Family Answers

How do you handle parents with mental health issues?

I am so sorry that this is happening to you.  Because this is a challenging situation, I would empower you to overcome this obstacle by working as a team with you. We would create a professional treatment plan unique to you.  You cannot control your mom or dad, but you can control your own behavior and choices. One option is to ask your mom and dad to seek professional help, and agree to get some yourself. Have some options available in case they do show interest...ie-detox and rehab for dad, and counseling for everyone.  If they do not agree, you can try setting boundaries. Therapists on the BetterHelp platform have constructive, inspiring worksheets on boundaries that they can share with you to strengthen these skills.  Finally, you can take great care of yourself! Make sure you remind yourself this is not your fault, and tell yourself your best qualities! Empower yourself with CBT therapy (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) and write down every day all that you are grateful for. In your treatment plan, you may also choose to include regular exercise. (Decide what type is your favorite and what days/times are amenable for you). The more specific you are, the more likely you are to follow through!  Also, eat healthy meals and get as much quality sleep as you can. You and your therapist can plan this out as well.  Another idea is to reach out to family members and friends who ARE supportive. You can make a list with your therapist who these would be. With technology today, this is easier! You can use Skype, Facetime, etc. This can comfort you as well as give you support.  If you have a higher power, you can attend your place of worship or listen to sermons/religious leaders of your choice on you tube. This can bring you comfort and peace.  You can do DBT with hour therapist (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy) and learn to meditate regularly. Also, engage in self care further by seeking massage, manicures, time with hobbies, etc.  All the above can be put on your treatment plan and more!  Please do not lose hope. A good therapist will be available to you and discuss even more options to help that are right for you!  Most importantly, do not lose hope. Therapy is like planting a seed, and when one member of the family starts to get empowered and embrace their health, so do the other members of the family. Even if they are not yet receiving the counseling! I wish you all the best. Sincerely, Jennifer Spinner LCSW
Answered on 09/27/2022

How do I feel loved?

It may be necessary to start working with you on your self-esteem. There are several essential questions: 1. Why does the need to seek therapy arise after three years of a relationship arise? 2. Why seek help from BH individually? 3. Why BH and whether or not the partner wants to counsel or thinks it is just their problem? 4. Was there a time in the past three years when you did not feel sad or "no good enough"? All these questions lead to whether the current conflict has roots in the early past if they are the product of a system, if the couple is dysfunctional, or if these are changes that happened in recent months or weeks. In the latter case, it would be convenient to explore environmental factors such as the last pandemic (3 years ago), the financial situation of the couple, or some changes in the dynamics of the original families. The past pandemic has often left much damage beyond the deaths and physical sequelae. Coexistence with the absence of freedom of movement generates a very particular dynamic. On the other hand, it may be that the couple is still in a state of "power struggle." Furthermore, in the face of difficult economic times, adjustment behaviors that tend towards individuality and selfishness emerge. The influences of the original families on the couple cannot be forgotten. False detachments and poorly resolved loyalties are often causes of partner dysfunction. However, the most important answers are why NOW, why HERE. The answers to these final questions place us in the present, which is what can be modified, changed, or resolved. Therapy is nothing more than generating changes to improve the physical, psychological, and social life of people. I always put my clients in the metaphor of driving a car. We do not drive looking in the rearview mirror - you could have an accident. We look forward and ensure we do not bump into those who come before us. Now and then, you can look into the rearview mirror to know whom we leave behind. Nevertheless, that is just to know that no reckless drivers are threatening us. Looking forward and following the signs (today, the GPS), we can get to the place we want as long as we respect the right of way of others and the laws of (life) traffic.
(MD, (Cuba), Psychiatric, Specialist, (Cuba), MHC, (EUA))
Answered on 09/22/2022

How do I know I have a unhealthy relationship with my older sister and brother-in-law?

Content/Trigger Warning: Please be advised that the article below might mention trauma-related topics that could be triggering. Hello...It is a possibility that problems in their marriage may exist, but not necessarily because of you.  You may just be the target of displaced frustrations as a distraction from them confronting their own problems.  It is quite unhealthy to consistently find yourself the brunt of ongoing insults and insinuations.  It may be in your best interest and for your emotional/mental health to have some time apart from them.  It's not uncommon for us to question ourselves when being repeatedly told we're the problem.  Removing yourself is one step to identifying the real problem.  When they no longer have you present as a distraction, it could force the real problem to surface and they may not be able to ignore it.  Sometimes it's easier to blame others to keep from blaming themselves.  I'm quite sure you have been affected by being targeted and accused.  Such things could cause wavering self-confidence and self-trust.  If you find yourself continuously drained or your mood dampened after interaction with them, that's a sign you're being negatively impacted as a result of being in their presence. Family relationships and connections are important, but it is better to limit them if toxicity arises.  Miscarriages happen for any number of reasons.  If your sister has had multiple miscarriages, it is possible that it is due to health concerns.  Being overly stressed is not good for anyone who is pregnant, but where is the stress really coming from?  Life is full of stressors, some visible and others invisible.  She could be overly worried about having a healthy pregnancy, along with other things that have absolutely nothing to do with you.   Working in healthcare you are exposed to various populations with a variety of backgrounds.  Compassion and comfortability are refreshing to those in a healthcare setting who may have feelings of fear and anxiety, depending on their individual situations.  You providing a listening ear and kind words are ways of reassuring them, and maybe putting their minds at ease.  Be confident in who you are and what you have to offer.  Do not let others' lack of self-awareness cause you to withdraw and retreat from who you really are. It appears as if you purposely engage in self-help and self-care to be the best version of yourself.  Continue on that path...
Answered on 09/22/2022

How to start “freeing” yourself of past childhood trauma and the grief of losing a parent?

Hi there, I am glad that you reached out. And, I offer my condolences if you have lost a parent as a child or young adult. Losing a parent prematurely is often very devastating and can leave us feeling hopeless and confused. When you speak about "freeing" yourself from childhood trauma, the answer is that you will have to work on talking about those traumas openly or in a journal and then working to understand how they impact you now. Then you can begin to free yourself from the thoughts, feelings and behaviors that are a result of that trauma. For instance, if you were raised in a household where your parent yelled at you all the time and threatened you, you may now do the same to other people and/or you may be very afraid of other people. You may find yourself trying to please other people all the time because when you were a child, you were afraid of someone in your household being angry because that was threatening your peace and stability. That is just one example of the many ways that childhood trauma can negatively impact us. We can also have anxiety or panic attacks that we can't seem to understand because our minds and bodies were so used to panicking all the time and this thought process and behaviors just naturally carried over into our adult life. We may have trouble connecting with other people because it doesn't feel safe to connect with others. Whatever it is that is causing you to have lasting symptoms of childhood trauma, you have to work with someone or yourself to understand and talk about those things that occurred and then understand how it's impacting you now. Then you can begin to turn around whatever thoughts and emotions are causing you distress now with new thoughts that reflect your current situation and not an old and abusive situation. As far as losing a parent, I would suggest joining a grief support group, you can find those online or locally in person. It helps to process grief with others and I would research The Stages of Grief, that can be very helpful to understand where you are at in the grieving process. 
(MS, LPC, NCC)
Answered on 08/25/2022

How do I set boundaries with my addicted mom who lies and keeps secrets all the time?

Dear Kgurl, Thank you so much for the good questions. It sounds like your family life is emotionally unsafe due to the kind of messages you are hearing from your parent. Further, if you are not able to relax due to the stress from this issue, then you are probably not getting very good sleep and are less able to cope with other stressors in your life (for example, parenting, working, and etc). I am glad you have come to BetterHelp because speaking with a therapist one on one will help you recover from the emotional difficulties and will also help you problem solve and strategize different ways to set up boundaries for yourself. In the mean time, I have a few recommendations for coping. - MAINTAIN BOUNDARIES. Decide how you want to be spoken to and then clearly communicate this to your parent. If they break the boundaries you set, you can walk away. Consider these questions: 1) Will I allow my parents to swear at me? 2) Will I allow my parents to yell at me? 3) Will I respond to rude texts? 4) Will I allow comments and criticism about my appearance? 5) What else is important to me? - MAKE SURE YOU RESPECT THEIR BOUNDARIES, TOO. In addition to setting your boundaries, it will be important to respect your parents’ boundaries too (otherwise they will not feel the need to respect your boundaries). Ask yourself these questions: 1) Will I swear at my parents? 2) Will I yell at my parents? 3) Will I send my parents rude texts? 4) Will I criticize my parents? 5) What other boundaries do my parents have that I need to respect? - PROCESS YOUR GRIEF ABOUT THE RELATIONSHIP. When you meet with your BetterHelp counselor, I recommend discussing your grief about the relationship with your parents and all the time you lost (in the same way you might mourn the death of someone). Even though your parents are alive, recognizing the relationship isn’t what you would like requires the same kind of mourning process and can help you identify ways you can grow from this experience and then be an even better partner later on (regardless of who you are with). You will be able to share the whole story with the counselor. Whereas others in your life may not be interested in hearing about this or very compassionate and caring about your feelings, the counselor at BetterHelp will be patient and kind (and will be rooting for you / on your side!). - TRY TO IDENTIFY THE TRIGGERS. We are creatures of habit, and we tend to be stressed or angered by predicable things. It is important to start learning about the common themes of what makes you feel this overwhelming anger. Is it when you are lonely? When you are annoyed? When you are bored? Everyone is different. The best way to do this is to start keeping a log of the times you experienced these feelings. Jot down in a journal or in an app like Google Keep these times, including: -- Where was I when this happened? -- What was I doing? -- How was I feeling? Over time, you will see themes that can help you attack the triggers. - IMPROVE YOUR CURRENT QUALITY OF LIFE. If you are lonely, then it is especially important to find ways to get social support. Please consider whether you can join a church, social groups, or if there are opportunities to meet people related to your hobbies or work. Please also consider what connections with your past may be healthier for you. Do you have old friends that you could meet up with more regularly? Please also consider what else you can do in your current situation to improve your quality of life (perhaps a different job, better sleep, better food). In summary, if you are happier where you are, you will feel less anger about where you were. - LEARN MORE ABOUT STRESS. Physical sensations like increased heart rate, sweating, feeling overwhelmed and panicked are signs of your fight or flight response. This is an evolutionary function of our sympathetic nervous system that helps our bodies prepare for dealing with predators (either to fight or flee). In addition, you may feel your muscles tense up and a surge of energy as glucose and adrenaline are released into your bloodstream. The fight or flight response makes a lot of sense if you are dealing with a physical threat, but it does not help us much when our threat is a work deadline, being late for an appointment, meeting a new person, poor internet connection, or other modern stressors. Indeed, too much of the fight or flight response causes stomach upset, muscle tension, bad mood, trouble sleeping, and eventually even lowered immunity (do you ever notice how college students always get sick right after final exams?). - Disrupt intense fear or the fight or flight response with deep breathing. Learning deep belly breathing (or “diaphragmatic breathing) is a great tool to add to effective stress management. Taking time to breathe deeply for a few minutes is a free and easy to learn method to take you out of the fight or flight zone and into a zone where you can think more clearly and not experience those side effects. You can Google “deep breathing” or “diaphragmatic breathing” to start learning a technique that really helps most people. You can find mobile apps to help (for example the Breathe2Relax or the Virtual Hope Box app – both are free and evidence-based) or watch videos online that can walk you through it. These are skills that not only help you now, but can assist you throughout your entire life (for example, dealing with road rage, poor customer service, annoying family). You can also disrupt the fight or flight response in the moment with just a minute or two of intense exercise (for example, push-ups, jumping jacks or walking up and down a flight of stairs). This helps use some of the adrenalin and glucose that are released into your blood stream when you have encountered a stressor and leaves you thinking a bit more clearly. I see good things in your future. Again, I am so impressed that you have reached out for help and I am confident that working with your therapist will help you in several areas of your life! Best, Julie   Note: If you are in crisis and feeling like hurting yourself, please call 911, go to your closest emergency department, or call the suicide hotline (the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline) immediately at 800-273-8255. You could also go to their website to chat at https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/.  
Answered on 08/17/2022

How do I cultivate skills/ therapeutic coping mechanisms to navigate my life’s stressors?

Dear Christine,   Thank you for the opportunity to answer this question. It is a beautiful example of the paradox that many mental health professionals face – seeing everything about your stressful situation so clearly, and yet having difficulty taking that knowledge and those concepts and tools and using them to feel calm, centered, and at peace.   Because that – your internal state of anxiety and tension – is the real issue. It sounds like you have used your knowledge of general psychological concepts, family dynamics, and the impact of trauma to make good decisions in your life. For example, you ended your marriage when you knew you needed to, despite your children’s mixed emotions and disapproval. You have developed a new romantic relationship that is healthy, positive, and supportive. It sounds like you manage what must be a stressful job (all nursing jobs are, in my opinion) well. You are parenting a teen and finding yourself in your relatively new role as a parent of adult children.   All of those are good things. So what you really appear to be struggling with is the quality of your life. You put it so well when you say:   “I feel like I am constantly living in a state of internal and external conflict. Probably just like everyone feels, but I want to be ok with the growth that comes with negotiating through it.”   “I want to be okay with the growth that comes with negotiating through it.” That statement hits the nail on the head so squarely that, as you see, I felt compelled to quote it back to you twice.   You are dealing with your life’s stressors, but you are asking about how to not just survive, but feel centered, grounded, and at peace despite the imperfections. You note that this is probably just how everyone feels. That is both true and not. Everyone has stressors, of course. It reminds me of the saying, “Life is painful; suffering is optional.”   I think of it this way: If you take a person’s total life stressors, and somehow quantify their stress level (I’m not saying you can actually do this; it’s just hypothetical!)  But imagine we all had an objective “stress rating”. I would bet you anything the following is true:   ·      There is someone out there with the exact same stress level as you who is suffering greatly – maybe unable to go to work, losing their temper with others regularly, drawn to substance use or other unhealthy behaviors to escape.   ·      There is someone with your same stress level who is calm, content, and cheerful most of the time.   ·      There is someone with half of your stress who is breaking down under the weight of it.   ·      There is someone with twice your level of stress who is managing it well.   …and everything in between.     The bottom line is, it is a wise decision to take any steps you can to improve your coping skills and learn to maintain an underlying feeling that “everything is okay” no matter how “okay” everything is, objectively.   You would be doing a disservice to yourself if you concluded, “Of course I’m stressed and anxious and not sleeping well. Life is hard! It would be a rare person who gets through modern life without feeling stressed most of the time.”   By writing in with this question, you are maintaining hope that there are ways to find more peace and serenity despite external events. You have not stopped looking for ways to make this happen. You are a bit stumped, as you work in a profession that supposedly has so many “answers,” all of which you know, but they don’t seem to be helping.   Here are some thoughts: You have been in therapy before, but it sounds like you are not currently. And the reason why is understandable, on the surface anyway. I imagine you are wondering why you would go to someone else to tell you all the things that you already know. You know these things, so in theory you could be your own therapist and just “figure it out.”   My response to that (because I have felt the same way myself, believe me!) is that a person can almost always benefit from an outside perspective on their own situation. True, there are many people who are regularly attending therapy and still struggle with these same things. Therapy is not magic, and can be frustrating. But it is possibly a step in the right direction toward what you are seeking – a capacity to apply what you know to your own life.   In addition to recommending that you consider trying therapy again, I’m going to point you in a slightly different direction, one that you might already be familiar with.   I am curious if you ever attended Al-Anon, Codependents Anonymous or any other Twelve Steps program when you were married and struggling with your ex’s addiction. I suspect you might have, as your question demonstrates familiarity with many of the concepts of such programs. For example… You reference having insight into your guilt, trauma, and boundary issues. You express a good understanding of the way your ex-husband’s addiction and depression impacted your entire family. You mention that you “enable” your children. You recognize the fact that your ex “left” the family emotionally long ago, that being physically present was not the same as parenting. You see the role reversal in your ex’s relationship with your daughters, with them taking in the caregiving role. You validate your daughters’ dual feelings of resentment toward you for ending the marriage, existing right alongside their understanding that it was what you needed to do. You appreciate your current partner’s understanding of the walls your daughters have put up to maintain a distance from him, while at the same time empathizing with his wish to have a greater connection with them.   If you have attended Al-Anon in the past, you might think it is no longer relevant because you are divorced. I believe anyone can benefit from Al-Anon, whether they are currently in a relationship with a substance-user or not. In fact, I have gone so far as to recommend Al-Anon to clients who do not even have a history of substance abuse in their families, but who have any kind of family or interpersonal issues that they struggle to cope with. I think it is the best “life school” there is.   Of course I don’t know from your question whether spiritual beliefs are part of your worldview or not. If they are not, I apologize for emphasizing this point so much. But Alcoholics Anonymous has a saying that alcoholism is a spiritual problem that requires a spiritual solution.   I see stress and anxiety in a similar way. When you have already done all you can to understand and manage your situation, but find yourself still weighed down by stressors, or find yourself with underlying feelings of worry or dread that you can’t seem to “think” your way out of, the principles and mutual support of a Twelve Step program might be exactly what you need to fill in that gap between knowing the broad strokes and being able to apply that knowledge to attain peace of mind.   I hope this has been helpful. Thank you again for shining a light on these important questions.   Julie
(LCSW)
Answered on 07/30/2022

What should I do?

It is important to explore what they are doing, and what their intentions may be. Have you considered setting boundaries in an assertive manner?   As far as being ungrateful and entitled, were there things you would do for them to label you as that, or was that something they would say without any merit?  What do you think their goals were for giving you those labels?   When considering fair, I would ask you to consider how they treat you and how you prefer for them to treat you. Are you setting realistic expectations for how they could treat you?  And if they continue to treat you in a way that you do not like, are you willing to pull back from those relationships? Sometimes people aren't willing to accommodate our wants and desires so we are left to determine if we are going to put up with it or not.   All in all, family conflict can be very difficult.  Often times, family relationships are ones that we want to avoid losing, but not every relationship is meant to be good. Sometimes we remain connected to people from a distance.  I do not say this for you to be hopeless, but it is important for to understand what the options are here.    The last thing I want you to think about is, what proof do you have that they hate you?  Is that something you are assuming? Or have they out said it? Have their actions been suggestive of that? Also, lets say they do hate you,  what makes you want to stay around people that hate you?  What good can come from exposing yourself to that kind of energy?   In regards to hating the hate, why do you hate it? I can get why a person would not like being hated but I think it is important to explore what it means for you to be hated.  Does it make you feel bad about who you are? If they did hate you and they stopped, why would that matter so much to you?  It's hard to tell you what to do, but these questions should get you off to further exploring what your next steps are.  
(LMFT)
Answered on 07/29/2022

How can I deal with delayed grief in an effective way?

Hello Kay,   I am so glad you have taken a big step to reach out for some help and support with what you are going though in your life. To me it sounds as though you are dealing with what is known as ‘compounded grief’.  Compounded grief is experienced when a person has experienced several consecutive losses in their life back-to-back.  I can see this is what you have experienced. You have now lost both parents as well as your grandma and your aunt.  I am wondering if the loss of your father was such a difficult time for your mother and therefore, ‘no time or space for you’.  Were you attending to other people’s grief needs and perhaps not your own at that time and then that pattern continued until now? Sometimes, it can seem like someone isn’t grieving at all after an immediate loss. But sometimes we are not able to fully process our reactions for reasons such as: Feeling so shocked by the loss (of your father?) Experiencing “busy” thoughts (distracted by other’s people’s grief needs?) Becoming easily overwhelmed (it is just too much?) Perhaps you may not have display the usual symptoms of grief right away, but later - and sometimes, even significantly later, which seems indeed the case for you. This is known as delayed grief. In short, delayed grief is a reaction to a loss that is often experienced months or even years after the event occurs. It is important for you to know that we understand that grief does not always occur in prescribed or fixed order. Grief very often is not a linear process for everyone. Delayed grief can touch anyone, including those who do not seem to be grieving at first after loss at all, as well as for people who started to grieve after a loss/es but thought they were starting to heal from it. Although a time has passed since your many losses, for some people the grief can still impact you as though it happened just yesterday. Delayed grief is most often caused by our inability to process this shock of loss at the time when it happens. This is can very often due to social or professional obligations at the time of the loss, which could force you to hold back your emotions to function and “get through it.” Delayed grief also often occurs after the busyness, obligations and responsibilities of tasks starts to significantly slow down. For example, someone may not be able to process the loss of their spouse or parent at first because they’re busy handling funeral arrangements or feeling anxious over sudden financial pressures. Perhaps your delayed grief is now emerging simply because you actually have the time, the stillness, and space to confront/deal or address the loss and feelings you’ve been repressing for so long.  You might have been in shock when you had your first loss in 2015 and subsequently the other losses were ‘on hold’ because you were still struggling to come to terms with first.  In your circumstance – you were having to deal with a succession of losses one after another. Delayed grief is your body finally processing emotions you’ve been needing to express. The body finally feels safe enough to experience and feel these emotions fully. Delayed grief can also be triggered by a sudden reminder of the loss, which causes the feelings to reemerge. As with grief in general, delayed grief is a powerful, multifaceted reaction, not a single reaction. And it doesn’t affect everyone in the exact same way. Delayed grief is a reaction to your unprocessed emotions/feelings.  It can result in stress that can often show itself in several different ways. Delayed grief can sometimes also lead to both emotional and physical symptoms, including: troubling recurring memories of the loss recurrent dreams or even nightmares about the persons you have lost difficulty sleeping strong feelings of sadness strong feelings of longing feeling lonely anger (more easily triggered than previously)  difficulty focusing or concentrating low energy levels increased fatigue unexplained aches and pains anxiety mood swings changes in appetite – eating more or less feelings of apathy In many ways, dealing with delayed grief can be like coping with other forms of grief - you are just trying to learn to manage those feelings at a later time - and it sounds to me that for you that this time is now. So, giving yourself some time to feel what you’re feeling may be the best thing you can do. Remember there is no timeline to follow or deadline to ‘get over it.' Giving yourself time and space to experience these emotions is the best way to begin healing from loss. You might also want to consider postponing major life decisions while you’re dealing with your feelings of loss, such as: moving changing jobs having another child Remember that your feelings might come in waves. Just because you feel better for a bit, then worse, doesn’t mean something’s wrong. It’s just the nature of how grief can affect people. Trying to be kind and patient with yourself and doing your best to take care of your health while you grieve can be important steps on your path to healing. Consider building a self-care routine into your day while you cope with how you’re feeling. Remember that it is quite reasonable to think and talk about the people you have lost in your life. Here are some examples of what I have found that some people have might found helpful: Connecting with else friends or family who have shared the loss Consider writing a a grief journal Consider joining a bereavement support group, there are some online option these days if you prefer to an in person group With delayed grief I find it has been helpful and cathartic for people to recall stories, experiences, meals, and music they had or enjoyed with the deceased to honor their memory and increase positive emotions. If you continue to be challenged by feelings of grief, you might want to consider reaching out to a therapist or other mental health professional. If your mood has been persistently impaired for a few weeks or more, you may be experiencing some depression. I would suggest that a therapist can help you determine if you could benefit from additional treatment such as individual psychotherapy or medication. Contrary to how it is often portrayed in popular culture and media, including social media these days too, grief does not have a “normal” timeline. It can indeed start at any given  time and reemerge when you least expect it — including years after the initial loss. So to summarize if you are dealing with delayed grief, just know it is not unusual and there is ‘nothing wrong with you’ certainly nothing to feel bad or guilty about, and it is possible to feel better – but you may need support and it may take you time to process. There are no shortcuts through grief, but with time and space, you may find it becomes less challenging to cope with your loss.  The most effective way for you to manage your grief would be to find your best option for you to deal with it.  If you are unsure where to start, I would strongly encourage you to reach out to a therapist to guide and support you through the tasks of processing your many losses.  I wish you much luck with finding your next step in your journey of dealing with the many losses you have experiences. In Kindness, Gaynor    
(MA, LCSW)
Answered on 07/27/2022

How do I move past the sadness and anger from the loss unexpectedly of my son who passed at 38 yrs?

I'm so terribly sorry to hear about your devastating loss. I can't imagine how you are feeling.  The loss of a child is so heartbreaking, as we expect them to outlive our parents.It is normal for you to feel this pain and loss. I wish I had better news, but he was your child and nothing is ever going to replace that loss. The pain will be with you for the rest of your life. Finding a therapist or a safe person to talk to can help you through the grieving process, but the loss will always be felt. Sometimes, finding a local support group to help in your grieving can be very beneficial. To hear others people's stories about their loss can be comforting; to know they are grieving and going through what you are experiencing, can ease the pain too. They can also provide a wonderful support outside of the group and can help you build friendships that can help ease the loss and fill the void. They say there are seven stages of grief and over time, the intensity of the loss will lessen, but to be honest with you, the loss of the child is devastating. In hearing your story, there seems to be significant trauma related to his death. You may be experiencing some Post-traumatic Stress Disorder from witnessing your son's death and feeling helpless or feeling you could have done more. If these memories continually replay in your mind (over and over again), you can't sleep or eat, have the same vision/memories/dreams, it may be good to seek a psychiatrist to help you overcome the trauma and get on medications to help ease the symptoms. Overall, it will be good for you to get a professional therapist or a support group to be with you on this journey of healing so you don't feel alone. If finances are tight, church clergy are free and can offer wonderful support and a listening ear without breaking the bank. It will be important for you to share your pain and release these feelings so they don't build up. 
Answered on 07/26/2022

How do I heal my fear of attachment and abandonment?

A way of starting the path to healing is to honor the spectum of emotions (comfortable and uncomfrotable).  When we experience traumas and in this case learning that a parental figure would no longer be in the same home on the day-to-day basis is rightfully so- a difficult event for a child to process. The emotions that have resulted from this experience and the residual effects (that show up in your present day life) are all trailheads of information to further explore.  What did you need back then that you can give to yourself in the present? (verbally, symbolically, creatively etc).  As you strengthen your muscle of vulnerability you can start with establishing what safety looks/feels like for you in proximity to other people. Trust is something that takes time to establish and being mindful of your needs and ability to communicate them to those you share space with is a starting point.  As you are mindful of your current attachment style, give yourself grace along the way as you unlearn patterns that are no longer working for the way you want to show up in relationships moving forward.  I'm curious, what you mean by "safely grow"? To be vulnerable is to risk, there is the possibility that things will not turn out how we want them and even in that there is still an opportunity to be present with ourselves and how we respond to the situation. When things work in our favor (comfortable emotions), things to consider include but are not limited to:  1. Did I honor my own boundaries? 2. Do I feel safe to share what I actually felt without holding back? 3. Is this relationship recriprocal? When uncomfortable emotions come to visit, curioisty around the emotions that still sting are trailheads of areas in your life that need further attention.  In the opportunities available to further explore and get to know yourself intimately, you can build on the information that you gradually uncover and move from a place of authencitity at the pace that works for you in the place you are currently in.  Addressing abandonment wounds take time, be gentle with yourself as you gradually address something that has been challenging. 
Answered on 11/28/2021

How do I forgive my parents and stop them from triggering me?

Dear Bec,   Thank you for your message and sharing with me the dynamics between you and your family, and your struggles with forgiveness regarding the pain you've been suffering from.    We do have the right to be angry at how the lack of courage from the ones who have hurt us and have left us feeling unresolved and unfairly treated. It could be true that because of how much shame and guilt the other person is feeling, they might not ever have the courage to come to us, acknowledge what they have done and apologize.   They have hurt us once in the past, yet by allowing this resentment to build, I am afraid that it means we are giving them the license to continue hurting us.   It is unfortunate that this is a situation where it doesn't seem to be fair, the ones who have wounded us continue to live their lives while we are still sitting in the wounds. I can understand how frustrated and angry that feels, I would be feeling the same way given in this situation.   Meanwhile I am also thinking about our future, your future and what is best for your interest. On that note if you would like, I would like to propose forgiveness. Not to agree / accept the person's wrong doing or letting them go from being hold accountable, rather this forgiveness is all about setting ourselves free from continue being hurt / controlled by this person's action / inaction.   As you have been practicing kindness, I am sure you have noticed that we have much control over how we want to feel and we can make choices to promote kindness within ourselves, regardless of how others treat us or what life brings us.   “Forgiveness is the most powerful thing that you can do for your physiology and your spirituality.  Yet, it remains one of the least attractive things to us, largely because our egos rule so unequivocally. To forgive is somehow associated with saying that it is all right, that we accept the evil deed. But this is not forgiveness. Forgiveness means that you fill yourself with love and you radiate that love outward and refuse to hang onto the venom or hatred that was engendered by the behaviors that caused the wounds.” ~ Wayne Dyer   Here are some thoughts that I have when it comes to forgiveness, perhaps some benefits when we practice letting go of resentments and allow forgiveness to bring peace and healing back into our heart:   1. Forgiveness is a gift we give to ourselves   “It’s one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, to forgive. Forgive everybody.” ~ Maya Angelou   Your mind might try to convince you that forgiveness is “letting someone off the hook,” and that you are in fact doing those who mistreated you a favor by forgiving them, but the truth of the matter is that you are doing yourself a favor.   Forgiveness is a gift you give to yourself, to be at peace, to be happy and to be able to sleep at night. You’re not doing this for them, you’re doing it for yourself, to set yourself free from the feelings of hurt, anger and helplessness that kept both of you attached for so long, and to be at peace.   2. Forgiveness is an act of strength   “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute if the strong.” ~ Gandhi    Contrary to what you have been led to believe, forgiveness is an act of strength. You don’t forgive because you are weak, but because you are strong enough to realize that only by letting go of resentments you will be happy and at peace.   3. Forgiveness is a sign of self-love   “We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.    Love yourself enough to let go of all the toxicity from your life and free yourself from all the anger, bitterness and resentments.  If you’re mad, be mad. Don’t hide and suppress your feelings. Let it all out, but once you’re done with being mad, allow forgiveness to enter your heart. Let go and love!    4. When you forgive, you find peace   “If you let go a little you will have a little peace; if you let go a lot you will have a lot of peace; if you let go completely you will have complete peace.” ~ Ajahn Chah   Peace of mind is what you find the moment you let go of any grudges and any resentments you might be holding on to. The moment you say to yourself: “It is time to let go, it is time to forgive”, that will be the moment you will find peace.    5. If you forgive, you will be forgiven   “In this world, you are given as you give. And you are forgiven as you forgive. While you go your way through each lovely day, you create your future as you live.” ~ Peace Pilgrim   In life, we get what we give, and we reap what we sow. And since we’re all humans, and we all make mistakes, the more we forgive others for the past, present and future mistakes, the more others will forgive us when we will make mistakes. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. That also means forgiving ourselves. The more we practice forgiveness, we will find ourselves having more grace and compassion for others, and for ourselves, which would result in peace, comfort and calmness.   I hope this is helpful. Again I want to acknowledge how difficult it is to navigate these waters, especially when some of these pain and acts are ongoing. I just want to acknowledge your courage in seeking to learn about forgiveness.   Please let me know if this is helpful, looking forward to learn your thoughts, Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 05/24/2021

Is it covered by sun life insurance through my work

Hello Shelley,   Thank you for reaching out on this platform to seek guidance.  First of all, I do want to thank you for taking the first big step in seeking out for some assistance and support during this difficult time.  I am sorry to hear about the circumstances of the loss of your nephew, this has to be a difficult episode, especially when it is compounded by other complicated matters - hard to deal with and I am sure it is taking its toll on you. Unfortuanately, I am not able to answer your question directly if Better Help accepts your personal insurance coverage for therapy services because each case is unique when using Better Help but here is what you can do: To contact Better Help Platform simply click on this link below to ask your specific question directly to them: BetterHelp.com  They will send you a confirmation email and respond back with your answer fairly quickly.  I hope that helps.   I would like to offer you some reassurance and perhaps some good tips on using this site to your best advantage so you receive an efficient service.  From the onset of services with Better Help Services you can choose your therapist based on preference, for example, gender, age, race, member testimonials and information about the clinicians experience level - that in itself makes it a unique way to try to get the best match for you and what you need.  This is a major advantage and can determine a successful outcome for you. Using this online platform is proving to be a most efficient way to get the help you need quickly and be matched with the most appropriate therapist given your specific needs.  You can get your first live session (video, phone chat or live messaging options) arranged very quickly according to yours and yor assigned therapist schedule.  Even while you are waiting for your first live session to happen you can message back and forth with your assigned therapist so you speed the process up immensly for yourself.  This online platform allows you to receive help in the form of worksheets which are very informative and useful which are chosen as they relate to your specific needs.  You will also have the opportunity to ask your assigned therapist about sending you worksheets ahead of and inbetween sessions for the duration of your contract.  Again, a very effective option if you are looking to have services for a brief period due to your financial needs. From a therapists' and a clients' perspective the online therapy on such platforms as these is reported to be a very effective way to get to the work phase because most often the clients are relaxed because it is provided in your own setting and location - a huge barrier for many is actually getting time to get to an office appointment.  So, it is most financially cost effective in the longrun. Better Help also offers you the opportunity to sign up for Groupinars - these are basically group sessions with other members giving you the opportunity to share experiences and ask questions, learn more about specific issues.  The Groupinars are run by experienced therapists and posted on the site.  These Groupinars are included in your membership.  Topics vary from from topic to topic, week to week so you can chose which you sign up for according to your availability, need and interest. When you consider your choice of therapist have a good look at the profile of the therapists and I would strongly suggest you find a counsellor who is well versed and experienced in grief therapy priniciples and practices as well as someone who is experience in trauma therapy techniques.  The interventions of grief counselling combined with a trauma focus are effiecient and in my experience can for so many people been hugely effective with positve outcomes in a short period of time. I hope I have been able to offer you an answer to your question as well as offer some helpful tips and advice on how to get the most 'bang for your buck' from this service.  I wish you well and I hope you receive a favorable answer regarding your question about your insurance coverage from Better Help!   Kind Regards, Gaynor (LCSW)
(MA, LCSW)
Answered on 05/22/2021

Why behavior charts are bad?

A behavior or reward chart that has become popular and used by not only parents but teachers and daycare providers as well.  A behavior chart is a visual aid to assist, teach and reinforce appropriate, positive, and healthy behavior for children.  Children are rewarded for making appropriate and healthy decisions or for making progress in learning a new skill.  Behavior charts can also be used as a form of punishment for breaking rules or not completing something, however, the more common use of behavior charts is to reward behavior.  Behavior charts are typically used for school-aged children. Behavior charts can work well with children or students who are well-behaved and do well with socializing with others.  However, behavior charts can also have a negative impact on children and students as well and can be viewed as bad, ineffective, or traumatizing.  If a child or student already has a history of trauma, behavior charts can reinforce the trauma or make it worse. Behavior charts can shame a child or a student and embarrass them in front of others.  This can be either in a classroom in front of other students or in front of other family members.  Long term this could traumatize a child.  Behavior charts can also impact a child’s self-esteem, the way they view themselves, and what they think of themselves. Behavior charts can also teach a child or student how to act externally but they do not teach empathy or internal change.  The change that is reinforced to the child or student is external.  Shaming a child or student into behaving appropriately is typically not helpful, it can increase stress and embarrassment, causing that child to possibly isolate and then engage in other unhealthy or inappropriate behaviors. Behavior charts do not teach a child or student why behavior is inappropriate or unhealthy.  It does not teach empathy, the impact of a child’s behavior on others, or explain which behavior should be engaged in instead. Lastly, children and students do not always value or see the importance of behavior charts.  Each child is unique and their own person so a behavior chart which can be a one approach fits all does not work.
(LISW-CP, LCSW-C, LCSW)
Answered on 05/17/2021

Why family traditions are important?

Family traditions are as unique and special to each family as the family itself. These experiences that are passed down are things we may take for granted, but they create a sense of cohesion and connection and communicate important values within families. Traditions also create a sense of belonging and identity for families and their members. Think back to the last family gathering that you attended. The chances are that some aspect of what you imagined involved a tradition or memory of a tradition that your family shares. While some traditions may seem insignificant or silly, they create positive feelings and serve as a means of cross-generational connection and communicating values, history, and culture within the family. Our sense of belonging within our families often comes from traditions that we share with them. Traditions are created and handed from generation to generation because of the special meaning to important events and their means to create bonds with family members. The sense of belonging and who we are often coming from our families and is communicated via these traditions. Safety, comfort, and security come from familiarity and predictability – both things that family traditions foster. Memories that last a lifetime, a strong sense of belonging, family values, cross-generational bonding, and a sense of safety and security are vital benefits of family traditions. When we start our own branches of the family tree through a commitment to romantic partners, or building families, we have a unique opportunity to pass on a tradition that gives these things to our partners and future generations. We also can create our own family traditions that will communicate what is important to us. We also have the ability to include our family members in building new traditions that are inclusive of and enjoyed by everyone. Traditions need not be pricey, formal, or saved for major holidays. Daily traditions like sharing gratitude at dinner or playing a card game before bed are great ways to incorporate tradition daily. Bringing the family together with shared activities fostering shared values and building healthy and resourceful behaviors is vital for connection and overall well-being.
(MS., CMHC., NCC.)
Answered on 05/17/2021

Why family is important in our life?

Family can be such a beautiful experience in life in so many ways.  Family dynamics have looked different throughout history and are continuing to change.  One component of being in such an important family is that they serve as a comforting companionship.  We all naturally experience highs and lows throughout our lives.  Having a family to commiserate and talk with about the highs in our life can feel really exciting.  Then, when the hard times come in life, having a family to help you through those low times can be really comforting.  A family can help you cope with the low times in a number of ways that others may not be able to do.  Your family knows you more than anyone else and will know what can really help you when you are down.  Having those people in your life that understand you really well and have seen you at your lowest of lows can be really comforting for future low moments.  On that same note, your family is typically willing to care for you when you can’t care for yourself.  For example, if you become sick and/or injured, family members are typically the first to step up to the plate to help care for you. Another important part of a family is that they are a healthy outlet in your life to share beautiful memories with.  Those beautiful moments become a history you share with your family that likely goes further back than anyone else in your life.  You can make beautiful memories with other people in your life, but memories made with your family are more likely to be throughout your lifetime.  On that same note, your family is there for you throughout your life, and in that way, they support certain life goals you have. Certain life goals can feel somewhat overwhelming and far-reaching, but having a family there to support you through those can make them more likely to happen.  Also, the family can sometimes jump in to help you reach certain life goals that are important to you.  For example, if you need financial assistance to get a degree you want, sometimes family can jump in and help out with that.  
(MA, LPC, NCC)
Answered on 05/14/2021

Why family is important?

Family values are something that, for many, holds high importance.  There are many reasons that family is important.  Although what makes family important can change from family system to family system.  For some, it is the emotional support that makes their family important to them. At the same time, others may have high family values due to cultural/religious reasons.  And then there are some logistical reasons that family is important.  Let us take a look at each of these: Emotional support: Family are the people that have been in your life since the very beginning (blood relation or not); they have watched you grow and understand the core of who you are as a person.  For that, these are the people that can sometimes provide you the best emotional support out there.  Sometimes family knows to want to say to help you feel better during difficult times.  They will help lift you when you feel down; they will try to protect you from being hurt, and they will fight for you when you feel you cannot fight for yourself.  Having this kind of emotional support is so important to have emotional wellness.  Cultural/religious reason: For some, it is part of their religion or their culture to stick by their family.  They are raised to understand that above all else, family comes first.  This type of mindset can provide a different type of comfort; you can take safety in knowing that no matter what type of hardship you face, you know that your family will always be there to care for you if you need it.  Vice versa, sometimes knowing that your family needs you for support can give you strength when you feel down or weak.  Logistical reason: At first reading, the word logistical may seem strange to consider; but in reality, having family has some logistical purpose behind it.  We as humans are a community-based organism; we thrive best when we work together as a family.  Even financially, you are more likely to be financially stable if you have a family working together to support one another versus one person working only to support themselves.  As noted above, the family does not necessarily always mean blood or marriage relation.  So whether your family is someone of kin or folks you have grown a bond with that goes deeper than a friendship, having this community is important to maintain. 
Answered on 05/11/2021

Why childhood is important?

Our childhood is important for many reasons. We all would not be who we are today if it weren’t for our childhood, good or bad. Childhood establishes the groundwork for lifelong education, conduct, and wellbeing. Any disruptions and chaos during our formative years can have lasting effects well into adulthood. The experiences we have in childhood influence our brain's capacity to understand and learn, how we socialize with others, and how we respond to day-to-day stressors and challenges. LEARNING Our ability to learn and comprehend is determined in our childhood. Our learning is supposed to start at home as soon as we are born. For those of us that had this experience, once we entered school, we had some confidence in ourselves that we could handle the next stage of our lessons. Those who did not have this experience usually felt inferior in the school environment and possibly did not have faith in the adults, the school, or themselves. Either childhood journey created the path that would influence how we learn and accept new information in the future. Research has shown that college graduates frequently had the former journey while criminals in the penal system had the latter. This example is not always the case, and there are always exceptions; however, this example illustrates how vital childhood learning is in determining success vs. challenges in adulthood. SOCIALIZATION During our childhood, we primarily see social interactions between family members and close family friends. These are the social examples we observe to show us how we are supposed to interact with people. If we see interactions full of hugs, affection, laughter, and love, we mimic that behavior in our interactions and expect reciprocity. However, if we see interactions full of violence, anger, yelling, and hate, we mimic and expect that behavior. We all have met people and wondered why they are so sweet or so mean, then we meet their family, and it all makes sense. Our childhood teaches how to treat people and how we should expect to be treated. Childhood can determine if a person will marry a loving or abusive person.  COPING Life is full of obstacles and challenges. Stress in our lives is the rule versus the exception. How we react and respond to these stressors and challenges will be determined by how we were taught to deal with them. In our childhood, we watch everything our parents and other adults in our lives do. We tend to do what they do instead of what they say, including developing coping skills. If we see that a parent can get through the hard times by drinking alcohol every night, we will probably use that same coping skill and become an alcoholic. If we see a parent reading the bible or going to church during a hard time, we are likely to make religion and faith a part of our daily lives. Childhood is important because it is the journey that leads to happy adult life.   
(LPC, LMHC, NCC)
Answered on 05/03/2021

How attachment theory affects child development?

What is attachment As defined by psychologist John Bowlby, attachment is “a lasting psychological connectedness between human beings.”  There are 4 types of attachment, with the first being the healthiest, which is secure attachment.  The others are anxious, avoidant, and then disorganized.  These attachments occur in utero and are either created or become needed during the critical period, which is the first three years of life. Importance of attachment Attachment is important because it sets a blueprint or emotional map with us throughout our lives.  If we develop secure attachment, we see the world as a safe place to meet our needs. This can lead to achieving other important stages of development positively. If we develop anxious, avoidant, or disorganized attachment, this can affect child development. Attachment is formed in the first three years of life by a caregiver responding to our needs and healthily meeting those needs.  For example, a baby cries because it is hungry, and a caregiver responds to that need by giving them a bottle or breastfeeding them.  The baby feels soothed with this response and can calm down and get its needs met. The flip side of that is the baby cries because it is hungry and no one responds to them, then they are not be soothed, and their needs are not met.  How does it affect child development? It has been researched and noted that failure to form secure attachment would have a negative impact on children throughout their lives.  When children do not feel safe, or their needs will not be met due to early life experiences, this causes the brain to be more activated and causes a stress response.  This can lead to many different behavioral issues that can play out throughout childhood into teen years and adulthood.  It can also lead to deficits in areas of social and emotional development.  The ability to self-regulated is another area that has anxious, avoidant, and disorganized attachment styles can cause needs.  If a child was not soothed like a baby or their needs were inconsistently met, they will not have the ability to self-regulate because they were never taught how to by their caregivers, and with their brain development being affected, it becomes increasingly harder to be able to self-regulate because they are consistently in flight/fight/freeze mode.
(M.Ed, LPC)
Answered on 04/28/2021

Can attachment style change in adulthood?

Hi, thank you for reaching out to us at BetterHelp with your question. My name is Stacey Shine, and I am a Licensed Professional Counselor and am hopeful that I can help provide an answer to your question. First, attachment styles are something that develops at a very young age. These are starting to form when you are basically in the womb as your parents are preparing for how they will parent and interact with you.  Typically, your parent's mother and father or caregiver can be greatly impacted by attachment styles to be somewhat of a generational cycle. As you develop and grow, your attachment can change with maturity and experiences. So, the question of can your attachment styles changes in adulthood...I believe this is a yes. For example, if you are married to someone who grew up with a completely different attachment style, they may provide you with the experience of something you were never exposed to growing up. If you had an attachment style that was not secure and your partner provides that security, it can mold into you having that secure attachment style as an adult. It can also impact your parenting and the type of attachment that you have with your child.  It is not uncommon for parents to either have the same attachment style as their parents or because of their feelings towards that, they go the polar opposite of it and try to develop new attachments. There is also the concept of reparenting self which is often used when someone does not have a secure attachment style in their upbringing. This concept is gaining popularity because there are so many people that lack secure attachment growing up. This concept is essentially parenting yourself or giving yourself the love and attachment that you may have desired or did not experience as a child. This also confirms that attachment styles can change as you grow and evolve. I hope this answer was helpful for you. If you feel like you need to dive deeper into attachment styles and what looks like in your past and go forward, do not hesitate to reach out to us, and we can match you with a counselor. Best of luck on your journey!
(MS, LPC)
Answered on 04/28/2021

Can marriage survive an illegitimate child?

Content/Trigger Warning: Please be advised that the article below might mention trauma-related topics that include types of sexual violence that could be triggering. Marriage can survive just about anything if there is enough patience, communication, openness to growing, maturing, and forgiveness. When a child is born illegitimate, this means that the child was born out of wedlock, and both parents were not married to each other. In the modern age of fertility, by law, a child is also considered illegitimate until the parent who is not biologically theirs adopts the child. But what this question communicates most likely is a child conceived outside of an already existing marriage, as in someone who committed infidelity and became pregnant from their affair. It can also be sexually assaulted, and the victim became pregnant from the assault who chooses to keep the baby. After working with several couples, the child many times isn’t the issue, but mistrust is, so once the mistrust can be healed, the child many times is welcomed. In the case of assault, it has been a blessing out of trauma, but many times, people choose to terminate that unwanted pregnancy. When it’s not survivable Many people believe that unless the child is their child biologically, they really can’t take responsibility for that child financially or in any area for that matter. People will say they do not want children who are adopted, nor do they want children through fertility whereby the child is not theirs biologically. So, in an illegitimate child, many people’s marriages cannot survive because one or both people involved cannot handle it emotionally. Each case is really specific and unique, and it’s really hard to answer the question without knowing everyone involved. Family systems are made up in different ways, and that’s becoming more the norm; if people keep their minds open and do what is best for them, then the best choice is made for everybody involved. In terms of forgiveness and empathy, these two practices offer a lot of room for growth and maturity in encompassing illegitimate children into families as simply their children.
(M.Ed., MA, LPC)
Answered on 04/28/2021