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Tag: Tucson therapist

March 10, 2014

One of the things that makes cognitive behavioral therapy so rewarding is the numerous examples that one can draw from which lends more evidence to the power of believing.

There is a new drug, call zohydro and according to this article, it is the most important frightening potent drug recently approved by the FDA, when it comes to opiate drugs on the market today. Concerned advocacy groups indicate that once made available to the general population, that there will be high incidents of deaths due to the potency of the drug.

Times like this, members of the public have two choices, you can depend on others to fight your battles for you, or you can take the initiative to protect yourself.

Some years ago, I underwent emergency surgery to remove an appendix, after the surgery, I was offered by my doctor some vicodin, to which I  refused. My doctor seemed surprised and repeatedly asked me if I was sure. I told him I would be fine. Out of what I determined to be genuine concern, he wrote me a prescription for tylenol, a prescription I never filled.

Yes, I was in pain, but it  wasn’t crippling. I took an extra day off work for bed rest,  and limited my movements. After about four days I had started to feel again like my old self. How was I able to pull this off? By practicing the art of mind over matter.

You see mind over matter is not the stereotypical machismo nonsense, you will hear in a movie line, or perhaps your local gym. From my experience most people who often use that phrase don’t understand the concept.

Instead mind over matter, refers to the a initial of readdressing our beliefs around certain circumstances we will typically find unpleasant, certain circumstances like pain for example.

While my doctor at the time had the best intentions, what he didn’t realize he was telling me was that I wasn’t not supposed to feel any pain after coming out of surgery, so therefore he had arranged for me to take some pain medication which would be helpful in reducing my pain.

However since I had just been cut open and a piece of organ had been removed from my body, it stands to reason that my body should experience pain as it healed itself. It was with this idea that I was able to accept the pain I was experiencing as a good thing. It meant that my nerves where functioning as they should and that my body was healing itself.

This is the kind of attitude through the practice of cognitive behavioral strategies I encourage people who suffer from addiction issues to take. Whether it’s pain, unresolved issues with abandonment and rejection, it doesn’t matter. What we choose to believe plays a role in influencing our ability to deal with psychological and physiological discomfort.

Ugo is a psychotherapist and life coach.

 

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December 26, 2013

Why are disappointments so difficult to bear for some people? One reason could be because some people place all their stock for being happy in one basket. Specifically in regards to setting goals and expectations for the future. I often see this with people who struggle with mild depression, and procrastination. If you ask them what they want to accomplish, they are quick to inform you about their dreams, but some where along the way they lost motivation once the going got tough. When this phenomenon occurs it is because there seems to be an expectation that happiness can only be achieved once certain desires, goals and expectations are met. For clarification, my definition of happiness in this post refers to feelings of prolonged content and acceptance , versus joy which is shorter lived.

Where does happiness begin and where does it end? If you read or listen between the lines, sometimes when people are discussing something they want to accomplish, it appears that their beliefs about happiness stem from hidden statements such as, “I can only be happy if..” or “I can only be happy when..”

Ambitions, desires, goals and  accomplishments are all part of the wonderful attributes of the human experience, specifically they bring a sense of meaning and purposefulness to the experience of life. However, what happens when your narrative changes? What happens when a goal you set out to achieve with all your heart is not realized due to circumstances beyond your control?

Postponing your happiness today based your hopes and dreams for tomorrow is a recipe for a case for acute and prolonged depression. I have worked with people who were so caught off guard by a sudden and unexpected change in their fortunate situation that they spent more years depressed compared to the years when they were thriving.  What If you could begin experiencing happiness today, inspite of what your current circumstances are? What would that look like?

From my perspective what happiness today would look like would be living your life from a place of gratitude. Recognizing what you have going on for you and seeing any challenge in your life as an adventure and an exciting part of your journey. So even if you are confronted with disappointment from not having realized a goal, it would be easier for you to grieve and transition with your experiences into your pursuit of another goal.

So instead of the hidden statements such as,  “I can only be happy if…” or “I can only be happy when…” replace them with “I can experience happiness regardless of my circumstances.” This type of thinking leads you towards regarding your goals and ambitions with a different attitude. An attitude that leads you towards focusing on the process, rather than the outcome.

So when the going gets tough, you can always draw energy from your feelings of consent and happiness, because you understand that challenges are a natural and occurring phenomenon in our lives.

Ugo is a psychotherapist and life coach.

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November 25, 2013

A college student I worked with was experiencing difficulty in school, in regards to completing and turning in her class assignments. One day she mentioned to me that perhaps she suffered from attention deficit disorder . I responded by reminding her about how we had rescheduled our agreed upon appointment two weeks prior because she had to take an examination, which was three hours long. I further reminded her that during our most recent meeting, she had informed me that she had passed the examination.

“People with attention deficit disorder struggle to pull that off,” I added. As it turns out, her lack of motivation was caused by her not knowing what she wanted to study and that she was only pursuing the major of study she was enrolled in to impress her parents. This revelation came out after she came to realize that she was able to concentrate for hours at at time as evidenced by how well she had done on the three hour exam. The difference was that over the years she hadn’t been doing it on her own terms.

From time to time, I encounter people who become upset with me because I tell them they can get better, when they believe  they can not. There is another story of a client who used the analogy of a blind man, he informed me that telling him that he could get past his depression was like telling a blind man that he could see again. I then informed him that while blind people certainly couldn’t see, they could still get around  and function on par with their sighted fellow humans.

The human mind is neuroplastic, it has a remarkable ability of reorganizing itself to help us  address our everyday issues in life and thrive, regardless of the trauma experienced and survived. What remains is for us to believe in our ability to adapt and change.

Your Brain is “Neuro-Plastic”—It’s Moldable & Changeable from Josh Kastleman on Vimeo.

 

Consider this study, involving hospitalized depressed men for the effectiveness of fluoxetine in treating depression. The men were divided into two groups, one group which received the actual treatment and the second group which received a placebo treatment. Both groups showed dramatic and significant improvement in their depressive symptoms, as evidenced by self reports and scanned images of changes in their brains’ glucose metabolism using positron emission tomography (PET). This is one of many studies that shows that power of simply believing, through the effects of placebo.

PET scan 1   pet scan 2    pet scan 3

The truth is that we are able to accomplish any feat we set our minds unto. So if you are experiencing difficulty in consistently accomplishing a task, or following through with agreed upon expectations, perhaps it has nothing to do with your ability but your willingness, influenced by other factors.

Ugo is a psychotherapist and life coach.

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November 15, 2013

Our thoughts create our realities, as a result whatever we focus our thoughts on attracts more of the same. This is the case when it comes to excessive worrying, where people who worry often have a history of trauma which have led them towards seeking power and control in their lives.

There is a deception that goes on in  the mind when it comes to worrying, people who struggle with chronic worrying often feel that they gain more control of the situation if they focus their minds on the worst case scenario. It’s almost as if they tell themselves that if they get through the worst that could happen, the sooner the better and the more experience they would have dealing with the worst that could happen.

Well, what about the best that could happen? What if things actually went your way? What if things went your way so well that it made things not going your way bearable and perhaps irrelevant?

The problem people who struggle with Generalized Anxiety Disorder have is that they have bought into a narrative that reads how good their lives should be, but without specifics on how they can make these narratives a reality. People who worry struggle to recognize their personal power in influencing their realities starting with their power of thoughts. Negative thoughts, lead to negative feelings which lead to maladaptive behaviors, whereas positive thoughts lead to positive feelings which lead to solution focused behaviors.

One technique you can start using today to stop worrying is called the “What If” technique.

To begin the “What If” technique you take a piece of paper or a journal and you create two columns. In the column header to your left you write down “What If -” and in  the column header to your right you write down “What If +”, the diagram below indicates what it would look like:

 

What if_01(blank)

Under ” What If -”  you write down a negative what if scenario that you have been worried about, and under “What if +” you write down an opposite and obviously positive scenario in response to the negative scenario you have written down. The diagram below indicates another example:

What if_01(filled)

 

The what if scenario is a very effective technique, as it is designed to draw your mind into considering more optimistic possibilities, which leads to more positive feelings, which in turn leads to the courage to engage in solution focused behaviors. Most people don’t realize that courage comes from a sense of love, as opposed to the myth of courage being drawn from hate fueled by a desire for retaliation.

In my soon to be published ebook on panic attacks, I discuss this technique in further detail, which includes behavioral experiments you can conduct to prove to yourself that you have the power to stop worrying and start living.

Ugo is a psychotherapist and life coach

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November 7, 2013

If negativity is to water, then positivity  is to the boat that keeps you afloat and takes you across.

The best way to explain this analogy is to substitute negativity as  challenges and positivity as the courage to practice change in overcoming certain challenges.

From addictions to maladaptive behaviors, the key to emancipation from habits that weigh us down is practicing the courage to take risks. Imagine if you can, the look of disbelief when  I tell a client who struggles with depression that he needs to go thirty days without using marijuana, or the look of horror registered on  the face of the shy young adult who is given an assignment to ask someone out on a  date.

These two examples have something in common and the commonality is people being asked to take the risk to practice change. For example, the client who uses marijuana, by quitting will be taking the risk of experiencing the inner turmoil and discomfort he has been using the drug to hide from. In his head, facing his fears is the worst thing that could ever happen to him even though it’s the best thing that could happen to him. The exact same thing could be said for the shy young man, afraid to approach females he finds attractive.

There are a number of research studies like this one on risk taking that seem to suggest that people are more willing to take risks when they feel happier or more optimistic. However, what if it works both ways?  What if it is true that while happier people take more risks, that miserable people who practice risk taking also experience more happiness? More specifically, what if it turns out that people who are unhappy can experience more optimism if they take risks even when the outcome of their risk taking doesn’t yield success?

For example, what if a young man who is shy finally exercises the courage to begin approaching and making small conversations with women he finds attractive. What if he finally asks someone out and she says no? In my practice what I have witnessed is  that even when turned down, young men who struggle with self confidence report feeling more optimistic, because being turned down wasn’t as horrible and as unbearable an ordeal as they had imagined.

Furthermore, risk is a term that’s often used to describe irrational decisions instead of everyday life in which it should be used. For example, driving your car is risky for obvious reasons, but gambling in a casino is irrational, as the odds are always in the favor of the house, which makes the probability of you winning any substantial amount of money slim to none.

People become adverse to the idea of risk taking when their definition of risk involves taking steps to improve their situation with a high likelihood of failure. This certainty of failure becomes so big in their minds that they become fearful of taking any steps to improve their situations. It is when I explain to clients how they take risks everyday in theirs lives that they become more willing to take the necessary steps to do things differently  to improve their situations. When people start doing things more differently to improve their circumstances, they become more optimistic regardless of the outcome.  They also begin taking about more opportunities that have come up for them as a result of practicing get the courage to change.

Happiness like any other feeling is feedback from the brain that tells you that you are either getting your needs met or in the process of getting your needs met. It is not something that occurs before the event or an action is initiated. For example, it would be equivalent to feeling wet outside on a dry day shortly before rain pours from the sky. We take risks everyday with no guarantees that things would go our way, and happiness is becoming more aware of this phenomenon and being at peace with it.

Ugo is a psychotherapist and life coach.

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