Monday, July 18, 2016

The Return to Innocense

In 1994 an unusual song hit the radio waves.  It had a slow and undulating rhythm with an Amis chant to open the song and then continued throughout the song.  Some of the lyrics are:

"...Don't be afraid to be weak
    Don't be too proud to be strong
    Just look into your heart my friend
    That will be the return to yourself
    The return to innocence.

    If you want, then start to laugh
    If you must, then start to cry
    Be yourself don't hide
    Just believe in destiny."

This song, as well as many others, point us towards the truth and simplicity of innocence.  It is not a marketing campaign towards tolerance, but innocence.  We have promoted tolerance for far too long.  Unity can't come from tolerance, but rather from a respect for our other co-inhabitors of the planet Earth.  Innocence has several definitions including freedom from sin or moral wrong, but the one I want to point out is "simplicity; absence of guile or cunning".  Most of us would admit we never use the word "guile"; however, it's a great word that describes an insidious cunning to attain a goal or crafty or artful deception.  I think most of us would agree that this world is full of guile.  The word itself sounds nasty. 

We are bombarded daily from every angle of this negativity in our world.  We are told to be tolerant or to hate or to seek revenge or to fight for justice or whatever.  I'm not speaking negatively about seeking justice or equality or anything else, instead, I'm wanting to point out the artful deception that so many (including me) have fallen under.  This deception started at the beginning of our world and continues until now.  It's the small deception, the small twists in wording, the small seed planted in our heads that begin to grow and manifest themselves in all out hate, robbing us of our innocence.  That was what was robbed during that fateful event when we first plucked the fruit from the tree.  I say we because we have all sinned, we have ALL lost our innocence. 

So how do we return to innocence?  How do we step away from the deception and guile that permeates our world?  I will hold to the notion of focus as the key to this freedom.  You see, the deception has and will continue to be the idea that if we focus on the injustice of the world that somehow it will be changed and justice will prevail.  If we focus on the hate and allow ourselves to rage as an individual or, better yet, as a community, that the community will change.  If we focus on tolerating others who think, act, or believe differently then we will all get along.  These will never fix the problem because we are focusing on the wrong thing.  You see, when we focus on the hate, we allow the hate to grow.  When we focus on the injustice it begins to permeate our mind also.  When we focus on being more tolerant then we feel slighted that our own beliefs are no longer important as compared to others.  When we focus on ourselves, we allow our pride to grow. 

The answer is clear and it has been proven over and over again.  The song above says to look inside your heart.  This "looking" is really more examination.  Examine your heart and re-focus.  Let go of those things (hate, guile, injustice, pride, etc.) that hinder you and keep you from running this race we call life.  Don't be encumbered and trapped, but let go of everything that pulls your focus away from the finish line. 

The song also speaks of emotion.  Emotion is a powerful force that has both destroyed nations and also forged some of the greatest things we have ever known.  Emotions can protect us, help us, move us, and change us.  However, despite all their power, all emotion is just that, it's emotion.  Emotion is to always come under the control of logic and we have failed to teach that for many years.  We have allowed feelings to rule our decisions rather than aid in our decisions.  It's time to re-claim both logic and emotion.  Emotions are beautiful and powerful and instead of fear them or revere them, we should instead embrace them as they are and for what they are.  We must allow each other to feel; however, we must always choose to act in a logical manner, rather than out of those emotions. 

So allow yourself to feel compassion for ALL loss of life.  Allow yourself to feel angry over injustice.  Allow yourself to feel joy and love and happiness.  However, DON'T allow yourself to remain FOCUSED on those emotions.  Feel them, express them in a healthy manner, and then release them.  Expression of those feelings should NOT include acts of violence or hate.  There are healthy and appropriate ways of expression that have no negative consequences. 

To wrap up this blog, I want to pull everything back into this idea of focus.  Focus on the positive.  Focus on the things with which you have been blessed.  Focus on the One who created and then gave you those blessings.  Focus on those who are hurting and those who are lost - emotionally, spiritually, and physically.  Love your co-inhabitants of this world.  Allow the Focus on the positive to change your behavior even today.  Don't focus on the person who cut you off at the stop light, instead be grateful you weren't hit.  Don't focus on the injustice, but recognize and realize there is plenty of justice doled out every day mostly in healthy ways. 

Today, let's all try to be less tolerant but more innocent.  Let's not focus on injustice, but be happy about justice.  Let's choose not to allow our emotion to rule us, but instead choose to embrace and then RELEASE emotion then ACT in a logical and loving way.  Let's choose to look beyond the external and see the heart. 

As always, let's Create Hope for Tomorrow in all we do today.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitation and Reprocessing)

EMDR Therapy (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing)
Have you experienced a traumatic event in your life such as post war PTSD, childhood sexual abuse, substance abuse, self-mutilation, intense grief, phobias, panic attacks, anxiety, or the like?   EMDR is a powerful psychotherapy technique that has been proven successful in shortening the therapeutic process by helping the client find breakthroughs when they become “frozen”.  EMDR helps in changing negative internal messages into positive ones. EMDR’s therapy model works on the past, present, and future.
How does EMDR work? The client is asked to gently remember/revisit the traumatic experience surrounding many negative/positive feelings and memories. The therapist tracks eye movements by making bilateral movements from right to left (left to right) using eye scan lights, or other techniques such as a tapping tool to affect the same results. This is done by having the client focus on the memory and the more intensely the client focuses on the memory the more accessible the memory comes to life. These vibrant images are manifest by eye movements resulting in painful feelings being exchanged for more peaceful, loving and resolved feelings.
EMDR is a psychotherapy that enables people to heal from the symptoms and emotional distress that are the result of disturbing life experiences.  Repeated studies show that by using EMDR people can experience the benefits of psychotherapy that once took years to make a difference. It is widely assumed that severe emotional pain requires a long time to heal.  EMDR therapy shows that the mind can in fact heal from psychological trauma much as the body recovers from physical trauma.  When you cut your hand, your body works to close the wound.  If a foreign object or repeated injury irritates the wound, it festers and causes pain.  Once the block is removed, healing resumes.  EMDR therapy demonstrates that a similar sequence of events occurs with mental processes.  The brain's information processing system naturally moves toward mental health.  If the system is blocked or imbalanced by the impact of a disturbing event, the emotional wound festers and can causes intense suffering.  Once the block is removed, healing resumes.  Using the detailed protocols and procedures learned in EMDR training sessions, clinicians help clients activate their natural healing processes.
 Ladonna McBride, Ph.D., LCSW, LMFT, EMDR Certified

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Remembering a Different Future

Remembering a Different Future

Everyone seeks to be emotionally free and determined. But we also want to share our lives with the important people in our lives. This has been called the intimacy paradox. Can we have both at the same time? How can we be intimate yet independent from our parents?
Remembering a different future means we can learn to retell the story from our past in this present moment while opening up new possibilities for healthier behaviors. This means seeing our past from a new perspective; finding new meanings for old experiences, and changing pathways that will lead us into the future.
How do we change the meaning of these past experiences? The meanings we already have are meanings we have chosen. We have told the stories of our lives and have made up the meanings. So, we can change our own meanings to lead us in the direction we want to go/travel.
In order to rewrite the stories of the past, we must restructure our interactions in our present relationships with our family members. We need to take responsibility for our own emotions and lives, while allowing our family members to do the same. 
LaDonna McBride, Ph.D., LCSW, LMFT

Monday, August 25, 2014

Suicide: Heaven or Hell

Suicide:  Heaven or Hell

A question is often asked that we have all pondered or will ponder at some time in our life.  The question is, can someone who commits suicide go to heaven or do they automatically go to hell?  More specifically, can a Christian who commits suicide go to heaven?  In order to answer this question, it is necessary to understand true salvation. 

There are many religions in our world who have varying interpretations as to a few basic tenets of salvation.  Before we discuss these interpretations let’s first go back over how salvation occurs and what needs to happen in order for a person to be saved.  First, we need to understand that according to the Holy Bible, God loves us so much that he gave His only son as a sacrifice to pay for our sins.  This is evidenced in the New Testament in John 3:16 which states, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.”  God has many personality traits, in fact, He is so diverse He is often difficult to understand because it is difficult to grasp the diversity.  Yet, it is important to try to understand His many traits.  For instance, God is a just God.  Simply meaning that as He judges, He judges fairly and justly.  He gives the sentence suited to the crime, nothing more, nothing less.  That is one character trait of God, but He is also a very loving and merciful God.  He loves us so much that He gave up something of extreme value so that the broken relationship we had with Him, because of our sin, can be mended. 

As mentioned above, God is a just God.  The Bible tells us in Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death.”  Note here that the Bible does not tell us that only certain sins are death, it says that sin deserves death.  All sin deserves death.  In the Old Testament days, people had to offer sacrifices to God as atonement or payment for all the sins they had committed.  This was a very important process which required constant attention.  If done improperly the “aroma” would be unpleasing to God.  Death is separation from God.  So sin actually separates us from God.  It keeps us from having a relationship with Him.  So who has sinned?  In Romans 3:23 we read, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  We have all sinned and therefore not a single person on earth is worthy of eternal life in and of themselves. 

So far things sound pretty grim as to who will be in heaven.  God saw this though and decided He wanted to have a relationship with His creation and He wanted to give us a way to have eternal life.  He decided to offer a living sacrifice once and for all.  In Romans 5:8, the Word tells us, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”  Christ is the only person who ever walked this earth who was without sin.  He was tempted just as you and I are tempted, but He chose to put His focus on God instead of himself and therefore denied the pleasures of sin.  In 1 Peter 2:24 we are told that, “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross.  This means He actually took all our sin on the cross with Him so that we may have a righteous life.  If you continue reading that chapter you will notice that we are told that, “by His wounds you were healed.”  Notice that the word healed is past tense.   There is an if statement that we must speak of next.  But before we leave this area it is important to understand that just as in Romans 6:23 and 1 Peter 2:24 states that all sin was carried on His body to the cross.  That signifies past, present, and future. 

The final piece is that we must receive or accept Christ as our Lord and Saviour.  In John 1:12 we are told, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.”  We know we must accept Christ in our life in order to receive the gift of eternal life.  How do we do this?  “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast,” as found in Ephesians 2:8-9 which tells us how to receive Christ. It is done by faith in Christ, not by works.  All who accept Christ by faith are children of God.  In John 14:6 we read that Jesus is the only way to the Father and therefore eternal life.  According to Romans 10:9-10, we must confess with our mouth and believe in our heart that Jesus is Lord and then we are saved.  Not only did Christ die for our sins and not only is He the only way, but we must also believe that Christ was buried and on the third day rose again.  He now lives with God in eternal glory.

I John 5:11-12 states, “And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.  He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.”  So how do we go to heaven?  Eternal life, or heaven, is a gift reserved only for those who have accepted Christ as their Saviour. 

Although suicide is definitely a sin, once we accept Christ into our lives He is faithful and just to forgive us of our sin.  We ask only once and then we are covered by His grace and mercy.  There are many individuals who believe that it is possible to lose your salvation.  There are many scriptures, if taken out of context, which may lead someone to believe this myth.  Fortunately, the Bible speaks of our salvation as being permanent.  Once we truly accept Christ then we cannot be removed from Him.  People have asked, “If someone chooses to remove themselves from God, what then?”  Although this is simply my interpretation and opinion, I believe once a person is truly in Christ they will experience a peace that passes all understanding and they will never ask to be removed from fellowship with Christ as found in 1 John 1:6.  The act of asking for forgiveness on an ongoing basis is truly more for us as humans than as a pre-requisite to forgiveness by God.  God’s forgiveness was given on the day He allowed His son to die on the cross.   It is our choice whether we accept this free gift of forgiveness.  Asking God for forgiveness is the first act of repentance and it comes from a heart that has been convicted by the Holy Spirit and led to this act.  Asking for God's forgiveness when we knowingly and intentionally sin is not required to receive forgiveness since that has already been done, but it is required to receive healing from our sin.  God wants His children to be healed and live a fruitful life always striving to become more Christ-like. 

Knowing all of this, what is your answer to what happens when a Christian commits suicide?  Do they go to heaven or hell?

The last issue that needs to be addressed is “The Unpardonable or Unforgivable Sin” as described in Mark 3 and Matthew 12.  It speaks here of “blaspheming” against the Holy Spirit.  As Christians, we believe that the Word of God is true and does not contradict itself.  The scriptures clearly tell us that all sin is forgivable, so how can there be one sin  that is not?  The answer is to look at the condition for forgiveness.  When is our sin forgiven?  Our sin is only forgiven when we accept Christ as our Saviour and have a personal relationship with Him.  As described in many verses such as John 20:31, we have eternal life (forgiveness) when we believe in Christ and accept Him in our hearts.  So if all sin is forgiven when we accept Christ, what one sin might the scriptures be speaking of in Mark and Matthew?  It is the sin of never accepting Christ.  That is blaspheming or denying the Holy Spirit and the truth.  The dictionary defines blasphemy as, "great disrespect shown to God or to something holy."  We are all given free will and one choice we must make is whether to accept Christ as our Saviour or to deny Him.  If denied, then forgiveness is not received.  In no way shape or form is the scripture speaking of suicide.  The sin is much more serious as it is a direct denial of the truth.  Suicide is not a spiritual issue, it is an emotional one.  

As explained in scripture, God has a plan and a purpose for each life.  Scripture has never condoned suicide as an answer to whatever pain is being experienced, but it is also clear that God's mercy and grace also covers this desperate act of relief.  There are other ways of overcoming the pain that leads to suicide.

If you, or someone you know, is dealing with suicidal thoughts or attempts please seek help immediately.  There are many qualified professionals who are here to help you in your time of need.  Don't attempt to handle this on your own, allow someone to talk with you.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Who is Logos Counseling Services and Why do we exist?

Over the last 15 plus years, I have been asked many times who we are and why we exist.  My first reaction is to retort with, "because it's what I wanted".  :)  The truth is though, that although the dream may have started in my head, it has taken years of fantastic people speaking into my life that has made Logos what it is today.  Our vision statement can be found almost everywhere you can find our logo.  Below is a picture of our logo, you can read our vision statement just below our name.

Creating Hope for Tomorrow.  What an incredibly simple statement, but as simple as it is to say, it is incredibly difficult to obtain.  That is why Logos is here.  Almost 20 years ago I started my practice.  I used a Professors office and I believe I only saw one client for several years.  My hope in my future as a therapist seemed dismal.  I had a good job in another field, but my heart longed to help others.  But how could I help others when I had not found my own way through the darkness.  One day I had an epiphany, thanks to a great supervisor who spoke words of wisdom into my life.  She reminded me of my dream to become a therapist, which had been buried underneath bills and a desire to move up the corporate ladder.  After another month of prayer and seeking wisdom I decided to step out on a great adventure.  I quit my job and opened Logos Counseling Services.

Over the years the business has morphed into what it is now, but the original vision stays the same.  Our desire as a company is to help create hope for tomorrow.  We all use different techniques and methods to accomplish this goal but it's the same vision.  We know we can't help everyone, but we try to touch those we can.

Over the years I have found several keys to finding success and I'd like to share them with you.

First, I had to change my definition of success.  I had to take it out of the tangible world and place on the intangible.  Success can't be about money or fame because then we ride the roller coaster of happiness and depression.  Tangible items always come and go.  Even many intangible items come and go.  Success had to be something internal, a desire to become someone different, someone better.  Then I chose to try to take people with me along this road.  We all achieve success because we re-defined success in terms that we can achieve.  We set achievable goals and learned to celebrate each small victory along the way.

Second, I realized the importance of relationships.  Please recognize I didn't use the singular tense there.  It's not about a singular human relationship, it's about relationships.  These relationships take on different forms as well as different levels of intimacy, but they are all important.  Some are seasonal, some are lifelong.  Some are intense, some are easy.  They are all different.  My first ally at Logos were my parents, most especially my Mother.  She took on the role of answering phone calls from a cell phone almost 200 miles away from where I practiced.  She also learned a brand new skill set by learning how to file insurance claims.  To this day she is still the "Voice of Logos".  Her voice is the first voice you will hear (if you go to voicemail) at all our Logos locations.  Having her on my side gave me the support to keep pushing ahead.  She was both a voice of reason and encouragement.  It is important to have someone in your corner.  Oftentimes we lack those types of relationships that are intimate enough to be the voice of reason AND encouragement.  I've been blessed with many of those relationships over the years and I continue to relish all of them.

Third, I stopped "fighting for my rights" and chose instead to fight for others.  This fighting still isn't in the form of physical confrontations or harsh debates (although I do enjoy them), instead it's in the form of caring more for others than myself.  Although I'm huge on self care, I do believe our society has crossed the line between self care and selfish.  We have to work hard to be much less self centered and choose to focus on others around us.  This is a daily struggle for me.  It's easy to leave my office and not want to hear anything else negative.  It's easy to shut people out because of selfishness.  I have to constantly remind myself to let others in and to choose to focus on them.

I hope by hearing my heart and both my journey and the journey of my team you will begin to understand the Logos' vision.  We will continue to push forward and help people create hope for tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Grief & Loss

The following statements come from the book, Healing Your Grieving Heart--100 Practical Ideas, by Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D. 

“Grief is the constellation of internal thoughts and feelings we have when someone loved dies.” 

“Mourning is the outward expression of grief”. 

Everyone with the ability to give and receive love grieves when a loss is suffered, but Dr. Wolfelt contends that “if we are to heal, we must also mourn. Over time, with the support of others, to mourn is to heal.” 

Have you been mourning your loss, or have you restricted yourself to grieving?

It is important to learn self compassion. Realize you are in uncharted territory and there is no rule to follow in grieving. Each person’s grief is unique. 

Dr. Wolfelt lists Six Needs of Mourning:
  1. Acknowledge the reality of the death. This acknowledgement will likely first be only in your head and in time also in your heart. Talking about the death will help you with this need.
  2. Embrace the pain of the loss. The common reaction is to push away and against, but in embracing your grief, you will learn to reconcile yourself to the loss. You will likely need to do this step slowly and in small doses.
  3. Remember the person who died. Your loved one lives on in your memory. Don’t allow others to take your memories away in a misguided attempt to save you from pain. “Remembering the past makes hoping for the future possible.”
  4. Develop a new self-identity. You may have gone from being wife to widow or from parent to bereaved parent. The way you and others defined you has changed. “You need to re-anchor yourself, to reconstruct your self-identity.” This is difficult and painful work. Although difficult, we often ultimately discover that the person we evolve to is more caring and less judgmental than our previous self.
  5. Search for meaning. “You will probably question your philosophy of life and explore religious and spiritual values as you work on this need. Remember that having faith or spirituality does not negate your need to mourn.” “Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted.”
  6. Receive ongoing support from others. The love and understanding of of others helps us to heal. It is OK to need others and to accept help from others. Unfortunately our society is usually focused to “getting and accumulating” and seldom teaches about loss. “Grief is a process, not an event, and you will need the continued support of your friends and family for weeks, months, and years.
Be aware that numbness is normal after a traumatic event. Mourning can feel like it is just a dream. And, be aware that certain events (birthdays, holidays, etc.), certain places, certain smells, and other things can trigger deep emotional responses. 
“Be aware that grief affects your body, heart, social self, and spirit.” The toll of grief is complicated and painful. It often results in social discomfort. Sometimes we may feel that life is not worth living. These are all normal reactions to grief and loss. 

In this book, Dr. Wolfelt lists many many ways for you to work through your grief and pain. Just a few are writing a letter to the person who died, keep a journal, drink lots of water, pet a pet, and ignore hurtful advice. 

In addition to Healing Your Grieving Heart, another great book is Tear Soup by Pat Schwiebert, Chuck DeKlyen, Taylor Bills and Pat Schweibert (Jun 1, 2005). 

Remember to practice self care. Do not feel guilty to ask for what you need to take care of yourself. Good things to do:
  • B R E A T H E ! The breath provides much healing. Spend 10-20 minutes daily (all at once or in 5 minute increments) breathing deeply and fully and just noticing--your breath, your body.
  • Drink plenty of water. Stress taxes your body--water washes out toxins and keeps you hydrated.
  • Exercise daily. Physical exercise directly affects mental health. When you move your body, you help your mind and your spirit. Walking, stretching, biking, elliptical, and especially yoga (because it combines strength training and deep breathing) will improve your overall health.
  • Seek out social connections--even when (especially when) you don’t want to. Sometimes you can “fake it til you feel it.”
  • Pamper yourself--massages, pedicures, manicures, haircuts and styling, etc. It is OK to take care of yourself!
It has been my pleasure to share with you today. Should you need help in your grieving journey, it may be useful to see a counselor. You will know what you need. Just listen to your inner voice. If you feel like you are out of control or are not able to cope, contact a counselor for assistance.

Glenda Goodwin, M.Ed., LPC (Licensed Professional Counselor)
Logos Counseling Services
817-812-2880 (Office)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Story Telling

I once heard someone say “all we really have to share with each other are our stories.”  Since hearing that statement, I’ve reflected upon it quite a bit.  Sharing your full life story with another person takes willing vulnerability.  It is a powerful act.  At every age, we learn through stories.  They teach us core life lessons – values, why people act the way they do, the importance of character.  They appeal to both sides of our brain and help our mind work in an integrated way.  They stick with us and help us remember the facts of a given situation, as well as the way we felt at the time.  It is no coincidence that stories fill the air at family reunions, as the older generation reminisces and somewhat unwittingly passes along to the next generation the essence of what it means to be part of this family. 
Story telling is often something we do as parents without giving it much thought.  We read stories to our children.  We ask children to tell us the story of their day.  We can help children develop emotional intelligence by discussing feelings, both their own feelings and the feelings of characters in a story, and linking those feelings to concrete bodily sensations as well as actions.  We can engage in imaginative play with our children, giving toys voices, characters, and dialogue.
Mutual story telling can be mutually fulfilling in a parent-child relationship.  It’s as simple as taking turns making up sentences.  Here’s a sample dialogue:
Dad: “There was a tiger walking through the forest…”
Child: “…and he was friends with a dog.”
Dad: “And the dog had stripes like the tiger…”

Or it could be a little less nonsensical than the above sample, and more focused on emotional content, such as:
Dad: “There was a little girl who lived in a blue house…”
Child: “And she loved her pet dog.”
Dad: “Yes, her dog made her very happy.  What other things made her happy?”
Child: “Swimming, riding her bike, and ice cream.”
Dad: “And what things made her sad?”

Give it a try!  You may find that you love the “dance” of engaging in mutual story telling with your child.

Contributed by Heather Colby, M.S., LCSW