Just about every family has a “black sheep”; someone who’s always causing trouble, or maybe is more of a free spirit. Sometimes however, the “black sheep” of the family is someone with a serious mental health issue. If you have a loved one who you believe may need mental health treatment, there are things you can do to try and convince them to seek help.
Family and Friends are First Responders
You should see yourself as a type of “first responder” for your loved one. Teachers, employers and even medical professionals that interact with your loved one aren’t likely to do anything to intervene if it appears they need mental health treatment. As their friend or family member, you are their first line for help.
The Importance of Early Intervention
Early intervention is key to improving your loved one’s quality of life. The longer a mental illness goes untreated, the shorter the intervals between the troubling episodes and behavior that’s drawn your concern. As the intervals shorten, the relapses increase in severity; and as their mental illness becomes more severe, the more resistant it will be to treatment. Intervening as early as possible will change the course of your loved one’s life, putting them on a positive trajectory.
Talking to Your Loved One
Prepare your loved one for this conversation by letting them know that you want to have a talk. Let them know it’s because you love them, and that the topic is very important. Make sure they know it’s nothing negative or scary. Set a date and time, and choose a neutral location where they will be most comfortable.
Keep the conversation in the context of your relationship with this person. Make sure they know you’re not rejecting or judging them, but that you love them and are concerned. Don’t attempt a diagnosis, such as “I think you’re bipolar”; leave diagnoses to the professionals. Talk about your feelings and be specific when you’re describing concerning behavior. Instead of vague statements like “you need help”, or “you’re acting strange” give specific examples. “It frightened me when you were yelling the other day,” or “You missed work four times in the last two weeks.”
The Goal of the Talk
Your goal in talking to your loved one should be for them to get a one-time evaluation. Offer to make the appointment, to pay for it, and/or to drive them.
Talking to someone you love about seeking mental health treatment is difficult and awkward, but it is important. Be prepared for them to have an angry response, and if they do, maintain your composure and stick to the theme of your love and concern. It may take multiple attempts to get your loved one to seek help. Don’t be nagging or harassing, but do be persistent.
If you or a loved one are in need of mental health treatment or a comprehensive evaluation, a licensed mental health professional can help. Call my office today, and let’s schedule a time to talk.
If you’re reading this blog post, chances are you and your significant other have hit a snag in the relationship. Maybe you’re spending less time with each other and you’ve grown apart. Or maybe you do little else than argue these days.
All relationships go through their ups and downs. No matter the good intentions of the individuals or how in love you were when the relationship began, it is completely natural for a relationship to take a hit every now and then.
In some ways, these trials can be a good thing. Much like you need to break down muscle to build it up stronger than it was before, many relationships can be strengthened by challenges, provided your communication is healthy.
Here are some ways to improve communication in your relationship:
1. Recognize the Change
It’s important to be open and honest with yourself and each other. Don’t deny that something has changed in your relationship, admit it openly. You may also need to recognize that each of you has changed over the years. None of us stays the same. Our wants, needs, passions, annoyances, etc. change as we mature and grow as people. People can usually accommodate this change as long as they admit it has happened.
2. Validate Each Other’s Feelings
There are two words that are very powerful in communication, “Yes, and…” Effective communication is not about one person being right and the other wrong. Often, both people are right and allowed to feel their feelings. Try not to attack the other person or get them to compromise on issues. Instead, focus on simply being heard and hearing the other person.
3. Be Ready to Change
If you want to improve your communication as a means to get the other person to change their ways, you are really thinking about this communication thing all wrong! Good communication is not about winning an argument. This is not a debate class. Your goal is to better share your thoughts, feelings, ideas, hopes and struggles with each other. Don’t be so focused on getting the other person to change and focus more on how your own behavior could change.
Managing your emotions is one of the most important skills when it comes to interpersonal interaction. How often are you ready to blow when you and your spouse or partner are speaking to each other? How does the communication breakdown once you or your partner have become emotional?
When communicating with your partner, or anyone, should you feel your emotions rise, stop, take a slow, deep breath, and let it out. Taking this moment is important and will help you not to say something you’ll regret or that will escalate the situation.
None of us are perfect. All we can do is try to be the best versions of ourselves we can be for ourselves and our loved ones. By following these communication tips you will be able to strengthen your relationships.
3 Ingredients to a Happy Marriage
Have you ever wondered why some marriages last decades while others barely go two years? Why do some couples thrive and grow together while others crash and burn?
The secret? There are three secrets, actually; three ingredients to a happy and successful marriage. Without all three of these, many couples will struggle to remain connected and committed.
Communication is to a marriage what gasoline is to an automobile: without it, you’re not going anywhere. And the better the communication, the longer the “motor” will last.
The words we choose to connect with others are incredibly important. Use the right ones and you generate feelings of love, safety, and security. Use the wrong ones and your partner is apt to feel anger and resentment.
It is often said that HOW you say something is as important as WHAT you say, and in many ways, this is true. When you ask your spouse a question, is their answer thoughtful or dismissive? Do they say, “Yes, that sounds like a great plan,” or “Whatever?” Both are affirmative, but only the first sentence is positive and respectful.
But perhaps the most important factor of good communication is listening. Many marriages have been improved when one or more people learn how to be a good listener.
How exactly do you become a good listener? Two ways: Start caring more about your partner – when you care for someone, you are truly interested in what they have to say. Second, when they are speaking, don’t think about other things – don’t think about your day or what you’d like to have for dinner – don’t even think about how you’d like to respond to what your partner is saying, simply LISTEN to them. Give them your full attention.
The better listeners and communicators you both are, the better partners you can be to each other.
Know Yourself and Your Partner
The sad fact is, most people spend more time trying to understand how their smartphone or tablet works than how their own personality – or that of their partner -works. We’re all individuals with unique quirks and behaviors. The more we understand about ourselves and our spouse, the less conflict we’ll experience.
Put Each Other First
Happy and successful marriages are the ones where each person is putting their partner’s needs first. When both are doing this, all needs are being met. Problems arise when only one individual meets their partner’s needs. When this happens, one person is happy, the other is left out in the cold.
If, after reading this, you have become aware that your marriage is missing some of these critical ingredients, don’t be afraid to seek help from a therapist. Sometimes an impartial third party can help both individuals get their priorities straight.
If you or a loved one is interested in exploring treatment, please contact me today. I would be happy to speak with you about how I may be able to help.
The symptoms of anxiety and depression can feel like a whirlwind. One day, you may wake up to discover that your symptoms have taken over your life. Even completing daily activities can feel overwhelming.
What if we told you that you could “stop” the rush of feelings and emotions and just stay in the present moment? That you could approach each new day with a calm, clear head? What if we told you that you could even prevent the progression of anxiety or depression?
You may not be able to do all of these things tomorrow, but we can help to guide you on a path toward this peaceful mindset. This path is called “mindfulness.” It’s not just a buzzword – mindfulness has gained fast popularity for a reason. Using mindfulness and meditation practices can help improve overall mental health and give you the tools to live a more peaceful and present life.
What Is “Mindfulness?”
Mindfulness is simply the state of being present where you are. That’s it! It is a state of recognizing what is going on around you and inside you. When you stay in the present, you stay out of the past (which can lead to depression) and out of the future (which can lead to anxiety.)
In a world with many distractions and responsibilities, achieving mindfulness is easier said than done. But with patience and practice, you can begin to live a more mindful life.
How Mindfulness Benefits Mental Health
Mindfulness provides mental health help in many ways:
When you spend more time in the present, you can identify what is happening in your body. Are you starting to feel anxious? Do you notice that your heart is beating fast? Are you surrounded by “triggers?” Mindfulness helps you recognize these signs and symptoms before they can take over.
This awareness is especially poignant for people living with addiction. Research published in JAMA Psychiatry detailed a study on people who participated in a mindfulness program to treat addiction. The results were very positive:
“Six months following the intervention, the mindfulness-based program and the standard relapse-prevention program were both more successful at reducing relapse than the 12-step program. One year later, the mindfulness-based program proved better than the other two in reducing drinking and drug use.”
When your mind detects a threat, it goes into a primal “fight, flight or freeze” mode. Your heart rate increases, you may start to sweat, and suddenly you feel the need to run away or become aggressive. You get caught in your own head and seemingly lose control of bodily functions.
Mindfulness can help you regain that control. When you meditate to achieve mindfulness, you begin to slow your breathing. Slow, deep breathing sends a signal to your brain that says, “I’m safe. I’m calm. There is nothing threatening me right now.” When your brain receives that message, it calms the rest of your body. Your heart rate drops to a normal rate and you stop shaking. The tasks ahead of you seem easier to accomplish. With a clear head, you can go about your day.
Will meditation really make you more productive? For the answer, a study conducted at H.A. Montgomery Company concluded that employees who participated in a program that included regular Transcendental Meditation increased their productivity 120%!
Depression or addiction may not visit your door just once. Many people with mental health issues experience relapses – periods of time in which the symptoms come back and cause a subsequent depressive episode. Mindfulness can help to prevent these symptoms from coming back and affecting your life.
Researchers at the University of Colorado looked at a group of pregnant women who were likely to experience a relapse due to postpartum depression. Meditation helped to reduce the relapse rate by 12%.
Start Practicing Mindfulness Today
Mindfulness can be achieved in many ways. learning to meditate may seem difficult or even impossible to do. You may be reading this and saying to yourself I have tried to mediate and it just doesn’t work for me. However, meditation is easier than it looks – even if you cannot seem to quiet your mind. Guided meditations, musical meditations, and other exercises can help you achieve mindfulness without the struggle of trying to shutting down your thoughts.
Let’s find the best meditation program for you. Request an appointment on our website today to start on your mindfulness journey.
Even happily married couples can hit obstacles along the way. When this happens, couples can either go it alone and try to work through their issues themselves, or they can seek the guidance of a trained and experienced marriage counselor. While some couples feel their problems should be kept private, many more are finding the value of seeking help from an impartial and nonjudgmental third party.
Here are 3 ways individual counseling can help your marriage.
Identifying Behavioral Patterns
Most of us are aware of our partner’s behaviors but unaware of our own. And, most challenges faced by spouses is the result of the patterns between them. But when you only see half (or less) of the dysfunctional patterns, the problems in the marriage can seem confusing and overwhelming.
A therapist is trained to help individuals recognize their own negative patterns and how they manifest in a relationship. The result is both partners are empowered and able to take a step back during conflicts as they occur, preventing escalation.
As a bonus, a therapist can also point out the strengths and resources they find in your relationship so you can leverage and learn how to nourish them.
Change at the Root Level
Once your therapist has helped you identify negative patterns, they can then help you understand why they are happening and assist you in changing them. Most behavioral patterns are formed and ingrained when we are very young – before we become self-aware and before we’ve met our significant others.
Understanding why your partner reacts a certain way can create empathy and help communication. Once you’ve laid this solid foundation, your therapist can give you specific adjustments that can change your relationship for the better.
A therapist will not only tailor changes based on your unique dynamics as a couple, they will help you practice the adjustments and encourage you to remain vigilant and consistent. The result is a deeper intimacy and a deeper understanding of each other with a renewed commitment to meet each other’s needs and desires.
While you may first feel embarrassed discussing marital problems in front of a stranger, ultimately a marriage counselor can bring you both to a more fulfilling phase of your partnership.
If you or a loved one is interested in exploring treatment, please contact me today. I would be happy to speak with you about how I may be able to help.