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Don Laird

You Should Read This…

by Don Laird, MS, NCC, LPC, DCC

Always and never are two words you should always remember never to use.”
― Wendell Johnson

“You never listen to me!”

“You always say that!”

Expletives aside, perhaps two of the most damaging words you can throw around in a relationship are “always” and “never.” Coupled with the word “You,” these statements can end a productive exchange before it has an opportunity to get started. Absolute statements are conversational arsenic because they remove choice and impose an external pressure that is difficult to diffuse once initiated. Keeping these absolute statements at a minimum can help keep your relationship from deteriorating into a street brawl. For some, drawing imaginary battle lines and then chucking emotional hand grenades is just what happens when there is an attempt to engage a spouse, partner or significant other on a deeper level. Yet, it is an unproductive and selfish endeavor simply to prove the other person wrong and validate profound feelings of resentment.

Remember: An argument is a failed discussion. Your hurt feelings are rarely about the trash never being taken out, the kids always misbehaving, or the dishes never getting done. You aren’t being heard, and there’s your frustration.

Argument words, when applied by one person onto another, regularly force the recipient to counter. Until the pressure has been dealt with, all levels of creative and authentic communication are ended, and you find that the maladaptive dance of “I said/you said” has begun.

A Severe Case of the Should-s, Musts and Have to-s

“You should take that job.”

“You have to stop acting that way.”

Channel Your Inner Adult

If I internalize the Should-s, the Musts and the Have-To-s and surrender to the expectations of others, I lose my creative voice; I give up my center. I could phone in my relationship at this moment simply because I see no point in continuing. Our reply to pressure is to rebel or to conform, fight or flight. Neither conformity nor rebellion allows for creative dialogue to flourish. Compliance is seen as good. Rebellion is seen as bad. Remember that little lesson from our teachers and our parents? The trouble is we are no longer children. To be a child means being in a position of powerlessness, to have limited choices and to not have the capacity or skills to manage life outside the confines of my thoughts.  As adults, we have a responsibility to take ownership of our feelings and accept others for as they are, not as we wish them to be. Succumbing to pressure leads to a narrowing of existence. Relationships become a chore and a bore, “I always pick the wrong person.” Think about that as you wonder why you may, or may not, be satisfied in your current relationship with a significant other or friend. Under pressure from another, which I then choose to cultivate or purge in myself, there is no experience of authentic love. I am an active participant in a power struggle and a war for which there is no exit strategy. I have become subservient to another, and that will always end poorly.

If you would like to continue the conversation about your relationship or marriage contact us to schedule an appointment with one of our therapists.

In Good Health,
Don

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Don Laird

Mental Health Month

by Don Laird, MS, NCC, LPC, DCC

I have been diagnosed with diabetes.

I have been diagnosed with heart disease.

I have been diagnosed with depression.

Out of these three statements, which individual has a better chance at quality of life for the next 10 years based on today’s current methods of treatment and availability of medical care? If you picked the third one, you would be wrong.

Why does mental health and wellness always seem to end up at the bottom of our ongoing health care debate? Costs are a big barrier to treatment, but so are attitudes. A 2007 study in Psychiatric Services, a Journal of the American Psychiatric Association, looked at several hundred potential mental health clients who had thought about seeking services but decided against it.

When questioned 66-percent of those surveyed thought the problem would get better on its own. Seventy-one percent agreed with the statement “I wanted to solve the problem on my own.” Several other studies have shown that many Americans still view depression and anxiety as a sign of weakness, and that seeking treatment demonstrates a lack of character or strength. Mental health doesn’t get the attention it deserves because of the stigma, but nearly one out of every five Americans will have a diagnosable mental disorder within their lifetimes, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

Since its inception in 1949, Mental Health Month has been celebrated in May and for 55 years this campaign has provided an opportunity to raise awareness about mental health issues. Americans recognize Mental Health Month with events and activities in communities across the country. Many organizations, such as NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness), engage in ongoing efforts to promote Mental Health Month through increasing public awareness and advocacy.

At eTalkTherapy we recognize and celebrate the goals and spirit of Mental Health Month. Our goal is to build public recognition about the importance of good mental health and daily wellness and to provide tips and tools for taking positive actions to promote holistic health. We understand that there is more to good mental health than just taking a pill. Accepting the whole person, not just a diagnosis, is paramount to providing quality care. Please follow our blog written by mental health professionals for tips on creating the change you want to see in your life.

Contact us to schedule an appointment with one of our licensed professionals.

In Good Health,
Don

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Christina Pettinato

6 Reasons Why Online Therapy Will Work for You

by Christina Pettinato, MS, NCC, LPC, DCC

Scenario 1: Jump in the car after work. Fight Traffic. Skip dinner. Arrive at the therapist’s office. Sit in a cramped, stodgy waiting room with your stomach rumbling. Wait a week for your next appointment. Rinse. Repeat.

Scenario 2: Look for a sitter. Can’t find a sitter. Cancel therapy this week.

Scenario 3: It’s snowing, again. Roads are horrible. Cancel therapy.

Scenario 4: “I feel overwhelmed, and I’m really anxious. I’m struggling with my thoughts and feelings.” Your next available appointment is in three weeks? Really?!

Scenario 5: “My insurance deductible is $5,000 and you’re not even sure if therapy is covered?”

Does this sound familiar? These are just a few practical criticisms levied against traditional therapy. As technology, costs and schedules change, having the option to talk to your therapist online is becoming a popular choice for a number of reasons.

At eTalkTherapy we provide convenience, affordability, but, above all professional help and care all from the privacy and comfort of your home. In most cases, you will be able to schedule and meet with a therapist within a day or two.

Here are just a few of the benefits of choosing eTalkTherapy:

  1. You can tackle your issues today:If you are seeking support for anxiety or stress-related issues, and feel overwhelmed at the prospect of having to schedule and attend an in-office appointment, then the online option could be the best one for you. This is your health and wellness, and it has to suit your needs. Anxiety, depression and stress are not viruses, and they just don’t go away on their own. Addressing your issues and using proven techniques such as a combination of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and traditional talk therapy will likely help you feel as though your life is not out of control and that you are making gains toward a better, mindful life.
  2. You can have both privacy and comfort:At eTalkTherapy, you can meet live online with your therapist from the comfort and privacy of your own home. All you need is a computer or tablet. Maybe you’re struggling with transportation or a long commute, maybe you can’t get childcare, maybe the weather forecast is not looking favorable, maybe your insurance co-pay or deductible is too high, or maybe you are away from home at college. For whatever reason, if having your session on live video chat works for you, then it works for you.
  3. You can keep your sessions while traveling:We offer you the flexibility of having your sessions online. You might be traveling for work, going on an extended vacation, or leaving for college. Whatever the reason, eTalkTherapy gives you a convenient and affordable alternative to a traditional office visit.
  4. You can schedule to suit your needs:Your time is important. The online option gives you back the time you’d spend commuting without delaying or interrupting your therapeutic work.
  5. You meet with our therapists live online: We value the therapeutic relationship and understand that texting, email correspondence or phoning a therapist will not replace being able to see someone face to face. We provide a HIPPA secure and professional online experience for every client we meet.
  6. You don’t have to worry about insurance co-pays or deductibles: In fact, some mental health issues are not even covered by insurance. Your information remains private between you and your therapist. Our affordable rates give you the flexibility and financial comfort you may have been seeking from your therapy experience.

If you are looking to make positive changes in your life, we can help! Please contact us today about how to register and schedule your live video counseling session with Christina.

Follow eTalkTherapy on Facebook and Twitter for updates and articles related to good mental health!

Avanti,
Christina

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Don Laird

Turning Dreams and Goals into Action

by Don Laird, MS, NCC, LPC, DCC

What’s on your “bucket list?”

Writing a novel?

Traveling through Europe or Asia or both?

Learning how to paint or play piano or dance the Tango?

Goals and dreams give us hope, make life interesting, and provide us with a source of everlasting motivation and meaning. Often they present a sense of balance in a seemingly unbalanced world. Naturally, realizing your goals and dreams requires action.

You know all the tired, self-generated excuses as to why your goals are “impractical” or “will have to wait until a better time.” You’ve justified these reasons enough that they have become the only response to your ever-patient, ever-waiting life dreams. Here are a few thoughts that might turn these excuses into accomplishments and help you realize the potential of your life’s goal:

  1. What do I really want? It seems like a simple question until you begin focusing on what is important. What gives me a sense of connection, purpose and meaning? What is my “calling?” Do I possess talents and abilities that I have told myself are not practical or unimportant? How many of my negative thoughts about my dreams and goals are self generated?
  2. How will I get there? What do you need to connect the dots between Point A and Point B. Map out each step you might take on your journey. If you don’t have some plan in mind, you will likely find yourself struggling with frustration and uncertainty.
  3. What if my dream were already happening? Successful performers, sports figures and entrepreneurs report they are able to visualize their achievements far in advance. The use of positive visualization does not make automatically your dreams or goals come true, but it does provide a healthy nutrient for the soil in which your achievements can take root.
  4. What can I control? Staying focused on your goals and dreams without allowing others to interfere can be difficult at times, but not impossible. Do NOT allow others to dictate or influence your goals and aspirations. Becoming caught in others opinions or good intentions often times is the proverbial pin to your goal balloon. Remain in the present, knowing that you can only control what is happening at this moment, and only what is happening with you.
  5. What if I fail? Every journey will have its share of stormy weather. Treat any rejection or misstep as a learning moment toward realizing your dream and goal. Most everyone can agree that they will regret what they DIDN’T do in life versus what they did do.
  6. Is it even realistic? Perhaps not, but are you willing to try? Be persistent and flexible. Know that you will have to “roll with the punches” from time to time. Perhaps you will be surprised over what you discover about yourself on your journey.

Get going – now! Tend to your dreams and goals. Your journey can begin with a first, small step.

In good health,
Don

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Don Laird

The Sounds of Silence

by Don Laird, MS, NCC, LPC, DCC

Culturally, spiritually and psychologically we live in a paradox. We retreat from our call-to-being by crafting stylish diversions. All neatly self-manufactured to conveniently bypass the chaotic backwoods of our lives rather than direct us on a path through the Terra Incognita. Yet, we crave something more beyond our smartly planned objectives. “Be still and know that I am God,” the Christian Psalm tells us. Stillness, tranquility, peacefulness, calm and concentration; the Buddhists call it Samatha.

Our raison d’être for exploring the geography of psyche is to discover deeper and lasting meaning, direction and rationale through an evident lack of meaning, direction and rationale in our world.  Consequently, occupation, career, acquisitiveness, and changing technology and systems are now endemic throughout our collective and personal unconscious. Taking the time to work through a crisis, even a relatively minor one, requires us to concede that our bridges are not so stylish, not so sturdy, and not so safe. The map plainly illustrates that monsters of yore have been replaced with meaninglessness, steady bi-product of lives left unquestioned and existential anxiety unchecked. Sadly, our egos are not well-versed in plotting an effective course, and anxiety swells while we further devise elevated, objective methods to escape the natural world lingering below.

This increased anxiety results in a further distancing from our creative selves, while we force as much activity and noise into our psyche in a self-medicating attempt to obscure the call. Reality television, smart devices, texting, instant messaging, music and movies on demand, are now directly accessible in packages that are engaging on the surface, but are highly symptomatic of our creative insolvency. These diversions, void of personal meaning and substance, nurture our digressions and weaken our creative and psychological vigor.

Simply put, we’ve become bored with our lives.

Therapists have an obligation to be familiar with the creative influence of stillness and the empowerment of silence as an art, not a technique. In recent years, our profession has demanded we circumvent the prickly subject of being still; a quiet mind is metaphorically viewed as a “devil’s playground,” and most empirical validated therapies heed this adage.

Stay distracted, rate your feelings on a arbitrary scale of 1-10 , complete the therapeutic homework and your symptoms will decrease. However, the wellspring of an individual’s malaise remains unattended like a super-sized, hyperactive child running amok in a jungle-gym of smoke and mirrors. The inexhaustible revisions in textbooks, the pretentiousness of clinical research and statistics, the departmental and administrative meetings, and the suggestion that we as therapists somehow provide helpful and informed solutions for others, exhibits the inane, magical thinking that plagues our human sciences. Positive thoughts will explain away pain, while CBT workbooks will change behaviors.

Let us never lose sight of what Toto revealed behind the curtain.

Within the context of the creative process, our ability to integrate psyche is possible if executed with care, compassion and understanding. Just as a tree is an arrangement of numerous substances that compose its treeness, imagination and vision tend to present as multifaceted essentials. There are many roots to the same tree all moving in different directions, but sharing common qualities. The same could be said for the creative process, be it writing, painting, sculpting, or composing music. The cohesive bond shared between artist and expression is a silent channel of communication that is open, deep and provides connectivity to the psyche in a creative style.

It is our creative and artistic endeavors that become the conduit for change, and it’s here that the spiritual essence of an individual-in-the-world can be called forth. Psyche is always with us.

Exploring the crossroads of creativity and psyche reawakens our conception and understanding of both. The most prized gift we can give the other is our creative presence. This presence need not be spoken in any language other than that of the artist’s silence. When our presence is attentive it blooms within us and others, crafting an otherwise ordinary encounter into a rich tapestry on a weaver’s endless loom.

In good health,
Don