiser to enlist professional help. A therapist can help you nip this problem in the bud, efficiently and with positive decision-making techniques.

If you or a loved-one are experiencing patterns of a shopping-related addiction, please contact our highly experienced team of professionals today, at Foundations Counseling.

Your Teenager’s Tech Use in Texas Should Be Monitored for Best Mental Health Outcomes

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As the most prominent therapists counseling group in McKinney, Texas, there are things that we know and still discovering when it comes to a teenager’s use of technology. For the last few years, our expert therapists have seen a spike in situations with parents concerned about their teen’s tech use. We work with pre-teens and teenagers, including the parents, on how to monitor “too much tech.” From McKinney to Allen to Plano to Melissa to Princeton, Texas the subject comes up more often than anyone communicates, openly.

Anxiety and Mental Health Issues in Youth

With anxiety and mental health issues in youth on the rise over the last few years in McKinney, Texas and the surrounding communities within Texas at large, parents and educators have scrambled to find the culprit. A likely issue is a combination of an abundance of new technology and smartphones.

The rise in the ubiquity of smartphones or tablets has coincided with the rise in psychological distress among teens, and there are more than a few intuitive reasons to believe the two trends are connected. Smartphones and social media have given teenagers in Texas, who are in the process of developing a sense of self, an unbridled ability to compare themselves and new mediums through which to be bullied by “angsty” peers.

Throw in the ability to escape from the world and its problems anywhere they go through games, movies, and other forms of media, and it is easy to see why parents in Texas are concerned that smartphones may be destroying a generation.

Correlations Between Teenagers in Texas Using Too Much Tech

Our team of certified and licensed therapists at FoundationsCounseling in McKinney, Texas, understand the validity of these concerns and related worries. With a topic such as mental health that has so many determinants, it is important to be cautious about assuming that a correlation confirms our hypotheses and look instead to what the research says about the importance of a particular variable.

Thus far, the research has been mixed: many studies have confirmed the correlation, but none have found a causal link that can confirm technology or social media are leading to an increase in teen mental health issues.

The association between increased digital technology use and psychological distress is well documented. Psychological distress in general has increased in the United States over the last 10 years.At the same time, smartphone consumerism and ownership has also increased from 35% to 81%.

This increase has been especially pronounced for Generation Z, the generation that has grown up with smartphones. Individual-level survey data show similar correlations, with data from multiple surveys across different locations in Texas and years showing that increased digital technology use is associated with increased psychological distress for individuals.

It could be that increased screen time is causing mood disorders, but it could also be that teens with mood disorders are more likely to spend time in front of screens. Published research in psychology has not yet produced a study that clarifies this relationship and confirms that it is indeed increased digital technology use that leads to mental distress, and not vice versa. Yet, we are told confidentially by teens and parents alike in Texas, that anxiety begins to develop usually with the use of social media, video games, and constant texting even during school.

Texan Teens Use the Term Digital Technology

Digital technology can take on many forms and mediums, each with different effects on the human psyche. Using technology to webcam a long-distance relative, for example, will likely alleviate feelings of loneliness, whereas spending hours scrolling through Instagram may exacerbate one’s social anxiety.

Mental health is similarly broad, with technology affecting different aspects asymmetrically. It is documented that some teens may turn to Netflix to help boost their happiness through TV shows and providing a cultural connection to others. We may never know what the effects of digital technology on mental health are, because it may be too broad of a question with different implications for different people. Whether the teenager is from Allen, Texas or Houston, Texas or even Austin, Texas, digital technology in abundance definitely takes it’s toll on the younger generation.

Negative Effect on Teens’ Sleeping Habits

One major finding is the negative effect technology has had on teens’ sleeping habits. A survey report by Common Sense Media revealed that 68% of all teens throughout the United States actually take their devices into the bedroom at night and 29% sleep with their devices in their beds.

Many studies have shown the deleterious effects of technology use before bed, as the blue light emitted by smartphones disrupts the production of sleep hormones and thus decreases sleep quality. Even more alarming for parents, 36% of teenagers wake up and check their devices at least once per night.

The survey confirms what parents may see themselves: that increased smartphone use in the bedroom, especially right before sleeping, has the potential to decrease both the quantity and quality of children’s sleep. And a lack of sleep creates a major determinant of mental stability.

Conclusion: Mental Health for Teens in Texas

Technology and mental health are complicated, and it is difficult to fully understand the relationship between the two. Some aspects of technology may have negative effects on mental health, while other aspects may have positive ones.

Part of the reason we don’t fully understand the relationship between the two is that we have not asked enough specific, targeted questions. A question about how technology is affecting sleep is one example of a good one, and there are countless others that parents can ask and observe for answers that may be unique for their child.

Whether it be wondering how technology affects their child’s ability to focus or how it affects their patience, parents should continue to closely watch for positive and negative patterns in behavior or attitude and experiment with media rules to find what fits their family’s needs.

We are here to help and specialize in working with younger generations who will usually be willing to learn how to adjust their tech habits. If you are concerned about your teenager’s use of technology and live in McKinney, Allen, Plano, Melissa, or Princeton, Texas, please contact our distinguished expert therapist team today.

Our Foundations Counseling offices are easily accessible from surrounding communities and located in McKinney, Texas.

Quitting Alcohol Isn’t Easy but Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Plays a Huge Role in A Successful Recovery

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Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) was developed as a way to implement cognitive and behavioral changes to identify and correct problematic behaviors. Typical goals of CBT are to be able to anticipate, and identify, behavioral and cognitive problems, increasing clients’ self-control by developing effective coping strategies, and educate the client on maladaptive thinking and behaviors and promote positive change.

Understanding Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Techniques are utilized to exploring positive and negative consequences of problematic behaviors such as the negative consequences of continued alcohol use and abuse. Self-monitoring is also utilized in CBT to recognize cravings early, and identifying trigger situations that might increase the addicts’ risk for use, and developing positive strategies for coping with urges and triggers, as well as managing high-risk behaviors.

Develop Better Habits with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a form of psychotherapy. The idea is that your thinking patterns can affect your emotions and your behavior. To treat substance use disorders, you’ll need to change the way that you think and behave. This form of therapy was created by a psychiatrist named Aaron Beck in the 1960s. However, the therapy that is practiced today incorporates other techniques practiced by certified counselors who specialize in addiction disorders.

CBT helps patients identify, understand and even deal with the emotions behind their thoughts. This treatment combines both cognitive therapy and behavioral techniques. Patients become more self-aware of their emotions and their actions. They are then able to modify their behavior. With constant practice, their behaviors and reactions to stimuli become a habit. They then use this habit to recover from an addiction.

CBT will usually incorporate both a “multimodal therapy” and a rational-emotive behavioral therapy. It’s also very client-recovery centered for those dealing with alcohol and other addiction challenges. This is one of the many therapeutic approaches that are the most hands-on. Licensed therapists work with alcohol and drug abusers to change their way of thinking. This addiction recovery process will typically take many therapy sessions and is mid to longer term.

Some Crucial CBT Techniques and Tools for Alcoholics

This type of treatment relies on several different techniques. Each patient and therapist may prefer one technique over another. It may take some time for patients to master different alcohol recovery tools. Some of the most popular tools include:

  • Journaling. Writing down one’s emotions and thoughts can prove to very useful. Many patients use journaling to analyze their behaviors. They can then identify harmful behaviors and think of positive solutions for them.
  • Progressive Muscle Relaxation. One of the main reasons why most addicts struggle to get sober is because they can’t calm down their emotions. They often give in to cravings and urges. They also look for escapes when faced with stressful situations. CBT teaches patients how to relax by de-escalating situations. One of the easiest ways to relax is to relax one muscle group at a time. When drug and alcohol abusers are relaxed, they tend to make more logical decisions.
  • Interoceptive Exposure. Many alcoholics are afraid of certain situations. Fear can drive abuse. To get over their fear, CBT may expose patients to certain stimuli when they are in a safe environment. This teaches patients that there’s actually nothing to be afraid of. This CBT technique is a powerful coping strategy.

The unique tools in CBT can help those with a co-occurring disorder. Those struggling with a mental illness or a mental health disorder may benefit from this treatment as well. They learn how to modulate and regulate their own thinking to treat depression and anxiety disorders.

Use of CBT For Alcoholism Treatment

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in recovery from alcoholism includes various interventions, which can be used individually or in group settings, especially in alcohol abuse recovery programs.

One of the interventions is Motivational Interventions. This is where the counselor will address the motivational barriers, or treatment interfering behaviors, to change and recovery. It targets client’s ambivalence toward behavior change in regards to alcohol abuse and recovery. The motivation to overcome alcohol abuse by helping the person to live in the now and focusing on how they want to live.

This therapy involves structured conversations with therapists, which help clients increase CBT skills and tools. When the addict is in engaging their addiction, unhealthy, high-risk behaviors can be all consuming. Homework assignments and constant attention to the therapy process of learning sober behaviors are integral to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

CBT Treatment for Relapse Prevention

Relapse Prevention is a variant of CBT treatment. This therapy focuses on the identification and prevention of high-risk situations the alcoholics might encounter. This could be a favorite drinking establishment, or friends and acquaintances who have been long-term “drinking buddies”.

This therapy includes challenge the client’s expectation of their perceived positive effects of alcohol will have coupled with psychoeducation to help the client make an educated choice in a high-risk situation.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy includes learning and unlearning behaviors within the addiction. CBT is an all-immersive program that works on changing belief systems and behaviorally working to change responses to triggers both internally and externally.

These behavioral therapies and treatments can be particularly effective when coupled with pharmaceutical treatments to help reduce the effects of withdrawal. Pharmaceutical treatment can help the client get a few weeks of sobriety and take the ‘edge off’ of the initial recovery processes.

Effectiveness of CBT in recovery from alcoholism focuses on studying the thought patterns to help introspection of self, both negative and positive, the world, and future planning. Individuals involved in CBT will learn to identify cognitive distortions which cloud a person’s world view. Some distortions include all or nothing thinking where the person sees situation or event in either “black or white.”

Integrating CBT in Alcoholism Treatment

In CBT and alcoholism, the focus is on specific, attainable goals. Each session has a specific objective. The goal is to help the individual formulate a goal and a way to obtain that goal with healthy tools and skills. CBT also works on educating the individual on life skills to create their own toolbelt for success.

Rational thinking is also a part of this process where thoughts and actions are based on real, functional ideas, and to question what is happening in the person’s environment to make appropriate and rational decisions. This is extremely useful in triggering situations where oftentimes during the addiction, the addict was acting on highly emotional states, rather than rationality.

Overgeneralization or viewing a recent event as negative or a never-ending pattern of defeat. A “mental filter” is when a person only thinks about the negatives. Disqualifying the positive where only believing that “positives don’t count” because of another force. Jumping to conclusions where individuals tend to “mind read” or assume something will happen or has happened and it is true, whether or not it is. Within Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, the belief is that changing your thoughts will lead to more positive thinking and improved emotions which in turn change addictive behaviors.

Effectiveness of CBT in recovery from alcoholism includes various components which utilize cognitive and behavioral changes, incentives and rewards, motivational drives, as well as beliefs for future recovery. CBT provides a support network for the recovering alcoholic to help navigate through triggering situations.

And lastly, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy provided specifically by licensed professionals helps the individual with positive thinking which can in turn foster increased levels of self-confidence and hope. CBT aids the individual in withstanding peer pressure and recognizing stressors, the therapy is also relatively cost effective, and can also aid in keeping to more normalized activities of daily living and routine.

In conclusion, CBT can benefit the recovering addict significantly as it address the emotions and thoughts of destructive alcohol addiction.

If you are an alcoholic, a recovering alcoholic, or know someone who has challenges with alcohol addictions, please do not wait. For more information and appointments, please contact the highly experienced team of professionals at Foundation Counseling today.

Depression Therapy for Residents in Texas

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What is Depression & How to Get Help if You Live in Texas?

Depression is one of the most common mental illnesses in the United States. Specifically, our team works with people who live in McKinney, and the surrounding communities such as Allen, Plano, Melissa, and Princeton. Since Texas is the second-largest state, our team has been specializing in working with depressed patients for over one decade.

Overall, more than 17 million adults in the United States live with depression, according to the latest statistics. According to the 2018 SAMHSA Uniform Reporting System, Texas ranks in the top 20 for a number of mental health disorders and in the top 15 for those patients in need of treatment for depression.

Depression affects all ages, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups. From the boardroom to the classroom, no one is immune to the effects of this disease. Everyone feels down or sad sometimes, but depression is more than just a case of the blues. Depression is characterized by a relentless sense of despair and sadness.

With depression, these feelings persist. Depression is a chronic condition that requires treatment and finding a licensed therapist in McKinney, Allen, Plano, Melissa, and Princeton can be a challenge. A person with depression cannot “just snap out of it” on their own, no matter where they reside. The good news is that there are many effective treatments for depression and our team of therapists based in McKinney, Texas are in constant training and updating ourselves with new certificates.

The Best Therapists for Depression Based in McKinney, Texas

In spite of the fact that depression is so prevalent amongst residents in Texas, and there are so many effective treatments for the disorder, many people today still do not reach out for help. We surmise that less than 30% of people diagnosed with depression actually get treatment. However, we are unable to say, with certainty, that the treatment being provided to patients in McKinney and communities like Allen or Plano, Texas are with certified licensed professionals.

There are many reasons why people don’t seek treatment for depression. Although we have come a long way in terms of changing the public perception of depression, there is still a stigma associated with the disorder.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), many people with depression in Texas are still discriminated against when it comes to housing, employment, and more. Another reason why people don’t seek treatment is that they may not recognize their own symptoms. Sadness isn’t the only sign that you could be struggling with depression. Some of the signs of this illness are quite surprising or subtle.

Typical Types of Depression We Work with in Texas

There are different types of depression, each with unique causes, effects, and symptoms. Since treatment differs depending on the type of depression, knowing what type of depression you have can go a long way in helping to manage symptoms.

One of our expert therapists will determine what kind of depression you have and develop a treatment plan based on that. The first step is to make an appointment with one of our therapists at the Foundations Counseling offices in McKinney, Texas.

Major Depressive Disorder is Urgent

When people use the term depression, they are typically referring to major depressive disorder. To be diagnosed with major depressive disorder, you would need to have five or more of the above symptoms for a period of at least two weeks. There are several different subtypes of major depression.

Below are a few of the most common ones we often see with clients living in Texas.

With seasonal pattern.

This subtype of major depression is often referred to as (SAD) seasonal affective disorder. People in Texas with this type of depression only experience symptoms during one part of the year, typically during fall or winter. The symptoms go away during the rest of the year when it’s sunny and we have great weather in McKinney, Allen, Plano, Melissa, and Princeton, Texas.

With peripartum onset.

Depression with peripartum onset refers to depression that begins sometime during pregnancy to four weeks after delivery. This type of depression is also known as “postpartum depression.”

With psychotic features.

Depression with psychotic features is a type of depression that also includes symptoms of psychosis, such as delusions or false beliefs and hallucinations, which refers to seeing or hearing things that are not real. If you, a friend, or a family member in the surrounding communities living in Texas are experiencing something similar, we recommend to contact Foundations Counseling, immediately.

With anxious distress.

This type of depression also features symptoms of anxiety. The person must have at least two of the following symptoms of anxiety to be diagnosed with this type of depression: feeling on edge or keyed up, difficulty concentrating because of worry, feelings of restlessness, and fear of losing control.

With atypical features.

Sometimes called atypical depression, this subtype includes the following specific symptoms: increased appetite or weight gain, sleeping too much, feeling weighed down, and being really sensitive to criticism or rejection.

If you, a loved one, or a friend are experiencing depression and located in McKinney, Allen, Plano, Melissa, Princeton, or even Dallas Fort-Worth, Texas and able to visit to our offices, please contact Foundations Counseling today.

How Therapy Can Help With Overeating and Food Addiction

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Many struggling dieters actually suffer from binge eating disorder, and could manage their condition—and lose weight—with the help of a licensed counselor. Eating disorders and overeating are one of the subtler addictions that very few people tend to talk about.

The Numbers Are Overwhelming.

One out of every 35 adults suffer from binge eating disorder, almost twice the combined rate for anorexia and bulimia. It is characterized by repeated episodes of eating large quantities of food quickly and to the point of discomfort; a feeling of a loss of control during the binge; and guilt following the binge, but without any consistent purging behavior. Up to 40 percent of people trying to lose weight suffer from Binge Eating Disorder, and up to 70 percent of patients with Binge Eating Disorder are medically obese.

The good news is that Binge Eating Disorder is highly treatable, particularly with the help of cognitive behavioral therapy: Nearly 80 percent of patients abstain from bingeing after 20 sessions. And, unlike most calorie-restricting diets, the success of cognitive behavioral therapy holds for many patients over time.

However, a 2013 study in Biological Psychiatry found that less than half of lifetime bingers receive treatment. There are millions of overweight Americans who could find actual sustainable help with their eating issues – and not berate themselves for a lack of “willpower” – if more people could simply identify the disorder and find the correct counselor for treatment.

Binge Eating Addiction Does Not Discriminate.

Binge eating addiction is an equal opportunity disorder, affecting men, women, young, old, and all races. However, the Netflix eating disorder film To the Bone is a microcosm of the short shrift binge eating is given in popular culture. The movie focuses on a waifish, big-eyed anorexic staying in a residential treatment home, zooming in to focus on one patient with a feeding tube and a bulimic.

The presence of binge eating is hardly acknowledged in the film; one overweight character, Kendra, suffers from it, but she has an unexplained jar of peanut butter throughout, as her main companion. At one point, Kendra tries to join a conversation with fellow patients but a rude housemate shuts her down with “Sorry: This conversation is for rexies only.”

Even though in real life the bingers far outnumber anorexics, popular culture seems far more fascinated by the idea of wasting away.

 

The Mental Disorder Was Only Recently Established in 2013.

Part of the issue is binge eating addiction’s relative newness on the mental-health scene: It was only recognized as a formal diagnosis by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM–5) in 2013.

Somebody who really should be in therapy goes to an individual therapist and gets frustrated, similar to drug addiction. Oftentimes, patients will give up and go back to dieting. It’s almost like trying to treat cancer with vitamins. By having a commitment to cognitive therapy is of paramount importance to an individual’s successful treatment.

Successful treatment of overeating addiction is not always synonymous with dramatic weight loss, but eliminating the habit of consuming thousands of calories at a time on a regular basis typically results in modest weight loss. And even if it doesn’t, it’s still a major health improvement to cut back on the types of foods people typically binge on (like pizza or meaty breakfast sandwiches or ice cream), the sodium, fat, and sugar of which are hard on the body.

When you eat big volumes of food, particularly foods that are highly processed, which is what most people binge on, it causes a lot of stress on your body. The inflammation in your body affects everything from your cardiac status to your brain to your bones and your joints. It eventually compounds any health risk.

How Therapists Can Help.

If you have difficulty with overeating, you may wonder whether Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can help you stop your problem behaviors and food addiction. This example puts you in the place of a fictitious person who has characteristics and circumstances often seen in people who come for treatment for food addiction. This can show you what happens in CBT and how it can help people stop overeating.

Overeating and Binge Eating Behaviors.

You are a binge eater who binges on candy, cookies, and chocolate several times a day. Your overeating started in childhood when you would eat candy in secret at night. You describe your binges as emotional eating because you eat when you felt upset.

You do everything you can to prevent weight gain, including skipping regular meals, exercising for hours, using laxatives to “clear yourself out,” and occasionally, making yourself vomit. Your family doctor became concerned that you were developing problems with incontinence from laxative overuse, and referred you to CBT to help you stop overeating.

Overeating Due to Emotional Reasoning.

Your cognitive-behavioral therapist guides you in recording the thoughts and feelings you experience before, during and after bingeing on sweet food. By analyzing the thoughts and feelings you have around food, you and your therapist come to understand that you have become addicted to food because of a type of faulty thinking called emotional reasoning.

As your weight has increased, your self-esteem has worsened. Many timesper day, you would interpret small chance occurrences as reasons to feel bad about yourself. Once you start keeping track of your thought processes, you realize how often this is happening.

For example, if someone pushed in front of you in line, you would feel that this must mean you are a worthless person, and you would immediately buy a bar to chocolate to eat and make yourself feel better. One day, a colleague didn’t respond when you said “Good morning,” and you reasoned this was because your colleague disliked you. At your first opportunity, you made an excuse to slip out and buy a pack of cookies and ate the whole pack. Your performance review at work was rated “good,” and you thought that anything less than “excellent” meant you were terrible at your job, so you spent the evening eating cake and ice cream.

Each time a minor disappointment of this sort occurred, which was almost daily, you would go to your secret stash of chocolate or head to the grocery store for a binge. In spite of this well-established pattern of behavior, although you wanted to stop overeating, you just did not know another way to handle your uncomfortable feelings of worthlessness.

Using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to Treat Food Addiction.

The CBT therapist explains to you that your binge eating is based on emotional reasoning and, although eating might make you feel temporarily comforted, would not help you feel better about yourself. In fact, overeating was having the opposite effect and was actually making you feel worse about yourself, which would then worsen your overeating.

Together, you plan a different approach to handling disappointment. With practice, you are able to interpret people’s responses more realistically, so you are not constantly feeling inadequate. You also practice methods for improving your self-esteem. As your self-esteem improves, you became more able to refrain from snacking and bingeing and began to eat more nutritious food.

If you believe that you are addicted to food and an overeating disorder, or you know someone who may need help, please contact Foundations Counseling today.