Debunking the Myth of Therapy

we-take-our-kids-for-physical-vaccinations-dental-exams-eye-checkups-when-do-we-think-to-take-our-our-son-or-daughter-for-a-mental-health-checkup-gordon-smith-338x500

I’ve often wondered why it’s so hard for us to see the importance of getting a mental health checkup.  Our brain and our mind are THE MOST IMPORTANT things for us to be alive.  To feel alive.  Our mind tells us when/where/why/how we do things.  Little daily things like, “Wake up” or “I’m Hungry”.  Mediocre things like, “I need to say hi to my boss when I see him this morning.” or “Remember to give the kids their field trip money”.  Major things like, “Call Susie and tell her you love her before she flies out tonight” or “I am not going to let this affect me the rest of my life”.

So, what keeps people from finding a personal marriage and family therapist or mental health counselor to help them with their goals & finding solutions, just like they go to their dentist to keep their teeth clean and healthy?

1.  I’m fine.  I have a good family.  I was raised in a good environment.  I’m an adult and should know how to fix my problems by now.  These things may all be true.  Some problems can be taken care of by exercising, eating right, and having a support system; much like we can take care of basic first aid, such as a bee sting, a minor cut, or a burn from the stove.  But, what if you’ve done everything you and your family/friends know to do, and your 3 yr old is STILL not sleeping through the night or you’ve read every marriage book out there and you and your husband are still arguing about the same issues and you’re both about to just give up?    Just like a good mother would take her child to the doctor if that cut becomes infected, a committed wife should seek out a marriage therapist to keep her family from being destroyed by unspoken issues.

2.  If I admit I’m having problems, people will think I’m weak or that I’m crazy.  It would be strange to think of someone who has cancer as being crazy because they undergo chemotherapy or to look down upon a parent because he/she takes their child to get braces on their teeth.  When we have problems with coughing and breathing, we go to a doctor to see if it’s bronchitis.  Because we have to deal with people who are of different cultures, different backgrounds, and different socio-economic statuses at our jobs and in our schools, we WILL have problems with people and within ourselves from time-to-time.  We can save ourselves a lot of time and heartache if we go directly to someone who can help us sort through those frustrations and misunderstandings before we lose relationships, friendships, and our own children.

3.  Most anxiety, depression, or other mental health disorders have a biological component and can just be treated by my primary doctor.  Nothing is more frustrating than going from doctor to doctor, and then specialist after specialist, only to find that there is nothing “wrong” with you and yet, you are still having physical ailments, infertility problems, or weight issues.    Mental health problems are not caused by solely bad genes or a biological chemical imbalance, according to the research we have to date.  Most medications (with a few notable exceptions, such as those prescribed for bipolar disorder and schizophrenia) prescribed for mental disorders should be taken for short-term (under a year) symptom relief. **It is important to note that it was never meant for a person to be on psycho-tropic meds such as anti-depressants or anti-anxiety pills forever.  They are only to help stabilize your moods, until you work with a trained professional such as a marriage & family therapist, mental health counselor, or psychologist to learn coping skills and how to handle what life gives to you individually.

In fact, many physical ailments, such as diabetes, gastro-intestinal problems, infertility, migraines, high blood pressure, joint pains, are caused by anxiety, depression, or another mental health disorder.  Our minds are THAT POWERFUL!!!  We MUST learn to listen to our bodies.  If we are continuously getting sick, our bodies may be telling us it’s time to sit with a therapist or counselor to get to the root issues that we are unaware of.  Just like psycho-tropic meds only serve a temporary purpose, other medical treatments only resolve surface symptoms, while the root cause of your physical ailments remains untreated until you seek out mental health treatment.

4.  Mental health disorders are labels that are life-long and difficult to treat.  Just like the flu comes and goes or cancer can go into remission, mental health disorders are very similar.  Parenting stress comes and goes.  Anxiety comes and goes.  Depression comes and goes, as difficult times in life occur (a death of a loved one, loss of a job, children leaving for college), but it does NOT have to last forever.  There are many types of mental health treatments that are short-term, often in as little as 6-12 weeks, depending on the nature of the issue.  Even major mental health disorders can be treated in 6-12 months, instead of years.  **It is important, however, to remain active in quarterly, or bi-annual mental health checkups, so a crisis doesn’t occur.

5.  If I seek out a Marriage and Family Therapist to help me with my children, then I must not know what I’m doing as a mother or father.  There are many, many parents and friends who claim to be experts in potty training, disciplining, and building bonds with children.  The problem is that each child and each family is so uniquely different.  There are thousands of different techniques and tools on how to communicate, how to have a healthy argument, or how to raise children.  On top of this, our society is changing at lightening fast rate and books and family traditions often cannot keep up with the new trends in pornography, sexuality, etc.  A therapist or counselor has been uniquely trained for a minimum of 6 years, had over 3,000 clinical hours of working solely with children, parents, and couples supervision and post-master’s supervision to learn how to recognize how individuals interact with each other and impact each other.

By reading this, it lets me know that you’ve thought that counseling might be of benefit to someone, maybe even for you or your family.  It doesn’t hurt to try it out and see all the benefits there are to having regular mental health checkups with your personal therapist.

 

 

 

 

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Self-Care in the Midst of a Tragedy

 

Up and coming singer killed and killer commits suicide. —   49 young people who are enjoying their lives in a common “safe” environment lose their lives in a horrific way, among 50+ people in critical care at a local Orlando hospital. —   A 2 year old enjoying the magic of Disney with his family is dragged into a “safer” man-made lake by an alligator and drowns.

We read these headlines.  If we live within the vicinity of Orlando, we SEE the terror, the unrest, and our joy being stripped from ourselves and others close to us.  If we are not careful, we can easily experience secondary trauma and have panic attacks wondering, “When will it happen to me?”

More than at any other time, self-care is extremely important during a time of a major tragedy, especially if you secondary witness it thru the news, social media, or friends of friends who have family members who have been lost.

Here are 6 tips to post on your mirror to keep in mind during the next few months to a year after a horrific tragedy occurs:

  1. Stop, Breathe, Know That Somehow, Some Way, You Will Get Through This.  When an unexpected crisis occurs, life as we knew it is forever changed.  A new way of life will transpire, not just for yourself, but also for your neighbor, and your local community.  Stay in contact with others, as you are not alone.  There is someone at work, your church, next door, at your child’s school, that is also learning to face a “new normal”.  
  2. Grief Is To Be Expected.  Multiple mixed feelings will flood and sometimes overwhelm you.  You may feel agonizing pain, sheer shock & denial, overwhelming joy to see your community join together, anger (both at the cause and at others who couldn’t stop it), and sense of urgency to protect your immediate family.  By recognizing why you have these emotions and begin to accept them, you will feel more in control and less panic or hopelessness.  Put yourself in the midst of people you trust and feel comfortable sharing these emotions with.  Support can come from a hug, sharing stories, tears, or spiritual guidance.
  3. Maintain Your Usual Routine, While Allowing Some Time to Grieve.  It is VERY IMPORTANT to do BOTH of these.  This is especially important for our amazing First Responders and Medical Staff.  They are equipped and trained to maintain their usual routine in order to help in a crisis situation, but often are not told they also need to find time to grieve the loss of lives.  For the rest of us, it is of utmost importance for us to turn off the news & social media and continue to live a life as close to what used to be our usual routine.  Our minds can only handle so much of a crisis and we need a sense of stability that our usual routine can afford us.  Then, add some time in our day when are most at peace (morning, afternoon, or night) to allow our emotions to flood our minds, so that they are safely contained to a specific time and do not control us.
  4. Be Sensitive and Patient With Yourself.  Let’s be honest.  Even if you want to maintain your routine, it will be more difficult and you won’t be as focused or as productive as you typically are.  During periods of extreme stress or a major crisis, our minds are on high alert.  For the next 3-6 months, limit the number of added projects you give yourself, until you know how the tragedy will actually impact you.
  5. Escape For Awhile In A Healthy Manner.  Get lost in a good book.  Take bike rides down a trail.  Go to the beach or mountains or another peaceful place for the day.  Listen to positive, uplifting music.  Just 20 min a day of “escaping” can reduce anxiety and physical symptoms from emotional pain.
  6. Seek Professional Help From Someone Who is Objective.  I have many clients who are depended on by their family members to be the “strong one”.  Even the strong ones, need someone they can lean on for support.  There is something safe and secure about meeting with a professional marriage & family therapist or mental health counselor to help you sort through the events of a tragedy and provide a light to the end of a dark tunnel that occurs when you experience a major tragedy.

My prayers are continuously directed towards those who have lost a loved one, that God would provide them with peace and support during this difficult time in their lives.

Sandi Burchfield, MS, IMT-1129

Marriage & Family Therapist

#PrayForOrlando

SEX: When Is The Right Time to Talk With My Daughter?!

If you’re reading this, chances are that NOW is the right time.  Even in today’s society, talking about sex is not easy for parents.  As sexualized as our society is, parents are still avoiding having this necessary and very important discussion.  Many times, I’ll have a parent with an 8th grader coming in for counseling and say they don’t know if it’s time to talk to their daughter about sex.  Even a teenager who has been safe-guarded by grounded parents, who has a positive, healthy foundation, and a core set of adults as a support group, still needs to have an open communication with her parents long before she becomes an 8th grader.

The SEX talk is not something that should be done over one how-fathers-can-nurture-a-special-bond-with-their-daughtersconversation – one night – or even one weekend.  It is a discussion that should occur over a period of several years.  There is a critical stage in a young girl’s life when parents can most reach the tender heart of their daughter and create a strong foundation for her sexuality and how she relates to sex for the rest of her life.  This starts as young as 7-8 yrs old.

Why So Early?

The Copycat Phase The Counseling Phase The Coaching Phase
Ages 2-5 yrs old Ages 6-11 yrs old Ages 12-Adult
  • Consequential Copying
  • She sticks by your side.  You are the “Almighty who knows everything”
  • She accepts your values and words without question
  • She wants to be like you.
  • Considering Beliefs
  • She wants to understand the “Why?” of your values & beliefs
  • She eagerly wants to do things with you.
  • She forgives your faults easily
  • She’s a sponge and captures/remembers  everything
  • Adjusting Beliefs
  • She seeks out her own identity
  • Wants to find her place in this world
  • Starts to question if she’s been taught the truth or a lie
  • Wants to feel “grown up” and researches on her own through friends/teachers/ mentors/ internet

The Tween Years are the MOST CRITICAL phase for sexual values to be e967eadf4d49f44d8840f22db576b249formed!!!  This is the window of opportunity for you as her mom or dad to instill qualities into your daughter’s beliefs & provide her tools that she’ll need to rely on to get her through her adolescent years.

If you wait until she’s 12 yrs old to tell her about her period, you’ll have missed the beauty of telling her that God created women to create life, and that’s WHY we value womanhood.  If you wait until she’s 13 yrs old to tell her about modesty, you’ll have missed the beauty of telling her WHY her body is good and beautiful and worthy of protecting until marriage.  If you wait until she’s 14 yrs old to tell her about sex, you’ll have missed the beauty of telling her WHY God created marriage to be a one man/one woman picture of his love for us.

It’s not that you won’t be able to form her values after she’s 13 yrs old, however, the world will have already issued her a fairly strong answer to the “WHY’s” in her heart if you haven’t.  Restructuring her value system after 13 yrs old is a lot more difficult than building it from the ground up.

We live a very active life and I don’t have time to spend one-on-one time with my daughter.

It takes a lot of time to answer the question “WHY”, but’s it’s so important to invest this time.  It can be the 20 min on her way to school every morning.  It can be the last 20 min before she goes to bed.  It can be the 20 min drive-thru run you take in route between school and athletic activities.

Parents who can’t take this time now, will likely see their daughters spending this time with her friends or other people who have given her that time as a tween.  You will have lost the opportunity to build a safe connection for her to retreat to when difficult teen decisions will be made.  She will know that you are not available “even for 3-4 hrs a month” and will seek out others that you may not approve of that are willing to give her that time.

I work with parents and have Mother/Daughter groups to help make this subject much more comfortable to be able to discuss and incorporate into their relationships with each other.  It can be a fun and special topic that the 2 of you can share together in a special bond into her young adult years.

Written by Sandi Burchfield, MS, LMFT, MT-3215

Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist

email:  clermontcounseling@gmail.com

Website:  www.familylifecounselingcenter.com

About Sandi:  Sandi has 3 girls and 1 boy, with over 15 yrs of experience working with at-risk teen girls and children.  Her husband, Donnie and she were youth pastors at Hope International Church in Groveland, FL for 9 years, before becoming associate pastors there.  

Parenting: The Team Approach

“I believe our children should put all their effort into education.  It’s the only way they can be successful in life,” she says.  “I believe it’s extremely important for our children to be well-rounded with sports and have opportunities to use different parts of their brains.  They can be successful with their minds and their bodies,” he says.  This is just one of MANY differences that moms and dads have when raising their children.  Parents are worried that constant conflict in raising children will cause their children confusion.

However, it is not a bad thing for our children to see the world through different perspectives from the people who love them the most:  their parents.  There is a reason why God created a Mom and a Dad for each child.  Kids need to experience rules, expectations, fun, and discipline from a variety of viewpoints to be ready for the different things they’ll face as adults.

Here are 4 good examples to help relieves parents of that worry that their children will be scarred because of mom and dad being so different:

1.  Children need to learn balance in their lives.  Let’s look at Johnny.  He only saw a parent who worked long, hard hours, had a rigid schedule, and was successful in the business world.  He grew up learning what it takes to have self-discipline and be a CEO of a company, but he now has a hard time keeping a marriage together.  Or, let’s look at Jeremy.  He had a parent who lived life to the fullest.  His dad was always going surfing or camping or taking his motorcycle out for a spin.  He didn’t care too much about money, just enough to have fun on.  Jeremy grew up learning how to have fun and make memories, but school was just too boring to even think of going on to a career.  But, what if these 2 young men had one of each of these types of parents?  They would’ve been able to experience the dedication it takes to focus on a career and work hard for their employer, but there is also a time for relaxing and enjoying fun times as well.

2.  Children need to understand how to use their emotions.  All of our emotions are important and are signals that warn us that something needs to be changed, acted upon, or continued.  Moms and Dads react very differently.  Mom might become very nurturing and sympathetic when her 7 yr old son scrapes his knee.  But Dad might tell that son in the same scenario that he’s going to be fine and he’ll scrape his knees 100 more times.  Neither reaction is wrong.  A child needs to feel loved and safe when he gets hurt.  But a child also needs to be reassured that he will fall and get back up many more times.  If a child only sees and hears one reaction every time, he will dismiss the other as being the wrong way to handle a situation.  By having both parents reacting in different ways, a child can appreciate both ways.

3.  Children need to witness healthy conflict.  Everyday, moms and dads have differences of opinions:  “Dishes are washed a certain way”.   “This is how you wash yourself in the shower”.  “This is how you talk to the elderly”.  “That outfit is meant to be worn for playing only, not church”, etc. etc.  It is healthy for children to observe their parents talking out and working through daily conflicts than to see them give each other the silent treatment out of fear that arguing is wrong.  When I ask my clients how their parents argued, some will say that they never really saw their parents fight and it’s difficult for them to understand how to fight fair.  Or, they saw their parents become abusive towards one another, so they have a fantasy thought that it is wrong to have conflict at all.

4.  Children need to know and appreciate how different families live.  Mom may have been raised in the country, where everyone had animals, miles of adventures in the woods a children.  Dad may have been an immigrant from another country and was raised in the city while his parents created a business.  There is no better way for a child to learn different cultures and ways of life than from their respective grandparents and the values and beliefs that their parents carry from them – even if they are so vastly different.

So, parents, it is time to stop trying to make your spouse believe and act the same way that you do! Together, you are stronger and offer the best that God has for your child!

Cassandra “Sandi” Burchfield

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/cassandra.burchfield.9

www.familylifecounselingcenter.com

5 Tips For A Healthy Marriage

  • Reclaim your date night. Remember staying up all night talking on the phone, or sitting outside in your spouse’s car – just to hear his/her voice a little longer? Did you used to play cards or take the Jet Ski’s out on Saturdays? Don’t give up your date night, just because you have children or because all the bills are due. It is a NECESSITY to learn to play together again. At least once a month, set an appointment to have a date together. Do something you enjoyed before getting married, try something new, and go out to dinner without the kids. And call it a date. Get dressed up or dressed down, whatever fits your personality. The good thing about dates: they don’t have to be costly. Just something fun, something energetic, just the two of you.

 

  • Boundaries with the Children and Careers. Though the economy is not looking great, don’t go into panic mode chasing the almighty dollar. Your spouse needs your time and attention. Though the children need enriching activities and have important sporting events, they need to see their parents love each other more. Set a limit on how many hours you will work this week. Put the children to bed at an earlier time or enforce quiet time in their rooms after a specific hour. Make sure you have at least 30 minutes of quality time together so you can listen and empathize with your marriage partner’s day. Also, share things with your husband because, he is not a mind reader like the romance novels would lead you to believe. There is a reason why they call those books “Fiction.” Getting to know each other doesn’t stop at “I do”.

 

  • Allow Each Other To Have Some Space. It isn’t a bad thing to have individual interests. If he wants to play golf, she can spend the time catching up on some shopping with the girls. Make sure to practice appropriate boundaries by sharing your individual interests with the same sex (men go out with male friends; women go out with female friends). Don’t be surprised if you both start to appreciate having new things to share with each other. The old cliché “Absence makes the heart grow fonder” may ring true after you have shared a day apart from one another.

 

  • Spice Up the Intimate Moments. Have fun giving each other kisses or long embraces, and listen to your kids say, “Ewww, gross!” Send the children to grandma’s, or allow them to spend the night with a trusted friend, so you can rekindle the romance in your home. Try new positions, take a bath together, get out the soft music and scented candles. Men, if you prepare your wives, I can almost guarantee she’ll return the favor before the night is over.

 

  • Fight fair. This can be much more difficult than it sounds. Expect to have disagreements or to get angry at each other when things donot go as planned. But do NOT call each other hurtful names, do NOT say “I don’t love you or I’m going to leave”, and do NOT fight in front of the children if possible. Before you embrace an argument, think about whether or not it is worth the energy. Does it really matter if it was you or him that forgot to turn out the lights or should you save your energy for discussing something that is important like not forgetting to pick up Jane from school again? Remember to pick your battles. Life will go on if the electric bill goes up a few dollars, but will be detrimental if you neglect your parental responsibilities.

IMG_7478This article on marriage advice was written by Sandi Burchfield, M.S., MFT, IMT-1129

http://www.familylifecounselingcenter.com

About

Healthy Marriages, Families, Children

Welcome! Let me introduce myself to you…

I am a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist who has a passion to help families understand each other, make healthy choices and create positive changes in their lives.  Please take the time to explore my website at Contact (www.familylifecounselingcenter.com).  I also understand that it can be extremely difficult to choose the right therapist for you and your family.  My goal through these blogs, is that you will begin to connect with me and realize that you have a purpose in life and hope in your future!

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Jeremiah 29:11

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