What to Do If You’re Worried a Loved One Has an Addiction Problem

What to Do If You’re Worried a Loved One Has an Addiction Problem

 Coming to the realization that a loved one has an addiction problem can conjure up an abundance of emotions, but the worst thing you can do is ignore the issue. Blaming yourself for letting it happen is not a constructive use of your energy. If they’ve been lying to you recently, understand that you can’t take this type of behavior personally, as this one of the side effects of addiction. You’re dealing with a completely different person now, so you’ve got to support your loved one as they are now — not who they were before drugs or alcohol took over their life. While you can’t magically fix the problem for them, you can make an effort to help them move in the right direction. Here’s how to get started.

Familiarize Yourself with the Different Types of Treatment

 Before approaching your loved one, familiarize yourself with the different types of treatment available. It can be helpful to have talking points that could help motivate this person if you hit on a point of interest. For example, maybe the thought of a traditional 12-step program scares someone. In this case, pointing out other methods, such as those that are either more religious-based or holistic, can make treatment seem less daunting. However, it’s not uncommon for recovery survivors to have feelings of shame and guilt. There are also several alternative therapies (to be used in conjunction with a traditional program) that can help banish cravings, prevent relapse, and help patients start a new sober life. Some examples include yoga, exercise, gardening, pet and art therapies, meditation, and acupuncture.

How to Confront Your Loved One

 There’s no doubt that confronting a loved one may be one of the most difficult things you have to do, but make sure you go in with compassion, not anger or hostility. Giving a person with an addiction problem reasons to be hopeful has proven to be helpful when they’re in treatment. Before having the talk, consult with an addiction physician or certified addiction mental health professional for guidance. Try to come up with as many details as possible, including what they’re using, how often, what side effects you’ve noticed, behavioral changes, etc.

Avoid speaking to your loved one when they’re under the influence, as the conversation is liable to get you nowhere or turn violent. Don’t approach them when they’re running out the door, as you’re going to need a good amount of time to have a discussion. Emphasize how much you care, but list very specific behaviors and actions that prompt you to believe there’s a problem. Make sure that you ask open-ended questions to avoid a lecture-like feel. Be prepared for denial and revisit the conversation at a later date. However, if you notice a life-threatening situation, seek help immediately via a crisis hotline or 911.

If you’ve made several attempts to try to get your loved one into treatment without success, it may be time to stage an intervention, especially if you feel their health is in serious danger. At this juncture, loop in a substance abuse counselor or intervention specialist to help back you up and provide expertise during the confrontation. Gather a group of friends, family, and other concerned loved ones and make sure everyone clears their schedule for at least a couple of hours. Make sure everyone is prepared to communicate clear thoughts and feelings. Choose a location that feels safe for your loved one such as your home or theirs, but don’t hold them against their will. Offer love, compassion, and resources to help them through the recovery process. If they accept help, note that this is not the end of your support, but just the beginning.


Bethany Hatton, a retired librarian with 32 years of experience, created PreventAddiction.info after her oldest grandson became addicted to opioids.
As her grandson recovered from an overdose, the number of questions Bethany had about his illness swelled: How had his addiction developed? Could she and other family members have done anything differently along the way? And most importantly, how could she help him get better and ensure others in her family and community didn’t suffer the same fate? Using the research skills she honed during her work as a librarian, she dedicated herself to searching the internet to find the most reputable, reliable information to share on her site. She analyzed, compiled, and categorized hundreds of resources so that she could be sure she included only the best of the best for her visitors.
Though she discovered there is no guaranteed way to prevent addiction; she was able to find many helpful resources that can keep the public up to date on the latest prevention, addiction, and recovery information.

For more help and information about a wide range of articles and information you could visit my website: www.valentinotherapy.com– Pinterest: Ask This Therapist (new and building more info daily)or Instagram: Ask This Therapist (also new and building a few posts weekly).
I post several times a week to:
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All this information and help is almost like having a therapist for free. 😉
Nothing is for sale unless WordPress or FB has slipped something of their own in, and I don’t capture your information or anything else. This information is solely meant to help and support people in their journeys in life. Sharon Valentino, CA LMFT

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How can I get what I want and need out of life? I tend to give up.

Question: I feel defeated like I can’t achieve what I want to and so I tend to give up.

How to Get Anything You Want

Really? How do you get what you want?

First, you can’t expect other people to give it to you. It has to come from you.

Here’s the secret: Keep uppermost in your mind that if you want to accomplish something (anything) you must first expect it of yourself.

I read this somewhere and have kept the saying because, over the years, it has proven so true – both for my therapy clients and myself as well.  Sometimes I’ve achieved what I want with astonishing speed. It has made me a believer.

Watch a child learning to ride a bike. They are totally determined to master this skill and gain a freedom they never knew before. They are focused and it is uppermost in their minds. They aren’t allowing habitual negative thinking to be uppermost in their minds. They are concentrating on the task that they really want to master.

It doesn’t matter whether you are hoping to be the best athlete, lose weight, keep a clean house, be a better lover or parent, or…on and on,  if you are just hoping for it, it is not so likely to occur. You have to “keep it forefront in your mind” as something that you are not hoping for – it must be something you are committed to achieving. How do you do that? Interestingly, there are many methods reported to succeed.

Some have used journaling every day, others use daily meditating on the desired outcome, and others say using the Biblical advice of “Pray all the time.” has produced miracles for them, even including healing. Some set alarms on their phone, while others find support in like-minded groups where the goal is stated, members reinforce it, as do regular meetings of some sort (even if it is meeting a friend for a walk, run or golf game). When I was younger I used to place Post-Its in various places where I’d see them a few times a day. Now I use Outlook because I have to look at my calendar several times a day, so I’m reminded quite often of what I want so I won’t lose sight or get distracted. But research shows that if you are visual, it is very helpful to have pictures in various places of what you want so that you are reminded visually several times a day. Others who want a car, for example, get a small model of the one they want and keep it on their work desk.

However, besides commitment and reinforcers, it is critical to examine automatic negative thoughts and messages you may be giving yourself that are unhelpful, untrue or not useful that say you can’t do or have what you want. This self-sabotage goes on daily in our heads without our realizing it about so many issues. Our thoughts control how we feel about ourselves and the world around us and what we can accomplish. Positive thoughts lead to us feeling good and negative thoughts can put us down. Sometimes our thoughts happen so quickly that we fail to notice them, but they can still affect our mood and our actions. These are called automatic thoughts. They are often negative or at least not useful. They can even apply to ruminations about romantic partners lost or present or things we’ve wanted but failed to achieve. Oftentimes, our automatic thoughts are negative and irrational – sometimes not, but they can still be intrusive and unwanted. Identifying these negative automatic thoughts and replacing them with new rational thoughts can improve our mood and ability to get what we want. Research shows the fastest and most effective way of addressing this is with CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy). Ask your therapist about this valuable tool or in the Bay Area contact me.

Therapy can be useful to clarify, quantify and help achieve your goals. And get you on the path that’s right for you…

Sharon Valentino, CHT, LMFT, CATC IV  –   Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, MFC51746, Addictions, Life Transitions, Habits, Goals, Achievement, Substance Abuse and Relapse, Anxiety, Depression, Aging, Relationships, Major Life & Business Decisions, Website: http://www.valentinotherapy.com  –  3030 Bridgeway, Suite 108, Sausalito, CA94965

For help and information on a variety of helpful subjects visit:
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How Can Families Handle a Loved One’s Addiction?


How Can Families Handle a Loved One’s Addiction?Solemn, Pensive, Upset, Doubt, Depressed

So you’re ready for your loved one to get help for addiction, but he or she isn’t open to the idea. You’re not alone. Most addicts are unwilling patients. Usually, a life-altering event – such as a court order, divorce, loss of job, or hospitalization – pushes the addict into seeking treatment. There are ways that family and friends can help their loved one realize they need treatment before such devastating events occur.

From the Addict’s Point of View

The National Institute on Drug Abuse defines addiction as “a chronic, relapsing brain disease that is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences.” The addiction changes the structure of the brain and how it works, leaving addicts powerless and unable to make rational decisions and realize the severity of their disease. Addicts depend on drugs to function and make excuses to justify even their worst actions. Even in the face of losing a job, ruining relationships, and other negative consequences, addicts may still deny a problem exists and may resist treatment.

While the initial decision to try drugs or alcohol may be voluntary, when addiction takes over, the person’s ability to exercise self-control becomes significantly impaired. Through brain-imaging studies on addicts, experts have shown how drugs physically change the areas of the brain that are necessary for judgment, decision making, learning, memory, and behavior control.

From the Family’s Point of View

Addiction affects family and friends as much as it affects the addict. Family and friends may grow resentful of the addict or live in fear of the addict. Relationships with significant others and children are often in conflict. Many couples argue over money because the addict may lose his or her job, miss hours at work, make poor financial decisions, or spend a lot of money on drugs or alcohol.

Friends and family can suffer emotional trauma as the addict may yell, talk down to, insult, or manipulate them. Physical violence can occur in the household of an addict. Addicts may also engage in infidelity. All of these issues can lead to breakups, legal separation, or divorce.

How to Help

The first way to help your loved one is to get educated about addiction. Realize that addiction is a debilitating disease, and treat it as such. Educating yourself can help you provide support, patience, and understanding. Get support from groups or individual sessions with a mental health professional.

You can’t control your loved one’s behavior, but you can control how you react to the addiction and ensure you’re not enabling him or her. While you should certainly help your loved one in positive ways, such as looking for a job or choosing a treatment center, set clear boundaries around behaviors you deem unacceptable. For example, don’t allow him or her to hang around when they’re high or drunk. Likewise, don’t allow the addict to borrow money.

“Setting and enforcing boundaries not only allows loved ones to resume control of their lives, practice healthy detachment, and safeguard their own health and well-being but also helps the addict face the natural consequences of their actions,” says Psych Central. Staging an intervention works in many cases and can be a highly effective way to break through the addict’s denial and get him or her to agree to treatment.


Through intervention, friends and family get the addict’s attention and help their loved one understand the consequences of his or her destructive behavior before more serious consequences arise. A professional known as an interventionist helps to assess the situation, recommend treatment facilities and long-term aftercare plans, and ensure that the process remains productive and healing. There are specific steps that should be taken before, during, and after an intervention.

Your loved one may agree to receive treatment, but you and your family still need to seek professional help as well. Living with an addict can cause emotional trauma, especially in children, and as such, families of addicts should seek counseling. Each individual can attend counseling, or everyone can attend counseling as a family. When addiction recovery and therapy begin, the family can begin to heal and move toward a brighter, healthier, and happier future.

Guest author Adam Cook was happy to answer this important question.
Mr. Cook is the founder of Addiction Hub, which locates and catalogs addiction resources. He is interested in helping people find the necessary resources to save their lives from addiction. Adam’s mission is to provide people struggling with substance abuse with resources to help them recover.

Sharon Valentino, Psychotherapist, Behavioral Health
Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change.
Valentino Therapy
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (51746)
Serving individuals & couples in the San Francisco Bay Area
Psychotherapist, Registered Addiction Specialist, Certified Addiction Treatment Counselor, Masters Counseling Psychology,
Stress, Anxiety, Relationships, Depression, PTSD, Pain, Family & Couples Issues, Parenting Teens and Pre-Teens. Tech execs & engineers.
p: 415.215.5363
a: 3030 Bridgeway, Suite 108, Sausalito, CA 94965
w: http://www.valentinotherapy.com         e: sv@valentinotherapy.com

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The Relationship between Addiction and Therapy

I’m overwhelmed by stress and the only way I can relieve it is to medicate it with alcohol or pills. It is interfering with my relationship and job performance. I’m afraid my partner or boss is going to find out. Would therapy really help? June 2017

The Relationship between Addiction and Therapy

Stress is an inevitable yet normal part of life, especially in the fast-paced life surrounding the area of Marin County. In some way or the other, we all experience emotions or situations that trigger stress.

Nowadays, most jobs require employees to assume responsibilities that are difficult to manage. This juggling of varying responsibilities and multitasking to manage the workload; results in stress that is becoming increasingly difficult to handle. Stress can be comparatively mild, such as running late and being stuck in traffic. At other times, it is prolonged and much severe, like being an abused victim of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse.

While we all experience the strain of stress and the toll it can take on your body, we react and tackle it in different ways. Some handle it better than others; they find effective and sometimes, even constructive outlets, while others get overwhelmed and feel defeated. This inability to cope with constant and unrelenting stress, more often than not, leads to addiction of different substances, like alcohol and drugs.

Managing Stress

If you feel that your sustained stress patterns will lead to substance abuse or relapse; you can take positive steps to negate this urge. Perhaps the most effective way to manage stress is by making healthy and positive lifestyle changes and realizing when you might need the help of a mental health professional.

Look after your body

Most people who suffer from constant stress, depression, and other mental illnesses have one thing in common; lack of caring for one’s body. This is perhaps the most overlooked solution that applies to most, if not all cases. Eating a balanced healthy diet provides the necessary nutrients that your body needs to build a strong foundation for optimal emotional and physical well-being as well as strengthening your body’s inherent ability to cope with stressful situations. The same goes for maintaining an exercise routine, as exercising daily raises the level of endorphins in your body that makes you feel better and helps you in maintain and return to a positive mindset.

Identify your triggers

You can also learn to identify the specific triggers that your stress stems from. There are many types of stress triggers; for some, it can be certain types of situations, for others, it can even be another person. Triggers vary greatly from person to person and in most cases, are unique to every individual. The trick is to make lifestyle changes that minimize your contact with these triggers. It will help you in significantly reducing the stress as well as anxiety that cause problems and affect other aspects of your life.

However, if you are struggling with stress and suffering from alcohol or drug addiction, it is critical that you find professional help.

Addiction Therapy

Therapy is a necessary aspect of treating addiction, as it is a process of identifying the negative and irrational thought patterns that influence the behavior of a person that made him an addict. Targeting the origin of the problem is the key here.

There are many types of therapies used to treat addicts, like cognitive behavioral therapy, and family counseling to name a few. There are various types of approaches that a mental health professional can take, unique to each patient, to address the underlying issues and resolve them.

Therapy; a Requisite of Addiction Treatment

Addiction is more than the physical dependence on drugs. When the physical dependence on drugs is cured through the detoxing treatment, addicts remain at high risk for relapse. It’s not as much as the physical need than it is the psychological one. Lifestyle, the pertaining social factors, and the predicament a person is in; are perhaps the most powerful stimuli for drug abuse and/or relapse.

Such factors in most cases are always going to be there in one form or another. The ability to cope with them, however, can be improved upon; given a firm foundation, and after developing resilience towards future stressors. Therapies aid addicts so that they don’t think of drugs as a solution anymore, rather, as another problem.

While no method is ideal for everyone, there are methods that fit each addict in the best way. If you are a resident of Marin County and are suffering from the issues discussed above and looking for a way out, contact us, and we will tailor a treatment plan that is best suited to problems you are facing based on your unique needs.


Posted in Addiction, Stress


Valentino Therapy is now offering online e-mail counseling.

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Valentino Therapy is now offering online e-mail counseling for your convenience

By Sharon Valentino, CA LMFT #51746, Marriage and Family Therapist

What’s in it for you or those you feel may benefit?  August 2017           


  •  Convenience. With e-mail counseling you compose your thoughts anytime, anywhere you want on your computer, tablet or mobile device. This can be especially effective for those who may be challenged to verbalize quickly or who like to think a bit before they speak.
  •  Online therapy is very convenient and affordable.
  •  Most people recognize the many documented benefits of journaling and that writing, itself, is a powerful form of therapy. Others say it is how they keep themselves mentally healthy and resilient.
  •  Online, or e-mail, therapy’s aim is to be therapeutic writing wherein you collect your thoughts and feelings unhampered by a clock about to indicate your in-person session is at an end.
  • Writers can clarify (especially to themselves) their feelings, situation and thoughts during their own quiet time.
  • The art of writing, ideally including rereading and rewriting a bit before sending (on the part of the client and the therapist), increases objectivity in a natural way by externalizing and re-framing the feelings and issues. This encourages deeper understanding of situations without being overtaken by them, as they can seem to encompass, or at least affect, your life in so many areas. Even before the therapist responds, you often see the situation a bit differently and start the process of helping to heal, or center, yourself.
  •  You are able to get away from distractions to practice important self-care doing something just for you. You can find a favorite place, get comfortable with music or a beverage, even go outside in nature – whatever calms you and gives you moments in solitude.
  • Research shows that writing during disturbing times, or change, is particularly useful.
  • Therapist insight and interventions may be very effective due to the ability for you to read and re-read messages, plus you have a record to review, perhaps more accurate than your memory of a session, that allows you to track your own progress over time.
  • The experience of therapeutic writing can encourage clients to express themselves more thoughtfully and precisely in their daily lives as well.
  •  In today’s society many have difficulty scheduling in-office visits due to conflicting schedules – the therapist is already booked at the time most convenient to you, travel considerations (distance, bridge tolls, parking, gas, travel time, time away from work), or child-care obligations, professional travel, and those simply too busy to fit regular therapy sessions into their busy lives, health, disability or limited mobility issues, time restrictions or cost.
  • E-mail, or online therapy (e-therapy), may be useful for persons seeking support and insight at the client’s total convenience, making a specific time and place unnecessary.
  • Some people prefer to express themselves in solitude via writing and can be side tracked in a clinical office setting, or find that they say far more – and more to the point – in thoughtful writing rather than in session.
  • You can expect unconditional positive regard and respect for you and your unique life circumstances (even if being encouraged to improve them), compassion and understanding clinical strategies, interventions, methods and insight to institute a process of improvement or healing from a highly trained, experienced clinician.


  • Privacy is provided via We Counsel’s portal for the therapeutic industry, which they contend surpasses industry encryption and HIPPA standards via your own private access portal – NOT regular e-mail. Regardless of encryption protection, privacy can never be guaranteed in today’s society and clients must take care not to compromise theirs by their careless actions (leaving a mobile device on unattended during a writing session, passwords out, etc.).
  • While privacy, safeguards, password protections – security is a challenge all therapists deal with, the client is responsible on their end to safeguard their own private messages to and from the therapist so that no one may access their information on the client’s end. You do not give your private portal encryption passwords to anyone or allow them to be accessed by seeing your phone, address book, etc.
  • There is no chance of running into anyone at your therapist’s office building when you are meeting your therapist online.


  • Simply put, online or e-mail therapy is not for everyone. It does not take the place of an office visit where face-to-face reactions, non-verbal messages and body language can be accessed in conjunction with dialogue.
  • Clients must be able to express their thoughts and feelings clearly, and to interpret messages carefully, with a willingness to ‘give the benefit of the doubt’ when humor or the intended meanings miss the mark.  Humor is often lost or misinterpreted via e-mail exchanges.
  • E-mail therapy is not for emergencies, not for people having suicidal thoughts, domestic or other violence, serious-severe substance abuse or a variety of other difficult diagnoses and issues. There are many situations and problems that are not suitable for my e-practice, among them: schizophrenia, borderline personality disorder, some types of depression, crisis interventions for substance abuse, people who need medications coordinated with local physicians, those who cut or are suicidal, persons who like to rant instead of solve, people in crisis, and many others conditions that need to be considered on a case by case as there are clinical limitations. Each person’s situation will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis to determine if it is suitable for this milieu and this clinician.
  • E-mail therapy is not as good as in-person as the instant reactions and positive non-verbal affirmations are not present.
  • Not everyone likes the process of writing. Some people are more verbally inclined, so online e-mail therapy is not for those who are “talkers” and need to verbalize their thoughts and experiences in order to work them out.
  • Major studies and research claim online counseling is as effective as in-office, but it is doubtful that is true for everyone.
  • A potential drawback of online counseling is the inability for instant, spontaneous clarification. Clients lose the visual and verbal cues which would reassure them, or correct, misunderstandings that occur in all communications, whether in person or online.
  • Diagnosis and help is only as good as the complete, honest information shared by the client – although this is an issue in face-to-face therapy also.
  • Therapists cannot respond to crisis situations. Online therapy is not appropriate for those with serious psychiatric illnesses. The scope of the help provided can be limited.


  • Online e-mail therapy is a bargain compared to weekly in-person sessions, gas, parking, childcare, bridge tolls, etc. Please go to www.valentinotherapy.com for the current fee per week for one hour of a Licensed California Marriage and Family Therapist’s time to read, respond and counsel based on your messages to the therapist.
  •  This service is available only to California residents (licensing requirements), meaning those you earn CA income, file CA taxes, live here in CA, etc.
  • You will be asked to complete an Intake Information Form and an Informed Consent Agreement for Online E-Mail Counseling before any sessions may commence. This is to be sure that your concerns appear to be a good fit for this medium and to save you time and money in case they are not.
  • We Counsel collects the money on its site from you and forwards to the therapist periodically. Your financial interactions are strictly with their website, not wasting clinical time.
  • Most insurance companies do not cover online therapy, though some are starting to. If your insurance does, it is up to you to turn in for reimbursement, though any information or diagnosis they ask for will be provided for your use.
  • If you want to take advantage of online e-mail counseling, send your name and e-mail address to: sv@valentinotherapy.com and you will receive and invitation and instructions as to how to access the encryption portal.
  • VISIT: other pages here at http://www.valentinotherapy.com for more information about the clinician.

Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change.
Sharon Valentino
Valentino Therapy, CA LMFT, MA, ChT, Psychotherapist
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (51746)
E: sv@valentinotherapy.com
Web: http://www.valentinotherapy.com
ASK THIS THERAPIST BLOG: https://askthistherapist.wordpress.com
Facebook: http://facebook.com/valentinotherapy
Blog: https://valentinotherapy.wordpress.com
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/valentinotx/valentino-therapy/
3030 Bridgeway, Suite 108, Sausalito, CA 94965
Serving individuals & couples in the San Francisco Bay Area
Psychotherapist, Registered Addiction Specialist, Certified Addiction Treatment Counselor, Masters Counseling Psychology, Stress, Anxiety, Relationships, Depression, PTSD, Pain, Family & Couples

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Grief and Loss – The Difficulty of Moving On

Ask This Therapist: Grief and Loss – The Difficulty of Moving On

I can’t get over the loss of my marriage. I think about it all the time, even obsessing about what was good and glossing over the bad. How do I move on? August 2017

 I’m sorry you are in such pain. Not being able to move smoothly through the natural stages of Grief and Loss can keep you stuck and encourage obsessive thoughts. This is a topic that others have asked about frequently throughout my years of practice and, although it is a common problem, know that you are not unusual in this reaction.
Perhaps this will help you.

The 5 Stages of Grief and Loss
No one escapes dealing with these all throughout our lives. The way we can negotiate them greatly affects our happiness and mental health.
The need for closure (mourning) can be felt with an unexpected job loss, the shock of being told you are very ill or have a disease, the break up of a relationship or friendship, being ostracized from your group, the death of a person, animal or a deeply held dream.
The 5 stages of normal grief that were first defined by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in 1969 in her book “On Death and Dying,” which is still widely used today to help people understand how to come to terms with an ending, which often makes us ponder our own value and our own end.
The 5 Stages she wrote of are often experienced in this order, but do not have to be, as each of us is unique.

  1. Denial and Isolation – This is a normal human reaction to shock. The body and mind tries to protect us from the full force of the event for a bit.
  2. Anger – As going inward and isolation can only last so long in its usefulness, the pain is redirected as anger – even at the person that causes us this pain – (causing us guilt that we could feel that way). However, it is often directed at others, doctors, caregivers, family members, even strangers and sometimes in road rage or general irritability.
  3. Bargaining – A natural attempt, if futile, to gain a sense of control over the finality of the inevitable. We often turn to God to change the outcome and this is our cry for help and protection from what we find too painful to face directly and alone.
  4. Depression – We feel sadness, of course, but often regret and self-recrimination, financial burdens may affect some of us as a result of the loss, others may expect us to “get on with it” and a deep sense of permanent loss can stall some from being able to say good bye and move forward holding the positive memories tightly intact. If this Stage lingers, it is important to get help from a professional as soon as possible.
  5. Acceptance – Many have trouble getting to this Stage successfully. If you do, you may feel still a bit apart from others for a time but calmer – certainly not happy, but at peace with the loss of the relationship and approaching the celebration of it in your memories of what made you who you are.

Though each person’s journey through grief is unique only to them, and the time frame always varies between individuals, it is critical to get clinical help if you are struggling.
You don’t have to go it alone.
Therapy can help many.

Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change.
Sharon Valentino, Valentino Therapy, CA LMFT, MA, ChT, Psychotherapist
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (51746)
E: sv@valentinotherapy.com
Web: http://www.valentinotherapy.com
ASK THIS THERAPIST BLOG: https://askthistherapist.wordpress.com
Facebook: http://facebook.com/valentinotherapy
Primary Blog: https://valentinotherapy.wordpress.com
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/valentinotx/valentino-therapy/
3030 Bridgeway, Suite 108, Sausalito, CA 94965
Serving individuals & couples in the San Francisco Bay Area
Psychotherapist, Registered Addiction Specialist, Certified Addiction Treatment Counselor, Masters Counseling Psychology, Stress, Anxiety, Relationships, Depression, PTSD, Pain, Family & Couples Issues

This page allows questions to be proposed by sending them to sv@valentinotherapy.com and putting “Ask This Therapist” in the heading.
If questions are short, serious and can be readily answered if good faith, they will be posted here as time allows.
Please understand that only 1, or perhaps 2 questions,  can be answered per week and only those that seem appropriate and that time permits.
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Self Check For Self-Esteem

My closest friends have said lately that I have no self-esteem. I don’t agree. Are they just trying to hurt my feelings or undermine my confidence? Or how can I tell if they are correct? July 2017

Thanks for writing. It is not too hard for you to decide for yourself, at least initially, with the self-check, below. However, don’t discount what your friends are saying since you note that they are close to you. Maybe they are trying to help you. You are wise to consider this and to keep an open mind about it. Ask them to be specific and give you examples to think about.
Nearly everyone will agree that good self-esteem is a valuable attribute, probably necessary for success. But, can they define it? Can your friends tell you reliably how to get it?
What is self-esteem?
The pertinent questions are: What do you really think of yourself? How strong is your confidence in yourself? How do you judge the overall value of your worth as a person? Is it negatively? Do you compare yourself to others and believe you are lacking? Is your path in life heading where you want to go with relative ease and confidence?
People with poor self-esteem generally suffer from moderate to severe lack of confidence in their ability to interact successfully in social situations and in personal ones as well, causing them to feel inadequate and, often, chronically unhappy or anxious.
So, do you really suffer from low self-esteem?
It’s very important to first note that serious issues with self-esteem should be assessed by a licensed clinician who is educated, trained and experienced with treating matters that damage the quality of life you are able to enjoy and your relationships.

Here is a listing of some of the symptoms that are common to low self-esteem sufferers. You can review, and check those you feel pertinent, to determine how many you feel are an issue for you so that you can discuss these with your therapist to see if self-esteem is the problem, or if, perhaps, it’s something else.
First, ask:
Do people tend to take advantage of you?
Are you reluctant to speak up when this happens?

o Inability to assert oneself
o Lack of confidence in a variety of situations
o Relationship problems
o Self-neglect, lack of hygiene or failure to dress nicely which lower self-esteem further
o Inability to accept compliments and just simply say, “Thank you.”
o Employment difficulties, lack of promotion or appreciation of your contributions
o Depression, teary affect, less enjoyment in activities you used to look forward to
o Health issues related to self-esteem, lack of self-care and more serious health concerns
o Anxiety, perhaps using drugs, food or sex to change what you are feeling for a while
o Failure to accept challenges or new situations/people if possible
o Difficulty making decisions or sticking with them once decided upon
Personality Disorders can be more worrisome with low self-esteem
o Dependent behaviors may occur when you don’t feel your decisions or ideas are worthy
o Blaming others when your self-worth will not allow criticism to lower opinion further
o Bravado, outbursts of anger or silence to hide fear and stop the conversation
o Lack of accurate assessment of looks and body (body image distortion)
o Isolate or behave in ways causing friends to label you a “flake” for not showing up
o Inability to speak up for yourself or give opinions successfully
o Generally critical of others, suspicious or overly negative and pessimistic
o Unable or afraid to ask for what you really want
o Not expecting good things or a good life will be yours
o Criticizing (silently) others as not really being “good” so you feel better about yourself
Other symptomatology:
– Some people suffering from low self-esteem can find it very difficult to accept criticism and can become defensive, sometimes dramatically so. This can cause them not to listen openly or accurately, and to shut out helpful comments, which be very problematic for employment success and close relationships.
– People with low self-esteem often tend to accept difficult people as lovers and friends (criticizers, narcissists, borderline personalities, people who take advantage) when others would not accept those persons’ difficult behaviors.
– People suffering with self-esteem issues may retreat from social activities because they seem so stressful.
– It common to see people with low self-esteem go along with activities they don’t enjoy, even dangerous ones such as drinking while driving, drugs, partying, sex and many more that they would not pursue on their own but are afraid to be left out, lose friends, or dates, if they don’t go along to get along.
-In my practice, I often find that persons with addiction issues, chemical dependency, self-medicating and eating disorders predictably suffer from low self-esteem.
Help is available.
Low self-esteem can be treated by a variety of modalities. Common ones used are Solution Focused, CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy), DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy), REBT (Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy), Family or Couples Counseling, and sometimes Anger Management, via Holistic means, Spirituality and more.
At Valentino Therapy in Sausalito, CA, I serve individuals from throughout the San Francisco Bay Area with the therapy modality, or mixture, that best serves your personality and needs.
Success, solutions, and sensitivity are critical.
You will be treated with unconditional positive regard, which may have been missing repeatedly from early life experiences or you might not be feeling the need to be reading this information.
Life can be better. You don’t have to feel anxious, inadequate or not good enough. Get help and get on with your own path towards a good life.
Call or e-mail me, or someone in your area, today for an appointment for support and assistance to get what you want and need.

Sharon Valentino, Valentino Therapy, CA LMFT, MA, ChT, Psychotherapist      

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (51746)                                                 Photo Campaign 2_edited
E: sv@valentinotherapy.com
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Serving individuals & couples in the San Francisco Bay Area
CA Psychotherapist, Registered Addiction Specialist, Certified Addiction Treatment Counselor, Masters Counseling Psychology, Stress, Anxiety, Relationships, Depression, PTSD, Pain, Family & Couples Issues
This page allows questions to be proposed by sending them to sv@valentinotherapy.com and putting “Ask This Therapist” in the heading.
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