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Our thoughts are primarily negative all day without realizing it. While that can sometimes serve as a protective measure, more often those negative, unmanaged thoughts only make us very unhappy.
The primary, proven step is to catch an unhelpful thought (meaning you have to be mindful and breathing deeply enough for your brain to get enough fresh oxygen to make great decisions), then vividly imagine a red, octagonal STOP sign and shout STOP! If you are around others, I’d advise you to shout silently, but with some emotion. That should short circuit your problem thought for 2 to 6 seconds, so you need to immediately substitute it with an entirely different, accurate, positive thought, or even a problem such as, “Where did I leave the keys to ___?”
Why don’t you take your most troubling thought right now? When you have troubling thoughts it is a great opportunity to practice CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy). Originally introduced to treat depression it is now used for a variety of issues, such as negative thoughts, anxieties, fearful thoughts, unnecessary worry and a host of other troublesome automatic thinking patterns. A thought record is one of the fundamental tools in CBT.
The underlying principle can be summarized as “what do you believe, and why do you believe it and are you aware of the feeling/emotion in your body when you think this thought?”. A columned thought record can be used to:
• identify negative automatic thoughts (NATs)
• help you understand the links between thoughts and emotions
• examine the evidence for and against a selected NAT – is it true, what can be done about it or if it isn’t true then what is true, accurate and reasonable thinking instead of falsely ruminating
In therapy clients often need assistance and practice at identifying the link between thoughts and emotions before they move on to challenging thoughts and substituting more helpful thoughts for less helpful ones. Some clients might find it helpful to practice identifying NATs using a Simple Thought Record before introducing the complexity of evidence-gathering and thought challenging.
The principle stems from Socratic Reasoning (is it true, is it always true, then is it false, is it always false)
The simplest version is:
What is your core belief (negative thought)?
List 3 reasons why it is true (or useful, or why I want it):
List 3 reasons why it might not be true (or why it would not be good for me):
What could you do to improve or eliminate this situation:
Our thoughts control how we feel about ourselves and the world around us. Positive thoughts lead to us feeling good and negative thoughts can put us down. Sometimes our thoughts happen so quickly that we fail to notice them, but they can still affect our mood. These are called automatic thoughts. They are often negative or at least not useful. They can even apply to ruminations about romantic partners lost or present.
Oftentimes, our automatic thoughts are negative and irrational – sometimes not but can still be intrusive and unwanted. Identifying these negative automatic thoughts and replacing them with new rational thoughts can improve our mood.
WHAT IS CBT? – Why Should You Care?
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) a particularly useful type of a part of talk therapy. CBT can work just as well or better than medication for some people, to treat depression and a host of other Dx’s (diagnoses). As a result of tests and considerable research showing that it is highly effective, it is accepted as “evidence-based medicine”, meaning most insurance companies will readily accept that form of treatment. In fact, it can often be the treatment of primary choice when dealing with TBI’s and other challenging Dx’s such as anger, addiction, coping issues and self-esteem issues which are often at the core of many problems therapists deal with.
CBT can be an effective treatment for different severity’s of depression whether mild or moderate. Highly skilled therapists also use CBT even for more severe cases. In certain cases, CBT can be the most effective when combined with other forms of treatments, for example antidepressants or other drugs along with therapy. In other cases, they may not be needed or can be reduced as determined by your personal physician or psychiatrist.
How Does CBT Works –
A therapist who is CBT trained helps the patient identify negative or false thoughts and uses various methods to stop and replace those negative thought patterns with new positive and realistic thoughts.
First, CBT makes you aware that you have these thoughts. This is the key. You learn to be more aware of what thoughts are continually going around in your head in a negative loop for most of every day making you feel unhappy and unsettled.
Then it teaches you to STOP them, substitute them for ones that are true, wanted and either positive or at least accurate and reasonable – and often to then reason through better ways to solve problems or react. In fact that negative loop thinking often blocks the move to problem solve.
The almost immediate change in your emotion/attitude leads to a change in your behavior which reduces anxiety measurably. That change can help ease your depression, anxiety and certainly anger and tension, and some phobias as well – all leading to a happier, calmer life.
You may need weeks of CBT before you start to feel better but you are likely to see results starting right away if you use the STOP method daily to short circuit the thoughts . This generally will cause you to want to use it more, which will eventually lead to automatically using CBT all throughout the day to counter over-reacting and allowing unwanted thoughts to substantially block your happiness. If you ask clinicians if they like CBT, they will likely tell you they use it themselves automatically many times each day.
-You cannot substitute negative thoughts with untrue “happy” thoughts and positive affirmations.
-Your problem thoughts and the issues they cause will likely return, but when using your CBT skills it will be much easier to control them and get back to realistic ones before both your emotions and actions get out of control.
-CBT cannot “cure” everything, though you may think that from internet searches of it.
-To see results from CBT, you must absolutely commit yourself to the process until it becomes an automatic part of your day. This is a large part of what the current popularity of “Mindfulness” is about – learning to pay attention to how you feel and what thoughts caused those feelings.
-CBT cannot change a problem family or work situation but it can help you cope better.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org, web: www.valentinotherapy.com
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How Pet Care Can Help You Recover From Tough Times
Valentino Therapy, Ask This Therapist, Intensive Recovery are pleased to welcome guest author Rufus Carter of Recovering Works who wrote this article. You can see more at http://www.recoveringworks.com
Making it through 2020 is a triumph in itself. You might have experienced a health issue, lost income, family problems, or other types of fallout from the upheaval the year brought with it. A new year brings with it new challenges — particularly, the challenge of making ends meet if financial struggles are still rumbling through your life.
Pet lovers in particular, take heart. There are many different gigs you can acquire that make use of your passions while providing you with enough money to stay afloat, and interacting with pets is known to help reduce stress levels. Here are some ideas to get you started.
Consider Dog Walking
There are plenty of in-demand pet services for which people will pay good money when they are in need. As an added bonus, many of these types of services require little to no experience or training; integrity and the ability to follow through with assigned tasks are the most important aspects. One of these types of gigs is dog walking. In order to be a good dog walker, Barkly Pets explains you’ll need to be a good communicator and planner, be detail-oriented and be able to be on your feet, walking around at various speeds, for an hour or more each day.
Become a Pet Boarder
If you enjoy spending time with animals, you may want to consider spreading out your talents for a longer duration each day. If so, why not go the extra mile and become a cat or dog boarder? Many people go out of town, whether for work or vacation, and worry about how their pets will be taken care of. In many cases, it can be a major source of stress in the weeks leading up to a trip. By becoming a pet boarder, you will help to ease the minds of the people in your community while making money and spending time with furry friends!
To board pets at your place, make sure that the situation is ideal. There should be enough room for the dogs to move around and play, as well as a nearby outdoor area, such as a fenced yard, park or walking trail, to exercise dogs each day. If you are boarding cats, you should provide a litter box. All animals should have bowls of food and water.
While you may want to only board one pet at a time, if you have enough space for tending multiple pets, make sure that you have the ability to separate their areas if they do not get along with each other.
House or Pet Sit
Another option, if you do not have the space of your own for pet boarding, is to house or pet sit instead. This is similar to pet boarding, but instead of keeping the pets at your house, you go to your clients’ houses and keep an eye on things while taking care of their pets’ daily needs. This can allow you to take on other projects simultaneously, such as craft projects to sell on Etsy or teaching music or art lessons over Skype. A word of caution: to avoid hiccups, Solo Traveler recommends getting full instructions in advance of your sitting stint, and getting clear contact instructions that you keep in a handy spot.
Start Strong — Not Stressed
Starting a business of your very own is a great way to earn income and enjoy the flexibility needed to take care of yourself. It can feel a little complicated, but you don’t need to go at it blindly. There are some excellent resources and tools on the web that can walk you through all the steps necessary to become official and get up and running, like ZenBusiness. ZenBusiness has already successfully launched over 100,000 small businesses. And with a solid Zen Business start, you’ll be that much more confident and prepared for a bright future. It’s a quick and affordable way to get your new pet biz off the ground.
Getting over the challenges of 2020 is difficult enough in itself, but if you’re struggling to make ends meet things can be that much overwhelming. Why not put your love of animals to work and reduce stress at the same time? Through useful gigs like dog walking, boarding or house sitting, you can make enough money to stay afloat — and if things really take off, you might even find your new vocation.
The Wine Institute says the average American adult drinks about 2.95 GALLONS of wine per year.
Of course wine is regarded as healthy for some, in some cultures, in moderation.
No one wants to be an alcoholic, yet few really know how many drinks it takes to get a DUI or that it can have very negative effects that my surprise you.
Here are some things to think about:
1. You may gain weight or even develop Alcohol Body (often called Chicken Legs because you can get a big, round chicken belly with really thin legs). Alcohol is an inflammatory that adds calories.
2. Even though you think you are a moderate, “healthy” drinker you could develop serious liver health issues, including cirrhosis which you might think only affects “serious alcoholics”. The European Association for the Study of the Liver, reported from their studies back in 2015 that increasing alcohol consumption past the “moderate” threshold—up to one drink a day for women and up to two drinks a day for men—can increase the prevalence of alcohol-induced cirrhosis) by 11.13%. If you think that isn’t a serious percentage, ask your physician.
3. Alcohol seriously disturbs your sleep. The nightcap to assure you will feel sleepy can lead to addiction faster than you think. It is officially a “sedative”.
According to the NCBI/NIH (National Institute of Health – gov’t medical info) the majority of people do not discuss their sleep problems and insomnia with their physicians, choosing to self-medicate instead. Using alcohol only 3 nights in a row can lead to it not making you sleepy as desired and greatly disturbs the proper ratio between Deep Sleep and Rapid Eye Movement sleep both of which are essential for the sleep cycle to have proper physical and emotional health. As the alcohol metabolizes in your digestive system, it can disrupt your REM cycles—causing your deep sleep cycles to only last 40 minutes instead of 90 to 120 minutes.
In my private practice, Valentino Therapy in Sausalito, CA, I see an increasing number of people, especially seniors, who drink at least a glass before bed, awaken 2 to 4 hours later when the alcohol metabolizes, try to get back to sleep unsuccessfully, then drink more and develop either alcohol dependence or addiction surprisingly quickly. They are challenging to treat as they firmly believe that they can’t sleep without it. By using it, they wake up tired and feeling unwell every day.
4. I often rely on findings and research from the dependable Mayo Clinic. They say drinking too much alcohol can raise blood pressure to very unhealthy levels. Alcohol can cause temporary increases in your blood pressure, but if you drink long term you’ll see long-term increases, most likely, which can be dangerous.
5. In my addiction psychotherapy practice I rarely meet a depressed person who isn’t using alcohol excessively. Alcohol is a depressant! Why drink a depressant when you are depressed to feel even more depressed? The American Psychological Association reports it can worsen mental health issues and increase feelings of depression and anxiety.
6. Ladies, your risk of breast cancer may rise, so if you have a history of breast cancer in your family it would be wise to discuss alcohol use with your Dr. The Annals of Epidemiology report just one to two drinks a day can increase a person’s breast cancer risk between 30 and 50%.
7. There are a lot of TV ads these days for meds to treat A Fib (atrial fibrillation or irregular heartbeat) which used to be associated with heavy drinkers as one of the risk categories (though many are born with the condition). Recent studies, some controversial, claim just one drink per day for those with A Fib can be dangerous with a higher risk of dizziness, heart palpitations and higher risk of stroke.
8. Ladies another issue: Most women are not aware that drinking wine is connected to worsened symptoms of premenstrual syndrome and premenstrual dysphoric disorder as well as potential cycle changes. There are many research studies on this. To cite only one: Researchers at the University of Santiago de Compostela in Spain, analyzed information from 19 previous studies in eight countries involving more than 47,000 participants in total. The researchers found that drinking alcohol was linked with a 45 percent increase in the risk of PMS and that heavy drinking— or consuming more than one alcoholic drink a day — was linked with a 79 percent increase in the risk of PMS.
9. There are many more health issues that are related to drinking in general including tongue and esophageal cancer, rosacea and more. I urge you to educate yourself, protect your health and make wise choices.
This article was written to inform and help others and may be reprinted to be used to assist others without seeking prior permission.
Authored by Sharon Valentino, CA LMFT, MA, Masters Level RAS, CATC level IV, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (51746), owner of Valentino Therapy at 3030 Bridgeway, Suite 108, Sausalito, CA 94965, Clinical Director of Marina Harbor Detox and Clinical Director of Heartwood House Detox. She is a Psychotherapist, Advanced Registered Addiction Specialist and Certified Addiction Treatment Counselor.
You can follow her at:
www.valentinotherapy.com or https://www.intensiverecoverywork.com
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Starting now: New, Private, Very Small, Intensive Therapy Workshop
Starting every 4-8 weeks, once a week during the evening.
Personal attention to each person and individual needs.
Up to 4+ compatible participants, due to very limited space for COVID safety.
$1,800 for 8 weeks meeting once a week for 2.5 hours
Individual attention and group therapy and deep work due to the small size.
Intensive Recovery Workshop will include therapy, sharing, support, CBT, DBT, some art therapy, meditation theory & practice, and deep work. This program is for intensive recovery from divorce, tragedy, addiction, relapse prevention, trauma or just for attainment of goals and better health – and for those who benefit from individualized, customized attention and won’t/can’t attend an IOP.
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 or continually, some don’t take critical care of their health or eliminate toxic relationships. Others are challenged by major life changes, divorce, Grief and Loss and other life events. We all can use some support. Some people prefer a private approach and their own recovery plan in lieu of an IOP program – and a safe place to talk and grow.
Everyone agrees to maintain at minimum 6+ ft. distance and wear masks as needed or requested. There will be a no touch forehead thermometer check prior to the start of each session. If a person has elevated temperature s/he would be encouraged to leave and obtain further testing ASAP. Wearing gloves is encouraged for those who would prefer to or for using the restrooms.
Optional, but encouraged to get COVID tested first – which may change due to COVID vaccinations.
We are naturally drawn to those with self-confidence – that comes hand in hand with valuing ourselves.
We need to grow beyond our own embedded ways of thinking, of speaking to people, of assumed ideas to become mature enough to be a truly valuable person to ourselves and to others. It has never been more important than in these unusual times.
Yes, travel that isn’t confined to the 5 Star Hotels and tourist environs can be very instructional and eye-opening. An interesting book about that is “Tales of a Female Nomad: Living at Large in the World” by Rita Golden Gelman. Yet much more of value, in my opinion, is what’s right in front of us every day.
Become friends, actual friends, with persons both much younger and older than you, persons that look and speak differently than you do – that eat different foods. In particular, the wisdom of elders and children is astonishing. Talk with them, not at them, better still…just listen. Ask questions and just listen. Eat their foods, if you are lucky enough to have the chance – even better if they choose to share their beliefs about spirituality and the world through their eyes. People from a different regions of our own country, their experiences and thoughts can be as interesting and enlightening as someone who was born in a tent or villa.
Soften your words and sharpen your ears lest something really important might slip by when you are preparing what you want to say next. This is how to become valuable, to be open, to be a learner, a student of new and different ideas that you never might have been exposed to. To be kind. To think before reacting and take two or three breaths first.
Should these ideas change you and your opinions? Not necessarily. But being truly open and curious can change everything.
Value. Value added – it’s something we choose. It’s a gift we gift ourselves.
Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change.