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Sexual Abuse Counseling

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Sexual abuse is any form of sexual violence, including rape, child molestation, incest, and similar forms of non-consensual sexual contact. Most sexual abuse experts agree sexual abuse is never only about sex. Instead, it is often an attempt to gain power over others.

Immediate crisis assistance after sexual assault can prove invaluable and even save lives. A person can report sexual assault by calling local police. Survivors may also wish to get a physical exam at a hospital.

Therapy can also be helpful for those who experienced sexual abuse in the past. Some therapists specialize in addressing the trauma of sexual assault. Long-term assistance may be beneficial to some survivors of sexual abuse.

TYPES OF SEXUAL ASSAULT AND ABUSE

Sexual abuse is common, particularly for women and girls. Ninety percent of all rapes are committed against women. One in six women in America have experienced rape. One in five girls and one in 20 boys experience childhood sexual abuse.

Sexual abuse and sexual assault are umbrella terms used to refer to multiple crimes. These crimes include:

  • Rape: Forced sexual contact with someone who does not or cannot consent. Forcing sex upon someone who does not want it, who is intoxicated, or who is not legally old enough to give consent all count as rape. Date rapeis sexual assualt that occurs between people with an established relationship. A handful of states limit their definition of rape to forcible sexual intercourse. Yet any form of forcible sexual contact can have long-lasting effects on a person. Most states now recognize forced oral sex and similar forms of assault as rape.
  • Child molestation: Child molestation is any sexual contact with a child. Many children who are molested are too young to know what is happening and may not fight back. Some abusers use the child’s cooperation in these cases as “evidence” that no one was harmed. Examples of child molestation might include fondling or demanding sexual favors from a child.
  • Incest: Incestdescribes sexual contact between family members who are too closely related to marry. While incestuous sexual activity may occur between consenting adults, this is not common. Most reported incest occurs as child abuse. Over a third of American sexual assault survivors under the age of 18 are abused by a family member, according to latest statistics. However, incest is an underreported crime, so the actual number of incest survivors may be higher.
  • Non-consensual sexual contact: This category includes any unwanted sexual touching, such as groping or pinching. Attempted rape can also fall into this category.
  • Non-contact sexual abuse: Not all sexual abuse fits neatly into common legal or psychological definitions. For instance, parents who have sex in front of their children or who make sexually inappropriate comments to their children are engaging in sexual abuse. So-called revenge pornographysites, which publish nude photos of people without their consent, are another form of sexual abuse.

The laws governing sexual abuse are constantly changing. For this reason, most professionals who work with sexual abuse survivors rely on the person’s feelings, not the law, when determining whether a sexual assault has occurred. For example, marital rape can be deeply traumatic, especially in an otherwise abusive relationship. Yet marital rape did not become a crime anywhere until the 1970s. It is still a challenging crime to prosecute.

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Group therapy

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Group therapy is a form of psychotherapy that involves one or more therapists working with several people at the same time.

Group therapy is a form of psychotherapy that involves one or more therapists working with several people at the same time. This type of therapy is widely available at a variety of locations including private therapeutic practices, hospitals, mental health clinics, and community centers. Group therapy is sometimes used alone, but it is also commonly integrated into a comprehensive treatment plan that also includes individual therapy and medication.

The Principles of Group Therapy

In The Theory and Practice of Group Psychotherapy, Irvin D. Yalom outlines the key therapeutic principles that have been derived from self-reports from individuals who have been involved in the group therapy process:

  1. The instillation of hope: The group contains members at different stages of the treatment process. Seeing people who are coping or recovering gives hope to those at the beginning of the process.
  2. Universality: Being part of a group of people who have the same experiences helps people see that what they are going through is universal and that they are not alone.
  3. Imparting information: Group members can help each other by sharing information.
  4. Altruism: Group members can share their strengths and help others in the group, which can boost self-esteem and confidence.
  5. The corrective recapitulation of the primary family group: The therapy group is much like a family in some ways. Within the group, each member can explore how childhood experiences contributed to personality and behaviors. They can also learn to avoid behaviors that are destructive or unhelpful in real life.
  6. Development of socialization techniques: The group setting is a great place to practice new behaviors. The setting is safe and supportive, allowing group members to experiment without the fear of failure.
  1. Imitative behavior: Individuals can model the behavior of other members of the group or observe and imitate the behavior of the therapist.
  2. Interpersonal learning: By interacting with other people and receiving feedback from the group and the therapist, members of the group can gain a greater understanding of themselves.
  3. Group cohesiveness: Because the group is united in a common goal, members gain a sense of belonging and acceptance.
  4. Catharsis: Sharing feelings and experiences with a group of people can help relieve pain, guilt, or stress.
  5. Existential factors: While working within a group offers support and guidance, group therapy helps member realize that they are responsible for their own lives, actions, and choices.
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Adolescent / Teen Issues

Adolescent / Teen Issues

For most children, adolescence is a period of good physical health. The most common problems during adolescence relate to

  • Growth and development
  • School
  • Childhood illnesses that continue into adolescence
  • Mental health disorders
  • Consequences of risky or illegal behaviors (including injury, legal consequences, pregnancy, and infectious diseases)

Leading causes of death and disability among adolescents are:

  • Unintentional injuries resulting from motor vehicle crashes
  • Injuries resulting from interpersonal violence

During this phase of development, adolescents begin to transition from childhood to adulthood. Issues of independence, identity, sexuality, and relationships define this developmental stage. Mental health problems, such as mood disorders, anxiety disorders, and thought disorders (such as schizophrenia) as well as psychosocial disorders, may develop or first become apparent during adolescence. Suicide is a major cause of death for this age group. Other causes of death include accidents, unintentional injuries, and homicide.

Eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, most commonly develop during adolescence and are more common among girls. Many unhealthy behaviors that start during adolescence, such as consuming a poor diet (see Obesity in Adolescents), smoking, substance use, and violence, can lead to immediate health problems, long-term disorders, or poor health later in life.

Analytical Therapy/Psychoanalysis

The aim of psychoanalysis therapy is to release repressed emotions and experiences, i.e., make the unconscious conscious. It is only having a cathartic (i.e., healing) experience can the person be helped and “cured.”

Psychoanalysis was founded by Sigmund Freud (1856-1939).  Freud believed that people could be cured by making conscious their unconscious thoughts and motivations, thus gaining insight.

The aim of psychoanalysis therapy is to release repressed emotions and experiences, i.e., make the unconscious conscious. It is only having a cathartic (i.e., healing) experience can the person be helped and “cured.”

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Marital/Premarital Counseling

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Even the best marriages need a little work now and then. No matter what facets of your marriage you need to work on, the caring therapists at Meier are there to help you along the journey. Pre-marriage counseling is actually something you and your future spouse may want to consider as part of your plan to build the strong marriage and life together that you’re so excited about. Think of it like this: you’ve just settled on your dream honeymoon location, you can see your toes in the sand of a five-star resort, but you’re not just going to end up there without a little planning and preparation to make sure everything goes just right. Instead, you’ll either take the time to painstakingly research places on your own or you could work with a travel professional who can help you through the process and ensure you’ll have the honeymoon of your dreams.

Professional premarital counseling is a bit like planning your honeymoon with a travel agent; while you’d most likely still have a great and successful marriage on your own, if you work with a professional premarital counselor then you can ensure you’re fully prepared for marriage to your partner and to tackle any lingering questions or issues you may struggle with.

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Alcoholism

Alcoholism is the most severe form of alcohol abuse and involves the inability to manage drinking habits. It is also commonly referred to as alcohol use disorder. Alcohol use disorder is organized into three categories: mild, moderate and severe. Each category has various symptoms and can cause harmful side effects. If left untreated, any type of alcohol abuse can spiral out of control.

Individuals struggling with alcoholism often feel as though they cannot function normally without alcohol. This can lead to a wide range of issues and impact professional goals, personal matters, relationships and overall health. Over time, the serious side effects of consistent alcohol abuse can worsen and produce damaging complications.

You don’t have to suffer from alcohol addiction in silence. There are many treatment options available to help you overcome alcohol abuse and achieve long-term sobriety. We can help you find the right alcohol rehab facility that fits your needs.

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Grief/Loss

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We know how difficult it can be to lose something or someone close to you: a friend or family member, a job, a home, or a sense of self-worth.

Grief is the normal internal feeling one experiences in reaction to a loss, while bereavement is the state of experiencing that loss. Although people often suffer emotional pain in response to loss of anything that is very important to them (for example, a job, a friendship or other relationship, one’s sense of safety, a home), grief usually refers to the loss of a loved one through death. Grief is quite common, in that three out of four women outlive their spouse, with the average age of becoming a widow being 59 years. More than half of women in the United States are widowed by the time they reach age 65. Every year in the United States, 4% of children under the age of 15 experience the loss of a parent through death.

Although not a formal medical diagnosis, prolonged grief, formerly called complicated grief, refers to a reaction to loss that lasts more than one year. It is characterized by the grief reaction intensifying to affect the sufferer’s close relationships, disrupting his or her beliefs, and it tends to result in the bereaved experiencing ongoing longing for their deceased loved one. About 15% of bereaved individuals will suffer from complicated grief, and one-third of people already getting mental-health services have been found to suffer from this extended grief reaction.

Anticipatory grief is defined as the feelings loved ones have in reaction to knowing that someone they care about is terminally ill. It occurs before the death of the afflicted loved one and can be an important part of the grieving process since this allows time for loved ones to say goodbye to the terminally ill individual, begin to settle affairs, and plan for the funeral or other rituals on behalf of the person who is dying.

We know how difficult it can be to lose something or someone close to you: a friend or family member, a job, a home, or a sense of self-worth.

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Boundaries

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Even with the best intentions, it can be difficult to know when to draw the line in relationships. It is often helpful to work through these boundaries with a counselor in order to care for yourself.

Family/ Relationship issues

All relationships and families go through difficult times and experiencing occasional problems and conflict in personal relationships is normal. However, sometimes these problems can become overwhelming.

SIGNS OF FAMILY AND RELATIONSHIP PROBLEMS

  • Frequent arguing
  • Disagreements
  • Breakdown in communication
  • Angry outbursts
  • Avoidance
  • Physical conflict

TRIGGERS FOR FAMILY AND RELATIONSHIP PROBLEMS

  • Difference in opinions, personalities, beliefs, values or goals
  • Change in family circumstances e.g. new baby, divorce/separation, blending families
  • Financial problems
  • Stress
  • Issues relating to sexuality
  • Alcohol or drug use
  • Gambling problems
  • The onset of mental health problems
  • Bullying/harassment
  • Natural disasters
  • Lack of trust/respect in a relationship

THE IMPACT OF FAMILY AND RELATIONSHIP PROBLEMS

Often family are the most important people to you so relationship problems can be considerably distressing and can lead to:

  • Negative emotions – anger, sadness, anxiety
  • Stress
  • Exhaustion
  • Confusion
  • Feeling isolated, alone or withdrawn
  • Lack of concentration
  • Difficulty eating or sleeping
  • Problems with friends, colleagues or your children
  • Using alcohol or drugs to cope or escape

THINGS YOU CAN DO IF YOU ARE HAVING FAMILY/RELATIONSHIP PROBLEMS

  1. Talk– communication is the key and often the first step to finding solutions. Be calm and honest about your concerns when discussing your problems with a loved one.
  2. Accept your differences – it can help avoid unnecessary conflict if you can recognise that people have different ideas, opinions and beliefs and you may not always be in agreement.
  3. Have fun together – even when things are tough, it’s important to find the time to have fun with your loved ones.
  4. Make a plan – it can help reduce stress and give common goals to work towards. For example if you are having financial problems it can help to create a budget.
  5. Get help – you may not always be able to solve your problems yourself so you may need some external help.
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Stress Management

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Are you feeling overwhelmed by life and the stresses that come with it? Are your responsibilities piling up to the point where you don’t think that you can handle it anymore? Let us give you practical coping tools to get you back on the path to peace. Stress management is a wide spectrum of techniques and psychotherapies aimed at controlling a person’s level of stress, especially chronic stress, usually for the purpose of improving everyday functioning. In this context, the term ‘stress’ refers only to a stress with significant negative consequences, or distress in the terminology advocated by Hans Selye, rather than what he calls eustress, a stress whose consequences are helpful or otherwise.

Stress produces numerous physical and mental symptoms which vary according to each individual’s situational factors. These can include physical health decline as well as depression. The process of stress management is named as one of the keys to a happy and successful life in modern society.[1] Although life provides numerous demands that can prove difficult to handle, stress management provides a number of ways to manage anxiety and maintain overall well-being.

Despite stress often being thought of as a subjective experience, levels of stress are readily measurable, using various physiological tests, similar to those used in polygraphs.

Many practical stress management techniques are available, some for use by health professionals and others, for self-help, which may help an individual reduce their levels of stress, provide positive feelings of control over one’s life and promote general well-being. Other stress reducing techniques involve adding a daily exercise routine, finding a hobby, writing your thoughts, feelings, and moods down and also speaking with a trusted one about what is bothering you. It is very important to keep in mind that not all techniques are going to work the same for everyone, that is why trying different stress managing techniques is crucial in order to find what techniques work best for you. An example of this would be, two people on a roller coaster one can be screaming grabbing on to the bar while the other could be laughing while their hands are up in the air (Nisson). This is a perfect example of how stress effects everyone differently that is why they might need a different treatment. These techniques do not require doctors approval but seeing if a doctors technique works better for you is also very important.

Evaluating the effectiveness of various stress management techniques can be difficult, as limited research currently exists. Consequently, the amount and quality of evidence for the various techniques varies widely. Some are accepted as effective treatments for use in psychotherapy, while others with less evidence favoring them are considered alternative therapies. Many professional organizations exist to promote and provide training in conventional or alternative therapies.

There are several models of stress management, each with distinctive explanations of mechanisms for controlling stress. Much more research is necessary to provide a better understanding of which mechanisms actually operate and are effective in practice.

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Mood Swings

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It’s normal to have days where you feel sad or extremely happy. As long as your mood swings don’t affect your personal life, they can be considered as healthy.

On the other hand, there could be a medical condition where you switch from extremely happiness to extreme depression frequently. In case of such a medical condition it is advisable to inform the doctor. They’ll have an answer to your volatile behavior.

It’s tough to go through the mood swings of bipolar disorder. Depression can make it hard to do the things you want and need to do. During manic periods, you may be reckless and volatile.

The best way to avoid mood swings is to get treatment. You may not be able to totally prevent bouts of mania or depression. Even people who always take their medication and take care of their health can still have mood swings from time to time. That’s why it’s important to catch changes in your mood, energy levels, and sleeping patterns before they turn into something serious.

Mood Swing Triggers in Bipolar Disorder

At first, mood swings may take you by surprise. But over time, you might start to see patterns or signs that you’re entering a period of mania or depression. Aside from a shift in your mood, look for changes in your:

  • Sleep patterns
  • Energy level
  • Alcohol or drug use
  • Sex drive
  • Self-esteem
  • Concentration

Mood Disorders

If you have a mood disorder, your general emotional state or mood is distorted or inconsistent with your circumstances and interferes with your ability to function. You may be extremely sad, empty or irritable (depressed), or you may have periods of depression alternating with being excessively happy (mania).

Anxiety disorders can also affect your mood and often occur along with depression. Mood disorders may increase your risk of suicide.

Some examples of mood disorders include:

  • Major depressive disorder— prolonged and persistent periods of extreme sadness
  • Bipolar disorder— also called manic depression or bipolar affective disorder, depression that includes alternating times of depression and mania
  • Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)— a form of depression most often associated with fewer hours of daylight in the far northern and southern latitudes from late fall to early spring
  • Cyclothymic disorder— a disorder that causes emotional ups and downs that are less extreme than bipolar disorder
  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder— mood changes and irritability that occur during the premenstrual phase of a woman’s cycle and go away with the onset of menses
  • Persistent depressive disorder (dysthymia)— a long-term (chronic) form of depression
  • Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder— a disorder of chronic, severe and persistent irritability in children that often includes frequent temper outbursts that are inconsistent with the child’s developmental age
  • Depression related to medical illness— a persistent depressed mood and a significant loss of pleasure in most or all activities that’s directly related to the physical effects of another medical condition
  • Depression induced by substance use or medication― depression symptoms that develop during or soon after substance use or withdrawal or after exposure to a medication

For most people, mood disorders can be successfully treated with medications and talk therapy (psychotherapy).

When to see a doctor

If you’re concerned that you may have a mood disorder, make an appointment to see your doctor or a mental health professional as soon as you can. If you’re reluctant to seek treatment, talk to a friend or loved one, a faith leader, or someone else you trust.

Talk to a health care professional if you:

  • Feel like your emotions are interfering with your work, relationships, social activities or other parts of your life
  • Have trouble with drinking or drugs
  • Have suicidal thoughts or behaviors — seek emergency treatment immediately
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Social anxiety

The defining feature of social anxiety disorder, also called social phobia, is intense anxiety or fear of being judged, negatively evaluated, or rejected in a social or performance situation. People with social anxiety disorder may worry about acting or appearing visibly anxious (e.g., blushing, stumbling over words), or being viewed as stupid, awkward, or boring. As a result, they often avoid social or performance situations, and when a situation cannot be avoided, they experience significant anxiety and distress. Many people with social anxiety disorder also experience strong physical symptoms, such as a rapid heart rate, nausea, and sweating, and may experience full-blown attacks when confronting a feared situation. Although they recognize that their fear is excessive and unreasonable, people with social anxiety disorder often feel powerless against their anxiety.

Social anxiety disorder affects approximately 15 million American adults and is the second most commonly diagnosed anxiety disorder following specific phobia. The average age of onset for social anxiety disorder is during the teenage years. Although individuals diagnosed with social anxiety disorder commonly report extreme shyness in childhood, it is important to note that this disorder is not simply shyness that has been inappropriately medicalized.

Social anxiety disorder can wreak havoc on the lives of those who suffer from it. For example, individuals may decline a job opportunity that requires frequent interaction with new people or avoid going out to eat with friends due to a fear that their hands will shake when eating or drinking. Symptoms may be so extreme that they disrupt daily life and can interfere significantly with daily routines, occupational performance, or social life, making it difficult to complete school, interview and get a job, and have friendships and romantic relationships. People with social anxiety disorder are also at an increased risk for developing major depressive disorder and alcohol use disorders.

Despite the availability of effective treatments, fewer than 5% of people of with social anxiety disorder seek treatment in the year following initial onset and more than a third of people report symptoms for 10 or more years before seeking help.

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