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What is Trauma and What Causes it?

Most of us won’t get through life without our own fair share of stress and heartache. But some people experience not just stress, sadness or grief, but actual trauma. This can be from events like being involved in a bad car accident, rape, a natural disaster, or war. The result of experiencing such events is…
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Why Did I Feel Fine Yesterday? The Causes of Depression

With 322 million people suffering with depression worldwide, it’s not surprising to learn that in America, depression is among the most common mental disorders. The cause of depression is often simplified as a chemical imbalance in the brain, but the reality is that the disease is far more complicated. Scientific research has yet to completely…
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4 Ways to Deal with Social Anxiety at Work

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 15 million U.S. Americans, or 6.8% of the population, suffers from Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD). SAD, also sometimes referred to as social phobia, is an intense fear of social situations. The sufferer believes they could become humiliated and embarrass themselves somehow in front of other people.…
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Forgiveness: What it is and Why it Matters

Forgiveness is divine – and new research shows that it’s also good for your health! You’re boiling with rage. Even thinking about that witch of a co-worker is upsetting—and there she is, flaunting herself like a diva on American Idol. She’s been your nemesis from the moment she joined the staff, despite your best efforts…
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Communication Styles

The Four Basic Styles of Communication 1. Passive Communication  PASSIVE COMMUNICATION is one of four communication styles. It refers to individuals have developed a pattern of avoiding expressing their opinions or feelings, protecting their rights, and identifying and meeting their needs. As a result, passive individuals do not respond overtly to hurtful or anger-inducing situations.…
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Gay and Lesbian Identity Integration Model

Adoption of a gay/lesbian identity is a developmental process of recognizing, accepting, and ultimately affirming one’s gay or lesbian sexual orientation that encompasses six stages. Identity Confusion In the first stage, identity confusion, the person is amazed to think of themselves as a gay person. “Could I be gay?” This stage begins with the person’s…
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Treating PAWS

Tips for Surviving PAWS Post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) is frequently seen in individuals who have already completed the acute detox phase.  Treating PAWS requires patience and good self-care.  Here are some additional tips for reducing the effects of PAWS. Be patient. You can’t hurry recovery. But you can get through it one day at a time. Post-acute…
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Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome

Stages of Withdrawal Withdrawal from drugs and alcohol involves two distinct phases:  acute withdrawal and post-acute withdrawal.  When individuals experience symptoms common to the post-acute period they are diagnosed with post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS). Acute Withdrawal: Usually lasts 1-2 weeks. During this stage, you may experience physical withdrawal symptoms. But every drug is different, and…
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Establishing Boundaries

What Are Boundaries? Establishing boundaries is an important task for those with substance use disorders and their families.  Boundaries are limits people set in order to create a healthy sense of personal space. Boundaries can be physical or emotional in nature, and they help distinguish the desires, needs, and preferences of one person from another.  In other…
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Active Listening

Introduction Active listening is the practice of listening to a speaker while providing feedback indicating that the listener both hears and understands what the speaker is saying. Therapists and other mental health professionals regularly practice active listening, but it is not exclusive to therapy.  Components of Active Listening There are three primary components: Comprehending– Comprehension is a…
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Sex, Gender, and Sexual Orientation

What are the Differences Between Sex, Gender, and Sexual Orientation? I’m frequently asked to explain the differences between sex, gender, and sexual orientation.  So, what are the differences?  The short answer is this: sex is about your body, gender is about who you feel yourself to be, and sexual orientation is about to whom you’re…
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What to Expect from Counseling

Counseling 101: What Happens During a Session?​ One in five American adults has a mental health condition. Research has shown that these mental health conditions can be treated effectively. Scientists continue to disprove the stigmas surrounding mental health.  As a result, more people have acknowledged the value of modern therapy.  But many people have no…
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Cognitive Distortions

What are Cognitive Distortions? Edit Column Cognitive distortions are biased or exaggerated thought patterns or beliefs. They are usually irrational, or misrepresent reality in some fashion.   The concept was first proposed by Aaron Beck, the founder of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.  It was during his treatment of patients with depression that Beck realized his patients often expressed thoughts and beliefs that…
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Recovery and Sexual Health

Why Are We Talking About Sex? Sexual health and recovery is a frequent topic of discussion in my group therapy sessions.  In active addiction, the dependency on drugs and alcohol interferes with the ability to experience healthy intimacy.  Emotions are numbed and the capacity  to form meaningful attachments is impaired.  Often, the desire for sex…
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