Tag Archives: therapy

Premarital Counseling: Get to know your partner before marriage

With such a large amount of people getting married and a 50% divorce rate in the U.S., it’s important to work through as many problems with your partner as possible before getting married. Often, people use premarital counseling. What is premarital counseling? Why is it important and what are its religious traditions? What are its benefits and challenges? When should you start it and what are some tips to help make it easier?

Premarital Counseling

What is premarital counseling?

Premarital counseling, also known as pre-marriage counseling, is a type of couples therapy and counseling designed to benefit a couple who is considering long-term commitment, such as marriage. The goal of the therapy is to be able to identify, pinpoint, and address any (potential) areas of conflict within the relationship early on. The therapy also teaches each partner strategies to help effectively discuss and resolve conflicts within the relationship. This avoids further issues within the couple like depression, infidelity, etc. 

It’s such an important step in one’s life to get married. It’s also astounding the amount of divorce that couples go through not only in the U.S. but also around the world. Getting counseling beforehand has been proven to help the marriage have a lower probability of divorce. The U.S. state of Colorado considers it so important that they considered requiring premarital counseling for every couple who is engaged before they marry. According to healthresearchfunding.org44% of couples today go through premarital counseling. 

Why is premarital counseling important?

It’s important to have premarital counseling to help a couple be able to set off their marriage on the best food possible with the best coping methods and most knowledge about their relationship as possible. The counselor responsible and licensed to perform premarital counseling is a licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT). However, people getting married in a religious setting might also have their officiant, the person performing the wedding, be their counselor, as well. 

Research has shown that prevention is 3 times more effective than intervention in relationships and on average, couples wait six years before seeking help when they have trouble. In premarital counseling, couples are able to discuss several different aspects of the relationship. With the goal of identifying problematic areas and giving coping mechanisms to help the couple through these issues, the counselor discusses, among other things, career goals, finances, child-rearing methods, intimacy, and family dynamics. Sometimes the “in case of divorce” is talked about (it’s not bad luck, but it is important to talk about). Couples can also talk about having an open marriage or how infidelity stands in the relationship during their counseling sessions

Within the counseling, couples will address as many issues as possible, but also learn how to work through the issues in the years to come. For example, the couple will figure out their finances as best as possible and then learn ways to help talk about finances in the future. In general, premarital counseling is recommended for every couple, problematic or not, because it helps couples get off on the right foot in their financial and child-rearing life.

Premarital Counseling

It depends on each therapist- some choose to see each partner one of one for a couple of sessions while other counselors whose to work with both partners at the same time during the entirety of therapy. Individual sessions are good because each partner can state any issues, concerns, weaknesses, and strengths in the relationship. Each partner can speak more openly and talk about the reality a little bit easier. Joint sessions are good because the couple talks about any issues together while the other partner is present.

Each partner has the opportunity to describe their perfect marriage and what steps they took to get towards that goal for the perfect partner. They may also talk about any challenges they feel are impeding them from getting their perfect partner.

Some therapists use a Couples Resource Map which is a “map” that helps each partner be able to find resources to use when faced with challenges- individually and as a couple. This map also works as a plan of action to use if concerns and issues arise. These additional resources to turn to when faced with challenges can include seeking spiritual guidance or going to counseling.

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Other therapists and some religious institutions like to use compatibility questionnaires in order to see where the couple stands. While sounding intimidating, a compatibility questionnaire is simply a quick assessment to see where the couples’ strong suit is. That is to say, where the couple has a solid foundation and where they need to put in some work. Rather than thinking of it as a test, because it’s not, it’s a resource used to help the counselor help the couple identify the issues they need to work on. While there are lots of questionnaires out there, here is a good example of one that covers lots of bases.

Religious traditions in premarital counseling

These days, about 75% of weddings occur in churches and religious settings. Although, that number is declining. However, many churches do not require premarital counseling in order for a wedding to happen. That said, many churches and people encourage premarital counseling. Others require that a couple goes through counseling before agreeing to perform the ceremony.

Within the Catholic Church, the Pre-Cana tradition was made to provide some form of education to premarital couples about issues such as sex, parenting as Catholics, and finances. The counseling styles range from sessions with the priest, an engaged couples’ retreat, marriage preparation classes (performed in small group settings), and even online counseling/preparation.

Within liberal Jewish traditions, it’s important to cocreate wedding traditions and rituals that work for the couples and are meaningful to them. The couple also speaks with a clergy to help answer questions such as “How can Judaism serve as a framework and basis to strengthen our relationship?”, “Do we stay kosher or give to charity (tzedakah)”, or “what do we want our home to look like spiritually?” The goal here is to help the couple get a good basis within their relationship while maintaining their religion.

Researchers from one study realized that counseling before marriage looks different within religions, between therapists, and different couples. They decided to investigate and looked at the Latino populations’ premarital counseling and found that there were common themes within their counseling. These include religion, tradition, extended family, language, sex, immigration, respect, communication, parenting roles/skills, and how to dress- with a big focus on (Catholic) religion.

Benefits of premarital counseling

Premarital counseling has been proven to lower divorce rates by 31% and has many benefits including:

  • Intimate partners by addressing concerns in the relationship
  • Better ability to manage conflict (together) now and later on in the relationship
  • Mutual goals are created so the couple and move forward together. Finding common goals within the relationship and within life can help a healthy marriage work.
  • Develop a healthy relationship in the present and in the future.
  • Avoids toxic resentments because the couple puts everything on the table sooner rather than later.
  • Helps couples feel more comfortable if they feel the need to go through counseling later.
  • Communication skills are increased. The counselor teaches the couple how to listen and communicate effectively.
  • Conflict resolution skills are increased. This includes learning how not to blow up at your partner and giving the silent treatment.
  • Addresses fears that someone might have in the relationship due to any reason. It teaches the partners how to break away from their past and make peace with it.
Premarital Counseling

Challenges to premarital counseling

Some people avoid premarital counseling because they feel fear or anxiety about it. It can be challenging because:

  • Difficult issues, serious concerns are raised
  • The choice not to marry. Some people choose that certain issues and beliefs are incompatible with the other partner’s beliefs and they choose not to get married.
  • Hearing your partner express concerns about the relationship is no easy thing.
  • Not everything has access to premarital counseling due to issues with payment, such as not having insurance. However, there are some low-cost counselors and many self-help books available for those unable to attend counseling. Furthermore, there are online therapists, too, if there isn’t a licensed one near you. 
  • Time. Some people simply don’t have the time to go to counseling.

When to start premarital counseling

There are some couples who believe that they should start premarital counseling a few weeks before their marriage. While that might work for a couple who already has a lot figured out, most often it’s best to start premarital counseling as soon as the couple is sure about where they stand. For example, when a couple first gets engaged is a good time to start going. For couples who know they are “in it for the long haul”, even if they aren’t yet engaged, it’s recommended that they go through a type of premarital counseling, too, to help them figure out finances and coping mechanisms throughout the relationship. It’s beneficial to start premarital counseling early because it enhances the communication between partners before the communication becomes too bad for the partners to stand the relationship anymore. It also helps to start early because it helps the couple plan for the future and learns how to deal with each other’s personality better. End of story: don’t put it off and start premarital counseling as soon as you’re sure about your relationship.

How to make the most out of premarital counseling

  • Accept that it’s challenging. However, it’s worth it now because marriage counseling later is harder when you already have kids to take care of.
  • Keep the sessions private. There’s no need to tell everyone about what goes on in the sessions because they are between you and your partner.
  • There is no “winning” in counseling. Everyone needs to understand that being willing and keeping an open mind is essential. Cooperation is key.
  • Show your partner gratitude. Make sure they know you appreciate that they are going through premarital counseling with you and you’re thankful for the work you two are doing together.
  • Your counselor is a “safe zone” and what you discuss with them can’t be used for future arguments or any moments like “I told you so”.

Let us know what you think in the comments below!

Sensory Processing Disorder: What is it? What are the symptoms, treatments and does my child exhibit any signs? Take the mini quiz!

“Sometimes the noise in my life bothers me. It hurts my ears.” These are common things people with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) or Sensory Integration Disorder tend to say when describing what is happening to them. Find out more about what is sensory processing disorder, its signs, symptoms, treatments and take a mini quiz on different signs of over responsive sensory processing disorder.

Sensory processing disorder

What is Sensory Processing Disorder?

Sensory Processing Disorder or sensory integration disorder is a condition in which the brain has difficulty receiving and responding to information that comes in through the senses. Some experts like A. Jean Ayres, PhD, linked SPD to a neurological “traffic jam” that prevents the brain from receiving signals or information needed to interpret sensory information correctly. Whether if you are biting into your favorite New York style pizza, driving a car, or simply texting, the completion of the activity requires precise processing of sensation and attention.

Sensory processing disorder may affect one or more of the senses like hearing, touch (tactile), smell or taste, movement (vestibular) and body awareness (proprioceptive sense). Some children may even seem unresponsive to the things they have difficulties with. For example, the sounds of a lawn mower may cause a child to experience headaches, then nausea, dizziness, confusion, trembling or panic. They may scream when touched or shy away from certain textures of foods. However, others may also seem unresponsive to anything around them. They may fail to respond to extreme heat, cold or even pain. This is very common among children with autism.

Sensory Processing Disorder- Symptoms 

Symptoms may range from mild to severe. Common symptoms include:

  • Hypersensitivity: Hypersensitive (or oversensitive) children may notice sounds that others do not, or have an extreme response to loud noises. They may be fearful of large crowds, unwilling to play on playground equipment or worried about their safety (falling).
  • Hypo-sensitive: Hypo-sensitive (or under sensitive) children, as mentioned above, may lack sensitivity to their surroundings. For example, because they might have a high tolerance for pain, they are known to be “sensory seeking” meaning they have a constant need to touch people or things, even when it’s not appropriate. Some may be gustatory/oral seeking (crave certain textures and flavors excessively), olfactory seeking (crave certain smells excessively), auditory seeking (often speak louder than necessary), and visual seeking (crave bright lights). 

Often, children with sensory processing disorder show signs of both hypersensitivity and hyposensitivity. They may reach in one of both ways:

  • Extreme response to change in environment: Kids may be fine in settings they are familiar with, however, in crowded environments like a wedding, they may experience a sensory meltdown such as throwing a tantrum and screaming.
  • Fleeing from stimulation: children who are undersensitive might get a fight or flight response from something that is too stimulating. For example, if a child flees from a playground or parking lot, oblivious to the danger, this indicates they may be heading away from something upsetting.

Sensory Processing Disorder-Skills Affected

  • Resistance to change and inattention: they may be struggling with adapting to change and new surroundings. Some cognitive skills might be affected by this.
  • Problems with motor skills: the child may seem awkward and clumsy, an activity such as running or jumping may be hard for kids who may have difficulty knowing the orientation of their body. They may either move slowly or avoid activities they find challenging.
  • Lack social skills: oversensitive kids will most likely get anxious around other children and will avoid playing, making it hard for the child to be socially friendly. Under sensitive kids also lack social skills because they may be too rough which in turn may lead other kids to avoid them and exclude them from activities.

Sensory Processing Disorder-Diagnosis and Causes

There have been many assumptions and speculations about the causes of sensory processing disorder or sensory integration disorder; nothing concrete has been identified just yet. However, many researchers say some causes of SPD could be:

  • Coded into the child’s genetic material
  • Prenatal and birth complications (low birth weight or prematurity, etc.)
  • Environmental factors (an adopted child who was might have had poor prenatal care)

Sensory processing disorder has yet to be classified as an illness in the Diagnostics and Statistical Manual (DSM-5), which is often used by psychiatrists and many other clinical professionals such as pediatricians and psychologists in diagnosis. However, it is identified as part of the assessment in the Diagnostic Classification of Mental Health and Developmental Disorders of Infancy and Early Childhood-Revised in the first clinical axis. Sensory processing disorder was first identified by occupational therapists as a source of distress for many children and for inexplicable behaviors. Sensory integration disorder can be often misdiagnosed due to its confusion with autistic children and their problematic sensory responses.

Below is a small quiz with common situations that may happen when a child has a over-response to sensory stimuli and may have sensory processing disorder.

1. We have to avoid public loud spaces such as malls, parks, etc. because the noise seems to hurt my child's ears.
  • A red X indicates that your child may have this symptom of sensory processing disorder. A green checkmark indicates that your child does not have this symptom

2. My child doesn't like to be hugged or kissed and when I do it seems like it hurts (not to be confused with shyness or social difficulties)
  • A red X indicates that your child may have this symptom of sensory processing disorder. A green checkmark indicates that your child does not have this symptom

3. My child has a hard time falling asleep and wakes up crying to any noise, change in temperature or minimal stimuli with high level of discomfort and it's difficult to comfort him back to sleep
  • A red X indicates that your child may have this symptom of sensory processing disorder. A green checkmark indicates that your child does not have this symptom

4. When we buy clothes we have to take all of the tags off because my child can't stand the touch on his skin (not to be confused with normal discomfort).
  • A red X indicates that your child may have this symptom of sensory processing disorder. A green checkmark indicates that your child does not have this symptom

5. Sounds, lights, movements, smells, tastes and any other sense seems to be heightened to the point where my child feels great discomfort or even pain while being exposed to these stimuli
  • A red X indicates that your child may have this symptom of sensory processing disorder. A green checkmark indicates that your child does not have this symptom

*IMPORTANT: While this mini quiz can’t diagnose a child with sensory integration disorder, it can be a helpful guide to see if additional testing should be done. 

Sensory processing disorder symptoms

Sensory Processing Disorder-Treatment

For diagnosis and treatment, it’s generally recommended to see an occupational therapist. The therapeutic approach for occupational therapy, in this case, includes the use of sensory integration, which was originally created by A. Jean Ayres, PhD, and is formally known as Ayres Sensory Integration (ASI).

An occupational therapy session using the Ayres Sensory Integration system begins with an evaluation, and once it’s complete, the therapist will develop a plan aimed at enhancing the child’s ability to utilize their sensations. When the occupational therapist is using ASI intervention techniques, some core elements include:

  • An ASI intervention will challenge the child to develop ideas about what to do, allow the child to plan out these ideas and then successfully carry out the plans
  • The environment is rich in tactile, proprioceptive, and vestibular opportunities and that creates both physical and emotional safety for the child
  • Many therapeutic activities will promote postural control and balance, which may include the use of special equipment such as suspended apparatus, scooters, and balls.

Sensory processing disorder- treatment

Tips and Creative Forms of Therapy

There are also many creative ways to help your child manage SPD in their daily life. The Ayres Sensory Integration system has created something called “Sensory Diet”, which refers to an individualized set of sensory based activities in which the child will participate throughout the day. Think of a “sensory diet” in the same way that healthy eating habits are distinguished by feeding our bodies the nutrients we need; a sensory diet “feeds” the child the right sensory needs of the child. A sensory diet allows the child to re-train the brain to process sensory information, which will then promote self-control. An example of a sensory diet would be:

  • A child who is an avoider and under-sensitive may be overwhelmed by loud sounds and stressful stimuli. In this case, the child would need breaks from distressing sounds, unpleasant tactile stimulation, etc.
  • A child who is not as aware of their body would need to incorporate lifting, pushing and pulling heaving objects as an activity into their everyday life. These activities will help the child gain an understanding of their body.
  • For children who have tactile issues, it is sometimes recommended to have the child drink seltzer water to experience bubbles in their mouth.

Overall, there are many forms of sensory diets that are individualized based on the child’s needs. You can create a sensory diet by working alongside your occupational therapist that will provide the correct form of activities to help the child.

Now that you know how to identify Sensory Processing Disorder and how to treat it, I hope you find this article useful and can become more aware of your child’s behavior. Feel free to leave a message below.

 

References:

Impact and Treatment of SPD. Retrieved from https://www.spdstar.org/basic/impact-and-treatment-of-spd

Understanding Sensory Processing Issues. Retrieved from  https://www.understood.org/en/learning-attention-issues/child-learning-disabilities/sensory-processing-issues/understanding-sensory-processing-issues#item2

Dr. A. Jean Ayres, PhD. (1972). Ayres Sensory Integration. Retrieved from https://www.siglobalnetwork.org/ayres-sensory-integration

Negative Emotions: How Can Anger Be Beneficial?

Anger, sadness, ego and despair are some of the negative emotions that we all associate ourselves to, especially during trying and struggle days. As human nature, we tend to get more and more sucked into our negative emotions, but did you know these negative emotions can actually help us.Yes! You might be thinking I am making this up but it’s true, psychologist have provided us with evidence that as humans we need a goal, a drive to keep us motivated and these negative emotions can help us do that.

Negative Emotions

To understand how negative emotions may help us, we first need to define what is a positive emotion? According to Cohen and Fredrickson (2009), positive emotions are positive feelings of joy, interest, contentment and love which arise from desirable situations. So positive emotions are happy feelings, but can a person have positive emotions 24×7? Is that even natural? And what happens if we always experience positive emotions? In a nutshell, being positive is good, but experience positive emotions always is not a typical behavior. This implicates that we are suppressing our negative emotions and are not expressing it, which in time will portray inverse effects on our body and brain.

What can negative emotions teach us?

According to Psychology Today’s article ‘Beyond Happiness: The Upside of Feeling Down’ by Matthew Hutson, our perception of negative emotions is emphasized on the word negative, but they don’t necessarily have to have a negative impact on our lives. Negative emotions can help identify where our troubles are and how to fix them. Similarly, in 2015, Huffington Post published an article ‘How To Turn Negative Emotions Into Your Greatest Advantage’ stated that negative emotions actually act as a catalyst for positive experiences and positive realization if we learn to respond to them in the right manner.

We have established the fact that negative emotions can actually act as a driving force in our lives. Now, let’s try to understand the technique so that your negative emotions can help you.

The first and the foremost aspect of understanding negative emotion is to recognize and express your negative emotions. Hiding your emotions is not going to do any good for you. It’s perfectly normal to feel angry, upset, embarrassed, or any other emotion on a daily basis. If you’re not sure how to express these emotions, think about talking to a therapist. 

What’s the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist? 

Secondly, it is essential to identify each negative emotion as an incentive to change yourself into a better person. We have negative emotions to be more aware of our situation and to try to improve them further. If you’re not sure where your negative emotions are coming from, try to think about when you started feeling them. Knowing what’s causing these feelings is essential to using them to your benefit. 

Finally, know that negative emotions have an unseen power. Psychologist Julie Norman in her book ‘The Positive Power Of Negative Thinking’ mentions that in her experience, she saw that pessimists were able to thrive because they turned a negative emotion, like anxiety, into action. Think about if you were able to turn every feeling of anger or anxiety into a productive moment in your life!

Optimism vs. pessimism 

How can you use negative emotions to your benefit?

  • Negative emotions and relationships: we have the maturity to understand that any positive or negative act has an inverse effect on our relationships. But in a study conducted in 2008, ‘The Positives of Negative Emotions: Willingness to Express Negative Emotions Promotes Relationships’, it was concluded that expressing negative emotions are connected to facilitate positive relationship outcome increasing intimacy and bridging close relations. Remember that fighting doesn’t mean that the relationship is doomed. Arguing allows for communication and can be beneficial for relationships. 
  • Anger:  Feeling angry about situations or people is inevitable, but anger can actually bring about the creative side in you. In a journal  ‘A Dynamic Perspective on Affect and Creativity’, the authors studied participants on their negative and positive emotions. The study asked their participants to rate their emotions at the beginning and at the end of the day, it was noted that individuals who initially started their day with negative emotions and ended with positive emotions, had the most creative output. How is this possible? The article further stressed that the participants reported that when they channeled their negative emotion of anger into their work, a creative outcome was achieved.
  • Negative emotions from embarrassment or shame: We all have gone through that feeling of humiliation, shame, and embarrassment. That feeling that arises when someone says “you’re not good enough”. Initially, our negative emotions stir up and the feeling of despair sets in but gradually feelings of  “I will show them that I can do it” or “I will prove myself to them” accelerate and that is the positiveness that is achieved due to channeling our negative emotions.
  • Using ego as a positive tool: Ego has a negative connotation to it, the evils of ego have the power to either destroy someone or make someone. What is the ego? In short, ego defines the ‘I’ or ‘the self’, your self-perception. So just like other negative emotions, we have discussed, the ego can do us great harm, having a large ego or thinking we are greater than others takes us downhill. But funneling our ego during troubled times, such as when we think too little of ourselves is transforming our negative emotions to a positive stride. It is this ego” that helps us grow and raise our spirits high during low times. Once again it depends on our perception of a negative emotion. An individual needs ego to help them build their self-confidence and know their worth. But to be able to balance their ego is significant.

It is easy to get trapped in between our negative emotions, but to know that you are in total control of yourself and that you have the ability to transform your negative emotions to positive emotions is crucial. Here are some tips to help you regulate your emotions:

  • Know what your mind is trying to tell you about your negative emotions. Accept it and express it.
  • Be mindful and aware of what’s going on. Don’t let the situation take the best from you.
  • Don’t let your negative emotions drive you instead you driving your negative emotions to something positive.
  • A regular self-report helps you balance your emotions and keep them in check. 
  • Have friends and family around you during emotional times, listen to them. Your good wishes will always help you reignite the spark that you need to change your negative emotion to a positive outcome.
  • These are trying and tiring times and know that these too shall pass.
  • Change your attitude and reconstruct your negative emotions to something beneficial for yourself.

Focus on the positive side of your negative emotions, remember that the term negative emotions don’t mean it’s not good for you. You can do it!

8 Way to Show Support to an Alcoholic As You Work Through Family Therapy

Your loved one has worked hard throughout their treatment program to learn better ways to manage their addiction. Now, they are asking you to attend family therapy sessions to work through the issues that are associated with their alcohol abuse. While some people find the prospect of sharing their struggles in a counseling session a little nerve-inducing, this is an important opportunity for you to show your support. In fact, just being invited into your loved one’s therapy program is a gesture of honor since it means that you play an important role in their life. As you take this important journey with your loved one, use these strategies to promote effective family therapy sessions that allow everyone to benefit from healing their relationship.

Family therapy

1. Come with an Open Mind

Views regarding family therapy can differ among members of your group. If you have never been in counseling before, then you may have misconceptions regarding what will happen. For example, some people think counseling sessions are designed to point out where people are going wrong, but this is not the case. During your family counseling sessions, your loved one’s alcoholism and current treatment plan will be discussed. You will also have a chance to talk about how their behavior has affected your life. However, the main purpose of every one of your sessions will be to find solutions for the challenges that you face together. Having an open mind allows you to fully take in the lessons gleaned from the topics you explore in your sessions.

2. Share Your Feelings

Baring your soul to a stranger can feel odd at first. However, you should keep in mind that family counselors have heard it all. They are not there to judge you. Instead, their role in the session is to try to help by staying neutral as they guide you and your loved one through exercises and conversations that help you work through your challenges. Be willing to open up about how you feel, and remember that it is okay to ask for time to compose your thoughts when you are dealing with a painful topic. Anger, guilt and even sadness are all normal emotional responses to an alcoholic’s recovery. Addressing these emotions is important for being in a place where you can offer your loved one your full support.

3. Acknowledge Their Experiences

When your loved one was in the throes of alcoholism, it is likely that you had vastly different life experiences. This sometimes makes it hard to connect with your loved one as they go through recovery. For example, you may feel as though they were living it up while you were trying to keep your household together. Meanwhile, they may describe the pain of knowing that they were no longer in control of their drinking. Acknowledging that your loved one may have felt something emotionally that wasn’t obvious to you at the time is a powerful way to let them know that their feelings are valid.

Family therapy

4. Work on Improving Your Communication Strategies

Families often struggle with breakdowns in communication that contribute to angry outbursts and hurt feelings. Substance abuse contributes to communication issues because your loved one may have been using their drinking to avoid having to actually talk about the things that bothered them. Learning to communicate effectively takes time, and your counselor will guide you throughout the process. For instance, they may have you work with your partner to develop listening skills that stop the cycle of never fully resolving any issues. Be patient as you learn to communicate together, and know that the extra effort will pay off when you can work through a conflict together using positive language that shows respect for both of your opinions.

5. Prepare Mentally

Alcoholism sometimes influences painful events to occur in families. Domestic violence, infidelity, and other addictions may all coexist with an alcohol problem. As a family member of someone who drinks, you may have dealt with painful experiences in the past that will be brought up in your sessions. Be ready for this, and know that painful emotions must sometimes rise to the surface before you can fully find healing.

6. Be Consistent with Your Attendance

It sounds so simple, but just showing up to your sessions regularly makes a big difference in your loved one’s recovery. When you commit to attending family therapy, you let your loved one know that their well-being and your relationship are priorities that are worth working hard to protect. Make sure to plan your counseling sessions so that you do not have interruptions from work or other obligations. If you must miss a session, let your partner know as soon as possible so that you don’t let them down.

7. Do Your Individual Work

With so much focus on your loved one’s alcoholism, it is possible that some of your issues may have been overlooked. It is common for personal situations to arise during family counseling that need to be addressed in individual sessions. Although it can be upsetting to suddenly discover that you are dealing with low self-esteem or problems with codependency, finding ways to overcome your personal challenges helps your family as a whole.

8. Follow Through at Home

Being a perfect partner in your family counseling sessions and forgetting everything you learned once you get home is ineffective for your partner’s recovery. Make sure to remind each other to use your communication strategies when conflicts arise and avoid tempting your loved one by keeping alcoholic beverages around. Finding ways to minimize stress will also ease the process of healing together. Should an issue arise that you are not sure how to address, bring it to your counselor in an upcoming session. This way, minor issues do not have time to fester into major problems that affect your relationship.

Showing support to your loved one is important for their recovery, and attending family counseling sessions provides you with guidance to overcome the adversities you face together. By making it a priority to show up, contribute and follow through on what you learn together, you can rebuild your relationship while helping your loved one to stay sober.

 

Pathological Liars: How to Identify, Help, and Prevent It from Happening

Telling the occasional white lie doesn’t change who your are and it doesn’t make you a bad person. However, there are some people who relate to the world solely through lies, who feel the need to lie for no reason. These people are called compulsive or pathological liars, and below you’ll see how to identify one, and how to help them if you do.

Pathological liars: What is a pathological liar?

Aside from some ethical and moral problems, lying isn’t really a problem. The problem takes shape when telling a lie is out of our control, when we need to lie to feel good. This is a type of addictive behavior. Pathological liars might not even know when they’re telling a lie, and probably won’t recognize that they’ve lied.

What is a Mythomania?

Mythomania, or a pathological liar, is a person who lies, hides, or exaggerates the truth without thinking and without gaining anything form it. The aren’t able to control it and they can’t stop. Mythomania can be related to several personality disorders including severe ones like psychopaths. Pathological liars are subconsciously looking for attention and admiration from those around them, and are hoping to get people to look up to them and think they’re “cool”. This is the reason most of their lies are personal lies. They lie for the sake of lying, without thinking about the consequences of what they say.

Why do compulsive liars lie?

In general, people lie or tell “half-truths” to benefit them in some way, whether it be about coming home before curfew or not breaking the priceless vase. This is why lying is a reinforcing behavior. It clearly keeps us from getting into deeper trouble, so why not tell a lie and get out of it?

The negative effects from lying may or may not ever happen, as others may never even find out about the lie. They may also find out much later, which loses some of the negativity and makes whatever punishment that comes later seem much less important. However it happens, it’s very probably that this lying behavior happens more than once.

Aside from trying to avoid negative consequences, these people lie to get attention and affection. They exaggerate, embellish, or make up a “reality” that they’ve created in order to seem more interesting. However, this only works in the short-term, because with time, people around them will start catching them in lies and distance themselves.

1- When a pathological liar is caught in a difficult situation, they get stressed.

2- They use another lie to “solve the problem”, and their stress subsides, reinforcing their behavior. On one hand, their stress subsides, and on the other, their problem “disappears”

3-Through this reinforcement (or “benefits”) (getting attention and avoiding uncomfortable situations), this lying behavior becomes a habit over time.

Compulsive liars are generally insecure and have low self-esteem. They aren’t very social, and they don’t know how to talk to people without lying. They don’t feel interesting enough, which is why they alter reality to make themselves look better.

They are addicted to lying. They can’t stop lying even if they wanted to, or it will leave them to feel defenseless. Over time, this addiction will become stronger and stronger, and their ability to control their behavior will become more and more difficult.

How can you tell if someone is a pathological liar?

Your friend who likes to embellish his stories isn’t necessarily a pathological liar. Lying pathologically is an addiction, they lie constantly because it’s a habit that they do without realizing it.

We usually catch on to these lies because things don’t quite add up or they seem too far-fetched, but when you confront the liar, they’re cool and collected, not nervous. They might be inexpressive and control their actions. If they look nervous, they’re not a pathological liar.

These people don’t lie to reap benefits or keep something from happening, but it’s possible that their habit started this way (and the subconscious search for approval). They lie systematically, without any apparent reason, which is another way to tell a simple lie from a pathological liar.

Some common aspects of pathological liars are:

  • Lies are believable and may have truthful elements. For example: a person has stomach flu but may exaggerate and tell a co-worker its a serious illness like cancer.
  • They tend to always show the person lying in a positive light.
  • Pathological liars can continue to lie for long periods of time. People who have long term affairs tend to start lying and may become pathological due to the pleasure of keeping the secret.  

How can you help a pathological liar?

How can you help a compulsive liar? It’s not as easy as you might think, because part of overcoming any addiction is recognizing that you have one, and pathological liars don’t recognize their problem. Trying to get them to change or bringing them to a psychologist won’t help, because if they don’t think they have a problem, they won’t want to get treatment.

It’s important to show them that you know that they have a problem and try to get them to understand that overcoming their addiction will improve their quality of life. Once they are able to recognize that they have a problem, you can try to have them see a professional, but be careful not to push them.

How can you keep your kids from becoming pathological liars?

This disorder generally starts in adolescence, which is why it’s important to teach your children good values.

It is especially important to raise their self-esteem and talk to them kindly. Tell them when they’ve done a good job and reinforce their good behavior. Remind them that having people like them isn’t the most important thing, but that having morals and treating others nicely can go a long way.

If anyone you know tends to lie a lot don’t rush into any conclusions, remember to always be objective and never push anyone into getting help when they don’t want to.

Hope you enjoyed the article, feel free to leave a comment below.

False Memories: Can You Trust Your Memory?

We often don’t think about the accuracy of our memories. We just assume that they’re exact and precise, because it’s something that we experienced. But the reality is, our memories are very susceptible to change. Research is showing that our memories can be manipulated by introducing new or different information. This can be from an authority figure, or simply just by talking to your peers. Although this can be helpful at times, false memories actually poses a problem for our justice system. 

False memories: What are they?

Why do false memories occur?

Imagine you pass by someone when you’re walking down the streets of Times Square. You only see them for a split second, but you see them wearing a green t-shirt, black sneakers, and a blue hat. Now just hold on to that thought- we’ll come back to it later.

We’d like to think that our memory is like a video recorder, accurately recording our experiences. But our memories are actually very prone to suggestion. Here’s why: every time we recall a memory, it gets changed based on our mood, goals, or environment. If we don’t remember something that happened to us or that we saw, our brain fills in the missing information. This seems like, and sometimes is, a helpful tool, but sometimes it can have serious consequences. We all know “that” person who tells the same story just a little bit differently every time. The fish was THIS big, kind of thing. A false memory is a misguided recollection of an event or experience.

False memories can happen in a lot of ways. Introduction of new or different information is one way the perception of events can change. This can be in the form of a question, or discussion with a peer. Knowledge you already have and other related memories can also change your perception. For example, if you were to recall your fifth birthday party, the memories of your friend’s birthday party might influence how you remember your own. And of course, over time your memories begin to change. Misinformation can become a part of your memory, and that version can actually grow stronger and more vivid.

How do we know that memory can be altered?

Remember the person you walked past on the street? Now answer this question (without scrolling up): The person was wearing a green hat, but what color were their sandals?

If you were to scroll back up, you will find that their hat was blue, instead of the green stated in the question. Also, you might notice that the person was wearing black sneakers, not sandals. How did you do? If you fell for the tricks, then you can see how easily our memories can be altered. By wording the question with a new or different fact from the original scenario, your memory changed to fit the question. This is how researchers study false memory, by introducing new or different information to something you may have experienced.

Another way our perception of events can change is just by talking to the people around us. Take the video below, for example. In this study, participants viewed a video of a store robbery, and then discussed what they saw with each other. After a few minutes of discussion, each of the participants were asked to recall what they remembered seeing in the video. What they found was that most people were actually talking about things they didn’t actually see themselves. They were given information by their peers, which led them to be misguided not long after an experience.

Are false memories a good or bad thing?

False memories can be as harmless as you thinking you saw your phone in the glove compartment, when it was really in the back seat of the car. But many times, these false memories can have serious consequences.

The idea of false memories arose in the late 1980’s when psychologists started using memory recovery techniques. Soon after, parents started reporting instances where their children wrongly accused them of childhood sexual abuse. The problem was that these accusations were typically coming from an adult daughter in her 20s and 30s, soon after she started therapy. Therapists justified the Freudian idea of repressed memories– saying that they didn’t remember the events because it was too traumatic for them. But many experts say that the idea of repressed memories has been proven false, which sparked a lot of controversy and debate.

Psychotherapists believed that they could recover repressed memories by inducing hypnotic states with sodium amytal. This is what happened to 19-year-old Holly Ramona, who accused her father of sexual abuse shortly after beginning her therapy for bulimia. Holly recalled that she had vague flashbacks of a man forcing her to perform sexual acts when she began therapy. But according to other therapists, Holly didn’t know it was her father until the doctors had told her about it after she was in the hypnotic state. Expert psychologists who study memory say that “repressed memories” are in no way supported, especially for sexual abuse. Holly’s father eventually came to sue the therapists that worked with his daughter and won the lawsuit, but not before losing his entire family.

False memories can also be a problem when it comes to eyewitness testimony. Since DNA testing became available, The Innocence Project has worked to exonerate wrongfully convicted prisoners. In 75% of the DNA exoneration cases, faulty witness testimony was found to be the cause of wrongful conviction. But it’s not that these witnesses lied under oath with a secret vendetta, it’s because they were misinformed. Misleading information they may have been exposed to, like a misleading question, could have changed their perception of events. The witness, unaware of the change, can easily recount the wrong information as their own experience, sending many innocent people to prison.

False memories can also do some good, by helping those who have had traumatic experiences. Researchers are working on methods to replace traumatic memories with less anxiety provoking ones, to allow the person to cope with their experiences better. This is similar to narrative exposure therapy, which is a type of talk therapy designed to help people learning how to live with PTSD.