The Power of Perception

The Power of Perception

By: Candiace Parks

Oxford dictionary, defines perception as, the ability to see, hear, or become aware of something through the senses. What we perceive determines how we receive things. We  are influenced by our thoughts, how we treat people, our expressions on our face, as well as the energy we put out. How you see things in the world helps to shape, mold, and determine your perception of it.

The way we perceive things can be themed around how we interpret things. For example, when you see a half of cup of water some might look at the cup and consider it to be half empty, while others will look at it and consider it half full. Each person views the world differently than another. Perception is something that you believe to be true. If a person believes the glass is half empty they look at the world in a more pessimistic way. Whereas a person who looks at the glass as half full has more of an optimistic view on life because they are more aware of different opportunities of a half full glass.

With life you have the freedom of being able to make choices. You can choose to see the goodness in things or you can focus on all the things that might go wrong. The Old Testament Book of Proverbs chapter 17, verse 22: “A cheerful heart is a good medicine, but a downcast spirit dries up the bones.”  Sometimes we miss things because of our level of awareness. If we increase our awareness it helps to increase our accuracy of how we perceive things. If you change your mind you can change your world. Instead of complaining about how the cup is half empty, take another perspective of it because we have the power to change our perception of how we view things.  In Philippians 4:8 it states, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”   Once we change our perspective of something the way we received the half empty glass can be looked at as something much more. Even in our darkest of situations if we simply take the time to breath, think resiliently and change our outlook we could change our outcome. You are the only one who has power over how to perceive things in life.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

ptsd   When most people hear the words “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder” (PTSD) they think of it as a problem connected with the military and the war in the middle east. This is true. However, PTSD can happen to anyone experiencing or witnessing an intense traumatic event. This could be an auto accident, an assault, a rape or any event that is life threatening and intense. PTSD is loosely defined as “an emotional and psychological reaction to trauma, a painful and shocking experience.” After trauma, survivors feel their lives have changed. What was once a safe and secure world may suddenly seem dangerous and unpredictable. PTSD can affect your personal relationships, your social life and your work.

     Symptoms of PTSD include recurring memories or flash backs of the event. Often survivors continually relive the experience in their mind. They cannot control these flashbacks or predict what may trigger them. People with PTSD may have very vivid nightmares reliving the events. Physically, the survivor may have headaches, nausea and chest pains. They may suffer anxiety, depression, jumpiness, unable to relax. They are always on guard against the event recurring. These symptoms often cause the individual to withdraw from people, abuse drugs or alcohol, or have conflicts with people around them.

   For an official diagnosis of PTSD, in accordance with the Diagnostic Manual of Disorders put out by the American Psychological Society, the symptoms must last for more than one month and include flashbacks, numbness plus physical symptoms.

   Recovery takes time and professional guidance. Many people will deny the event even happened or forget major parts of the event. Forgetting the event, is the mind’s attempt to escape from the horror. With the help of a psychiatrist, psychologist, or other mental health specialist the survivor can resolve the problems caused by PTSD. This treatment may include prescription medication, plus individual or group talk therapy. There are several types of talk therapy, these include cognitive behavior therapy, exposure therapy, stress inoculation therapy and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. (EMDR). In exposure therapy, the patient will gradually relive the experience with a counselor in a safe environment in order to face the problem and adjust to it. Stress inoculation therapy  teaches the client methods relieving the stress and coping with the flash backs. EMDR has shown very good results in a relatively short period-of-time. It is an eight-phase treatment involving lateral eye movement while the client holds different aspects of the event in his mind.

   If you or a friend suffers from PTSD it is important that you get professional help.

Additional information can be found at PTSD Alliance, 1-877-507-7873 or www.ptsdalliance.org. Or by calling Door of Hope at (478) 825-0033.

By Roger Green, Intern

Depression, Suicide and Youth

girl    Did you know that suicide is the second leading cause of death among youth 15 to 24? And that 90% of those who died by suicide had an underlying mental illness? For teenagers, growing up is tough. They face strong feeling of stress, confusion, self-doubt and pressures to succeed. The transition from childhood to adulthood is a rough road in the best of circumstances. When there is added pressure to succeed in school or sports, a divorce, a changes of schools, conflict between peer pressure and parents, the pressure can easily overwhelm a teenager.

As a parent or friend of a teenager it is important that you know and recognize the signs of depression and know what to do. It is normal to feel sad or anxious from time to time. Failing a school test, losing the big football game, extra homework, hormonal changes can all can make you feel down or depressed. However, feeling very sad or withdrawn for two or more weeks, is a sign of more serious problems. Additional signs of serious depression include severe mood swings, out of control risk taking behavior, use of drugs or alcohol, talking about harming oneself, drastic changes in behavior, personality or sleeping patterns. Take seriously any talk of a person taking their life or wishing they were dead. The threat of suicide is a serious matter.

If you are a parent and have concerns about your child, it is important that you talk to them and listen to what they have to say without judging. Contact the school counselor to get additional information about school progress and activities. Contact the parents of their friends. In short get all the information you can. If in doubt, contact your family doctor and get a referral for a mental health specialist. If your child doesn’t want to talk to you, suggest they call the crisis hot line. 1(800) 273-8255.

As the friend of a depressed teenager, there is a lot that you can do. First, show your concern. Ask the friend, “Are you Okay? You don’t look happy. Is there something I can do?” Be a good listener. Get others involved. Talk to the school counselor or another authority figure that the friend would trust. You can offer support, “I’m here if you need me.” Check in with them regularly. Avoid such phrases as “It can’t be that bad”, “Pull yourself together”, “Don’t worry, your problems will go away” To the depressed person, it is that bad and if they could pull themselves together they would.

  If attempted suicide seems eminent, call 911. DO NOT leave the individual alone. Stay with them until help arrives.

 Additional information can be obtained on line at https://sfps.org.

By Roger Green

Counseling for Children

Child counseling can be extremely successful if you support your child throughout the counseling process. Family counseling also works wonders if everyone bands together and supports each other through the changes that are being made. Follow these tips to support your child and family in therapy:

1. Be there to listen and offer caring support, without judgment, to your child during the time in child therapy

2. Meet with the child’s counselor to make sure personalities are a match for you and your child.

3. Be open and talk frequently with your child. Make sure discussions are age appropriate; early school aged children need brief, simple discussions or explanations, upper elementary age children may ask more detailed questions and may need help figuring out reality from fiction.

4. Don’t pressure the child to talk to you about what happened in the child counseling session, your child may tell you in his/her own time in his/her own way.

5. Keep the lines of communication open with the child’s counselor and the child. Showing your child that you trust the child’s counselor helps build trust.

6. Try not to rush change. Remember trust is built over time; it’s not any different in child and family counseling. Allow time for your child to learn to trust his/her counselor. If you become intimidated by the child-counselor relationship, bring it up to the counselor (there’s nothing to be embarrassed about).

7. Patience is extremely important throughout the child and family counseling process. Children often don’t know how to express their emotions and fears like an adult would, therefore may have some temporary behavior changes throughout the process.

8. Be a good role model, show the child you are willing to take care of yourself and if you need counseling, seek it.

9. Make time to discuss your child’s worries, fears, and even accomplishments. Be sure to turn off any distractions (phones, TV, video games, etc.) so your child knows how important the time with your child is to you.

10. Most importantly, enjoy favorite activities with your child alone and with the entire family.

If you have any questions, throughout the process, speak up. Your child and family counselor is there to help!

Do I Need Counseling?

Every day millions of people search online for help with their problems, wondering if it’s finally time to reach out for direction and support to handle sadness, depression, anxiety, stress, fights with their partner or spouse, and family issues, among others. Here are some of the questions and mistaken beliefs we encounter as therapists every day.

Can’t I just talk to my friends about my problems?

Talking to a friend about mental health or personal issues may bring you temporary relief, but will make the problem more deep seated in the long run because you become more identified with the issue the longer you complain without intervention. Remember, you get what you pay for, and zero-cost advice is pretty much worth zero!

Nobody can change my situation, so why pay to see a professional about it?

There is a saying that “your world changes when YOU change.”  A professional, licensed therapist is trained in ways to help you respond to your world differently. We have at least two college degrees and extensive supervised training thereafter. There are thinking patterns, usually formed in childhood, of which you are completely unaware. I can show you how you are holding yourself back and perhaps help you find insight and freedom. It’s often a cage of your own making!

I’ve felt this way so long…

If you had a persistent fever, would you just say “oh well” and live with it? Or would you go to a health care specialist who could evaluate, diagnose, and treat it? The average person doesn’t realize how common mood and relationship problems are to the human condition, and that they can be (and are) identified and studied. Whole systems of therapy are developed for common issues, much as drugs are developed for physical ailments.

What will people think?

The people intelligent and mature enough to seek therapy realize that it doesn’t matter what people think! It matters how you live every day of your limited, precious life, and whether you can enjoy that to a higher degree and love more fully. Besides, you would be surprised how many of those “imaginary people” you think are judging you are actually patients themselves.

Is it time for YOU to feel better? It’s time!

Signs of Depression in Adults

signs of depression

PLEASE NOTE: this list is NOT intended to diagnose or treat you. See a licensed mental health provider or medical professional for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Most people get “the blues” sometimes that last a day or two. However, Major Depressive Disorder is a SERIOUS and often FATAL illness that occurs in approximately 6.7 percent of US adults. Medications can be helpful, but come with side effects that many people cannot tolerate. Medications will NOT cure the mistaken belief system causing the depression.

 Without talk therapy to both uncover the root cause of the depression and learn ways to manage it, depression can persist despite medication. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT, can help you uncover the beliefs you carry about life without even knowing it. These beliefs often contribute to depression below your level of awareness. Once uncovered, I can help you face and refute the irrational thoughts and replace them with healthy, logical thoughts.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms on a frequent or daily basis, please contact me for a full professional evaluation:

1. sadness

2. pessimism

3. feeling like a failure

4. loss of pleasure

5. guilty feelings

6. punishment feelings

7. self-dislike

8. self-criticalness

9. suicidal thoughts or a sense of, It would be better if I  weren’t here*

10. crying, or unable to cry anymore

11. feeling agitated

12. no interest

13. hard to decide things

14. feeling worthless

15. no energy

16. sleep issues

17. irritable

18. appetite changes, up or down

19. can't concentrate

20. fatigue

21. no sexual interest

(Adapted from the Beck Depression Inventory)

Taking that step to call me for an appointment is hard, but can be the best decision you ever make.

*IF YOU ARE FEELING SUICIDAL, CALL THE SUICIDE HOTLINE AT 1-800-273-8255 OR 911 IMMEDIATELY!