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Below is a well written testimony from one courageous person who decided to experiment with change, health and personal growth.

         What C.P.R. Means To Me

It has been almost a month since I quit smoking marijuana! I had been a daily user for about twelve years, with the occasional attempt to quit; the longest quitting period being about one year in 2005. I had attempted to quit a couple times in the last three years, but always relapsed after a couple of weeks. So, this time I decided to seek help.

Previous quitting attempts always consisted of going cold turkey and using willpower.  I could stick to it for a few weeks, but then would have a smoke with a friend and return to using every day. In 2005, I told myself that I could not have any weed in the house and would still allow myself to smoke socially if someone had it. This worked for almost a year until I had a stressful situation occur, and went back to smoking every day. Therefore, this time I wanted to quit and stay a non-smoker, but how?

I considered going to rehab, but did not want to leave my surroundings. So I googled “how to quit marijuana” and found a self-help program. It was an online program for $50 that included a manual, videos, audio sessions and a detox book. After previewing the material, I decided to go for it.  After I bought the program and began my reading, I was still smoking but that was okay.  The program talked about setting a quit date when I was ready. I watched the videos and listened to the audio sessions for about two weeks before I set my quit date.

Through the program, I discovered that willpower would not be enough to sustain a smoke free life.  I would need to re-focus my thoughts and the direction I wanted my life to go in.  This was very scary at first. But the more I read the manual and listened to the videos, the less scary it seemed.  I began to realize that all the benefits that I thought the weed was giving me were actually the opposite. That’s what the weed does to your mind. It made me think that I needed it for so many things in life. I thought it gave me more energy, made me a more creative person, made me better at sports, made me funnier, made sex better, made food taste better, reduced stress and anxiety and helped with depression.

So I thought, give it up and see what happens.  Will I feel better or worse? I made a quitting contract with myself that included a quit date and the reasons I want to quit. The program prepared me for the withdrawal period, which was toughest the first week and ended around the second week. Wow, I could really feel the difference without the weed. I had gotten so used to feeling good that it’s hard to remember how bad I was feeling on the weed.

I can tell you this though, my energy is way, way higher than ever before. I feel present, in the moment and just happier than I have in a long time. I dream again, and can remember most dreams, and they are very vivid. I have been keeping a dream journal as the program has instructed. Your dreams are a way for your subconscious to give you direction in life and writing them down as soon as you wake will give you the ability to figure out what they represent.

Two days after quitting, I dreamt that I was giving a friend C.P.R. but I did not recognize this friend. I went to my therapist a few days later and was discussing the dream as I was having trouble deciphering the meaning.  He suggested that maybe I was giving C.P.R. to myself; that in a way, I was saving myself from my addiction. He asked me to use C.P.R. as an acronym for quitting weed. I thought about this for a short while and decided it means Clear, Present and Responsive. Since quitting weed, this is how I am focusing on living my life, and that is what C.P.R. now means to me.


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Many families will come to counselling as a sign of support to help a loved one through a difficult time (e.g. addiction, cooperative parenting, disordered eating, anxiety, depression, OCD, etc.). Sometimes families will provide financial support for a treatment program while others may attend sessions to improve overall teamwork. Still, other family members will change habits in the household to reduce the chance of addictive behaviours reoccurring.

How much family support is too much or not enough? This question is difficult to answer. As parents, we want to help our children (even if they are adults) to the best of our ability. However, sometimes this means we may be doing too much for them. Doing too much can often prevent individual growth and development. Parents may also want to take responsibility for the child/adult’s behaviour.

This is where family therapy helps, drawing upon family systems research and practice. It helps families clarify when to take responsibility or ownership and when not to, how to set clear boundaries and opportunities for change. Families can also establish new roles and expectations along with accountability measures for noncompliance and strategies for encouraging and increasing the behaviours desired.

Insufficient family support can be very debilitating for a person with mental health concerns and, thus, for the family as a whole. Strained and inconsistent communication is very common when there have been hurt feelings and years of promises broken.  As the support of loved ones grows thin, the person with mental health concerns can become even more distant and make even more harmful decisions. Balancing relationships within the family and keeping supportive connections while in treatment is a very important topic to discuss with a professional counsellor.

There are many ways in which a family can support one another through the difficult times. Start with this LISTEN acronym:

L: Learn to hear each other out more, increasing understanding and Love for one another.

I:  Inspire one another by having Integrity with your word and authenticity in your actions.

S: Solution-oriented state of mind helps focus on positive steps forward, finding solutions.

T: Treat others with respect, Teach caringly, Talk calmly and with Teamwork language.

E: Establish family goals together, Empower action and Encourage achievement.

N: Never give up on each other.


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Why Does This Keep Happening?

“I took two years before stepping into another relationship. The previous lasted four years. At the four-year mark, my world was turned upside down. I could honestly say that I cried every day for the first year (although the episodes did decrease in length). I was sad and vowed that I would do things differently the next time.

When the next time came, I remembered to do things differently; however, I never really decided what ‘different’ things I would do. And thinking back, I didn’t think I committed to any behavior changes. I thought I would put a wall up to protect myself from hurt (just in case this relationship also wouldn’t work out).

And to my surprise (really, it was a surprise), this relationship has ended and I feel almost the same as when the previous one ended. I feel like I was stabbed in the back. I feel confused. And worst of all, I feel rejected. I ask myself over and over why I don’t seem to be good enough.”

After the first breakup, perhaps this individual did not consider her feelings of rejection in depth.

“Everyone around me was surprised by the breakup. And questioned how it could be. So yes, I did feel rejected but tried not to dwell in it. With this past relationship, I feel like the ending was so much similar to my previous that rejection is the forefront of my feelings now.”

It’s easy to blame the person doing the “dumping” for the breakup. Many of those in our support system will also want to put blame the one who initiated the breakup, however, the “blame game” is ineffective and, if prolonged, destructive to healthy growth and development.

Introspection (looking inward and examining our own intrapersonal and interpersonal dynamics) can change the way we relate to ourselves and to other people. Following improved self-awareness often comes the realization that just because a relationship ends, does not imply that we are inadequate or inferior. 

Most of the time, space between relationships is a good thing; however, we have to be able to use that time for self-reflection, growth and personal development. Efforts to improve ourselves helps us develop better relationship skills, thus, more satisfying relationships. There are many great resources; self-help books, group work, videos and online training you can use to augment your work with a professional counsellor. For assistance Call us today .

“How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You”

Sound too good to be true, impossible or unlikley? I’m here as a witness that the “Truly, Madly Deeply” lyrics can come true. Is that just too many trues in one paragraph already? In a world where we hear of so many tragic endings in relationships, sooooo much drama and innumerable breakups, what can be so wrong about hearing about a relationship soooooo right?

I finally regained the courage to go out again after a few years of not really bothering; just going to work, seeing family and maybe having the odd “not-amounting-to-much” date or two. I set a goal to meet “Miss Right” only to realize a short while later, I required much renovation and repair to become the “Mr Right” that might have a chance of attracting such a young lady. One wonderful night I, along with the neighbour guy (didn’t really know him), went off to the Warehouse; a local bar.

Within minutes, as the Beatles say, I saw her standing there. From a glance to the request to dance took only a moment. She and I set out to dance the night away (Van Halen), exchanging humourous quips, flirtatious eyes and stimulating conversation… yes conversation. Three splendid hours later, having barely stood in the presence of the friends we arrived with, we danced out to “New York, New York”.1383267644h2fym

As she “left the building“, not unlike Elvis, I revealed puppy dog eyes politely requesting her number. She, ever so apprehensively, called it out from across the room and I immediately began repeating it over and over (no cell phones back then eh!). As I sit here on the eve of what will be our thirtieth Valentines Day, I shudder to think a few “what ifs”. You know, those negative thoughts we sometimes call the “shoulda, coulda, woulda” or “Stinkin Thinkin”.

No… I’d rather dwell on the positives. True romance is possible! It begins with a spark that you carefully build into a flame. It can then, with regular tending, develop into an all-encompassing bonfire. A magnificent romantic relationship truly does require consistent care, work and a great deal of support and learning (kind of like adding new logs to the fire). Romance, like a great bonfire, requires tending so it neither burns out nor burns so out of control that it burns those involved. Happy Valentine’s Day!Flames

 

Grieving the Loss of a Romantic Relationship ?

How did you find out? Did she change her status on Facebook? Did he say he’s headed off to work and never return? Did she email or tweet her goodbye? Maybe he said; “It’s not you… I just need to figure me out” or she said something like; “I‘m just not in love anymore”.

Either way it hurts and hurts a lot! When someone we love and cherish bails, gives up, and then chooses to do so in a cowardly way, such betrayal causes severe grief.

“Grief combines overwhelming sadness with a feeling of despair,” (Fisher & Alberti, 2000).

When recovering after a relationship loss, grieving is an important element. Everyone copes with and responds to loss differently. Thoughts and actions associated with grief often vary greatly from one individual to another. This can make it quite difficult for loved ones to understand and help one another. We may think we are not handling things well, we are powerless to overcome this loss or we may think our lives are hopeless. We may place blame on ourselves, and others, for the pain resulting from the broken relationship.

It can be very difficult to cope well when we are consumed by these thoughts and feelings, seemingly every moment of every day. They are especially strong when the break in a relationship is recent. Many people find comfort in the guidance and support received from family and friends yet, for some this is not the case. Some can also find support through their church fellowship, prayer and other spiritual resources. This may also be a good time to seek a consultation with a registered, professional counsellor who is experienced in assisting with the healthy recovery processes.

Crisis intervention, stress management combined with cognitive-behaviour therapy (CBT) help people not only cope but also adjust following a significant loss. CBT helps the grieving person(s) develop an increased understanding about thoughts, feelings and behaviours related to loss and grief.  Along with feelings of despair and helplessness, those grieving may also experience intense sadness/depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, grief, disappointment, anger and a severe sense of aloneness or isolation. Strangely enough some may experience relief as well.

With these rising and falling waves of emotions and thought, day-to-day living becomes a struggle which can further disrupt functioning. Loss of sleep and poorer eating add to the already distressful situation. These feelings and related stressful events may even foster destructive behaviours such as increased arguments, substance abuse, disordered eating habits, refusal to engage in daily routines, isolation from family and friends and recklessness.

It is important to have the support of another at this difficult time. Talk to someone to vent and find solutions to better cope with the discouraging thoughts and feelings. When we have effective support, and maybe even professional counselling, the grieving process can foster improvements in ourselves we may never have believed possible. With counselling we can heal wounds, recover and rebuild. Developing healthy and appropriate ways to cope help us have more peace and comfort with the grieving process, opening up new opportunities and possibilities for growth.

Book an appointment with us today!

 

Perhaps This Is Normal

In life we are faced with many challenges and obstacles to overcome. At these difficult times and during trying situations, it is imperative to have people to assist us, to provide support and guidance and to encourage our efforts to improve. In our families, at least ideally, we hope that we can come together and support each other through the tough times. This is not always the case, however, as our family members may also be struggling and, thus, are less able or unable to help. Of course, the stress we carry can be brought into the family and our loved ones can certainly add stress to our lives.

Family members may become more negative;

  • “We can’t cope as a family.”
  • “No one respects anyone else.”
  • “If I don’t raise my voice no one will listen.”
  • “We are a failure.”
  • “My parents could not possibly understand what I’m going through.”
  • “I have no power as a parent.”

Stress is a normal part of living and of any family experience. Life is hard on this planet and families constantly face a multitude of difficulties or stressors. How we handle stressful moments is the key to healthier and happier outcomes and relationships. When a family is in crisis, it is very difficult to get to a positive resolution without getting professional help.

Reading materials, joining community or on-line training courses and using counselling can provide the guidance and support families require. Registered, professional family therapists (“coaches”) can help identify areas for change together with the family and incorporate a wide variety of strategies to help families achieve their goals.

“Family counselling can be done in a lighthearted way, with an accepting and encouraging style that helps all family members feel accepted and valued.”

Additionally, drawing upon family members’ current strengths and resources, the counsellor can fairly quickly help the family improve teamwork, re-negotiate roles, expectations and boundaries, making it easier to resolve issues and function well.  Knowledge bases used include cognitive-behavioural, developmental, attachment, family structure, narrative, and family systems theory. Bringing these tools into the family arena allows for better clarity, communication and compassion through a more understanding and accepting view.

New strategies are introduced, in these “coaching” sessions, to overcome some of the negativity or “Stinkin Thinkin” that has developed and recover from past hurt. Through the therapeutic process, families can grow closer and develop more satisfying relations with each other. They redefine goals, assess and clarify shared values and beliefs and develop new ways to love, support and care for each other.

For more information on family “coaching”, call us today!

 

Possible and Impossible are Both Possible?

The outcome depends on our thinking. When lies and betrayal have consumed a relationship, it is common and normal for couples to want to end their relationship. Sometimes the decision to separate is not because there is a lack of love. Most times, it is because the automatic negative thought (ANT) is “It’s over”. Second, it might be that couples have little to no idea how to resolve the difficulties and challenges involved. Of course, few of us are really taught, by parents or school, how to resolve such circumstances or even how to have a great romance.

Once an affair has happened, the deep feelings associated with adultery can feel much like open wounds. The couple is in a crisis state and will often act or react based on how they feel in the moment. Communication can fluctuate between over and under talking about pain, sorrow and grief which make resolutions and healing even more difficult. This is not a great time to make big decisions nor will most of us make good decisions in this type of crisis. Many professional counsellors are trained to assist couples or individuals with the journey ahead, regardless of whether that is to dissolve or resolve the relationship.

So how does a couple get back on track if they decide this is what they want? Is it actually possible for a couple that experience lying, hurt, and betrayal to overcome such hardships and continue a healthy, loving life together? It may seem to be impossible, however it is possible to overcome these challenges, rebuild the relationship and even create a better, healthier relationship than you and your partner had previously. Judith Spring’s book “After the Affair” can also assist and guide couples in their healing and recovery process.

Being in a romantic relationship. of course, is not all roses and butterflies. A true romance is quite likely one of the most magnificent relationships we can have yet, it is also potentially one of the most volatile or painful too when infidelity occurs. Couples face many different obstacles (work-related stress, family conflict, extended family pressures, financial strain, and parenting concerns to name a few). As we move through life’s challenges together, we learn that our core values and morals are quite important in working together and supporting one another through struggles.

Clarifying foundational beliefs are essential for couples who want to successfully recover from adultery. A recovering couple must work together, re-assessing values, facing reality and disclosing and discussing difficult truths, feelings, and experiences that may never have been shared before. Overcoming adultery in a relationship may be one of the hardest obstacles to work through, however, it is possible. Once effectively reconciled, these courageous couples can actually have one of the strongest and most resilient romances on earth.

Before making rash and simplistic decisions based on hurt feelings, call us today to consider your options and find solutions together.