PTSD: More Common Than You Might Think

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When people hear PTSD (posttraumatic stress disorder) many immediately think of soldiers and veterans, but PTSD can affect ANYONE from child to adult! What is PTSD? It’s a disorder that develops in some people after they have experienced or witnessed a traumatic, scary, or dangerous event. These events could include but are not limited to abuse, assault, war, traffic accidents, finding a person who has committed suicide, animal attacks, and even listening to people tell you about their traumatic experiences.

Some of the signs and symptoms of PTSD include recurrent nightmares, flashbacks of the event, sleep disturbances, hyper-vigilance, intentional avoidance of feelings and thoughts or discussions about the event, difficulty concentrating, depression, and guilt. The symptoms must be persistent for at least one month before the PTSD diagnosis can be made. When it comes to children with PTSD there are slight differences in that many of their symptoms will show up in their play.

We hear children suffering from abuse, adults witnessing or being a victim in a violent crime, war, and other major events that can cause PTSD but there are other groups that can also suffer because of the type of job they have.  Many of our first responders, PTSD first_respondersfirefighters, police, and EMS personnel see so much trauma on a daily basis it’s not surprising that they can suffer from PTSD. Another part of first responders are the 9-1-1 call takers and dispatchers. They sit in a room and take call after call dealing with everything from providing a phone number to talking to a person who is having the absolute worst day of their life. These calls add up over time and there is rarely, if ever, any closure as to what happened or if the person ended up being okay or not. The dispatchers are on the radio and can send help to other ng_9-1-1_call_brand_storyofficers, but when an event such as an officer getting shot or hurt occurs, they cannot physically go and help, they can only listen to the screams for help and deal with the flood of radio traffic that comes in immediately thereafter. These people have ongoing rises in adrenaline with no way to release it. They can’t get up in the middle of a call or radio event until that event is finished and then they are expected to keep working and move on to the next call or dispatch the next officer. The continual fluctuations of adrenaline with no time or place to really release any of it builds up and if left undealt with can turn to PTSD. Other groups could be CPS workers, animal control officers, and crime scene clean-up crews. There are so many other groups that through their work are at risk for developing PTSD that I couldn’t possibly mention them all here.

The word trauma can mean so many things to so many people and each person experiences a traumatic event differently. This is why only some people end up with PTSD.  One of the hardest things a person with PTSD has to do is to realize that they have a problem, as many people cannot accept hearing it from a friend, loved one, or a stranger until they reach such a point that they admit something is wrong. This is the most important first step to the recovery process.

What can you do to help prevent PTSD? Find an outlet, something that you enjoy that help1865328581s you relieve stress such as running, journaling, or playing an instrument. Talk about the things that are bothering you with someone you trust. Eat healthy and exercise. If you or someone you know develops ongoing symptoms and these things are not helping please seek professional help!

Anne Circle

 

– Written by Anne Wiggs, MA, LPC-Intern
Supervised by Jennie Fincher, Ph.D., LPC-S

Six Habits of Effective Therapy Clients

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I recently watched a video presentation by Andrew Price, on the seven habits of highly effective artists. I like learning about people’s creative processes and this video did not disappoint. The speaker set out to learn a new artistic style and made a bet with his cousin that he could get a 1000 people to like his drawings in the span of six months. During this process he learned several things about himself and the likely steps it takes to learn something new.

The therapy process is a lot like learning a new skill. In fact, in therapy we often ask clients to learn several new skills to cope with unpleasant emotions. As I watched the video, my brain couldn’t help but draw the parallels. So here is my adapted list of habits of highly effective therapy clients

     1. DAILY WORK

As obvious as it may seem, daily work when applying new skills is very important. Many times clients are asked to keep a thought log or practice a specific skill, such as deep Dailey Work Picbreathing. A client may wait until the night before to try to remember situations to add to their thought log or practice deep breathing once
to be able to say that they practiced the skill. But how much more effective would it be to daily practice breathing or record thoughts
in your thought log when they occur each day. Time spent practicing
a new skill is critical to transitioning from learning something to it becoming a part of who you are. Working everyday on changing behavior or acquiring new skills serves to bring us closer to a better version of ourselves.

     2. VOLUME OVER PERFECTION

I can’t tell you how many times clients have told me that they attempted a coping skill once and because it did not go perfectly or like they expected they abandon any further attempts at using it. We are imperfect and rarely are we adept at new things the first time we try them. Therapy skills are no different. It takes repeated practice and failed attempts to be able to benefit from its usefulness. Usually, the more we practice therapy skills the better we get at using them and the more we benefit from them.

     3. CONSCIOUS LEARNING (INTENTIONAL PRACTICE)

In the above mentioned video about the artist, he stated that he realized after looking back at his sketchbook that his drawings were not improving over several weeks of Lap Top Picpractice. He decided to take an online course on figure drawing. He acknowledged in his video that the course was dry and boring BUT exceptionally helpful. He realized that he had not been using crucial principals in figure drawing so no matter how much daily practice he had it was likely not going to improve his sketches. It wasn’t until he applied intentionally the concepts he learning in a very conscious way that his artwork improved. I believe this applies in therapeutic intervention as well. You may complete a therapy worksheet well enough, but are you thoughtfully applying the concepts to your own life?

     4. REST

Rest is such a forgotten skill. In our society today we go in 100 different directions at once. Go to work, pick up groceries, take the kids to sports practice, make dinner, return texts and phone calls, oh and Rest Picpractice the coping skill my therapist asked me to use. We all need rest. Especially when we are frustrated with trying to change. Rest allows for self-reflection and the possibility of increasing insight into what may work better for us. Rest gives us time to recharge our batteries and find the motivation to resume the difficult work of change.

     5. GET FEEDBACK 

Seeking out feedback when we are learning something is scary but invaluable. Someone who has mastered the skills likely has a unique perspective and will be able to discern Advice Picthe areas that may need alteration. Feedback from your therapist is a given, but feedback from significant others may also be valuable. We may not be aware of personality traits or behaviors that are problematic. And when people who know us well begin to notice the changes we are making, it is great validation for our own progress and efforts.

     6. IF IT’S HARD, IT’S WORTH DOING

Rock PicSo many times clients comment on how hard changing is or how difficult applying a specific skill may be for them. Work is defined as an activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a purpose or result. Change is hard work but when you reach a goal that increases our experience of pleasant emotions, it is a win-win situation. We feel better, have a sense of mastery and likely increased confidence in ourselves. Our efforts to feel better and relate more effectively with others is well worth the hard work that it takes to get there.

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Written by Jennie Fincher, Ph.D, LPC-S.

Link to video that inspired this blog:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vM39qhXle4g

R-E-S-P-E-C-T: It’s Not Just For Grown Ups

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When my daughter was around 3 my husband took her on a daddy/daughter date to the park.  They almost always went to the park for these special dates and would return with huge Bailey's Blog Picsmiles and lots of silly stories.  However, on this particular occasion my husband told me that he witnessed an exchange between a mother and her child that was “just heartbreaking”.  For him to tell me this I knew it must have struck a particular chord with him.  He told me that the child was learning to swing on her own and appeared to be
practicing as hard as she could.  Her mother all the while was sitting on a park bench staring intently at her phone.  The child repeatedly requested that her mother watch her as she was finding success in her hard work.  The child’s request was never fulfilled as the mother continued to look intently at her phone without looking up.  What struck my husband was the message that was communicated to the child.  The girl’s mother could have very likely done a million wonderful things for her child before that day, but right then, in that moment that child felt unheard, alone, ignored, and most importantly disrespected.

How many times have you asked your child to “hurry up”, or answered them while looking at your phone or the television, or told them to be quiet when you were on the phone?  As a parent you are probably not being honest with yourself if you did not answer yes to at least one of these questions. I would also challenge you to consider if you do any of those things to a friend or even a stranger.  My guess is probably not.  But, why not?  For some reason we as adults do not always treat our children with the same respect that we would show a complete stranger.  Just because they are tiny does not mean that they are not deserving of big things from us as their protectors and teachers.

I believe the first step in improving this is to recognize that you ,dear parent, are a human being and probably stressed, and burning the candle at both ends.  You would greatly benefit from taking care of yourself to better help you take care of your precious ones.  This includes all of the obvious go to activities: exercise, spending time with friends, consistent sleep routines, and even the occasional bubble bath. I am writing this blog as a fellow parent and cheerleader for my peers in hopes that we will begin to consider our own emotional needs as well as learn to show our children the respect they so deserve.

The following are five ways to show your child respect:Bailey Blog Pic (5)

  1. Make eye contact. Put down your phone and look away from the television. Get down on their level.  This will help them feel heard and spoken to not spoken at.
  2. Slow down. Give your child a reasonable amount of time to get ready to leave or clean up after themselves. Rushing them may make them feel as though their time is not important.  They are on your schedule not their own.  Children often take longer to process information and their physical abilities do not often match up with rushed actions.
  3. Provide choices. Children live their lives according to our schedules, school schedules, sports, music, etc. This can be very frustrating for them and make them feel out of control. We all seek control in our lives and this begins at a very young age.  Allow your child to choose juice or milk, grilled cheese or pb&J, peas or carrots, this pair of shoes or that.  As your child gets older the possibility for choices expands as you can include them in on more decisions that impact them.
  4. Quality time. Schedule a special play time or game night with your child. Allow him or her to choose what you will play and the rules that will apply.  This will not only be fun for them, but will let them be in charge for a moment.  If possible make it a consistent date and put it on the calendar.  Everyone will know when to look forward to the next one.
  5. Let them own their own body. Allow them to decide if they want to “hug Uncle So & So”. You may even offer an alternative ie: “Would you like to Bailey's Blog (4)say hello or give a high five?”.  If the child is old enough, let him or her choose to brush their hair out of their eyes.  Many of these behaviors that we do every day as parents can unintentionally communicate to the child that they do not get to choose what happens to their own bodies.  Even allowing them to choose their clothes (again only if age appropriate) can help the child feel a sense of control and communicate their individuality.

Just remember, they are learning everyday how to become adults.  They watch us and inevitably emulate us.  So, let us all begin to teach them by our example and offer them the respect that we want them to have and seek out from others when they themselves are adults.

Bailey Circle– Written by Bailey McAdams, M.ED., LPC

 

World’s Okayest Mom

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If you follow Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or any other social media site, you are treated to a feast of motherhood perfection.  Photos of blissful babies sleeping while mom smiles happily down at her angel.  (Mom’s makeup and hair are flawless, by the way!)  Or maybe you’ve seen the blogs about the beautiful, perfectly healthy lunches packed for the children heading off to school who look as if they just stepped out of a Gap commercial.  (Little Sally just LOVES her tofu and kale wrap made with all organic ingredients!  She eats every bite and never complains!)  So hold on…why doesn’t this look like MY life??

Let’s stop and think about what most of our lives really look like.

I have a 21 month old daughter.  She usually wakes up with a random booger on her face, hair that rivals Albert Einstein’s ‘do, and doesn’t particularly want to wear whatever I picked out.  (This means I have to take time to convince her that the shirt with the kitties on it is AWESOME!)  So once she is dressed and her face clean, we rush downstairs to get her shoes on, maybe get her teeth brushed, and out the door so that I can get her to daycare before the breakfast cutoff.  Is any of this sounding Pinterest-worthy yet?  The reality is that most of us would really like to be Pinterest moms and have the perfect pictures of the perpetually smiling babies.  It’s just not realistic.  Parenting is messy and funny and challenging and exhausting!  Ever wonder how many pictures they took to get that one perfect shot?  More than one, I’ll bet.  So what if we stop comparing ourselves to what we see elsewhere and start honoring ourselves for what we are doing really well?

Stop and think about the moments when you’ve been particularly proud of your parenting skills.  You know, like that time you soothed your crying baby, or the time when your child came home and actually talked to you about doing pretty well on a spelling test?  These moments matter!  When my daughter came home from the hospital, I worried that I wasn’t feeding her right (I struggled with breastfeeding), so I took her to the pediatrician and cried because I thought I wasn’t producing enough milk so I gave her formula.  (I thought giving her formula was going to mess things up.)  He jennifers-bloglooked and me and said “Let me understand this:  your baby was hungry, so you fed her?  Sounds like you’re doing
everything right to me!”  All of a sudden, I was empowered!  I was a mom and I knew what was best for my child.  And so do you!!  It’s time to shut off the social media and stop letting those images dictate how you feel about your own parenting skills!  Enjoy the messy pictures of you and your little ones!
No makeup?  No problem!  Feeling like you aren’t doing the mom/dad thing right?  I bet you are.  Sit down and think of even the smallest thing you did for your little one.  Are they wearing clean (or mostly clean) clothes today?  Are they fed?  Those are good signs you’re doing something right.  Take a moment to celebrate the little victories. These little tiny humans running around your home?  They think you’re the best thing ever!  If you didn’t take your shower today, they don’t care.  You didn’t get to the gym?  Yeah, they don’t care about that either.  They care that you hug them, kiss them, and tell them you love them.  If you do those things, you are doing it right.  And that’s worth more than an Instagram photo.

Jennifer Circle– By Jennifer Willis, MA, LPC-Intern

6 Helpful Questions to Ask Yourself When De-cluttering Your Home

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Did you know that it is National Organization Month? Who knew? How many of you set this as a New Year’s resolution? “2017 is the year I get organized?” Does this sound familiar?

One study done at UCLA found that the more stuff was in a woman’s house, the higher her level of stress hormones. This same study found a relationship between how happy women are with their home life and family to how they feel about their homes. Wow! So simply put the more clutter and chaos in the home, the less happy the woman is with her family and her life. Our stuff it stealing our joy!

Whether or not you made a resolution to get organized or are feelings overwhelmed by the amount of stuff you have to clean up, here are some suggestions for helping you get your joy back and get started.

When organizing your space it is helpful to start with decluttering it. Think, less is more, or at least better. Start slow, don’t try to tackle everything at once. Start with one room or corner and work your way to a more simplified space.

One strategy is to remove, but not discard. Put your items in a box and set them out of sight. Set a reminder to look in the box in 15-30 days. Haven’t missed or used anything? Toss it.

Are you feeling completely overwhelmed by the idea of even starting to declutter? Try a time limited challenge. Set a timer and only work for 30-60 minutes. Or try a four-week challenge that can be done on any day of the week. The point is to get started and be successful, so you can enjoy your simplified space.

Here are some helpful questions to ask yourself when deciding if an item should be kept, tossed, or donated.

  1. Have I used this in the last year? If your answer is no, it’s time to toss.
  2. If I were shopping right now, would I buy this?
  3. Is the only thing that’s keeping me from disposing this item that I don’t want to waste money? Think of it this way: you wasted money when you bought an item you don’t use.categories_declutter
  4. Am I holding on to this for sentimental value? Be strict and keep only a few of the items in a small memorabilia box.
  5. Do I have a realistic plan to use this? Remember, don’t lie to yourself about how perfect an item would be for Halloween. Make sure you have a concrete plan to use the item, and if you don’t use it within the time frame you set for yourself to use it, then toss it.
  6. Does it fit me or my living space? You may love it, but do you have space for the item or does it even suit you now? Think hard on what to keep — your space is sacred.

Some people have difficulty discarding things due to emotional attachments. “What would Great Aunt Susie think about me donating her collection of salt and pepper shakers that have been sitting in a box in my garage for that past 8 years?” It can be difficult, but try to put your emotional attachments aside. Realize objects do not have feelings. The benefit of decluttering your space may far outweigh the cost of letting go of stored items. Analyze and measure true value. What does it really mean to you? Does it have value elsewhere?

When decluttering get rid of duplicates. You do not need multiples of anything. Keep the best quality and get rid of the rest. If you begin to feel uncomfortable removing items, just focus on all the good thing you still have. Find small things to be grateful for. Set exciting goals to help motivate you. Plan a vacation and pay for it by selling the items you removed in the decluttering process. Plan a party to show off your new decluttered and organized space.

“Minimalism is the intentional promotion of what we most value, and the removal of anything that distracts from it.”
– Joshua Becker

Remember quality over quantity. Invest in high-quality pieces that will last years and look amazing…in every aspect of your life.

Jennie Circle– Written by Jennie Fincher, Ph.D. LPC-S