NFSB Clinician, MSW Fordham University, LCSW,
is a member of the mental health community for 20 years during which he has worked with the mentally ill/chemically addicted (MICA) population, served as a school social worker, and psychiatric screener/mobile crisis outreach worker.
(Originally posted on TapInto Nutley)
Many of us enter therapy struggling with external locus of control. We blame partners for dysfunctional relationships, accuse the universe of conspiring against us, or suggest demons assume command of our behavior. When these premises arise in therapy, I strive to help clients accept responsibility for their behaviors. Finding the word “Can’t” most often used by clients to avoid responsibility for undesirable behavior, I now seldom accept it in treatment.
A client with whom I have a deep relationship recently demanded she“Can’t” stop her binge/purge cycle. In prior sessions, I sympathized with her perceived powerlessness while we resolved childhood trauma, and disproved negative self-perceptions. Although she had gained insight, her bingeing endured, replacing relationships, and serving as a conduit to self-loathing. It was then I made the radical choice to put “Can’t” under a microscope. Hoping to underscore choice, and awaken her latent ability to be self-guided, I suggested she replace “can’t” with won’t.
When she denied bingeing was a choice, I suggested it must then be true she was also not responsible for several previous stints of remission. Because she was unwilling to credit another entity for her choice to periodically cease bingeing, she accepted responsibility for the choice to engage in such behavior, and an in-road was made.
The removal of can’t is also useful in couples therapy where blame fills the room. It always shocks each individual when I underscore their own contributions to the dysfunctional dynamic. When I suggest alternative courses of action, “I can’t”! is a frequent response, but I am quick to suggest the removal of can’t, and subsequent insertion of “won’t.” Once personal responsibility is acknowledged, change becomes possible.
We are often tempted to perceive our own actions as beyond our control, but such surrender of our will perpetuates behaviors sure to stunt progress, and hinder growth. Consider this a challenge to replacecan’t with won’t, and assess how it feels to accept responsibility, and regain control. In the end, we are the authors of our own narratives, and are the only creatures on Earth with the ability to change our circumstances through force of will.
LCSW, Nutley Family Service Bureau therapist,
holds a post-graduate certificate from Fordham University in Child and Adolescent Therapy.
Anxiety has a way of making everyone feel helpless – the ones in the midst of an anxiety attack as well as the ones beside them who would do anything to make it better. It’s difficult to know exactly what to do when your little person is flooded with anxiety. Different things will work for different people, so don’t be afraid to experiment with what works best. READ FULL ARTICLE from “Hey Sigmund” by Karen Young.
NFSB offers Play Therapy for children working towards better socio-behavioral interactions, emotional regulation, and trauma resolution. The therapeutic model uses toys, art supplies, and games to elicit children’s thoughts and feelings. It is available to the youngest of children and provided by our staff specialist in child therapy, Ann Goldstien MSW, LCSW in conjunction with the family’s primary therapist to ensure an integrated healing process for all family members involved.
LCSW, Nutley Family Service Bureau therapist,
is also a wife, mother, daughter, sibling, friend and volunteer.
For the year ahead, resolve to focus your time and energy in the following three investment strategies, which will pay off all year long:
Invest in yourself. Investing in yourself does not require a financial commitment, but rather is an act of love and self-care. Set aside time to do something that inspires you. Pursue an outlet that will bring meaning to your life. Say no to requests and demands on your time that leave you feeling depleted. If you want to make a major change in your life, break the process down into manageable steps and be patient with yourself as you make progress toward your goal. Forgive yourself when you encounter setbacks. Allow yourself to experience the journey with as much peacefulness as possible. Speak to yourself with the same loving words you would use with the person you care about most.
Invest in others. When the problems of the world seem too overwhelming, “double -down” on the people and relationships in your life that matter most to you. While it is impossible to shut out the often-harsh realities of modern life, instead of giving up, invest your time and energies on those you love and care about. If you have fallen out of touch with a friend, reach out and reconnect. If you are holding onto negative feelings with someone, find it in yourself to forgive and move ahead with a more positive attitude. No one has ever said, “I wish I had fewer friends!” Invest in your community. While we may feel powerless to effect change in the world, the place where we can make a significant difference is in our communities. Whether it is by volunteering at a soup kitchen, food pantry, or thrift shop, or fundraising for a local charity, or simply by routinely responding with kindness to those who are struggling – we can make a significant impact in the lives of our neighbors.
Investing in community, not only benefits others, but is good on a personal level as well because it creates empowerment. When we feel empowered, we cannot help but feel good. When we feel good about ourselves, we feel hopeful. When we have hope, wider horizons open to us.
By investing in ourselves, in others, and in our communities, we create meaning in our lives and make sense of the world around us. These investments can yield long term dividends if internalized and maintained throughout one’s life!
Family, friends, fun, and food: holidays can be the best of times. But they’re also stressful times, full of demands and deadlines. Here are 5 tips to help reduce stress during the holiday season and throughout the year from our clinicians at NFSB. DOWNLOAD FLYER.
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