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 triggers stress.

Nowadays, most jobs require employees to assume responsibilities that are difficult to manage. This juggling of varying responsibilities and multitasking to manage the work load; 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 returning to a positive mind set.

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 from 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.

 

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Posted in Addiction, Stress

ONLINE THERAPY NOW AFFORADABLE AND AVAILABLE!

Valentino Therapy is now offering online e-mail counseling.

E-mail Online Therapy –  phpThumb_generated_thumbnail

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           

BENEFITS.

  •  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

  • 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.

DISADVANTAGES? Of Course.

  • 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.

FEES

  • 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
415.215.5363
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
415.215.5363
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

ASK THIS THERAPIST
ALL RIGHTS ARE RESERVED AND NO CONTENTS MAY BE COPIED WITHOUT PRIOR PERMISSION, Trademark US Serial Number 86414982
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, good 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
Web: www.valentinotherapy.com
Facebook: http://facebook.com/valentinotherapy
Therapy Blog: http://valentinotherapy.wordpress.com
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/valentinotx/valentino-therapy/
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
ASK THIS THERAPIST
ALL RIGHTS ARE RESERVED AND NO CONTENTS MAY BE COPIED WITHOUT PRIOR PERMISSION, Trademark US Serial Number 86414982
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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How To Get Motivated!

Where Does Motivation Come From?    shutterstock_141144724-300x230-1

How to Get Motivation!

   Question: How do I get motivated?    July 2017

It’s tough when you need to do something, you’d like to do but you lack the motivation. We’ve all been there, but where do you find it when you must lose weight for health and happiness, when the work must get done, when addiction must be beaten, when depression will overtake you, if you don’t overtake it, and on and on?
You can’t buy or force motivation, you can’t magically find it but you can nurture and build it fairly dependably. You can build motivation.
Since the need to find motivation occurs throughout our lives at various times, it is important to have tools for success, or else depression and negative self talk can set in and make needs, happiness and goals even harder to achieve.
According to my dictionary, motivation is “the act or process of giving someone a reason to do something, or it is the condition of being eager to do some type of work”.
Motivation can be generated through fear of loss, desire for gain, by habit or by looking clinically at the five major Theories of Motivation attempt to explain why we make the decisions we make to do the things we do (or not). They are:
Instinct (biology & our innate knowledge of what to do to survive)
Drive Reduction Theory (behaviors to reduce tension)
Arousal Theory (need for an interesting, but moderate state of emotional, intellectual, and physical activity)
Psychoanalytic Theory (all actions are to promote survival or prevent our destruction) Humanistic Theory (including Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Theory)
Please note that: Maslow’s hierarchy of needs was as follows, with the most basic (critical) needs on the bottom of his pyramid chart, which many of you are familiar with:
Self-actualization
Aesthetic Need
Need to Know (education, mastery)
Self -Worth
Love and Belonging
Safety
Physiological
Maslow said that psychological, safety, love and belonging, and self-worth fell into “deficiency needs” and if you met those then motivation is decreased. For example if you were cold, but got warm, you are no longer motivated to deal with that. HOWEVER, he also felt that the remainder, the “growth needs” actually increased motivation once they were met.
I’m guessing most people don’t want to understand the theories clinicians work with and just want help, or rather motivation, right now. You want practical tools. Start with some of these ideas:

  • – Do you say you aren’t motivated because the issue is something you think you should want? But you don’t want to put the effort in to achieve it? If this is the case, look around at the things you are doing often, or even daily, and think about why you are doing those? They can’t all be fun. Some you just do because they need to be done. The same motivation you use without thinking much about it can be applied to other things that need to be done or achieved. We are motivated daily to do mainly things without even thinking about, often quite small things that add up to a lot. Examine also the things you are passionate about and how nothing can stop you from doing, achieving or enjoying them. Therein lies wisdom and help for your motivation right now.
  • – Is your life and time cluttered with a lot of things that aren’t really necessary? Things that waste a lot of time or are not enjoyable? Are you trying to do too much? If this is the case you know what to do. Don’t let your life, needs and goals slip away without living mindfully, with too much going on.
  • – Do you not have enough going on? Does your life mean anything? Are you helping others? Paying rent for the space you take up of this earth? The fastest way to build self-esteem is to commit estimable acts – for others and for you.
  • – Give yourself only one goal at a time – otherwise you are setting yourself up for failure.
  • – Define your goal clearly and in detail.
  • -Write your goal down somewhere in long hand. Then post your goal where you can see it often (type written is fine) in as many places as you feel comfortable with (think refrigerator, screen saver, journal, Post Its in the car, bathroom mirror, etc.). Doodle your goal, paint or draw your goal – these are more powerful actions than you may think.
  • -Tell as many people as is appropriate what your goal is and you will get support, even if it is being reminded that behavior you are engaging in is not compatible with your goal. No one likes to be a failure in front of friends, family or colleagues. That’s motivation right there. It’s hard to give up when others are aware of your goal, inquiring as to your progress and encouraging you.
  • – Start small and build on your small successes. Celebrate them. They build, becoming bigger and easier as you go along. There’s no need to sabotage yourself with huge, grandiose goals that are just too daunting to begin with. You don’t need to climb Mt. Everest, just start with the foothills and you will get as high as you want to go as you build strength, courage and the fortitude that comes with just showing up and doing what needs to be done. If you need to exercise, start with 10 or 20 minutes and stop while it is still comfortable and manageable. You can do more tomorrow if you choose.
  • – Get yourself some support. This is critical. In today’s society most of us don’t have enough support. Many don’t have any support, really. Research shows that heroin addicted soldiers coming back from our recent wars were able to kick the habit most readily, and in remarkable numbers, if they had a solid support system when they came home. Those without family, or who had worn out their family’s ability to cope, connected with NA, AA or other groups and quickly were able to access strong support systems. Those with little or no support suffer very poor outcomes. Each of us is no different. Get support. Develop help for yourself. Ask a friend with a goal to give support to and receive it in return, or find a clinician – in your immediate world or online or in a local group or online group.
  • – Daily reminders are essential and need to be literally everywhere. Post pictures of people achieving your goal, or maybe use photos of yourself at a previous weight, sport or activity.
  • – Be ready to renew yourself and your enthusiasm daily. Read articles or go online for even 5 minutes of daily inspiration, read success stories. I like motivation quotes, Zen Habits online, Ted Talks, reading and especially numerous free, online meditations but there are endless sources at the touch of your finger to suit your own tastes.
  • – Stop the negative self-talk and criticism. Whenever you realize you are having unhelpful thoughts, immediately imagine a bright red STOP sign and shout STOP as loud as you can. This should give you a few seconds of short-circuited time to substitute a more productive thought in its place. Have one or two ready so that you are well prepared. If you are around others, you will have to shout STOP silently in your own private mind and space. You may have to do this several times a day at first, but I promise it will help.
  • – Mix up your old routines that may help de-motivate or drag you down – this includes non-supportive people or places that encourage forgetting your goal.
  • – There will be good and bad days. Motivation will vary, just as your moods and energy levels do. It may even go away for a bit but it will come back if you have support, so discuss it and stick it out. Get help. Talk. Laugh at yourself and stick with it. If you fall, get back up. You don’t go to get gas for your car, turn around and leave without it. You do what is necessary to get what you want or need. You just do it.
  • – Think of the benefits, not the difficulties. Stop whining. Don’t expect perfection. Just require more of yourself – simply that you keep going forward.
  • – This may sound harsh but: Choose to show up. We are hard-wired not to disappoint or let others down. Be accountable to yourself, of course, but being accountable to a dieting buddy, a gym pal, a sobriety sponsor, the friends you tell about your goal…this makes the difference between just telling yourself you’ll do it tomorrow and showing up today. Each time you show up you increase your own self-esteem, pride, joy…and you’re your motivation.
  • – Keep both the reward and the celebration in mind. Life, health, energy and love are yours to enjoy and celebrate. Be kind to yourself. You can achieve your goal.

Clearly, it isn’t possible to explain each theory or list each item that can help you to gain and maintain your motivation, but I do hope these help you.

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

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (51746)                                                 Photo Campaign 2_edited
E: sv@valentinotherapy.com
Web: www.valentinotherapy.com
Facebook: http://facebook.com/valentinotherapy
Therapy Blog: http://valentinotherapy.wordpress.com
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/valentinotx/valentino-therapy/
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
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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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Can’t Get Over a Breakup?

Have You Ever Struggled to Get Over a Breakup?

Hello. My girlfriend broke up with me a month ago and I am having a lot of trouble getting over her and not having intrusive thoughts upset me throughout the day and evening. Do you have any suggestions?   June 2017    stops                  

You are describing a disturbing effect of a break up that many of us have gone through. It isn’t fun and can get out of hand if you don’t take action to stop it.
There are more steps that may help you than I can list here, but why don’t you start with these two and see if healing can at least begin for you?
The first thing I’d suggest is to remove physical reminders of her from your home and sight, including screen savers, etc. Though it may be tempting to keep reminders around you—such as gifts, pics, mementos, social-media messages, jointly purchased items from a trip or just shopping – these much too frequently remind you of what is lost. It if is too painful to get rid of them altogether right now, then place them all in storage outside of your immediate home environs, if possible. In short, make it hard to get at them and take them out. Now is not the time. Later on…maybe. But they can keep the hurt open and prevent you from getting over this and moving on as quickly as you need to.
The second thing I’d offer to help you right now is: Whenever you realize you are having unhelpful thoughts about your former lover, immediately image a bright red STOP sign and shout STOP as loud as you can. This should give you a few seconds of short-circuited time to substitute a more productive thought in its place. Have one or two ready so that you are well prepared. If you are around others, you will have to shout STOP silently in your own private mind and space. You may have to do this several times a day at first, but I promise it will help.
I hope you find these two action items useful. Good luck. You will be told this because it’s true – time will help.
Sharon Valentino, Valentino Therapy, CA LMFT, MA, ChT, Psychotherapist      

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (51746)                                                 Photo Campaign 2_edited
E: sv@valentinotherapy.com
Web: www.valentinotherapy.com
Facebook: http://facebook.com/valentinotherapy
Therapy Blog: http://valentinotherapy.wordpress.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
ASK THIS THERAPIST
ALL RIGHTS ARE RESERVED AND NO CONTENTS MAY BE COPIED WITHOUT PRIOR PERMISSION, Trademark US Serial Number 86414982
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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Sister’s Erratic Behavior Frightening and Confusing

Sister’s erratic Behavior Frightening and Confusing

My sister is older than me by 10 years, so there’s always been a big age/interests difference. She 36 now. Since her late teens she’s wanted badly to be included in all family activities and becomes extremely angry and verbally abusive when there is something that doesn’t include her. (We are a family of divorce, with re-marriages, new family groupings and my marriage into a very large family with frequent gatherings.) When I agree to see her, she often cancels at the last-minute, which is annoying and has gone on for years though she can’t seem to admit this. When I tell her I’m too busy, she flies into a rage, accuses our father of “bad mouthing” her to me and accuses us of drama. She has been the only source of constant drama in our extended families for years plus she has abused drugs on and off and has threatened suicide every few years. I love my sister, but don’t know how to deal with her or the vicious messages she sends and I’m becoming a little afraid of what she might do in her rages to me or another family member. Any advice? June 2017

You are in a tough situation with a beloved relative, so my first advice is to take care of yourself and your equilibrium in these circumstances. Try not to let the stress and worry affect your health, safety or your own relationships.
My second advice is to try, hard as it may be, to find compassion – as she sounds like a very unhappy person who, likely, dwells on feelings of exclusion, being forgotten or being left out – shunned without just cause.
It is impossible to diagnose someone in this milieu but you are describing a person that may be exhibiting some symptomatology of Borderline Personality Disorder.
If that were the case, she would probably be showing impulsivity, wildly changeable moods, difficulty maintaining relationships and self-image.
You usually see this come to the attention of family and friends when the person has at least reached early adulthood. Sufferers have intense fear of abandonment and show extreme, inappropriate anger and irritability, which families find difficult to understand. People with BPD often describe the people in their lives as so wonderful or so horrible, alternating between highly valuing them and great disappointment and anger. They sometimes practice self-harm, exhibit suicidal behavior or threats, and substance abuse is often present, as they turn to substances to dull their inner turmoil.
Unfortunately, no matter how much time, help and money the family gives them, it is likely never to be enough – because they were unjustly excluded in their minds and they often dwell on this incessantly. While most people feel quite hurt and angry at feeling left out, the BPD sufferer truly feels these much more intensely, and often for longer than you would. It’s a sad way to live and to feel.
If a person receives a full diagnosis of BPD, psychotherapy can help using CBT or DBT but currently I know of no meds that are “officially approved” to treat this debilitating disorder. Some psychiatrists will use a variety of meds to address the patient’s complaints and turmoil and there’s some research showing that Omega 3 fatty acids may help calm aggression and depression. Clearly a BPD sufferer needs to be in therapy and under medical care to cope successfully in life. They need understanding too.
What can you do?
Family members often benefit from therapy, as the challenges of dealing with an ill relative that you love can be very stressful and family members may unknowingly act in ways that worsen their relative’s symptoms.
I always urge SAFETY FIRST, so if you are feeling a bit frightened either stay away until your sister calms down or only meet in the presence of another person.
You can urge her to get help if you find a time she might be open to it, or try to alert her physician, sponsor, minister or parents to the benefit of suggesting help.
If your sister is abusing drugs currently, then that needs to be named and help suggested at once. Having said that, she is an adult and you cannot force her to seek or accept help.
Try to remain calm, compassionate and understanding but you don’t have to play into drama or verbal abuse – nor respond to it. Just try, if you can, not to block this person from your life entirely because it sounds like she does need help.
I hope you find this information to be useful. Best wishes.

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

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (51746)                                                 Photo Campaign 2_edited
E: sv@valentinotherapy.com
Web: www.valentinotherapy.com
Facebook: http://facebook.com/valentinotherapy
Therapy Blog: http://valentinotherapy.wordpress.com
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/valentinotx/valentino-therapy/
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
ASK THIS THERAPIST
ALL RIGHTS ARE RESERVED AND NO CONTENTS MAY BE COPIED WITHOUT PRIOR PERMISSION, Trademark US Serial Number 86414982
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.
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment