Sunday, November 28, 2010

What changes will you make?

"Be the change you want to see in the world" - Mahatma Gandhi

Each one of us has the power to make the world a better place. I chose this quote by Mahatma Gandhi because I know that sometimes I lose sight of that. The great thing is that not only do we each have the power to make the world better, we have the ability to do it on an everyday basis. I know that sometimes I have thought "if I do.....what difference will it really make?" The reality is that everything we do impacts events and people. There is no such thing as small change, and while we might not always see the result of the changes we make, it does not diminish the significance of those changes.

Here are a few simple daily changes/activities to help make a positive change in the world:

- give your leftovers from restaurants to a homeless person

- use please and thank yous

- smile at people passing by

- hold the door for someone

- put your phone away when checking out at the store

- let someone in during traffic

These changes may not seem significant on the surface, but their impact could be huge. Your leftovers could prevent someone from starving. A simple please and thank you could alter the course of someone's day. A smile could provide someone with that extra little bit of self-esteem to help get them through their day. Holding the door could be taken as a sign of respect, and I know it makes me feel better when I feel respected. Same thing goes for the cashier at the checkout. Letting someone in during traffic could help prevent an accident, possibly save someone's life. At the very least, each one of those ideas would be enough to brighten someone's day, and isn't that alone worth doing it?

The thing about change is that we have to take personal responsibility for it, we cannot push it off on others. In Michael Jackson's song "Man in the Mirror" there is a verse that goes "if you want to make the world a better place than take a look at yourself and make a change." I challenge myself to start making daily positive changes. I challenge you as well to make positive daily changes, that WILL improve the quality of life for ourselves and others.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Play Therapy

What is play therapy? Play therapy is the belief that a child’s play is their message. Play therapists believe that a child innately knows what they need to work on and provide an environment in which the child can use their play to work through their difficulties. The process is to assist the child in tapping into his/her own creative process and then therapy happens. A play therapist does not focus on the child’s problem, rather will focus on the child as a person. The purpose of play therapy is not to engage the child in play that is preparation for something else, like disclosing the cause of their anxiety. Rather the purpose of play therapy is to allow the child to decide what he/she needs to work on.

Therapist utilize empirically proven techniques:
Reflection of the child’s action and affect
Empathetic Reflection
Empowering child to make choices in session
Helping child develop internal source of approval
Self esteem building

Objectives: To help child
Develop more positive self concept
Assume greater self responsibility
Become more self accepting
Become more self reliant
Engage in self determined decision making
Experience a feeling of control
Become sensitive to the process of coping
Develop an internal source of evaluation
Become more trusting of self

If you are interested in learning more about play therapy, or feel that there is a child in your life that may benefit from play therapy, please contact our office for more information, 386-736-9165.

Jennifer Nadelkov, MA, LMFT

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Live Everyday to the Fullest

How do you treat your life? What about the relationships in your life? The relationships and interactions that we have with ourselves and others plays a big role in our lives. How is your relationship with yourself - emotionally, mentally and physically? Do you exercise and eat right? Do you exercise your brain daily? Are you emotionally mature enough to express your feelings and communicate with yourself and others? Are you confident enough to challenge yourself? How are your relationships with your friends? Do you have "good" friends that you haven't spoken to recently, or told them how important they are to you? What about family? Any family rifts that one or both parties are too proud to be the one to apologize? Have you recently told your family members how much you appreciate what they do for you?

I ask these things because life is a fragile thing. According to the definition of regret is: to feel sorrow or remorse for an act, fault, disappointment, etc. In other words, feeling sorrow or remorse because we did or didn't do something. Life is too short to live with regret. Harness your inner strength and take on the things that you might look at with regret. Go back to school.....mend a broken or struggling relationship.....strengthen your relationship with yourself, get to know yourself.

To borrow a line from the movie "Scrooged," "it's not too late, it's never too late."

If in any way, we at Central Florida Mental Health Associates can assist you on your journey, please don't hesitate to give us a call.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Saying Goodbye

Saying good-bye can be bittersweet. Ending a relationship, moving away from loved ones or switching jobs are all situations in which the dreaded "good-bye" comes into play. After working for five years at the same agency I resigned. While it is exciting to look forward at all the possibilities that lie ahead, it is also sad to leave the co-workers I have been with for so many years.
This morning I began packing up some of my belongings. I felt like a college student packing their dorm room days before graduation. There is a sense of excitement and anticipation about the future and also a sadness for the friends that will be left behind. With the best of intentions we say our typical "I will miss you" or "Let's stay in touch" or my favoritie, "Let's do lunch soon". The reality is that as you move on, you often lose touch with the majority of the people that have been a part of your daily life.
I have been dreading the "good-bye" process. I would prefer to slip out quietly while everyone else is out to lunch. This afternoon a co-worker thanked me for something very minor that I had done for them. That is when it suddently occurred to me that while we say "good-bye" and will move on our separate ways, we never lose the experience we had in that relationship. I smiled to myself as I began taking messy finger painting off of my office walls, each lovingly created by a child. Each of those paintings are a story of a child who came to me for help. Each of those children had the couarage to do their work in my office and bravely say good-bye when their work was done.
Today I wasn't ready to take all of the paintings down. I need to finish my work where I am at. When my work is done I will bravely say good-bye, cherishing the wonderful experience I had.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Counseling Process

Arriving for a counseling session for the first time can be a challenging experience. What will I be asked?
What will my counselor / therapist be like? How will I know what to say? What will it cost? Will my insurance pay for this? These are just a few of the questions that run through people’s minds when they first enter into the process called counseling or therapy.

People come for many reasons; often because a situation in their life or within them has become painful. It has become ineffective to unload on friends or family or perhaps there are things going on that need to be divulged in a safe place. Ultimately, that is what the arena of the counselor’s office becomes, a safe place in which to speak your reality and be supported in determining if changes would be helpful.

The first counseling session often feels like a huge question / answer session, which can be difficult for first time clients. Each question is designed to give the counselor information that will be used to help determine the problem and how it might be approached in a helpful and productive fashion. Questions regarding the person’s history with other counseling experiences and treatment will be asked as well as details about their medical history, family history, and habit and patterns of behavior. A history of previous treatment and the dynamics of the family will be taken. All questions are asked with the well-being of the client in mind. The counselor will guide the session and focus on your answers and concerns to determine with you, the focus of treatment.

Counseling sessions are confidential. The limits of confidentiality pertain to any verbal or physical abuse towards the client or perpetrated by the client as well as any homicidal or self-destructive indicators. These will be addressed in session with the client and will be reported in the proper method in accordance with the mandates governing these situations.

The costs of treatment are varied. Many counseling centers have set rates for services and take insurance. Some agencies use a suggested fee scale in which the clients’ rate of pay is determined by income and verified by proof of income or have contracts that help to pay for clients’ services. Private centers can allow clients to determine their own pay scale or have set fees. These questions can be asked at intake (the process in which you register for treatment) which may be covered when you arrive for your first session or over the phone.

The fit between counselor and client is personal and as different and varied as the many counselor and client combinations that are made. The important elements are that there is a feeling of trust, communication, and comfort that your best interest is foremost in priority. Sessions will bring about a panorama of feelings and thoughts, depending on the issues being addressed and the work being accomplished. Treatment is work in the sense that effort is put forth by the therapist (licensed counselor) and by the client to implement a change in thoughts and behavior which ultimately result in a change in feelings. All of this is a process and length of treatment varies depending on whether the issues are on-going or due to a specific situation.

Being informed is a great way to feel more comfortable in approaching a new activity. Counseling can benefit everybody. You do not have to have a crisis or be diagnosed with mental health disorder to benefit from counseling. Stay informed and live healthy!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Take the First Step

One of the most difficult things in life sometimes, is simply getting started. Taking that first step can often feel overwhelming, frustrating, paralyzing, and flat out scary. So what happens? We end up not taking that step. I can't tell you how many times I have wanted to improve my health and said, "I'm going to stop drinking Coke," "I'm going to start dieting," and "I'm going to get back to the gym." Well, I just ate a candy bar, had a Coke with lunch and haven't visited my gym in three weeks.

Typically in my posts I provide helpful tips on whatever topic I'm discussing. Today in addition to the tips at the end, I'm going to provide some sayings/quotes that I find to be very helpful in overcoming the difficulty of getting started.

The first saying you know how to eat an elephant? One bite at a time. The point is, if your plan was to eat an elephant, and you went up to the elephant and looked at it in all of its enormity, you would psych yourself out before you even started. If you simply looked at the section that was placed in front of you and started eating bite after bite, at some point, you would finish.

Next saying....nothing changes if nothing changes. If you continue to do the same thing over and over again, you are not going to get different results. So if you are trying to accomplish something or to make a change in your life and you are not getting started or making progress, you have to start changing the way in which you are attempting to achieve your goal. For example, if I am trying to get back into going to the gym, but every night I say I'm going to go after work, and then every night I say "I'm tired I'll go tomorrow," I have to change something. One thing I might do, is get a workout buddy, so that I have more accountability.

Some tips for getting started are:
1. Tell others, accountability can be a big motivator.
2. Break tasks that might feel overwhelming into small projects and tackle them one at a time.
3. Set yourself a schedule and due dates.
4. Praise yourself for the progress you make....all progress is praise worthy, and set-backs are simply a learning tool for your next success.

At the end of the day, it boils down to how much do you want to achieve your goal, complete the task or tackle whatever project. These ideas and tips can be applied to your physical health, your employment status, school and your mental health. If you are unhappy with where you are mentally (depressed, anxious, in an unhealthy relationship) what steps are you going to make change? Start exercising...utilize relaxation exercises...learning about assertiveness skills...maybe start counseling? If there is anything that you would be interested in speaking with one of our therapists about, take that first step, give us a call.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Sibling Rivalry

While we have all learned that sibling rivalry is normal, it can be a difficult task for parents to manage. As I child I remember our father making us "hug it out" until we "felt the love". This tactic never actually caused us to stop fighting, although it did help us to fight quieter so that he could not hear us.

Some issues that influence sibling rivalry are personality, parental treatment, birth order and extended family. There are special circumstances that require extra consideration, such as handicapped or gifted siblings. Additionally, physical or emotional abuse is not considered normal rivalry and demands immediate attention.

Helpful tips for parents on Managing Sibling Rivalry

-Do not take sides or play favorites
-Validate feelings, rather than dismiss them. "talk it out"
-Praise healthy sibling interaction
-Do not make comparisons between siblings
-Encourage siblings to celebrate each other's success
-Role Model how to share and take turns
-Celebrate each child's unique qualities
-Teach and Role Model problem solving skills
-Plan Family activities to include ALL family members

It is important not to intervene in the sibling conflict and allow children to work out their own problems. However, when dangerousness becomes of concern immediate intervention is required. If a child's daily functioning is impaired or if there has been or is potential for physical harm, it is suggested to seek help from a mental health professional.

Jennifer Nadelkov, LMFT

Monday, November 1, 2010

Interacting with your children

When we think about our average interaction with our children, most of them involve some kind of negative interaction like "make your bed, take out the trash, take a bath, do your homework, wash the dishes, get off the phone, get off the TV, get off the computer!!!!!!" and followed by the famous taking away of privileges as the most common consequence used by parents. Then, we yell at them and they yell back "I hate you!

So, what if we really choose wisely when to interact negatively with our children and maximize the positive interactions?

Positive interactions involve: talking, playing, exercising, singing, playing a musical instrument, watching a movie/TV all of these together with your children.

Feel free to post more positive interactions to this list.