Struggling in your marriage? Not sure how to fix your communication problems? Tired of being stuck and not knowing how to get unstuck in your marriage? These are all common concerns for couples experiencing difficulties. There is help and a way to get unstuck! As a couples counselor in Utah County, over the years I have help couples find this success many times as they apply certain principles.
Marriage researcher, John Gottman, has found certain principles and developed a model of therapy to help couples find this happiness together. His work is based on researching hundreds of couples. Here are a few things he found that you can try with your spouse:
- ‘Enhancing your love maps’ – Love maps consist of how you understand each other and what you know about your relationship and your spouse. Knowing the intimate details of what your partner likes to do for fun to what stresses them out helps you have a stronger relationship.
- ‘Nurture your fondness and admiration’ – Creating fondness and admiration are crucial to having a long-lasting and satisfying relationship. One thing you are your spouse can do is participate in an activity called, “I appreciate”. This is where you list three or more positive characteristics your spouse has along with an example of each.
- ‘Turn toward each other instead of away’ – Whether this is literal or figurative, turning towards each other helps create an intimacy and healthy dependence on one another. Turning off the TV and listening to your spouse when they say they have had a hard day is a great example of turning toward each other. This might seem simple, but it goes a long way.
- ‘Let your partner influence you’ – Consider what your partner says and how they feel about things. Make decisions together as you discuss both of your points of view. These things will help you develop a strong relationship together.
- ‘Solve your solvable problems’ – Some problems can be solved and other constitute what Gottman would call ‘perpetual problems’. Work on the ones that you can do something about. The solvable problems have a feel to them that they are situational.
- ‘Overcome gridlock’ – What about the perpetual problems? They do seem unsolvable and for a reason! When dealing with these types of problems Gottman teaches that couples must move from gridlock to dialogue. If done right this can be done on your own with your spouse. Many couples find success with a marriage therapist to overcome these problems.
- ‘Creating shared meaning’ – There is so much more than the difficulty of marriage and life that you can share with your spouse. Enjoying life together, even in the smallest way, helps to create meaning that means something to both of you. Dream big and dream together!
This research can be found in John Gottman’s book, Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work.
Happy marriages don’t happen on accident. It takes time and effort and can be done! In my Provo counseling center, I have found that couples who want to change and be happy can!
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.
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.
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.
The right kind of praise can help build up a child’s sense of self and confidence. However, the wrong kind of praise will actually be detrimental to the development of a child. The words, “Good boy!” “Great job!” or “That was wonderful!” does not provide constructive praise. This kind of praise is “lazy praise” since it really does not give the child any value.
There is one school of thought that encourages the giving out of praise. There is also another that fears that too much praise can spoil a child. So, how much and what kind of praise can help build confident individuals without necessarily building kids that are spoiled with praise?
One important thing is that praise should not be manipulative – given only when a child makes us feel good of gives us what we want. Rather, praise should be given to highlight a child’s good behavior and to encourage that behavior.
Here are some ways to give “proper” praise:
Focus on the process and the effort, rather than the outcome. Instead of saying “Good job!’ (which highlights the results), say, “Thank you for your hard work and effort!” A child should be able to know why they did well in order for them to know how to do it the next time. Focusing on results will diminish the value of praise, especially if the next result is a failure. The child will tend to feel the pressure to produce the same results. Acknowledging effort will encourage the child to be ready to accept new and tougher challenges as well as encourage them to work harder.
Avoid giving too much praise. Lavishing praise can either turn children into praise junkies who crave for more praise or who no longer find the praise of any value. According to a research made by Carol Dweck and Claudia Mueller of Columbia University, too much praise can result in a child who is less confident of their actions and responses, who is fearful about sharing ideas and who shun difficult assignments.
Don’t praise a child for areas which are not in their control. This includes talents and abilities that are innate in a child – intellect, artistic or musical talent or athletic ability. Praising a child for intelligence will teach the child that any failure is caused by a lack of intelligence (“I failed, therefore, I must be stupid.”). This kind of praise may be harmful to the child and may necessitate Provo counseling at a later age.
Praising kids for their natural ability and intelligence may result in children who are more wary of challenges and more fearful of failure. Also, praising someone for their natural ability gives the child a sense of helplessness. Praise the child for behavior they can control and can be responsible for. This includes being disciplined, showing focus, being generous, respectful or hardworking. That way, they know that they can step up on the level of their efforts and see improvements.
Let your child see the natural consequences and results of their performance. Especially with children at a young age, praise may not even be necessary at all. You just need to point out what they were able to accomplish and this accomplishment will provide the praise. For instance, if a young child was able to tie his shoelaces, you simply need to say, “Look, you did it all by yourself.”
Be specific. Saying “Good job.” does not really tell the child what he did well. Rather, use praise that describes the behavior you want the child to learn. Rather, say things like, “I like the way you worked hard at finishing that assignment.” Or, “I appreciate your being able to control your temper.”
Be sincere and truthful. Rather than being helpful, insincere praise can, in fact, be damaging to a child. A child knows whether he did or did not do well. If he notices you praising him because you feel sorry for him, your praise will have little effect on him.
Avoid giving praise for achievements that came with little or no effort. This can send out the message that you don’t really care or don’t have an understanding of what the child does.
Never compare the child to other kids. Instead, focus on how well the child behaved or worked towards mastering a skill. Comparing other children brings the focus towards competition between the children, rather than in mastering a skill. This kind of comparison breeds children who are devastated at losing and whose motivation is lost when they also lose their competitive edge.
Giving the right kind of praise is a communication skill and it is a skill that is not learned overnight. You may need to go for family counseling in Utah to become more adept in your communication with your child. Utah counseling can also help thresh out issues with communication between parents and children.
The challenge of parenthood is not in seeing the pregnancy through and ensuring a safe delivery for the baby. It’s what will happen afterward – raising the child and seeing him grow into an emotionally healthy and responsible adult, one who is self-disciplined and considerate of other people’s feelings. It may involve a lot of struggles, challenges and some hair-pulling. At times, you may even need to seek family counseling in Utah to help you gain more techniques on how to discipline your child.
Establishing a System of Discipline
One important element you need to establish as a parent is a system of discipline that includes:
– Setting rules on behavior and responsibility
– Providing for rewards for positive acts
– Imposing consequences for negative behavior
Providing consequences for a child’s actions teaches the child to be responsible for his choices and behavior, to prepare them to face the world on their own, as adults. Consequences may involve logical consequences (the logical result of his actions) or loss of privileges.
Here are some things to remember when creating and enforcing an “action and consequence” system for your child:
– Provide structure. Write down the rules and corresponding consequences. This way, you don’t easily fall into the trap of providing consequences based on your emotions. Make a list of offenses and consequences so that the child knows what to expect.
– The consequences are best related to the actions. For instance, if the child gets a low grade due to failure to turn in assignments, it may work better to restrict TV or internet access, rather than ordering him to clean the garage. The first is related and is even a natural consequence of the offense. Or, if the child throws a tantrum and flings his toys about, the consequence is for him to be required to clean up the mess he made. Sending your child to his room may not be as effective when he can simply watch TV or play with video games there.
– Have a reasonable set of consequences. If it does not pose a risk to the child’s safety, allow him to experience the natural consequence of his actions. For instance, if he does not take care of his toy and it gets broken, it means that he can’t enjoy that toy anymore. According to Utah counselors, don’t set out consequences you know are impossible or unreasonable. “You are banned from the phone forever.” is not a reasonable consequence and does not give the child the motivation and opportunity to redeem himself and do better. It should be restricted to a certain period. Also, unreasonable consequences will only breed anger and resentment in your child.
– Consequences should still be respectful of the child. Arguments still abound with regards to a dad who used his child’s Facebook account to show a video of him decrying his child’s action and shooting his child’s laptop. Publicly humiliating your child is a no-win solution.
– The consequence should be given close after the offense. If your child misbehaves, the consequence should be right after the act. Giving a consequence 3 months after the fact is not effective.
– Give consequences for good behavior, not just for bad. This will show your child that you don’t only notice bad behavior; rather, good behavior is also rewarded. This will give him something to reach for.
– The consequence should be age appropriate. Expecting your teen to ponder and change bad behavior after you have made him “face the wall” is largely ineffective. However, a teen will especially “feel” the consequence if it means restricted access to the Internet or the loss of privilege to go out with friends.
– Show consistency.Don’t selectively impose the rules. Your child should be able to know what to expect. Usually, your child will show some resistance when you introduce a new set of rules. However, when you show that you will impose it every time, it will send a message that you mean business. If you have difficulty applying the rules consistently, get the help of the people around you – teachers, other family members or your Provo counselor.
– Seek help. If your child has problems following the rules and may exhibit behavior that is dangerous to himself and to others, it may be time to go for family counseling in Provo. This is particularly important when there are signs of alcohol or substance abuse. A Utah substance abuse counselor can provide the guidance to help your child recover from substance abuse issues.
Drama queen. Diva. Recluse. Fanatically paranoid. Do any of these words describe you or anyone you know? That may point towards what is called a personality disorder.
Understanding personality disorder
Our personality makes us who we are. It outlines a pattern of beliefs, behaviors, feelings and thoughts that showcase our individuality as persons. In normal situations, our personality changes as we grow and mature. We learn how to better relate with people, express our feelings and opinions so that we can more effectively connect with people around us – loved ones, friends and colleagues. Our growth and maturity help us adapt to our situation and cope with life in general.
However, those with personality disorder have a distinct difficulty being flexible and changing and learning. Instead, the thought patterns, belief patterns and behavioral patterns are inflexible and deeply ingrained. They tend to hold tightly onto their beliefs and behaviors, plus their narrow view of society and the world.
As a result, they are less able to relate with the people around them and they find it more difficult to cope with everyday life. Those with personality disorder have difficulty maintaining relationships and may need the help of Utah counseling to become more self-aware and to grow and mature.
Those with personality disorder can be characterized by the following:
– Impulsive outbursts of temper
– Repeated and frequent mood swings
– Difficulty controlling impulses, making him prone to substance or alcohol abuse
– Seclusion from others or withdrawal from social situations
– Difficulty bonding with others
– Excessive suspicion of situations and other people
Utah counselors can point out to a number of personality disorders, which can be grouped into three major categories (odd or eccentric, emotional and impulsive, and suspicious or anxious):
Odd or Eccentric Personality Disorders
– Paranoid Personality Disorder. Everything and everyone is treated with suspicion and mistrust. People close to them and around them are constantly seen as condescending, unfaithful, manipulative, threatening, deceitful or malicious. Because of their suspicion, they tend to be on their guard, hostile and emotionally withdrawn.
– Schizoid Personality Disorder. Those with this personality disorder have difficulty forging relationships with those around them. Social relationships (as well as intimacy) tend to be seen as annoyances and are avoided at all costs. According to Provo counselors, schizoid personalities can be characterized as being distant, emotionally cold and withdrawn. They can be considered socially inept and can’t understand or grasp normal social cues.
– Schizotypal Personality Disorder. These can be classified as “weird” or overly eccentric – in the way they dress, act or speak. They also miss normal social cues and don’t react as expected. Forging close relationships will be difficult as they have difficulty holding a conversation. They may also make use of “special powers” such as the ability to control other people’s actions, read their minds or see the future.
Emotional or Impulsive Personality Disorders
– Narcissistic Personality Disorder. With these, it’s all “me, myself and I”. Those with narcissistic personality disorder are overly self-absorbed, selfish and have entitlement issues. They may also oscillate between feelings of grandeur (exaggerating one’s ability and attractiveness) and insecurity (feeling that others are not “admiring” enough”). They tend to get resentful and angry when people don’t toe the line with them.
– Borderline Personality Disorder. They can be characterized by frequent mood swings, impulsive actions, behavioral instability and self-destructive behavior. Emotions can be intense and the world can be seen as “all bad” or “all good”. Persons with this personality disorder may be suicidal.
– Antisocial Personality Disorder. These can be called the “renegades” – those who flout rules and tend to disregard social expectations. They take on a rebellious, impulsive and aggressive attitude. As such, they are prone towards shoplifting, stealing and substance abuse. They may need the help of a Utah substance abuse counselor. They have difficulty feeling remorse and may be a hazard to others and to themselves.
– Histrionic Personality Disorder. There are the “Drama Queens”. They feel that all the attention should be directed to them or else they will get too emotional to get that attention. These are characterized by unstable moods, a deep dependence on the approval of others and the need to act or behave provocatively.
Suspicious or Anxious Personality Disorders
– Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder. These are very methodical and organized to the point of being extremely inflexible. They have difficulty adapting to changes in their situation as they always expect and strive towards perfection.
– Avoidant Personality Disorder. Those with this personality disorder can be deemed social recluses – where they are so afraid of rejection that they try to withdraw from others at all costs. They have strong feelings of inferiority and shy away from social activities because they are worried that they will act in an embarrassing way in public. Even though they desire to forge relationships with others, they tend only to be close within circles they feel close to, particularly their family.
– Dependent Personality Disorder. Those with this personality disorder are afraid of taking responsibility for their decisions and actions. They allow others to make key decisions for them. They are afraid of being alone and the end of a close relationship can mean disaster and devastation. Similarly, they are unable to function properly without other people’s help.
Therapy for Personality Disorders
Treatment for personality disorders can be provided by therapists in Provo. The treatment can be long and challenging, as the therapy aims to change behavioral and thought patterns that may be deeply rooted in a person. The therapy will usually be aimed towards being more aware about one’s behavior and emotions, as well as finding ways of dealing with and controlling them. Cognitive behavior therapy will teach one to challenge ideas and beliefs that are the root of the personality behavior. With help from therapy and with constant support, a person with personality behavior can emerge and live a full and abundant life.
A Whitney Houston song goes, “Learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all.”
This is rooted in the belief that developing and growing as an individual is intrinsic in maintaining a healthy relationship with others, most especially your spouse. Couples counseling in Provo will tell you that you need to develop your individuality to become “the other half”. You need to take care of your needs to be able to have the strength to do the same for your spouse.
Indeed, there is the challenge to be able to nurture your individual self, as well as the relationship. Now, how do you achieve this delicate balancing act? Overdo the quest for independence and you may find that you have distanced yourself from your spouse. On the other hand, if you ignore your needs and direct your attention only on your relationship, you may find that you have grown too dependent on the relationship to the point that you are perceived to be clingy and needy. To further complicate matters, there are other things to also consider. You also have to see to the needs of the children, as well as in-laws, bosses and friends. When problems crop up as you try to maintain this delicate balance, it may be necessary to consider going for family counseling in Provo to help you get equipped with effective tools for the couple and for the family.
How can a marriage (and one’s individuality) remain healthy in the midst of all these challenges? Here are some simple tips:
– Find time both for yourself and your spouse. Schedule “me time” and “we time”. Give each other space to pursue personal interests that may not be shared by the spouse. This may be a night out with friends, indulging in a sport you enjoy or taking classes to learn something you enjoy doing. At the same time, you also need to pencil into your calendar, dates with your spouse where you can spend time nurturing your relationship and building your bond. According to Utah counselors, giving time for both individual pursuits and pursuits as a couple can help strengthen you and your relationship.
– Work out your own personal space. Get into an understanding that each one is free to pursue his or her passion and that this personal space will be respected by the other spouse. For instance, while one spouse is pursuing her interest in the opera (which the other spouse is absolutely allergic to), the other spouse can go fishing (an interest the other spouse does not share). This is also an understanding that each one is entitled to his privacy. That means that you should resist the urge to pry and rummage into his belongings without his permission or approval.
– Clarify your own needs and wants, as well as your spouse’s needs and wants. Then, you can both come up with a compromise that you can both accept. This can apply to financial decisions, and other aspects such as child rearing, home décor decisions and goals for the family.
– Learn to appreciate each other’s individuality. Doing so will prevent you from being at odds with each other because of your intrinsic differences. Instead, you will learn to be grateful for differences you each have. It will also teach you to nurture the healthy individuality of your spouse, as well as yourself.
– Support but “push” as well. Cheer your spouse on as he or she pursues his or her individual needs and desires. However, avoid the temptation to nag or do the work that he or she personally needs to do. You can help your spouse realize that you are there to support.
– Learn to compromise cheerfully. Learn to give and take without feeling resentful if you don’t get your way at times. You may sometimes have to give way to your spouse’s needs at times. But you also have to expect your spouse to also give in at times to your own needs. Your Utah counselor can teach you both how to effectively compromise.
Utah marriage counseling can help you be more self-aware and at the same time, be more aware of the aspects of your marriage. As a result, you are stronger and more independent and you are more able to take care of the needs of your marriage.