What do drug counselors do?

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

Drug counselors have many job duties besides talking to clients.

Counseling

Counseling.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

When you say counselor, most people envision a person who sits talking with the client. Many people who want to become counselors believe they would be good at it because friends have told them they’re good at giving advice. Professional counselors avoid giving advice. The stakes are just too high. It is the client’s life, and they need to make the decisions. What counselors may sometimes do is provide education, but that education needs to be objective not the counselor’s opinion.

Most drug counselors do not work in private practice but work for agencies. Because of this system, not every counselor does every one of these functions, but it is essential for them to know how to do each of these functions.

In the workplace, counselors perform many tasks other than counseling.

Peripheral tasks are probably true of all professions. There are lots of things that must be done by the professional beyond the function most people expect. One of those other things that the drug counselor needs to do is paperwork. The paperwork function, along with several other administrative tasks can take up a sizable chunk of the counselor’s day, but these other tasks need to be done to keep the program running so that it’s there when the client needs it.

There are different systems for classifying the drug counselor’s duties.

Defining what any profession does, and how they should do it, can be problematic. Many books have been written about how, in mental health counseling, the therapist or professional mental health counselor should do what they do. I have seen very few however which go into any detail about all the things they do each day other than counseling.

The what does the counselor do and how do they do it is especially problematic when it comes to drug counseling. Mental health counseling has its roots in medicine and psychology while substance use disorder counseling has its origins in self-help groups and recovery literature. As drug counseling has become more professional, it has become essential to define precisely what the job duties of the counselor may be or should be, in addition to the actual time spent “counseling” clients.

Here are the three primary sources in this area that I’m familiar with and have used in teaching substance abuse counseling classes. Along the way, there have been several workforce studies done which have informed these three sources.

John W. Herdman’s book Global Criteria; the 12 Core Functions of the Substance Abuse Counselor, first published in 1994 this book is now in its seventh edition just released in 2018. This book has been a standard text, especially among accredited programs, across the country as part of the introductory drug counseling training’s since it was first written.

Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) published TAP 21 Addiction Counseling Competencies: The Knowledge, Skills, and Attitudes of Professional Practice. This book was initially issued in 1998 and has been revised since. TAP21 has been incorporated into some of the tests used to license or certified drug counselors.

The International Certification and Reciprocity Consortium (ICRC.) The ICRC took all the various tasks a drug counselor might do and sorted them into four categories which they call performance domains.

While the three different systems use different labels, I see very little that is part of the tasks of the counselor that is not included in all three systems. So, what are the four domains that a drug counselor needs to know about to do their job?

Domain One: “Intake” or getting the client in the treatment.

This domain includes all the tasks that would be necessary to get the client to the point of the first counseling session. In Mental health treatment settings, some or all this work would be done by paraprofessionals or office staff. Some drug programs may have specialized intake counselors, but in many drug and alcohol counseling programs counselors would be doing this work themselves.

The intake domain would include such functions as screening, assessment, and engagement activities, as well as orienting the client to the program.

Domain Two: treatment planning, collaboration, and referral.

This domain includes developing a treatment plan, case management functions, referrals and linkages, and consultation.

Domain Three: counseling, both individual and group.

Most drug counseling is done in the group setting. These groups could include psychoeducational groups, “process” or discussion groups, feelings groups, or topical groups, often focused on the 12 steps or life skills.

There are many different theories and techniques for individual counseling.

Domain Four: professional, legal and ethical responsibilities.

This domain includes the requirement to complete paperwork, meeting your legal responsibilities and following the applicable code of ethics. Doing things professionally, legally, and ethically should be woven into everything the counselor does, but the counselor also needs to periodically review the decision-making model they’re using to be sure that they and the agency they work for are performing legally and ethically.

In future posts let’s look at the various tasks the drug counselor must do in each of these domains.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Three David Joel Miller Books are available now!

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.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

SasquatchWandering through a hole in time, they encounter Sasquatch. Can they survive? The guests had come to Meditation Mountain to find themselves. Trapped in the Menhirs during a sudden desert storm, two guests move through a porthole in time and encounter long extinct monsters. They want to get back to their own time, but the Sasquatch intends to kill them.

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

Books are now available on Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, and many other online stores.

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

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – 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 my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

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Why do you want to write?

By David Joel Miller, MS, writer.

It is essential to look at the reasons you want to write.

Man writing.

Writing.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Lots of people say they would like to write, but from having that thought, to producing a finished piece of writing, can be a long and complicated process. For you to get a good start on this writing path, it is crucial that you get clear on why you want to write.

Some people can’t stop themselves from writing. Throughout their life they find themselves writing things down. Sometimes these people write in journals, diaries, or in this era they may be writing on social media or a blog. If you’re one of those people, keep writing. Your biggest challenge will be to figure out what to do with all those filled notebooks or computer files.

If you’re who has been telling yourself, you want to write, but nothing ever gets recorded, the first step is to get clear on why you’re doing this. Ask yourself if any of the reasons for writing below fit you.

You want to be famous.

A few, very few, writers become famous, most of them must wait until after their deaths to reach that celebrity status. Unless you’re a voracious reader, you probably will have trouble remembering the names of more than a few living writers. Stephen King and J. K. Rowling come to mind.

Ask yourself how many politicians you know by name? How many sports stars, movie stars or reality TV show actors do you recognize by name? If your primary goal is to become famous, you probably want to pick something whole lot easier than putting in the hours you will need to practice, to get even passably good at writing.

You want people to notice you.

Whether you’re an introvert or extrovert writing is primarily a solitary activity. If you crave social interaction, writing is not likely to get you there. You would get more attention from teaching a class to a room full of students then you’re ever likely to get from writing.

Much of the attention writers get is the negative kind. When you write, you create something in isolation and then release it into the world. To continue writing you need to develop a thick skin knowing that the more you do, the more likely you will be to get negative reviews and criticism.

You want to make money.

In almost every occupation there are a few outstanding successes, people who make phenomenal amounts of money. Don’t believe all the hype from the people selling classes on how to write and become rich. If you work extremely hard, you may be able to make a passable living from your writing, but to become an overnight success often takes years of practice.

To reach financial goals from your writing, you will need to work a day job to support yourself while you work at your night job creating your art for many years before your writing can pay off. In most salary surveys the average income writers earn from their writing is below the poverty level.

Don’t misunderstand my comments about how hard it is to make a living writing as meaning that you must starve for your art. Good artists can and do make a good living from their art. But to paraphrase a rock ‘n’ roll song, “it’s a long way to the top if you want to write.”

To express your creativity.

Writing is absolutely one way to express your creativity, but there are so many others. If your goal is to be creative, it may be worthwhile to explore some of the other mediums.

Writing, especially long-form writing, as in novels and nonfiction books, is still popular, but it’s having a hard time competing with the rapid growth in new media. There’s a lot of creativity these days going on in creating videos and programming video games. Writing involves creating with words, and you need to ask yourself how skilled you are in your use of words.

You express yourself best in words.

Some people express themselves with motion, dancing or demonstrating. Other people are very good at expressing themselves visually. If you must describe a building to someone, would you prefer to draw them a diagram or do you want to offer to take them on a tour? The writer must be good at observing that building and then painting an alluring picture using their vocabulary.

You are passionate about something.

People who are passionate, believe in a cause, find that the way they spread their enthusiasm about ideas best is to write about them. Political movements often begin with a writer spreading an idea. If you have a consuming passion for your subject, whether that’s cooking, travel, or anything else, you may find the best way to share that love for your topic is to write about it. When you genuinely care about something you can’t help sharing your passion for your subject.

For me, the writing journey began because of my passionate belief that people with mental or emotional disorders, addiction, or alcoholism, could recover and have full, happy lives. My writing has expanded from writing nonfiction about recovery to also writing novels about protagonists coping with problems in their lives.

You have a story you need to tell.

At heart writers of fiction are storytellers. If you have a good story to tell the writing technique disappears beneath the story. The best nonfiction books use stories to illustrate the principles they’re describing.

If somewhere inside of you there’s a story pushing to find its way into the world, I don’t see how you could not write that story. The final form of the story may not be a book, it might be a video, movie, or a live stage play, but the starting point for all those story expressions is that script someone wrote describing the story and how it needs to be told.

Thanks for reading another one of my posts about things I’ve learned along this journey toward becoming a better writer. If you have ideas about other reasons to write, please leave a comment below. If you have a question for me, you can either included them in the comments section or send them to me via the “contact me” page. Thanks for allowing me to share with you some of the things I am learning about writing.

You’ll find more posts on this topic under – Writing.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Three David Joel Miller Books are available now!

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.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

SasquatchWandering through a hole in time, they encounter Sasquatch. Can they survive? The guests had come to Meditation Mountain to find themselves. Trapped in the Menhirs during a sudden desert storm, two guests move through a porthole in time and encounter long extinct monsters. They want to get back to their own time, but the Sasquatch intends to kill them.

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

Books are now available on Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, and many other online stores.

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

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – 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 my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Do you want to be a drug counselor?

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

The need for qualified drug counselors continues to grow.

Pill for that?

Drug Counseling?
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

The growing opioid epidemic has highlighted the need for more drug treatment. So has the use of other drugs, methamphetamine, the so-called bath salts, and a whole host of new substances which continue to grow. The need for treatment among the older generation is at an all-time high as many baby boomers have continued to use their drug of choice into their retirement years. While the increasing problem with hard drugs gets a lot of media attention, we can’t forget that the two legal drugs, nicotine and alcohol remain huge killers. In medical settings, most of the patients have illnesses caused by or made worse by the use and abuse of alcohol and drugs.

There are several reasons why you might want to become a drug and alcohol counselor. For over ten years now I’ve taught classes in counseling those with substance use disorders. This week another class is starting. Over the next few weeks, I’d like to talk to you about some of the things drug counselors learn. Let’s begin today with reasons you might want to become a drug counselor and why your reason might help or hinder you in becoming a good drug counselor.

The field of drug counseling continues to evolve. The laws and regulations vary from place to place, and so do the names given to drug counselors. Counselors in this field are sometimes called substance abuse counselors, substance use disorder counselors, drug and alcohol counselors, or AOD counselors which stands for alcohol and other drug counselors.

This field used to separate alcoholics from drug addicts and provide two different kinds of treatment. Today it’s rare to find treatment programs where the two issues are disconnected. People with alcohol only problems usually end up in a drunk driver program or self-help groups such as AA. People with drug problems go to drug programs even though they often also have alcohol problems.

If you are in recovery, you may want to become a drug counselor.

Today’s substance abuse counseling programs mainly grew out of the alumni from drug programs and people who had attended 12 step groups. If you’re in recovery yourself, you may want to give back. The good part about this is that you probably have a lot of knowledge about the process of addiction. Many of my students are former alcoholics or addicts now in recovery. I tell the class, only half-joking, that many of you have done “extensive field research” on drugs and alcohol.

If you’re a recovering person, you probably know a lot about the 12 steps. While a lot of research is being done about what works and doesn’t work in the substance use disorder field, working the 12 steps and attending self-help groups continues to be a significant component of most recovery programs.

The downside to being a recovering person is that you may struggle with the academic, professional part of the curriculum. People in recovery who rushed too rapidly into becoming drug counselors put themselves at risk for relapse. For recovering person to work in the treatment field, they need to not only know the disease of addiction, but they also need to understand the process of recovery. If you’re in early recovery give yourself plenty of time to get used to your new sobriety before beginning to work in the field, otherwise you can put yourself at risk of relapse.

You may have had a family member or friend with an addiction problem.

Many people come into the field because they lost a family member or close friend to the diseases of addiction. I’ve seen some very effective counselors who have not themselves been addicts but have grown up in a home with an addicted parent or partner. If you’ve lost a child to addiction, death, or incarceration, that can be an exceptionally strong motivation to work in the field.

The caution for family members is like the one for recovering people. Make sure you are fully recovered from your experiences of living with an addicted person. Don’t expect to work out your own problems by working with addicts. Living with an addicted person can cause severe emotional trauma. You need to be fully recovered from that trauma if you plan to do this kind of work. A number of my drug counseling students were family members of addicts. They pretty much all told me they benefited by taking the classes. Many however decided they needed to work on themselves rather than trying to fix themselves by fixing addicts.

You have discovered a lot of the people you work with have drug problems.

No matter where you work there’s a strong possibility that many of the people you see each day have a drug problem. One survey estimated that 80% of the people in prison were drunk or high in the 24 hours before the committed the crime that led to their incarceration. VA Hospital estimated half of their hospital beds on the results of patients whose condition was caused by or made worse by alcohol. People who work in the criminal justice system or the medical field need to know about addiction and recovery.

People who work in the welfare system need to be knowledgeable about drugs, alcohol, addiction, and recovery. Many people who are unemployed have substance use issues. Among the homeless population, one drug is almost universal. It’s probably not the drug you are thinking of, the drug of choice among the homeless – is tobacco.

If you’re working in education, you need to know about drugs, alcohol and the problems they’re creating for your students. Surveys tell us that at the college level F students consume twice as much alcohol as A students. Many elementary school students begin experimenting with drugs and drinking around the third or fourth grade. They start by smoking their parent’s cigarettes or drinking their alcohol. With the shift towards legalized marijuana more and more elementary and middle school students are using marijuana. If you work with kids in any capacity part of what you should be doing will be drug prevention and early interventions.

You work in mental health and clients want to talk to you about drug problems.

There’s a substantial overlap between mental health issues and substance use disorders. If you work in a program or facility that treats mental health problems you’re seeing people with substance use disorders whether you know it or not. Please don’t say “I don’t want to work with those people.” You are. If you give off the attitude you don’t want to talk to them about their drug problems, their sex problems, or their gambling problems; they just won’t tell you the truth about those issues.

Roughly half the people with a diagnosed mental illness, abuse substances and many go on to develop substance use disorders. About 60% of the people with substance use disorders also have a mental illness. The area of working with clients with both problems, now called “dual diagnosis” used to be called “co-occurring disorders.” The most effective treatment for people with both disorders is to get them both treated at the same time and either at the same place or with two different providers who work together to coordinate care.

You would like to help “those people.”

If your motivation to become a drug counselor is because you feel sorry for people with a history of substance use disorder, I’m going to suggest, please don’t become a drug counselor. You’re likely to come across as feeling superior and looking down on them. If you want to be helpful, work with them on their other needs, housing, meals, job training, or basic literacy. Leave the drug counseling to people who will put in the time to develop the needed skills.

Stay tuned for more posts on what drug counselors do on the job and how someone would go about becoming a drug counselor. If you have questions as I move through this series of posts, please leave a comment or use the “contact me” form. I will get back to you just as quickly as my schedule allows.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Three David Joel Miller Books are available now!

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.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

SasquatchWandering through a hole in time, they encounter Sasquatch. Can they survive? The guests had come to Meditation Mountain to find themselves. Trapped in the Menhirs during a sudden desert storm, two guests move through a porthole in time and encounter long extinct monsters. They want to get back to their own time, but the Sasquatch intends to kill them.

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

Books are now available on Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, and many other online stores.

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

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – 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 my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Which pill should you take for that?

By David Joel Miller MS Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Trying to solve life’s problems with a pill comes at a cost.

Pill for that?

Which pill should you take for that?
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Modern medical science has been a great boon to people. Medications can treat diseases and have extended the human lifespan. Unfortunately, many people in our society have come to expect that taking a chemical will solve all their problems. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if no matter what your challenge there was a pill for that?

Regrettably, many of the problems people face today can’t be solved with medication. Freud, Jung, and a great many others discovered that the “talking cure” was more effective for treating emotional problems and relationship problems than meditation.

Martin Seligman, Ph.D., in his book, What You Can Change … and What You Can’t, reports that as of 2007 no medication had been found which cured any mental illness but that several varieties of talk therapy have been effective in curing certain mental and emotional disorders. While medication can help you manage some of the symptoms of your illness, symptoms can return as soon as you stop taking that medication.

A word of caution here, if you’re currently taking a prescribed medication don’t suddenly stop taking it without a discussion with your physician. Abruptly discontinuing medication can cause some severe medical issues. The symptoms people experience from stopping antidepressant medication can be so intense, that there is a recognized mental illness in the DSM-5 called “antidepressant discontinuation syndrome.”

The medicalization of life’s problems.

Many of the problems of living have increasingly been construed as medical problems. A significant number of people who completed suicide have been to see their medical doctor in the month before their attempt, only to be told that there was nothing medically wrong with them.

Taking medication for depression can be helpful, but it typically takes a long time, a month or more before you begin to feel the effects. If you don’t face your problems, learn to change what you can and to accept the things you can’t change. No medication will make your life happier all by itself.

Don’t confuse physical and emotional pains.

The belief that when you feel bad, there must be a medication that will stop the pain has led a lot of people to seek a chemical solution to the problems of living. If you’re sad because of a loss in your life, medication can temporarily numb that pain, but when the medication wears off, you still must face life’s problems.

Some problems respond better to life skills than to medication.

There’s an immense connection between sleep and physical and emotional health. Some sleep issues are medical, sleep apnea for example. Temporarily you can increase the amount of sleep by taking sleeping pills, but once you become dependent on the sleeping pills, you won’t be able to sleep without them. Rebound insomnia can happen when you discontinue the sleeping pills and results in nights where you don’t sleep at all.

Using alcohol to help you sleep is even worse. Alcohol is a depressant drug, drink enough, and you will pass out, unconscious. Being unconscious is not the same thing as sleeping.

Far more effective than using chemicals to increase sleep are things called “sleep hygiene.” Decrease or eliminate caffeine use during the eight hours or so before bedtime. Avoid blue light from TVs and computer screens during the last hour before bedtime. If anxiety and worries are keeping you awake at night try journaling about them, make up lists of things to do the next day, and seek long-term solutions to those problems. If you feel stuck in this area, consider going for counseling.

Don’t fall for the myth of “happy pills.”

I’m inclined to think that our societies belief that there must be a pill to cure everything that ails you has been fueling the drug overdose crisis. For someone with chronic physical pain medications can help them have a better life. But many people miss the connection between emotional pain and physical pain. Your emotions are regulated in your nervous system, and your nervous system connects to every other part of your body. Being under stress or experiencing mental and emotional problems leads to chemical changes in the body. Untreated emotional issues can result in genuine physical pain.

Taking medication does not solve the nonmedical problems of living and “numbing out” with drugs whether they are prescribed, or street drugs, allow your problems to grow worse and gives you the additional problem of addiction to deal with.

Don’t use drugs as a shortcut to things you can do without them.

I’ve noticed recently students who don’t put in the time to study for class but instead take “smart drugs” or load up on stimulants and try to learn everything the night before the final they should’ve been learning all semester.

Stimulant ADHD medication can be helpful to someone with severe attention deficit disorder. But taking these medications won’t make up for learning good study habits and putting in the time on your homework. ADHD is an excellent example of “concept creep” in which the number of people with a diagnosis continues to expand as milder and milder cases get the diagnosis. Learning to focus your attention is a skill that can be developed.

Mental and emotional problems respond to physical exercise.

Walking can be as useful for treating depression as medication. There is no known medication to treat the negative symptoms of schizophrenia, but a recent study reported that aerobic exercise reduces those negative symptoms. I’m currently reviewing the research reports on exercise to treat mental illness. I found thousands of studies on this subject. As I have the time to read the studies, I plan to write another blog post on what conditions exercise has been proven to help.

It’s hard to admit the doctor’s prescription pad won’t solve all your problems.

Recently something happened that drove home how ingrained our society’s belief is that medical doctors have all the answers to life’s problems. Google is now moving post written by medical doctors or approved by them to the top of the search results while writers from nonmedical fields find their posts dropping down the search results.

I get why Google may have had to do this. I’ve seen some articles and blog posts with information I considered totally erroneous. You should be careful to separate the views of someone with knowledge in the field from those who may be handing out inaccurate information. I hope that society won’t ignore information about study habits from educators in favor of posts encouraging you to take the newest smart drug or preference for information about diet drugs and surgery while disregarding sound information about exercise and physical fitness from specialists in that area who don’t necessarily have a prescription pad.

If you read this far thanks for considering my suggestions for solving life’s problems without reaching for a drug that could make your problems worse.

David Joel Miller, MS, is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) and a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC.)  Mr. Miller provides supervision for beginning counselors and therapists and teaches at the local college in the Substance Abuse Counseling program. He also writes both articles and books about overcoming life’s challenges.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Three David Joel Miller Books are available now!

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.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

SasquatchWandering through a hole in time, they encounter Sasquatch. Can they survive? The guests had come to Meditation Mountain to find themselves. Trapped in the Menhirs during a sudden desert storm, two guests move through a porthole in time and encounter long extinct monsters. They want to get back to their own time, but the Sasquatch intends to kill them.

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

Books are now available on Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, and many other online stores.

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

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – 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 my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Ways to Prevent Burnout.

By David Joel Miller MS Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Solutions to keep you from being the victim of burnout.

Burning out

Burnout.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

The stress of life in this century is increasing the number of people reporting burnout. Several factors are at play here. The time spent in formal education has increased dramatically. Many people today graduate from school ready to begin their work career already buried in student loan debt. The available jobs on planet Earth have shifted from working with plants in agriculture and things in manufacturing to working with people. Life itself has simply become more stressful. Before you experience burnout, here are some things you can do to protect yourself.

Get adequate sleep.

One of the first signs of burnout is feeling physically and emotionally exhausted. It’s tempting to believe you can stay up late and still be productive the next day. Eventually, you will develop a sleep deficit, and your ability to cope with stress will decline.

Avoid alcohol and drugs.

Alcohol and drugs may make you feel better in the short run, but when they wear off, you will be more depleted than before. Using drugs and alcohol to cope is a sure way to accelerate your journey to burnout.

Maintain friendships and social connections.

Having positive friendships and social support buffers you from stress. As life’s demands increase, people are tempted to reduce their social connections. Having a support system will help you get through stressful times. Time spent with friends is not a waste of time which could’ve been productive at work, it’s an investment in maintaining your ability to cope with stress.

Avoid perfectionism.

There are a few things which require perfection or near perfection. If you allow the quest for perfection to spill over into areas where it’s not needed, you increase your stress level possibly to the breaking point.

Scheduled downtime, don’t over schedule yourself.

Machines can’t run and 100 hundred percent of capacity, neither can humans. Cramming your schedule full of work and the rest of your time full of frantic leisure activities can exceed your physical and emotional resources.

Use relaxation tools, meditation, deep breathing, etc.

Don’t wait until after your burnout, to learn stress reduction techniques. Simple relaxation tools can lower your level stress and keep you physically and emotionally well.

Take your breaks.

When times are stressful, it’s tempting to try to keep up your productivity by working through lunch and skipping breaks. Temporarily this may increase what you get done, but over the long haul, your productivity will decline. Ultimately neglecting self-care results in exhaustion which leads to burnout.

Learn to say no.

Avoid taking on projects and responsibilities you don’t have the energy and resources to accomplish. Failure to say no results in becoming overwhelmed. After your burn out someone else will do your job and probably they will say no to excessive demands. Setting proper boundaries can help you continue to function effectively over a much longer period.

Practice disconnecting; you can unplug.

Leaving work at the job is important. Avoid taking work home with you whenever possible. When you’re spending time with family or friends, be fully present with them. Don’t continue to think about work during your leisure time.

Make self-care a priority, eat well, exercise.

Make taking care of yourself your top priority. Believe that you matter. Create a life in which you thrive by eating well, sleeping and getting healthy exercise. Pursue the things that interest you and invest some time in self-improvement.

Improve your job skills, so you have options.

Avoid getting locked into doing the same work over and over. Keep your options open. Continuing to improve your job skills and learning new skills gives you additional options. Being able to move from one position to another or even from one company to another keeps you from getting trapped. Having other options reduces the chance that you will stay on the job past the point of burnout.

More posts about – Burnout.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Three David Joel Miller Books are available now!

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.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

Sasquatch. Wandering through a hole in time, they encounter Sasquatch. Can they survive? The guests had come to Meditation Mountain to find themselves. Trapped in the Menhirs during a sudden desert storm, two guests move through a porthole in time and encounter long extinct monsters. They want to get back to their own time, but the Sasquatch intends to kill them.

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

Books are now available on Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, and many other online stores.

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

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – 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 my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Loving yourself is OK.

By David Joel Miller MS Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Loving others requires loving yourself.

Proud

Self-esteem.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

People in a positive, loving relationship need to develop a skill which we used to call Healthy Narcissism, today we might call this high self-esteem. Researchers in the mental health field, believe that a thing called healthy narcissism exists in mentally healthy people. Freud said that our love for others develops from the way we feel about ourselves.

Parents who feel good about themselves can share that love with the children. Parents who feel inadequate find it hard to approve of anything their children do. The more you judge yourself, the more you judge others. High self-esteem or health narcissism is quite different from the unhealthy narcissism we see in people who develop Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

When you don’t feel good about yourself, it’s hard like other.

People with low self-esteem find it difficult to have good relationships with others. A negative view of yourself carries over into negative attitudes towards other people, the world, and the future. Having good relationships with others bolsters your self-esteem. Taking good care of yourself increases your ability to care about others.

Developing an extremely narcissistic personality is one way people protect themselves when they have low self-esteem. Feeling yourself with positive feelings creates a surplus that you can share with others. When you see the world the lens of negativity, everything looks dark and unhappy.

How do you tell healthy self-esteem from pathological narcissism?

Healthy self-esteem results in good mental health. People who feel good about themselves have less anxiety and are more positive and optimistic. People with pathological narcissism, have shaky self-esteem. Someone with narcissistic personality disorder needs to feel superior to others to feel okay about himself.

If you are high in self-esteem, you have plenty of love to share. When your self-esteem is fragile and is based on the beliefs that you are the superior person, and that others should admire you for your greatness, your ability to love and care for others is limited. A pathological narcissist does not love other people; they see others as things they are entitled to use to meet their needs.

Narcissists think they are better than others. People with high self-esteem can see their good points and the good characteristics of others. Narcissists always believed they are better at things that they are. People with high self-esteem feel good about their accomplishments and can see the areas that need improvement.

Narcissists are selfish and believe they deserve the best of everything. People with high self-esteem take good care of themselves so that they will be able to take care of others. People with high self-esteem what their relationships to be caring. Narcissists have little interest in warm, close relationships and see their connections with others as tools they use to get what they want.

More about Narcissists.

As we move through our series of Narcissism posts, feel free to ask questions and leave comments. To help you find these posts, below are some links to point you in the right direction. Keep in mind that all the posts about narcissists appeared in the narcissism category but links to future posts will not be live until future posts appear.

Narcissism category.                           Personality disorders.

Narcissistic traits.                               Psychology.

Narcissistic relationship partner.        Relationships.

Self-esteem.                                        Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

Posts about having a happy life will be found in the category – happiness.

David Joel Miller MS is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) and a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC.)  Mr. Miller provides supervision for beginning counselors and therapists and teaches at the local college in the Substance Abuse Counseling program.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Three David Joel Miller Books are available now!

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.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

Sasquatch.

Wandering through a hole in time they encounter Sasquatch. Can they survive? The guests had come to Meditation Mountain to find themselves. Trapped in the Menhirs during a sudden desert storm, two guests move through a porthole in time and encounter long extinct monsters. They want to get back to their own time but the Sasquatch wants to kill them.

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

Books are now available on Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, and many other online stores.

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

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – 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 my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

When should you stop trusting?

By David Joel Miller MS Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Have you continued to trust when you shouldn’t?

Trust.

Trust.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Trust issues commonly are of two types, being afraid to trust anyone when you really need to or continuing to trust people even when you shouldn’t. Not being able to trust when you should, can damage your relationships and leave you isolated and lonely. Trusting the wrong people, trusting too much, or continuing to trust someone who has harmed you in the past can cause you a lot of pain and suffering.

Every relationship whether it’s romantic, work related, or a casual social interaction begins with an initial level of trust. How high your trust is, initially depends on your personality and your past experiences. Based on your experiences with a person you begin to either trust them more or less.

Many people with trust issues confuse trust with power and control. It’s not trust if you control what they do or if you watch them constantly. If you must check up on them, that’s not trust.

What are the warning signs that you are trusting too much? When are the times you should stop trusting?

When the risks are high, you should trust less.

Lending someone a pen, is probably no big deal. If they don’t return it, you can buy another one pretty inexpensive. Lending that same person $20 is a little riskier. When them a thousand dollars and it could destroy your friendship. When a friend owes you something and can’t repay it, you lose not only the money but a friend, who is now embarrassed to see you and have to say they can’t afford to pay you back.

When your gut tells you, something is wrong.

Feelings are valuable sources of information. If you have this uneasy feeling, you shouldn’t trust some listen to your intuition. Feelings are not always right. Just because something scares you does not make it dangerous. When something doesn’t feel right, you need to proceed cautiously.

Trust weakens when their behavior changes.

Trust usually develops over time in a relationship. You trust someone you know more than you should trust someone you have just met. Someone you have known for a while begins to act differently pay attention.

Trust less when they are hiding something.

Whether it’s a romantic relationship or friendship when you discover a person is hiding things from you, be cautious about trusting them. People who are behaving honestly, don’t need to hide anything.

When they are unreliable at the small things, do not trust them with big things.

If someone is habitually late, says they will do something but doesn’t, be very careful trusting them. It’s easy to make excuses for people who let you down in small ways. Don’t make the mistake of trusting someone who is unreliable in small things with something that is important to you in a big way.

When they have been untrustworthy before, trust less.

People commonly behave consistently. When someone has hurt you before, anticipate they are likely to do it again.

When they are evasive and withhold information do not trust them.

Being evasive suggests this person doesn’t trust you or that they have something to hide. If they are leaving out part of the story, you should not trust them.

You ask for something they can’t or won’t do.

When you ask someone to do something for you, think for a minute about the nature of your request. If you’ve asked for something they can’t do, and you expect them to do it, that unreasonable request is creating your trust issues. When someone has told you no, pay attention.

The longer you have known someone, the more you expect from them.

To increase trust, you need to know more about them. It’s unreasonable to put a lot of trust in someone you have just met.

When they have mixed motives, trust less. It’s easier to trust in win-win situations. You should be more careful about trusting when their interests and yours do not coincide.

When their main goal is to get something from you, trust sparingly.

You should reduce your level of trust for someone if you find out that their main interest is in selling you something. In romantic relationships, it is important to identify when that other person is only interested in sex or wants you to pay for something, after which they don’t show interest in continuing to see you.

Look here more on the topic of trust.

David Joel Miller MS is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) and a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC.)  Mr. Miller provides supervision for beginning counselors and therapists and teaches at the local college in the Substance Abuse Counseling program.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Three David Joel Miller Books are available now!

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.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

Sasquatch.

Wandering through a hole in time they encounter Sasquatch. Can they survive? The guests had come to Meditation Mountain to find themselves. Trapped in the Menhirs during a sudden desert storm, two guests move through a porthole in time and encounter long extinct monsters. They want to get back to their own time but the Sasquatch wants to kill them.

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

Books are now available on Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, and many other online stores.

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

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – 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 my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.