Linda K. Laffey, MFT http://lindaklaffey.com Trauma, Abuse, and Stress Reduction Counseling Tue, 20 Jun 2017 01:38:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8 After the Abuse: What to Do with the Guilt and Shame http://lindaklaffey.com/after-the-abuse-what-to-do-with-the-guilt-and-shame/ Tue, 20 Jun 2017 01:38:12 +0000 http://lindaklaffey.com/?p=1448 The abuse you suffered wasn’t your fault. You’ve finally gotten yourself out of the situation to a place of safety. Yet, you can’t help feeling guilty, as though you’ve done something wrong. If anyone should feel ashamed in this situation, it’s the abuser—not you. But it’s still hard to feel like you’re truly free. What you’re experiencing is extremely […]

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The abuse you suffered wasn’t your fault. You’ve finally gotten yourself out of the situation to a place of safety. Yet, you can’t help feeling guilty, as though you’ve done something wrong. If anyone should feel ashamed in this situation, it’s the abuser—not you. But it’s still hard to feel like you’re truly free. What you’re experiencing is extremely common among abuse survivors. You don’t have to live with the guilt and shame forever, though. Here’s what you need to do to break free:

Lean on Your Support System

When you’re coming out of an abusive relationship, chances are good that you don’t feel very confident or capable. Most abusers try to make victims feel self-doubt, and that tendency to second-guess yourself can be extremely difficult to undo. Many abusers try to isolate their victims from other people, too. As a result, you may be out of the habit of depending on others and asking for help.

Still, now is the time to lean on your support system.

Rely on friends and family members. Let your loved ones help you re-evaluate your abilities and strengths. Tell them you need encouragement and support, and you’ll find that most people are happy to give it. Nobody is supposed to go through life alone, regardless of abuse history. We’re meant to lean on each other.

Use Affirmations—Consistently and Frequently

You may know that you didn’t deserve the abuse you suffered. But knowing something to be true and understanding it deeply are two completely different things.

Help the knowledge travel from your head to your heart. Repeat affirmations to yourself, many times a day. Tell yourself that the abuse was not your fault.

You are lovable and kind.

You are strong and can overcome any challenges.

When you repeat positive things to yourself, you can change your perspective.

Pay Attention to Self-Care

Everyone needs to practice good self-care, but you may not be in the habit of doing so. You probably spent more time trying to placate your abuser than you did taking care of yourself.

Fortunately, it’s never too late to start, and there’s no time like the present.

Take time to do the things that make you feel good about yourself and focus on your healing.

Try writing in a journal, spending time with animals, or even taking long bubble baths.

Don’t neglect the things that will improve your health, like getting a good night’s sleep, eating well, exercising regularly, and being attentive to your spiritual health.

Release the Blame

It’s crucial to forgive yourself. Many abuse survivors blame themselves for not seeing the signs of abuse in advance or for not getting out sooner.

Abusers are often very slick and charming. They can easily fool others into thinking they’re nicer or kinder than they really are. Don’t own the blame for interactions or behavior that doesn’t belong to you.

However, it is still important to forgive yourself if you do have regrets about your legitimate wrongs. Resolve to learn from your mistakes and to avoid repeating them in the future. Forgiving yourself will help you feel more at peace.

Get Professional Help

Recovery from abuse is not a quick or easy process. Living with an abuser for a long period of time can damage your self-image and instill a fear of relationships with other people.

Shame and guilt can also cause you to avoid seeking help, but that fear and feeling of brokenness are exactly the reasons you should reach out.

A caring, professional counselor can help you release guilt and shame. You can learn to become confident and happy again.

Take the First Step…

If you’re ready to take a step toward healing from the traumas of your past, I would love to help. Please contact me by phone or by email so that we can discuss how we might work together to achieve your therapeutic goals as quickly and effectively as possible. I look forward to hearing from you.

Linda K. Laffey, MFT

 

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Is Your Smartphone Fueling Your Eating Disorder? http://lindaklaffey.com/is-your-smartphone-fueling-your-eating-disorder/ Tue, 13 Jun 2017 02:28:26 +0000 http://lindaklaffey.com/?p=1440 Smartphones make it easier than ever to keep track of our health. Apps on your phone include My Fitness Pal, which helps you to track your calorie intake, and Endomondo, which helps to track your progress on exercise goals. These apps quickly monitor how well you’re meeting your health and wellness goals. But there’s also […]

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Smartphones make it easier than ever to keep track of our health. Apps on your phone include My Fitness Pal, which helps you to track your calorie intake, and Endomondo, which helps to track your progress on exercise goals. These apps quickly monitor how well you’re meeting your health and wellness goals. But there’s also a dark side. Some experts suggest these apps could also be fueling eating disorders and weight obsession.  Here’s what you need to know.

The Origin of Weight Obsession

Obsessing over calorie consumption and exercise is nothing new. Dieters have tracked calories consumed and burned for years, even when they could only do so with pen and paper. There’s some evidence to back up the practice of tracking calories. When you are required to keep a record of everything you eat, it forces you to become more honest about what you’re really eating. Many people discover through tracking that they’re eating more calories than they realized.

The Dark Side of Tracking

Tracking the calories of everything you eat can easily become an obsession. You have an allotted number of calories each day and can start to feel panicked about exceeding them. You may decide to consume fewer calories so that you don’t go over the day’s goal. Before you know it, you may be proactively restricting your calories to an increasingly small list of acceptable foods.

Compulsively tracking your food consumption through online apps can make you overly concerned about your weight as well. You may focus more on the “micro” picture, feeling that the impact of one day over your calorie limit is more important than the big picture of what is a healthy, balanced amount of consumption the rest of the time.

Exercise apps can also be dangerous if you’re a naturally competitive sort of person. Your Fitbit might encourage you to get 10,000 steps a day, but you might start to feel like 10,000 is just the bare minimum rather than the goal. More exercise isn’t always better. Both diet and fitness tracking apps can help you stay on track, but if you’re not careful, it’s easy to use them to negatively measure yourself.

How Smartphones Enable Compulsion

If you feel almost addicted to your smartphone, you’re not alone. According to a recent New York Times article titled “Hooked on Our Smartphones,” people check their smartphones on average 150 times a day. This frequent behavior leads to a snowball effect, causing you to check it even more often.

Most smartphone apps designed for calorie and exercise tracking also have a social component. You can add other users of the site to be your friends, which enables you to see their calorie intake and exercise activity. This can also easily lead to competition and social comparison, which can easily cause unhealthy behaviors.

Apps and Eating Disorder Recovery

Most patients in treatment for eating disorders are restricted from smartphone use, but it can be difficult to avoid smartphones forever after leaving treatment. Smartphones are a double-edged sword that can be used for good or bad. People in recovery from eating disorders can use some smartphone tools to help them stay on track in their healing. But apps can also be destructive to people who are recovering from eating disorders.

Calorie and exercise trackers should be used with caution if you have a history of eating disorders. Talk to your therapist and medical providers about whether they’re a good option in your individual case.

Whether you have a history of eating disorders or not, be mindful of using these apps. They can be a great way to help you stay on track toward meeting your goals. But dial back their use—even going back to low-tech methods, if necessary—if you find that the apps are fueling anxiety, obsession, and competition. Managing your health should leave you feeling empowered, never panicked or depressed.

Take the first step…

If you are ready to address your food, weight, and body image issues and how they may be affecting your life, I would like to help. Please contact me via phone or email so we can discuss how we might work together to achieve your therapeutic goals as quickly and effectively as possible.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Linda K. Laffey, MFT

 

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Warm Weather, Swimsuits & Body Shaming: How to Prepare your Mind http://lindaklaffey.com/warm-weather-swimsuits-body-shaming-how-to-prepare-your-mind/ Mon, 05 Jun 2017 22:27:22 +0000 http://lindaklaffey.com/?p=1436 The weather is heating up. As we get closer to summer, most of us want to dress in cooler, shorter, more revealing clothes. Unfortunately, this can usher in a season of self-consciousness if your body doesn’t match society’s ideal. It’s this time of year when you’ll see more online comments about certain bodies needing to […]

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The weather is heating up. As we get closer to summer, most of us want to dress in cooler, shorter, more revealing clothes.

Unfortunately, this can usher in a season of self-consciousness if your body doesn’t match society’s ideal. It’s this time of year when you’ll see more online comments about certain bodies needing to cover up or even hear rude remarks at the pool or park.

Here’s how to brace yourself against hurtful body shaming and remain comfortable in your own skin this summer.

Be Your Own Cheerleader

You probably have a lot of negative body image ideas in your head. You didn’t put them there. You likely picked them up from advertisements, TV and long-standing cultural norms.

Don’t look to the same unhealthy culture to start sending you positive body image messages instead. Take matters into your own hands and change your self-talk. When you notice that you’re having unkind thoughts about yourself, immediately stop. Tell yourself something nice instead like, “My body isn’t perfect, but I am healthy and strong,” or “I am more than just a body. I have a nice smile, I’m good at my job, and I’m really friendly.” Look for celebrities or public figures that you admire whose bodies look like yours. Remind yourself that you are beautiful, just as you are.

Decide When to Correct and Educate

There are so many people who make thoughtless statements about body image. If you were to stop and correct each time anyone said anything unflattering, you’d be doing so all day. You can choose to address every instance of fat-shaming that you hear if you want, or you can choose to pick your battles wisely. Save your energy and call out only the most offensive statements said by those closest to you.

If a close loved one offends you, you may just want to say something simple like, “That hurt my feelings.” If someone else makes an unkind comment about another person’s body, you can choose to use the opportunity to educate them.

Watch Your Words

Your own words about your body have an impact on a lot of other people, especially if you have children. The young people in your life listen to the words you say. If you say that you look terrible because you’re “so fat,” you’re sending them a message linking weight to looking good.

By insulting yourself out loud, you’re creating an atmosphere in which you allow others to disrespect you as well, and you are teaching them to treat themselves that way, too.

Remove the Link Between Weight and Health

One of the worst aspects about body shaming is that we start to create associations between doing healthful things and losing weight. Sure, exercise and eating fewer processed foods might help us lose weight. But those choices have value even if you never lose a pound.

Choose to get regular exercise and eat nutritious foods, because they’re good for your body and you want to be healthier. Being healthy and being thin are not synonymous; neither are being heavy and unhealthy. Take care of your body, because you want to be around for a long time, not because you want to look different.

Do Things that Celebrate Your Body

Your body is about so much more than its appearance. Choose to do things that make your body feel sexy and powerful. Maybe what makes you feel good is taking a luxurious bath, unwinding at a yoga class, or dancing with the volume turned up.

Similarly, don’t stop yourself from doing things you want to do just because you’re not at the “right” weight. Wear a bikini. Take a pole-dancing class. Go after that big promotion. Waiting until you lose 20 pounds to do what you want to do is just holding you back.

Ads will tell you that you need to work on achieving your perfect “beach body” for summer. Remember, you don’t need a new body to go to the beach. Just put on a swimsuit and go. Cast off self-consciousness and enjoy your summer right now.

Take the first step…

If you are ready to address your body image issues and how they may be affecting your life, I would like to help. Please contact me via phone or email so we can discuss how we might work together to achieve your therapeutic goals as quickly and effectively as possible.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Linda K. Laffey, MFT

 

 

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How EMDR Can Help You Conquer Social Anxiety http://lindaklaffey.com/how-emdr-can-help-you-conquer-social-anxiety/ Tue, 23 May 2017 03:03:50 +0000 http://lindaklaffey.com/?p=1432 An estimated 15 million Americans live with social anxiety. If you’re one of them, you know about the challenges it presents. You may feel afraid of interacting with others, expecting to be judged or disliked. You would love to have more friends, but thinking about meeting people makes you feel panicked and nervous. Social anxiety […]

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An estimated 15 million Americans live with social anxiety. If you’re one of them, you know about the challenges it presents. You may feel afraid of interacting with others, expecting to be judged or disliked. You would love to have more friends, but thinking about meeting people makes you feel panicked and nervous.
Social anxiety is uncomfortable, and it’s not something you have to live with.

Therapy is a great way to conquer the condition. A specific type of therapy called Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) may be especially effective.

What is Social Anxiety?

Social anxiety is more than just being shy. It can have crippling effects on your interactions with other people. Some people with social anxiety become isolated, avoiding some or all situations where other people are present.

Symptoms of social anxiety include the following:

• Fear of rejection
• Fear of authority figures
• Avoidance of new social situations
• Physical symptoms like nausea and sweating
• Expectation of being disliked
• Tendency to ruminate over social encounters after the fact

What is EMDR?

EMDR is a form of therapy that helps you work through phobias or traumas under the guidance of a therapist.

You focus on a distressing image or memory while the therapist directs you to do one or more of the following:

• Track an object side to side with your eyes
• Listen to sounds alternating over headphones
• Hold sensors that vibrate in alternate hands.
These sequences have been proven to alter how your brain processes disturbing thoughts or memories.

How Can EMDR Help Social Anxiety?

Negative assumptions are an underlying factor in many cases of social anxiety.

Do you believe that people will dislike you, embarrass you, or judge you harshly?

Disturbing mental images of what could happen drive social anxiety. Even though these events haven’t actually happened, they still create powerful mental motivation to stay away from people.

EMDR helps because its aim is to replace negative feedback loops with more positive ones. Many of the thoughts that cause your social anxiety are based on things you tell yourself over and over. You can find freedom when you learn how to break these associations.

How Does EMDR Work with Other Social Anxiety Treatments?

Social anxiety doesn’t generally go away on its own without help. Most people find that they need a variety of treatments. EMDR can help ease social anxiety in combination with other therapies.

Although many people see EMDR as an alternative to traditional talk therapy, you may find that they work well together. EMDR allows you the peace of mind and positivity to relax and open up to a therapist, encouraging you to build a supportive therapeutic relationship.
As a result, verbal sharing may give you more courage to reach out to other people. A therapist can also help you to improve your communication patterns, which also benefit your social encounters.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is another form of treatment, combined with EMDR, that may help you consciously change your thought processes. Again, EMDR breaks the cycle of negative association. From there, your therapist can help you recognize your damaging thought patterns. Then, you can learn how to replace them with different thoughts.

Finally, many people with social anxiety also have Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Your therapist may end up suggesting a combination of EMDR and medication to address your needs. In some cases, antidepressant medication or anti-anxiety medication may be helpful. It is, however, very possible to resolve most cases of social anxiety and Generalized Anxiety Disorder without any medication at all, and it is important for you to make your needs and wants known.

Few people will pursue just one type of treatment. It’s important to trust your therapist—and communicate honestly if you don’t think the current treatments are working. Although social anxiety can be overwhelming, you can experience relief with the support of a knowledgeable therapist.

Take the first step…

If you are ready to address your social anxiety issues and want to bring about big change in a short amount of time, I would like to help. Please get in touch with me via voicemail or email so we can discuss how we might work together to achieve your social and relationship goals as quickly and effectively as possible.

I look forward to hearing from you.
Linda K. Laffey, MFT

 

 

 

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Quit or Recommit? How Couples Counseling Can Help You Decide http://lindaklaffey.com/quit-or-recommit-how-couples-counseling-can-help-you-decide/ Tue, 16 May 2017 02:43:13 +0000 http://lindaklaffey.com/?p=1427 Most people think couples counseling is only used to try to save your relationship. But if you’re in a position where things feel too good to leave but too bad to stay, couples counseling can offer an impartial guide. Couples counseling can help you make up your mind about whether you should stay or break […]

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Most people think couples counseling is only used to try to save your relationship. But if you’re in a position where things feel too good to leave but too bad to stay, couples counseling can offer an impartial guide.
Couples counseling can help you make up your mind about whether you should stay or break up—and about how you can handle either situation with maturity.

Lay Your Cards on the Table

The unknowns are part of what makes the decision to stay in your relationship or leave it so difficult.

Keeping feelings secret from your partner does not help and often makes things worse. You can’t fix your relationship unless you know the real issues affecting each of you.

Similarly, you need to be honest with yourself and your partner if you’re still harboring resentment about past wrongs. You can then resolve to forgive them, or decide that you don’t think you can.

Getting all the truth out in the open is like ripping off a bandage: It will hurt in the short term, but will ultimately help you heal.

Why You Need a Counselor

The closer we are to a situation, the less objectively we can view it. A counselor is a neutral, unbiased third party who can help you get some clarity and perspective. Communication skills can be taught and improved upon, too.
In addition, a counselor can help you sort out when some issues are deal-breakers. If you want kids and your spouse doesn’t, that difference is hard to resolve. You may also feel like you’ve already given up on the relationship but don’t want to admit it to yourself. A counselor can help you recognize if you want to save the relationship or if you really want to end it.

Timing Matters

Marriage counseling always has the potential to help, but timing matters. Counseling is less likely to be helpful with a given relationship if you wait too long. Hostile communication patterns can destroy a relationship. If you put it off and put it off, by the time you finally decide to go to a counselor’s office, your relationship may be too far gone to save.

When possible, your best option is to seek counseling early in a relationship. You’ll learn healthy communication techniques that can help you avoid a lot of hurtful mistakes. You can also discover basic incompatibilities that may only become harder to accept over time. The help of a third party really can’t be overstated.

It’s All About Your Motivation

Love can conquer all, right? That’s certainly what our culture seems to buy into. Indeed, love can solve a lot of problems, but it also takes deep commitment. A couple that is highly committed to each other will be more likely to get positive results from counseling.

If you and your partner are equally committed to counseling, you will also be more likely to put in the effort to save your relationship. Counseling will also reveal if one or both of you lacks the motivation to work on your relationship. You can’t force yourself or your partner to feel something that’s not there.
And you both need to face the truth if the motivation really isn’t there. Motivation and commitment will make or break your relationship.

Conflict Isn’t Always Bad

You can’t avoid all conflict in a relationship. While disagreement may be unpleasant, the process can help you and your partner grow closer. Even if you go through a period of painful honesty about your relationship, it can be a good, cathartic experience.

Maybe you’ll decide to stay in your relationship and keep working on it, or perhaps you’ll realize it’s time to leave and start over. Either way, counseling can help you make that decision. When you make the decision in a peaceful frame of mind, you’ll be able to move forward with confidence.

Take the first step…

If you’re ready to take a serious look at your relationship and figure out what needs to be done to get unstuck and off the fence, I would like to help. Please get in touch with me via voicemail or email so we can discuss how we might work together to achieve your therapeutic goals as quickly and effectively as possible.

I look forward to hearing from you.
Linda K. Laffey, MFT

 

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Overcoming Overwhelm: 10 Strategies to Keep Yourself Calm http://lindaklaffey.com/overcoming-overwhelm-10-strategies-to-keep-yourself-calm/ Tue, 09 May 2017 03:25:15 +0000 http://lindaklaffey.com/?p=1423 You’re not alone if you feel overwhelmed. Our busy modern lives pull us in multiple directions at once, making it feel nearly impossible to keep everything in balance. Although we have a limited amount of control over our circumstances, we can manage our responses to them. Here’s how to stay calm when life isn’t: 1. […]

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You’re not alone if you feel overwhelmed.
Our busy modern lives pull us in multiple directions at once, making it feel nearly impossible to keep everything in balance. Although we have a limited amount of control over our circumstances, we can manage our responses to them.

Here’s how to stay calm when life isn’t:

1. Say No

Setting boundaries is one of the most important keys to avoiding overwhelm. Everyone else is likely to be just as busy as you are, so they’re probably looking to offload some of their duties. Be clear about what you realistically have time for. Then, say no to the rest—and don’t feel guilty.

Saying no is an important part of avoiding overwhelm.

2. Enlist Help

“Having it all” is a myth. It’s not possible to have a rapidly advancing career, the picture-perfect family, and a healthy gourmet dinner that you whipped up by yourself in the immaculate home you keep.

You need to get some help. Whether you get cooking assistance from dinner services like Blue Apron or Hello Fresh, or hire a housekeeper to clean your home, you’ll be less overwhelmed when you’re not trying to do it all alone.

3. Take Mini-Breaks

It may not be realistic to get away for an extended vacation. But you can set aside time each day for a mini-break. Use your time wisely to get the maximum benefit from the break. You will likely find a short series of yoga stretches or a 15-minute walk to be more relaxing and restorative than spending the same amount of time browsing Facebook on your phone.

4. Take Up Meditation or Similar Practices

When your brain is racing a million miles an hour, meditation has proven to slow it down. Meditation takes practice, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t see results the first few times you do it. Other relaxing habits that have similarly calming effects on the brain include controlled breathing, prayer, and even knitting.

5. Cut Back on Caffeine

Cutting back on caffeine can sound impossible when you have so much to do. But it’s actually a very helpful thing when you feel overwhelmed. Caffeine increases feelings of stress and anxiety. Many people find it helpful to drink water or tea when their energy needs a boost.

6. Get More Sleep

You’re burning the candle at both ends, likely staying up late and waking up early just to try to get everything done. Sleep deprivation eventually takes its toll over the long-term, reducing your immunity to illness and increasing your risk of serious disease. Even in the short term, a lack of sleep can make you more prone to making mistakes.

7. Unplug Yourself

Most of us find that the line between work and home has blurred. Thanks to our smartphones, we’re expected to be reachable 24/7. As a result, you can feel like you’re never really “off work,” even when you’re at home. At the very least, set aside a no-contact zone after a certain hour each night when your family knows they’ll have your attention and you don’t have to think about work.

8. Get Real Support

Advice from your friends over drinks is technically a form of support. But when your life is overwhelming, you need something more powerful and impartial. If you’re overwhelmed on the job, consider talking to a career mentor. If life, in general, has you feeling stressed, talk with a good counselor.

9. Let Go of Your Perfectionism

Many of us put far more pressure on ourselves than our bosses or loved ones ever would. It’s important to ease up on your need to be absolutely perfect at everything you do. When you’re a perfectionist, you’re more likely to try to control the situations and people around you. But true control is impossible to achieve, and trying to do so will only make you miserable (as well as those around you). Do your best, then let go of the rest.

10. Stop Multitasking

You might think that multitasking is the only way you can possibly get everything done. But believe it or not, multitasking actually makes you less effective at each of the things you do. Focus more on each individual item on your to-do list. You’ll likely find that your work becomes much more efficient when you’re not trying to do several things at once.

Being overwhelmed is a common state in our modern life, but you can step back. A saner, calmer way of living is achievable with a little bit of intention and focus.

Take the first step…

If you’re ready to take a step toward reducing overwhelm, dealing with stress, managing anxiety, and changing your life for the better, I would like to help. Please contact me by phone or email so that we can discuss how we might work together to achieve your therapeutic goals as quickly and effectively as possible.

I look forward to hearing from you.
Linda K. Laffey, MFT

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Eating Disorders are Equal Opportunity Destroyers: Are You in Danger? http://lindaklaffey.com/eating-disorders-are-equal-opportunity-destroyers-are-you-in-danger/ Mon, 01 May 2017 21:16:35 +0000 http://lindaklaffey.com/?p=1417 Do you have a picture in your mind of the typical eating disorder sufferer? Many people stereotype eating disorder patients as young, Caucasian, upper-class females. While certainly some people do fit this description, far more people are at risk than you may realize. Anyone can be vulnerable to eating disorders for a variety of reasons. […]

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Do you have a picture in your mind of the typical eating disorder sufferer? Many people stereotype eating disorder patients as young, Caucasian, upper-class females. While certainly some people do fit this description, far more people are at risk than you may realize.
Anyone can be vulnerable to eating disorders for a variety of reasons. Eating disorders are equal opportunity destroyers. Here’s what you need to know and the signs you should watch for:

Athletic pressure may be a factor

Our society often places a high value on athletes and the sports they play. The athletic life is a great way to highlight the enormous potential of the human body and what it can accomplish. But athletes are also at increased risk of developing eating disorders. Some coaches encourage behaviors or goals that can unintentionally result in disordered eating. There’s a sense that athletes should be able to manipulate and control their bodies. As a result, they may try to achieve an unrealistic body image by any means necessary.

Males suffer too

Even though females statistically represent the majority of patients with eating disorders, males are also at risk. In fact, the rate of eating disorders among men appears to be increasing. Researchers suggest diagnostic bias favors women. If the criteria for eating disorders were re-evaluated and counselors were more aware of men’s issues, we would likely see a much higher incidence reported among men. Eating disorders are likely already present, just under-recognized. Furthermore, athletes, homosexual men and those in certain professions may face greater pressure to be thin, which can lead to eating disorders as well.

All races and classes are vulnerable

Again, eating disorders are not exclusive to white, high-income individuals. This group may be more likely or able to seek treatment, which may make them appear more prevalent among the population. People of all backgrounds, races and income levels can be at risk of developing eating disorders. However, it is very likely that many people suffer from eating disorders in silence, unable to get treatment.

Consider different types of eating disorders

When we think of eating disorders, we typically think of anorexia nervosa. People with anorexia effectively starve themselves, taking in far fewer calories than they need to survive. As a result, they lose massive amounts of weight and can have an overly thin, even skeletal-looking appearance. It’s a very dangerous, life-threatening condition.

But eating disorders take many different forms. Bulimia is characterized by consuming large amounts of food in one sitting (called a “binge”). It is followed by vomiting or laxative abuse (called a “purge”) or other compensatory behavior, such as over-exercising. Although bulimia is also extremely life-threatening, people with bulimia may not necessarily seem thinner than average. You can rarely tell if someone has bulimia just by looking at them. However, those who live with bulimics are often aware of patterns of bingeing and purging behavior.

Binge eating disorder (BED) is the most recent disorder recognized by the psychiatric community. Though not widely known, it affects up to three times more people than anorexia and bulimia combined. BED sufferers consume very large amounts of food in a short period of time and report feeling powerless to stop it. Unlike bulimia, those with binge eating disorder do not purge to get rid of the food. Many people with BED are obese, although this is not always true.

Eating disorders are serious. It’s far more than just dieting or being weight conscious. Some people with eating disorders have a distorted self-image about their own bodies, believing they are much more overweight than they actually are.

The one thing that all people with eating disorders have in common is an unhealthy relationship with food. With the help of a qualified counselor, you can learn how to manage your view of food and to consume it in the appropriate amounts to keep you healthy.

Take the first step…

If you are ready to address your food and body image issues and how they may be affecting your life, I would like to help. Please contact me via phone or email so we can discuss how we might work together to achieve your therapeutic goals as quickly and effectively as possible.
I look forward to hearing from you.

Linda K. Laffey, MFT

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Headline Headache? How to Cope When World Events Feed Your Worry http://lindaklaffey.com/headline-headache-how-to-cope-when-world-events-feed-your-worry/ Tue, 25 Apr 2017 02:40:11 +0000 http://lindaklaffey.com/?p=1411 When you turn on the TV news, the world can seem like a scary place. Violence and war rage in countries around the world. Some commentators and political figures even claim the same could happen here. It doesn’t take much exposure to world news to feel like your anxiety is being cranked up to record […]

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When you turn on the TV news, the world can seem like a scary place. Violence and war rage in countries around the world. Some commentators and political figures even claim the same could happen here. It doesn’t take much exposure to world news to feel like your anxiety is being cranked up to record levels. But you don’t have to live in fear. Here’s how to cope with the news and keep your cool.

Don’t Completely Avoid All News

There’s a difference between being informed about what’s happening in the world and knowing every minute detail. You can still get an overview of current events without knowing the little details that create the perfect set-up for being overwhelmed. The amount of information you can handle varies for everyone. You shouldn’t expose yourself to more than you can handle, but you don’t have to hide, either. Complete avoidance can exacerbate anxiety as well.

Set Boundaries for Yourself

Give yourself permission to back away from conversations that make you uncomfortable. It’s okay to leave the break room if your coworkers are going on about bombings or school shootings in graphic detail. You don’t have to participate in conversations if you’re not interested. If someone brings up unpleasant subjects, you can redirect the discussion to less disturbing topics.

Keep Your Focus on the Positive

Your focus can strongly influence how you feel. If you watch the 24-hour cable news cycle, you can easily get the idea that the world is a terrible place. Balance your perspective with a focus on the many good things that are happening in the world. Check out websites like the Good News Network if you’re having trouble finding more positive news stories.

Draw Near to Loved Ones

Friends and family can be great resources to help you cheer up. Make the effort to regularly spend time with your loved ones, especially when the world feels heavy and dark. Spending time with people you care about can take your mind off the bad things happening in the world for a while.

Help Others

The rest of the world has their own problems. You can’t do much to directly help people thousands of miles away. But you can help people in your own community. Get involved in a cause that’s dear to your heart. The causes in your community need your money and your time. You can make a real difference close to home.

Put the Problems into Perspective

There’s no question that tragedies like famines and suicide bombings are sad events wherever they happen. But it’s also important to keep your life in perspective. You can simultaneously feel grateful for your relatively comfortable life and feel compassion for those in harm’s way. Remember that scary events aren’t happening in your backyard and most likely never will.

Practice Healthy Self-Care

It’s more important than ever to take good care of yourself. Bad habits like skipping exercise, eating poorly or skimping on sleep will make it harder to cope with stressful news in the world. Go for a walk, nourish your body with healthy foods, and go to bed a bit earlier. Make time for other self-care practices like writing in a journal or taking care of your spirit through meditation or prayer.

Go on a Media Fast

You have a lot of control over how much bad news you see. Since most of us live in safe neighborhoods, the troubles of the world are far from our doorsteps. That means that we can elect to avoid much of the bad news if we so choose. The number one way to limit your exposure: turn off the news. Take a break from checking social media.

We can’t control what happens in the world. It can seem like nothing but bad things are happening all around us. Challenge those thoughts, focusing on the good things in your life and community. It can help ease a lot of your anxiety.

Take the first step…

If you’re ready to take a step toward dealing with your anxiety, I would like to help. Please contact me by phone or email so that we can discuss how we might work together to achieve your therapeutic goals as quickly and effectively as possible.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Linda K. Laffey, MFT

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EMDR: Why You Might Benefit More from Saying Less http://lindaklaffey.com/emdr-might-benefit-saying-less/ Tue, 18 Apr 2017 00:06:56 +0000 http://lindaklaffey.com/?p=1408 The lasting effects of trauma can be difficult to overcome. Many people try to bury the hurts of the past, thinking problems will go away if they ignore them. Unfortunately, that is rarely true, especially when it comes to major trauma. Some trauma survivors try to address their past through traditional talk-based counseling, but this […]

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The lasting effects of trauma can be difficult to overcome. Many people try to bury the hurts of the past, thinking problems will go away if they ignore them. Unfortunately, that is rarely true, especially when it comes to major trauma.

Some trauma survivors try to address their past through traditional talk-based counseling, but this is not always a successful treatment for everyone. Enter Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, the promising trauma treatment alternative, also known by its acronym EMDR. Here is what you need to know about EMDR and how it can help you.

What is EMDR?

Researchers aren’t entirely clear yet about how EMDR works, although new studies are constantly discovering more about the process. EMDR is thought to work in a similar manner to the rapid eye movement (REM) stage of sleep. During this stage, the brain and body repair themselves. In an EMDR session, the patient revisits a traumatic experience from their past and finds a new way to process it.

The treatment is guided by a trained psychotherapist. He or she directs the patient in a series of eye movements while recalling past experiences. The series of eye movements is designed to encourage patients to react with less intensity to traumatic events. During the past 30 years of research, it has been determined that bilateral stimulation is what is working, so if someone is not comfortable with eye movements for whatever reason, auditory and/or tactile methods of applying bilateral stimulation may be employed.

Who Can Be Helped by EMDR?

EMDR is a promising treatment option that can help virtually anyone affected by painful past experiences in an ongoing way. According to the Nebraska Department of Veterans Affairs, about 7.8 percent of all Americans will experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) at some point in their lives. Survivors of PTSD are ideal candidates for this type of treatment.

Veterans, of course, are not the only ones who can suffer from the long-term effects of trauma. It is estimated that twice as many women as men deal with PTSD, due to trauma induced by partner abuse, rape or molestation. Refugees, survivors of natural disasters and accident survivors also benefit from the effective and short-term way EMDR addresses traumatic experiences. Adults who were abused or neglected as children are also excellent candidates for this form of therapy.

Advantages of EMDR Compared to Talk Therapy

One of the biggest advantages of EMDR compared to talk therapy is the typical duration of treatment. Talk therapy is generally a slower process. The patient and therapist establish trust and rapport, exploring together the possible causes of trauma. They then may revisit the trauma again and again, relying on exposure to lessen its effects. This may or may not work well for some people. EMDR is designed to be a shorter-term and more direct process, and tends to be much more effective for most people.

Some reports suggest that people who have suffered from a single traumatic event can be free of PTSD reactions in as few as three 90-minute treatment sessions, although no two people respond in the exact same way. While some may respond this way in three sessions, others may need a few more sessions. Generally speaking, EMDR tends to cut down total time spent in therapy by 50 percent. Fewer sessions is easier to fit into most people’s schedules. A shorter course of treatment may also be less expensive, increasing accessibility and the likelihood of successful treatment completion.

Must EMDR Replace My Usual Therapy?

Therapy, in general, is rather adaptable.  The goal is to help you recover. Thus, many therapists employ multiple treatment modalities at the same time.  It is true that some therapists may resist EMDR because it’s newer or they are inadequately trained or they do not understand it.  However, other therapists opt to refer their patients to a trained therapist as an adjunct to their existing therapy.

Does EMDR Help All Types of Problems?

EMDR is unique in that it can effectively help resolve long-term past traumas and retrain your thought processes.  As such, this treatment is helpful for those who have suffered problems like childhood abuse or people who have deeply entrenched negative opinions about themselves. Participants also find EMDR helps manage anything from feeling alone and abandoned due to the absence of a parent to the death of a loved one to the lingering effects of war.

Don’t remain trapped in your circumstances any longer. Explore whether EMDR could be a treatment option that might set you free.

Take the first step…

If you are ready to address your unresolved trauma and want to bring about big change in a short amount of time, I would like to help. Please get in touch with me via voicemail or email so we can discuss how we might work together to change your life for the better as quickly and effectively as possible.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Linda K. Laffey, MFT

 

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Mutual Satisfaction: 7 Ways to Cultivate Happiness as a Couple http://lindaklaffey.com/mutual-satisfaction-7-ways-to-cultivate-happiness-as-a-couple/ Mon, 10 Apr 2017 19:34:23 +0000 http://lindaklaffey.com/?p=1403 Your relationship is going strong. But you know there is always a way to make it better. A happy marriage doesn’t just happen by accident, and you will likely find that your relationship will decay if you don’t nurture it. Here are some ways you can cultivate happiness as a couple so that both of […]

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Your relationship is going strong. But you know there is always a way to make it better. A happy marriage doesn’t just happen by accident, and you will likely find that your relationship will decay if you don’t nurture it. Here are some ways you can cultivate happiness as a couple so that both of you are happy and satisfied with the relationship.

Work on Keeping a Positive Mood

You can significantly influence the tone of your relationship. Your mood is contagious and is likely to influence your partner’s mood as well. A study found that partners tend to pick up on each other’s moods and react likewise. If you want to cultivate happiness as a couple, make efforts to focus on the positive and be in a good mood yourself.

Make Love More Often

Having sex more often usually translates to the amount of happiness in your relationship. Several studies have shown that having sex on a regular basis keeps the spark alive. But don’t worry that you need to get busy every day to reap the benefits. One study showed that once a week was the frequency at which maximum happiness was achieved.

Laugh Together

The more often you laugh together, the happier you’re likely to feel about your relationship. But the positive effects of laughing together are seen whether you’re recalling a previous experience you shared or watching something funny. What matters is the mutuality of the laughter. The genuineness of your laughter counts for a lot, too. Fake laughter or awkward chuckling doesn’t produce the same bonding between couples.

Pursue Separate Interests

It may seem counter-intuitive, but it is beneficial for your relationship for each of you to have separate interests and separate friends. Maintaining aspects of your life that do not include your partner gives you more to offer in your time together. It’s not that you should want to get away from your partner or don’t enjoy each other’s company, but that you have unique interests. You can pursue your hobbies or spend time with your friends, then come back to your spouse with new stories of your experience.

Spend Time Together

Even though it is good to have your own unique hobbies and friends, it’s possible to overdo it. Your relationship needs lots of time spent together to keep the bond between you strong. Couples who spend too much time apart engaged in separate activities can easily find themselves disconnected from one another.

When you feel like you’ve grown apart, the relationship is more likely to dissolve. Find things to do together that you both enjoy, even if it’s just taking a leisurely walk after dinner or binge-watching shows on Netflix together.

Practice the “5-to-1 Ratio”

Research shows that the happiest couples maintain something called the “5-to-1 ratio.” This means that you have five positive encounters with your spouse for every one negative encounter. This ratio is what couples experience early in the relationship. Unhappy couples are likely to have a much different ratio. Those who end up divorcing have just 0.8 positive encounters for every negative encounter. Having a ratio of more positive interactions creates more overall good feelings about your relationship.

Show Gratitude to Your Partner

Everyone wants to feel appreciated—especially by their spouse. But over time, many of us start to slack off on showing gratefulness to our partners. We may still be mindful of expressing thankfulness for big gestures, but may forget to acknowledge the little niceties that keep a relationship moving along. Make a concerted effort to notice the little things your spouse does to help you out, like remembering to put on the coffee in the morning. Show appreciation for the other things your spouse does that makes you feel valued as well, like cheering you up when you’ve had a bad day or listening to your stories about work.  Being in a happy couple doesn’t require any special magic or sweeping, over-the-top acts. It requires a series of small but important gestures that add up to making both people feel loved and valued.

Reach Out……

If you are ready to begin restoring the mutual satisfaction and happiness in your relationship, I would like to help. Please contact me via email or voicemail so we can discuss how we might work together to achieve your therapeutic goals as quickly and effectively as possible.

I look forward to hearing from you.
Linda K. Laffey, MFT

 

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