Warning Signs to Watch for When Substance Abuse Intervention is Needed

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Approaching a loved one about their addictions and substance abuse issues is an incredibly tough thing to do. However, taking the brave step of making a substance abuse intervention can be vital in changing someone’s life. Helping to set them on the right path to a healthier and happier future is paramount. The best approach is working with a licensed counselor prior to the intervention. What’s more, working with a counselor during the actual intervention and post-intervention with the afflicted individual will prove to offer a more successful outcome.

One of the biggest challenges that people face in approaching an addict is that they are very likely to deny that they have a problem in the first place. You may find that you are met with hostility or even a degree of anger, as it is very difficult for a substance abuse intervention to not come across as accusatory. As much as addressing a loved one as an “addict” is difficult to conceive, being called one is even more difficult to accept.

Given this reality, it is rare to be able to just come out and ask someone if they have a problem with alcohol or drugs and get a straight answer. Much more likely is that you will have to do some detective work in order to find out if someone you love needs an intervention and work with a licensed counselor, pre-intervention.

The big question most people will ask our staff is, “When do you know if it’s time for an intervention for alcohol or substance abuse?”

7 Tell-Tale Signs there is a Substance Abuse Problem

1. Deceptive Behavior

They will attempt to hide their behavior. They may do this by hiding bottles of alcohol, or showing up to social occasions already intoxicated. So, they may not actually appear to drink too much in public, or hiding their medications in unmarked bottles so you can’t identify them as addictive substances.

During a substance abuse intervention, you can address the deception and move the addict towards seeking substance abuse treatment.

2. Tolerance

One of the biggest signs that someone needs to see a counselor and have an intervention is if their tolerance is increasing.

If the person you’re worried about needs a lot more alcohol or substance to get the effect they are seeking, they may be addicted. When a body receives something a lot like alcohol, it develops a tolerance and the body requires more to get the feeling that the person is after.

3. Memory Fog

When someone doesn’t remember what they did or said when under the influence, they’re usually abusing substances.

This is called blacking out and during these periods of time, the person struggling with alcohol or drug addiction will not recall anything they do. This is a red flag and a licensed therapist should be called if this happens more than once or twice.

When you’re planning an intervention for abuse, these situations and memories can bring to light the struggle the addict is facing and doesn’t remember.

4.Financial Troubles

Is the person you’re worried about spending all their money on substances whether they be alcohol, drugs, or even prescription drugs? Does their money seem to disappear every week?

Addicts are good at manipulating others to feed their addiction, but in the end, the financial troubles will be noticeable.

Addicts may increasingly ask to borrow money from their family or friends, and offer varying reasons for their request. Increased levels of debt and unpaid bills can be a sign that they are spending more than they should on their habit.

Our counselor team suggests that if you’ve been enabling someone with their addiction and providing them with money or drinks, let them know that is ending. Tell them that if they’re looking for money, the only money you will put towards them is money for an abuse intervention or counseling.

5. Moody

Do they exhibit irrational behavior and mood swings? Are they deceptive and increasingly involved in risky behavior?

People with any substance problem often switch from being angry, depressed, manically happy, miserable, hostile and the list continues. You will never know what type of person they will be when you next see them.

6. Anti-Social

We often see that people struggling with alcohol or drugs end up isolating themselves and prefer to be at home alone. One reason they do this is that they may be aware they’re addicted and don’t want others to see them intoxicated. Another reason they want to be alone is so that others can’t tell them to stop drinking.

An Intervention for abuse may be the first time in awhile that the addict is in the room with their loved ones at the same time. It may be their first-time ever with a counselor. Knowing that they aren’t alone and people are willing to help them break through this addiction is an important step in the abuse intervention process.

7. Mental Health Problems

Some issues that perhaps were once mild and infrequent begin to get much worse. It is normal to feel a little down sometimes, but as the addiction progresses, mental health issues often get magnified and are easier to pick up on.

Dependency on their vices often takes a toll on a person’s self-esteem, causing depression and social anxiety.

Don’t Wait, Take Action

If your loved one is displaying any of these signs in addition to others, then it could be time for you to take action and seek out the right setting for an intervention with a licensed counselor. Of course, it is always a good idea to talk to family members and other friends, in order to gather further information and share each other’s views. You’ll definitely have a clearer indication about whether to intervene if you all share the same concerns. There is no need for you to confront the person alone – whether they are your friend, parent, partner, or child.

Interventions are often thought of as last resorts, and it may be a challenge to present them in a way that is confrontational or accusatory. However, a degree of hostility is often to be expected. Nobody enjoys having someone point out their failings or shortcomings, and this is especially true of an addict who may be in denial about their situation.

Despite the difficulties in approaching this delicate subject, making the simple suggestion of seeking professional help may be the light in the dark that your loved one needs. You really never know how they may react until you try.

For more information about working with our licensed counseling staff at Foundations Counseling related to substance abuse, therapies, and interventions, please contact us as soon as possible.

Seeking Professional Support when Raising Your Grandchildren

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Did you know that 1 in 10 American children (75 million kids) are living in a household with at least one grandparent when it comes to raising grandchildren? 10 percent of all grandparents in the nation are raising their grandkids. Almost 3 million grandparents aren’t just helping. Instead, they are literally stepping in to be surrogate parents, doing the primary job of taking care of their grandchildren.

Today, there are numerous reasons why grandparents take over the responsibility of caring for their own grandchildren. If you are now raising your children’s children, you are not at all alone. In fact, you are now one of the millions of grandparents raising or helping raise grandchildren in the U.S. The situation has become common enough that there is even a name for it: Grandfamilies.

Raising Grandchildren

An important element of self-preservation is the building and maintenance of a strong support system. In addition to being demanding and exhausting, the task of caring for children can have an isolating effect on Grandma and Grandpa. Don’t allow yourself to be cut off from friends, neighbors or family members who understand what you’re up against. Nurture solid friendships. Admit that there are limits to what one person can do, and then seek some outside help.

One way to do this is to join a support group or speak to a professionally licensed counselor. In addition, depending on the situation and how you ended up caring for your grandchildren, it may be helpful for the children also. The situation may be difficult all around and a professional support network such as a therapist is the best route. A therapist will help you talk through the experience, help with the daily ups and downs, and be the best you can be for the children.

You should also make an intentional effort to get the regular relief you need in order to renew your energies. Never feel guilty about getting away for a break – an evening out with friends, dinner for the two of you at a nice restaurant, or a relaxing drive to a different environment. Refresh yourself with hobbies, outings and activities that you enjoy – a symphony, a game of golf, or an exercise class at the gym. Taking some time off for yourself is not a sign of weakness, and it will help you more than you may realize.

In addition to these strategies, we’d strongly recommend that you touch base with a professional counselor on a semi-regular or regular basis. Ideally this should be an individual who understands attachment issues. You didn’t tell us exactly how you ended up taking care of your grandkids. In most cases, it probably had something to do with events of a relatively tragic or traumatic nature such as death, divorce, mental illness, bi physical illness, incarceration, neglect or some type of abuse or addiction.

Children from troubled or unsettled backgroundsgenerally experience difficulty forming new attachments even though you may be there biological grandparents. They also are dealing with a sense of grief or loss. Since attachment and trust go hand in hand, you can expect this issue to have a significant impact on your attempts to forge a new family unit and build a safe and loving environment for the children in your home.

Whatever the reason, grandparents who return to parenting find it isn’t easy. Energy and income may be lower. Health may be more fragile. Adjusting to the schedules and the needs of children and teens can be overwhelming. How do people do it?

5 Ways to Succeed as a Grandfamily

Grandparents who manage the return to parenting are grandparents who don’t just let life happen to them. They actively work on making their Grandfamily work.

1. Embrace your new reality

Parenting again may not have been on the top of your list for how to spend your senior years. But life often has a way of taking unexpected turns. There is usually much joy to be found in raising your grandchildren once you’re able to accept and embrace the situation. Kids can keep us young. Sharing their interests and their current passions can keep us in the know about popular culture. Just when some seniors are wondering “Is this all there is”, Grandfamily adults find new meaning in raising their grandkids.

2. Acknowledge the losses.

Losses are often multiple. Whether providing full or part time care, you are giving up many of your plans and your flexibility to do the things you wanted to do. If you have assumed the parenting role because your adult child has significant problems or has abandoned the children, you are also confronting the loss of your idea of the child you thought you had or hoped they would become.

The children are also grieving. Regardless of their age and no matter how they were treated, children whose parents have dropped out of their lives often long for their parents to come back to take care of them.

Grandfamilies succeed when the adults are compassionate with themselves and the children. They allow space for talking about feelings and know how to gently guide conversations to the love children do have while acknowledging their reality. When kids act up, they see the hurt inside and help the children find more appropriate ways to express their grief.

 

3. Take care of yourself physically.

Even if you are as healthy as someone 10 years younger, you are still older than the average parent. Do what you can to take care of your health. Eat well. Get enough sleep. Get what exercise you can. You will feel better and you will be better able to keep up with the young ones.

4. Take care of your mental health too.

Grandparents raising kids often experience anxiety and depression due to the added stress. 40% of the grandmothers studied in one study had signs of psychological distress. To stay mentally healthy, reach out for information and support. Many social service agencies are now offering Grandparent Support Groups. If you find that you are feeling more anxious or down than you used to, do consider seeing a therapist.

5. Accept that times have changed.

Accepted and acceptable methods of disciplining kids also may have changed since the first time you were parenting. If in doubt, talk to a professional counselor or ask the young parents of your grandkids’ friends for more information and support.

For more information or to speak with someone at Foundations Counseling to help with a very complex situation such as raising your own grandchildren, please schedule an appointment with one of our licensed counselors today.

Coping with Grief, Loss, and Anxiety During the Holidays

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For anyone dealing with an illness, grief, loss, and subsequent anxiety it causes or the loss of a loved one, the holidays can be a time of sadness, pain, anger, or dread. It can be difficult to cope, especially when you see the sights and sounds of holiday happiness all around you.

The ebb and flow of grief can become overwhelming with waves of memories, particularly during Valentine’s Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Grief can also magnify the stress and anxiety that is often already a part of the holidays.

How can you begin to fill the emptiness you feel when it seems that everyone else is overflowing with joy? There are a few strategies that you can employ to help you get through this time.

Offer Yourself Some Grace 

One of the best things you can do is give yourself permission to feel whatever it is you’re feeling. Try not to fall prey to the belief that you have to feel a certain way or do certain things in order to make the holiday “normal.” If you feel sad, allow the tears to come; if you feel angry, allow yourself to vent some steam.

Be Kind to Yourself 

It’s important that you get the rest and nourishment you need and try not to take on more than you can handle. If you need to be alone, then honor that. If you crave the company and affection of others, seek it out. Do whatever feels right to you during this difficult time.

Ask For and Accept Help 

The holiday season is no time to feign strength and independence when you’re grieving a death. You will need the help and support of others to get through, so don’t feel as if you are a burden. People generally receive satisfaction and even joy from helping those they care about.

After a death, people often desire to help but simply don’t know how. If you need someone to help you prepare meals, shop, or decorate, this is the time to speak up and make your needs known. Quite often, they will be delighted to feel like they are helping you in some way.

The same holds true for your emotional needs. Friends and family members might feel uncomfortable talking about your grief. They might think that you don’t want to talk about it and don’t want to be reminded of your pain.

The American Psychological Association (APA) notes that not talking about someone’s death lead to isolation and discourage those who are there to support you. Again, you will have to tell your loved ones the best way that they can help you. If you want to talk about what you’re going through, or you just need a shoulder to cry on, let them know.

Find Support

Sharing your feelings is often the best way to get through them and finding people you can talk to will help. Friendsand relativescan be a great support during times of grief. However, they might be coping with their own feelings or so immersed in the holidays that they cannot offer the support you need.

Another good option is to look for a licensed therapist for individual or group therapies. Support group members often make friends that end up being a source of comfort and care for many years to come.

A loss, whether it be a parent, sibling, child, or friend is a very personal matter. Your loss seems like the worst possible thing that could have happened to youand it can be exponential during the holiday season.

When you lose a significant person from your life, whatever the relationship, it hurts and nothing takes away from your right to feel the loss and grieve the absence of that person from your life.

Make a Difference

Many people like to help others in large or small ways during the holiday season. We may drop our change in a charity basket, purchase a gift for a needy child, or donate to a favorite organization. This can help us feel like we are contributing to the greater good.

Likewise, helping improve the lives of others can help take the focus off your loss.Many studies demonstratethat volunteering can be beneficial to our mental health, particularly as we ageand also during the holidays.

Consider volunteering at a nursing home, hospital, hospice, children’s shelter, or soup kitchen. You can also find a way to help another family member or friend who may need it. Any of these things can prove cathartic and help in the healing process.

Don’t Make Comparisons

It’s easy to see other people or families enjoying holiday festivities and compare their experience to what you feel during this difficult time. This may make you feel worse or that you’re lacking in some fashion.

Keep in mind that the holidays are stressful for most people and they are rarely the “magical” gatherings depicted in greeting cards, movies, or on television. Try to embrace what you have rather than compare it to what you think others have.

A Word From Foundations Counseling

As difficult as it seems, you will survive the holidays in one piece. Because of your grief, this holiday might prove to be a very difficult experience. However, you will get through it and come out on the other side stronger than before. You don’t necessarily have to enjoy the holidays or even go through the motions of pretending to enjoy the festivities.

That said, it’s also fine to have a good time in spite of your grief. If happiness slips through your window of grief, allow it to happen and enjoy it. You won’t be doing your loved one an injustice by feeling joyous. The best gift you can give anyone you love is that of being true to yourself and living your life to the fullest, even as you adjust to the loss and remember your loved one.

If you may be experiencing symptoms caused by grief and loss during the holiday season or for more information about the positive effects of counseling for grief and loss, please contact Foundations Counseling today.

Managing Typical Stressors During the Holiday Season

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Welcome to the holiday season and holiday stress! This is the time of year when the whirlwind of gift-giving holidays, marketing blitzes, holiday parties, and activities galore begins right after Halloween, builds to Thanksgiving and continues gaining momentum through the end of the year.

While this season is meant to bring feelings of love and cheer, it’s also the harbinger of holiday stress for many. In fact, according to most health data surveys, more than 80% of us find the holiday season to be ‘somewhat’ or ‘very’ stressful.

Doing Too Much

“All things should be done in moderation”, as the saying goes. The problem with the holiday season is that we often experience too much of a good thing. While stress itself is necessary for our survival and zest for life (some may call this a positive type of stress) too much stress definitely has a negative impact on us, both mental and physical. Too many activities, even if they are fun activities, can culminate in too much holiday stress and leave us feeling frazzled, rather than fulfilled.

Eating, Drinking, and Spending Too Much

An overabundance of parties and gift-giving occasions lead many people to eat, drink and be merry, often to excess. The temptation to overindulge in spending, rich desserts or alcohol can cause many people the lasting stress of dealing with consequences (debt, weight gain, memories of embarrassing behavior) that can linger long after the season is over. Also, in these more difficult financial times, finding affordable gifts can be stressful in itself, and carrying holiday debt is a tradition that too many people unwittingly bring on themselves, and the stress that comes with it can last for months.

Too Much Togetherness

The holidays are a time when extended families tend to gather. While this can be a wonderful thing, even the most close-knit families can overdose on togetherness, making it hard for family members to maintain a healthy balance between bonding and alone time. Many families also have roles that each member falls into that have more to do with who individuals used to be rather than who they are today, which can sometimes bring more dread than love to these gatherings.

Not Enough Togetherness

For those who don’t have these family issues, loneliness can be just as much of a problem. As the world seems to be gathering with family, those who rely more on friends for support can feel deserted and alone.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

An often-unrecognized problem that comes with the holiday season is actually a by-product of the seasons changing from fall to winter. As daylight diminishes and the weather causes many of us to spend more time indoors, many people are affected to some degree by a type of depression known as the “seasonal affect disorder.” It’s a subtle but very real condition that can cast a pall over the whole season and be a source of stress and unhappiness during a time that people expect to feel just the opposite.

Minimizing Holiday Stress

The great thing about holiday stress is that it’s predictable. Unlike many other types of negative stress that we encounter in life, we know when holiday stress will begin and end, and we can make plans to reduce the amount of stress we experience and the negative impact it has on us.

Tips to Reduce Holiday Stress

The following are some tips you can try to help reduce holiday stress before it begins so that it remains at a positive level, rather than an overwhelming one.

1. Set Your Priorities

Before you get overwhelmed by too many activities, it’s important to decide what traditions offer the most positive impact and eliminate superfluous activities. For example, if you usually become overwhelmed by a flurry of baking, caroling, shopping, sending cards, visiting relatives and other activities that leave you exhausted by January, you may want to examine your priorities, pick a few favorite activities and really enjoy them, while skipping the rest.

2. Scale It Down

If you can’t fathom the idea of skipping out on sending cards, baking, seeing people, and doing all of the stuff that usually runs you ragged, you may do better including all of these activities in your schedule, but on a smaller scale.

Send cards, for example, but only to those with whom you maintain regular communication. Or, don’t include a personal note or letter in each one. Find a way to simplify. The same goes for the baking—will anyone be enraged if you buy baked goods from the bakery instead? If you find ways to cut corners or tone down the activities that are important to you and your family, you may enjoy them much more.

3. Be Smart With Holiday Eating

During the holidays, we may want to look and feel great (especially if we’re around people we don’t see often—we know that this is how we’ll be remembered), but there is so much temptation in the form of delicious food and decadent desserts, and a break from our regular routines—plus the addition of emotional stress—can all add up to overeating, emotional eating, and other forms of unhealthy eating. This year, plan ahead by being aware of your triggers, do what you can to have some healthy food at hand for each meal, be aware of your intake, and practice mindful eating.

4. Change Your Expectations for Togetherness

With family and friends, it’s important to be aware of your limitations. Think back to previous years and try to pinpoint how much togetherness you and your family can take before feeling negative stress. Can you limit the number of parties you attend or throw or the time you spend at each? Can you limit your time with family to a smaller timeframe that will still feel special and joyous, without draining you?

Also, when many of us are dealing with so-called difficult relatives, it’s okay to set limits on what you are and are not willing to do, including forgoing your visits or limiting them to every other year.

For those who may experience loneliness during the holiday season, consider inviting a group of friends to your home. If virtually everyone you know is with family during the holidays, you might consider volunteering to help those less fortunate than yourself. Many people report these experiences to be extremely fulfilling, and your focus will be on what you have rather than what you lack.

5. Set a Schedule

Putting your plans on paper can show you, in black and white, how realistic they are. If you find a time management planner and fill in the hours with your scheduled activities, being realistic and including driving time and downtime, you will be able to see if you’re trying to pack in too much.

Start with your highest priorities, so you will be able to eliminate the less important activities. Be sure to schedule in some time to take a nature walk each day if at all possible, as exercise and exposure to daylight can drastically reduce or even eliminate the symptoms of “SAD.” If climate or other factors prohibit this, try to find some time to sit by a window and look out; several minutes of exposure to natural light, even if through a windowpane, can help.

6. Breathe

This sounds like a no-brainer, but sometimes we forget to take deep breaths and really give our bodies the oxygen we need. It’s great if you can take ten minutes by yourself to do a breathing meditation but merely stopping to take a few deep, cleansing breaths can reduce your level of negative stress in a matter of minutes, too. If you visualize that you are breathing in serenity and breathing out stress, you will find the positive effects of this exercise to be even more pronounced.

For more information about Managing Typical Stressors During the Holiday Season, or to speak with someone at Foundations Counseling, please schedule an appointment with one of our licensed counselors today.

Top Benefits of the EMDR Therapy Process

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Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing is a psychotherapy technique used to treat anxiety, PTSD, and more. This technique is known as EMDR therapy.

In 1987 psychologist Francine Shapiro developed a new type of psychotherapy known as EMDR, which stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. EMDR therapy has become a more common treatment in recent years as a treatment option for people suffering from anxiety, panic, PTSD, or trauma 

According to the EMDR Research Foundation, “EMDR is an integrative psychotherapy approach that has been extensively researched and proven effective for the treatment of trauma. EMDR therapy includes a set of standardized protocols that incorporate elements from several different treatment approaches.

To date, EMDR has helped millions of people of all ages relieve many types of psychological stress.

What is EMDR?

EMDR therapy is a phased, focused approach to treating traumatic and other symptoms by reconnecting the client in a safe and measured way to the images, self-thoughts, emotions, and body sensations associated with the trauma, and allowing the natural healing powers of the brain to move toward adaptive resolution.

It is based on the idea that symptoms occur when trauma and other negative or challenging experiences overwhelm the brain’s natural ability to heal, and that the healing process can be facilitated and completed through bilateral stimulation while the client is re-experiencing the trauma in the context of the safe environment of the therapist’s office (dual awareness).

EMDR works to disarm belief systems, also known as cognitions, and changes the negative cognition through a series of lateral eye movements, tapping or sound, while the client is asked to create the picture of pain and danger (trauma) that most disturbs them.

Typically, it identifies and addresses traumatic experiences that have overwhelmed the brain’s natural coping capacity, and, as a result, have created traumatic symptoms, such as flashbacks or anxiety, or harmful coping strategies, such as isolating behavior and self-medication with alcohol or drugs.

How Does EMDR Work?

Through EMDR, individuals safely reprocess traumatic information until it is no longer psychologically disruptive to their lives. There are varying phases of treatment and in the initial phase, the individual focuses on a disruptive memory and identifies the negative cognition they hold about themselves associated with that memory. (for example, in dealing with abuse, the person may believe, “I deserved it”) the individual then formulates a positive cognition that they would like to have (“I am a worthwhile and good person” or “I am in control of my life.”).

All the sensations and emotions that go along the memory are identified. The individual then reviews the memory while focusing on an external stimulus that creates bilateral stimulation.

Normally, this is done by watching the therapist move two fingers. After each set of bilateral movements, the individual is asked what they focused on during the stimulation. This process continues until the memory is no longer disturbing to the individual. The individual is processing the trauma. The selected positive belief is then installed, via bilateral stimulation, to replace the negative belief.

It is theorized that EMDR works because the “bilateral stimulation” bypasses the area of the brain that processes the memories that have become stuck due to the trauma. Once memories are stuck it prevents the brain from proper processing and storage of the memory.

During EMDR, individuals process the memory safely which leads to a peaceful resolution. This can result in increased insight regarding both previously disturbing event and the negative beliefs they once held about the original traumatic event.

Who Uses EMDR Therapy?

EMDR therapy has been endorsed by the American Psychiatric Association and the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies. In addition, it is used by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, the Department of Defense.

According to the EMDR Research Foundation there are now over 30 gold standard studies documenting the effectiveness of EMDR therapy over the past 30 years with problems such as rape and sexual abuse, combat trauma, childhood trauma and neglect, life threatening accidents, and symptoms such as anxiety, depression, and substance abuse.

Licensed therapists believe that this type of therapy has the ability to heal people who are suffering from all types of trauma. This approach shifts the way we process the presence of the physical, emotional and psychological effects related specifically to a traumatic event. The pain and sense of danger carried within the self after a traumatic event grips the soul with such purchase that it leads into a sense of being in emotional quicksand.

Does EMDR Therapy Work?

According to the EMDR Institute, Inc., some of the studies on this type of therapy show that 84%-90% of single-trauma victims no longer have post-traumatic stress disorder after only three 90-minute sessions.

Another study, funded by the HMO Kaiser Permanente, found that 100% of the single-trauma victims and 77% of multiple trauma victims no longer were diagnosed with PTSD after only six 50-minute sessions. In another study, 77% of combat veterans were free of PTSD in 12 sessions.

What is also different about this type of therapeutic intervention is that the therapist does not conversationally converse with the client while going through the process.

After an EMDR session, clients can experience more vivid dreams, may sleep differently, might feel more sensitive to interactions with others or to external stimuli.

Pairing EMDR Therapy with Other Therapeutic Techniques

EMDR Therapy is not the only form of therapy appropriate for people dealing with anxiety, PTSD, panic, and/or trauma, and just because someone is undergoing EMDR therapy does not mean that that person cannot undergo another form of therapy at the same time. Speak with your therapist about combinations of therapy or therapeutic techniques that might prove most effective.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is the most common form of therapy. If you are interested in pairing EMDR with other therapeutic techniques, we encourage you to discuss this with one of our therapists during an introductory meeting.

For more information about EMDR Therapy at Foundations Counseling, please schedule an appointment with one of our licensed counselors today.

10 Warning Signs Your Child is Suffering from Mental Illness

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Nearly 1 in 5 children has an emotional or behavioral disorder.

Most parents have an instantaneous desire to protect their children. We tend to our children’s needs if an unexplained rash appears, we see the doctor. If a fever spikes, we see the doctor. If a bone seems injured, we see the doctor.

Visible wounds are relatively easy to recognize. It’s different when a child begins having problems at school or with friends, or if he or she becomes uncooperative and has inexplicable outbursts. Such occurrences often leave parents feeling confused and unsure about what to do.

Nearly one in five children is affected with an emotional or behavioral disorder. You may recognize that something is not right, but what it is or what to do remains a mystery. Further, nearly 5 million American children and adolescents suffer from a serious mental illness (one that significantly interferes with their day-to-day life).

Warning Signs and Parent Radar

A teacher, relative, or friend may tell you it’s “a stage,” but you feel that the “stage” has lasted too long, the behavior is too disruptive, or failing grades don’t improve no matter what you or the school tries.

The following warning signs may indicate a problem needing specialized attention, typically by working with a professionally licensed counselor. What you are looking for indicates that your child may be experiencing one or more of these symptoms. The symptoms are also atypical for his or her developmental stage and not related to a move, divorce, or other stressful event:

  1. Your child is having more difficulty at school.
  2. Your child is attempting to injure him/herself.
  3. Your child is avoiding friends and family.
  4. Your child is experiencing frequent mood swings.
  5. Your child is experiencing intense emotions such as angry outbursts or extreme fear.
  6. Your child is lacking energy, motivation, and the ability to concentrate.
  7. Your child is having difficulty sleeping, or is having a lot of nightmares.
  8. Your child has a lot of physical complaints.
  9. Your child is obsessed with his or her weight, shape, or appearance.
  10. Your child is eating significantly more or less than usual.

By listening to your “parent radar,” you can voice your concerns and begin the journey of finding and fighting for the help your child may need.

LPCs Can Guide You and Your Child

Few are better able to guide parents through the agonizing uncertainty and turmoil of a child with a mental health problem than licensed professional counselors (LPCs). When raising children, all of whom may have serious mental health or behavioral challenges such as bipolar disorder, ADHD, ADD, autism, anorexia, and depression, integrating advice and therapies with child psychologists will help tremendously. Being able to find the right therapist to navigate the clinical jargon and mental health system is equally as important.

Even once you have a diagnosis, it is critical to listen to your parent radar. For example, the mother of a 12-year-old diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, and a moderate developmental disability, will not necessarily have the ability to say what she really needs to. Until that communication happens, your child can help you with that part, but a parent must continue to trust your gut and be that voice in her struggle.

 

When to Seek Professional Help

Meeting with a trained professional doesn’t mean your child is crazy, nor does it mean you’re an incompetent parent. Sometimes, for one reason or another, kids just need a little extra support or a different type of discipline to perform at their best. Early intervention is often the key to successful treatment.

If you’re questioning whether your child may need help, don’t hesitate to seek treatment. If there are no serious problems, talking to a child behavior specialist may put your mind at ease. If problems are detected, a child behavior specialist can address the problem before it gets worse.

How a Professional Can Help

A child behavior expert can rule out any mental health issues that may be behind the behavior problems, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). If your child has ADHD, a professional can discuss treatment options and discipline strategies that are effective for ADHD.

At other times, depression can contribute to behavioral issues. For example, a depressed teenager is likely to be irritable and may refuse to get up in the morning for school or may want to spend the majority of his time in his room.

Anxiety disorders can also lead to behavior problems. An anxious tween may become argumentative or non-compliant if he’s worried about something. A complete evaluation will help rule out any mental health conditions and treating these underlying conditions may lead to great improvements in behavior.

A professional counselor will make recommendations. For example, a child who has been traumatized by a serious event may benefit from individual counseling. Or, a child who is struggling to adjust to a new blended family situation may benefit from individual or family therapy.

At other times, a licensed professional counselor and expert in their field may want to work with you without your child present. Providing support and training to parents can lead to the fastest results when it comes to many behavior problems.

Navigating the “Storm”

Should you find yourself and your child on the emotional roller coaster of a mental-health challenge, you will, as every professional counselor suggests, need help and hope. You must take care of yourself and stay strong for your child, and also know when to befriend others who have faced similar challenges so you don’t feel isolated and alone.

Foundations Counseling compassionately explains how to develop essential coping skills to support your child while also taking care of the rest of your family when dealing with these common challenges.

For more information about your child’s mental and behavioral challenges, or for an evaluation, please contact Foundations Counseling today.

Do You Know Someone Suffering from Bipolar Disorder?

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Whether we are aware of it or not, we all may know someone suffering from Bipolar Disorder. Bipolar disorder is a mental health disorder that can cause dramatic changes in mood and energy levels. Symptoms can affect daily life severely with major ups-and-downs. Importantly, spotting the signs of bipolar disorder can help a person to get the proper treatment, as real dangers do exist.

A person who has Bipolar disorder will encounter a range in mood from feelings of elation and high energy to intense depression. There can also be disruption in sleep and thinking patterns and other behavioral symptoms.

The extremes of mood are known as manic episodes and depressive episodes. Hypomania has symptoms of a manic episode that are less severe.

Typically, in most cases, people suffering from Bipolar disorder do not experience symptoms usually until the age of 25 on average. Symptoms can appear during the teenage years, and less commonly, during childhood.

The Signs and Symptoms?

Bipolar disorder is a condition with mood swings that can range from euphoria to depression.However, for a diagnosis of “bipolar I” disorder, a person only needs to have one manic episode.

What is Mania?

When someone has mania, they do not just feel very happy. They feel euphoric.

A person with mania may:

  • Possess a lot of energy
  • Feel able to do and achieve anything
  • Find sleeping to be difficult
  • Spend money excessively and impulsively
  • Use rapid speech that jumps between topics and ideas
  • Feel agitated, jumpy, or even slightly “wired”
  • Engage in risky and impulsive behaviors
  • Use unwise consumption of alcohol and other substances
  • Believe that they are more important than others or have important connections
  • Show anger or aggression if others challenge their views or behavior

Severe mania can involve psychosis, with hallucinations or delusions. Hallucinations can cause a person to see, hear, or feel things that are not there.People may have delusions and distorted thinking that cause them to believe that certain things are true when they are not.

A person in a manic state may not realize that their behavior is unusual, but others may notice a change in behavior. Some may see the person’s outlook as sociable and fun-loving, while others may find it unusual or bizarre.

The individual may not realize that they are acting inappropriately or be aware of the potential consequences of their behavior.

They may need help in getting help and staying safe, which is where family and friends should step in to seek professional therapists.

What is Hypomania?

Not everyone will have a severe manic episode. Less severe mania is known as hypomania. Symptoms are similar to those of mania, but the behaviors are less extreme, people can often function well in their daily life, and it typically only lasts 3-4 days.

If a person does not address the signs of hypomania, it can progress into a more severe form of the condition at a later time.

Bipolar Depression Symptoms

Signs of a depressive episode are the same as the symptoms of a major depressive episode.These may include:

  • eeling down or sad
  • >having very little energy
  • having trouble sleeping or sleeping a lot more than usual
  • thinking of death or suicide
  • forgetting things or feeling distracted
  • feeling tired on a constant basis
  • losing enjoyment in daily activities
  • lack of emotion or joy in facial expressions

In severe cases, a person may experience psychosis or a catatonic depression, in which they are unable to move, talk, or take any action. Although rare, bipolar disorder could occur in young children and teenagers.

What are the Causes?

Doctors do not know exactly what causes bipolar disorder. In general, there are theories that may be triggers, as follows:

  1. Genetic factors: A person with bipolar disorder may have a parent with the condition. However, having a parent or even a twin with bipolar disorder does not mean a person will have it.
  1. Stress: Someone who has a genetic predisposition may experience their first episode of depression or mania during or after a time of severe stress, for example, the loss of a job or a loved one.

When to See a Therapist?

People with symptoms of Bipolar should seek professional help as soon as possible and as a precaution, at the very least. It is always a good idea to speak with a therapist when there is concern about severe mood swings that seem to come and go or make it difficult to work.

The best person to start with may be a primary care physician or family doctor. They will likely refer someone with these symptoms to a therapist, or a specialist who cares for people with mental health disorders.

Someone who notices these symptoms in a friend or loved one can also speak with atherapist about their concerns.

If you have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder or believe that you may be suffering from bipolar disorder, please pick up the phone today and call our team at Foundations Counseling.