Congratulations to our colleague and friend who has just opened her own new office in Athens. Susanna Rains Moriarty,  LPC, CRC. She can now be found here:

Athens Counseling Center
160 Tracy St.,  Athens  GA 30601
We wish her all the best in her new location

 

I recently came across an article titled:  Good to Know:  Why We Think the Way We Think by Pandora Maclean-Hoover.  I am always intrigued by how people think and interested in helping them learn to view things differently, so I couldn’t help but be curious to read what the article had to say.

Have you ever wondered why you think the way you do?  Which in turn leads to how you respond to a situation.  In the article Pandora Maclean-Hoover says that “unhealthy thinking is, in large part, a function of negative belief systems, often installed by others and reinforced by our childhood experiences”.  She goes on to say, “the longer we think a particular way, the harder it is to change our thoughts and beliefs”.  As a therapist who operates from a psychodynamic approach I believe that one of the reasons we think and behave the way we do as adults is largely due to our childhood experiences.   People frequently come into my office and get frustrated because they have decided they want to change the way they [fill in the blank] think, act, feel, etc., and they want it to happen NOW!  They may have been coming to therapy for some time and think “what’s the point” I don’t see a difference.  I often remind people…”you’ve been thinking this way for how long???  Be patient with yourself, it takes time to change, especially when you consider that you have been doing these things your entire life!”  When you consider that this has been your frame of reference for your entire life then I think you can appreciate that it is going to take some time to learn a new way.  I view therapy in these cases as a journey, definitely not a quick fix.  I had a supervisor once who compared therapy to gardening, it’s like planting seeds and patiently waiting for them to grow.  I have come to appreciate this process and encourage my clients to do the same.

For many of us our maladaptive behaviors served a necessary purpose in our childhood, they helped us cope with our circumstances and for some they actually helped them to survive.  Unfortunately, as we grow up and continue with these behaviors (and why would we know or want to act any differently when these behaviors have served such a necessary function?) we find that they are no longer serving their purpose, in fact they are causing problems for us, primarily in our relationships.  Change is not only difficult but it can be very scary too, especially when what you are familiar with and something that has served an important purpose throughout much of your life is what you are trying to change.   I believe the first step to any type of change is awareness.  I try to help my clients become more aware of their behaviors, and not to judge or feel shame about them, but to become more curious about themselves and why they behave the way they do.  With this knowledge they can then begin to realize that they can make changes and that things can be different.   I think Pandora Maclean-Hoover says it best:  “Awareness is a starting place.  The brain does not have a delete button for experiential files, but it is possible to update and integrate files.  The password for reprogramming?  Choice.”

Here is the article if you are interested in reading it:   http://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/good-to-know-why-we-think-the-way-we-think-0908155

If you have been wanting to make changes in your life but don’t know where to start therapy can help!  Contact me and we can work together to help you make the changes you want in your life.   beth@ca4wellbeing.com or 706-425-8900 ext 712

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Humans have a need for connection with other people.  Relationships can be a wonderful, enriching part of our lives.  While relationships can provide us with moments of great joy and happiness they can also be difficult and cause us a lot of stress and pain.  Every relationship has conflict, conflict is inevitable and is not necessarily a bad thing.  While it may not feel like it when you are dealing with the conflict, there are functional and positive aspects of conflict.  Harville Hendrix, co creator of Imago couples therapy, tells us that “conflict is growth trying to happen”.  While I would imagine most of us do not enjoy conflict, learning how to effectively manage conflict without causing damage to your relationships is an important piece to the success of any relationship.

John Gottman, author of The 7 Principles for Making Marriage Work, is known for his research on couples and predictors of divorce.  One of the concepts he is well known for is what he calls the four horsemen of the apocalypse, which are essentially four behaviors that can be destructive to a relationship.  The four horsemen are:  criticism, defensiveness, contempt and stonewalling.  These are behaviors he has observed in couples that can be destructive and kill a relationship over time, he has found them to be consistent predictors of divorce.  Gottman’s research has found that it is not the appearance of conflict but how conflict is managed that predicts the success or failure of a relationship.   Gottman tells us that the first step in effectively managing conflict in your relationships is to identify and fight the four horsemen when they arrive in your conflicts.  If any of the four horsemen should enter into the conflict and you ignore them he believes you risk serious problems in the future of your relationship.  While Gottman’s information may appear to be common sense, in the heat of the moment when emotions are heightened it can be easy to lose sight of how to “appropriately” react towards our significant others, and we can easily fall into these damaging traps of criticizing, becoming defensive, acting contemptuously and/or stonewalling.

While the majority of Gottman’s research applies to couples, I believe the four horsemen are important to be mindful of in ANY of our relationships.  Our most intimate relationships tend to trigger intense emotions, both positive and negative, which may cause us to respond in ways we would not typically respond to an acquaintance.  Whether you are interacting with a spouse, significant other, parent, sister, brother, daughter, son, close friend, etc… the four horsemen can be detrimental to any relationship.  It is important to be aware of our behavior in the midst of conflict and pay attention to any sign of the four horsemen and what Gottman suggests as the antidotes to the four horsemen.   These are important guiding principles to keep in mind when dealing with conflict in any relationship. When we are involved in a relationship with another person our behavior has an impact on that person, so it is important to consider how we are going to respond during conflict before reacting harshly to emotions and potentially damaging the relationship.

THE GOTTMAN INSTITUTE’S DESCRIPTION OF THE FOUR HORSEMEN

AND THE ANTIDOTES FOR EACH ONE OF THEM: 

  1. CRITICISM: the definition of criticism is stating one’s complaints as a defect in one’s partner’s personality;  giving the partner negative trait attributions.   A complaint focuses on a specific behavior, while a criticism attacks the character of the person. The antidote for criticism is to complain without blame.  Talk about your feelings using I statements and then express a positive need.  What do you feel?  What do you need?
    • criticism:  “You always talk about yourself.  You are so selfish.”
    • antidote:  “I’m feeling left out by our talk tonight.  Can we please talk about my day?”
  2. DEFENSIVENESS:  defensiveness is defined as self-protection in the form of righteous indignation or innocent victim hood in an attempt to ward off a perceived attack.  Many people become defensive when they are being criticized, but the problem is that being defensive never helps to solve the problem at hand.  Defensiveness is really a way of blaming your partner.  You are saying, in effect, the problem isn’t me, it’s you.  As a result, the problem is not resolved and the conflict escalates further.  The antidote is to accept responsibility, even if only for part of the conflict.
    • defensiveness:  “It’s not my fault that we’re always late, it’s your fault.”
    • antidote:  “Well, part of this is my problem, I need to think more about time.”
  3. CONTEMPT:  contempt involves statements that come from a position of superiority.  Some examples of displays of contempt include when a person uses sarcasm, cynicism, name-calling, mockery, and hostile humor.  Contempt is the greatest predictor of divorce and must be eliminated.  The antidote is building a culture of appreciation and respect.
    • contempt:  “You’re an idiot.”
    • antidote:  “I’m proud of the way you handled that teacher conference.”
  4. STONEWALLING:  stonewalling occurs when the listener withdraws from the interaction, it is emotional withdrawal.  The antidote is to practice physiological self-soothing in order to stay emotionally connected.  The first step of physiological self-soothing is to stop the conflict discussion.  If you keep going, you will find yourself exploding at your partner or imploding [stonewalling], neither of which will get you anywhere.  The only reasonable strategy is to let your partner know that you are feeling flooded and need to take a break.

Relationships are hard work, but the rewards of a positive relationship are well worth the work.  If you are looking for support on your own or with someone you are in a relationship with to better manage your relationship contact me at beth@ca4wellbeing.com or 706-425-8900 ext 711.  I can help!

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Counseling Associates for Well-Being would like to welcome Beth Jackson to our CAWB team.  Beth brings a wealth of knowledge to benefit clients in our Alpharetta location.  Beth works with adults and adolescents on a wide range of issues, some of those being family and parenting issues, relationship issues, life transitions, women’s issues, anxiety and depression.  Please read more about Beth on her bio link at https://ca4wellbeing.com/about/beth-z-jackson-lcsw/. Contact her at Beth@ca4wellbeing.com or 706-425-8900.

 

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You have graduated from high school, spent the summer making memories with family and friends, and now it’s time to start college.  You may experience mixed emotions given this new journey in your life.  You might be excited to have a new independence – living on your own, deciding when and what to eat, hanging out late with friends.  Perhaps, sharing a room with a complete stranger makes you a little nervous or maybe you are enthusiastic about having a new friend to study with or to join you for social events.  You may have concerns about your courses- will I like them?  Will they be too hard?  Will I meet the professor’s expectations?  All these emotional responses and thoughts are normal when adjusting to college.  It will take some time for you to acclimate to this new environment and to become comfortable with this new chapter in your life.  So don’t think that everything will fall into place the first day of school.  Here are a few tips to help you make a smooth college transition and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

  1. Get to know the campus.  Take a tour with an upper-class student.  Learn the buildings where you will have classes, meetings, and social events.  Becoming aware of your surroundings will make you feel more comfortable with the new environment.
  1. Give attention to food choices.  The endless amount of food at the dining halls and late night food runs makes it easy to develop unhealthy eating habits.  Be mindful of the foods you are eating and make food choices that you feel are best for you.
  1. Make time to move.  You may refer to this as exercise but moving your body can help you with managing stress, anxiety, and depression.  You don’t have to go to the gym in order to reap the benefits.  Simply walk to or around campus instead of riding the bus or driving your car, play an intramural sport, or enroll in a dance class.
  1. Get some zzzzz!  Late night studying or hanging out late may result in poor sleeping habits.  It’s important that you are getting proper sleep in order to be alert and productive.  Lack of sleep can impact your memory, mood, ability to learn and retain information, increase stress, and may result in injuries or long-term health issues.
  1. Ask for help.  Avoid waiting until mid-semester or the end of the semester to seek help with your academic work.  Take advantage of tutoring services, the writing center, study sessions, and professors’ office hours.  If you have a disability, register with the Disability Resource Center in order to arrange for accommodations.  Planning ahead can help you be successful in your classes.
  1. Have a healthy relationship with your roommate(s).  Having a roommate can be a big adjustment for all parties.   It is important for you and your roommate to meet and communicate expectations.  Develop an agreement about how you all will share your space.         
  1. Meet your professors.  You might think your professors are only interested in lecturing but faculty like to get to know their students as well.  Visit them during their office hours and introduce yourself.  If you have questions about the class, class preparation, or ideas discussed in class, talk with the professors about them.  Don’t wait until you need a recommendation letter to introduce yourself to your professors.  Meet with them now!
  1. Make new friends.  College is a time to meet new people and make great connections.  You will encounter people from different backgrounds and even from different parts of the world.  You may find it easy to make new friends or it may take time for you to establish relationships.  Regardless, take the opportunity to meet someone new.  You may just gain a lifelong friend.

With these tips in hand, you should be well on your way to having a successful first year of college.  If you find that you are having a difficult time with this transition, you are welcome to meet with me.  I have over 14 years of experience working with college students.  I’d be glad to help you on your new journey.  I can be reached at Marian@ca4wellbeing.com or 706-425-8900 ext. 704.

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Robert Lomax

I love movies.

In my undergraduate years, I may have logged more time in the student movie theater than I did attending classes. Although my schedule now doesn’t afford me the luxury of getting to the theater as much as I would like, I still try to “watch my stories” as much as I can. A good film offers an immersive experience…a chance to be absorbed in the present moment via our senses (sight and hearing especially…but then again there’s always popcorn to fill in the rest), but beyond mere escapism, the medium can offer us an opportunity to connect with our uniquely human capacity for meaning making.

The other night, I was scrolling through my Netflix queue, looking for something to watch at home, and I came across the 2014 Spanish film Living is Easy (with Eyes Closed). I had never heard of the film, but was immediately intrigued by its title—a reference to the opening verse in the Beatles’ song “Strawberry Fields Forever,” which just happens to be one of my favorite songs ever (more on that in a bit).

Anyway, I watched the film and loved it. The film, apparently something of a true story, chronicles a teacher’s journey to meet John Lennon in 1966, when he was in Spain filming the Richard Lester movie How I Won the War (notable in Beatle lore for being the period when John wrote “Strawberry Fields Forever”). The teacher, Antonio, records Beatles’ tunes off the radio and then translates them to teach his students English. He wants to ask the “Smart Beatle” to translate and clarify the meaning of some of the songs, because it’s hard for Antonio to get all the words right to teach his students.

Along Antonio’s journey, he picks up two teenagers who are hitchhiking, fleeing two separate but simultaneously unfortunate circumstances. The unlikely trio journey from Madrid to the coastal town of Almeria, where John Lennon is temporarily residing. The film is filled with picturesque views of the Spanish countryside and coast, but underneath the beauty lurks subtle and not-so-subtle reminders of the oppressive environment that existed in Spain under the rule of Francisco Franco, the dictator who ruled Spain from 1939 to 1975.

You might be wondering why I’m talking about movies in a blog dedicated to a psychotherapy practice. Well, I’ll explain. Actually, I’ll let twentieth century American existential psychologist Rollo May explain instead…

In his 1991 book “The Cry for Myth,“ Rollo May notes that “a myth is a way of making sense in a senseless world. Myths are narrative patterns that give significance to our existence” (p. 15). May emphasizes that, throughout time and across cultures, myths have served to aid humanity in formulating personal identity, connection with others, clarifying values, and providing meaning to the otherwise unexplainable.

Film is a modern means to access this mythic tradition.

When the topic of movies comes up in my sessions, I tend to steer the conversation toward connecting film with its mythical tradition. For example, we can use film narratives and film characters’ struggles as a means to externalize problems, so those issues that bring us into therapy seem less threatening. Or…maybe we can gain a new, more helpful perspective on a difficult past experience by considering it part of our “origin story”—an event that we have no control over apart from the meaning we derive from it…e.g. the murder of Batman’s parents contributing to his decision to protect the citizens of Gotham City.

I noted a lot of mythic elements in my viewing of Living Is Easy (With Eyes Closed). In one of the film’s opening scenes, Antonio teaches his class the words to “Help!”—another iconic Beatles’ tune. Antonio asks his students what the song is about, and after weathering a few non-committal answers from his disinterested pupils, he conveys to his students that the songwriter—once again…Mr. Lennon—is imploring us to help. He emphasizes the word “help” multiple times, and in doing so extends the meaning beyond a literal interpretation of the song’s lyrics.

To my mind, Antonio is suggesting we consider the song’s meaning from more than one perspective. The way he says “HELP,’ almost as an incantation, suggests fear…the terror of existence, but it can also be read as a command—not to live in fear but to offer HELP to humanity in general. The song’s seemingly simple message blooms into a mythic call for empathy and compassionate action.

Time and time again in this film, you see characters helping each other in tiny…and sometimes very significant ways, their kindness standing in stark contrast to the occasional random acts of cruelty a few peripheral characters exhibit (a thug in the town of Almeria seems to symbolize the dumb hate that fuels Fascist regimes like Franco’s). It’s almost as if the viewer is being presented with a choice—to live compassionately or live as an oppressor of others.

This emphasis on helping, to live compassionately, makes the film’s borrowing of the “Strawberry Fields Forever” lyric ironic. I’ve always found “Strawberry Fields Forever” to be a beautiful, atmospheric song, but lyrically the song is extraordinarily bleak—something of a sad, fragmented ode to nostalgia and escapism.

Living is easy with eyes closed

Misunderstanding all you see

It’s getting hard to be someone

But it all works out

It doesn’t matter much to me…

The protagonist in the song (once again, is it John Lennon?) seems confused and uncertain of their identity and sense of purpose…always second-guessing themselves (“always, no sometimes, think it’s me…but it’s all wrong, that is I think I disagree”). The solace found in escaping (“let me take you down”) to Strawberry Fields might suggest permanence (the “Forever” bit), but I hear/read it as a temporary respite—a fleeting act of emotional avoidance—confirmed by the increasingly nonsensical tone of each subsequent verse.

Antonio does not live a life of avoidance, of the escapism of “Strawberry Fields Forever.” Sure…there is struggle along the way, and there appears to be something of a loneliness to his existence (“take me…all heart and lonelier than a fart”), but he possesses a secure identity and engages open-heartedly in vital, valued living that is rich in compassion (that desire to HELP that I mentioned earlier). In one of the film’s key moments, when Antonio confronts the town bully who has been terrorizing one of his teenage traveling companions, he provides this challenge:

“let me say something…really important. You can’t live in fear. Too many people live in fear in Spain. But you need to change things dammit…you need to erase fear. Life is like a dog…if it smells fear, it bites you…”

Although he is speaking of fear that permeates 1960’s Spain, he could just as easily be referring to the present day United States. We can live a “half life” compromised by fear, or we can learn accept fear, and move forward in our lives in directions that matter to us.

I’m so happy I stumbled across Antonio, as he’s stimulated a lot of reflection on my part, connecting me to some of the key elements that energize me in my work with clients.

I love engaging clients in dialogues—should they be willing to do so—that are designed to inspire meaning making and clarify values. If we don’t know what is important to us, we run the risk of pursuing false, unfulfilling goals and living a life that will leave us disengaged from others and ultimately dissatisfied (i.e. the non-Antonio existence). Additionally, much of my practice, as I’ve delineated in some of my other blog posts, is informed by Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT), an empirically-proven, mindfulness-based psychotherapy that encourages the cultivation of a compassionate mind as an essential piece in promoting psychological change and well-being. When we have the courage to recognize suffering, whether our own or someone else’s, and connect with our innate capacity to HELP (once again, thanks Antonio)—to alleviate suffering through compassionate action—we access the best, most vital part of ourselves.

Hope you enjoyed the “Long and Winding Road” (another Beatles’ reference…a hat trick!) that is this blog post. If any of the content here around film and its use in psychotherapy, compassionate mind training, or…well…the Fab Four engaged you, feel free to contact me. I’m accepting new clients! Also, if you’re just looking for a good movie to watch tonight, and you don’t mind subtitles, check out Living is Easy (With Eyes Closed). 

May, Rollo (1991). The Cry for Myth. New York: Norton.

 

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Anxiety has reached epic proportions in America – 31% of the American workforce is dealing with anxiety issues. With all of the new technology options and social media platforms, we’re connected to work more than ever and have difficulty finding time to disconnect and relax.

According to Tony Schwartz, founder of The Energy Project and best-selling author of The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working, Americans are in constant “fight or flight” mode. This should raise a red flag in our lives and we should recognize this isn’t a healthy way to live. But many of us are just toughing it out. Schwartz notes, “If you can’t build a sense of safety and security, it will compromise every aspect of your life, including work.”

He makes it clear, your body can’t distinguish between a lion attack threat and other safety and security threatening stressors. According to a recent Business Insider report, Schwartz discovered the most common anxiety arises when someone’s sense of value is threatened. “Almost any time you move into a negative emotional state, you can trace it back to an experience where you perceive your value has come under some type of threat,” Schwartz explains. “That awareness is power. I have the capacity to decide, is this a real threat? Almost always, it isn’t. It’s much less of a threat to your body than you think.” But, our mind is processing the threat as “fight or flight” and anxiety levels are maximized. Understanding that our immediate environment may be difficult to quickly change, we can take charge of a few things – our thoughts, nutrition and exercise.
The primary anxiety triggers that may threaten your sense of safety or value:
• Serious life events like the death of a loved one or a divorce
• Problems in personal relationships, marriage or close friendships
• Work stress
• Financial stress

It’s apparent most of us experience life stressors and many of us are certainly living in “fight or flight.” With this awareness, and through working with people with high levels of anxiety, I have developed a powerful program to identify and address the aspects of anxiety, and provide clients with the tools to move into a more peaceful, productive life.

I hope you will join us. Take this life-changing opportunity to learn and experience new techniques designed to take you from the “fight or flight” mode to living in greater “peace and harmony.”

2Creating Clarity Course for Positve Change - Stress & Anxiety Fall 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

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It’s Monday morning. Time for you to wake-up and head to your job. You know the one that you dislike going to everyday. The job where you feel like your skills are not being used. The job that does not match with your interest. You know that job where you sit and daydream about the future and wonder if you will find a career that is suitable for you. If this sounds like you, then you need a new career.

There is nothing more miserable than working a job that leaves you feeling empty, frustrated, and longing for more. If you are tired of feeling this way, today is the day for you to start planning for your career change. In order to make this change, you must first look within yourself and then decide on the career that will be best for you. Here’s a few areas for you to assess before moving into your next career.

What Do You Do Naturally?
Before you can move forward in your new career, spend some time getting to know yourself. Self-awareness is important to securing the job you want in the career field that’s best for you. You can start by thinking about your natural abilities and skill set. Your natural abilities are simply your innate strengths. You may often hear your family or friends marvel about something that you always seem to do so well. “Wow, you really are good with organizing and decorating your home, office, or any space you are in.” What are your abilities that always lead to compliments from others? Make a list of them and use them to determine what type of career would allow you to use them.

Skills are competencies developed from learning or practice. Some skill sets include helping, management, teaching, leadership, design, financial, problem solving, and mechanical. Although you may have skills in several areas, you should decide whether you like using all the skills that you possess. For example, you may possess supervisory skills but do you enjoy being a supervisor? If not, this is a skill set that you may not want to continue using. Take a moment to think about the skills you use in your job on a daily basis. Identify the ones you like to use and the ones you do not like to use. Also, identify the skills that you have and do not currently use but would like to use. If you are unsure of the skills that you possess, a skills survey can help you determine the ones you have and like to use.

What Does Your Personality Say About You?
Believe it or not, your personality is a good indicator of the type of career you may want to consider. I recommend taking the Myers Briggs-Type Indicator, the most widely used personality tool, to assess this area. The MBTI will assess how you focus your attention (inward or outward), how you gather information (basic information or adding interpretation and meaning), how you make decisions (by using logic or considering people and circumstances), and how you structure your world (decided or flexibility). Upon completion of the MBTI, you will be assigned a personality type which further identifies your strengths and how you best work. Using your type information, you can identify careers that are most suitable for your personality. While there are many online versions of this assessment, I am qualified to administer and interpret the official version of the MBTI which gives you a more accurate picture of your type.

What Are Your Main Interests?
Your interests can cover several different areas. Some interests may be more suitable for a career while others may be well suited for hobbies. The Strong Interest Inventory can be beneficial in understanding your interests and the careers associated with your interests. The assessment is based on the concept that people are more satisfied when they work in careers that are of interest to them and when they work with people who have similar interests. This assessment categorizes interests into six different areas. Once you have completed the assessment, your interest areas are identified and further explained in a personalized report. The report also includes a list of careers related to your interests along with information about your work style, learning style, and risk-taking orientation. I find the Strong Interest Inventory to be a great complement to the MBTI.

What Do You Value?
Your values are a reflection of what you consider important and a priority in your life. You need to know what you value in your work space in order to have a satisfying and rewarding career. Some career values include salary, work location, benefits, stable employment, challenging work responsibilities, opportunities for advancement/promotion, and recognition. While career values are important, you also have to consider your life values and factor them into your new career plans. Some life values include education, family, freedom, health, honesty, independence, integrity, and loyalty. Take a moment to note your values and think about how important they are for your next career.

Once you have gathered information about yourself in these areas, begin to look for common themes. Do you see commonalities between the skills you prefer to use and your interests? Do your values align with your interests? From each of these areas, you can start putting the pieces together to determine what you will want in your new career. The next step is to determine careers where you can be yourself – natural abilities, skills, personality, interests, and values. The assessments that I previously mentioned (Myers Briggs Type Indicator and the Strong Interest Inventory) can offer a great start with a list of careers associated with your personality and interests. If you have some careers in mind that you want to consider, research them and decide whether they are suitable given your abilities, skills, personality, interests, and values.

If you would like assistance with making your career change, contact me at marian@ca4wellbeing.com or 706-425-8900 ext. 704 to schedule an appointment.

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Maybe you’re the kind of person that has trouble focusing. One thought seamlessly leads to another and that thought takes you to something else and so on, making it difficult to complete the task at hand or listen to a speaker for more than a few minutes without your mind wandering.

Perhaps your mind races about with one exciting idea after another, inhibiting your ability to concentrate on one concept for any length of time. You could be coping with ADHD, depression or anxiety, any of which can cause you to lose focus or make it hard to find it in the first place.

For whatever reason, an inability to concentrate is more than frustrating. It impedes kids’ schoolwork and adults’ careers. It strains friendships, stresses family relationships and detracts from self-worth.

The good news is the mind can be directed to concentrate better through neurofeedback, a non-pharmaceutical method of retraining wayward electrical impulses in the brain.

Measuring brain waves

While it’s normal for brain waves to vary in rate according to what a person is doing, some people’s brains get stuck in a too-fast or too-slow pattern for extended intervals, making it hard for them to focus. For example, a prolonged period of a slower state, which is called theta, can cause people to drift and make it hard for them to return to full awareness. On the flip side, experiencing the fast beta state for too long can leave someone too anxious or too excited to concentrate. Neurofeedback works by assessing and retraining such electricity in the cortex, or top layer, of the brain.

To begin, a map of a person’s electric activity in the brain is created by having the individual sit in a chair and don a thin cap fitted with 19 sensors that detect and measure the activity in the brain’s cortex. The results are compared against a normative sample, bringing to light any areas where the electrical activity is too fast or too slow, either of which can impede concentration and focus.

Re-training electrical activity

To retrain electrical brain activity, the practitioner will place one to four sensors on the individual upon those spots where the activity reads as too fast or too slow. The sensors, which are connected to a computer that’s linked to a video monitor, read the person’s brain activity as the individual begins to watch a movie. When the person’s brain activity fires too quickly or too slowly, as determined by the sensors, the image on the monitor screen dims. As the brain’s electrical impulses go toward the norm, the picture brightens and a click sounds, thereby reinforcing the better brain activity on two levels.

Each session lasts about 30 minutes, with two sessions per week recommended. The number of sessions required varies with the type of problem experienced by the individual and his or her response to training. Some people get a “tune up” session after six months or a year, and many people have been able to modify or stop taking related medications after treatment.

Although the brain likes to stay on a set course, the positive reinforcement achieved by neurofeedback challenges it to shift accordingly and permanently, thereby calming overactive impulses or boosting ones that are too slow, helping improve a person’s ability to focus and concentrate.

Better and better

Neurofeedback also can help with anxiety, depression, sleep disorders, autism spectrum disorder, traumatic brain injury, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder as well as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It also can contribute to peak performance in athletics, music and dance. Members of the Italian soccer team underwent neurofeedback therapy before winning the World Cup in 2006.

The National Center for Biotechnology Information supports neurofeedback as a viable treatment for ADHD (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19715181). The treatment can be “efficacious and specific,” that is, equal to or better than the current accepted standard of care, as rated by the International Society for Neurofeedback & Research.

Typically, changes are seen gradually over time, with, perhaps, a child’s teacher noticing a student’s improved behavior first, followed by the child’s parent and then the child himself.  Gradual shifts that can lead to desired change and increased well being.

Pamela Key provides neurofeedback services for children and adults at Counseling Associates for Well-Being. Contact Pamela at pamela@ca4wellbeing.com or call (706) 425-8900.

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I recently watched a TED Talk by the world renown relationship expert, Esther  Perel,  about infidelity.   http://www.ted.com/talks/esther_perel_rethinking_infidelity_a_talk_for_anyone_who_has_ever_loved

In it, she points out that the data about the occurrence of affairs is hard to pin down because the definition of an affair or infidelity is varied. She says that the numbers range from  26% to 75% depending on the source.  That’s very common even at the low end.  So it seems that information about affairs and their impact on our lives is extremely important for all of us.

I have worked for quite some time now with couples reeling in the aftermath of the discovery of an affair, or individuals who have been affected by an affair in their relationship—either because they are in the midst of one, grieving the end of one, or blown apart by the discovery of their partner’s affair.

I think that Ms. Perel’s assertion that affairs can be the final blow to an already damaged marriage or relationship,  or may in fact be  the greatest opportunity,  is absolutely correct.  The chance to examine and search for what she terms “lost parts” of ourselves or our partners is invaluable.  She jokes that she isn’t “pro-affair”, and to be so would be akin to being “pro-cancer.”  But in the aftermath of such a life-changing event, one cannot help but be somehow different.

I have suggested on many occasions to the couples I have been privileged to work with that, that they may eventually come to be grateful for the discovery of the affair.  I am often initially met with doubting looks  to put it mildly.

You don’t just get married or move in together and never feel an attraction for any other person ever again. You don’t simply remain “in love” and tremendously attracted to your partner either. The intimacy and closeness in a relationship takes work. It takes attention. It needs to be tended to and nurtured, in a conscious, deliberate way.    The awareness of this is the gift that can come from of the discovery of an affair.  Even in instances in which one partner does not know about the affair because it is neither discovered nor disclosed, the person having the affair has an opportunity to explore the meaning of the affair. They can learn about the desires and the longing that may have led to the crossing of some line. In that process of reflection, there is a fantastic chance to grow—t o be more mindfully aware, and to clarify who we are and what we value.

When there is a discovery that leads to the trust being  broken between two people,  it can seem like an overwhelming blow,  one  that seems impossible to recover from.  However, I have witnessed the beautiful transformation that can happen between two people as they work to understand themselves and each other, and to truly love one another through the most painful of processes. I have seen the bond or connection that deepens in the most remarkable ways as people share their most vulnerable selves, and find that the person  that they once felt a giddy  in love feeling with,  can see all their flaws, forgive their mistakes,  and still remain lovingly there –committed to the relationship.   It takes time, and work, and hope, and patience, but yes, you can recover.

For help with Affair Recovery contact Claire Zimmerman at Claire@ca4wellbeing.com

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