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.
What is trauma? If I were to quiz you on trauma would you know how to define it? You might say something like trauma is a negative experience that you cannot forget or move past. I would give you an A+ but also challenge you to consider different situations in which trauma occurs and the impact on the victim. For example, we all know that a child who has been abused and neglected or has seen something horrific would most likely be traumatized. But would you also consider a 3 month old baby who has been severely neglected to be traumatized? Why or why not? Would you consider an adult, who has a history of trauma, to still be suffering from the trauma? These questions will be answered in this article and I will provide an example case for your review.
It’s not easy living with a mental health condition or someone who is suffering from mental health challenges, especially when it is severe or chronic. It’s even harder trying to get others to understand what it feels like to struggle or what it feels like to watch a loved one struggle. Until you experience mental illness (either yourself or through someone else), you have no idea how sensitive everyone is and how important it is to be careful with what you say.
Have you ever experienced depression or know someone who has? What has been your self-talk (things you say to yourself to help yourself overcome the depressed mood) or things that you have said to others who appear depressed? Perhaps you make statements such as “cheer up!” “It will get better” or “you won’t be depressed forever.” Do you think such statements are helpful? It wasn’t until I became a therapist and started working with families and young children that I learned what should and should not be said to someone who is struggling with a mental health condition.
As you read the headline I’m sure you questioned what relevance Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr serves to the discussion of severe or untreated mental health. Rarely do we ever hear people emphasize the importance of following the example of Dr. King in our “fight” against society’s lack of knowledge about severe and untreated mental illness. But Dr. King embodied so many sophisticated qualities that add such a rich tapestry of cultural legacy and inheritance to my own life and society in general.
Dr Viktor Frankl, Logotherapist and author of Man’s Search For Meaning, coined the term “iatrogenic neurosis” to describe an illness “caused” by or made worse by a provider of healthcare. It’s hard to imagine that a healthcare provider, specifically a mental health professional, can make an illness worse. How is it possible for a professional to create more problems for a client seeking help?
If I were to quiz you on the 10 worst signs of a bad therapist would you know what they are? What did you like about them or dislike? It’s often difficult for people to decipher a good therapist from a bad therapist until something unethical happens.
On this site we’re often talking about many serious subjects such as severe mental illness, parenting a child (adult or minor) with severe mental illness, being a caregiver, seeking hospitalization for a loved one, understanding parents who harm their children due to an illness, abuse, neglect, pathological lying, avoidant personalities, borderline personalities, sociopaths, etc. We cover a multiplicity of subjects that often depress many of us. They are subjects we would rather never discuss or have to even face in our own personal lives. These are important topics. But I find that during this time of year many people psychologically and emotionally detach from reality and often enter into a “fantasy” of what this time of year should look like. These subjects mysteriously no longer exist, no longer matter. Many miss the essential components of this holiday by ignoring the great need among us in so many people around us. Being mindful of these people actually makes Christmas quite magical.
Severe mental illness can be one of the most difficult situations for both the victim and the family to cope with. There are a host of issues including problems with medication and side effects. Do you know someone suffering from schizophrenia or taking strong psychotropic medications? Most individuals with schizophrenia and other severe mental illnesses must take anti-psychotic medications that can result in involuntary movements of the muscles, repetitive movements (such as “pill rolling” – a tremor of the hands), and abnormal postures (i.e., catatonia - abnormal physical immobility).
We have been talking a lot about psychotic disorders, childhood onset-schizophrenia, delusions, and hallucinations,so lets discuss the differences between the psychotic disorders and ways to cope as a family member, parent, friend, companion, or caregiver to someone who is suffering.
Has anyone ever told you to “stop thinking negative?” What about telling you: “you are so pessimistic, can’t you ever be positive?” Another great one people say is: “look on the Brightside!” If you’re like me, you hate hearing these things because they have a way of shutting you down, undermining your very real feelings. This “positive philosophy” actually started with cognitive psychiatrist, Aaron Beck, who believed that humans engage in a series of thought processes or thoughts that lead to depression and a host of other negative outcomes such as poor physical health and anxiety.
Do you know someone with an eating disorder? Do you know what it is? Trying to support a loved one or friend who sticks her finger down her throat to purge the food she just ate or trying to love the person who refuses to eat even a small bite of good, strips you of your ability to reason and make sense out of life. Observing a loved one or friend refusing food out of a strong fear of gaining weight to the point of starvation, changes everything you thought you ever knew. For a therapist who works with eating disorders (or any mental health problem for that matter), the situation can bring you to a point of desperate seeking for understanding.