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Therapy

How Group Therapy Empowers Teens

Individual talk therapy is when a patient and their therapist can discuss and overcome unwanted and negative thoughts and behaviors through self-reflection and insight-oriented work. Talk therapy is complicated and challenging, and it nearly always requires a willing and cooperative patient. To that end, it can be challenging to apply individual talk therapy to teens without a thoroughly established relationship and plenty of rapport, as many teens tend to favor a contrarian attitude and are unlikely to be cooperative.

Helping a teen in a one-on-one setting requires a specialized and experienced therapy that knows how a teen’s mind operates and responds and can best relate to them. When a therapist can finally get on the same page as their teen patient, the progress they can make together can be incredible. But often, finding an alternative approach is productive in the early stages of treatment. This is where group therapy becomes a powerful tool when treating adolescents for multiple essential reasons.

Offers Peer Support and Encouragement, Helps Teens Feel Less Alone or Isolated

The first thing group therapy teaches a teen is that they’re not alone with their thoughts and struggles. Teens are inexperienced and naturally self-centered (this is not a bad thing). They are preoccupied with the rapid and complicated changes they are experiencing on a nigh-daily basis. When they realize that they are “different,” one of the significant issues they face is the crippling isolation experienced by feeling cut off from their peers due to their condition and the treatment process. It is fun to be unique, but it is lonely and terrifying to be “weird.”

Group therapy can help teens realize that they’re not alone at all and that while there might not be too many people out there who can completely relate to their experiences, there are still enough people out there to fill a room and talk about it. It also helps them remember that struggling with a mental health disorder does not make someone less of a person or somehow alien. People are people, and even with a variety of different problems, there is always some way in which different people can relate to one another and make each other feel a little more “normal.”

Addresses Unique Teen-Specific Substance Use and Mental Health Issues

Teens aren’t just self-centered; they’re also famously and painfully self-aware. With that comes a great deal of social anxiety, particularly among teens who feel shy and nervous around strangers and struggle with serious communication issues. These issues and fears are easily masked in a one-on-one session. Still, for teens with social anxiety and communication problems, group therapy becomes a safe space to practice critical social skills and overcome many fears amplified by inexperience or victimization.

Often, teens resort to absorbing other identities into themselves to figure out who they are. It is part of the process of becoming an adult and might involve suddenly gaining ultimately new friends, looks, and interests overnight. However, there are cases when this kind of behavior is maybe contributing to an inner conflict stemming from guilt or shame over one’s immutable characteristics or flaws.

Teen insecurity is nothing new. It’s a natural part of being in that “awkward” stage, but learning to overcome them – not by transforming into someone else, but by developing the self-confidence to be oneself – is an essential part of growing up. A safe and healthy group therapy environment can help empower teens to identify with what makes them unique and stand out, rather than seeking solely to blend in with others or adapt to whatever is most popular.

Provides a Platform for Peer-to-Peer Connections and Discussions

A group therapy setting is not just a place to listen to others talk, but it is also a place to be heard. It can feel validating and empowering to finally sit among other teens who are capable of reacting empathically and with understanding, who have likely gone through similar experiences or, in the very least, know what it can feel like to be alone or ostracized because of specific symptoms or behaviors. Being heard is something we all yearn for, whether we are children, adolescents, or adults.

And the best way to feel like you truly belong somewhere is to tell your story and feel like it resonates with those around you. Getting the chance to talk about one’s anxieties and struggles can also help confirm to the speaker that these are real issues they need to address, and not just quirks or things to be belittled for. Teens can begin to contextualize and even better understand their thoughts and behaviors and compare their experiences to those around them and gain insight into how others have dealt with their problems.

Offers a Safe, Structured Place for Teens to Experience Positive Social Interactions

Consequently, group therapy also becomes a place where positive experiences and learning experiences are shared and discussed, and it becomes a place where those teens who have had more experience with therapy can help guide others through the early stages of the treatment process and become part of their path towards understanding their condition. These relationships go both ways – while newcomers feel welcomed and understood, those who have had more time in therapy can reap the benefits of helping others through their own experiences.

Helps Teens Develop Social Skills and Effective Coping Tools

Through group therapy sessions, teens are encouraged to practice their social skills, engage with their peers empathically, learn to reflect on their own experiences by way of reviewing or recontextualizing what happened to others, and gain a chance to help one another by giving advice, sharing stories, and being there for each other.

Group therapy becomes a place where teens with various issues learn to identify similarities and work out their differences, making a lot of progress in developing stronger self-esteem, a more concrete identity, communication skills, and relationship skills.

The Bottom Line

Group therapy may be ideal for teens because it’s a setting where they can interact with and help their peers, work on their social skills, and develop a stronger sense of self amid a group. These improvements and skills can carry over into individual therapy and day-to-day life outside of treatment. Through other people’s experiences and stories, teens can also better understand their thoughts and behaviors. It is still hard work – all therapy is – but it may help many teens in ways unique to adolescence.

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Mental Health Personality Disorder Recovery Therapy Treatment

Do I Have Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

We’ve all done it: called the arrogant, self-righteous, unsympathetic person we know a

Narcissus (oil on canvas) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“narcissist” and we may have even felt pretty confident that they are most certainly suffering from a Narcissistic Personality Disorder.  It’s a buzzword for the selfish and self-indulgent people we have difficulty with. We may even be right on occasion. I know I have, much to my chagrin. We never really want our laymen’s assessment to be true, do we?

 

While it’s true that someone can have narcissistic tendencies, to receive a diagnosis for Narcissistic Personality Disorder, you have to meet some significant traits and they have to have been present for some time. Because of this, adolescents aren’t typically diagnosed with this particular personality disorder because their brains are changing so rapidly. However, if an adolescent presents with the traits of Narcissistic Personality Disorder, they have to be actively present for at least a year.  I do think it’s important to remember that Narcissistic Personality Disorder is diagnosed as a result of it being a long-standing, enduring behavior.

 

It’s not common for someone with any personality disorder to seek help. Often times, one ends up in treatment or in a therapist’s office for something else and it’s determined then. Rather than trying to diagnose someone who is innately selfish, ensure that you have firm boundaries and limits around this difficult person.

 

I asked Noelle Rodriguez to give me some clinical insight on Narcissistic Personality Disorder:

 

“A narcissist is only interested in what reflects on them. All she/he experiences is a reflection of self, denial of profound feelings and grandiose fantasy as a shield from unworthiness caused by not feeling truly loved by their parent. A narcissist attacks separateness in everyone with whom he must have a relationship; either they fit into his ego-supporting mold or they are excluded from his life.

Narcissistic rage and aggression is based on fear. His entitlement and absolute control over others must go unchallenged.”

Noelle went on to expand on part of the child’s development that may contribute to Narcissistic Personality Disorder and where parental neglect or denial is a factor, “The child’s natural growth sets off a parental alarm: he or she is blamed for their emerging individuality as if it were a crime. He is made to feel that there is something wrong with such development.”

 

According the DSM-V, Narcissistic Personality Disorder is described thusly:

 

  • A pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:
  • Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements).
  • Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love.
  • Believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions).
  • Requires excessive admiration.
  • Has a sense of entitlement (i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations).
  • Is interpersonally exploitative (i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends).
  • Lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others.
  • Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her.
  • Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes.”

For more information about personality disorders, please speak to a therapist, or medical professional skilled in working within this genre of mental illness.

 

 

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Bipolar Disorder Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) Mental Health Recovery Therapy Treatment

A Brief Overview of DBT – Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

In this brief overview of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), we are illustrating the efficacy of  DBT for the treatment of patients with suicidal behavior, bipolar disorder, and borderline personality disorder. DBT has been shown to reduce severe dysfunctional behaviors in clients. DBT uses validation has a tool to the client accept unpleasant thoughts and feelings rather than react to them in a dysfunctional way.  Simply put, dialectical means that two ideas can be true at the same time. Validation is the action of telling someone that what they see, feel, think or experience is real, logical and understandable. It’s important to remember that validation is non-judgmental and doesn’t mean you agree or even approve of the behavior you are validating.

 

Over the last year, Visions has effectively trained the staff to be DBT informed. We hold regular DBT skills groups at our residential and outpatient facilities. We have adopted and incorporated DBT skills into our day-to-day interactions with clients and are finding it to be incredibly beneficial.

 

I took some time to speak to Jesse Engdahl, MA, RRW, about his observations and experience with running the DBT skills group. He said, “We are happily surprised that it’s (DBT) become a community within a community. It’s set itself apart through the kids’ commitment to not only use the skills but in their support of each other. There is a high level of trust. We have kids coming into IOP who’ve felt marginalized and who hadn’t felt a broader amount of support, but find their place in DBT.”

 

The emphasis on validation in DBT is profound. Someone suffering from borderline personality disorder often has a movie playing in their heads and when the validity of that “movie” is denied, it can create a waterfall of dysregulation which can include anxiety, depression, anger, and fear. Taking a counter-intuitive stance and validating one’s reality is has been shown to be particularly efficacious. It deescalates the anxiety, and it teaches the client to self-regulate.

 

Joseph Rogers, MDiv-Candidate and DBT skills group facilitator and mindfulness teacher succinctly illustrates the value of our DBT groups, “Our DBT skills group gives our clients the confidence that they have the ability to meet their difficulties with skills that can be found within themselves and their capabilities.  By utilizing daily skills diary cards and reporting on their results, clients are able to see where they are being effective and can acknowledge the positive outcomes they are responsible for through their actions.  DBT has the ability to move clients out of their diagnosis toward a confidence in their personhood.”

 

Categories
Adolescence Communication Mental Health Parenting Recovery Therapy Trauma

Healthy Boundaries Make for Healthy Teens

© sarit z rogers

What steps can you take to ensure that you aren’t in violation of someone’s boundaries? For example, not everyone enjoys being hugged, nor is it always appropriate to express that level of touch. From the perspective of a teacher or a therapist, one must understand the innate power differential that exists between teacher and student or therapist and client. One is looking to the other for advice and pedagogic elucidation, and one is holding the power to elicit such information. We therefore need to be thoughtful in our approach to employing touch in these situations.

 

In a therapeutic environment such as Visions, we address more than substance abuse and mental illness; we are facilitating the excavation of trauma and creating safe boundaries. It’s important to maintain awareness around our own sense of boundaries and how execute them. Asking ourselves these questions and contemplating the answers through talking to our peers and writing them out will help you discern where you may need some work, and where you are strongest:

 

  1. What does it mean to set boundaries?
  2. Is it hard to say “no”? If so, what does saying “no” feel like?
  3. How do I feel when my boundaries are crossed?
  4. What is my reaction internally and externally?
  5. Am I afraid to set boundaries? Why?
  6. What is my history around setting boundaries?

 

As clinicians and teachers, it’s imperative that we know and understand where our weak spots are so we can work on them. For some people, it’s not uncommon to wait until someone pushes us to our edge before we set a limit. The desire to please others or to be liked plays a part here, and our own backgrounds and upbringing will also effect how we interact with others. Perhaps we come from a family where hugging and touch is part of the norm. It may be natural for us to reach out and hug someone when they are suffering, but it’s not always appropriate.

 

Hugging a client may be a violation of a boundary, but if the client has been traumatized in some way, they may not know how to set that boundary. Likewise, if a client persistently tries to hug you, you have to maintain a firm boundary so they learn to understand what is and what is not appropriate. I was volunteering at my son’s school recently, and a kid came up and hugged me, not wanting to let go. It was a child I don’t know and it was a clear violation of my boundaries and the school’s rules. I gently moved away and held a boundary with this child until he moved on. Teens look to us as examples to learn from and to emulate. If we don’t show strong, safe boundaries, they won’t be able to either. Understand that the boundaries we create encourage freedom to be who you are while creating a safe container for healing and recovery.

Respecting boundaries applies to parents too. If the family dynamic has been compromised, parents have to work to rebuild a healthy and safe family structure. Creating solid boundaries is key in that process. Adolescents love to push buttons and stretch boundaries; they are smack dab in the center of their individuation process. That doesn’t mean you, the parent, have to give in. Remember: “No” is a complete sentence, and when it’s said with certainty and conviction, it makes all the difference. A wishy-washy, non-committal “no” may as well be a “maybe” or a “yes.” Poor limits leave room for negotiation where there shouldn’t be.

We all have a part to play in creating safe limits whether we are parents, teachers, or clinicians. Kids, in their infinite wisdom and testing behaviors, demand strong limits, whether they admit it or not. Boundaries create safety. They provide defined parameters in which to develop and grow. So as much as a teen may push, inside, they really do respect a firm “No” and a defined environment.

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Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) Mental Health Recovery Therapy Trauma

Redefining Your Emotional Landscape With DBT

mindfulness 1.0 (Photo credit: Mrs Janet R)

The ideology behind therapeutic tools like DBT is to facilitate and encourage an emotional and psychological paradigm shift towards a more sustainable relationship to one’s mental health challenges. The foundational tenant of DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy) is mindfulness training. By using core mindfulness skills, one becomes personally active in redefining their relationship to their suffering.  Using these tools, one can learn to be non-reactive to their discomfort while staying emotionally present.  In a nutshell, they are taking what is a learned response to stress and dismantling it. DBT teaches you how to put it back together in a healthier, more sustainable and manageable way.

 

Are we programmed to fix things? Is being present with “what is” simply too much? For many, the answer to these questions is a wholehearted “Yes!” We come to recovery in deep suffering, and often times, this suffering is precluded by failed attempts at “fixing” what was “wrong” with us. Substance abuse, sex, shopping, self-harming, video games, the Internet, and gambling are used as ways to mollify our pain; these things are temporary and eventually, they cease to work. What we are left with are the frayed shadows of unaddressed traumas, hurt, loss, shame, sadness, depression, anxiety, et cetera.

 

Redefining the way we approach our difficulties takes patience. It takes effort. It takes acceptance. It requires us to sit with our discomfort without trying to fix it or change it in any way. Imagine someone clutching something with all of their might, because letting go would be unfathomable. But their grip is so tight, what they are holding onto is crushed, creating sheer devastation and heartbreak. What if we look at our difficulties the same way: if we hold onto them so tightly, we create heartbreak and devastation. Instead, we can hold them gently, giving those same difficulties room to breathe and change.

 

There is no magic bullet. There is work to be done, and it takes effort and patience and support. With tremendous tools like DBT elicited by skilled clinicians, it’s clear the temperature of mental health recovery is changing; it’s more inclusive and collaborative.

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Mental Health Recovery Therapy Treatment

Mental Health Care: The Only Way Out is Through

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mental health is not something to be meddled with. It’s not something that can be fixed by prayer or meditation or going to yoga or by thinking positively. It requires legitimate clinically supported psychological care.  For some that may require a long-term in-patient program, for some, that may require an intensive outpatient program, and for some that may require weekly meetings with a therapist. The spiritual practices of prayer, meditation and yoga can and ought to be integrated into any therapeutic work but they are not the end all be all.

 

Stepping onto the path of recovery is about change. It’s about shifting one’s perspective and learning how to redefine and shift old paradigms so we can create new ones. We must first begin with our old thought patterns and old ideals, which are heavily ingrained in us. The older we are, the deeper the planting, and often the more difficult the change, though not impossible.

 

It is imperative that we seek help for our mental health needs when we need it. If we are confronted with clinical depression, anxiety, OCD, panic disorders, or PTSD, this is where a skilled psychologist or therapist or possibly a psychiatrist should come in.  Bypassing it is dangerous and causes us more harm than it does good. Often times, we seek that magic bullet that will make everything just go away, but it doesn’t. We have to walk through it, or stumble through it, whatever the case may be.

 

I am reminded of my newcomer years: I was a mess. And when I say mess, I mean, a real mess. I was angry, resistant, but I was full of fire. I was ultimately convinced that I was going to be killed by my feelings (clearly, that didn’t happen!), and I would wax poetic dramatically that it was so.  If it weren’t for people pulling me out of myself and into reality, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Part of that process was also learning to walk through my issues not around them, because wherever I went, they were right there with me, like a trusted companion, ready and willing to make my life miserable.

 

You don’t have to do this alone. In fact, you can’t. There is a network of mental health care that avails you and a network of support groups at the ready. One step at a time, one breath at time, one minute at time, recovery is possible. Mental health care is possible but one thing is for sure, the only way out is through.

 

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Mental Health Recovery Therapy Trauma Treatment

Boston Marathon: Emotional Care During Tragedy

Boston Marathon Finish Line.1910. Author: Unknown. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We are once again faced with the darkness of another tragedy: the bombing at the Boston Marathon. Events like this inevitably bring up our past traumas, leading to feelings of deep sadness, and often confronted by some of our unfettered grief. There is also a huge sense of confusion when we are faced with the unanswerable question of “Why?”

 

As parents, it is important to be transparent and honest with our kids in times like this. This does not mean sharing gruesome photographs of the event with them or feeding them gory details. Talking to our kids and allowing them to have a voice in a traumatic time is important. When the bombing at the Boston Marathon happened, we sat down with our son and talked to him about it. We wanted to make sure he heard it from us and not from the rumor mill of middle school, where hyperbole and fear mongering are the norm. He felt shock, confusion, and sadness. For parents, it was and continues to be our responsibility to honor the feelings of our kids and provide a safe container for them to express themselves. The world can be a scary place, especially with the effects of random acts of violence. Our son had many questions about what happened in Boston, many of which mirrored the questions of so many—kids and adults alike: “Am I safe?” “Why is there so much violence?” “Why would someone do that?” “Should I be worried?” “Will it happen here?” It’s important that his questions are answered and that he is allowed to process what he’s heard, lest we create another environment of trauma.

 

The tragedy those in Boston are confronted with never should have happened; but it did. It is real and it is heinous. Those directly affected by the devastation at the Boston Marathon will have deep trauma and grief to process and they will need support. When I see and hear of things this atrocious, I am reminded of a few things we can and should do in times like this:

  • lean into our circles of support,
  • be of service,
  • remember and honor those thrust into sudden loss and tragedy of senseless acts of violence.
  • Look at the positive: the people helping, the survivors, the community that reaches out to strangers.

 

In his book Trauma-Proofing Your Kids Dr. Peter Levine talks about the ways Somatic Experiencing is used in a crisis. Somatic Experiencing is focused on “symptom relief and in resolving the underlying ‘energy’ that feeds those symptoms.” (p.214)  Instead of asking kids to “tell the story” of what happened, they are asked to share their “post-event difficulties,” i.e., the physical or emotional fall-out they are experiencing after the event occurred. For example: fatigue, headaches, difficulty sleeping or eating, stomach aches, spaciness, emotional numbing, worry, guilt, et cetera.  The goal is not to re-traumatize the individual, but to help the process of self-regulation and emotional discharge.

 

Please make sure you are getting what you need if you are experiencing emotional difficulty since the tragedy at the Boston Marathon. If you find that you are having a hard time:

  • Take a break from the media.
  • Do some movement: jump rope, hike, do yoga, just move your body.
  • Be kind to yourself.

“Trauma can be prevented or transformed; it does not have to be a life sentence.”

Dr. Peter Levine

Categories
Addiction Recovery Therapy Treatment

The Value of an Outpatient Program

Outpatient programs have a unique position for those seeking treatment. They are sometimes looked upon as a softer way to approach treatment when a family is seeking help for their teen. There are some who think they can recover via our outpatient program alone, only to find out they need the more intensive care of our residential facility.  There are those who resist our outpatient program after spending time in residential only to discover that it is through our outpatient program where they learn to apply the tools they learned in our residential program.

 

Our outpatient program provides a therapeutic and safe container to continue the inner work that was being focused on at residential as well as to discover and tangibly experience how to live and love life as a sober, recovering person.  We treat males and females, 13-18 years of age and require the involvement of a family member. The first level of our outpatient program is called First Step. It is an introduction to treatment and takes place over an 8-week period. Here a teen will be provided with clinical support, group support, an individual session, a family session, and drug testing. The next level of our outpatient program is our Intensive Outpatient Program, and that takes place over the span of 1 year. This really is the continuation of our programs and provides a higher level of focused, outpatient care, which is broken down into 3 phases: Primary Care, Continuing Care, and After Care. In this way, your teen is being provided with the roots of treatment and wings of recovery all in the same, clinically supported environment.

For more information about our outpatient program, please read here. We can recover, one step at a time.

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Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) Mental Health Mood Disorders Recovery Therapy Treatment

DBT With Dr. Georgina Smith, Ph.D

We are pleased to welcome Dr. Georgina Smith, Ph.D to the Visions clinical team. She has been working with adults, families, and children since 2001, making her vast knowledge of neurofeedback and Dialectical Behavorial Therapy (DBT) accessible to a wide range of clientele. Dr. Smith specializes in treating survivors of trauma, abuse, and those suffering from eating disorders, and addiction. She also treats individuals suffering from chronic depression, self-injury, mood, personality, and anxiety disorders. Her knowledge and use of neurofeedback and DBT allows her to help her clients in a way that empowers them be engaged in their own recovery. Dr. Smith’s approach is holistic, and caring, and she ardently believes in ensuring that her clients feel seen. Her work with adolescents has built an authentic treatment style where she is able to form a genuine connection with her clients, so they feel seen, heard, validated and challenged. Dr. Smith encourages them to be ok in the skin they’re in. That particular tenant of treatment spreads healing throughout one’s mind, body, and spirit.

With the addition of Dr. Georgina Smith, clients have access to DBT in all phases of their treatment. DBT, in particular, is one of the most efficacious treatments for mood disorders, namely Borderline Personality Disorder. DBT uses mindfulness, self-awareness, and skill building in the areas of trauma, emotional regulation, interpersonal effectiveness and crisis management.  One of the most remarkable pieces of DBT is its effectiveness in teaching clients to regulate their emotions and recognize when they are becoming deregulated. Self-awareness in someone trying to manage extreme emotions is undeniably helpful.

Currently, Dr. Smith is seeing Visions’ clients for DBT as well as running a DBT group on a weekly basis. We are looking forward to working with Dr. Smith and are excited to have her as part of our clinical staff.  She is down to earth, and brings a sense of realness to her groups and throughout her clinical practice. She says it best, “So many of the kids I’ve worked with are struggling to make sense of things they’ve been through, struggling with their sense of self and others, and a confusing, chaotic world. The space I create with them is about being ok wherever they are, whoever they are, so we can open the doors to choice and change. It is about ownership, realness & empowerment.” Welcome to the VTeam, Georgina!

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Feelings Recovery Self-Care Therapy Treatment

Working With Our Addiction to Anger

Angry Talk (Comic Style) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Can you be addicted to anger? Does the adrenaline rush of being angry dictate your response to the world? Better yet, are you even aware this is happening? Or have you become so used to the rage response, it’s become part of your normative behavior.

We know anger is a natural occurrence, but for some, it becomes so deeply problematic, it devolves into an addiction. When we become our anger (or any emotion, for that matter), we disable our ability to communicate. In those moments when we are lost in the rage and its resulting dissension, our hearts are frozen; our eyes are blinded; our tongues are tied. No good can come from this.  But what can we do? How can we change this innately negative response to our frustration?

Anger management courses and other therapeutic modalities teach and use various methods in which one can learn to recognize the emotional and physical response to anger and rage. By first recognizing what is happening, one is allowed to begin to shift their response. First, we must familiarize ourselves with the addictive anger cycle itself:

1: You find yourself becoming uncomfortable or you aren’t getting something you want or think you need. You may be subconsciously or consciously reminded of feelings from long ago (childhood, for example), which are bringing untouched emotions to the surface.

2: You feel like no one understands you:  “No one gets it. They just don’t get it.” “I’m all alone.” “Whatever. I’m fine.” “No one listens to me.”

3: The frustration is building internally, but talking about it isn’t an option because you always deal with your anger and frustration alone. In fact, talking about it with others feels too difficult.

4: Stress begins to builds until you blow up. Someone or something is usually caught in the crossfire and they get hurt, either emotionally or physically. There is the part of you that doesn’t want this, but you have lost control. The guilt and shame begin to build.

5: You feel better after the explosion, perhaps even a bit relieved, until you look around and see the wreckage of your presence.

6: Now the guilt and shame really sets in. You find yourself ardently apologizing and promising not to repeat the behavior. Unfortunately, those on the receiving end may not accept your apology. What? Once again, “No one listens to me” becomes the inner mantra.

7: You internally justify your anger; it was really their fault anyway, right? (Wrong!)

8: You feel no better than before the explosion. In fact, the discomfort and frustration are still there, gnawing at you from the inside.

 

Processing anger like this is similar to releasing pressure from a pressure cooker while leaving it on the heat. Sure, some of the steam is released, but there is still steam building within. This technique is tantamount to placing a Band-Aid on a gaping wound. It’s just not large enough, or effective enough to alleviate the problem. This circular pattern of frustration à anger à explosion à remorse is ultimately a dead end. What is really needed is a salve for the anger: a calming, healthy way in which to release the pressure.

 

1: Learn to understand and take care of your needs: Holding your emotions in cannot be an option.

2: Find a good therapist who can help teach you how to touch upon the things that trigger your anger and help you devise a healthier way to allow it to dissipate.

3:  Learn ways to let go of your anger which are healthy and non-harmful. Rather than beating a pillow, which only adds coals to the fire, discover how to gently cool the anger: take a walk, take 10 deep breaths, write, drink some water.

3: Ask for help. This may be difficult, but you can do this! You are not broken, you are not a bad person. You are struggling with an overpowering, difficult emotion and it is OK to ask for help.

4: Laugh. Laugh for no reason, just laugh. It not only opens your heart and softens your belly, it helps you see the ridiculousness in many things.

At some point, instead of your anger controlling you, you will learn to control your anger. Developing a practice of self-care will be paramount to paving a new path and changing the face of your addiction to anger.  Discovering ways to recognize the triggers to your anger and how to respond to them skillfully is going to be key. Remember, recognizing there is a problem is the first step to finding the solution. It takes time, and work, but it’s worth it. You can recover.