Time for a change?

By David Joel Miller.

Feeling like you need a change but don’t know what to do?

Time to change.

Time for a change.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

You have been plotting along, but things don’t seem to be getting any better. You may be feeling restless, irritable, confused and indecisive. There are times in most people’s lives they don’t like where they are, but they are not sure what to do about it.

Whether it is an unhappy romantic relationship or an unfulfilling dead-end job, the decision to stay or go can be a difficult one. If you’ve reached a point in your life where you feel you can’t stay stuck where you are, but you don’t see a way forward, here are some suggestions.

Enrich the relationship.

People start new relationships, romantic or occupation ones, full of enthusiasm. As time passes that relationship loses its luster and the job becomes boring. Couples who do not maintain their relationship can find it falling apart. Put some spark back in your relationship by doing more things together.

Add some new roles to your romantic relationship. Become activity partners. Do more things together. Set some couple goals. Some couples exercise together, cook meals together, read together, or they may even learn a new skill together.

On the job, learning a new skill, taking on additional responsibilities or transferring to another assignment can help you regain your interest and enthusiasm. Challenging yourself to grow in your work life prevents burnout and those trapped feelings.

Become open to new experiences.

One way to get unstuck is to open yourself up to novel experiences. Take up a hobby, begin an exercise routine, or learn to cook a new recipe. Do you have a special interest? Maybe like to read or garden? Consider joining a club focused on your interest. Joining clubs and organizations is a great way to make new friends and to vary the routine.

By being open to new experience, be very careful about making changes you will not be able to take back. It is common for people who are stuck to think the problem is their partner or their job. Using a new relationship as a parachute to get out of your current relationship, can result in emotional injury when you hit the ground hard.

Don’t overreact to an unsatisfying job situation by quitting your current job with no new job to go to. As you try new activities and learn new skills, keep your eyes open for jobs that might interest you or places you might want to work.

One reason you may feel stuck in your current situation could be you don’t feel confident in your skills. Take trainings when they are offered, take a night class or an online class to improve your skill. With more training and skills, you may find opportunities for advancement in the organization where you already work. The reason you are feeling trapped maybe you don’t yet have the skills needed to move forward.

Work on yourself.

When you are going through a rough patch, anxiety or depression, it is easy to blame the situation or the people around you. Sometimes the reason you are feeling stuck and confused is that there is work you need to do on yourself. New opportunities can’t present themselves until you develop the skills and attitudes you will need.

In couples counseling we often find the couple blaming each other for their unhappiness. Very shortly the couple separates, and one or both begin new relationships. Within a year or two, both new couples have turned unhappy. Happiness is an inside job. You need to be able to be happy by yourself before you can be happy in a relationship.

Develop distress tolerance.

Life has its ups and downs. Sometimes there are difficult patches. Don’t be too quick to make an impulsive change in your life. Sometimes the reason choices aren’t clear is because you are not yet ready to make that change. Sometimes discomfort lasts only briefly. Focus on the distress, and it becomes unbearable. Focus on living the best life possible, and the discomfort may fade away.

Use the calendar, not a watch.

Have you been feeling pressure, as if time was running out on you? Don’t be one of those people who has unrealistic high expectations for themselves. Life is not a destination but a process. In your rush to become successful, however, you define success, don’t lose the joys of the things you do accomplish.

A successful life is rarely the result of achieving great things at a young age. Don’t expect to be all you can be by a particular age. Ever hear of a musician called a one hit wonder? Longevity in any field is the result of continual practice and improvement.

Clarify your choices by seeking professional help.

One legitimate goal of counseling is to help you see your choices clearly and resolve your confusion. The counseling room is a good place to talk things out with an objective person. Whether you are currently confused, facing difficult choices or is a time for a change professional counselor can help you through the process.

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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Thinking mistakes you are making.

By David Joel Miller.

Is your thinking full of bad habits?

Thinking

Thinking mistakes you are making.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

It is easy to drift into bad habits. Do something a certain way a few times and that becomes the default setting for your brain. After that, you need to put conscious effort into responding in a different way.

Many times people drift into bad thought habits and from then on having unhelpful thoughts pop into your mind becomes your usual way of thinking. Just because this is the way you always think about things does not make those thoughts true. Your bad thought habits may be making your problems worse and interfering with your having a happy life.

There are 11 ways your thinking may be full of bad habits.

1. Thinking it is all about you, personalizing.

If you walk in the room and people laugh you might think they were all talking about you. When someone is short or curt with you, do you think they are being disrespectful? Many times in life when someone ignores us or is less than helpful it has nothing to do with us. One of the great lessons of growing up is that most of the time other people are just too preoccupied with their own life and problems to give you a second thought.

2. You magnifying mind blows things out of proportion.

When you think about what could happen, do you imagine the worst possible thing? If your mind can turn a minor inconvenience into the end of the world you have trained your thinking to be a magic magnifying mind.

You went on a date, you liked that other person and they said they would give you a call. But the next day comes and goes and no call. You are now convinced that they will never call, that you will never meet that special someone and that you will live the rest of your life alone. When they call an hour later you are now so bummed out from ruminating about this life alone you just don’t want to talk to them and you do not answer the phone.

There are lots of variations to this thought pattern. It rains for a few minutes and you are sure it will flood, you get stuck behind a truck and are sure you will be late to work and get fired. In each scenario, your mind leaps from a small problem to a happy-life threatening outcome.

3. Minimizing, discounting the positive.

You got ninety-nine questions out of a hundred right, but you are upset about the question you missed. Some people find it hard to take credit for the things they do well. The underlying thought here is that you should be perfect and that anything less is not acceptable.

If you can’t take a compliment, or you find it hard to accept credit for what you have done, you may have trained your brain to ignore anything you did well and focus only on the mistakes of life. This can result in a pretty bleak, discouraging way of looking at things.

4. Either Or, Black and White thinking, means you are either a winner or a loser.

High achievers are at extra risk for this one. If you have trained your brain to go for being the best at everything it can be hard to accept the size of the achievement that a second place might be.

Do not let your brain cheat you out of enjoying an accomplishment by insisting you have to be better than everyone else to be worthwhile.

5. Taking events out of context.

So you get the job but all you remember from the process is that you did not have a good answer for one of the questions. One criticism from your partner becomes they “never” like anything you do. You are on vacation for two weeks but the thing you most remember is the traffic jam on the way out-of-town that first day.

If when you think back on past events all you can remember are the rough spots you are falling into making too much of the small things and forgetting the big ones.

6. Jumping to conclusions.

He didn’t return my text right away so that means he does not want to talk to me. You feel a lump somewhere and don’t go to the doctor convinced you must have cancer and only days to live. Many people have developed the habit of jumping over all the possible good outcomes and landing in a pit of pain.

7. Overgeneralizing leads you to bad places.

“I did not get this job” becomes “I will never get a job.” That thought can get you so worked up that you stop looking for work. Believing because something did not go your way once that means you will never achieve your objective, can become the greatest obstacle to progress.

8. Self-Blame, believing you made a mistake so you are stupid, no good.

This mental and verbal self-abuse does not motivate you to work harder. Beating yourself up leads to feelings of helplessness and giving up. You shouldn’t accept this kind of treatment from others. Don’t abuse yourself this way.

9. Are you that good at mind reading?

Do you tell yourself, “When he does that it means — If she loved me she would know.”

Believing others should know what you want and need and then thinking less of them for not reading your mindsets your relationships up for failure. Believing that others should be able to read your mind and anticipate your needs without your voicing them creates misunderstandings.

10. Comparing up, that model or star is better than me.

Comparing yourself to others sets you up for disappointment. There are always people who have more friends on social media and who make more money. To feel better about yourself stop comparing. Especially do not compare yourself in your gardening outfit to someone walking down the red carpet.

11. Catastrophizing is thinking the worst possible outcome will happen.

Do you think “he is late, he probably got in an accident and died?” When things happen that are not to your liking is your first thought that this absolutely must not happen? Catastrophizing is looking for the worst possible outcome and then mentally rehearsing that thought in your head until it demolishes your sanity.

If you are practicing any of these bad thought habits work with someone on changing these unhelpful thoughts to more adaptive ones.

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

What is “Conditions for Further Study?”

By David Joel Miller.

Are there more mental illnesses than we know about?

What is? Series

What is “Conditions for Further Study?”
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

“Conditions for Further Study” is a chapter in the DSM-5 which describes some possible mental illnesses that have not yet gotten full official recognition. These are not something a clinician can diagnose, or that insurance companies will pay to treat, not by these descriptions anyway.

You would think that by now we would have identified every possible mental, emotional or behavioral disorder, and come up with sure-fire treatments for each of them. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way.

Periodically a new disease comes along. It wasn’t all that long ago that no one had ever heard of AIDS or even HIV. The same thing, sort of, is happening in mental health. Researchers would like to be sure that when they tell you about the characteristics of and the treatment for a mental illness that everyone who was a subject in the research had the same disease.

Clinicians know that not everyone who has the same “diagnostic label” has the same symptoms. So you get a group of people who supposedly all have the same thing, say PTSD, and then you give them tests and assessments. For some things, personality characteristics like say introversion and extraversion, people will be on a continuum.

For other things like Posttraumatic Stress Disorder there will be clusters of people who all have similar symptoms and then clusters of other people who have different symptoms.

Lumpers and splitters.

Some people want only a few categories, like dogs and cats. Trouble with this is that Poodles are very different from Rottweilers. The house cat sitting on my desk is nowhere near like a Lion. So while we want to be specific about a mental, emotional or behavioral disorder someone might have, we also want to avoid creating several billion mental illness descriptions, one for each person.

Researchers and clinicians who notice these different clusters may become convinced that there are differences in symptoms that should be categorized as separate illnesses. For example, not all PTSD is alike. The PTSD that results from combat may show different features than the PTSD we see in battered women or abused children. Currently, they may all get a diagnosis of PTSD but there are different treatment approaches. Some clinicians have taken to referring to the form of PTSD that is the result of repeated abuse as “complex trauma” even though this is not officially a DSM diagnosis.

Are behavioral disorders a mental illness?

We see some similarities between drug and alcohol use disorders and some behaviors. Children and adolescents get some behavioral disorder diagnoses, things I sometimes refer to as “bad kid” diagnosis. But in adults not much in the way of behavior currently, meets criteria for a mental illness.

So far the only behavior that has gotten included in the Substance-Related and Addictive Disorders chapter is Gambling. Other behaviors, internet usage, compulsive gaming and pornography all have features that look like the loss of impulse control seen in Gambling.

Some of the major things that counselors treat are not diagnoses.

Anger is a huge reason for referrals to therapy, yet anger currently is not a specific diagnosis. While anger may be the reason for referral, currently it is seen as a symptom of some other problem, not a specific diagnosis. Despite the common practice of court ordered Anger Management classes Anger is not a diagnosis.

Suicidal behavior is not an official mental illness either.

Same problem with non-suicidal self-injury sometimes called cutting. Currently, the only place this fits is under Borderline Personality Disorder where it may be a symptom. This seems problematic. Does adding Non-Suicidal self-injury inflate the number of people with a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder? Can you have one without the other? Shouldn’t someone who is thinking about killing themselves qualify for a diagnosis for that reason alone?

Disorders of special populations.

Several group-specific problems may be the focus of treatment but so far are not recognized as mental illnesses. This is a particularly acute problem for treatment of military personnel. Moral Injury is a situation in which you are required to do something that violates your sense of right and wrong. In civilian life, you may find ways to avoid this dilemma but in the military, there are few choices. Sometimes to do one good thing, following orders, you have to do something else that troubles your conscience.

Military sexual trauma is another non-DSM issue. In combat, you count on your comrades to keep you safe. Being raped by someone in your unit is a very traumatic incident. Having to continue to have good relationships with your abuser in order to stay alive is a tough situation.

Certainly, there are other problems, cultural or situational, that have not yet reached official disorder status but that require more research.

Do Conditions for further study make it to become a full diagnosis?

In each edition of the DSM, there are a number of proposed new diagnosis. Most do not make it as separate mental illness. After much research, they may get lumped in with existing disorders. Many of these proposed new disorders have long specific names. My observation is that the fewer words in the name the more likely it will get its own place in the DSM. Binge Eating Disorder made it. I have my doubts that Neurobiological Disorder Associated with Prenatal Alcohol Exposure will make it unless it gets a short name.  (More on Fetal Alcohol Exposure Problems is coming up in future posts.)

Currently, there are 8 “Conditions for Further Study” listed in the DSM-5. The DSM-IV-TR had 16, most of which disappeared in this revision.

What are those Conditions for Further Study in the DSM-5?

  1. Attenuated Psychosis Syndrome.
  2. Depressive Episodes with Short-Duration Hypomania
  3. Persistent Complex Bereavement.
  4. Caffeine Use Disorder.
  5. Internet Gaming Disorder.
  6. Neurobiological Disorder Associated with Prenatal Alcohol Exposure.
  7. Suicidal Behavior Disorder.
  8. Non-Suicidal Self-Injury.

FYI These “What is” sometimes “What are” posts are my efforts to explain terms commonly used in Mental Health, Clinical Counseling, Substance Use Disorder Counseling, Psychology, Life Coaching and related disciplines in a plain language way. Many are based on the new DSM-5; some of the older posts were based on the DSM-IV-TR, both published by the APA. For the more technical versions please consult the DSM or other appropriate references.

See Recommended Books.     More “What is” posts will be found at “What is.”

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

Therapy room secrets.

By David Joel Miller.

What do people get out of therapy?

Therapy room secrets.

Therapy room secrets.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

 

People who have been to see a counselor or therapist, those who have gone long enough to see the results, know some secrets about the process that most other people never find out. Counseling should help you create the life you want, not confirm someone’s opinion that there is something wrong with you.

Going for therapy does not mean you are crazy or a mental case. Plenty of people see a counselor to work on their life skills. Being in therapy does not mean you are and will always be mentally ill. The point of counseling is to move you from being overwhelmed by life’s problems to a place where you can handle them.

Therapy should be about wellness, not sickness.

The really sick people don’t go for treatment even what they need it because they are afraid that getting treatment means they are ill. This is the equivalent of trying to not “give into cancer.”

You can learn that what you are dealing with is normal.

We hear in the counseling room from a lot of people that they thought they were the only one who felt that way or had that problem. Turns out that most of the lifes problems are common, so is suffering in silence. It can help a whole lot to know that what you are going though happens to lots of people at a particular point in life. It can also help to hear how others have solved this problem. This is one reason that group therapy is extra helpful.

Sometimes you just need to talk it out.

Family and friends find it difficult to just listen. They want to fix you or tell you what to do. It pains them that you are having problems and they just want to stop hearing your pain. Talking too much about life’s problems with family and friends can burn them out.

Sometimes all you need to do is just talk this problem through with an objective person who will not judge you or tell you not to feel what you feel. You partner can’t always be objective and hear you talk.

It helps to have someone listen to you.

They probably didn’t teach you about emotions in school.

Feelings are a taboo subject in many homes. You may have been taught that you should not have feelings or that it was not OK to express them.

Learning how to feel, recognize that feeling and then give it a name, can help you learn to regulate your emotions. If you have unrecognized feelings, therapy can help you learn to manage those feeling inside you.

Therapy can de-stress you.

Sometimes therapy makes you really face your problems. People come in depressed and after explaining their life to the therapist they decide that their life is a mess. Then they have a choice, do the hard work of changing things or leave things as they are, depression and all.

There may be gaps in your life skills inventory.

Mostly what you know about life came from living the one life you have had so far, yours. There are all kinds of life skills you need and it is hard to pick them up while rushing through your daily activates.

Your counselor can help you with the life skills you may have missed out on. Making friends, regulating emotions and getting things in perspective all require skills and practice.

It helps to have supporters.

You need supportive people in your life. Your therapist should be on your side. This does not mean that they will always agree with you or tell you that you are right. You need them to be honest if they are really supporting you.

They also should not try to make you dependent on them. You will need supporters after you are done with therapy. Helping you design a plan to create a support system is another thing your counselor may be able to do to help you get your life on track.

You can get a more objective opinion.

Friends tell you what they think you want to hear. Family members may want to influence you, get you to do things that are in their best interests or right for them but may not be good for you. A counselor can be really honest. They may slip up on that honesty, looking for a way to tell you things in a kind or gentle way, but know that at heart they want you to know exactly how things are.

You need to work on the things you are afraid of.

In the counseling room is one time you can really talk about the things you were afraid to tell anyone. This is the place to let your secrets out and know that this person will do all they can to maintain your confidentiality. Yes, there are a few things, like your being suicidal or abuse of a child they have to report, but most everything else they will keep to themselves.

If you have questions about this look at some of the other post on counselorssoapbox.com about what is and is not confidential. It also helps to ask your counselor and see how they answer this question.

Change is a process.

In the therapy room, you learn about the course of change. You can experience change a little or a lot at a time. We all move through our change process at our own rate. Sometimes you need to change a little and then change some more.

Prevention is important.

Sometimes it pays to go in and talk with an expert when you are faced with issues. This can help you to cope with a problem before it swamps you. Sorting things out can prevent your struggle becoming overwhelming.

This is one place you can really be you.

You do not need to worry about pleasing the counselor or if they will like you. This is a consulting relationship, not a long-term friend one. You should not need to worry about being judged. This is the one time you get to really “tell it like it is.”

Unpacking your baggage is painful and needs help.

Working through old issues, getting that baggage unpacked and sorted through, is something that happens often in the therapy room. This should be a safe place to work on those old hurts and pains that you can’t talk about anywhere else. This is one place you ought not get judged.

Counseling should be taken as needed.

You may need to attend every week or every few weeks. Some people go for a while, take a break and return as their life changes. This does not mean you are weak or can’t handle life. What it does means is you know how to make use of professional help as needed.

Counseling helps you find and accept you.

Working on me and trying to find myself are common themes in counseling. This is the time and place to explore your inner self and really get to know those parts of yourself that may be hard to stop and take a look at.

Your therapist is on your side.

Your therapist is an ally in your self-change and self-exploration. They really want the best for you and will do what they can to help you get there. If you don’t feel this then this is one of the first things you should talk about.

For more on this topic see:     Counseling and Therapy

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

What is the ACA?

By David Joel Miller.

How many ACA’s are there?

What is? Series

What is the ACA?
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

These initial things don’t always mean what we think. Different groups of people mean different things by the same set of initials and the same group or condition may get more than one shortened reference. Currently, we are struggling with a sudden shift in the meaning of ACA. I will give you some possible meanings for ACA in a moment.

Context matters.

There is a lot of research out there and more being published every day. Sometimes I think that I read way too much of that research. Is there a treatment for excessive research preoccupation?

The convention in research is that the first time a writer uses a term in their article they give the full name of the condition, theory or test instrument they used followed by the abbreviation they will be using in parentheses. Thereafter they use only the abbreviation.

For example, older articles on Pervasive Developmental Delay used to read Pervasive Developmental Delay (PDD.) Thereafter the article would only talk about PDD. With the DSM-5, Pervasive Developmental Delay became a part of the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD.) There is now a new disorder Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD.) Persistent Depressive Disorder is pretty much like the thing we used to call Dysthymia.

So if you see PDD in an article look back to the beginning of the article and see what the original term was that is being shortened to PDD.

So what is ACA?

In the mental health field, ACA has several meanings. Most likely these days ACA refers to the Affordable Care Act (ACA.) This is big here in America, right now, in that it expanded medical coverage to a lot more people. Unfortunate this does not mean that everyone here in the U. S. has medical insurance. There are still a lot of poor people who do not have medical insurance. We still have a long way to go to get everyone health insurance.

This does not mean those uninsured people do not receive medical care. They still show up in hospital emergency rooms and get free care there. The difference is that without insurance there is no provision for who will pay for that care and so the public gets the bill. Sure if you have no insurance they mail you a bill, but if you are homeless you are not likely to pay that bill.

The result of this system is that the uninsured are discouraged from seeking care if they have anything at all until they are dying and then the rest of us get that bill. This presumably saves money by avoiding preventative care and only having publicly funded care after there is a serious medical emergency. I will step off my large soapbox now and resume my place on the smaller soapbox.

ACA means something special to Professional Counselors.

The American Counseling Association (ACA) is a major organization in the counseling field. Most professional counselors, clinical counselors, mental health counselors and so on are members if the ACA (American Counseling Association.)

If you are a counselor you should be a member of the ACA and/ or its local affiliate. Here in California that would be CALPCC. Some people are members of both.

If you are a counselor that sees people with Behavioral Health coverage under the ACA (Affordable Care Act) you should especially be a member of the ACA (American Counseling Association.) I am still not sure why we call emotional and mental illnesses “Behavioral Health.”

ACA is also for people in recovery.

Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACA.)

American Council on Alcoholism (ACA.)    

Adult Children Anonymous (ACA.)

And that’s not all the ACA’s.

One internet source (http://www.acronymfinder.com/ACA.html) lists 241 different ACA’s. This includes groups in Australia, Austria, Alaska and Arizona. They also list groups of Accountants, Actuaries and other “A” occupations. Just reading that list has started to make my head hurt.

We will leave our discussion of ACA there.

FYI These “What is” sometimes “What are” posts are my efforts to explain terms commonly used in Mental Health, Clinical Counseling, Substance Use Disorder Counseling, Psychology, Life Coaching and related disciplines in a plain language way. Many are based on the new DSM-5; some of the older posts were based on the DSM-IV-TR, both published by the APA. For the more technical versions please consult the DSM or other appropriate references.

See Recommended Books.     More “What is” posts will be found at “What is.”

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

 

Why do successful people have coaches?

By David Joel Miller.

The more successful you are the more likely you will have a coach.

Coaches

Coaches help you perform better.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Have you ever noticed that the top contenders have the top coaches on their side? You don’t find very many Olympic athletes who will go it alone. Top business executives look for executive coaches to help them take their game to a higher level. So why are people whose lives are not working so resistant to getting help?

In my counseling practice, I hear repeatedly that, I don’t need to see a counselor, I am not crazy. People who have serious substance use disorders will tell me they do not need rehab, they can quit on their own.

Couples do not have the time and do not think they need to spend the time on marriage counseling. Later on, they will spend ten times as much money and time on the divorce but till then they are all convinced they can do it alone. They do not see how counseling could help.

Why is it that a coach or in the emotional realm a counselor can so be helpful? Many of my clients are smart, and some are financially stable. What they can’t do is see their own situation accurately. How do counselors help people if you have already tried everything there is and your life is still not working? Here are some ways that counselors or life coaches can help even before your life comes apart.

You can’t see your own swing.

You may be making the same mistakes over and over. If you do not see the areas of your life that could be improved on you may not work on making those changes that could take your life to a whole other level of happiness until something breaks or crashes and burns.

Humans tend to do the same thing over and over. We develop habits because it saves time and keeps us from having to figure out how to get out of bed each morning. Many of these habits just are. Your parents did it that way. You did it that way once and have been doing it that way ever since.

You may not question those entrenched behaviors. You may not recognize ways you can improve what you have been doing. A professional can help you look for improvement opportunities.

You can’t see what is behind you no matter how you turn.

Sometimes we have things from our past that we think we are over but they keep cropping up. Finds may see this but they will be reluctant to tell you. If you hear bad news too soon, you may think that other person is jealous. Bad news from a friend can damage the friendship. A counselor has an obligation to tell you.

Sometimes there are patterns in your life. When you tell your life story to someone else that person can see how when you get to a certain situation you give up or make a bad choice. You may be picking bad partners or you may be applying for the wrong kinds of jobs. Getting a second opinion can help you make decisions and plan your future course.

A counselor or coach can give you the straight scoop. You pay them for their ability to give you another point of view. You can take their opinion into consideration or not.

You don’t know what you don’t know.

Identifying those gaps in your life blueprint can help you develop the happy life skills you need. Your parents may have been great, perfect even. But if you are like most students in the school of life you did not get a hundred percent on any of life’s tests. Say you only got an 80%, a coach can point out the places you need to develop.

What if your parents were less than perfect? Whole lot of people came from dysfunctional homes. You may not have learned some life skills because your parents or other caregiver did not know these skills either. Identify the gaps in your life knowledge and work on those gaps.

It can feel uncomfortable to give yourself praise.

Just as we are often blind to our errors we can also fail to identify our strengths. You go farther in any endeavor if you can make the best use possible of your strengths. A good coach can often see that you have a talent for a function you have never considered. More than one famous athlete was switched from a position at which they were average to a new position by a coach who saw they had an unrecognized talent. Making that switch took their game and their life to a much higher level.

It helps to know what is ahead.

You are living this life. You probably have limited knowledge about what will happen in your life and when. Not that every life is predictably the same, but most of us have some common experiences.

I see people who graduate from high school and then go looking for work. The only thing they know about the world of work is the kind of part-time jobs a high school student could get and that is where they start their search.

As you move through life at different points that life will change. You start your career and your family. Your children grow up and your career goes where it goes. Then what? Is your career stuck? Do you know how to keep developing it? What will happen when the kids leave the house?

When you retire your life will change. What will happen when you retire? Some people have a great time. Others find that they don’t have the money to do those things they always wanted to do. They may not be healthy enough to do things in their retirement.

Counselors and coaches study a thing called lifespan development, what most people can expect to have happen, as they follow their life path. We also talk with a lot of people we hear their life stories, common themes emerge. We don’t tell you those other people’s secrets but a counselor can tell you the patterns of life we see.

Getting some Intel on things that may happen to you, what is normal and what is not, may help you have a better life.

Would seeing a counselor or life coach help you in navigating your life? No, you don’t have to be sick to go to see a counselor. You just need to be willing to spend the time that is needed to work on how you are going to live that life.

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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

What is non-medical counseling?

By David Joel Miller.

You do not have a mental illness but counseling may still help.

Counseling

Counseling, Coaching or Therapy
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

 

Do you have problems getting along with a spouse? Has it been difficult adjusting to a new job or a new town? Kids won’t mind or you are having financial and legal difficulties? Do you have “anger issues?” All these things and many more may be reasons to seek counseling, even though you do not have a diagnosable mental illness. Getting help for these issues early may mean you can live a better life and not have your problems become a mental illness.

There is nothing noble about suffering for long time periods when help is available.

There are a whole slew of life problems that might need working on but they do not rise to the level we would recognize as a mental illness. These issues are listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manuel of Mental Disorders (DSM-5 is a registered trademark of the APA.even though they are not mental disorders.

The idea behind including these issues is that they cause significant distress to clients. These issues bring people into the offices of doctors, therapists, counselors and even judges, but they are not at this point in time considered a mental illness.

The result of these distinctions is that while you may want or need help in these areas you will need to look for other sources of help than the doctor and probably your issuance will not cover treatment for them.

EAP’s and Non-Medical Counseling.

Many employee assistance plans will offer you a few sessions with a counselor to work on these issues. They find it is cheaper and better to help employees overcome outside work issues than to let them go and then have to hire and train new employees. So if you have an EAP plan look for help there first.

You may have insurance coverage for some Non-medical counseling issues.

A few medical insurance plans or Behavioral insurance plans, to be more precise, also cover these issues. For some problems of living, you can get other help. Most of these problems have such severe impacts on people’s lives they need treating even if your insurance does not cover them. Private therapists and counselors can help here.

About Life Coaches.

Recently we have seen a proliferation of “life coaches” who also can help you work on life issues that need help but are not technically mental illnesses. Some of these coaches have training and can be very helpful, others have minimal training and will miss when you really need to see a trained professional. Until this gets sorted out and there is some kind of licensing for life coaches, I recommend you seek out a licensed person even if what you need is non-medical counseling or coaching. Most professional counselors are happy to work on life coaching issues also.

First some background and then the list of problems.

In the U. S. we have been used to using the DSM (Currently the DSM-5) for mental illnesses. In the rest of the world, they use the International Classification of Diseases. As of October 1, 2015, the U.S. is switching to use the numbering system the rest of the world uses. We also updated the names that we use to more closely align with the rest of the world. The result, the numbers, and names have changed for some things so you will see multiple names and numbers for those things and some things will get split while others got combined. Do not let the professional’s confusion confuse you.

V Codes and Z Codes.

I have sorted this list to make it easier to write about so the list does not exactly follow the DSM. Things called “V codes” are the old number and the “Z codes” are the new ones. Sometimes two problems had or have one number and others have or had no number.  This is not a full list, for that see the DSM-5. I just wanted you to see the flavor of things that might bring someone to counseling which is not technically a mental illness.

Relationship issues

Partner Relational V61.10 Z63.0

Parent Child V61.12 Z62.820

Sibling Relational VV61.8 Z62.891

Abuse and neglect (victims) V61.12, V61.21, V62.83

Perpetrators of Abuse get a 995 point something number (now a T number)

Other relational problem V62.81

Bereavement V62.82 Z63.4

Discord with neighbor, lodger or landlord Z59.2

Job – work problems

Occupational problem V62.2 Z56.9

Academic problems V62.3 Z55.9

Adult Antisocial Behavior (Career criminal) V71.01 Z72.811

Legal issues

Financial issues

Incarceration

Life changes

Acculturation V62.4 Z60.3

Phase of life problem V62.89 Z60.0

Situational adjustment – military deployment, moves from job changes

Religious or spiritual problem V62.89 Z65.8

Noncompliance with treatment V15.81 Z91.19 (NOW NON-ADHERENCE)

Housing issues

Homelessness Z59.0

Inadequate housing Z59.1

Problems living in a residential institution Z59.3

Living alone Z60.2

Other things that get treated but may be missing or hard to find in the DSM

Caregiver fatigue or burnout

Military sexual trauma

Military deployment Z56.82

Child care issues

Poverty-related issues

Lack of food and water Z59.4

Extreme poverty Z59.5

Not enough welfare Z59.7

Other unspecified housing or economic problem Z59.9

Physical health issues – the emotional part

Those problems that are poverty related, school and child related and involve interactions with the government, may have services available from public agencies. Other issues may justify you seeking private treatment.

Hope that somewhat clarifies all the things that counselors, social workers, and therapists may work with that are not specifically mental illnesses. If you or someone you know has any of these kinds of issues consider looking for help.  Seeking out help for these issues does not mean you are “crazy” or that you have a mental illness. Not using help when it is available, that is more like stubbornness.

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