Ten thoughts that are holding you back.

Woman thinking

Unhelpful Negative Thoughts.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Ten thoughts that are holding you back.

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

1. Second place is the first loser.

The idea that if you’re not first place, you’re a loser is known in cognitive behavioral therapy as All-or-Nothing Thinking. Among students, there is a particularly troubling belief that if you don’t get an A, you’re a failure. This type of thinking leads to perfectionism. People tell themselves that they’re not perfect, then they are worthless. The result is that any minor flaw or failure to succeed can lead to overwhelming depression. Believing that one flaw in your appearance or one mistake in life means you are worthless sets up an impossible task. No one is totally perfect, and everyone makes mistakes from time to time.

2. Bad things are always happening to me.

You’re on your way to work when you get a flat tire. You interpret this as a sign that nothing in your life will go the way you want it to. Realistically, if you think about things, you’ve made dozens, hundreds, maybe even thousands of trips to and from work without getting a flat tire. But you leap to the conclusion because something happened once; it will always happen.

Some people believe because they went out on one date with someone they met on an online dating site, and it ended badly, that you can’t meet an honest person through a dating site despite the large number of other people who have met their current partner through that very same site.

The technical term for all of these thinking errors is overgeneralization. Believing that because something undesirable happened to you once, it will continue to happen no matter what you do. I’ve seen people who lost a job either by being laid off or being fired who told themselves because they lost that one job, they would never be able to hold a job again. This kind of thinking leads to deep depressions. Giving up after one failure is guaranteed to keep you from ever reaching your goal.

3. Dirty glasses.

When you’re wearing dirty glasses, the whole world looks filthy. One rude person can convince you that the world as a whole is cruel and insensitive. The technical name for this issue is mental filter. People with this way of thinking cannot see anything positive and see only the negative. Just because you can only see the negative does not mean the world is without its positive. Cleaning your glasses, which includes a change in thinking, means that the positive then life begins to get through.

4. Not counting the points you make.

People with depression fail to give themselves credit for what they accomplish. The only thing that counts in their reckoning is the shots they take that miss. The technical name for this is disqualifying the positive. This kind of unhelpful thought involves only tallying up your shortcomings while minimizing or ignoring completely all of your accomplishments.

People with the habit of disqualifying the positive always find a way to turn their successes and failures. Should they manage to get a job, they dismiss this as pure luck. They’re likely to tell themselves the only reason they got the job was because no one else must’ve applied. They’re able to dismiss the sunshine by telling themselves the storm must be on its way.

In this condition, every positive is dismissed, saying it doesn’t count. While every time and negative experience happens, this only confirms the pessimistic person’s view of themselves, others, and the future.

5. Leaping over the facts.

This unhelpful thought involves moving from limited information directly to a conclusion. One example of this trait is people who believe that they can discern what the other person means even when they don’t say it. The practice is a form of mind-reading in which they attribute a whole different meaning to what the other person said.

Another form of ignoring the facts involves making pessimistic predictions. In this form of fortune-telling, you act as if you had a crystal ball and predict such things as “there’s no use in trying because nothing will ever turn out all right anyway.” Once you learn to predict only negative outcomes, there’s no point in trying.

6. Pole vaulting over mouse droppings.

In this form of unhealthy thinking, people turn the smallest possible problems into catastrophic outcomes. This thinking distortion is perfect for people given to catastrophizing. You forgot to do something at work. Your magic magnifying mind turns this into a whole series of events, from your boss being mad at you to getting fired. Once you develop this habit, you can turn the slightest mistake or error into an insurmountable obstacle.

The reverse of this is certainly possible. You tell yourself that whatever you’ve done can’t possibly be good enough, and therefore none of your accomplishments in life mean anything.

These two tendencies to blow minor problems into major disasters and to turn significant accomplishments into dust bunnies blowing in the wind are sometimes called magnifying and minimizing.

7. Believing everything your emotions tell you.

Feelings, also known as emotions, are messengers that come to tell you something. They don’t always get the story correctly, and sometimes they exaggerate or minimize. Just because something feels scary and dangerous does not mean it is. Emotional reasoning, believing because you have a feeling that it must be true, can lead you down a lot of wrong paths. Focusing only on emotional reasoning is likely to take you in the direction of either chronic depression or debilitating anxiety.

8. Ordering yourself around.

Constantly telling yourself that you should do something, or you must do something

Albert Ellis, one of the founders of CBT therapy, referred to this as “Shoulding on yourself, and musturbation.”  A life full of shoulds and musts is a life that is overwhelming. Telling yourself that you must do things can leave you feeling stressed and angry. Too many things you must do leave you overwhelmed and may ultimately end in apathy and lack of motivation. If you examine your shoulds and musts carefully, you’ll find that you do many things not because you want to but only because you feel you have to. Reducing the shoulds and musts in your life can lead to a much happier and more contented life.

9. Incorrect labeling.

Some labeling, to my way of thinking, can be helpful. I’m left-handed, for example. Being aware of this explains why some things are easy for me to do while other things which were designed for right-handed people are more difficult.

Labeling becomes a problem when one incident is generalized to your core being. One mistake in life doesn’t doom you to be a failure. Losing a tennis match or round of golf doesn’t turn you into a “loser.” Calling yourself these kinds of derogatory names encourages your brain to make those self-statements come true. Things you say to yourself for good or bad frequently come true. Telling yourself, you need to learn about something encourages you to study. Labeling yourself stupid because you don’t yet know how to do something interferes with your ability to ever learn that new skill.

10. Taking everything personally.

Remind yourself that not everything that goes wrong in the world is your fault. While you can influence other people, you generally can’t control their behavior. When someone else doesn’t do what you want them to, you assume that it’s because they don’t like you. This thinking error of taking everything personally results in you taking on responsibility for the universe. Taking things personally leads to guilt, shame, and many mental health problems.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now! And more are on the way.

For these and my upcoming books, please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

2021 First-Foot.

2018 First-Foot.

By David Joel Miller.

1st foot.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

The first-foot through the door each year sets the tone for the rest of the year.

There’s an old tradition; they say it comes from Scotland, that the first person through the door each new year sets the tone for the rest of that year.  Because of that, I wanted this to be my first post for the new year.

If this is your first time reading counselorssoapbox.com, I hope this post will start off your year in a good direction.  Longtime readers will know that this blog’s premise is having a happy life.

Life can have its struggles.  At some point in their life, everyone is likely to experience a mental, emotional, or behavioral issue.  Because of this, I write a lot about mental health, mental illness, substance use disorders, and overcoming the bumps on the road of life.  Here is hoping that this new year will bring happiness to you and yours.

Throughout this year on counselorssoapbox.com I plan to bring you tips about having a happy life, coping with emotional and mental issues, and the impact that using and abusing substances might have on your mental and emotional health.

We will also present posts to help you with being a success. However, you define that success.  With over 1800 posts on counselorssoapbox.com so far, you’ll find plenty of tips in the past posts with more to come this year.  You might even want to consider subscribing to counselorssoapbox.com.

Thanks for being my lucky first-foot this year.

P.S.  If it takes you a while to get around to reading this post I will understand.  Whenever you get to it, please drop me a line.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seems like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and they want him dead.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy improves your life.

Woman thinking

Unhelpful Negative Thoughts create depression.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy improves your life.

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

CBT is more than just a therapy.

CBT stands for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. CBT has proven effective in treating severe mental illnesses, including depression and generalized anxiety. In some controlled studies, CBT therapy has been more effective than medication for treating various mental illnesses. CBT is so effective for treating even the most severe depression that it has become the treatment of choice for depression. For now, I’ll focus on how CBT reduces depression and increases subjective feelings of well-being which we sometimes call happiness or contentment. Just remember that cognitive-behavioral therapy can be highly effective for many other problems of living.

CBT can help you create your good life.

CBT goes beyond simply being a professional treatment for severe mental illness. CBT is effective for treating mild or even subclinical illnesses. The principles of CBT are also effective for helping people with low self-esteem and low self-confidence. In addition, cognitive-behavioral therapy principles are helpful in treating a variety of problems of everyday living, including frustration, guilt, and apathy. While CBT is a theory used by counselors and therapists, many people have been helped simply by reading books and hopefully blog posts that explain the principles of cognitive-behavioral therapy.

The origins of CBT.

CBT began in the late 1950s and early 1960s, though its roots go all the way back to the ancient Greeks. Before CBT, therapy was primarily divided into two distinct camps. Traditional Freudian psychoanalysis was long, involved, expensive, and focused mainly on exploring unconscious drives.

The other major therapeutic camp is the behavioral scientists, who believe that it was possible to shape behavior by reward and punishment. In a strictly behavioral model, the role of what you’re thinking is disregarded as either unknowable or irrelevant. While the stick and the carrot are still popular with some bosses and some educators, we have learned that human behavior sometimes defies the effects of rewards and punishment.

Today over three hundred different therapy theories have been described. Most are either focused on feelings, thoughts, or behaviors. CBT and related counseling theories have become the treatment of choice for depression and are helpful for many other problems.

What are the primary components of CBT therapy?

Cognitive-behavioral therapy focuses on the relationships between your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. By examining your thoughts, you can learn to alter your feelings and your behavior. Once you know the basic principles of CBT, you will also find that a change in behavior can change feelings and, therefore, your thoughts about the situation. By two different routes, changes in thinking can result in changes in feelings. By following this thinking, your feelings are no longer controlled by outside influences. Now you can choose how you wish to feel about various situations.

How do thoughts play a role in your mental health?

Your cognitions are made up largely of your thoughts and beliefs and your perceptions. Your thoughts create your moods. This process happens very rapidly and goes almost unnoticed. For example, when most people are angry, they believe that someone or something externally made them angry. But when we study the phenomenon of anger more closely, we find that what you believe about what that other person did causes you to become angry. I’ve written more about this connection in some blog posts about anger and anger management.

Don’t fall into the trap of assuming just because you think something it must be true. Not everything you think is true. If you’ve ever seen something on the ground ahead of you, gone to pick it up, and then discovered that it wasn’t what you thought it was, you’ve experienced an example of how thoughts can appear very real even when they are just mistaken beliefs.

There’s also a particular connection between thoughts and the chemistry in your brain. Because of the prevalence of the use of some psychiatric medicines, some people have come to believe that depression is the result of a shortage of certain neurotransmitters in the brain. As we’ve learned more about brain chemistry, we come to find that thoughts are moved in the brain from one neuron to another chemically. Simply having more depressing thoughts reduces the prevalence of certain neurotransmitters, while more happy thoughts increase the prevalence of those neurotransmitters.

Don’t misunderstand. CBT does not propose to change the brain simply by thinking happy thoughts. In addition to a handful of prominent thoughts in your brain at any one moment, there are a host of other automatic thoughts taking place in the background. Humans are cognitive misers. We don’t think out each movement of our hands before we reach for a cup of coffee. The same thing happens when it comes to thoughts about life events. People get into the habit of automatic thoughts, which results in them interpreting life events as either positive or negative. CBT therapy seeks to find those recurring “unhelpful thoughts” and teach you to reevaluate them and dispute those that are not helpful.

People with depression have characteristic patterns of thinking.

Depression in all its various shades and flavors is caused by patterns of pervasive negativity. In general, pessimists are more likely to be depressed, while optimists are more likely to be content with their life. We used to think that personality was pretty well fixed at birth. You were born either a pessimist or an optimist. Research across the lifespan has shown that personality does change, usually at a slow rate, but there are things that you can do to become more optimistic. We can debate whether the pessimist or the optimist sees the world more realistically, but what happens is that the optimist is happier and often more successful.

The negative thoughts which create and maintain depression are often distorted, inaccurate, and unrealistic. Unfortunately, depressed people rarely think to challenge these negative, unhelpful thoughts. Most negative thoughts are distorted, inaccurate, and unrealistic.

So, what can you do if your brain continues to replay negative, unhelpful thoughts?

The first step in the process of defeating depression, anxiety, and other life problems is learning to recognize when you have slipped into a pattern of negative, unhelpful thoughts and then, having recognized them begin to dispute those thoughts.

In some future posts, I want to walk you through the steps of recognizing and disputing unhelpful beliefs, improving your optimism and your outlook on life, and creating the happy, contented, well-functioning life we all deserve.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now! And more are on the way.

For these and my upcoming books, please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

It’s been a challenging couple of years

Challenging.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

It’s been a challenging couple of years

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

The last two years have been a time of overwhelming change.

As the end of 2021 rapidly approaches, I think it’s a good time to look back at all the things we’ve been through. I’m not a big believer in New Year’s resolutions, but I do think the holiday season is a good time to reflect on what’s happened over the last year and what direction I want to take for the year to come.

I lump the last two years together because 2020 and 2021 have been a blur in my head. I suspect these two years will blend together as we move forward. A lot of the things I think of as the sixties actually happened in the early nineteen seventies.

The pandemic certainly has affected everyone regardless of their feelings about Covid or the vaccine. What we have been through has changed a lot of people and changed the way we do things.

I’ve become convinced that some of those changes are likely to be permanent. I’ve made many changes in my life over the last two years. Some were because of Covid, and some for other reasons. Many of these changes were already in the works even before the pandemic. I want to summarize those events briefly here. Some of these I’ll write about in more detail in future blog posts.

Online education has become a viable option.

Over the years, I have taught five separate classes at two different colleges. Over the last two years, I have taught online classes for both colleges. Moving in-class material into an online format turned out to be quite a bit of work. Some students struggled with the online instruction. But a great many of them reported that it was preferable to the way we used to do it. I taught all but one of my online classes as an asynchronous class. Many said that they benefited from being able to do the work on their own schedule.

The feedback I’ve gotten from teachers who are working at the lower grade levels has been more mixed than my experience at the college level. Some students worked enthusiastically on their own and completed more assignments in less time than they would have in class. Other students struggled with discipline and fell behind. I’ve also heard multiple reports that students with anxiety disorders frequently turn off their cameras or refuse to attend online classes if they must be on camera. It will be interesting to see how the shift to distance education plays out.

I am now certified as an online teacher.

The early shift to online education was a rapid movement out of necessity. Then, as it continued over a longer time, the colleges began to emphasize distance education. Over the last two years, I have taken a series of classes and become fully certified to teach online courses. Personally, I prefer teaching online classes. It takes me a lot more work to create the materials. Still, it allows both the students and myself to go online and work on things whenever we have the time available rather than all of us having to make the long commute and fight for parking spots in order to be in a small classroom for the same three hours each week.

Both faculty and administration seem to be divided over whether we should continue to offer classes in the online distance education format. While some students will continue to benefit from the discipline of studying while a teacher stands over them, I think most college students would greatly benefit from the online format.

Counselorssoapbox is now a YouTube channel.

Part of the shift to teaching an online class was converting my PowerPoints and lecture material into a series of videos. I’ve learned a lot, and the quality of my videos continues to improve. One of the things I want to do in the coming year is become even more proficient at creating videos for the counselorssoapbox YouTube channel.

Some of my in-person trainings may become online classes.

In addition to academic classes of the last few years, I’ve done several in-person trainings for various groups. Putting on a training involves a lot of travel and leaves me tired for a week after. I have become increasingly aware of the number of online trainings or classes people are taking, many of which are taken for the knowledge rather than for college units or CE’s.

Over the last two years, readership on my blog has declined, while viewership on my YouTube videos has continued to increase. While I’ve been a lifelong reader, I find myself watching more and more videos. If there’s a topic you think I should cover in a video, please leave a comment.

The way we do therapy is changing.

When I first became a counselor, there was one predominant paradigm. Therapy should be done with one therapist and one client in their room behind a closed door. Many people avoided therapy believing that it was only for the seriously mentally ill. Today more and more people are going to see therapists for help with solving life’s problems.

Those who read my blog in the past are probably aware that I am engaged in a great many activities. For example, I do group supervision for a local nonprofit. Because of Covid, group supervision was moved to an online format. Although a few of the trainees reported missing the human interaction we had when we met in person, most report they prefer the online format for supervision. While a few long for a return to the days when we met in person, most enthusiastically want to continue meeting remotely.

It has been interesting to see the various reactions that beginning counselors and therapists have had to see clients online. While I think we were all initially skeptical most of us have developed the skills to work effectively using distance methods. For some clients, talking to their therapist over the Internet or by phone has made therapy more effective and more readily available.

More people are interested in mental health than in mental illness.

During the pandemic, I’ve done some work for several online counseling and therapy companies. This online practice of counseling seems to be moving in two separate directions. First, therapy that is paid for by an insurance company is becoming more medicalized. There’s an increasing emphasis on making sure the client meets the full criteria for a mental disease. I’m seeing more of an emphasis on having the therapist talks the client into taking medication. Insurance companies are also trying to reduce the number of therapy sessions the client may have unless they have been diagnosed by a psychiatrist or medical doctor and are on medications.

People who self-pay are more interested in reaching their goals.

To get treatment by a counselor or therapist paid for by an insurance company, you pretty much need to have been diagnosed with a mental illness. Most of the people who voluntarily seek counseling are looking at solving the problems of everyday living.

Several counselors have asked me whether it is okay to continue seeing the client who no longer meets the criteria for a particular mental illness but just really needs someone to talk to. My answer is that it’s not okay to bill medical insurance if the client no longer has a mental illness. However, I believe it is okay for a counselor to talk to a client each week if the client is paying and finding the sessions helpful. Sometimes this gets close to being coaching rather than counseling.

There’s a difference between being discouraged and being depressed.

They are having a problem finding a job; they would like to be more productive or better at reaching their goals. Medical insurance pays to treat someone who is depressed until they’re not depressed. Unfortunately, there’s a whole lot of distance between being not depressed and having a fulfilling, happy or contented life. As a result of working with clients who are not mentally ill but do want to have a more fulfilling life, I’ve shifted away from taking on more insurance clients and seeing more clients who are willing to pay for private counseling. If you live in California and think that talking with me might be helpful, don’t hesitate to get in touch with me. Besides being licensed in California as a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC) and a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT.) I recently took a class to get certified as a life coach. In future posts, I want to talk more about the differences in what those three professions do.

I’ve concluded there’s too much focus on illness and not enough on happiness.

Over the last ten years, I’ve written over 1900 blog posts. Many, but not all, of those posts, have focused on specific diagnosable mental illnesses and their treatment. I’ve also written a lot about substance use disorders and how those interact with mental illnesses, a condition known as co-occurring disorders or dual diagnoses. In future posts, I want to focus more on how to have a better, more productive life. If there’s a topic that you would like to see covered, please email me using the contact me form.

Were you wondering what happened to my fiction books?

Getting through the pandemic and making this career pivot derailed my plans for writing more novels. I have one nonfiction book and six fiction books, which continue to be available from Amazon. I’ve taken a couple of classes in fiction writing over the last two years and hope to get back to a series of novels I had planned to write, which got crowded out by learning to be an online teacher, learning to make videos, and all the other skills I’ve been developing over the last two years.

Increasing my emphasis on personal relationships.

Over the last two years, I have spent less time in the classroom, office, and consulting room. Instead, I have found it important to put more time and effort into maintaining my friendships and close relationships. As I have gotten older, a handful of close personal relationships have become increasingly important to me. I hope that all of you are putting effort into maintaining your relationships with those who are the most important in your life.

Sorry for the long post. Stay tuned for more to come.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now! And more are on the way.

For these and my upcoming books, please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

Change of direction? Or am I just lost?

Change – Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com   

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Someone seems to have turned up the speed on the merry-go-round.

If you are a subscriber to the counselorssoapbox blog or a regular reader, you probably noticed that I missed posting my regular Monday mental health posts for the last few weeks. I have been posting pretty regularly on Mondays ever since 2012. But with all the changes over the last year and having produced more than 1800 posts, I’ve been finding it increasingly difficult to come up with new topics every Monday. If you have questions you’d like to pose, please send them to me, and I’ll try to work that into future posts.

Now seems like a good time to tell you about some of the changes I’ve been through over the last year. Some of these changes, I think, are predictors of what life will be like in the future. My future anyway.

Moving my classes online has been a challenge.

I typically teach 2 to 3 classes per semester. A little over a year ago, when Covid was raging, and any solution to the pandemic seemed far off in the distance, the safest thing to do, particularly for somebody my age, was to hunker down and avoid going out where you might be exposed to the virus.

Just for the record, I think of myself as a relatively young 73-year-old. While I am now fully vaccinated, I am still being cautious. If you’re wondering, I took the two-dose Moderna vaccine. The only side effect I experienced was a minor muscle soreness at the injection site.  I usually get the flu shot every year, and the Covid vaccine was not much worse than my annual flu shot.

So, what’s different about teaching online?

Some of my students did exceptionally well in the online format, and others did not. If you’re internally motivated, online education has a lot of advantages. Online education varies considerably. Since I teach for two different colleges, I experienced at least four different ways of doing online education. To further complicate this picture while converting my own classes to an online format, I was busily taking several courses in how to teach online.

Synchronous versus asynchronous classes.

One of the classes I taught was synchronous. Every Monday night, I met online with a group of graduate students, and I ran through my PowerPoints and delivered my lecture via Zoom. The students were asked to read the chapter in the textbook before that night’s class session. After I was done, there was plenty of time for students to ask questions, and occasionally, we even had a lively discussion.

Two of the classes I taught at the City College were set up as asynchronous. Each week’s work began at 12:01 Monday morning and was available to students until midnight Sunday night. Just as in the regular classroom, the students had a section in the textbook to read each week. I also used a weekly discussion question to see if students were participating. Students frequently got into lively discussions with each other about the weekly discussion question. Answering the discussion question counted as attendance in class. If you didn’t comment on the question, you are absent that week.

Students in the asynchronous class also had a brief quiz each week. The material on the quiz or similar questions reappeared on both the midterm and the final. I hoped that if I tested a student often enough, they would retain the material even after the class was over. Quizzes and tests had time limits though most students didn’t require the full allotted time. Initially, I had some worries about students googling or checking the textbook for answers to the questions. But I quickly realized in the time they had to do it; they couldn’t be doing much looking for answers.

How did the students do when learning online?

When we got to the end of the classes, both the synchronous and the asynchronous, the grade distribution was pretty much the same thing I had seen in my regular in-person courses. Students who read the book, answered the discussion questions, and submitted the required paperwork, received relatively good grades. Just as when we were in the classroom. Students who failed to participate during several weeks, did not do the assigned quizzes and discussion questions, or did not turn in the required term paper, receives substantially lower grades.

What was the biggest challenge I experienced in teaching online?

The largest challenge both for students and me was technology. Between taking online classes and teaching online at two different colleges, I had to learn many different technologies.

Just a short list of the new technologies I had to learn. I’ve used Blackboard, Moodle, Canvas, Canvas companion, and Zoom. Each one had a learning curve, and switching from one system to another in the same week sometimes gets confusing. But if an old guy like me can figure it out, I think college students and high school students should be able to.

What have I learned about online classes?

My conclusion about online classes is that if the students are motivated to learn the material online learning can be every bit as beneficial as in-class sessions. Some students need in-person or individual encouragement, which is easier to do when you see them each week in class. If someone is taking an online class and needs help, they should reach out to their instructor and let them know they’re having difficulty. Of course, having reliable access to technology platforms and the Internet is essential. I also think both teachers and students need more help in learning the platform they’re going to use before they launch into remote education.

Is online education a second-class method?

Not at all. I think I learned just as much, possibly more, in the online classes I took as I used to learn using in-class education. I found it very convenient to teach online, and many of my students reported that it worked better for them than having to drive to and from campus. I can see from the logins that some students worked on their assignments during the day, some worked late into the night, and some students primarily completed their assignments on the weekend. The flexibility in learning when you have the time and for me in grading assignments when I had the time was very beneficial.

Like all the other technological advances, I think it will take some time for this to be absorbed into our culture. It was a real challenge for me to learn to use a cell phone and then learn to receive and send texts. But now that I know how to do all those things, I’m not sure how we ever got by without them. I firmly believe that we will see a time in the future when online–distance learning is just as common, maybe even more common, than in-class learning.

Were the main changes in my life over the last year moving into the field of online education?

Don’t I wish? Just as the pandemic impacted education, it has also had an immense effect on the counseling field. Over the last year, I’ve been doing online or distance counseling and doing group clinical supervision remotely. Because of not being physically present, I’ve also learned to pre-record material and create videos. If you’d like to look at the videos I’ve produced so far, please check out Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel.

The frantic pace of the last year has also significantly influenced my writing. I’ve had less time for writing blog posts, and the two books I was working on have not made it to completion at this point. I’ve been seriously rethinking what I want to write, given the limited time I have and the messages or themes that I want to write about.

In future posts, I’ll talk to you a little more about all these other changes.

Please feel free to leave comments about this blog post and about how this last year living in a time of Covid has affected you. You can either use the comment box or send me a personal message using the contact me form.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now! And more are on the way.

For these and my upcoming books, please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

2021 First-Foot.

2018 First-Foot.

By David Joel Miller.

1st foot.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

The first-foot through the door each year sets the tone for the rest of the year.

There’s an old tradition; they say it comes from Scotland, that the first person through the door each new year sets the tone for the rest of that year.  Because of that, I wanted this to be my first post for the new year.

If this is your first time reading counselorssoapbox.com, I hope this post will start off your year in a good direction.  Longtime readers will know that this blog’s premise is having a happy life.

Life can have its struggles.  At some point in their life, everyone is likely to experience a mental, emotional, or behavioral issue.  Because of this, I write a lot about mental health, mental illness, substance use disorders, and overcoming the bumps on the road of life.  Here is hoping that this new year will bring happiness to you and yours.

Throughout this year on counselorssoapbox.com I plan to bring you tips about having a happy life, coping with emotional and mental issues, and the impact that using and abusing substances might have on your mental and emotional health.

We will also present posts to help you with being a success. However, you define that success.  With over 1800 posts on counselorssoapbox.com so far, you’ll find plenty of tips in the past posts with more to come this year.  You might even want to consider subscribing to counselorssoapbox.com.

Thanks for being my lucky first-foot this year.

P.S.  If it takes you a while to get around to reading this post I will understand.  Whenever you get to it, please drop me a line.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seems like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and they want him dead.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

Mental health counseling for Medi-Cal clients in the Fresno California area.

Mental health counseling for Medi-Cal clients in the Fresno California area.

Wanted to share this information with all of you.

Ways counselors help you increase your hope.

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Hope

Hope.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Seeing a therapist can help you develop more hope.

Many of the clients who come to see counselors tell us that they suffer from low self-esteem. Low self-esteem may create anxiety and depression, and it certainly makes those two problems worse. It’s hard to accomplish much if you don’t feel good about yourself.

One key component of low self-esteem is a lack of hope. Hope is made up of two parts, the belief that if you try something, you be able to do it, and the belief that you can generate multiple plans that will get you to your goal. Having more than one possible path forward gives you options and hope. The process of working with the counselor or therapist can increase your hope and raise your self-esteem. Here are some of the ways counseling may increase your hope and boost your self-esteem.

Counselors increase hope by showing unconditional positive regard.

If you suffer from low self-esteem, you likely have become hopeless, and don’t feel good about yourself. Sometimes this is because significant people in your life were abusive or negative towards you. It can also be the result of believing that one failure makes you a failure in life. Counselors call this black-and-white thinking. It’s an example of perfectionism at its worst.

Counselors are trained to see the potential in their clients, not the problems. Having the counselor believe in you when you don’t believe in yourself can provide you with another way of looking at your challenges. When you’re able to see things from a different point of view, the path forward looks brighter.

Counselors believe in your ability to make changes.

One thing that makes counseling helpful is the counselor’s ability to believe in your potential for change. The counselor frequently believes in your potential far more than you believe in yourself. While the counselor may not like some of the things you’ve done or are doing, a good counselor will continue to believe in your abilities to grow and change even when you don’t.

Counselors can help you see that you are not alone.

The technical term for this is normalizing problems. At many points in your life, you will face challenges that are specific to that time. It’s common to think you should be farther along in life than your chronological age. It can be helpful to hear that what you’re going through is common for other teenagers, new parents, people starting a new job, and so on.

One of the reasons self-help groups can be so useful is that you will meet other people who are going through exactly what you’re going through. It is reassuring to know that you’re not defective or crazy. That given what you’ve been through, how you’re feeling and acting makes sense. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t any things you can do to improve your life.

Sometimes all you see are the problems, not the possibilities.

The counselor can help you by offering you other perspectives on the challenges you are facing. This process is sometimes called “a new pair of glasses.” The technical term counselors are taught is reframing. If you’ve gotten used to looking at the world through a dirty pair of glasses, the whole world begins to look filthy. Cleaning your glasses by using the counselor’s vision of your life and future can help you see new possibilities.

Being honest and genuine increases hope.

The counselor can teach you how to be honest and genuine by demonstrating those characteristics. There may be other people in your life who were dishonest and lied to you. Knowing the truth can set you on the path to change. Hopefully, the counselor will tell you these hard truths in a general way, and at a time, you can hear them. That process of experiencing someone in your life as extremely honest can help you grow.

Counselors can help you learn needed life skills.

You only know what you know, and sometimes the biggest impediment to growth is not knowing what you don’t know. Many of the most useful skills in life are not taught in school. If your parent or caregiver had their own problems, and they almost always do, you may have learned some things about life that worked when you were a child but don’t work now that you’re an adult.

Counseling can be a corrective emotional experience.

You may have had damaging emotional experiences in the past. The counseling room is one place you can work through those experiences without having to worry about living with or seeing this person after the processes over.

The process of sharing your deepest secrets with another human can be freeing. If your past relationships have been one-sided or abusive, meeting someone whose primary concern is helping you may be a new experience.

The therapy or consulting room is inherently a unique situation. It’s a place where you can reveal your darkest secrets and know that the counselor is legally and ethically bound to keep those secrets unless you are harming someone who is helpless and can’t protect themselves. It’s important to remember that the counseling room is a laboratory where you can learn new skills and practice them, but it’s not real life.

As you begin to change and grow, your counselor should help you to transfer the skills you’ve learned as a result of the counseling process into your life outside the counseling room. Ideally, your counseling experience will have increased your level of hope and raised your self-esteem.

For more about hope, please see – Hope

For more on the process of counseling, please see the category – Counseling and Therapy

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seem like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel