Categories
Mental Health Recovery

Is Your Passive Aggressive Behavior Harming Your Relationships?

Passive aggressive behavior has no place in a healthy relationship. Building healthy relationships is an important building block in recovery. More often than not, relationships suffer greatly due to the negative behaviors associated with addiction and mental illness. Passive aggressive behavior is defined as a pattern of indirectly expressing frustration or anger, using things like sarcasm, avoidance, procrastination, and stubbornness. The habituated patterns of passive resistance in response to one’s responsibilities or to requests from authority figures are problematic. Passive aggressive behavior creates tension and breeds resentment.

 

These are some examples of passive aggressive behavior:

1: You don’t speak your truth. For example, someone asks for your opinion and your response is one thing, but your behavior is another: your exuberant, “I love it!” doesn’t match your disinterested approach or attitude.

2: You are duplicitous:  you feel one way but act another. For example, you show a sweet demeanor, but inside you are boiling.

3: You are a perpetual victim: everyone is doing something TO you. See #1. If you speak your truth, this victimization can cease.

4: You never give a straight answer.

5: You procrastinate and make others wait, giving endless excuses. This is your way of passively controlling a situation, but it will leave you friendless and/or unemployed.

 

Recognizing that you may be engaging in some or all of this behavior is the first step. You can change! Working on relationships and cultivating healthy interactions with others takes a firm commitment. You have to want to shift your behavior. Direct communication earns respect from others, and builds a sense of self-respect within. It makes a huge difference in the way you are perceived by others and in the way you see yourself.

Passive aggressive behavior doesn’t vanish overnight. So, while you are doing this work, try and be patient. You will have to learn to face your fears and begin saying what you mean, regardless of what others think; you will have to take responsibility for your actions and cease blaming others; you will have to shift the way you see yourself in relationship with others. You will have to become willing to be honest — all of the time.

What you have to say matters. People want to hear you, and they want to understand the way you feel. Passive aggression has no place in a healthy relationship. When you say what you mean, and mean what you say, you cultivate trust, and that, friends, is a key factor in a healthy relationship.

Categories
Mental Health Recovery Trauma Treatment

In Recovery, We Lean In to Let Go

Being in recovery from mental illness, substance abuse, alcoholism, eating disorders, behavioral issues, et cetera, require that we lean into some things that make us uncomfortable. Let me tell you, “leaning in” isn’t easy. Our brains like pleasure and revile pain. In fact, finding ourselves in rehab tells us that our habitual patterns of trying to put an elementary salve on a gushing wound weren’t working very well. It means that drinking, drugging, stealing or lying our way out of our feelings doesn’t work — at least not permanently. Frankly, none of these “solutions” ever work. Not in the long or short term.

By suggesting that we lean into our difficulties instead of leaning away, I am asking for you to embrace your courage. I am also asking you to trust in your exemplary clinical team, your support team, and in your own ability to do this difficult work while you are in treatment and beyond. Positive thinking or praying for it all to magically go away are both examples of temporary, feel-good actions that don’t provide a long-term solution. It’s wise to also recognize that the recovery process often requires legitimate, clinically supported psychological care.

Recovery is about change. It’s about shifting perspectives and learning how to redefine and revise old paradigms in order to create healthy ones. When we face our old thought patterns and old ideals, we offer ourselves the opportunity to let go. We often find ourselves able to walk through our issues not around them, recognizing that while they are present, ready and willing to make us miserable, we don’t have to take the bait. When we begin to look at our issues with some awareness and compassion, their negative influence has a chance to dissipate.

Our ability to recognize the negative for what it is allows us to invite the positive experiences and influences into our lives. In our recent blog, “How do You Stay Motivated,” I quoted Dr. Rick Hanson, Ph.D., who addresses this very thing: “The remedy is not to suppress negative experiences; when they happen, they happen. Rather, it is to foster positive experiences – and in particular, take them in so they become a permanent part of you.”

Negative experiences do not have to own us; in fact, they can be part of the landscape without being part of our foundations.  This is emblematic of recovery.

The process of recovery is not something you have to do alone. In fact, you can’t. There are support groups, clinicians, treatment facilities, therapists, et cetera, as available resources to you. Yes, there are things you may have to face and work through, but coming to an understanding that you don’t have to ride through that storm alone is a welcome relief.

Categories
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
Recovery Service Treatment

Koreema Walden, MA, MFTi, CATC IV

Koreema Walden is an MA, MFTi, CATC IV and has been part of the Visions treatment team since 2013. She is an active member of the treatment community and served as a therapist in the drug rehabilitation/homeless program at the Veteran’s Administration prior to coming to Visions. Additionally, Koreema is an education advisor at her alma mater, Antioch University. She runs groups and Visions and also sees clients individually using her honest and compassionate approach.

 

Koreema is seriously funny. She brings a sense of adventure, honesty, and joy into her work. She is relatable and compassionate toward the adolescents she works with and she is a wonderful addition to the outpatient team. Koreema she fits right in at Visions. She is a pleasure to work with and is someone who is respectable and forthright in her work. Koreema is a hard one NOT to adore.

 

The staff thinks highly of Koreema; check out what they had to say:

 

Koreema continuously has a high level of positive energy, and is fantastic at motivating just about anyone!  – Ashley Shortridge

 

That girl is so funny!  And smart.  – Jesse Engdahl

 

In the time I’ve know Koreema, I have felt nothing but love and support from her. She has an amazing energetic spirit that everyone can pull from and always brings strong, honest advice to the table. It has been a pleasure working alongside such an amazing person. – Nick Riefner

 

Koreema, our baby of the bunch.  She has been a wonderful asset to our outpatient team. Koreema’s strengths lie not only in her ability to assimilate into a new, fast-paced environment but also a keen sense of how to connect with an adolescent milieu. We are lucky to have her and look forward to her continued growth at Visions.  – Fiona Ray

 

Of course we asked Koreema 10 questions. Read on!

 

1:  What did you want to be when you grew up? Did you come close?

There wasn’t a job that I wanted, but I had role models. My maternal grandmother was a business owner and a fierce one! She had her real-estate license and was trained to do income taxes. She owned a clothing store, was raising some of her daughter’s children and was fiercely independent. She was also kind and supportive (financially and emotionally) of others. I think I wanted to be like her:  a woman who was independent, self reliant, self-assured, strong, and brave. I thought that’s what women did and how they were. Have I come close?  I think I’ve learned over time that there was no reason for me to do everything on my own.

 

2: What are you most proud of?

I was the first person in my family to graduate with a BA and a Masters Degree. My mom drilled in my head that the way to a better life was through education. She always told me education would be bring me freedom and would be something that nobody could take from me. This is something a lot of women still don’t have in this day and age: The opportunity to attend school and be free.

 

3: Cats or dogs? 

Neither. I’m not a pet person at all. I have a child and changing his diaper was bad enough!

 

4. Would you rather watch Sherlock or Doctor Who?  

Who is Doctor Who anyway? Honestly, neither.  Now if you ask me about music, I’m so in. Music cleanses my soul, my mind, and my heart and it tells me a story.

 

5: What is the best part of being a parent? The most challenging?

Best part of being a parent is seeing my son’s brain and his mind take off. Every day, something that is old to me is taken as new to him: Words, places, books, history, people, etc. I find such delight in seeing him experience the world.  What is most challenging is that every day isn’t awesome; some days are better than others and some days we disagree on things.  I have to remember he has a mind of his own, I can’t control it or him 24 hours a day.

 

6: Are you a morning person or a night owl?

Both!! I get up around 6:30/7am, or I can stay awake till 12/1am.

 

7: What Muppet are you?

I’m a mixture of Scooter (he was behind the scenes conducting everything) and Animal (he was loud, crazy, out of control needs to be tamed). Good thing I’ve gotten a little older.

 

8: What makes you laugh?

Friends, Family and Comedy movies. I love to laugh.

 

9: If you could go back in time for a day, what and where would you go?

I would be a little girl at my grandmother’s house running around on her property and hanging out with no cares or worries in the world!

 

10: Why do you choose to work for Visions?   

Because I like Visions’ philosophy and the work that we do.  Working with teens is not easy (I was one). I get to come to work and be inspired, learn from fresh eyes, and be a part of an amazing integral hardworking team. I feel that Visions and its team work extremely hard at what they do. It’s enjoyable because everyone is supportive of one another and we work as a team.

Categories
Recovery

The Tween Years: Visions Adolescent Treatment is 12!

Visions Adolescent Treatment just celebrated its 12th birthday and we entered our tweens with a bang!  So much has happened in the last 12 years of providing exemplary care for teens and their families, we really wanted to celebrate. Since our beginning in 2002, Visions has expanded our programs to include:

 

NeXT Extended Care Program. Located in Santa Monica, NeXT is a gender specific program for individuals ages 15-18 years old. At NeXt, teens work in conjunction with therapists and receive therapeutic services as well as support in outside educational environments.

 

LAUNCH, our outpatient lifestyles program for young adults, which focuses on teaching young adults necessary life skills as they enter adulthood, i.e., vocational, educational and social needs all under the supervision and encouragement of a therapeutic staff.

 

And over the last 18 months, our entire staff, starting from the top down, has been educated in DBT and is now DBT informed.

 

Visions has a lot to celebrate and an incredible community to celebrate with and we are extremely grateful. We had a packed house at the Victorian in Santa Monica, which included recovery professionals from all over Los Angeles and Orange County.  There was an amazing tower of cronuts from Nobelle Cakes  that were divine!

 

In addition to the wonderful company and food, Terra Hollbrook, MSW, LCSW, CADC, did a fantastic presentation during lunch, talking about our Three-Day Family Intensive program, which launches in June. Terra spoke about the importance of treating the entire family, which includes looking at the varying degrees of codependence and trauma within the family root system.

 

While we have a lot to be proud of, we still maintain our foundation of being a founder driven, family oriented company. We are a team, plain and simple, and we nourish and care for our families as well as our staff. We are always seeking ways in which to broaden our horizons in order to maintain a clinical culture of excellence. Visions Adolescent Treatment is excited to continue to grow and continue to provide families with well-rounded and compassionate treatment. Onward to lucky 13! Thank you all for celebrating with us. We couldn’t have done it without you.

Check out the gallery of pics from the event! [slideshow id=7]

 

Categories
Adolescence Mental Health Recovery Treatment Wellness

The Best Adolescent Treatment

Finding the best adolescent treatment center for your teen entails finding the care that is most appropriate for their needs. Treating teens requires a different approach than adults because of their cognitive development, the significance of peer influence, and the differences in their values and beliefs. Teens are in the midst of their individuation process, and with that comes a natural rebellion and resistance to change and receptivity to outside influence. The best adolescent treatment center should be able to meet each client where they are.

 

The best adolescent treatment center will employ a team approach to problem solving and include the family, previous treatment professionals, educators, consultants, and any other specialist that may prove helpful to an adolescent’s recovery. To ensure success, the facility will create individualized plans for each client with regard to their specific needs; this will encourage emotional growth, provide academic support, and foster healthy family relationships to cultivate reparative functionality.

 

When a family is seeking treatment for their teen, they should look for a place that is dedicated and committed to the ultimate health and welfare of their family.

 

Key questions parents should ask

1. Is the facility licensed by the state?

 Find out what aspects of the program the license covers.

2. Does the facility provide an academic curriculum?

Is it available to all clients? Will academic credits transfer?

3. Does the facility have a clinical director? What are his/her credentials?

4. What are the credentials of the staff, especially the counselors and therapists, who will be working with my child?

How experienced is the staff? How long has the center been providing adolescent treatment? What is the staff turnover?

5. Does the facility conduct background checks on the employees?

If the facility doesn’t, consider that a red flag.

6. What are the criteria for admission? Do they conduct pre-admission assessments? Are they in person, by phone, or over the Internet? Who conducts them?

7. Will they provide an individualized program with a detailed explanation of the therapies, interventions, and supports that will address my child’s needs? When is this done? How often will my child be reassessed?

Confirm the frequency of therapy sessions, whether they are group, individual or both. Confirm that promised level of care is being received after admission to the program.

8. How does the facility handle medical issues like illness or injury? Is there a nurse or doctor on staff? Will you contact me? Will I be notified or consulted if there’s a change in treatment or medication?

Ask for copies of medical procedures followed in the event of a medical emergency.

9. How do you define success? What is your success rate? How is it measured?

Some programs make specific success claims in their advertising materials. To date, there is no systematic, independently collected descriptive or outcome data on these programs.

10. How do you discipline program participants?

11. Can I contact/speak with my child when I want? Can my child contact me when he/she wants?

Each program differs. Find out what is allowed prior to admission.

12. What are the costs? What is covered? What is your refund policy if the program doesn’t work out?

13. Do you have relationships with companies and individuals that provide educational and referral services?

The best adolescent treatment facility will want you to succeed. They will want you to thrive. They will want you to get well. They will nurture you so you can learn to feel good in your skin and they will provide you with the sense that you are part of a family. Ultimately, a facility will promote a process of healing that encourages and sustains a healthy lifestyle.

 

At Visions, we strive to provide the best treatment experience for every family. Our goal is to wholeheartedly support the adolescent treatment industry through leadership while we work shoulder to shoulder in a community and world that continues to evolve.

Categories
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.

 

Categories
Recovery Self-Care Service

Being of Service: Self-Care is Still Imperative

Boundary (Photo credit: castle79)

When being of service becomes a source of obligation and stress, you’re not really being of service to anyone. If anything, you are causing harm to yourself and denigrating the purpose of service work. The steps are in order for a reason, right? Learning to love ourselves before we can wholeheartedly love others has to become part of the cornerstone of our recovery. We do the steps and “leave no stone unturned,” looking at our actions, the actions of others, our responses to them, how they effect us, how we react, and so on. We uncover and discover as much as we can, including some things that catch us by surprise. When we are brand new, the familiar adage, “fake it till you make it,” can certainly be applicable especially when you simply need to get out of yourself by being of service. At the same time, if you find that you have dedicated yourself to helping others and “faking it” to the extent that you, yourself, are being neglected, it’s time to pause.

 

As much as we ran away from ourselves via drugs, alcohol, food, sex, video games, social media, we can also do the same thing in recovery by overextending ourselves in our service work. We can do too much and place ourselves at great risk for doing too little for ourselves. At some point, we have to stop and feel the feelings of whatever it is we are trying to escape. We are, as they say, “as sick as our secrets.” Within each of us in recovery potentially lies the hurt child seeking solace, safety, love, and protection. As we begin to be of service to ourselves, we can be of service to that side of us that is hurting and hiding in the darkness. We can ultimately learn to be gentle with ourselves , which will allow us to be gentle with others.

How do we do this?

  • Ask for help.
  • Get a sponsor
  • Find a therapist
  • Create a network of other people in recovery with whom you can relate, be honest, and have sustained emotional safety. (Fellowship)

Set healthy Boundaries.

Physical and emotional: Think about boundaries as a “property line.” Read what Positively Positive has to say about this. It’s fantastic.

Creating healthy boundaries will help you set guidelines for people around you that tell them what is acceptable to you and what is not. There are physical boundaries, emotional boundaries, both different but both invaluable to self-esteem building and self-care. You don’t have to agree with everyone or have him or her agree with you to be liked.

Do the work

  • Work the steps.
  • Start a journal.
  • Go to meetings
  • Take commitments
  • Do the deep, therapeutic work provided by your therapist.

Being of service is our ultimate goal. We need to be able to give back what has been so freely given to us. That is step 12, after all. In the process, however, we must maintain healthy boundaries and a sense of self-care.  Remember, it’s ok not to be ok sometimes, however it’s not ok if we put on our trainers and run from our feelings. Allow someone to be of service to you. You deserve it just as much as the next person.

 

Categories
Mental Health Recovery Trauma

Trauma and Getting Triggered: Keeping Ourselves Safe

(Dark into Light via saritphoto)

I’m concerned for the survivors of sexual trauma and abuse, and the potentiality of getting triggered

simply by watching the news, or scrolling through Facebook or Twitter feeds. I’m wary of the media and the backlash from the recent Steubenville rape trial. It’s easy for that trauma to rise, presenting itself as fury and heightened emotions. It’s easy to slip back into the story of your own trauma, reliving moment-by-moment that which haunts you.

Signs of being triggered can include:

  • Angry outbursts
  • Flashbacks
  • Feeling emotionally numb or closed off
  • Avoiding certain areas, or subjects
  • Anxiety: tightness in the chest or throat, feelings of panic, et cetera.

Sometimes, we can feel tempted to continue to watch the news or read the feeds despite feeling triggered, believing we “should” be able to watch these things and be ok. It’s in the past, after all. Right? Wrong. The trouble with trauma is this: our bodies can’t always tell the difference between time and space. When we get triggered, we are often thrust back into that moment of trauma, sometimes too fast to stop ourselves. Over time, and with deep work, we can learn to recognize our bodies’ signals and responses to a trigger and take steps to stop it in its tracks or at least hold a safe space for it to just “be.” EMDR, DBT, CBT and TF-CBT are all useful therapeutic modalities for treating trauma. Additionally, yoga, meditation, and mindfulness practices are helpful in getting the “issues out of our tissues” as Tommy Rosen likes to say.

If you find that you are getting triggered from newsfeeds and current events, please:

  • Unplug
  • Step away from technology
  • Talk to someone and ask for help.
  • Surround yourself with safe people.
  • Take a lot of deep breaths.
  • If you practice yoga, this is a good time to get on your mat. A gentle practice of breath and movement can guide you back to the present moment.
  • Be of service. Helping others gets us out of ourselves and into action.

Yes, it can be tremendously debilitating when a trigger occurs, but you are not alone. There are people around you who will help you without judgment. You are safe now.

Categories
Anniversary Blogs Holidays Mental Health Recovery

Happy New Year!

New Year – Chinatown
© 2012 saritphotography.com

‘Tis New Year’s Eve and I have to say, 2012 has been amazing. We celebrated 10 years of service, continued our diligent efforts of care and expanded upon our mental health track, got a facelift at our Brentwood facility, and expanded our programs. We are blessed to have a team of people who are imbibed with the love and passion it takes to work in the field of recovery. Visions is a family, pure and simple, and whose primary purpose is to be of service to one another.

Over the past year, we have celebrated many of our team in our Anniversary blogs. However, we are far from done! The anniversary blogs will continue into 2013, so we can honor those whose altruism and sheer kindness form the foundational brick and mortar of the Visions team.

For those of you new to the path of recovery: stay connected. Your sober network provides a wonderful net on which to rest when things get tough or scary. The work of sobriety and mental health is a long process, but one that is well worth the effort. If I could say one thing to you at the end of this year it is this: when things get tough, or frightening, and the shadows of your trauma is looming, turn toward it. Sounds counter intuitive, but when we look directly at that which frightens us, we take its power. Shadows have the capacity to thin and dissipate, and in doing so, they eventually lose their opacity and their power.

It is with great excitement and joy that I wish you all a wonderful, safe, sober, and sane New Year. May the winds of change bring you love and happiness, and most of all healing to whatever path you’re on. Let yourself be loved. You are worth it.