Should we stay or should we go? Is the marriage worth saving? Is keeping the marriage intact “for the children” enough reason? The “D” word is not a word that you can simply bandy about during times when you have a lover’s quarrel or when the going gets rough. Getting divorced, after all, will have consequences not just for the couple but also for their children.
Divorce is not a simple dissolution of a financial and physical union, but also the cutting off of emotional and psychological bonds. During this time, you can also think about getting the help of couples counseling in Provo to help you think through the issues in a thorough and more organized manner.
Here are some things you and your spouse should consider before you sign the divorce agreement:
Is the feeling gone? Or are there still emotional bonds between you and your spouse?
Make sure that both you and your spouse have done all you could to salvage the marriage. Do both spouses still feel an emotional connection with each other? Are there remnants of love and affection, in spite of all that has happened to make both of you consider divorce in the first place? Work on how you can save the marriage if there is some love left and some hope remaining for your relationship. That way, you don’t regret it if you finally make the decision.
Can counseling still help?
Provo marriage counseling can still be helpful especially at a time when both spouses are seriously considering divorce. Couples counseling in Utah can help identify where the marriage broke down and the possible ways to built it up (if this is still an option of the two spouses). However, if it still leads to divorce, counseling can make the transitions from couplehood to singlehood smoothly. Counseling can also provide healthy tools to deal with the pain and trauma of divorce by providing the couple or the individual with relaxation techniques, as well as tools to cope with change and grief.
Are you emotionally ready to divorce?
When you are caught up with emotions such as anger, frustration and in the case of infidelity, betrayal, it is hard to make the crucial decision of whether to keep the marriage intact or not. Make sure that you are emotionally stable as you make the decision to divorce. Otherwise, if it is just a response that arises from your emotions, this can lead to more problems and hurt feelings in the future especially if you do decide to rebuild rather than let go. Another thing to ask is if you are confident enough to go at “life” by your lonesome.
What are your reasons for considering divorce?
There are some spouses who view divorce as the last ditch attempt at changing their spouse. They feel that the divorce will be an eye-opener and it will lead the other spouse to see the error of their ways and make that change for the better. If this is your motivation for divorce, according to Utah therapists, be sure that it can only lead to pain and recriminations.
Also, think of whether the reason for the divorce is a problem that can still be resolved by proper communications and counseling.
Are you financially ready for divorce?
Although this may be secondary to other factors, it is also important to look at your resources without the other spouse. Will you be self-sustaining? Have you talked out how the family assets will be divided?
Who will move out of the house and who will stay? How much do you stand to earn each month? Will this be enough to cover your expenses, as well as your share of child support?
How will you prepare the children for divorce and deal with issues in a proactive manner?
Divorce will also affect those who are closest to you, particularly your children. Before you consider divorce, you and your spouse should discuss how best to prepare your children for that announcement. One way you can consider is to seek family counseling in Provo to help the children deal with their own emotions about the matter.
Have you considered the implications of divorce?
Divorce is not the quick fix-it to a problematic marriage. It, in fact, has its own problems and issues. A newly divorced person will have to deal with financial challenges and feelings of loneliness and insecurity. Both of the ex-spouses will also have to grapple with issues of child custody. It is good for both spouses to think deeply about the effects of divorce and manage your expectations about life after it.
A car accident. A bullying episode in school. Sexual assault. Getting trapped in your bedroom while your house is burning down. Being caught in the crossfire of an actual shoot-out. Surviving a plane crash. Being a victim of physical abuse. A killing happening right before your very eyes. Fighting in a war. Getting divorced. The death of a loved one.
These are some very stressful experiences which can leave an indelible mark in your mind and emotions. Often, it can engulf you with fear and anxiety, so much so that you lose your ability to cope physically and emotionally. If these issues and anxieties are left unresolved, the emotional injuries may fester and lead to psychological problems.
Trauma and How It is Caused
Trauma, according to the Cambridge Dictionary, is defined as “severe emotional shock and pain caused by an extremely upsetting experience”.
People cope with trauma differently. One can move on from a particularly traumatic experience while another will have recurring nightmares and other psychological effects. It actually depends on how a person reacts internally to a situation. This is because we all have different personalities, coping skills, experiences and emotional makeup and stability.
Psychological trauma happens when there is a stressful or painful event and the person’s internal coping mechanisms are too overwhelmed. The person who has difficulty coping with the traumatic event may need some help. A traumatic experience can be a single event or a repeated event happening over a long period of time. It can be caused by a natural disaster, was or by another person’s deliberate acts.
Trauma and Its Symptoms
Persons who suffer from severe emotional trauma can have physical, emotional and psychological symptoms. Depending on the severity of the trauma, they may be marked by:
– Recurring nightmares
– Extreme anxiety
– Social isolation
– Recurring anxiety attacks
– A hard time focusing and concentrating
– Absent mindedness and memory deficits
– Overwhelming feelings of shame or guilt
– Problems sleeping
– Eating disorders
– Chronic fatigue
– Short-temperedness and irritability
– Propensity to abuse alcohol or drugs
– Issues with sexuality and self-esteem
How counseling can help
Utah counseling for a victim of trauma is more than just “talking it out”. With the help of a Utah counselor, you can learn how to pinpoint the negative emotions and the steps towards coming to terms with these. Rather than attempting to suppress these negative emotions, counseling can help you channel these emotions.
When the trauma victim is more able to cope with the overwhelming feelings, this engenders feelings of personal control. An experienced Provo counselor can also direct the victim towards these positive coping actions. This can include:
– Providing a place of safety and structure. Provo counseling can provide a non-threatening and non-confrontational sanctuary in which one can process his experience. It is a place he can safely discuss, examine and explore his feelings and fears. Counseling also provides the structure and “balance” by making one face expectations and beliefs that may in fact be irrational and unrealistic.
– Education. Family counseling in Utah may help the victim become more aware of the situation, his behavior, as well as its impact on himself and others. Sometimes, the trauma victim cannot see the situation objectively. As the trauma victim becomes more aware of the presence of the problem and how one’s behavior contributes to it, one can then start planning the steps on how he can move on. Another area where the person can be more aware is how the crisis itself can be used for that person to grow and uncover his capabilities to resolve the crisis.
– Help towards breaking free from negative behavior. A traumatized person can develop addictive behavior and vicious cycles that may be harder to break free of as time goes by. Often, to find relief from the effects of a trauma, a person turns to drugs, alcohol, risky sexual behavior and so on. Counseling can help one face the need to change habits and negative behavior.
– Support for facing what the person fears. At one point or the other, the person will have to face what he fears in order for him to break free of it. It may be hard to face emotional pain but it is a response that can start the process of healing. An experienced counselor can help empower and support the trauma victim towards a healthier outlook and behavior.
The song by Average White Band says it all, “There’s no easy way to say goodbye”. And for the child, this may literally be true. Saying your bye-byes to a child who is hanging on to your leg is heart wrenching to a parent. You may also need to bear with temper tantrums, bouts of seemingly inconsolable crying and clinginess when it comes time for you to say, “Bye for now, love, mom and dad are off to work!”
Separation Anxiety Disorder
Being anxious about seeing mom or dad leave is actually normal for a young child. It is simply part of his development. As a baby slowly learns what “bye-bye” means, he will insist that mom or dad stay by his side. There is a strong sense of connection and attachment between the child and his caregivers – particularly his parents.
It is when the child starts to disproportionately worry about being separated from a loved one or caregiver that separation anxiety becomes a problem. When it turns into separation anxiety disorder, the child may start having trouble with normal activities such as going to school and gaining friends.
The onset of separation anxiety is usually at the baby’s seventh month and extends up to the time the child is in school age. However, if the anxiety persists even after the child is 6 years of age and the child manifests long-drawn-out fear of being abandoned, that can point to separation anxiety disorder. In this case, the mere thought of a parent or caregiver leaving or of being away from the home itself results in one being seriously agitated and emotional. There is the continual fear of a parent or caregiver becoming sick or dying.
For children and young people, this can manifest as an irrational fear of being separated from the people he feels comfortable to. Such is the level of anxiety that it hinders the child from going to school or even going to sleep. Rather than play with peers, the child would rather stay at his parents’ side.
The Roots of Separation Anxiety Disorder
Statistics indicate that there are around 2 to 5% of children that have separation anxiety disorder.
Mostly, separation anxiety disorder is to the presence of anxiety disorder in the family. It is said that the propensity to have separation anxiety disorder depends not just on environmental factors, but also on genetic factors.
What Family Can Do
Family members can work together to provide interventions to help the child. Some tips include:
– Educating family members. Understanding that the child is struggling with the disorder can lead to empathy rather than blame or feelings of guilt. It can also help each family member learn how to support the child so that the child does not feel depressed and isolated or develop a low sense of self. Provo therapists can help provide guidelines and tips on how each family member can act and react.
– Be patient. When the child is having bouts of separation anxiety, you can try to reassure him that he was able to weather the last separation he had. Avoid getting impatient or upset about the child’s fears and apprehensions.
– Make goodbyes easier. You can already identify the times of the day when the child needs to be separated from parents/giver. Often, a child finds it easier to separate from one parent than the other. This should be the parent that handles the transitions or goodbyes. Goodbyes can also be easier if the child is informed about how he can contact the parent or caregiver.
– Schedule fun activities for the child when he is separated. Keep the child occupied during the times of separation by setting up enjoyable activities.
Treating Separation Anxiety Disorder
Aside from seeking family counseling in Utah, concerned parents can seek the help and cooperation of other family members and school faculty. The objective is to provide the child with an environment that is less stressful for him. Getting family counseling in Provo will help each family member be aware of the situation and how they can deal with it. Parents will get helpful tools in getting the whole family together as they strive to help their child/sibling with separation anxiety disorder.
It is also recommended that the child get individual Utah counseling. Oftentimes, the child feels that the anxiety or the compulsion to worry about separation is somehow his fault and that something is wrong with them. With the guidance of an experienced Utah counselor, the child can learn to be aware of these feelings and how to negate them.
In the movie, When A Man Loves a Woman, Meg Ryan and Andy Garcia play a picture-perfect couple whose family is threatened by the wife’s addiction to alcohol. The story chronicles Ryan’s alcoholism, and how it has caused harm to their marriage and family, as well as her struggle towards recovery and the succeeding adjustments that prompted them to seek marriage counseling.
The movie depicts a happy, “perfect” mom (when sober) who then transforms into one that “loses” her child in the shopping mall, drives her kids around drunk, leaves her husband with the responsibility to take care of her and the children and engages in risk-taking and anti-social behavior. Andy Garcia plays the role of the caretaking and enabling husband, who is at a loss after his wife’s recovery.
Addiction’s Effect on a Marriage
Drugs. Alcohol. Prescription medicine. Although to the abuser, his or her choice of poison seems to be the only world, the people who love him or her are affected. In most cases, the non-addicted spouse bears the brunt of the burden of a spouse driven by addiction. The spouse may need to take on roles that should have been played by the addicted spouse. The non-addicted spouse may be forced to cover up the other spouse’s addiction (i.e. call work and explain that the spouse is “sick”, act as both the father and mother to the children). This need to cover up can drain the person and strain the relationship.
As the addiction spirals deeper and deeper, it will drive the couple further apart. Fights and arguments will ensue and with an addicted spouse, the fights can turn violent. What results is an environment that is not healthy for a marriage to flourish.
As in the movie, the spouse with substance abuse problems is not the only one with issues. The non-addicted spouse also needs to thresh out some negative emotions (anger, guilt and bitterness) and behaviors (bad communications habits or codependent patterns) as well.
Is there hope for an addicted spouse to beat his or her cravings? Is there hope that the marriage can become stronger as they weather the storm of addiction? As a spouse of an addict, what can you do to support him or her and help your spouse being the slow and painful journey towards recovery and healing?
The non-addicted spouse can also do well to accompany his or her spouse to Utah marriage counseling to help them patch up the cracks that the addiction has wreaked on the marriage.
For a spouse that is interested in being a partner “in sickness and in health” and supporting the addicted spouse towards healing and recovery while maintaining a strong marriage, here are some tips:
– Learn about the addiction. Recognize that there are different levels of substance problems – substance use, substance dependency and substance abuse. Getting yourself educated about addictions can lead to better insights towards why your spouse is addicted, what he or she is dealing with and what you can do to be supportive.
– Supporting your spouse through counseling and treatment. Very often, addicted spouses are unwilling to go into any treatment program. You can talk to a Provo substance abuse counselor for help on how you can encourage your spouse to think about moving towards recovery. When your spouse is ready, you can consider supporting him as he goes to Utah counseling.
– Seek family counseling. Often, to properly support an addicted spouse, it is helpful to go for family counseling in Utah to help equip you (as the spouse) and other family members (children, close relatives) with the proper coping tools. This is so that family members can show their love and support for the addicted member but not enable his or her negative behaviors. This can also help sustain the addict’s positive (and healing) behaviors and ensure that his or her recovery is lasting. It is also important to admit that there are issues in the relationship that results from the addiction. You may need some sessions for Utah counseling to help.
– Learn how to act and react. The addict has fallen into a trap where he or she feels helpless and hopeless, so overcome with his or her addiction. This can trigger negative behavior such as getting into shouting matches, name calling and fighting. It may also mean trying to “reason it out” with the addicted spouse. Doing these behaviors will not help your spouse. What you can do is to learn ways to react and reinforce any positive behavior by your spouse. This includes providing your unconditional love and support but at the same time not being enabling of his addictive behavior.
– Explore healthy coping mechanisms for yourself. The situation with an addictive spouse can lead to pent-up stress and anger. You need to have a healthy outlet for these for your to be able to cope with the situation you are in now. These can include relaxation techniques, doing hobbies you enjoy and eating the right kinds of food.
Marriage is not just founded on love and intimacy – it is also based strongly on trust and commitment. Infidelity is like a wrecking ball that can demolish this foundation and leave the marriage in shambles.
What is Infidelity?
Infidelity can be manifested in various ways, depending on how an individual and couple see it. The bottom line is that there are strong feelings for someone else other than your spouse. These feelings of connection are usually surrounded by deceit and secrecy. This can be an outright sexual affair, an emotional affair, a fling or one-night stand, an online dalliance or even unrequited feelings by a spouse that does not involve any physical contact.
The discovery of your spouse’s infidelity can turn your world upside down – the emotional morass of denial, anger, bitterness, shame, fear and guilt can be overwhelming. The pain of finding out your spouse’s betrayal can make you ready to call it quits. But then, you need to look at how strong your commitment is towards marriage and your belief of whether the marriage is worth saving or not.
Trust, once it is lost, will be hard to bring back. The same goes with respect and loyalty. Rebuilding a marriage that has been shaken in its very foundations will take time and commitment. But with hard work, two spouses can come out with a stronger marriage.
Here are some things that two spouses who have committed to the marriage can do:
– Put an end to the affair. First, before the work of rebuilding can be done, you must stop the things that harm the marriage. Cut the affair cleanly, with no plans of going back to it.
– Be responsible. Apologize without making excuses or assigning blame. Don’t say, “I only did it because you were not paying any attention to me.”, “I was drawn to him because you don’t make me feel sexy anymore.” You are responsible for your choices. For the one who was cheated on, think about what you could have contributed that led to your spouse having an affair.
– Take a break. The time after the discovery of an affair is an emotionally-charged time. Give each other time to think things through by not pressuring him or her to make a decision at a time that emotions are running high. Don’t rush the betrayed spouse into “forgetting about it and moving on”. Give him or her time to lick his or her proverbial wounds and let them heal.
– Get help. If you have both decided that the marriage is worth saving, you can consider getting into marriage therapy. Utah marriage counseling can provide a non-confrontational venue for the two spouses to talk with an objective third-party facilitating. Each spouse must be willing to work it out with the help of a Utah counselor to put things in proper perspective for both of you, one who will help you thresh out the issues without being swept away by emotions.
How Marriage Counseling Can Help
Couples counseling in Utah can provide a great benefit to spouses seeking to survive the storms of infidelity. It can:
– Deal with negative feelings. This can include guilt, shame, anger, depression and fear that can result from the infidelity.
– Help thresh out issues. Infidelity can be a symptom of deep-seated problems in a marriage. Family counseling in Utah can help identify the issues that need resolving so that each spouse recognizes his or her part in making a stronger marriage that puts a premium on openness and honesty.
– Give support to the healing and forgiving process. Couples can start forgiving. For the betrayed, to forgive the unfaithful spouse for his wrongdoing. For the one who cheated, to forgive himself or herself for what he or she did and start the process of recovery.
– Equip with essential tools for repairing the relationship and building a better marriage. Provo marriage counseling can provide couples with tools that can lead to a union that is more open, more receptive and with each person recognizing his or her accountability towards the marriage.
– Determining whether the marriage could or should be kept intact. Sometimes, the foundation has not only been shaken but utterly torn down. It may be that the other spouse is not willing to work towards the marriage. Counseling can help you towards the decision to keep or let go of your marriage, but with the benefit of an experienced and impartial party providing guidance.
The economic downturn has, more and more, produced a lot of victims. Today’s economic challenges do not only produce jobless workers, but workers who are scared of losing their jobs and will do anything to keep their job. Aside from those who are in fear for their livelihood, possible candidates for job burnout include those who have a high level of job dissatisfaction, who have a problematic family life, who have poor work prospects and those who feel unfairly treated and discriminated against.
Reading through this list, can you consider yourself a candidate for job burnout?
Burning both ends of the candle can result in serious consequences – not just physically but also psychologically and emotionally. While you can blaze hard and fast and gain a lot of headway in your career, if you’re not careful, the long days of work and the accompanying stress will take its toll on you eventually. Aside from its effects on your health and well-being, it can also have negative consequences on something that you have sacrificed so much for in the first place – your job performance. Eventually, this will spill into your personal life and social life.
Burnout is not just something physical. It also is emotional, mental and psychological. There is a feeling of helplessness and being overwhelmed by your job responsibilities.
Job burnout: Identifying the Red Flags
It can help to identify the signs of career burnout to start seeking Utah counseling as early as possible.
– Poor enthusiasm for work. When in the past, you used to look forward to getting out of bed to prepare for work, you now fear the prospect of clocking in. Even doing the easiest of tasks is a struggle. Your usual set of responsibilities feels dull and mind-numbingly boring. Typing an email feels like weights being tied on your hands. Finishing that project can be a struggle.
– Depression about one’s work situation. The future (at least career-wise) looks bleak and disenchanting. And work engenders feelings of hopelessness.
– Poor work performance. Because of a lack of enthusiasm for your job, your work will start to deteriorate. You start missing deadlines, turn in poor quality work, get in late for work, miss whole days of work and not care about the possible consequences.
– Being weak and sickly. You will start having backaches, headaches and other physical problems. There can also be a marked lack of energy. This can be a result of the stress of performing the job or the stress of starting to hate the job.
– Poor relationships with colleagues and bosses. There is suppressed anger and this can be marked by spurts of temper. Your irritability may affect your relationships with other people in the workplace.
– Poor sleep patterns. The stress of being overworked can lead to restlessness and sleeplessness.
– Substance abuse. Often, the likely choice of escape would be the abuse of substances such as alcohol and drugs. The stress can also lead to a compromised immune system, leaving you prone to colds, flu, ulcer and other illnesses.
Counseling for Job Burnout
To stop your work life from fizzling out, you can start by seeking the help of a therapist in Utah. If you notice the above symptoms, it is advisable to act towards rectifying the possible long term consequences to your health and work life. Provo counseling can start the road towards a healthier view of work and of life in general.
Provo therapists can help by equipping you with coping tools to help put balance in your life – work, family and social connections. This includes:
– Relaxation techniques. This can include deep breathing exercises, enjoying a hobby, learning yoga or meditating. This can also include learning to “disengage” from technology. Learning how to relax can help mitigate the stress that can threaten to overwhelm.
– Assertiveness training. Sometimes, the piles of work can be because one is unable to say no to bosses and colleagues. Therapists in Provo can provide training for becoming more assertive in setting limits to the level of demands your work makes on you.
– Learning to take good care of yourself. The awareness of what stress and job burnout is doing to the body can help a person be more motivated to engage in healthy life habits. This includes eating healthy food, having a regular exercise regimen and getting enough sleep.
– Stress and anger management. Counseling can help provide you with tools to manage and express your stress and anger in positive ways.
– Goal and priority-setting. Your counselor will help you rediscover your life goals and to see how these are working out in your current situation. Your sessions can delve into knowing your priorities in life and how these can help change your direction.
Having a healthy work-family-social life balance is difficult. Juggling a lot of balls on air can be quite a challenge – but it can be done. With a proactive mentality and help from your counselor and loved ones, you can enjoy life to the full – and this includes your job!
As the late and celebrated Whitney Houston sang, “Learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all.” Out of one’s love and respect for himself arises other attitudes about love, life and friendship. If you love and like yourself, you expect others to treat you well. If you have a poor sense of self, you tend to treat yourself poorly and accept poor treatment as “something you deserve”.
Based on statistics from the NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health), 25% of psychological disorders are inevitably founded on low self-esteem. That means those who suffer from depression, those with suicidal tendencies, trauma victims (victims of bullying, sexual abuse, physical abuse and so on), teen pregnancy and eating disorders have unhealthy self-images. Possessing low self-esteem can start from childhood and continue well into adulthood.
Teens are especially vulnerable to developing low self-esteem, especially at a time when they feel the need to be accepted and to belong to a group of his peers.
Self-Esteem and its Development
Self-esteem deals with one’s view of himself, how he sees his personal value or worth, how he loves and respects himself. It is thinking, “I am who I am and I like it!” Having a healthy sense of self is an important foundation towards a strong adulthood.
A child or even an adult can develop an unhealthy sense of self as a result of:
– Being bullied
– Having overly critical, perfectionist, and harsh parents who fail to affirm him
– Being teased for one’s appearance, gender, race, behavior or social standing
– Having a disability (either mental or physical)
– Failure to receive praise and positive reinforcement for his achievements
– Being ignored as a child
Low Self-Esteem and How It Manifests
Low self-esteem is sometimes developed due to negative experiences that get in the way of the process of developing a healthy sense of self. As a result, one feels ashamed, lonely and even angry (with himself and others). One always feels doubtful and critical of his actions and there is a feeling of fear, disquiet and isolation.
Those with a low self-esteem:
– Have trouble accepting compliments
– Defensive, even with the slightest criticism
– Always second guessing one’s self
– Fear of taking on something new and challenging
– Tendency to abuse substances, food, alcohol and drugs
– Unhealthy concern about other’s opinions of him
– Being overly pessimistic and depressed
– Being clingy and needy
– Neglecting one’s health
– Being a perfectionist
– Has a constant need for praise and acceptance
– Tendency towards self-pity
– Compensating by being an overachiever and workaholic
Some disorders and negative behaviors linked to having a low self-esteem include:
– Having an eating disorder (including bulimia and anorexia)
– Major depression
– Being a victim of abuse
Low Self-Esteem and Other Issues
Seeing one’s self as inferior to others can mean a lot of things. When you don’t like yourself, you cannot and do not expect others to like you. When you view yourself as someone who is not worth being loved or liked, there is a tendency to make poor choices and to accept abuse as one’s lot in life. This can start a vicious cycle of abuse – from others, as well as from yourself.
Learning to love yourself
Stepping towards a healthy self-image will take patience, hard work and perhaps, some family counseling in Utah. This can be done by becoming aware of negative self-images and learning positive attributes about one’s self. By focusing rather on what is good and positive about you rather than on your weaknesses and failures, you can begin to love yourself the way you should.
The scars inflicted in childhood or by a particularly traumatic experience will take some doing to heal, but with the help of an experienced Utah counselor, one can emerge from the bonds of low self-esteem. Provo counseling can help an individual grow and learn to lead a happy, self-affirming life.
Awareness. Treatment for low self-esteem starts by having an awareness of one’s negative attitudes towards one’s self. Family counseling in Provo will start by challenging the negative assumptions underlying a poor self-esteem. It starts by disputing statements such as “I will never amount to anything.”, “I don’t have any abilities or qualities to be proud of.”, “I just don’t seem to have any direction for life.” By having an awareness that these are but assumptions, you can start resolving your problem with self-esteem.
Setting boundaries. Often, a person with low self-esteem is victimized by unhealthy relationships. An experienced Provo counselor can help a person identify hurtful relationships, relationships that knock down one’s self-esteem. Then, they will start discussing how one can learn to be more assertive and set boundaries to lessen the impact of these negative relationships.
Empowerment. With counseling and guidance, the counselor and counselee will start setting goals for growth and self-discovery. This may be personal or career-related goals. This may also be goals towards breaking free from vicious cycles and negative attitudes and behaviors.
Learning to love and like yourself may be a difficult journey, but with continued support, one can slowly gain confidence and assertiveness, enough for you to say, “I love me!”.
Substance abuse does not only affect the addicted person. It’s like throwing a pebble on a calm lake – the ripples will be far-reaching. The first layer of those affected would be loved ones, particularly ones living with the addicted person. This includes his or her spouse, as well as children.
Sometimes, the behaviors and reactions developed by those living with an addicted person can be so that it revolves around the problem and results in a dysfunctional way of life for the family involved. Without the help of family counseling in Utah, the codependency will perpetuate, to the detriment of the family. Problems are not properly threshed out and family members respond to the problem by developing risky attitudes of their own.
What is Codependency?
Here are some quotes from experts that give a picture of what codependency is like:
“We begin tolerating abnormal, unhealthy, and inappropriate behaviors. Then we go one step further, we convince ourselves these behaviors are normal.” –Melody Beattie
“A set of maladaptive, compulsive behaviors learned by family members to survive in a family experiencing great emotional pain.” The Johnson Institute
When a Parent or Sibling is Addicted
The living conditions of a family with an alcoholic or drug addict is changed drastically. As such, codependency is called a “family disease”. It can be passed on even to the next generations. The way each family member acts and deals with the situation is also changed drastically. They can be characterized as:
– Compulsive: Their brand of “caring” for their addicted loved one becomes compulsive, rather than a function of choice. He can’t help but encourage the individual to continue with his addictive behavior even when he knows that his actions are to the detriment of his loved ones.
– Maladaptive: This condition prevents the codependent person to grow and develop the behaviors that meets not just their emotional needs but also the emotional needs of others.
– Causing pain and stress. These coping and survival mechanisms are developed as a way to escape and relieve pain. However, they themselves are a source or pain and stress! Those who have codependent relationships can be perfectionists to being people who seemingly live without standards, driven towards gaining prestige and status symbols, gaining high authority and a compulsion to acquire control or material possessions. This can manifest itself in eating disorders, sleeping disorders and even a propensity to also abuse substances themselves.
– Stunting relationships. Because a person with codependency issues have a pattern of behavior that seeks to put the needs of the addicted loved one before his or her own, that person will have problems forming relationships that are healthy and balanced.
Further, those with codependency issues may be in denial, in compliance, seeking control or seeking avoidance. They can also have issues of low self-esteem. Codependent individuals seek validation from others to the point that their measure of worth is based on what other people think. They also do not see themselves as worthwhile individuals and have difficulty accepting love, affection and praise. They have difficulty making decisions and perform important tasks. They would rather lie than look bad.
Denial patterns. A codependent may find it hard to admit his feelings and see that there is something wrong in the family situation. He may also be attracted to a person and yet not see that person fails to reciprocate the feelings. He also tends to project his own weakness and negative qualities on others. He may also act in passive-aggressive ways – masking what he feels with the use of social isolation, anger and humor.
Controlling patterns. This type of codependent will try to compensate by taking on the role of the “strong” caretaker. He may use gifts, charm and even sexual favors to curry approval or influence. He also seeks to establish control, is pushy and temperamental when others don’t “toe the line”. He feels validated if he is needed by others; however, he also seeks to exploit others by demanding that his needs be met. He may resent the recovery of the addicted family member since that means that the member will not need his role as caretaker anymore.
Compliance patterns. This type of codependent is malleable and remains “faithful and true” till the end, even though this means tolerating and supporting addictive behavior. A compliant codependent will put others first to the point of sacrificing his own needs and interests. He shies away from expressing his feelings and opinions, if these are contrary to other people’s feelings and opinions.
Avoidance patterns. This type of codependent pushes other people away when he feels that they have come too close for comfort. He may be very critical and “allergic” to any form of intimacy, be it physical, sexual or emotional. He avoids displays of affection or any other emotion and avoids feelings of vulnerability by holding back his own feelings.
Breaking free from the Codependency Bond
Codependency is draining in family relationships. One step towards breaking free of codependency would be to seek Utah counseling, as well as looking for support groups who also face the same issues and concerns. The family can also do well to seek the help of an experienced Utah substance abuse counselor.
Family counseling in Utah can help you become more aware of the situation and the presence of codependency. To try to combat this, a Utah therapist will help equip you to be more assertive, more aware of your needs and how you and your family can effectively and lovingly deal with an addicted family member.
An experienced counselor will be aware to set good boundaries in order to also protect against being in a codependent relationship with his clients. For instances like this, it is also a good idea to seek a counselor who is also an experienced Provo substance abuse counselor.
Time-outs are not just a useful tool in disciplining your kids. You can actually use this in your marriage as well. Time outs can give you and your spouse time to calm down before a disagreement makes a turn for the worse and goes out of hand.
Couples fight – that’s a given. However, anger can make someone do crazy things, say things he or she would not normally say. During the heat of the argument, barbs may be thrown at each other way to a point where the wounds inflicted can cause permanent damage. Responding out of anger, annoyance or exasperation will not actually help resolve a problem. Anger can cause you to resort in name calling, making threats or throwing insults. According to Utah counselors, it will work best for the couple to take a breather rather than allow the argument to escalate.
A time out can help:
– Cool tempers down so as to be more able to communicate more effectively – to listen as well as to express one’s thoughts.
– Give each other time to gain perspective, especially about the other spouse’s point of view on the issue.
– Enable each other to express their emotions and thoughts clearly, more rationally.
After a time out, couples can now buckle down towards resolving the conflict at hand in a healthier and loving manner. That way, couples learn to fight fairly and ultimately, enjoy a stronger, happier marriage. According to Provo counseling, time outs can also prevent you from saying or doing things you may later regret. Remember, prevention is better than cure. Working to heal emotional wounds caused by words spoken in anger is harder than avoiding those words in the first place.
Here are some tips with regards to establishing a time out:
– Talk about it and make an agreement beforehand. Before you even get into an argument, it will be good for you to agree on a signal on having a time out. It may be as simple as saying, “Let’s take a break.” Or, “I need to go out.” When someone signals a time out, the other spouse is obligated by their agreement to let the argument lie rather than insisting on continuing with the argument (i.e. following your spouse to continue the argument even after one has signaled a time out).
Beforehand, you should talk about how long the time out will be, whether this means that one of you should just stay on the other room or should leave the house for a moment. Before you leave, make sure that the other spouse understands that you are taking a time out. And that no one is walking away from the argument. Rather, taking the time out to be able to resolve the argument with a win-win outlook.
– Come back after the time out. You should also talk about committing to getting back to the conversation or the argument once the time out is finished. Check whether the both of you are ready to talk more calmly. If not, you may ask to extend the time out.
– Time out is not silent treatment. Take note that taking a time out is not to be equated to giving your spouse the silent treatment. The latter is a passive-aggressive way of trying to manipulate your spouse to do things your way. The former is an effort towards forging better communications, to enable one to manage one’s thoughts and feelings at the time of the argument. A time out says that you are willing to work things out, only that you need time to calm down so that you both can do things properly.
– Practice relaxation techniques while on your time out. This can include taking slow, deep and cleansing breaths. Or thinking calming thoughts. Rather than working yourself up to more anger, work towards gaining an understanding of your spouse’s point of view. In a marriage, one spouse does not “win” an argument. So, don’t aim towards winning the fight, rather, it should be an exercise towards resolving the issue that caused the fight in the first place.
Practicing good communication techniques may require work and help from a third party, such as Utah marriage counseling. Taking time outs is just one of the techniques that you and your spouse can put into practice to improve communication between you. With the help of an experienced Utah therapist, you and your spouse can learn to fight fairly and build a stronger marriage and build trust.
Beware: Alcoholism and substance abuse is not an adult problem. Teens can also fall victim to the lure of alcohol. In fact, teens may be particularly vulnerable, since the teenage years is a trying and confusing time. There is the added pressure from peers and the need to be accepted and to “look cool”.
Alcohol is a teenager’s substance of choice. Teenagers often have the misconception that being able to handle one’s alcohol makes one more “grown up”. Alcohol is also attractive since teens like the way alcohol makes them feel – invincible, fearless and happy. According to statistics, 14% of teenagers have experienced being drunk at least once in a given year. In addition, around 8% of adolescents have tried binge drinking, or drinking five or more alcoholic drinks in a row.
Parents should not disregard signs of alcohol abuse, thinking that this is just a phase where the teenage child is experimenting. Rather, there are strong indications that early experimentation of alcohol can result in adverse consequences for the child’s future.
According to a study made by Dr. Avshalom Caspi and Terri Moffitt of Duke University, preteens who regularly indulged in substance abuse, especially alcohol and drugs, are more likely to experience:
– Unwanted pregnancies (with a high probability of getting pregnant before a teenage girl reaches 21 years of age).
– Failing grades and behavioral issues in school
– Contracting a sexually transmitted disease, including HIV
– Conviction of a criminal act
– Drug dependency
This is regardless of whether the teen comes from a home where members also indulged in substance abuse or not. In addition, teens may be addicted to alcohol and other substances more easily than adults. The younger a person starts drinking, the higher the possibility they will develop alcohol abuse problems.
Aside from the possibility of alcohol addition, the use of alcohol during the teenage years may result in:
– Problems with concentrating and remembering
– The propensity of abusing other substances (i.e. marijuana) along with alcohol
– Indulging in risky behavior that may put the teen and others in danger. Statistics indicate that more than 2,000 people ages 21 and below die annually in car crashes caused by underage drinking and driving.
– Higher probability of suicide attempts
– Higher risk of indulging in risky sexual behavior (.e. having sex with multiple partners, having unprotected sex, having sex with strangers)
Challenge for the Parents
The challenge is for the parents to act accordingly to prevent their teen from being addicted to alcohol. The family setup and environment can do a lot to keep a child on track (such as going for Utah counseling) or to enable the child to veer off towards alcoholism. Preventing alcoholism or recovering from teenage alcoholism will require efforts not just from the teen but from the whole family as well.
Here are some things you can do:
– Preventing alcohol use. Parents can help minimize the harmful effects of alcoholism by:
o Having close communications with the teen. This includes discussing how alcohol can negatively affect him and how he can deal with the pressure peers may exert for him to try drinking. Parents should also discuss expectations with regards to alcohol use. If your child has the sense that you will tolerate alcohol use, chances are, he will be more likely to give it a try.
o Supervision. Parents should supervise the teen and be aware of his activities and whereabouts. Parents should also do well to get to know their child’s friends.
o Keep the teen occupied. Simply saying “don’t” is not enough. Parents should also give alternative activities to keep the child busy. This can include being involved in sports, the arts, or programs in church.
– Recognize the red flags. There are some warning signs that point towards alcohol abuse in your teen and it will be useful to recognize these signs early on so that you can take appropriate action. Here are some signs:
o Problems at school. This includes truancy, discipline problems and falling grades.
o Changes in peer group and hang-outs. The teen may shift to a peer group that shares this propensity to abuse alcohol and other substances.
o Changes in activities. The teen may give up activities that he used to enjoy and that used to be important to him.
o Problems with the law
o Physical symptoms, including dilated pupils, slurred speech, red, bloodshot eyes, rapid weight loss, memory lapses and lack of physical coordination. The teen may also complain of headaches in the morning. Other symptoms include lethargy and pasty, dull skin.
o Changes in habits and behaviors. The teen may become more careless with his hygiene and may disregard his appearance. Other symptoms also include breaking house rules, such as the curfew, borrowing (or stealing) money from you or from friends, lying and having alcohol-related paraphernalia. The teen may also prefer to spend more time inside his room, rather than socializing with the rest of the family. He may also have mood swings, appear sullen, or even verbally or physically abusive.
– Admit that there is a problem.Acknowledging that there is a substance abuse issue is a big and difficult step for parents to make. This is especially true if the parents’ behavior may have also contributed to and sustained the problem. However, recognizing the problem will lead towards helpful and productive steps, such as going to a Utah substance abuse counselor.
– Going for Family Therapy. Since the problem will need the cooperation of all the family members, it will be helpful to seek family counseling in Utah. This will help the teen make the necessary steps towards recovering. In addition, the family will also be able to recognize enabling and denying behaviors that may actually have made the problem worse.
Indeed, the help of an experienced Provo substance abuse counselor will first assess the family dynamic and help each member cope and deal with the problem appropriately. You see, even after a teen recovers from his substance abuse problem and has made the necessary changes for the better, the family may not be equipped to act and react in a way that will support the teen’s recovery. Family counseling in Provo provides the tools needed for the entire family to make healthy changes.