Relying on over 40-years of practice, Dr. William (Bill) B. Berman, Ph.D. from CHRISTIAN FAMILY INSTITUTE (CFI) shares about limiting the damages of a divorce. There are harmful effects for everyone in a family in cases of divorce, even if amicable, and unfortunately children are more keenly affected. CFI often provides divorce recovery services, tips for successful coparenting and gives special focus on helping children to recover. Dr. Berman has consulted on over 500 child custody cases, and speaks with host Lisa Harris on key areas of concern for families facing or recovering from divorce. Dr. Berman is a licensed Psychologist as well as a Marital and Family Therapist and directs the clinical services at CFI.
Archive for the ‘Staff’ Category
Dr. William (Bill) B. Berman, Ph.D. from CHRISTIAN FAMILY INSTITUTE (CFI) speaks about divorce-proofing a marriage with host Lisa Harris during a recent segment of Joy In Our Town. Dr. Berman is a licensed Psychologist as well as a Marital and Family Therapist and directs the clinical services at CFI. Over 40-years clinical and forensic practice underlies the sound tips and advice he presents for couples desiring to shore up their marriage and avoid common pitfalls.
When I work with people I spend a lot of time asking them to pay attention to their self-talk. Each of us has a near constant dialogue running through our head. Some of the dialogue is incredibly negative: life is terrible, bad things always happen to me, this is a catastrophe, etc. Most of us are completely unaware of the stream of demeaning, negative, self-talk that we subject ourselves to on a regular basis. One of the first steps in counseling is to learn to pay attention to what we are saying to ourselves.
The next steps are to reject the half-truths and catastrophic thinking and replace them with more objective, realistic thoughts.
Isn’t that just positive thinking? I don’t think so. I believe some of what passes for positive thinking can be equally untrue.
For example, I was often told as a teen that I could do anything I put my mind to. I don’t believe that’s true. If it were, I would be playing third base for the St. Louis Cardinals. God did not, however, gift me with athletic ability. No matter how hard I try (and in high school I tried really, really hard) my asthmatic, uncoordinated body places limits on my athletic ability.
Visualizing something won’t create a reality. I can visualize being 50 pounds lighter all I want but until I put down the Krispy Kreme’s and start hitting the gym it is unlikely I will actually lose weight.
If you have a flat tire at rush hour on a bridge during a torrential thunderstorm, I don’t expect you to jump out of the car thinking “Best! Day! Ever!”. Neither do I want you to be thinking “this is the worst day of my life”, “@&*#^ always happens to me”, or “God hates me”.
Counselors are not in the business of peddling unrealistic goals or creating euphoric feelings based on wishful thinking.
We are in the business of helping people peel back the layers of unrealistic, overly negative thought patterns and replacing them with good reality testing and sound judgment. We are in the business of helping people identify patterns of negative thinking and dysfunctional behavior, changing those things they have control over, and exercising their faith that somehow it will all work out in the end.
Pay attention to your self-talk. If you need some help “taking every thought captive”, we’re here to help.
(written by: G. Bowden McElroy, M.Ed.)
In our society today, it seems that busyness is seen as a badge of honor. One of the things that is sacrificed most often in our run about life is sleep. If we need to do “one more thing” we often add it to the end of the day, or at least extend the end of the day to make that “one more thing” happen. However, the benefit vs. the cost of that “one more thing” may not add up.
It is a common belief that sleep disruption is a major symptom of many mental health concerns such as Depression and Anxiety. However, research has shown that a lack of consistent sleep could actually be a contributor to the development of these issues.
In an article from Harvard Medical School, the authors report that 50-90% of clients in psychiatric care (any type of counseling, both inpatient and outpatient) experience some form of chronic sleep problem. This is compared to only 10 – 18% of the general population. While many clinicians focus on sleep problems as a symptom of mental health disorders, some research shows that in many cases the onset of chronic sleep problems (insomnia, sleep apnea, etc) actually preceded the onset of the mental health concerns. In fact researchers have found that in both adults and children, people experiencing chronic sleep disruption are four times more likely to develop some form of Depression. So the assumption is that treating the sleep issues may help alleviate symptoms of the mental health problem. Getting a regular, sufficient amount of sleep may also help prevent future mental health concerns.
We know that good sleep habits and different stages of the sleep cycle aid in things like energy level, memory function and emotion regulation. All of which play major roles in many other mental health concerns.
Tips For Healthy Sleep:
1. Sleep Hygiene. No need to worry about putting on deodorant before bed. Sleep hygiene is all about routine. Most parents will find that a better structured bedtime routine leads to better sleeping children. It is no different when we grow up. We adults tend to neglect the importance of bedtime routine as we grow up.
Many researchers believe that insomnia is learned. Sleep hygiene includes maintaining a regular sleep-and-wake schedule, using the bedroom only for sleeping (or sex), and keeping the bedroom dark and free of distractions like the computer or television. Cooler room temperature and comfy clothes also help. New research suggests keeping your cell phone out of the bedroom as well.
Much of what we experience as Depression and Anxiety is linked to a feeling of chaos or a sense of being out of control in our life. The area of sleep hygiene (think “routine”) may be one of the simplest starting points in regaining that control.
2.Physical activity. Regular aerobic activity helps people fall asleep faster, spend more time in deep sleep, and awaken less often during the night. Regular, not necessarily intense activity. Don’t be afraid to start with a brisk 20 minute walk a few times a week.
3. Avoid CATS. Before all of you feline lovers out there stop reading, I am not talking about your furry lap napping pet. Actually, Caffeine, Alcohol, Tobacco and Sugar are all major contributors to sleep problems and should be avoided as much as possible, particularly near bedtime.
4. Relaxation Techniques. Get your body ready for rest with some deep breathing, meditation, or progressive muscle relaxation which you can read about or learn from your friendly mental health professional.
5. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Because people with insomnia tend to become preoccupied with not falling asleep, cognitive behavioral techniques help them to change negative expectations and try to build more confidence that they can have a good night’s sleep. These techniques can also help to change the “blame game” of attributing every personal problem during the day on lack of sleep.
So, challenge yourself to make sleep a priority. The dishes and tomorrow’s duties can wait. The better you sleep, the more able you will be to complete those tasks and feel energetic and in control to boot.
Call us at (918) 745-0095 if you are struggling with sleep or any other issue. We would be glad to help or get you to someone who can.
written by Chris Giles, M.S.
Dale R. Doty, Ph.D.
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The treatment of depression, anxiety, and other mental health concerns, typically involves a multilevel plan of intervention. We typically address social, psychological, spiritual, and biological areas. The area of biological intervention is the focus of this particular article.
Typically when we think about biological intervention, the assumption is that we are discussing medication. Yes, medication is a biological intervention, and in some situations, is an important part of the treatment plan. However, psychotropic medications are not the only biological treatments available. How we eat, our activity level, and even how much we get outside and get enough light exposure can affect our moods.
A healthy diet, can be a very helpful tool in impacting mental health concerns. We all know the circumstances where we’ve had a heavy meal or have indulged in poor choices of food, and as a result we don’t feel well for the short team. For the long term, healthy nutrition also plays a part in how our brain works. Having appropriate balances of macro nutrients, and micro nutrients is very important. One particular area that has shown some promise in improving mental health concerns is omega-3 fatty acids. There is a lot of research that suggests that these particular nutrients may have a mental health benefit. An increase in omega-3 rich foods may be helpful. Omega-3 fatty acid supplements, such as fish oil capsules, might also be of benefit. However, do not begin any kind of significant dietary supplementation, without consulting your physician.
It has been well known for some time that exercise is beneficial for your mental health. Some well established research, has even suggested that exercise can be as beneficial as medication for the treatment of depression. We are not talking about training for a marathon, or becoming an Olympian. Going for a brisk walk several times a week is enough to create significant benefit for most individuals. Even increasing activity level by choosing to take the stairs as opposed to an elevator or walking more by parking further out in a parking lot, may be helpful. Again, exercise routines should not be implemented without consulting with your physician.
Seasonal Affective Disorder, is a depression related diagnoses that is heavily influenced by the amount of light exposure a person receives. It is typically treated with exposure to bright light. This is a powerful and effective therapy for those who live in low light environments, such as wintertime in more northern areas. Recent research has suggested that the same light therapy may be useful for depression in general. So making sure that someone gets outside and receives an hour, or more, of exposure to bright light is a good idea. Most of the time it is suggested that this light exposure take place earlier in the morning. If someone cannot get outside, there are therapeutic light devices that facilitates getting enough light exposure to improve mood. The latest research has suggested that blue spectrum light is the source of the greatest benefit for this kind of treatment. In order to acquire one of these therapeutic blue spectrum lights, there may be a need to receive a prescription from your physician. Any decision to pursue such a line of treatment should be made in consultation with your physician.
I am not saying that these treatments by themselves will be a complete cure for depression or other concerns. However, in the context of a multi modal treatment plan, that includes therapy, possible medical intervention, and accessing social and spiritual resources, these interventions can be quite useful.
As couples consider ways to improve their emotional connection and friendship, they typically put a focus on efforts that take some effort. Going out on dates, weekend trips, efforts to improve physical intimacy and attending marriage enrichment events, are all useful and effective ways to increase a couples’ friendship. However, we often fail to recognize the cumulative effects of the very small interactions. In fact, healthy relationships are typically full of positive mini events.
Some examples of these moments can include, pointing out a post on social media, getting your partner something to drink, even a comment about the amount of traffic encountered on the way home. Simply put, these are small efforts to initiate conversation and positive interactions between partners. While it is important to get spouses to initiate these interactions, getting them to receive them in a positive manner, may be more important. Validating responses such as efforts to extend the conversation, a brief acknowledgement or even a responsive smile will pay dividends for both spouses.
On the other hand, a rejection, while seemingly small, can pierce very deeply. When one of these small gestures is made, that partner is taking a risk. The possibility of their partner accepting this bid for connection, also contains the very real possibility of its rejection. Rejections can be derisive statements and body language, or even simply ignoring their partner all together. This can create a pattern where partners are discouraged from making these gestures for connection and thus deprive the couple of a very important element to intimacy.
If you think that your relationship could benefit by increasing the frequency of these small moments of connection, there are two things I would encourage you to do:
- take the risk and make the effort to initiate these small interactions. Be active in serving your partner in small ways, give an affectionate squeeze of their shoulder, make small talk, and find small ways to serve them.
- look for and acknowledge the things your partner is doing for the relationship. If you have gotten in a negative pattern, challenge those negative thoughts and appreciate that they are still making an effort to connect. Even if it feels awkward at first, work though it with a sense of humor and let your friendship grow.
The number one deficiency in our society today is Fatherhood. That’s right. Quite simply, there are too many children and not enough fathers. You many ask “How can this be?” We all know where children come from. Every child has a father, right? WRONG! Every child has a Male Biological Contributor, but unfortunately, a decreasing number of children have Fathers.
So, what does it take to be a Father rather than simply a male biological contributor? While this is likely not an exhaustive list, I have included characteristics that I believe bring men into Fatherhood.
1. Fathers are men, not boys. I am not speaking of age here. I know many mature boys and immature men. I could write an entire book on what it means to be a man, and some authors have done so. Stu Webber’s Tender Warrior comes to mind as a good one. Suffice it to say, men/fathers do manly things and boys do boyish things. This may ruffle feathers, but playing video games, refusing to take responsibility for his actions, going to clubs to get drunk or physically abusing any woman or child are just a few activities that boys do. These are not activities that men do. Quite simply, to be a father, the most important thing you must do is grow up.
2. Fathers are present. Having a father present in the lives of our children is important to the family and to society as a whole. According to the Census department and other U.S. government agency studies, there are far too many homes/children with no father present. According to these studies, 43% of children live without their male biological contributor present. This poses a number of problems which include: 90% of homeless and runaway children are fatherless; 71% of pregnant teenagers are fatherless; 85% of children who exhibit behavioral disorders are from fatherless homes. And the list goes on and on.
3. Fathers are not only present, but they are daily involved in the lives of their children. You may have heard “It’s about Quality time rather than Quantity time.” Well, that’s a myth. Children need a father who is present daily in their lives. Don’t get me wrong. I understand that we lead busy lives. But being there counts, big time. I’ve heard “Kids spell LOVE=T.I.M.E.“Here are some ideas to make quantity and quality time with your kids:
- Do bedtime. Do not ever just send your kids to bed. Read, sing a song, pray, cuddle. This is a great way to end even a bad day.
- Schedule a “date” with each of your children. I like the idea of a once a month breakfast date with each child, but there are other ways to have a date time with your children.
- Play card games (Go Fish) or other board games with your kids.
- Tell your children fun stories about family members they have never met (i.e. deceased grandparents, aunts/uncles).
4. Fathers love their children’s mother and treat her well. Maybe someday I will write about how to overcome all of the excuses that men make to get out of this one; “we are divorced and she_____;”“We had a one night stand and there never was a relationship;”“She hurt my feelings when she_____.” None of these scenarios free men from the responsibility to show love and respect toward the mother of their children and treat her well. No matter what, children need to see you show respect to their mother, even if you have major disagreements with her and/or have to set serious boundaries with her. Trust me, it is possible. Your kids need it for their future.
These are just a few ideas of what fatherhood means and how to be a Father rather than just a male biological contributor. For the sake of our children and our future, we need more men to commit to being fully present and involved Fathers.
You are a powerful influence over your mood and self-esteem. How you think about yourself and the words you say (your self-talk) matter. Through self-talk, you provide opinions and evaluations on what you’re doing as you are doing it. When it’s upbeat and self-validating, the results can boost your confidence and motivation. When the messages are critical and harsh, however, the effects can be emotionally harmful. People with clinical levels of depression may have frequent and relentless forms of destructive self-talk. The more you talk yourself down and second guess yourself, the less free you are to creatively find solutions to daily problems.
More than likely, you aren’t aware of how frequent negative self-talk is occurring throughout your day. This destructive style may cause you to question yourself to the point of becoming paralyzed with self-doubt and uncertainty. Examples of these messages may include:
1) I am not interesting
2) I have no talent
3) People don’t like me
On the other hand, with constructive self-talk, you cheer yourself on, focus on the positive aspects of a situation and allow yourself to feel good. Positive self-talk has stress management benefits, productivity benefits and even health benefits. A few suggestions to try during stressful situations include:
1) This too shall pass and my life will be better
2) Look at how well I handled that situation
3) One step at a time
4) I am doing the best I can
Being aware of what you are saying to yourself is the first step. Changing the negative statements to more positive ones is the second. Other ideas on where to begin include:
1) Limiting negative influences in your life
2) Reading aloud positive affirmations
3) Identifying and confronting your fears
4) Focusing on the enjoyable moments in life
Implementing these changes a little at a time can bring satisfying results. If you need help, give us a call; the counselors at CFI are trained to assist you.
(more articles on self talk)