Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Making Time for the Important Things

If your family is anything like mine, everyone is constantly going in different directions, whether it be for work, sports, after school activities, whatever. Do you ever feel like you and your partner are more like roommates than in a relationship with one another? Do you ever feel like you have no idea what your child is talking about? In today's go-go-go world we can easily get caught up in the day-to-day activities of life, and before we notice, there has been strain or distance in our relationships. Just like our friendships and business relationships, our family relationships need attention and nurturing too.

Here are some tips to help improve family communication and strengthen your family relationships.

1. Set up specific days/times to spend with one another. Adults establish a date night where the two of you can have some quality time to yourselves (and date night does not have to involve going out and spending a ton of money, it can be cooking at home together). Families, set-up a weekly family game night, or weekly outing.

2. Unplug. This is becoming a re-occurring theme in my blogs, but it is very important. Between our TVs, computers/Internet/Facebook, phones, and video games how often are none of those items in use in your home? If you are like me, rarely. I have seen two children sitting in the same room texting each other rather than talking to one another. Set aside time for the family to put down their electronics and enjoy that time together (this includes no answering the phone if it rings - parents included).

3. One good time to unplug is during meals. Use that time together to talk with your children/partner, find out about their day, see what new things are going on in their lives, and what upcoming events are coming.

4. Create rituals with one another. Parents do you have a bed time routine for your children? What role do you play in that routine? Do you talk 10-15 minutes and read to them? Do you sing them a lullaby? What about on special occasions, what takes place? I have a friend whose family, anytime there was a special event, that person got to eat dinner off of a special designated celebration plate. That is something that friend cherishes to this day.

5. Last but definitely not least, listen, talk with them, and be there. Your child may run on about this girl said this, or that boy did that, and while it may not be important to you, it is to your child, listen, be interested. The something for adults, while what happens at your partner's office may sound insignificant to you, it might be really important to them, show them that what is important to them, is important to you too. Be approachable for your partner or children to be able to talk to you when they need you, remember, actions speak louder than words.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Graduation Transition Tips

Graduation can be an exciting time for college students. However, with the economy looking more like a rollercoaster and less like smooth sailing, it is understandable that many graduates may be anxious about starting their life in "the real world".The American Psychological Association offers tips to reduce graduation anxiety and start off on a positive note:

1) Focus on the Positive-you are armed with an education and energy, two tools that will help you chart your new course.
2) Stay Connected-keep in touch with the support system you developed in college with students and professors for guidance to navegate the confusing post-college world.
3)Look for Opportunities-Look for ways to enhance your existing interests and knowledge about a particular subject.
4)Take Action-If your goal is to get a job, take decisive steps to reach that goal by refining your resume, send applications and network with people.
5) Be Resilient-Resiliance is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity. This is an important skill to learn when facing the ups and downs of life after college.

If you or someone you know have intense feelings of anxiety, hopelessness or trouble getting off the couch and engaging in your daily activities, contact us at Central Florida Mental Health Associates 386-624-5501 to schedule a free 15 minute consultation to help you develop a strategy to move forward.

To read the entire article, visit

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Individual Therapy

Individual therapy will involve one on one work with a therapist. Client and therapist will collaborate and develop a very unique relationship that will facilitate in-depth exploration of her relationships, feelings and values, behaviors, thoughts, and a better understanding of her problems. Once this has occurred, the therapist will assist the client in making choices, and in implementing the necessary changes in thoughts, affect, and behavior.

Individual therapy can also help the client when an important professional or personal decision needs to be made by helping her explore the situation more objectively and rationale, identifying what is in and out of her control, and by helping her conceptualize the decision in such a way that it is more manageable and requires much less emotional energy.

Individual therapy can also be utilized to augment psychopharmacological therapies. Under these circumstances, the therapist will provide the above mentioned services as well as monitoring your compliance with the medication, and contacting your physician to collect and/or disclose(*only with client’s written authorization) the necessary information to enhance the care.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Who Breathes First?

Have you ever been on a plane? Do you remember as you taxi down the runway the flight attendant's safety explanation? They let you know where the emergency exits are, inform you that your seats can be used as a floatation device, discuss the seat belts, and tell you that should the cabin loss pressure an oxygen mask will fall and instruct you on how to put it on. Now I want you to envision that you are sitting in the middle between two of the most important people in your life, who, for whatever reason are unable to use their hands...say they both have two broken hands. As you are flying to your destination, the plane hits turbulence, the cabin loses pressure and the oxygen masks fall. Who do you place the oxygen mask on first? Tough question? The answer is yourself. If you are unable to breathe, you will be unable to assist the people sitting on either side of you.

I have retold this scenario today, as I have been reminded about the importance of personal self-care in our daily lives. On occasion, I know that I, personally, have gotten so involved in something or so wrapped up trying to get things done, that I have been lax in my own personal self care. This scenario reminds us of how important taking care of yourself is. In the story, if you are so worried about the people sitting next to you that you attempt to place the oxygen mask on them first, then you might pass out due to lack of oxygen, and then who will assist them? This is true in our daily lives, when we get so wrapped up in everything outside of ourselves and we don't take the time out to care for ourselves, we can begin to feel frustrated, run down, depressed, possibly irritable or moody. This is not to say don't do things for other people, it is simply to remind us to make sure we take care of our needs so that we are able to be there for others.

There are a number of things you can engage in, in order to take care of yourself. Engage in a hobby, take a bubble bath, exercise, whatever it is, make sure it is something that you enjoy that is not stress producing. Remember if you are running on empty it won't be long before you will run out of gas, let alone be unable to help those around you. A little bit of "you time" daily or weekly will go a long way in filling up your tank (soul).

Monday, June 21, 2010

Identifying signs of stress in children and teens

Young people, like adults, experience stress. It can come from a variety of sources including school, friends, family or managing perceived expectations from parents, teachers or coaches. Adults can sometimes be unaware when their children or teens are experiencing overwhelming feelings of stress. Tuning into behavioral and emotional cues is important in identifying potential problems and working with your young person to provide guidance and support to successfully work through difficult times. Here are some tips from the American Psychological Association on ways to recognize possible signs of stress:

-Watch for negative changes in behavior such as acting irritable or moody, withdrawn, worried, sleeping to much or too little, and crying.

-Understand that "feeling sick" may be caused by stress.

-Be aware of how your child or teen interacts with others.

-Listen and translate. Children may not be familiar with the word stress, they may use words such as confused, angry, annoyed and worried.

-Seek support. Mental health professionals are trained to help parents and children identify problems and develop effective strategies to resolve overwhelming feelings of stress.

To read the complete article, visit

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Therapy and Depression Part One

“Depression affects approximately 15 million American adults, or about 7 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year” Archives of General Psychiatry
We all feel sad and down from time to time. But how do we know when our sadness is more than just a normal reaction to life’s stressors? The answer depends on the following:

1. How long have your symptoms been present?
2. Are you feeling hopeless or helpless?
3. Are you not participating in things you used to enjoy to do?
4. Are you having trouble falling and/or staying asleep, or sleeping too much?
5. Are you feeling tired all the time?
6. Are you having a hard time focusing or concentrating?
7. Are you experiencing recurrent thoughts of death or suicide?

Depression can encapsulate us negativity, contaminating our thoughts, behaviors, moods and environment. Depression is like a black cloud that follows us around not allowing us to see the light. Depression only encourages us to think and act in ways that encourage further despair. Here are some common ways depression can affect our thinking and perpetuate our sadness:

You see things in black and white categories. If your performance falls short of perfect, you see yourself as a total failure.

You see a single negative event as a never-ending pattern of defeat.

You pick out a single negative detail and dwell on it exclusively so that your vision of all reality becomes darkened, like the drop of ink that discolors the entire beaker of water.

You reject positive experiences by insisting they "don't count" for some reason or another. In this way you can maintain a negative belief that is contradicted by your everyday experiences.

You make a negative interpretation even though there are no definite facts that convincingly support your conclusion.
Mind Reading: You arbitrarily conclude that someone is reacting negatively to you, and you don't bother to check this out.
The Fortune Teller Error: You anticipate that things will turn out badly, and you feel convinced that your prediction is an already established fact.

You exaggerate the importance of things (such as your goof-up or someone else's achievement) or you inappropriately shrink things until they appear tiny (your own desirable qualities or the other fellow's imperfections). This is also called the "binocular trick."

You assume that your negative emotions necessarily reflect the way things really are: "I feel it, therefore it must be true."

You try to motivate yourself with shoulds and shouldn'ts, as if you had to be whipped and punished before you could be expected to do anything. "Musts" and "ought to’s" are also offenders. The emotional consequence is guilt. When you direct should statements toward others, you feel anger, frustration, and resentment.

This is an extreme form of overgeneralization. Instead of describing your error, you attach a negative label to yourself: "I'm a loser." When someone else's behavior rubs you the wrong way, you attach a negative label to him: "He's a goddam louse." Mislabeling involves describing an event with language that is highly colored and emotionally loaded.

From Feeling Good, by David D. Burns, M.D.

How can a therapist help alleviate your depressed mood? Check out my blog post, Therapy and Depression Part Two next week. In the mean time, feel free to take the depression health check at WebMD
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.
· Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on August 21, 2009

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Why can't there be 26 hours in a day?

If you are anything like me, there never seems to be enough time in the day. There are always more chores to be done, errands to be run, sleep to get, and friends and family to spend time with. Where does the time go? One of the things I have struggled with on and off throughout my life, is time management. I am constantly feeling as though I am running out of time. Believe it or not, there are some basic time management strategies that you can implement that will help you more effectively manage your time, feel less frustrated, and more productive.

1. Understand that you cannot do everything - we all want to be Superman and get everything accomplished and it is simply not always possible, learn to accept it. The most important things in life are that we are happy and healthy.

2. Begin your day with either a schedule or a 'to do' list, so that you have focus throughout your day and can cut down on wasted time.

3. When looking at our responsibilities for each day, start by selecting the 'must do's' and focus on those. In other words - prioritize. For example picking up the kids from school would be a must do, stopping at the bookstore could wait for tomorrow or the weekend.

4. Learn how to say no. If you are anything like me, you struggle to tell others 'no'. Often we do not want to disappoint someone or let them down, and we end up accepting responsibilities or tasks that, at the very least stretch us thin. It has taken me a long time to learn, but it is okay to say no, and we do not have to give an explanation.

5. One thing that is becoming more and more common in today's society is being able to be reached anywhere at anytime. While there are benefits to being able to be reached twenty-four hours a day, there are also benefits to being temporarily disconnected. As hard as it is to believe, it is okay to allow our phones to go to voicemail, or to allow that text to sit in the inbox. Allowing ourselves uninterrupted time to focus on a task, or interact with your family actually saves us time. The more interruptions we have throughout the day, the more time we spend restarting whatever project we are working on, or recapping a story a friend might be sharing with us.

6. Beat procrastination! Often times when we have a large task in front of us, or something that we are not looking forward to doing, we tend to put it off, and we waste time dreading the inevitable. Instead, break the task down into segments, and knock it out little by little.

Using these time management tips will NOT create more time in our day, no matter what we do there will always only be twenty-four hours. However, better time management skills will help us to be more productive with the time that we do have, and provide us with more control over our daily stress and energy levels.

Monday, June 14, 2010

5 Ways To Be A Great Dad

Being a great dad doesn not have to be difficult. We have five things you can do today:

1)Look at your children and call out their best: give them praise and affirmation on what they did right in their choices and actions.

2)Love your children by touching them gently and speaking to them softly can make a child feel safe and secure.

3) Listen to what your children are saying and to what they are not saying. Listening will take just a few minutes but the impact will last a lifetime.

4)Leave a legacy by giving your child a memory. Make plans to do something simple but something that your children can always remembers (reading a story, play a game or fix breakfast/dinner).

5)Laugh with your children.

Posted by Jesica Aznar Rivette, MA. Therapist with Central Florida Mental Health Associates.

Sunday, June 13, 2010


On Thursday June 3rd at approximately 11:30 PM my cousin was shot in the line of duty while he was responding to a trespassing call. A 16 year old boy shot at him 4 times with a 38 caliber hand gun hitting him under his shoulder blade with the third shot. The bullet exited a half inch from his spine leaving a nice exit wound. I got a call from my brother Todd at about 1:30 AM in the morning letting me know what happened to Brandon; “Brandon was shot while on duty and has been airlifted to Orlando Regional.” That is all he knew and at that moment I thought I had lost Brandon.

As a therapist, I am aware that anger is a secondary emotion that is triggered by a primary emotion such as sadness, embarrassment, guilt, etc. As I think about the primary emotion I felt after giving the phone to my wife and sitting on the couch, I think I was really, really sad, but that feeling only lasted about 20 seconds. Next, the rage overwhelmed me. It has been years since I have felt rage like that. I wanted to get my hands on the guy that shot my cousin. I wanted him to pay dearly for what he had done. I began fantasize about what I was going to do to him if I found him. I felt more anger as I placed calls to my uncle and his sister hearing the pain they were in. I was so angry that I didn’t even drop a tear the whole way to Orlando Regional.

On the way there, my wife who is also a therapist tried to encourage me to feel the pain underlying my anger but she was unsuccessful. The anger was just too overwhelming. I tried repeatedly to calm myself down, utilizing diaphragmatic breathing, positive visualization, and by trying to focus on the underlying emotions. I tried to stop feeding the rage by thinking about other things than what I wanted to do to the person who shot Brandon. Still I was unsuccessful.

I tell my client’s that being angry is not a bad thing. I tell them that anger is a normal human emotion that we all feel from time to time. But I always make sure to tell them that it is not the anger that gets us into to trouble it is how we handle it that becomes problematic. I had every right to be angry at the person who shot Brandon, but if I acted on the thoughts I was experiencing and behaved poorly, I would have done nothing but hurt the people around me more. If I would have lost control, I would have made the situation much, much worse. I was finally able to think about these consequences 5 minutes before arriving to the hospital and I calmed down. I got to speak to Brandon in person 45 minutes after getting that call, and I am so thankful for that. I am still angry about what happened, but I won’t allow the anger to control me. I am proud of you B.

Travis McBride, MA, LMHC

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Depression and Chronic Illness

Chronic medical conditions, such as diabetes, arthritis, lupus and heart disease, affect approximately 125 million Americans every year. Chronic illness is defined as an illness lasting three months or longer, according to the definition provided by the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics. It is estimated that about one third of those people dealing with chronic illness experience symptoms of depression.

Some signs of depression are:
Depressed mood
Changes in eating habits/wait loss or gain - not related to the illness or treatment
Sleep disturbances - not related to the illness or treatment
Difficulty concentrating
Feelings of worthlessness
Loss of energy and fatigue
Suicidal thoughts

While every day there are medical advancements being made, depression is a common complication for chronic illnesses. When someone is diagnosed with a chronic medical condition, there are usually tremendous life changes that go along with that diagnosis. Someone who is diagnosed with chronic illness, not only has to adjust to the demands of their illness, but to the effects of the treatments they receive as well. It is common for someone who develops physical limitations due to their illness to experience loss over the decrease in their independence.

There are ways to deal with depression relating to chronic illness. It is important to remember the role that a positive outlook and self-image can play in combating depression. Therapy and support groups are a great way to help people manage their emotional symptoms relating to chronic illnesses. In counseling one can regain a sense of control and empowerment over their lives. Therapist can help clients understand how the illness contributes to the depression, and can help the client develop healthy coping skills. Support groups are great for helping people with chronic illness understand that they are not alone, and that there are others out there who know what they are going through.

Here are a few tips to remember when dealing with chronic illnesses:
Utilize your support network and try not to isolate
Learn as much as you can about your illness
Be sure to have clear and open communication with your doctors
Develop stress management coping skills
Maintain a positive outlook and self-image
Eat properly, exercise as your doctor permits and stop smoking
Maintain your normal routine as best you can

It is important to remember that with life there are challenges. If your challenge happens to be chronic illness and depression there are resources, tools, and people out there who can help. Don't underestimate the power of positive thinking, a positive support network, and knowledge. These, in conjunction with counseling or support groups, are powerful tools to help you get the most out of your life.

You Can Do it.....You Are a Overcomer....Don't Forget it!!!!!

By: Mind Power 365
Victory is always possible for the person who refuses to stop fighting!
Napoleon Hill

At sometime or other in our life we all have our obstacles to overcome. Some of the obstacles are small and some could be life or death. I believe we all at one point face a challenge that it is so big that our response will ultimately change the rest of our lives. We either run from the battle or face it and overcome. This decision a lot of times will define us. Never give up, never give in, never doubt, never stop and Victory will have your name on it! God can do big things thru a person who refuses to stop fighting. Be that person!

Are you gonna take the easy way out? How determined are you when things get really really bad? Are you the first one to throw in the towel or are you the one everyone can count on when the chips are down?
Here's a powerful quote:
Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers, but to be fearless in facing them. Let me not beg for the stilling of my pain, but for the heart to conquer it
Rabindranath Tagore

Champions rise to the occasion. Winners have to pay the price to get where they are at. The price isn't cheap, the road is less traveled. The bigger the obstacle the greater the reward. It all starts with your mind set. Determination, preserverence, and overcoming all all atributes to anyone who has ever achieved anything of great significance throughout history.
Champions aren’t made in gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them a desire, a dream, a vision. They have to have the skill and the will.
But the will must be stronger than the skill.
Muhammad Ali

For all of you going through trials and tribulations, here's a powerful affirmation that you can say daily:
Say "I'm an Overcomer, think it, I'm an Overcomer, believe it, I'm an Overcomer, feel it, I'm an Overcomer, plan on it, I'm an Overcomer, do it, I'm an Overcomer,
Now go out and teach it to others so they too can Overcome! "

Mind Power 365

Monday, June 7, 2010

Understanding your Teenager

What's happening to my teenager?
Many teens spend less time with their families than they did when they were children. As they become more independent and learn to think for themselves, relationships with friends become very important. Sometimes it may feel like your teen doesn't need you anymore. But teens still needs theer parents' support, love and guidance.

What you might be seeing:Normal teens crave independence, question rules and authority, test limits, can be impulsive, make mature decisions at times and childish at others.

What you can do: Simple everyday activities can reinforce the connection between your teen and you. Make room in your schedule for special times when you can but also take advantage of routine activities to show that you care.

Tips to keep in mind:

-Have family meals
-Share "ordinary" times
-Get involved, be involved and stay involved.
-Be interested
-Set clear limits

For more information visit

Friday, June 4, 2010

"Man often becomes what he believes himself to be."

“Man often becomes what he believes himself to be."
“Man often becomes what he believes himself to be. If I keep on saying to myself that I cannot do a certain thing, it is possible that I may end by really becoming incapable of doing it. On the contrary, if I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it even if I may not have it at the... beginning.”
Mahatma Gandhi

This is such a powerful quote from a man who not only spoke with wisdom, but who also practiced what he preached. We are our Mind. The Mind is the new frontier. Every great invention, every great deed, every great action all first took place as a seed in the Mind. Backed by faith as Ghandi proved, all things are possible. He changed the whole world not by military might, brute strength, or billions of dollars, but with a his mind and unwavering faith. Mahatma Ghandi was 5 ft 3 inches tall and weighed a mere 100 pounds, but that did not stop him from impacting millions of people and gaining independence for his country India.
He dreamed big, held to his faith, and put action behind it and that's something we can all learn from.
Nothing can stop a man with a dream if he truly believes.

By: Mind Pwer 365