Untangling adverse effects of trauma
Trauma is a term used to describe the challenging emotional consequences that living through a distressing event or circumstance can have for an individual. Traumatic events can be difficult to define because the same event may be more traumatic for some people than for others. Whether a person experiences ACUTE trauma from a single incident, CHRONIC trauma that is repeated and prolonged over a long period of time or COMPLEX trauma, which is exposure to varied multiple traumatic events, counseling can be a resource to untangling adverse effects on a person’s functioning and physical, social, and emotional well-being.
Encouraging news for overcoming depression
Depression is a common human experience. Most people will at sometime experience depression. The difference between normal depression and major depression is that the symptoms are more severe, last longer and impair a person’s ability to function. There are a number of treatment interventions that can improve the life of a person, struggling with depression. Therapy is a key factor in understanding the source of depression, and making the appropriate changes. Discussing the possibility of anti-depressant medication‘s with the physician, in conjunction with talk therapy, is critical for those with chronic or severe depression.
We all go through ups and downs in our mood. Sadness is a normal reaction to life’s struggles, setbacks, and disappointments. We’re down in the dumps for a short time, then gradually the painful feelings dissipate, and we move on with our lives, often the wiser for the experience. But when the low mood persists, interfering with our ability to work, study, eat, sleep, or if we lose interest in daily activities, and experience feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, it’s no longer normal. It’s depression. The signs and symptoms vary from person to person, and they wax and wane in severity overtime. If you are one of the thousands each year that experience depression, or you have a loved one who does, you know it entails varying degrees of symptoms and complexities.
Certain risk factors make people more vulnerable to depression. Early life experiences, genetic predisposition, lifestyle factors, and certain personality traits all play a part in causing depression. Something that causes depression, in one person may have no effect on another. The good news is there are many forms of treatment that can help a person to cope with depression. Seeking the help of a medical doctor or licensed professional counselor can help navigate through the emotional and physical pain of depression. With that said, it must also be emphasized that suicidal thoughts are symptomatic of severe depression, and must always be taken seriously. If you or someone you know, sees suicide as the only way out, seek professional, help right away. The Georgia Crisis and Access Line is 1-800-715-4225 or call 911, or if you or someone you know is feeling unsafe, please visit the nearest emergency room so that immediate care and attention may be obtained.
Learn to manage crippling anxiety
Anxiety is a normal emotion. Everyone feels anxious now and then. For example, you may worry when faced with a problem at work, before taking a test, making a presentation or before making an important decision. Occasional anxiety is okay. It’s your brains way of reacting to stress and alerting you of potential danger, which is a good thing.
However, for some people anxiety is riddled with excessive worry, or having a sense of dread, or of fearing the worst. Others may feel bad things will happen if they stop worrying. Anxiety makes it difficult to get through the day. Symptoms may include feelings of nervousness, even panic, as well as sweating, difficulty breathing and a rapid heartbeat. Anxiety can make it hard to sleep, or stay still. Excessive anxiety can make a person avoidant of certain triggers like social gatherings, going to work or school, or any other situations that seem like “too much” and overwhelming. With counseling interventions and sometimes medications, many people learn to manage their anxious thoughts and feelings. A trained psychotherapist teaches ways to carefully approach and manage fearful or worrisome situations.
How We Can Help
Do not avoid taking care of yourself. You are responsible for your mental, emotional, spiritual and physical well-being. Utilize your resources and seek treatment interventions that can help you to feel better and to effectively manage your life. Horizon Counseling assists people in working on a number of issues such as:
Abuse and Trauma Resolution
Half of all adults will experience abuse or trauma. When dealing with issues of abuse and/or trauma, appropriate education, support and therapy can help bring resolution and restore healthy functioning.
Anger is a normal and healthy emotion. When it is expressed appropriately, individuals are letting go of the stress and frustration that they are experiencing. However, when anger is expressed inappropriately, it can be a destructive force – both for the person experiencing it, and those subjected to it. It is not uncommon for people to deny that they have feelings of anger, or to simply be aware that they are angry, until it escalates to a rageful explosion. Through the counseling process, insights for understanding and skills for effective coping and management can be learned.
A certain amount of anxiety can be normal and even necessary in life. Normal anxiety keeps us busy, reminds us to pay our bills, and pushes us forward to succeed. But too much anxiety can be problematic, leading to physical symptoms, including chest pain, difficulty breathing, heart, palpitations, dizziness, with accompanying feelings of fear, worry, even panic. It is called a “disorder” when the problem persists for more than a month.
The goal for working with individuals presenting with a medical crisis, is not to affect a cure, but to optimize quality of life by teaching individuals and their families to cope with the emotional and psychological trauma which often accompany the medical crisis.
Codependency and Developing Healthy Boundaries
Psychologists defined codependency as an excessive and unhealthy compulsion to rescue and take care of and control people. Codependents are driven by people pleasing, at the risk of neglecting themselves. They live with the false belief that the bad feelings they have (e.g.Fear, anxiety, inadequacy) can be gotten rid of if they can “just do better” or if they can win the approval of certain important people in their life. It was working with the families of alcoholics and other chemically dependent people that first brought codependency to the attention of professionals.
Communication Training/Conflict Resolution
Whether in personal relationships, or with colleagues at work, effective communication enables a person to skillfully obtain the insight and knowledge they need for healthy and dynamic connections. How to assert yourself is the ability to express your feelings and ask for what you want. Conflict is unavoidable, but can be beneficial with positive outcomes when approached with godly attitudes, and learned methods for resolution.
Coping Skills/Stress Management
Often when a person enters therapy they are feeling overwhelmed by stressors in their life. The crisis presents an opportunity for cognitive-behavioral changes which are beneficial to the person’s overall ability to cope effectively. Counseling provides an opportunity to identify and accurately evaluate stressors and to learn key strategies for effective stress management for healthy living.
Developing and Maintaining Healthy Relationships
People are in need of healthy and satisfying relationships. Sometimes individuals find themselves in relationships that lead them to intense hurt, anger, guilt, and loneliness. Counseling can help you become more objective about your relationships and yourself so that you can experience growth and health in every aspect of your life.
Many people have unhealthy associations with food, and how they see their bodies. Some severe enough to be an eating disorder. No single cause for eating disorders exists. There is no simple answer for why one person develops an eating disorder and another does not. If you are a person who suffers from an eating disorder or someone you love does, the important issue is recovery – how to overcome the compulsion. Through the help of a knowledgeable and trained counselor, healing from the painful effects of dysfunctional behaviors is possible.
Divorce Recovery and Blended Families
Fifty percent of all first marriages, and seventy percent of all second marriages, end in divorce in the United States, leaving a wake of brokenness and painful affects on the family. Counseling can help with the emotional and spiritual aspects of divorce on the family. Grief and loss are at the core of many layers of complexities, to be understood and processed for recovery. Insight can begin to ensure past mistakes are not repeated. Factors are considered for creating healthy families.
Grief and Loss
Loss comes in a variety of forms: loss of health, loss of a job, death of a loved one, death of a relationship, loss of innocence, loss of a home, and the list goes on. Based on contemporary understandings of the nature of personal and interpersonal loss, and the ways people integrate loss and grief into their lives, a counselor can tend to the uniqueness of each griever’s experiences.
Human development occurs over a life span. Whatever stage a person finds themselves in life, change and adapting to new situations or a need to create change, may require the help of a counselor.
Self-Care and Self Esteem
Developing self-esteem is an active process. Self-esteem is composed of such factors as self-worth, self confidence, and self-acceptance. Entering therapy in a safe, non-judgmental environment, where a person can speak freely about their thoughts and feelings, without being self conscious, how others will respond, or feeling the need to protect those close to you, is part of self-care. Counseling allows a person the space, and time to explore their uniqueness and worth.
Spiritual Formation & Direction
There is a hidden place inside a person, filled with limitless freedom, love, peace, and compassion in Christ. How can they discover it? By setting aside time and space to be attentive to God‘s presence, and to one’s experience of that presence. The counselor becomes a sacred companion as he/she journeys, to discover more of themselves, as they discover more of God.
How We Work
Narrative therapy seeks to be a respectful, non-judgmental approach to counseling. It is a powerful method for expressing your thoughts and feelings with a caring and compassionate counselor. The counselor is person centered and sees people as the experts in their own lives, therefore clients are not given advise but is given the opportunity to explore what has meaning for them. Through the narrative process, problems are viewed as separate from people and assumes people have many skills, competencies, beliefs, values, commitments, and abilities that will assist them to reduce the influence of problems in their lives.
Internal reflection is an effective way to explore and understand your emotions, beliefs, values and experiences. A philosopher once said “ An unexamined, life is not worth living”. People of faith often spend time in prayer and meditation on scriptures, inviting peace and guidance to come to them. Journaling yields many benefits to improving mental health. Several studies show that people writing about their deepest thoughts and feelings led to fewer depressive symptoms and did not have as many intrusive thoughts. By putting upheavals into words, a person can acknowledge the event, organize it, and often find some kind of meaning for themselves. Different studies show that gratitude, better sleep, increased memory, and improved physical health are often welcomed byproducts of internal reflection. The mental health benefits, along with expert backed ideas for internal reflection can be very advantageous.
Individuals seeking a deeper understanding of who they are, and gaining greater insight to what has meaning for them, will benefit greatly from the creative process. There are multiple creative possibilities to awaken and release fuller expressions of your authentic self. Studies show significant brain activity and positive psychological responses to drawing, painting, music, theater and movement to name a few. Findings in research provide clear evidence that the hippocampus, which serves as our memory bank also supports our ability to imagine and create. So why would that matter for mental health or healing and recovery from suffering? By engaging in the creative process, individuals can regulate their emotions, reducing anxiety and promoting emotional well-being. The act of creative expression activates the reward pathways in the brain, releasing dopamine and promoting positive emotions. Creative expression provides a distraction, a feeling of control, a sense of accomplishment, pleasure, relaxation, relief from stress, physical pain or illness.
Faith and Spirituality
Faith can play an important role in treatment and healing. Spiritual health may mean something different to each of us. For some spiritual health means connecting with God on a daily basis, through slowing down, tuning in, listening, and paying attention to the small still voice of our hearts. Spiritual health is inextricably connected to mental, emotional, social, and even physical health. When our spirit is healthy, our body is healthier, our brain is healthier. Our relationships are healthier. At the core of every trauma is a spiritual wound. When we focus on our spiritual health, we feel emotionally stronger and we begin to heal. When we are able to find healing we are then able to grow personally and spiritually.
Most spiritual tools and practices are supported by research. Practicing meditation, mindfulness, prayer, and even being in nature, have all been shown to improve health and wellness in the scientific literature.
Somatic psychotherapy is an umbrella term for the therapies that center on the mind-body connection. The term “somatic” means “relating to the body”. The Somatic approach explores how the body expresses deeply painful experiences, applying mind-body healing to aid with anxiety, trauma recovery, depression, among other mental and emotional challenges. A variety of somatic techniques help clients heal from emotional distress by addressing physical sensations and experiences associated with it.
We often think of our minds, bodies, and spirits as separate entities. However, the truth is that they are all interconnected. When one is out of balance it can have a ripple effect on the others.That is why it is important to nurture all three aspects of ourselves. Fortunately, there are many ways to do so. At Horizon Counseling we are sensitive to the uniqueness of each individual and explore ways that are best suited for every person. Our approach is holistic and is not one size fits all.
Compassionate Based Cognitive Therapy
CBCT aims to develop compassionate motivation, sympathy, sensitivity, and distress tolerance through the use of specific training and guided exercises designed to help individuals further develop non-judging, and non-condemning attributes. The Bible teaches us that “as a man thinketh in his heart, so he is”. A key concept in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is how we think, precipitates how we feel, and how we feel dictates how we behave and the decisions we make. If our thoughts or emotions are negative, this chain reaction sets in motion, a sympathetic nervous system response, sending the body into a fight, flight or freeze reaction. Being mindfully present with both mind and body allows the parasympathetic system to engage; lending more cognitive clarity, connection, calm in our lives, and provides more spiritual meaning, and experiences of belonging.
Psychodynamic therapy focuses on unconscious processes as they are manifested in the client’s present behavior. The goals of psychodynamic therapy are client self-awareness and understanding of the influence of the past on present behavior. In its brief form, a psychodynamic approach enables the client to examine unresolved conflicts and symptoms that arise from early childhood and past dysfunctional relationships. These inner conflicts often manifest in negative thought patterns and behaviors that do not serve the client well. Raising the unconscious to a conscious awareness, aids clients in making more congruent choices that are aligned with the clients values, beliefs and current realities, resulting in happier, healthier and more fulfilling lives.
Barbara is a highly gifted therapist. I have been to several counselors since I was a teenager. None have helped me as much as Barbara. She encouraged me to consider my strengths and readiness for growth and healing. I look forward to our sessions because I know she will listen to me and validate my feelings and thoughts.
Counseling has allowed me the time to slow down and to consider the deeper issues that have accumulated over time. I no longer feel overwhelmed when life transitions and relationships get complicated. I have learned coping skills to calm my anxiety and tools to help me navigate challenges when they arise.
My counselor helped me see some of my distorted thinking and false beliefs that did not serve me well. With her help I was able to let go of negative self talk and address my behavioral concerns. I am grateful for her professionalism and wisdom.
Barbara has been a great resource to help me through difficult times in my life. She provides a safe place that is loving and non-judgmental. Her recall of my past events and history make our sessions more valuable. She listens and offers wise counsel without being dictatorial. I highly recommend her and have done so for several of my closest friends.
I am thankful for the years Barbara has been my therapist. Her grace and encouragement were a balm to my hurting soul. She is the best and I am sure will be helping the healing for so many more people
About Barbara Carlin
Barbara Carlin is Owner and Founder of Horizon Counseling & Consulting, LLC, located in Atlanta, Georgia. As a Licensed Professional Counselor and National Board Certified Counselor, she takes satisfaction in working with individuals, groups and conducting workshops. She often is invited to speak on a multitude of topics related to mental health and personal well-being.