INTENSIVE RECOVERY WORKSHOP

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VALENTINO THERAPY

3030 BRIDGEWAY, SUITE 108, SAUSALITO, CA

SHARON VALENTINO, LMFT, sv@valentinotherapy.com, 415.215.5363

INTENSIVE RECOVERY WORKSHOP

Starting now: New, Private, Very Small, Therapy Workshop Starting on Wednesday or Thursday day nights as soon as 3-4 are committed.

Who: Up to 3-4 compatible participants due to very limited space for COVID safety available to those who commit to the program first and tender payment via cash, PayPal, Venmo or a check.

What: Group Therapy with individual attention due to the small size. Intensive Recovery Workshop

will include therapy, sharing, support, CBT, DBT, some art therapy, meditation theory & practice. This program for intensive recovery attention, relapse prevention or just for attainment of goals and better health and for those who won’t attend an IOP.

When: Likely on Wednesday or Thursday nights starting soon. If the latest group starts after 11/15 it will be on Monday night (when the current group concludes).

Where: 3030 Bridgeway, Sausalito Conference Room adjacent to Sharon’s office; possible other locations or outside meetings will be considered

How Long: 6:30 to 9, for an 8 week commitment. There will be a break mid-evening for movement and/or snacks.

How Much: $1,800 for 8 weeks can be paid weekly if desired – but the commitment is for 8 weeks, no exceptions. There are no refunds for missed meetings. Sorry.

Safety: Everyone agrees to maintain at least a 6 ft. distance and wear masks as needed or requested by others. There will be a no touch forehead thermometer check prior to the start of each session to test for increased temperature readings. If a person has elevated temperature s/he would be encouraged to leave and obtain further testing. Wearing gloves is encouraged for those who would prefer to or for using the restrooms. Optional, but encouraged to get COVID tested first.

Why: Who doesn’t have something they want & need to change to improve the quality of their lives? Some folks are in recovery, others want to eat, drink, live in much healthier ways, some have detrimental habits of behavior or abuse substances occasionally, some don’t take critical care of their health or eliminate toxic relationships. We all can use some support. Some people prefer a private approach and their own recovery plan in lieu of an IOP program.

Requirement: No use of alcohol or substances 24 hours prior to session including Adderall, Red Bull Extra or “enhanced” Kombucha, etc. If it appears this has not been followed, expect to be asked to leave until next week. NO EXCEPTIONS. You cannot trigger others.

*Please note: The building will be locked and no one can enter (security cameras) without wearing a mask. Try to come about 5 minutes early so everyone can get in about the same time, otherwise call my cell 415.215.5363 so one of us can come down to the front door and let you in.

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Online Therapy

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Telemedicine/ Online Therapy for Calif. Residents:   All online communications will go through a third party secure website to meet HIPPA and security requirements. I offer Online a la carte or on Retainer. It can be canceled by you or me at any time and I reserve the right to not accept a client for online or continuing online work if it doesn’t seem advisable as online therapy is not for everyone. There are no contracts, minimum terms or upfront fees but payment must be received prior to the commencement of any session so that valuable session time is not wasted. I do not offer Couples Counseling online as I have not found it as effective as in-office. Certain informational documents and an Informed Consent Form (just like in-office therapy) must be completed and returned before the start of any sessions. The below fees do not apply to Legal Cases, which require significant extra work and documentation. It also does not apply to existing in-office clients.

  • Phone: 45-minutes $100. per session, or 30 minutes $75.
  • Video: 45-minute $150. per session
  • Email or text: $75. per week for unlimited messages from you, or $230 per month if paid in full in advance. Please note that I will use up to 50 minutes per week reading and responding to your messages. I generally respond 2 to 4 times per week and take most Saturdays and Sundays off.
  • Retainer, Full Service TeleHealth Plan:  $350 per month for unlimited messaging (email or text) and up to 3 per month 45-minute phone or video sessions. Subject to openings and times available. Payment must be received monthly in advance. This service is for previous patients and clients or by special agreement on a case-by-case basis for others.

Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change.

Stay safe,
Sharon

Sharon Valentino, MA, ChT, CA LMFT, Psychotherapist, Behavioral Health
Calif. Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, MFC51746
Masters Level Registered Addiction Specialist (MRAS) & Level IV Certified Addiction Treatment Counselor (CATC IV), Masters Counseling Psychology
Addressing: Stress, Anxiety, Relationships, Depression, PTSD, Trauma, Pain, Memory Issues, Addiction, Adult Children of Alcoholics/Substance/Anger Abusers (ACA’s), Tech Execs & Engineers, Creatives & Designers – Private Online Therapy (Telemedicine) is available via HIPPA provider’s security.
Ph: 415.215.5363, e: sv@valentinotherapy.comweb: www.valentinotherapy.com
Social Media: Google My Business – Valentino Therapy
Pinterest: Ask This Therapist & Valentino Therapy
Instagram: Ask This Therapist & Sharon,Valentino.MFT
Facebook: Valentino Therapy, Parenting With Help, and Ask This Therapist
Blogs at WordPress: Valentino Therapy & Sober Coach-Addiction Hurts & Ask This Therapist

 

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COVID ANXIETY vs. PEACEFULNESS

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COVID ANXIETY vs. PEACEFULNESS

Many people, if not most, are experiencing a lot of anxiety during this very unusual time.
Many are depressed as well. While you can have both anxiety and depression concurrently they come from different directions.
Depression generally comes from looking backwards into the past.
Anxiety nearly always comes from worrying about the future which is not here.
Peace and happiness lie in living in the present.

The PAST is past. The FUTURE has not arrived. Only the PRESENT is here now.
When you live in the present with gratitude everything changes almost instantly.
This is not to say if you have continual worries or past trauma that you shouldn’t work on them with a good therapist.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is the Gold Standard for dealing rather quickly with those negative thoughts (worry/anxiety) that circle around in our heads in a negative loop that we are often unaware of – though sometimes we realize we are doing it.
Sometimes we know we are worrying to excess.
Other times we aren’t aware of how pervasive it is.

Thoughts cause emotions that cause feelings that cause actions/words that often don’t serve us well.  A lot of research proves this is the exact sequence in which it happens though most folks think they have an emotion and then they think about it.
You don’t have to let depression and anxiety make this unusual time even worse.

Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change.

Stay safe,
Sharon

Sharon Valentino, MA, ChT, CA LMFT, Psychotherapist, Behavioral Health
Calif. Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, MFC51746
Masters Level Registered Addiction Specialist (MRAS) & Level IV Certified Addiction Treatment Counselor (CATC IV), Masters Counseling Psychology
Addressing: Stress, Anxiety, Relationships, Depression, PTSD, Trauma, Pain, Memory Issues, Addiction, Adult Children of Alcoholics/Substance/Anger Abusers (ACA’s), Tech Execs & Engineers, Creatives & Designers – Private Online Therapy (Telemedicine) is available via HIPPA provider’s security.
Ph: 415.215.5363, e: sv@valentinotherapy.comweb: www.valentinotherapy.com
Social Media: Google My Business – Valentino Therapy
Pinterest: Ask This Therapist & Valentino Therapy
Instagram: Ask This Therapist & Sharon,Valentino.MFT
Facebook: Valentino Therapy, Parenting With Help, and Ask This Therapist
Blogs at WordPress: Valentino Therapy & Sober Coach-Addiction Hurts & Ask This Therapist
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Seven Tips For Working From Home During the Coronavirus

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Seven Tips For Working From Home During the Coronavirus

Here are ways to make working from home a little bit more manageable, whatever your circumstances may be right now during the coronavirus pandemic. Below are seven tips for those who have had to make the transition to working from home during quarantine.

           1.Create a workspace

Having a designated workspace helps you focus and be productive. If you do not already have an at-home office, be sure to work at a desk, table or create a specific place you can always work from at home during quarantine. Moving around to various areas is shown to not be as productive.

          2.Stick to your schedule

If your work hours are not set for you, be sure to set your own schedule/work hours. Stay well-rested and not throw off your sleep cycle. Just because you are at home more often does not mean throwing away structure and a schedule or it will affect your health, sleep and happiness.

           3. Get dressed

As tempting as it is to stay in your lounge clothes, this could harm your productivity and motivation. Get ready for the day as if you were leaving for work as usual. This will boost your mental health and make you more productive. You don’t have to super dress up but make an effort so you feel better about yourself and present well if you go out or do Zoom meetings.

          4. Get outside (while social distancing)

If you have the opportunity to step outside for fresh air or go for a walk daily, do it. Going outside can help with stress relief, concentration, and overall mental health after being cooped up inside.

          5. Lunch break

Prepare healthy food that you like in advance so that you can have your lunch break as you usually would at work. This will help you stick to your schedule and keep you feeling good throughout the day.

          6. Set boundaries

Because you will be working from home it’s crucial to set boundaries with friends and family during your work hours. Make sure whoever is at home with you knows when you are working so that you can be distracting free and create a work-like environment. Therefore you can be as attentive as you would be at a normal job. Be creative. Set up a tent outside and make it into a really cool office to work in, or something else equally fun and creative.

          7. Do something fun

Now that you won’t be commuting to work for a bit you have some free time you can use to do something fun. Take advantage of not having a long commute and make it YOUR time. Use this extra time to prepare a proper breakfast, finally start that new hobby, listen to a podcast, practice self-care, or whatever else has been on your to-do list.

Stay safe,
Sharon

Sharon Valentino, MA, ChT, CA LMFT, Psychotherapist, Behavioral Health
Calif. Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, MFC51746
Masters Level Registered Addiction Specialist (MRAS) & Level IV Certified Addiction Treatment Counselor (CATC IV), Masters Counseling Psychology
Addressing: Stress, Anxiety, Relationships, Depression, PTSD, Trauma, Pain, Memory Issues, Addiction, Adult Children of Alcoholics/Substance/Anger Abusers (ACA’s), Tech Execs & Engineers, Creatives & Designers – Private Online Therapy (Telemedicine) is available via HIPPA provider’s security.
Ph: 415.215.5363, e: sv@valentinotherapy.comweb: www.valentinotherapy.com
Social Media: Google My Business – Valentino Therapy
Pinterest: Ask This Therapist & Valentino Therapy
Instagram: Ask This Therapist & Sharon,Valentino.MFT
Facebook: Valentino Therapy, Parenting With Help, and Ask This Therapist
Blogs at WordPress: Valentino Therapy & Sober Coach-Addiction Hurts & Ask This Therapist
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Dealing With Staying Home – A Better Happier You Is Possible

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Dealing With Staying Home – A Better Happier You Is Possible

Sometimes we are ill and confined to home for a while or in the midst of a pandemic, and certain things that matter get pushed aside. I saw this quote today and wonder if it grabs your attention as it did mine?

“Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.” -Goethe.

After all this COVID is over the only thing that will matter is how we treated one another.
And how we treat ourselves is critical and equally important.

Once things normalize, will we have complained each day, or will we be able to say that we accomplished something, didn’t use substances and avoided relapse? Will we be able to say that we lost weight, gained muscle tone, learned a language, picked up a new skill, took one of the many free online courses available right now, got closer to friends by checking on them, or read a couple of good books? What can we do to make ourselves proud when we emerge from this isolation?

A large network of friends, often called a social support network, or AA type fellowship, has long been a proven key to good mental health. And we all need it more now than ever. When we take the slightest chance to be thoughtful by telling someone we know that we’d like to know that they are OK, or mention something they did, or talent of theirs, or thing that they do which makes them special or stand out – or any excuse at all you make yourself a better, kinder, softer, more loving person it only attracts more love and kindness right back at you and into your life, – which is often called Karmic mirroring.

A wealth of research shows that when we “commit acts of kindness” for others, our brains release oxytocin, serotonin, and dopamine – a powerful feel-good cocktail that boosts mood and counteracts the effect of cortisol which is the stress hormone.

Helping others has also been proven to be one of the very fastest and surest ways of increasing self-esteem. Since self-esteem can go up and down a bit throughout our lifetimes, it is smart to keep it high, healthy, and self-refilling all the time.

This pandemic gives us a chance to help ourselves by helping others – and that can be a be an important factor in avoiding relapse.
Who do you need to contact today, to check in with, to say hello to?

We are lucky to have so many free resources available right now. Most libraries have free current movies, audio, and Kindle books, and also Mango with multiple language courses. Yale University is offering has its famous, most popular course in history, “The Science of Well-Being”, often called their Happiness course. It’s free, no tests, no reading. Other Universities, including Stanford University, are offering courses also. Also, there are a lot of virtual museum tours online that are stunning.

Sharon Valentino, LMFT, Psychotherapist, Behavioral Health
Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change.

Stay safe,
Sharon

Sharon Valentino, MA, ChT, CA LMFT, Psychotherapist, Behavioral Health
Calif. Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, MFC51746
Masters Level Registered Addiction Specialist (MRAS) & Level IV Certified Addiction Treatment Counselor (CATC IV), Masters Counseling Psychology
Addressing: Stress, Anxiety, Relationships, Depression, PTSD, Trauma, Pain, Memory Issues, Addiction, Adult Children of Alcoholics/Substance/Anger Abusers (ACA’s), Tech Execs & Engineers, Creatives & Designers – Private Online Therapy (Telemedicine) is available via HIPPA provider’s security.
Ph: 415.215.5363, e: sv@valentinotherapy.comweb: www.valentinotherapy.com
Social Media: Google My Business – Valentino Therapy
Pinterest: Ask This Therapist & Valentino Therapy
Instagram: Ask This Therapist & Sharon,Valentino.MFT
Facebook: Valentino Therapy, Parenting With Help, and Ask This Therapist
Blogs at WordPress: Valentino Therapy & Sober Coach-Addiction Hurts & Ask This Therapist
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What are the benefits of Online Therapy and Coaching?

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What are the benefits of Online Therapy and Coaching? I’ve heard about it but don’t know how it works.

Benefits of Online Therapy and Coaching
Online health is changing the way mental health services are delivered. Research has consistently proven its effectiveness in treating a wide range of mental health disorders with a variety of populations.

Online therapy and/or coaching offers a number of advantages that traditional, in-person therapy delivery may not. And, these advantages can benefit both the client and the clinician. There’s great flexibility in booking and you can choose between IM, telephone or video. The licensed clinician uses a required HIPPA site for privacy protection so you aren’t using Facetime or Zoon, etc. Your privacy is important.

Easy Access
Lack of easy access may be due to a client’s geographical distance, a lack of appropriate providers in a particular region or even a client’s inability to leave the home for many reasons.
With relative ease, a client and clinician can connect electronically

Flexibility
Not everyone who wants therapy or coaching can fit appointments into a 9-5 schedule. Job responsibilities, families, drive time to and from appointments and other time constraints can sometimes limit when someone is available. 

Clients and clinicians want flexibility to schedule appointments on a schedule that fits both their needs. Online services allow a clinician to set a realistic, flexible schedule that increases their availability.1  

Convenience
Online, whether IM, telephone or video, counseling is convenient and we all like convenience. Clients can access help when they want to, how they want to and they can access help from wherever they are. Traveling or being home with a sick child used to mean a cancelled appointment but now clients can arrange to see their therapist no matter what is going on. With the internet being available almost anywhere now, being able to access help when and where you want it has never been easier. And, the growing population of tech savvy clients demands it. 

Comfort
For some clients, fear of seeking mental health help and the associated stigma is real. They may fear others finding out they’re seeking help.2 Other clients may have issues with leaving their home or feeling safe in an office setting. Being able to engage in therapy in the comfort of their home or other secure space can eliminate these barriers and make some people feel more relaxed and receptive. 

Engaging online is comfortable for many people. People are increasingly turning to the internet for their emotional and psychological needs so the idea of seeking help online has become more mainstream. Surveys have found that almost 80% of Americans use the internet to see mental health information of some kind.

Cost Reduction
Online therapy and coaching can reduce costs. A client may not have time to drive to their therapist’s office on lunch hour, have an appointment and get back on time. But, they might be able to have a tele-session with you on a break.

Sharon Valentino, MA, ChT, CA LMFT, Psychotherapist, Behavioral Health
Calif. Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, MFC51746
Masters Level Registered Addiction Specialist (MRAS) & Level IV Certified Addiction Treatment Counselor (CATC IV), Masters Counseling Psychology
Addressing: Stress, Anxiety, Relationships, Depression, PTSD, Trauma, Pain, Memory Issues, Addiction, Adult Children of Alcoholics/Substance/Anger Abusers (ACA’s), Tech Execs & Engineers, Creatives & Designers – Private Online Therapy (Telemedicine) is available via HIPPA provider’s security.
Ph: 415.215.5363, e: sv@valentinotherapy.comweb: www.valentinotherapy.com
Social Media: Google My Business – Valentino Therapy
Pinterest: Ask This Therapist & Valentino Therapy
Instagram: Ask This Therapist & Sharon,Valentino.MFT
Facebook: Valentino Therapy, Parenting With Help, and Ask This Therapist
Blogs at WordPress: Valentino Therapy & Sober Coach-Addiction Hurts & Ask This Therapist

 

Resources

1. Langarizadeh, M., Tabatabaei, M. S., Tavakol, K., Naghipour, M., Rostami, A., & Moghbeli, F. (2017). Telemental health care, an effective alternative to conventional mental care: a systematic review. Acta informatica medica: AIM: journal of the Society for Medical Informatics of Bosnia & Herzegovina: casopis Drustva za medicinsku informatiku BiH25(4), 240-246.

2. Saeed, S. A., Diamond, J., & Bloch, R. M. (2011). Use of telepsychiatry to improve care for people with mental illness in rural North Carolina. North Caroline Medical Journal72(3), 219-222.

3. Elkin N. How America searches: Health and wellness. Opinion Research Corporation: iCrossing; 2008. pp. 1–17.

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Effective Actions Against Depression

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Effective Actions Against Depression

What can I do to fight depression if I don’t want to take meds?

Answer: Always follow your doctor’s orders, but I think these tips can help you….

Effective Actions Against Depression;
Many factors affect depression and many factors can help to improve it.

There is often not one, simple answer to be found but rather a serious of mostly small steps that make a big difference or change and then give you the energy and desire to add a few more to continue your upward progress if you are so inclined.

Depression appears to possibly be an issue now, so I would urge you to cut back on white carbs and sugar and certainly alcohol, which is a depressant itself.

If you can, try to get 10-20 minutes of natural vitamin (sunlight) every day on as much of your body as is appropriate. Vitamin D pills are poorly absorbed so most Dr’s will advise you to try to get the natural, free kind. Of course, you do not stay out long enough to burn or create cause for concern for melanoma – everything in moderation.

One big push in both energy and mood can be had by doing just 10 minutes of exercise each morning and also each evening. It could be a walk, stretching, yoga, wall pushups or something much more vigorous if you prefer. Just avoid the evening 60 minutes just before bed.

Doing these small bits of exercise can do wonders for energy and improved thinking.
Most people doing this report that they feel more like squeezing in a bit more exercise each day here and there as well.
Of course, if you are someone who enjoys going to the gym, being around people and has the time to go … even better.
But exercise does not have to be a big scheduled event if you always do your 10 minutes plus 10 minutes later.

Many people also benefit from going on YouTube and selecting some free videos about motivation, beating depression, how to get moving, etc. Most are short and with the thousands available, it isn’t hard to find something that you will like, find help and get you in a better mood.

My Fitness Pal is a free application that tracks just about as much as you want it to and many doctors recommend using it.

The most important feature is that you just type in what you eat, either when you do it, or make a note and add it at the end of the day. It takes a very few minutes to do this.
The program then tracks every imaginable nutrient, calorie, etc.

What’s important here is that you need about 8 glasses of pure, freshwater daily and I’m guessing you are probably in the range of needing about 50-60 grams of protein each day, depending on size and sex and age.
You really need those two (water and protein) for your brain to be able to function, let alone act optimally.

I’d advise you to use this program for just a week or two (or longer if you love it) and find out the vital information about several critical nutrients and whether you are getting enough or not.

It might make a big difference in your health, your mood and your ability to work or study, concentrate and retain material.

Up to you….

Sharon Valentino, LMFT, Psychotherapist, Behavioral Health

Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change.

Sharon Valentino, MA, ChT, CA LMFT, Psychotherapist, Behavioral Health
Calif. Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, MFC51746
Masters Level Registered Addiction Specialist (MRAS) & Level IV Certified Addiction Treatment Counselor (CATC IV), Masters Counseling Psychology
Addressing: Stress, Anxiety, Relationships, Depression, PTSD, Trauma, Pain, Memory Issues, Addiction, Adult Children of Alcoholics/Substance/Anger Abusers (ACA’s), Tech Execs & Engineers, Creatives & Designers – Private Online Therapy (Telemedicine) is available via HIPPA provider’s security.
Ph: 415.215.5363, e: sv@valentinotherapy.comweb: www.valentinotherapy.com
Social Media: Google My Business – Valentino Therapy
Pinterest: Ask This Therapist & Valentino Therapy
Instagram: Ask This Therapist & Sharon,Valentino.MFT
Facebook: Valentino Therapy, Parenting With Help, and Ask This Therapist
Blogs at WordPress: Valentino Therapy & Sober Coach-Addiction Hurts & Ask This Therapist
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Peace

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Hi,

Like many I was thinking about 2019 and hopeful for 2020 to be a year of peace for you and our country.

End of 2019 Reflections:
– How have I grown this year?
– What good things have happened to me this year?
– Do I have anything I need to clean up from last year?
– What is my intention for 2020?
– What no longer serves me?
– What will I let go of?
– A year from now you will wish you had started what  ___ today?
– How can therapy best support you this new year?

Warmly,
Sharon

Sharon Valentino, MA, ChT, CA LMFT, Psychotherapist, Behavioral Health
Calif. Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, MFC51746
Masters Level Registered Addiction Specialist (MRAS) & Level IV Certified Addiction Treatment Counselor (CATC IV), Masters Counseling Psychology
Addressing: Stress, Anxiety, Relationships, Depression, PTSD, Trauma, Pain, Memory Issues, Addiction, Adult Children of Alcoholics/Substance/Anger Abusers (ACA’s), Tech Execs & Engineers, Creatives & Designers – Private Online Therapy (Telemedicine) is available via HIPPA provider’s security.
Ph: 415.215.5363, e: sv@valentinotherapy.comweb: www.valentinotherapy.com
Social Media: Google My Business – Valentino Therapy
Pinterest: Ask This Therapist & Valentino Therapy
Instagram: Ask This Therapist & Sharon,Valentino.MFT
Facebook: Valentino Therapy, Parenting With Help, and Ask This Therapist
Blogs at WordPress: Valentino Therapy & Sober Coach-Addiction Hurts & Ask This Therapist
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Is Your Drinking a Problem?

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Is Your Drinking a Problem?
 
Binge and excessive drinking have lately become a much bigger problem in my area in the past five years, and not necessarily with youth. It is probably in your community too.
 
Surprisingly, the number of people in their 40’s and 50’s say they cannot stop drinking once they start is increasing. Cannot stop at all regardless of the consequences to their careers and relationships. Yet they don’t want to stop drinking. 
 
It is time to get real about the consequences and what is dangerous drinking.
 
No part of your body is unaffected by drinking alcohol. Most of us know the liver is greatly affected, which can lead to cirrhosis as it can only metabolize a small amount of alcohol at one time, so the rest circulates through the body. The central nervous system is depressed right away because alcohol is quickly absorbed by the small intestine and stomach and right into your blood.
 
In my experience, nearly all who say they are having problems admit they drink more than the average “pour” and they forget how much they actually drink in one sitting. Virtually all have to estimate how much they consumed during their last drinking event. Older persons and those with little food in their stomachs are affected faster and more profoundly than the average 25-year-old. People with parents or grandparents who have drinking problems are generally much more affected and endangered as well. Back to what is a true pour or serving in the U.S.
A standard drink is equal to 14.0 grams (0.6 ounces) of pure alcohol. All the drinks are about the same and beer is not “safer” than any other of these substances.
Therefore a standard amount of pure alcohol is:
· 12 ounces of beer (5% alcohol content).
· 8 ounces of malt liquor (7% alcohol content).
· 5 ounces of wine (12% alcohol content).
· 1.5 ounces or a “shot” of 80-proof (40% alcohol content) distilled spirits or liquor (e.g., gin, rum, vodka, whiskey).
 
What is moderate, controlled drinking?
According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americansexternal icon, moderate alcohol consumption is defined as having up to 1 drink per day for women and up to 2 drinks per day for men. This definition refers to the amount consumed on any single day and is not intended as an average over several days. However, the Dietary Guidelines do not recommend that people who do not drink alcohol, start drinking for any reason. (1.) 
 
How do I know if I have a drinking problem?
Drinking is a problem if it causes trouble in your relationships, in school, in social activities, or in how you think and feel. 
Drinking is a problem anytime you can’t stop and won’t stop at 1 or 2 drinks per day.
Drinking is a problem when you drink every day.
Drinking is a problem when you drink more than 1 drink per day for women and 2 drinks per day for men.
What is Dangerous Binge Drinking?
NIAAA defines binge drinking as a pattern of drinking that brings blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels to 0.08 g/dL. This typically occurs after 4 drinks for women and 5 drinks for men—in about 2 hours. (2.) And the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), which conducts the annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), defines binge drinking as 5 or more alcoholic drinks for males or 4 or more alcoholic drinks for females on the same occasion (i.e., at the same time or within a couple of hours of each other) on at least 1 day in the past month. (3.) Many in the treatment community feel these definitions are out of date and the number of drinks should be defined as much lower.
Heavy Alcohol Use
SAMHSA defines heavy alcohol use as binge drinking on 5 or more days in the past month.
What is Alcohol Use Disorder?
So how do clinicians diagnose Alcohol Use Disorder? We (psychiatrists, doctors, psychologists, clinicians of all licensing, treatment centers, etc.) are all required to use the DSM 5, which is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders” published by the American Psychiatric Association. Insurance nearly always requires a DSM 5 Dx (diagnosis).
To Dx with the DSM-5, if a person exhibits two or more symptoms from a list of 11 criteria, they are diagnosed as having an alcohol use disorder, with classifications of mild, moderate, and severe.
 
What are the types of Alcohol Use Disorder Severity 
When a person is diagnosed with alcohol use disorder, the severity of the condition is determined by the number of symptoms they have.
Mild: 2-3 symptoms present
Moderate: 4-5 symptoms present
Severe: 6 or more symptoms present
 
What are the symptoms used to Dx severity? 
The DSM-5 lists 11 symptoms that can be used to determine if someone has an alcohol use disorder.
1. Alcohol is often taken in larger amounts or over a longer period than was intended.
2. There is a persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control alcohol use.
3. A great deal of time is spent in activities necessary to obtain alcohol, use alcohol, or recover from its effects.
4. Craving, or a strong desire or urge to use alcohol.
5. Recurrent alcohol use resulting in a failure to fulfill major role obligations at work, school, or home.
6. Continued alcohol use despite having persistent or recurrent social or interpersonal problems caused or exacerbated by the effects of alcohol.
7. Important social, occupational, or recreational activities are given up or reduced because of alcohol use.
8. Recurrent alcohol use in situations in which it is physically hazardous.
9. Alcohol use is continued despite knowledge of having a persistent or recurrent physical or psychological problem that is likely to have been caused or exacerbated by alcohol.
10. Tolerance, as defined by either of the following: a) A need for markedly increased amounts of alcohol to achieve intoxication or desired effect, or b) A markedly diminished effect with continued use of the same amount of alcohol.
11. Withdrawal, as manifested by either of the following: a) The characteristic withdrawal syndrome for alcohol b) Alcohol (or a closely related substance, such as a benzodiazepine) is taken to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms.
 
Impact on your health, well-being, and appearance
Drinking too much alcohol on a single occasion or over time can cause health problems, per the Mayo Clinic (4.) and many other sources:
·      Hair Loss. Alcohol depletes your hair follicles of essential minerals, including zinc. Zinc deficiency leads to hair fallout. The effects of alcohol on your hair does not take years to show up as you’ll begin to notice strands of your hair falling out more frequently. If you don’t stop drinking, you’ll eventually have thinner hair, with noticeable scalp showing in your part line. You might think that your hair loss is genetic, but it could be due to alcohol use.
·      Lines and Wrinkles. Alcohol dehydrates your body – every organ. As your body’s largest organ, your skin shows the effects of dehydration since wrinkles will first start to appear where the skin is thinnest, around the eyes. The longer you drink, your skin will develop even more lines and wrinkles, causing you to look like a much older person than your numerical age. While both sexes are affected, women seem to experience this somewhat more dramatically than men initially.
·      Eye problems. Excessive drinking can cause involuntary rapid eye movement (nystagmus) as well as weakness and paralysis of your eye muscles due to a deficiency of vitamin B-1 (thiamin). A thiamin deficiency can also be associated with other brain changes, such as irreversible dementia, if not promptly treated.
·      Sagging Skin. Alcohol depletes vitamins and nutrients, so your skin won’t be able to produce as much collagen as it needs. Collagen is the substance that is responsible for keeping your skin supple and firm. This makes the skin on your face sag, causing that jowly look that is usually only seen on the elderly. 
·      Heart problems. Excessive drinking can lead to high blood pressure and it increases your risk of an enlarged heart, heart failure or stroke. Even a single binge can cause a serious heart arrhythmia called atrial fibrillation.
·      Weight Gain. Alcohol is full of empty calories. One glass of red wine is about 125 calories. Many beers have at least 100 calories in each bottle. If you order mixed, flavored drinks and cocktails, expect your weight to soar. Alcohol is also full of sugars, which the body turns to stored fat. Some people gain weight in their stomach, giving them “booze belly”. Others gain weight all over.
·      Neurological complications. Excessive drinking can affect your nervous system, causing numbness and pain in your hands and feet, disordered thinking, dementia, and short-term memory loss. Having memory problems? Is it taking longer than usual to remember a fact or a name?
·      Broken Capillaries. Drinking alcohol often leads to flushing, which is when excess blood rushes to the face, a temporary overall temporary redness. Often it results in broken capillaries, particularly around the nose and cheeks which are often permanent.
·      Kidney Problems. Simply put, alcohol contains toxins that your body is not designed to handle. Your kidneys have a hard time processing the alcohol that you drink so fluids build up in your body and face, causing a bloated look. This can happen even to relatively slim people. The eyelids look swollen and the whole face takes on the appearance of being bloated. This condition may continue and worsen as alcohol use continues.
·      Digestive problems. Heavy drinking can result in inflammation of the stomach lining (gastritis), as well as stomach and esophageal ulcers. It can also interfere with the absorption of B vitamins and other nutrients. Heavy drinking can damage your pancreas or lead to inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis).
·      Increased risk of cancer. Long-term, excessive alcohol use has been linked to a higher risk of many cancers, including mouth, throat, liver, esophagus, colon and breast cancers. Even moderate drinking can increase the risk of breast cancer.
·      Liver disease. Heavy drinking often causes increased fat in the liver (hepatic steatosis), inflammation of the liver (alcoholic hepatitis), and over time, irreversible damage and scarring of liver tissue (cirrhosis).
·      Birth defects, Weakened immune system, Medication and alcohol interactions, Diabetes complications, Bone damage and many more too numerous to list here.
Do you need help?
Stopping drinking excessively is tough for most people. Talk to your medical doctor right away and also check what resources are available through your insurance. Medications can help many. 
Some people can resume drinking sensibly after a period of “drying out” and getting healthy – but, honestly, most cannot if they’ve allowed their drinking to become habitual or are unable to stop once they had a drink or two. 
Seek the support of qualified addiction clinicians who actually have certifications in this field. Unfortunately, almost anyone can claim they treat addiction.
AA and other support organizations have helped many. Check out all the resources available to you because your life, your health, your looks and your quality of life depends on it.
Seek the support of your family and loved ones. You don’t have to drink and people supporting you don’t have to drink in front of you, so please don’t tell them it won’t bother you. It will sooner or later.
 
Sources:
1. US Department of Health and Human Services and US Department of Agriculture. 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americansexternal icon. 8th ed. Washington, DC: US Dept of Health and Human Services and US Dept of Agriculture; 2015.
3. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, https://www.samhsa.gov

Sharon Valentino, LMFT, Psychotherapist, Behavioral Health

Please check this site for more information in the future on treatment and more.

Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change.

Sharon Valentino, MA, ChT, CA LMFT, Psychotherapist, Behavioral Health
Calif. Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, MFC51746
Masters Level Registered Addiction Specialist (MRAS) & Level IV Certified Addiction Treatment Counselor (CATC IV), Masters Counseling Psychology
Addressing: Stress, Anxiety, Relationships, Depression, PTSD, Trauma, Pain, Memory Issues, Addiction, Adult Children of Alcoholics/Substance/Anger Abusers (ACA’s), Tech Execs & Engineers, Creatives & Designers – Private Online Therapy (Telemedicine) is available via HIPPA provider’s security.
Ph: 415.215.5363, e: sv@valentinotherapy.comweb: www.valentinotherapy.com
Social Media: Google My Business – Valentino Therapy
Pinterest: Ask This Therapist & Valentino Therapy
Instagram: Ask This Therapist & Sharon,Valentino.MFT
Facebook: Valentino Therapy, Parenting With Help, and Ask This Therapist
Blogs at WordPress: Valentino Therapy & Sober Coach-Addiction Hurts & Ask This Therapist
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Practicing Gratitude Can Dramatically Change Your Life

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Practicing Gratitude Can Dramatically Change Your Life

Some of us may have had Thanksgiving with friends or family at some point where it was expected to go around the table before eating to say what each person was grateful for. Perhaps you will be asked to participate again this year. Why? Well, the name of the day is THANKSgiving. While others amongst us will choose to spend the day in rest and relaxing solitude – but the importance of gratitude is that it has the ability to quickly and dramatically change anyone’s life.

Everyone has the ability to practice gratitude by being thankful for what we have and to express appreciation as it costs nothing and expends little time.

Daily writing down what you are grateful for is one of the simplest ways to improve satisfaction with life, but many haven’t heard that it actually changes the molecular structure of the brain, keeps gray matter functioning better, while making us healthier and happier according to UCLA research. That work showed gratitude can boost serotonin and activate the brain stem to produce dopamine, very similar to Prozac’s effects but much cheaper with no side effects.

What’s the best way to practice gratitude?

Thanking people for any kindness as soon as possible and daily writing down three things you are grateful for is simple and proven very effective. As you might guess those three things should be substantially different each, or most, days.

Harvard researcher, Shawn Achor, conducted research showing if you write down three things you’re grateful for every day for 21 days in a row it significantly increases your level of optimism and, shockingly, that holds for the next six months! Developing an “attitude of gratitude” is obviously easy, free and takes little effort but the rewards are so extreme why wouldn’t you make a point to do it daily?

Just a few of the research proven benefits are:

  • Gratitude is very good for your health. “Clinical trials indicate that the practice of gratitude can have dramatic and lasting effects in a person’s life,” according to Robert A. Emmons, professor of psychology at UC Davis. “It can lower blood pressure, improve immune function and facilitate more efficient sleep.”
  • A study from UC San Diego’s School of Medicine found that people who were more grateful had better heart health, less inflammation and healthier heart rhythms.
  • Yet another study found that gratitude can boost your immune system. Researchers at the U’s of Utah and Kentucky reported that stressed law students who had gratitude or optimism actually had more disease-fighting cells in their bodies.
  • Gratitude adds more relationships to your life. While saying “thank you” constitutes good manners, showing appreciation can help you win new friends, according to a 2014 study published in Emotion. The study found that thanking a new acquaintance makes them more likely to be open to becoming friends. So thank a stranger for holding the door or send a thank-you note to that colleague who helped you with a project, and acknowledging other people’s kindness can lead to new opportunities.
  • Surprisingly people who keep a gratitude journal test at a reduced dietary fat intake around 25% lower and stress hormones like cortisol are 23 % lower in grateful people!
  • Having a daily gratitude practice could actually reduce the effects of aging to the brain.
  • Gratitude improves self-esteem. A 2014 study published in the Journal of Applied Sport Psychology found that gratitude increased athletes’ self-esteem, an essential component to optimal performance. What we think of ourselves affects all aspects of our lives.
  • Gratitude improves physical health. Grateful people experience fewer aches and pains and report feeling healthier than other people, according to a 2012 study published in Personality and Individual Differences. Not surprisingly, grateful people are also more likely to take care of their health. They exercise more often and are more likely to attend regular check-ups, which is likely to contribute to a longer, happier life.
  • Gratitude improves psychological health. Gratitude reduces a multitude of toxic emotions, from envy and resentment to frustration and regret. Robert Emmons, a leading gratitude researcher, has conducted multiple studies on the link between gratitude and well-being. His research confirms that gratitude effectively increases happiness and reduces depression.
  • Grateful people sleep better. Writing in a gratitude journal improves sleep, according to a 2011 study published in Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being. Spend just 15 minutes jotting down a few grateful thoughts before bed, and you are likely to sleep better and longer.

So… what are three things you are grateful for right now?

1.

2.

3.

Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change.

Sharon Valentino, MA, ChT, CA LMFT, Psychotherapist, Behavioral Health
Calif. Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, MFC51746
Masters Level Registered Addiction Specialist (MRAS) & Level IV Certified Addiction Treatment Counselor (CATC IV), Masters Counseling Psychology
Addressing: Stress, Anxiety, Relationships, Depression, PTSD, Trauma, Pain, Memory Issues, Addiction, Adult Children of Alcoholics/Substance/Anger Abusers (ACA’s), Tech Execs & Engineers, Creatives & Designers – Private Online Therapy (Telemedicine) is available via HIPPA provider’s security.
Ph: 415.215.5363, e: sv@valentinotherapy.comweb: www.valentinotherapy.com
Social Media: Google My Business – Valentino Therapy
Pinterest: Ask This Therapist & Valentino Therapy
Instagram: Ask This Therapist & Sharon,Valentino.MFT
Facebook: Valentino Therapy, Parenting With Help, and Ask This Therapist
Blogs at WordPress: Valentino Therapy & Sober Coach-Addiction Hurts & Ask This Therapist
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