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Understanding Your Own Grief Process

As we seek to understand our own grief process, this article will draw from the resource, Understanding Your Grief, by Alan Wolfelt to outline ten essential touchstones.

Touchstone One: Open to the Presence of Your Loss

“You have probably been taught that pain is an indication that something is wrong and that you should find ways to alleviate the pain.

In our culture, pain and feelings of loss are experiences most people try to avoid. Why? Because the role of pain and suffering is misunderstood. Normal thoughts and feelings after a loss are often seen as unnecessary and inappropriate.”

“You will learn over time that the pain of your grief will keep trying to get your attention until you have the courage to gently, and in small doses, open to its presence. The alternative – denying or suppressing your pain – is, in fact, more painful. I have learned that the pain that surrounds the closed heart of grief is the pain of living against yourself, the pain of denying how the loss changes you, the pain of feeling alone and isolated – unable to openly mourn, unable to love and be loved by those around you.”

Setting our intention to heal is a commitment to sometimes being frightened, painful, and often lonely. No words can take away the pain. Ho...

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Honey, I Think We Need a Communication Coach

You may have heard that only a small percentage of what you communicate is actually in your words. The look in your eyes, the expression on your face, the shape of your mouth, the tone and timbre of your voice, your body language – all join together in a little symphony of communication when you try to speak to someone else. All this information is coming your direction when someone is trying to communicate with you.

To make matters even more complicated, in addition to receiving all this information, your mind has to comprehend the language, the form, and the idea behind it. Add to this the fact that typically while someone is speaking, we are having possible responses pop up in our minds at the end of every sentence, and it’s amazing anyone ever communicates anything.

When we reach an impasse in our ability to communicate effectively, it is time to call on a professional communication coach to help us navigate those waters. We need a referee.

A Quick Example

Let’s make up a couple, Karen and Bill. They’ve been married a few years, have a couple of young kids, and by mutual agreement, Bill has a day job and Karen runs the household. Karen is having one of those days – kids have been fussy, the check engine light came on, she dropped a full cup of coffe...

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Do You Suffer from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder? Take this OCD Test

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is one of the more well-known disorders, made popular, among many other portrayals, by Jack Nicholson in the movie “As Good as it Gets” as Melvin Udall, a misanthropic author with OCD. If you’ve seen the movie, you may recall Melvin turning the lock repeatedly after closing his front door.

As with all mental disorders, it is important not to self-diagnose based on information we have gathered from pop culture or the internet. OCD can cover a broad range of behaviors and thought patterns, and it is perhaps best evaluated in the context of how disruptive or distressing it is in your life. If you are concerned you have any mental disorder, see a mental health professional and get a diagnosis.

What is OCD?

The DSM-V Manual defines obsessions as (1) “recurrent and persistent thoughts, urges, or images that are experienced, at some time during the disturbance, as intrusive and unwanted, and that in most individuals cause marked anxiety or distress,” and (2) “The individual attempts to ignore or suppress such thoughts, urges, or images, or to neutralize them with some other thought or action (i.e., by performing a compulsion).”

The manual goes on to define compulsions as:

1. “Repetitive behaviors (e.g., hand washing...

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What are the Symptoms of Depression? Start Here to Find Out

In my experience, some of the most common things that bring people into my office are symptoms of depression. However, often people are not quite able to articulate them as such.

Colloquially, we use “depressed” to mean sad. While sadness is a symptom of depression – often the biggest and most salient – it is not the only one. Further, there are many different types of depression that can manifest in different ways.

My goal here is to walk you through some different types and symptoms of depression so that you might piece together a better idea of what is afflicting you. Next, I hope that I can convince you to help seek out treatment by not only giving you options but addressing how these options work towards building recovery for you.

Major Depressive Disorder

The first broad type of depression to look at is Major Depressive Disorder. Major Depressive Disorder is generally what is being referred to when people say “clinical depression.” When somebody comes into my office indicating they are feeling sad or depressed, this is what my brain is looking at.

More than just a sadness, Major Depressive Disorder indicates that something called a Major Depressive Episode has occurred. This might seem redundant, but I will explain why the distinction exists ...

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Divorce Counseling For Couples With Children: 6 Unexpected Benefits

One of the great tragedies in any life is the dissolution of what was supposed to be a lifelong journey. Divorce usually marks the death of shared hopes and dreams and is deeply disruptive to everyone involved. There is a scale of life stressors by someone named Rahe; on this list, divorce is rated second, just after the death of a spouse or child.

The pain and stress of the transition are significant, sometimes enormous, even if the people involved somehow manage to guard against despondency, avoid blame shifting, manage their anger, maintain civility and focus forward toward a more positive “new normal.”

If neither spouse is immovably spiteful or bitter to the point that they no longer have the capacity to have the children’s best interests at heart then this is a situation where a licensed counselor can make a huge difference in helping the couple manage the emotional currents present in the process. If there are children involved, even more so. If the parents are unable to agree to settle things amicably, their lawyers will end up doing it in court.

Divorce Counseling When Children are Involved

What follows is only intended for couples where there is no abuse involved. If one or both parents are abusive, the divorce probably will not be amicable, and if...

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Sex Addiction Symptoms You Should Not Overlook

If you’re reading this, you are likely wondering if either you or someone you know is struggling with sex addiction symptoms. In fact, you may still be a skeptic concerning the idea that sexual addiction is even a real thing; if so, I understand that. After all, God created us to be sexual beings with the purpose of us procreating – so how can we possibly do too much of that?

I’m glad you (hypothetically) asked. Perhaps if I phrase this question in a different way, it may illuminate the topic in a different light for you:

If you or someone you know engages in the consumption of alcohol to the extent that it could potentially lead to negative legal, relational, occupational, physical, emotional, or financial consequences – and thoughts of how to obtain that next drink were at the forefront of one’s mind more often than not – wouldn’t we agree that this person may in fact be struggling with an addiction to alcohol?

One might be able to exchange alcohol in this scenario with a drug of choice, or even another behavior of choice such as gambling, to further understand the concept of addiction.

You see, when we have an addiction to something (regardless of what it is) – we get a “fix” of sorts, when it moves from a thought of wanting that thing – to a ...

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One Unusual, But Effective, Chemical Dependency Treatment Approach

For many, many people across the globe, chemical dependency is an incredibly challenging obstacle standing in the way of leading a fulfilling life. Here in the Seattle area, we are seeing the increased devastation and pervasive effect that the opiate crisis is having on tens of thousands of our neighbors.

But how has this problem become so large, especially amongst young adults? These are the generations that grew up with programs like D.A.R.E. and education about drugs and alcohol provided in school, yet on the whole, we haven’t seen any societal shifts towards reducing the number of people suffering from addiction.

For those suffering from addiction, it can feel like a weight holding you back from achieving your goals. It’s like being in a boat, heading the direction you want to go, but there’s an anchor holding you down.

It might have been at first comforting to be in port. It kept you from the rocky seas and troubles that could be out there. However, as you look around, you see that the dock is catching fire, and even though you can see the devastation happening, you are now unable to leave. That anchor is heavy and it keeps tugging and pulling you back to the same place. You see the danger in staying, but it feels almost impossible to pull yourself away.

De...

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