Counsel For Hope

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This blog answers some of the common questions that are searched online about therapy and how symptoms  show up in everyday life that can be helped using a holistic approach to healing.

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What is Faith Based Counseling?

Posted on 31 July, 2020 at 6:50

Tending to one’s spiritual health is often connected to an individual’s overall picture of self-care. However, not everyone who pursues mental health care identifies as religious, spiritual or belonging to a certain faith. If you are seeking mental health care from professional who offers faith-based counseling, but you’re not sure if this approach is right for you, start by considering the following talking points.

 

My counselor and I have different religious beliefs. Will that be a problem?

 

Faith-based counseling provides scientific, professionally accredited counseling techniques from a professional who either shares, or understands without judgement, the beliefs of their client. In an ideal setting, both the therapist and the client can relate to one another in multiple aspects—not just when it comes to faith and religion; however, it is not a requirement that they both identify with a particular faith.

 

If your counselor holds certain beliefs that make you uncomfortable or make you feel like the relationship will not be as open and communicative because of a difference in faith, it may be best for you to work with someone who aligns more with your beliefs. That being said, most professional counselors build their careers by working with a diverse client base made up of individuals from all walks of life and all beliefs. A good counselor should strive to create a comfortable and inclusive environment for therapy and healing. Their primary goal should be your individualized care, and helping you find the best path toward living your best life.

 

Why should I consider faith-based counseling?

 

If you are open to it, faith-based counseling can provide an extra layer of therapeutic value to your counseling sessions. At no time should a particular religion or spiritual belief be forced on you; however, with your permission, during your sessions your counselor may utilize certain principles, practices and examples that are rooted in a particular faith. For example, if you identify as a Christian and are seeing a Christian faith-based counselor, your counselor may refer to examples from the Bible that relate to your current situation or they may suggest Christian-based reading material as a resource.

 

Seventy-two percent of Americans in 2018 said that religion was important in their lives, with 51 percent saying it is “very important.”1 Since religion can be such a tremendously valuable component of so many people’s everyday lives, and can even shape a person’s identity, it stands to reason that mental health care professionals often take their clients’ beliefs into consideration. It would be doing a disservice to a client to ignore their religious or spiritual beliefs during therapy, perhaps even resulting in a delay in their healing. One study found that when clients feels like their faith is acknowledged, they may be more willing to express their needs and they may feel more comfortable being open and honest with their therapist. This can help counselors apply evidence-based techniques that are likely to be more effective.2

 

Counsel for Hope’s Approach

 

At Counsel for Hope, we take a holistic approach to mental healthcare, acknowledging the clients’ needs from a biological, psychological, relational and spiritual perspective. Our counselors utilize current and relevant information from psychology, and with permission, integrate it with the wisdom and guidance of God’s word as written in the Bible. You can learn more about our approach by visiting our homepage or contacting us by phone: (704) 201-9063, or email: [email protected].

 

Sources:

1. Gallup Poll - https://news.gallup.com/poll/245651/religion-considered-important-americans.aspx" target="_blank">link here.

2. Koenig HG. Religious versus Conventional Psychotherapy for Major Depression in Patients with Chronic Medical Illness: Rationale, Methods, and Preliminary Results. Depress Res Treat. 2012;2012:460419. doi:10.1155/2012/460419

 

Guilt vs Shame

Posted on 27 July, 2020 at 6:25


 

Is there such a thing as healthy shame? Toxic shame? Today’s leading psychology experts say shame is shame—and it’s all toxic.

 

While buzzwords like “healthy shame” or “toxic shame” seem to flood popular mental health blogs, a growing community of concerned psychologists are starting to point out a clear distinction—there is no such thing as healthy shame. A better word to use, they say, when talking about so-called healthy shame, is guilt. For most people, guilt is closely related to remorse, the feeling of regret you get after doing something wrong.

 

Guilt and remorse are natural emotions we face when we’ve done something that goes against our own morals or those of the people we care about. These emotions can also occur when we simply anticipate criticism or fear losing a connection to our family, spouse, friend or peer group. Guilt and remorse are not necessarily harmful. Shame, however, can be very damaging to our emotional, spiritual and psychological health.

 

How does guilt and remorse differ from shame?

 

 

 

The Positive Side of Guilt

 

As human beings, we are naturally inclined to seek acceptance, safety and love from the people close to us. Spiritual or religious people may also try to live according to certain values and behaviors that are essential to their belief system. When we make a mistake, or when we intentionally behave in contrast to the accepted social rules, we may feel remorse. Or we may feel shame. Guilt doesn’t feel good, but shame is a much deeper pain. Shame is more personal. Where guilt says, “I did something bad,” shame says, “I am bad.”

 

Since guilt and remorse feel unpleasant, these emotions can often serve as a deterrent to continue the harmful behavior. Likewise, these feelings can inspire us to fix a problem caused by our mistake. This can be very empowering. Being able to say, “yes, I did something wrong and I regret it, but now I know better” can actually strengthen our sense of self. It can also help us extend grace to others who make mistakes.

 

By contrast, shame can leave us feeling like we are broken, flawed and unworthy as human beings. Here’s what shame researcher Brené Brown has to say:

 

“I don’t believe shame is helpful or productive. In fact, I think shame is much more likely to be the source of destructive, hurtful behavior than the solution or cure. I think the fear of disconnection can make us dangerous.”

 

 

Guilt and Remorse

 

Guilt is an emotional signal that tells us when we may have crossed a boundary, if we have hurt or endangered someone, or that we may not be living in accordance with the rules of our social groups. When we feel guilty, we often also feel remorse. Guilt is the feeling that you have done something wrong. Remorse is feeling sorry that you did. Like fear or anger, guilt and remorse are emotions that may make us uncomfortable, but they can serve a purpose to aid in our survival.

 

People who have trouble feeling empathy, such as individuals with narcissistic personality disorder, pathological liars, or sociopaths, do not feel guilt or remorse. How can this be? How can someone never feel remorse? Is there something wrong with their brain? Are they simply a cold-hearted person? Not necessarily.

 

There are multiple theories on why some individuals do not feel remorse. Most experts believe that lack of remorse or empathy is likely the result of a person being subjected to consistent toxic shame in childhood.

 

 

Lack of Emotion as a Survival Strategy

 

Guilt can serve as a way for human beings to enforce appropriate boundaries within social groups; however, some people are able to survive within society without feeling any guilt or remorse at all. Of course, ‘surviving’ does not necessarily mean living in a healthy manner. For individuals who live without guilt or remorse, surviving may mean suppressing extreme pain to the point where they no longer associate with their own emotions. These individuals may be emotionally distant at best, and manipulative or abusive at worst.

 

So how does this happen? What causes a person to lose their sense of guilt? The answer is usually found in the person’s childhood and it usually involves shame.

 

 

The Effects of Shame

 

Someone who is subjected to consistent shame as a child may learn to emotionally distance themselves from the pain as a survival strategy. For example, a parent who practices setting healthy boundaries might say, “you did a bad thing,” whereas a parent who uses shaming says, “you are bad.” This not only causes deep emotional pain for the child in that moment, it also creates a lasting trauma that can affect the individual’s entire sense of self.

 

As the child grows older, they may become more skilled at disassociating with their own painful emotions; however, they may also become aware of the importance of social acceptance. Eventually, they learn to mimic appropriate social behavior in order to be accepted, but continue to disassociate with their own emotions, as well as the emotions of other people.

 

As the person reaches adulthood, this carefully guarded, and artificially crafted version of the self begins to feel more natural. Meanwhile, the vulnerable, authentic self is further suppressed. This whole process enables the individual to survive in society but frees them from having to face unpleasant emotions when they hurt someone. It also frees them from having to relive painful memories of their own toxic shame.

 

Shame isn’t just harmful to children. People of any age can be emotionally damaged by shame. If a person is exposed to shame long enough, it can have a harmful effect on their sense of worth and sense of self, regardless of how old they are.

 

 

Getting Help

 

There is no shame in seeking help. If you have been the victim of shaming, or if you have recognized a pattern of toxic shame in your own behavior, getting professional help can drastically improve your life and relationships.

 

At Counsel for Hope we are here to help you address these issues and more. Please don’t hesitate to reach out for more information: (704) 201-9063



 

Signs of Codependency

Posted on 10 April, 2020 at 9:45

Building healthy relationships is a cornerstone for our overall mental, social and spiritual wellbeing. Unfortunately, this can be very difficult for people who live with codependency. Codependent behavior can be destructive in a variety of ways, but with the proper guidance and professional care, it can be overcome. If you’re concerned that you or someone you care about is struggling with codependency, consider the following warning signs and contact a mental health care professional for help.

 

Codependency Warning Signs

 

Codependency is a behavioral and emotional condition that can negatively affect a person’s ability to have a healthy, functional relationship. While the following is not a fully comprehensive list of characteristics, most codependent people will exhibit at least a few of these traits.

 

Extreme need for approval or validation

 

It’s normal to enjoy pleasing people we care about. However, this natural desire to strengthen social bonds becomes unhealthy and codependent when an individual places too much importance on receiving approval, whether it is from their parents, spouse, significant other, or peers. Codependent personalities tend to become hurt when they feel like their efforts are not recognized, applauded or rewarded. They may also feel the need to go “above and beyond” in order to win love and/or approval. In essence, codependents gauge their self-worth through the eyes of others.

 

If you feel a strong link between your self-worth and the approval or accolades of others, your feelings may come from codependency.

 

Tendency to confuse love with pity

 

Codependent individuals may feel an obligation to care for a person, not because of true feelings of love, but out of fear that without this care, the other person may suffer. A person who is codependent may unintentionally be drawn to people who have a perceived “weakness” or unhealthy trait, giving the codependent person a feeling of being needed.

 

If you feel the need to maintain a relationship because you’re afraid the other person needs your love to survive, or you feel an intense responsibility for the actions and behavior of others, you may be dealing with codependency.

 

Doing anything to save a relationship

 

People struggling with codependency often feel the need to do whatever it takes to stay connected to another person, even if the relationship is toxic. This often stems from a fear of abandonment, discomfort with being alone or an exaggerated sense of guilt for taking care of their own needs. Codependents often feel lost or lonely when they are not in a relationship, which further drives their need to save whatever relationship they are in currently.

 

If you’re finding yourself constantly thinking that you have to “make it work,” or you’ve realized you’re sacrificing a lot of your own needs and boundaries in order to fix a relationship, you may be dealing with codependency.

 

Inability to trust oneself

 

People with codependency issues often feel as though they can’t trust their own judgement and need frequent input from others to feel safe enough to make a decision. Sometimes codependent people may even feel as though they cannot trust their own emotions, especially if they have been through traumatic relationships in the past.

 

If you constantly need advice from others before making a decision, or are afraid to trust your own instincts, you may be suffering from codependency.

 

Learn More About Codependency

 

Remember, not everyone who experiences these traits is necessarily codependent. And not all codependents will experience every one of these characteristics. If you think you might be suffering from this condition, seek the guidance of a qualified mental health professional.

 

At Counsel for Hope, we specialize in treating a wide range of mental health issues, including codependency. Please reach out to us for more information or to set up an appointment.

 


Biological and Trauma Reasoning

Posted on 20 December, 2019 at 13:25

After doing some research and meeting with several of my clients I have come up with the two main reasons for addiction:

The first is Biological: People obsess and complete the compulsion to try to feel normal because our brain chemistry is out of balance and needs the necessary chemicals to balance out the brain. People will try food, gambling, drugs, shopping, sex, alcohol, or doctor prescribed medications to balance the brain to feel normal.

The second reason why people use is Trauma related: People use to mood alter, to escape, to take oneself out of reality of the past or current traumas or circumstances, so they don't feel the enormous pain of the reality of abandonment and/or abuse.

 

Gaslighting

Posted on 25 January, 2019 at 11:10

Gaslighting is a techique to brainwash victims and it is a strategy that is conducted by highly manipulative or partially sociopathic narcissists who walk among us in society undetected. Like child abusers, people that gaslight can easily itentify their prey, who are vulnerable to believing their lies. Gaslighting happens when the abuser systematically manipulates the environment so the victim experiences cognitive distress over a situation that is a dilemma that either was only mildly problematic or never even was present. The victim feels helpless when an idea is implanted for them to believe this terrible issue is hopeless and they turn to the abuser for protection. Because the victim is brainwashed to think the fabricated problem is real, they start to show symptoms of it, which can include, paranoia, insecurity, and acting as if the gaslighter's projection is true. The results create feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, which isolated the victim from anyone who could unmask the sociopathic gaslighter.

Adults abused as Children

Posted on 27 January, 2018 at 11:50

Abuse of any kind strikes at the heart of one's being and usually leaves a person wounded for many years, exhibiting a lack of trust, avoidance of feelings, low self-esteem, a sense of helplessness, and difficulty in relationships. Abuse can occur as sexual, physical, emotional or psychological including verbal abuse, and also emotional neglect. WIth child abuse, traumatization affects children during the critical years when they are learning about themselves, the world and developing coping skills. Neglect and abuse can lead to attachment difficulties later in life for adults. Since most child abuse happens with relationships, it is not uncommon for abused children to fear, distrust or expereince abbivalence about interpersonal closeness. They may either 1) avoid interpersonal closeness altogether or 2) accept some level of aggression in intimate relationship as the norm. This can lead to codependency. A key point is that therapy is not a cure for a sickness called child abuse it is about better coping mechanisms and better survival tension reducing behaviors.

C-PTSD Treatment Options

Posted on 4 March, 2017 at 15:00

Options a person has that is coping with C-PTSD are:

The removal of the source of the trauma, educate yourself about what has happened, acceptance that the trauma is real, important, and undeserved. A person needs to accept that the trauma came from something that could not be avoided and was stronger that the victim, and that past traumas primed the victim to decisions that brought additional undeserved trauma.  Recovery by the victim requires time and effort, and an understanding of what can be controlled and what cannot be controlled in their environment. It is important that the victim identifies and mourns the losses they have experienced. It is necessary for the victim to have a supportive environment that a allows them to discover that they are not alone. They need validation through their struggles. Therapy requires personal trauma therapy to explore past and recent traumas to free the victim from the emotional burdens and their power, and medication monitoring and management.


C-PTSD

Posted on 27 February, 2017 at 13:25

People that have C-PTSD may feel out of balance and can experience emotional breakdowns or burst into tears instantly. They can feel unloved or no matter what they accomplish is will never be enough for others. C-PTSD makes a person want to get away from others and be by themselves, so that others will not witness what may come next. They avoid forming close friendships to avoid additional losses should another catastrophe hit again. A person struggling with C-PTSD feel the other shoe is about to drop and they will not be able to handle a minor task. Their mind becomes overly taxed on the circumstances, ruminating, that they cannot be successful at home, school, work, or in the community.

Characteristics of C-PTSD include rage that is turned inward: Depression, Addictions, Truancy, Dropping Out, Promiscuity, Co-Dependency, and trying to please anybody to address the attachment wound from their childhood. Rage can then turn outward where a person can steal, destroy property, violence, or wanting to control everything and everyone around them. Some other behaviors include learned hyper vigilance, skewed perceptions about others, seek positions of power or control, focusing on ventures where there are extreme risk, or wanting to become a fixer to make others feel better.

Some of the common behaviors of a person experiencing C-PTSD include: avoidance, blaming, catastrophizing, control me syndrome, denial, dependency, depression, escape to fantasy, fear of abandonment, hyper vigilance, identity disturbance, learn helplessness, low self-esteem, panic attacks, perfectionism, selective memory and selective amnesia, self-loathing, and tunnel vision.


Complex Post Traumatic Stress

Posted on 19 February, 2017 at 14:55

This is a disorder that is caused by prolonged exposure to social or interpersonal trauma, disempowerment, captivity, or entrapment, with lack or loss of a viable escape route for the victim. Examples of situations include domestic emotional, physical or sexual abuse, childhood emotional, physical or sexual abuse, entrapment or kidnapping, slavery or enforced labor, long term imprisonment and torture, repeated violation of personal boundaries, long term objectification, exposure to gaslighting, long term exposure to inconsistent alternating raging, and hovering, long term taking care of mentally ill or chronically ill family members, long term exposure to crisis situations.

When a person experiences a feeling of no control there is a carried emotion after the situation has been removed. This is due to the continual feel of how bad things can possibly get to, it could happen again, and there is a potential it could be worse if it happens again. There is a typical suppression of traumatic events because they feel they can handle the circumstances or they feel there is no way out. This emotional baggage is like a volcano, though, and it just requires being pushed over the edge, or a safer emotional environment emerges and the volcano will erupt. C-PTSD is different from PTSD because C-PTSD does not have to be based a single event or even a recent event. It is based on the stress of having little chance of escaping. For example, a child witnessing a death of a friend could invoke PTSD, but a child that grows up in an abusive home may experience C-PTSD.

 

Mirroring

Posted on 13 February, 2017 at 13:15

Mirroring is a technique used by manipulators to get close quickly. What happens is that the manipulator gathers information about the target either during the discussion, but usually prior to the discussion. Then in their discussion or manipulator's presentation the manipulator mentions familiar information that only the target would know to let the target identify with the manipulator quickly so the target thinks the manipulator gets her/him and they have something in common. Usually after this the target is groomed further through love bombing to further make the target feel like they have met the one person or group that gets him. Then the devaluing and discarding phases happen.


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