Are You Wise Minded?

One of my favorite Dialectical Behavior Therapy concepts is "Wise Mind". Using your wise mind is all about balance and intuition. If you are too emotional, you may make poor and impulsive decisions. If you are overly rational, you may be boring and cold. Check out this diagram which provides a visual for this idea.

Self-Esteem vs. Other-Esteem

I’ve been doing some reading on self-esteem lately, particularly how it relates to codependency. According to Pia Mellody, people with codependency tend to have “other-esteem”, not self-esteem. Other-esteem happens when we base our self-worth on external things. This could mean the type of job you have, the kind of car you drive, if your spouse is successful, or if you perform well at a particular task.

The trouble with other-esteem is that it is fragile. For example, if you base your self-worth on your job, car, or ability to play basketball, then what happens if your company downsizes, your car breaks down, or you have an injury? Often what happens is your world comes tumbling down which is likely to bring on feelings of worthlessness and helplessness.

Don't Burn Your Candle From Both Ends

“You can’t help others until you first help yourself”. “Don’t burn your candle from both ends”. I used to hate those cliches, but when it comes to therapist wellness, it’s true. My first experience with burnout happened just 3 short months after graduating with my Master’s degree. I move across the country, and I dived head-first into the real-world of therapy. My eyes were opened to a whole new world of disillusionment that I could never have been prepared for. I experienced an episode of burnout, and I know it won’t be my last. Along the road to getting my licensure as a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), I encountered things that would make even the most resilient people burn out, if not get a little crispy around the edges. I saw ethics violations and …

4 Ways Knitting Can Help Keep You Sane

Can knitting help keep you sane? Homesteading seems to be a part of hipster culture nowadays. It's not uncommon to see young folks interested in canning their own food, planting urban gardens and knitting their own clothing. Knitting can be more than just a hip thing to do, however. There's actually some interesting research out there on the mental health benefits of knitting or crocheting.

What Is Crazy, Exactly?

In my day-to-day as a clinician, I hear a lot of expressions using crazy. For example, “Am I crazy?” or “Phew, I thought I was crazy” or “Glad you don’t think I’m crazy”.

So, what is crazy? What does a crazy person look like? I think most people would picture the mad hatter, a homeless person talking to themselves, crazy cat lady or other stereotypes.

At the same time, we also use the word crazy as a casual descriptor. Phrases like “work was crazy today”, “this pizza is crazy good”, “my schedule is crazy”, “I graduated high school 10 years ago, isn’t that crazy?”, “I painted my nails a crazy color”, etc. are pretty common. I hear these more often than crazy in the psychopathological sense of the word.

10 Ways Therapists Go Wrong

It’s not uncommon for a client to enter my office with previous experiences in therapy elsewhere. When meeting a new client, I always make sure that I ask: “Tell me what you liked or did not like about therapy before. What worked? What didn’t work?”

I don’t want to offend a client in the same way another therapist may have and I really don’t want to waste time trying interventions that just don’t fit.

Here are some of the ways therapists have gone wrong, according to clients I have asked:

I Teach Therefore I Am... Poor

I recently came across a craigslist ad that was filed under “education/teaching” and had the title “Part-time Help”. I opened the link and the full ad read, “Teachers make the best servers. Now hiring for part-time waitstaff…”

Our skillful educators are being targeted for unskilled labor jobs. It should not really come as a surprise considering all the cuts to public education made by the NC legislature this session, and I immediately felt outraged. The North Carolina education changes include ending tenure, removing restrictions on class size, eliminating several teaching and teaching assistant jobs, and ending a 10% pay increase for teachers with Master’s degrees. Ten years ago, North Carolina ranked 29th in teacher salary. The projection for the upcoming year will rank North Carolina’s teacher pay at 48th in the nation. It saddens me to live in a society where teachers are expected to have low-incomes and the idea of a supplemental job is commonplace. However, seeing teachers rally at Moral Monday protests gives me hope.

Do Behavioral Addictions Really Exist?

There are tons of compulsive behaviors that people now refer to as addictions such as sex, gambling, shopping, internet, video games, eating, TV, cell-phones, pornography to name a few. However, calling these behaviors addictions is a relatively new phenomenon. Someone referring to themselves as a “sex addict” was virtually unheard of before the 1970′s.

Suicide Risk Factors

Recently, three people have died by suicide in downtown Greensboro, North Carolina in less than a year by jumping off the top of a parking garage. If three people have died just in one small area within Greensboro, how many die annually in North Carolina? The answer is a figure that is historically higher than the rest of the nation which averages of over a thousand suicides per year.

Too Blessed To Be Depressed

I noticed a car in a parking lot the other day with "Too Blessed To Be Depressed" written on the front license plate. I initially had a negative reaction, thinking that even people who are perceived as blessed by our society (those with money, supportive families and opportunities) can experience depression.

However, the essence of this phrase is optimism and gratitude- which can work wonders for depression.

Although depression is a biochemical disorder that can be helped with medication, cognitive behavioral therapy has also been shown to help relieve symptoms. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) focuses on how our thoughts impact our feelings and consequently our behaviors. According to CBT, replacing negative thoughts with more positive ones can help us feel happier and behave in healthier ways. But sometimes focusing on the positive and being grateful is easier said than done!

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