Communication

Should Clients Be Touched? Some Say No: 6 Important Truths

I'm a firm believer in the power of love and compassion to open doors, change minds, and renew hearts. I have always worked with clients who have severe trauma histories, have been abused or neglected, and suffer from severe mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder with psychotic features and psychosis. The population of client's I see are children and adolescents including families. This population often starves for love and compassion from almost anyone they come across in daily life. Why? Because society, including the field of psychotherapy, help perpetuate the idea that love and compassion are only for those people we know on a personal level and should be reserved for special moments. For example, we don't have to worry that our love and compassion toward uncle Mit will ever come back to bite us in a lawsuit claiming sexual harassment. But with a client who, tends to be very emotionally needy, this reality is often on the mind of most therapists. It is important to emphasize that not all clients should be touched and not all therapists should become vulnerable with their clients. But it is also true that not all therapists should become cold, stoic "healers" for fear of lawsuits. This article will examine this very controversial problem still holding many therapists captive today.

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Adult Mental Health

Identifying People In Need: Can You Spot Mental Distress?

I was having a conversation with a close friend the other day and she said something that really resonated with me. She said:
"some people just don't look like they need help. It's sad because many of these same people do."
She is right! Many things prevent society from recognizing emotional and mental health needs such as personality, tone of voice, career choice, prestige, income, lifestyle, culture, ethnicity, age, gender, etc. For example, would you think a businessman in a powerful corporation could be suffering from delusions? Would you think a beautiful teen girl is being sexually abused? Would you think the sweet elderly woman next door believes you can read her thoughts? For many people, accepting the reality that those who appear "together" may not be so together after all is difficult. It's almost as if thinking this way goes against the grains of our social rules and optimistic outlook on life. We approach the world with "tented glasses" and we design what we want the world to be. Unfortunately, we fail to make room for reality. As a result, we neglect to take time out of our busy lives to reach out to others in need (i.e., those who look needy and those who don't). It's essential that we become sensitive to the potential need(s) that require mental health intervention, support, and care.

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General

Does Dissociative Identity Disorder Truly Exist?

Last week we explored dissociative identity disorder - DID (formerly known as multiple personality disorder) and some of the challenges with studying it, teaching about it, diagnosing it, believing it exists, and even treating it. It's a complex phenomenon and many mental health professionals struggle with when to actually give this diagnosis to someone and how to treat it in therapy and with medication. Despite the fact that between
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Child & Adolescent Mental Health

4 Truths About Children Showing Signs of “Multiple Personality Disorder”


At what age did you (or someone you know) have an imaginary friend as a child? Were you able to "see" this imaginary friend and hear his or her voice? At what age did this imaginary world begin and end? For many adults, a child's imaginary friends and world are the epitome of a great early childhood experience. It's a normalized part of childhood development. In fact, it's a normal part of development throughout the lifespan. Most parents become greatly concerned if their child doesn't have a fantasy world at some point during the early years. Even more, many of us adults enjoy the fantasy world of Walt Disney World and Disney Land fictional characters. Some of us would spend our entire paycheck just to see Mickey and Minnie Mouse! But we know that these fictional characters are just that, they're fictional. For children who are showing signs and symptoms of something more severe such as a psychotic disorder, the fantasy world is not a fantasy, but a very real part of their lives. This article will explore and discuss dissociative symptoms and psychotic symptoms that could eventually become "multiple personality disorder" (or as it is referred to today Dissociative Identity Disorder - DID). In the questions and answers section, I would love to hear your thoughts on whether or not you believe the disorder of multiple personality disorder or DID actually exists. It continues to be very controversial.

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General

Sending Your Child To An RTF Placement: 9 Questions to Ask


One of the most heart wrenching experiences that I have had over the years in the field of counseling and psychotherapy involves a parent or family member giving full control to a placement or residential treatment facility (RTF). The experience is difficult for everyone involved, but primarily the family who will lose a certain amount of control to absolute strangers. Many parents struggle with the idea of sending their child or adolescent away from familiar surroundings (school, home, community) and familiar people (family, friends, teachers, etc.). The individual often struggles with losing friends at home or school, parental figures, grandparents, and a certain amount of structure that is familiar. Going away to an RTF for 3 months to 12 months can feel like an eternity for families and can be very traumatic. This article will discuss what an RTF/group home/placement is, what questions to ask, and considerations. This article will also refer only to children and adolescents, but some of this information might apply to adults as well.

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Communication

Pathological Liars: 5 Ways To Protect Yourself


Do you know someone who tends to lie frequently about any and everything? Have you caught them in a lie and wondered why they continue to lie? If so, you are obviously dealing with a pathological liar. What most people fail to recognize about pathological liars is that they often lack the ability to empathize with others, feel guilt about their lies, and have trouble controlling their natural impulse to lie. For most of us, it is very difficult to lie with a straight face and quite easy to feel guilty about the lie. But for someone with "psychological deficits" or pathological behaviors, it is very easy for them to lie while keeping others in the dark. What's most interesting about pathological liars is that many of them know how to control their emotions in such a way that lying can look like the truth to us.
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Child & Adolescent Mental Health

Borderline Personality: 7 Powerful Ways Families Can Cope With Symptoms

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a very complex disorder for many families. The symptoms, the chaos, the abuse, the rage, the fear, the feelings of abandonment, and the self-harm or suicidal thoughts all take families by surprise. Sadly, many sufferers struggle to explain their symptoms to others who may believe they are being manipulative, oppositional, problematic, or difficult. While some of these things may be true for some people, there are others with BPD who lack the interpersonal and social skills needed to perform in these ways and who are so emotionally distraught that common sense goes out the window. Do you have a loved one suffering with BPD? How have you coped? Are you coping? This article will explore ways that families and friends can learn to cope with a loved one suffering from BPD.

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Trauma

Examining 6 Complex Trauma Symptoms: Pain, Confusion, & Rooted Evil

If I were to give you a certain estimate of the number of kids and teens I currently see for trauma, I would say about 7 out of 10 cases every 30-90 days of the year. It's scary to look at the large numbers of people within our society who have struggled with (or are currently dealing with) some form of trauma. It's even more scary to observe the after-effects of trauma and the evil that triggers the symptoms that are expressed as complex, confusing, and even deceptive. I use the term deceptive to refer to trauma symptoms that are complicated and hard to treat with medication and even therapy. Some symptoms are so rooted in the trauma history that it takes months, if not years, to properly treat and understand. After 8-10 years of working with trauma cases, I found myself beginning to conceptualize the traumatic histories of all of my cases as having a "rooted evil." There is no other explanation for why an innocent child has to experience the turmoil often brought on by a traumatic past. This article will briefly explore the complexities of trauma (the "rooted evil") and describe the debilitating nature of re-enactments, triangulation, emotional dysregulation, and suicidal thoughts. 
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General

Engaging In Family Therapy: Myths and Challenges

Family therapy can truly become either a saving grace or a boxing ring. For many of my clients, it's a boxing ring full of traps, snakes, confusion, and drama. No matter how much I attempt to encourage my young client's to give it a try and be courageous, the session drama becomes a living, breathing soap opera. Have you ever  been in family therapy or wondered what it would be like to attend a family session? This article will address some questions about family therapy and explore some common myths.
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