School is back in session.

By David Joel Miller.

School went back in session which means all things work related have changed.

schoolroom

School classroom
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

With school back in session I find my schedule has gotten way busy just at the time readers are checking out the blog and leaving comments. I believe that because of the topics I write about, mental health, substance use disorders and co-occurring disorders, more searches are happening just now on those topics. Some of this is school related.

This time of year, at least here in the northern hemisphere here I live, people start abandoning their outside activities and return to their indoor life. This shifts the attention from fun activities to relationships, careers and to where their life is going. So more interest in the winter, indoor months, in happy life, self-help, self-improvement and relationship issues.

As a result of this increased interest my list of topics to write about has grown longer while my time to write has been reduced. My teaching and counseling work schedules are keeping me busy just now.

So please forgive me if it takes some extra time to respond to comments and questions and if occasionally there are some gaps in the publication schedule.

Counselorssoapbox.com is approaching one thousand posts and still growing. Thanks to all of you for reading and continuing to be supportive of this endeavor.

What is ahead for the coming months here on counselorssoapbox.com ?

A new feature coming up will be a series of posts titled “What is.”  This started as a project for my beginning students and the masters level people I supervise. Knowing the vocabulary of mental health and recovery helps them think about what they will be doing and the issues in the field. These “What is” posts will be shorter than the regular long form ones.

The field is changing, counselorssoapbox and the posts on it need to reflect those changes. We are looking at milder cases of issues and the topic of prevention. The old idea that the mentally ill, addicts and alcoholics were fundamentally different from “normal people” has given way to seeing how anyone can at times have a substance use disorder when their drinking gets excessive and that you can move back and forth on a continuum of mental wellness.

The year ahead, academic not calendar year, will need to include more posts on wellness and recovery and some things called strength based recovery. Parallel with those new ways of thinking is the emergence of non-medical counseling and coaching. All of these areas are fertile topics for thought and discussion.

Those who know me well, know that I love seeing clients, teaching, writing and supervising new counselors, because I learn so much in the process of listening to all of you and researching the topics I will write about.

Hope you will all continue to follow counselorssoapbox and thanks for your continued support in all I do. Keep those comments and questions coming and I will do my best to share what I know or can find out about those topics.

Want to sign up for my mailing list?

Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books

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First night of Drug and Alcohol Classes

By David Joel Miller

Tonight is the first night of classes here at FCC.

One activity in my busy schedule that I thoroughly enjoy is the opportunity to teach Substance Abuse Counseling classes at Fresno City College.

The program here is accredited by the California Association of Drug and Alcohol Educators (CAADE) and leads students towards becoming registered and then certified drug and alcohol counselors.

The program includes 36 semester units of classes in Drug and Alcohol use disorders, recovery and the work of counselors and social workers. A few students from the 4 year college show up in these classes because this program contains more information about Substance Use Disorders than most Masters or PhD programs.

We see students in this class who want to be drug and alcohol counselors. There are often also social work majors, nursing students, criminal justice majors and a smattering of people who are in early recovery and know then need more information on Substance Use Disorders to be able to decide what career is right for them.

All these majors are welcome. I try to emphasize that first night that no matter where they work there is a strong possibility that they will encounter people with substance use disorders. They will also, if they see substance abusers, see mixed in with those clients a lot of people who have emotional or mental health issues.

For those of you, who are not able to take classes of this nature, consider some reading on the topic of substance use disorders, (The A.A. big book is a good place to start.) Also consider taking a Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) class if one is offered in your area. If there is not one close to you encourage your local officials to get a MHFA training scheduled for your locale.

Teaching, while enjoyable takes a bit out of my time so the posts may come a little farther apart and the replies to your questions and comments will take a little longer but know that I values all your input and will get back to you all as quickly as I can.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended books.

If you would like to stay connected to the posts on counselors soapbox, hear about the progress of my book in progress or the flow of the conversation about mental health and substance abuse issues – please subscribe or follow counselors soapbox.

You will find the follow button at the very tip-top of the page, in the black area, next to the counselorssoapbox.com name. And don’t forget to hit the share and the like buttons at the end of each post.

Questions and comments – let me get back to you on that

By David Joel Miller.

You have questions – you left comments.

Questions and comments

Questions and comments.
“Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net”.

Sorry about not getting to answer all those great questions. You readers have sent in a number of comments and questions, some on one site and some on another.  All those comments and questions deserve a decent response. I am finding that this time of year with finals, a three-day training, preparing for the next semester and the general hecticness of the season, there has just not been time to get back to all of you as I had wished.

So I hope you will keep reading the posts as they are scheduled to appear and know that I will get back to your questions and comments as soon as I possibly can.

You should know that most of the posts on counselorssoapbox.com are written ahead of time and then scheduled to appear at a later date.

There have been lots of new developments in therapyland and in recoveryland also. I have been reading some new research and the way we see substance abuse, mental illness and recovery is all about to change.

Over the next year I want to talk about all of these items and give the questions and comments the replies they deserve.

Here are just some of the things that remain on my to-write-about list.

1.  How treatment and recovery might apply to children and adolescents. Over my time working in the recovery field I have seen a lot of youngsters that need and deserve help. Working with adults I see issues that are clearly the result of childhood mental illness or substance abuse that went untreated.

2. The role of the internet and modern technology in mental health and recovery. I see both harm and help from these new technologies. We should talk about what might be helpful in treating and preventing emotional and substance abuse issues and what internet features may be promoting recovery.

3. The changing role and status of LPCC’s in delivering mental health and substance abuse treatment in California.

4. Affairs: This is not a new topic but it is a large, possibly the largest, reason couples come to see me in private practice. People have strong feelings around this. With more than half of all marriages ending in divorce and more than half of all people reporting they have had affairs we need to look at this issue and how you might recover from an affair – yours or your partners.

5. New developments in brain science. The last year has resulted in some intriguing new knowledge of the brain and how it works. This research has suggested some new ways that mental and emotional illnesses as well as substance use disorders can be treated. Not all of this new knowledge points to using more medication to treat problems. Research continues to point to the value of talk therapies in treating emotional issues.  While I am neither a medical doctor nor a researcher, as a counselor, therapist and writer, I find these developments worth commenting on.

6. The major role of stress, adjustment and dissociation in emotional problems. PTSD, complex trauma and a host of other problems have received less attention than they require. We need to talk more about how stress affects people, how to manage stress and how to heal from past stressful experiences.

One goal for the counselorssoapbox.com blog this year was to write and post 350 new articles. With those already scheduled to appear before the year-end it is clear that we will reach this goal. This will bring the total for articles posted on counselorssoapbox.com to over 700 posts.

This coming year looks to be a busy one. I will be teaching more classes than last year, doing more trainings and plan to get back to work on that book or books. Readers have asked questions about, change, recovery, resiliency and how to create a happy life, which need much longer discussions than a blog post. The books in progress will be a way to offer my views on those topics.

Thanks to all the readers, new and longtime, of counselorssoapbox.com.  Keep those questions and comments coming; it encourages me to keep writing.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended books.

If you would like to stay connected to the posts on counselors soapbox, hear about the progress of my book in progress or the flow of the conversation about mental health and substance abuse issues – please subscribe or follow counselors soapbox.

You will find the follow button at the very tip-top of the page, in the black area, next to the counselorssoapbox.com name. And don’t forget to hit the share and the like buttons at the end of each post.

Recommended self-help & Counseling books

Recommended Books.

We have had some trouble with the links to counselorfresno.com so here is a re-post of the books on self-help, counseling and therapy. This is a work in progress so if you think of something else that warrants a listing here let me know.

Links to suggested self-help books.

Here are some books that I have found useful or that have been recommended by clients and colleagues. No book is a substitute for professional therapy but many of the things we talk about in therapy are explained in more detail in self-help books. The links will take you to the Amazon.com listing for the books.

More titles will be added as time permits. If you have suggestions for this list send them along. Leave a comment or there is a contact form available.

Self Help books

Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow – Elizabeth Lesser

The story of how painful events can be the impetus for personal growth

Relationships

Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus

Some interesting observations about how men and women understand relationships differently. Not everything applies to everyone but you may well see large parts of your relationship behaviors depicted in this book.

Children

Windows to Our Children: A Gestalt Therapy Approach to Children and Adolescents by Violet Oaklander

Raising Good Children: From Birth Through The Teenage Years By Thomas Lickona

The Healing Power of Play: Working with Abused Children by Eliana Gill

How do people learn the difference between right and wrong and why do some people stay stuck at low levels of moral reasoning.

Alcoholism, addiction and recovery   

The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous

The classic text on Alcoholism, recovery this is the book that started off the whole 12 step phenomenon.

Alcoholics Anonymous from The Anonymous Press

At 99 cents this is such a bargain. This edition needed a separate listing. No kindle reader? No Problem, if you have a computer you can down load a free Kindle reader.

Theory and counseling techniques

These books are recommended for professionals, interns and students. They may also be of interest to some clients or consumers.

Changing for Good: A Revolutionary Six-Stage Program for Overcoming Bad Habits and Moving Your Life Positively Forward

Schizophrenia: Cognitive Theory, Research, and Therapy – Aaron Beck

Uncommon Therapy: The Psychiatric Techniques of Milton H. Erickson, M.D.– Jay Halley

The story of Milton Erickson’s very unusual and very effective way of conducting therapy.

Need a Kindle? Here is one for $69

Kindle, 6″ E Ink Display, Wi-Fi – Includes Special Offers (Black)

“Counselorssoapbox and counselorfresno.com are participants in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.” We recommend only books we think are good and maybe occasionally make a buck.

Want to sign up for my mailing list?

Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books

When talk therapy fails – other learning styles

By David Joel Miller

Not everyone learns things the same way.

Art for the visual learner

Art for the visual learner Photo courtesy of Flickr

Therapy is often conducted as if everyone learned in one way and only one way. In traditional therapy, we copy Freud, the client talks and the therapist listens. Eventually the client says something and then hearing their own voice they have this insight moment and suddenly they know what is wrong and what to do.

If only it was that simple. Sometimes just talking does not help everyone.

Several other methods of counseling have been developed to help those who learn or communicate best in another way. Unfortunately those other styles of therapy do not always get the respect they deserve.

The three learning stiles and therapy.

Some people are good at learning by listening to verbal directions. Verbal learns can reach decisions from listening to themselves talk things out.  Some people learn best by seeing things, they are visual learners. Some people need to be guided through the motions to learn. We call that kinesthetic learning. Some people learn best by a combination of methods.

While talk therapy may work well for verbal learners it is not always equally helpful if you have a different learning style.

Some people can’t find the words.

What if you can’t find the words to describe how you feel? There are a variety of reasons why someone would not be able to communicate about their experiences or feelings in words.

Young children may have been the victims of abuse or neglect; they may have grief or loss that is troubling them. What they do not have is the words to talk about those problems. That does not imply that a non verbal person is not troubled by their problems.

People with a disorder on the autism spectrum may not be adept at verbal communication. Those who dissociate or are disconnected from their feelings have the same issue.

One method of working on those issues is to employ art therapy.  Art therapy does not mean the therapist and the client sit around and color or draw pictures. There is a reason for the art and it is therapeutic. The child who could not explain something bad that has happened to them can often draw a picture of that experience or of the feeling that event created. Once the picture has been drawn they can begin to describe the things they pictured. Amazing insights can develop as a result of using visual methods to supplement the client’s vocabulary.

Sometimes you can express yourself best by moving.

kinesthetic learners need to move and feel the situation.  One technique that I have used in a group setting is to have a client who is unable to describe how they feel about their family create a “family sculpture.” They make up a list of family members which we display on a white board. Then other clients are asked to play the roles of those family members and positioned around the room. The client tells each “family member” where to stand.

The group then asks the client why each person is standing where they are. Clients discover that they always felt that one person was closer to them than another or that two family members stay apart from the rest and excluded them. This becomes a topic to talk about and sometimes exercises to do at home to improve relationships with those family members they saw as distant from them.

Other clients may find dance therapy or physical activity to be helpful in learning to understand and regulate their behavior.

Why other therapy’s?

The intent here is not just to engage in fun activities with clients as therapeutic as that can be, but to help the client to grasp their thinking, feeling and behavioral issues in a way that fits their essential learning style.

To apply these alternative therapeutic modalities the clinical counselor needs to be trained in assessment and diagnosis of mental, emotional and behavioral disorders.

For more on Clinical Counselors and the things you do please look at past posts on LPCC’s and check out the CALPCC (California Association for Licensed Professional Clinical Counselors. website.

Two books that I find especially helpful in working with young children or less verbal adults are:

Windows to Our Children: A Gestalt Therapy Approach to Children and Adolescents by Violet Oaklander

The Healing Power of Play: Working with Abused Children by Eliana Gill

For the full list of recommended books check out the listings over on counselorfresno.com at Recommended Books 

Want to sign up for my mailing list?

Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books

 

Extra practical therapy book is coming

By David Joel Miller

Books to read

Books to read

Work has resumed on the book I am writing about counseling and therapy.  The planed release date is sometime early next year.

This book is a collection of ideas about counseling and how to get the most out of the process. It is designed specifically for the non professional. It will cover a lot of questions that so many of you have asked about counseling, therapy, mental health, substance abuse and related topics. It will include answers to questions such as:

When should you go for counseling?

How will you know if it can help you?

Is Counseling safe and what will I need to do to make it safe and effective?

What kind of professional am I looking for?

How much does it cost and what can I do if I can’t pay?

And much more

Some of this material is from posts to counselorssoapbox.com and readers questions to the blog. Much new material has been added each day as the writing progresses.

It is still not too late to get your question answered. Ask now and I will try to answer your question on the blog. Longer or more detailed questions may well end up in the book.

The title is still a work in progress. Any suggestions?

As the book writing progresses, the time for blog posts are getting more difficult to include in my schedule. So some days we may need to skip posts. There have been some spectacular posts recently among the blogs I subscribe too and I plan to share some of these via reposts.

If you would like to stay connected to the posts on counselorssoapbox, the progress of my book in progress or the flow of the conversation about mental health and substance abuse issues – please subscribe or follow counselorssoapbox.

You will find the follow button at the very tip-top of the page, in the black area, next to the counselorssoapbox.com name. And don’t forget to hit the share and the like buttons at the end of each post.  

Thanks and stay tuned for the latest updates.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog there is also a Facebook authors page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com

What is a blog? Why are you writing a blog?

By David Joel Miller.

So you ask: “What is a blog and why are you writing one?”

Blogs

What is a Blog?
FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Probably 5 years or so ago, I asked a friend “What’s a blog.” Just recently she commented on one of my posts, an in person comment by the way not an “at the end of post” comment. Seems she gets my blog delivered to her smart phone daily.

She informed me, back then, that a blog was a “Web Log” a sort of public journal where people talk about things that are important to them and hope those ideas are important to others. This intrigued me.

Finding that people I actually knew were receiving my blog, hopefully occasionally reading it, has me thinking about how I learned about blogs, why am I writing this one and more importantly why people read these blogs. Clearly for most of us it is not about becoming rich or influenzal (Influential?) Bloggers keep hoping their post will go viral right?

Back then I kept running into blogs and occasionally reading about them on the internet. Mostly I seemed to be reading about how people made a lot of money blogging and how if I would just sign up for their program I to could become a world-famous advice-giver blogger. I almost added Blogs to my allergy list at that point.

I am clearly old school. Learning that a computer is something that fit on my desk not a person to contract with took me some adjusting. But somehow I have learned a thing or two about blogs.

One reason I wanted to write a blog was that there were all these thoughts in my head and that I wanted to get them down on paper (electrons?) and hoped that they would be useful or of  interest to someone else. Also I want to write a book or two and all the writing sites say you need to have a blog and let people know what you are about if you ever want to get them to read your book. So I took the plunge.

Most of my posts are about substance abuse, mental health, counseling and therapy and the whole recovery process. I wanted to share what I had learned about creating a happy life and about that journey.

The cool thing about this is that I get to write about what interests me and then see if any of you want to read that post. Sometimes I am really surprised. Things I thought were just an oh-by-the-way, have gotten a lot off readers and other posts, ones I worked on really hard, did not get many hits. Clearly I am still learning.

Reader questions and search terms have gotten me thinking, made me do more research and spawned some posts. I have learned a lot.

Learning the technology part has sometimes been painful. Anything labeled user-friendly should not include docs (documents) that are longer than a Tolstoy novel.  I am glad that I discovered WordPress since this site has been easier to use. They still have way more features than I will have lifespan to learn to use, but it is nice to know that I could do more if I was so inclined.

If you who are from a post-big-war era find technical problems or care to make a suggestion please leave a comment. Just make your comment in intelligible English as I still have mastered only third grade computer speak.

In the process of writing this blog I have read and subscribed to a lot of other blogs, some were really good ones and some not so good. Some blogs strike me as very uneven. One day they are so great and the next post is not so much. I think my blog has that same issue. Coming up with a new topic on a regular basis and then turning out a post takes time and effort and not every one is a hit.

This blog (counselorssoapbox.com) is now in its third year with over 500 posts published so far. The book has turned into several books and they are all still works in progress. My current plan is to put more emphasis on the books as we head towards 2014, so I may have to miss posting a day of two on the blog.

So there you have it: What a blog is and why I am writing one. Any questions?

Want to sign up for my mailing list?

Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books

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