5 Questions to Help Figure Out: Who is My Family?



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While we do not have a choice of the family we are born into, we can choose the people we call our family.

And that is okay!

Last night I was at dinner with my Dad and he introduced me to a man who he has known for a long time. As I talked with this man I noticed that he seemed sad. He was not sad about his life choices, he was sad about not having a relationship with his family. He felt betrayed by his family.

This left me thinking: What is family? Is it your “crazy” Uncle that makes everyone at dinner squirm and leaves you with your anxiety jumping from a 2 to a 10 within a matter of seconds? Or is it your best friend who calls and leaves you a voicemail, knowing you won’t pick up, because they know your day is filled with stress, but just wants you to know they are there for you.

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“He ignored me. He must think I’m fat!”: Eating Disorders & Cognitive Distortions



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Editor’s Note: This post was contributed by EWN psychotherapist Nicole Newcomb.

Eating disorders are plagued by twisted thinking. In my business we call this twisted thinking cognitive distortions. You know, those thoughts that all sound right in your head but you would never say them to someone else. These distortions can tear down self-esteem, chip away at our identities and lead us to believe we are failures.

How many times have you told yourself you “should not” eat anything above 100 calories or you “should be” exercising multiple hours daily? How many times has someone given you a compliment and you say something to deny it like “Oh thanks but I’m really not skinny, I’m fat.” Thinking errors like these can lead down a dangerous road to anxiety, depression and possibly an eating disorder.

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Four Elements of a Good Marriage



When it comes to marriage, a mentor of mine said, there are no rules. As long as there are Two Consenting Adults, the possible types of marriage are infinite. You can have bi-cultural marriages, bi-racial, bi-coastal, marriages blending different religions, arranged marriages, open marriages, May-December couples, straight, gay and transgender. Traditional or not, all that matters is that the two adults involved agree on what defines their particular coupling.

Two. Consenting. Adults.

After that what are the elements of a good marriage? Everyone wants to know that, right? What my mentor said was a bit surprising. He said that after doing a meta-analysis of studies on happily married couples, researchers boiled down the corner stones of a good marriage to four:

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What Can I Do To Stop Cutting?



4469573193_b4b4d04691Editor’s Note: The self-injurious nature of cutting is so alarming that people, even professionals, shy away from it. And yet there is a real need to address the reality of cutting head on, illuminate the whys of cutting and get everyone involved expert help. Explore What’s Next has tried to do just that in this series of articles about cutting. In this article, Kate Maleski, LCSW, Explore What’s Next therapist, offers eight helpful ideas if you are cutting and want to stop.

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Why do I feel so much pain? Why am I like this? Why can’t I be more like them?

These are some of the questions that have lead people to think: I deserve pain and I want to physically feel pain. You may find yourself hurting yourself because you feel like nothing else works. Cutting doesn’t heal your pain…

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What To Do If Your Teen Is Cutting? Part ll



96776343_4efe3075ff_zEditor’s Note: In this post Dylan Broggio, LCSW, responds to questions many readers had about what to do if they know someone they love is cutting or if they are struggling with cutting themselves. 

Dylan Broggio, LCSW is a psychotherapist with Explore What’s Next. She specializes in work with adolescents, adults and families. If you would like to schedule a free consultation with Dylan call her at 734.474.6987 or email at dylan.broggio@gmail.com.

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Firstly, thank you all so much for the great comments, questions and support you have offered on my post “What To Do If Your Teen Is Cutting”. This article really struck a chord with our readers, so I thought I would answer some of the questions that have come up in this important conversation.

Question: “I just found out my child is cutting, how can I talk to them about their cutting without upsetting them and causing more cutting?”

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5 Ways To Deal With Anxiety Over The Heartbleed Bug



3bO_Hxp4_400x400By now you have probably heard about the Heartbleed Bug that has the Internet community shorting out its circuits. With headlines, tweets and posts with titles like “Why Heartbleed Is the Ultimate Web Nightmare” its a wonder any of us got any sleep last night. That Heartbleed logo alone is enough to kick up my flight/fight response!

So what can we do to get a grip, calm our bodies down and take action to do what we can to address the problem?

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What To Do If Your Teen Is Cutting – Revisited



Editor’s Note: This article was written by Dylan Broggio, LCSW, EWN psychotherapist, quite a few years ago. “What To Do If Your Teen Is Cutting” is one of the most viewed articles on the Explore What’s Next blog. We knew this topic was important; what surprised us were the comments by readers who found recognition, validation and hope in Dylan’s article.

In the next week EWN will revisit the subject of cutting, first by presenting the original article once again. Then, in the next few days, EWN will post a new article by Dylan where she addresses the most pertinent comments to the first post. A few days after that you will see another new article by Kate Maleski, LCSW, Group Leader of the “Girls Take Charge” group, this time directed to teens.

If you find this series helpful in any way please leave a comment (the comment button to the right, just below  the title line) and share it with anyone you know who may be struggling with this issue.

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6a00d83527e90e69e20134854de051970c-320piFinding out that someone you love is cutting themselves is very painful, shocking, information to hear. Being armed with information and a game plan can make all the difference in getting your loved one help. What is cutting? Cutting is when someone purposefully injures themselves, but is not trying to committing suicide. Essentially, cutting is a way to deal with pain. Teens and young adults report they cut in order to cope with or relieve emotional pain, or to “feel something” when all they feel is numb. Marks or cuts are typically kept well hidden so that they can continue this way of coping with their emotions.

14% of teens report engaging in self injurious behavior

64% of those teens are girls. (Ross and Heath, 2002)

If you suspect your teen is cutting here are some warning signs:

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The Shooting at Fort Hood & Mental Illness: “Please God, Not Again!”



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Photo courtesy of Steven V

As soon as I saw the “Breaking News” my heart sank. Another shooting. Another gunman. More dead, injured, traumatized.

Then I brace myself for those two little words that always accompany these disastrous gun-related events: “mental illness.”

In a story on NPR, reporter Melissa Block spoke with Counselor Annie Powers, a military veteran herself,  who specializes in treating PTSD. Ms. Powers sees military patients at the Adult, Child and Family Counseling Center in Killeen, Texas, the town where Fort Hood is located.

Ms. Block reports, “All the patients [Annie Powers] talked to since the shooting have been talking about it.”

Ms. Powers states, “I can see where they might be concerned about, oh great, everybody thinks that if you have PTSD, anger, anxiety and depression issues that you’re crazy! There’s a lot of people who are afraid to come get the help. They don’t want it on their military record. They don’t want to go on medication because somebody might know, ‘I couldn’t handle it. I wasn’t strong enough.’ I have to explain to them that PTSD is not about strength.”

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5 Ways to Make a Decision Despite Anxiety



?There are so many reasons why we get anxious that sometimes I get anxious trying to decide what part of being anxious I should write about. How nuts is that?!

Doing the very thing you are afraid of is what reduces anxiety. Somebody said that. Probably Eleanor Roosevelt because she said everything cool, but I digress…

Everyday we are faced with decisions from the seemingly mundane, “Do I get out of bed today?,” (seemingly, because for some that is a major decision, no joke) to the life changers, “Do I take that job? Start a company? Have a baby? Move to a new city?”

Those of us who tend toward anxiety too often find ourselves going around in circles, towards a decision then backing off, only to go towards it again and backing off once more, like a toddler who can’t decide if it wants independence more than it wants to be with mommy.

Why do we get anxious about making decisions and what can we do about it?

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5 Tips To Get The Most Out Of Couples Therapy



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This is a True Story.

A couple walked into a therapist’s office. (OK. It was my office…)

“If you would only stop doing what you’re doing we’d be fine!” yelled one.

“If you would only stop telling me what to do we’d be fine!” growled the other.

“Time out!” said the therapist (me), using the universal ‘T’ hand gesture.

The couple, united in intent at last, stared at me, shocked, as if a monkey had suddenly jumped on my head.

I gently continue, “Couples Therapy is not about having the same fight you have at home here in this office. Just because there’s a third party witnessing it, that won’t make the fight, or your relationship, any better. Let me explain what it takes to be in couples therapy. Then you can decide if you want to continue.”

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