Our Thoughts of Care and Concern go to the Victims of Today’s Terror in San Bernardino

When witnessing an event with as much magnitude as on the news today as the terror attack in San Bernardino, CA, its time to stop what you are doing. PERIOD! Take a mental break, take a self assessment, drink some tea, well, you get the idea, no? Next, determine either on your own, or with someone you care about, how has this news, the vivd pictures on-line, and the ongoing feeds you have been reading impact you.  Do the images flash through your mind like a snapshot while carrying on throughout your regular routine?  Do the images appear when you lie down at night to go to sleep, making sleep nearly impossible, spurring racing thoughts through your mind? Ugh, let me sleep, you may be saying to yourself! Are you more irritable than usual, less motivated?

We all carry the burden of being human, which may cause you to experience a normal, albeit unpleasant and inhibiting reaction.  This is to have a normal response to an abnormal situation.  Let me say this again, as it is very important. Listen up, now:  You are having a NORMAL response to an abnormal situation.  It is normal to feel, to be emotional.

Word from the Wise Therapist…..expect to have a lingering sadness, anxiety or increased irritability following a major event for around 2 weeks or so.  After about 10 days, and your symptoms have not waned, set yourself up with one of our life coaches online, or schedule in person to get things in the mental department checked out and running like a well oiled machine.  It MUST be a priority for you to take care of you!(At least a weenie teeny teensy tiny little bit!!!)

Give those love ones a little bit of an extra hug and try to enjoy some quiet time together…carve out a little break for some rest and relaxation, and afford yourself the support you need, and seek help of a qualified professional to get you through the slump that you may be feeling.  Not only do you Deserve it, you actually need it, or it may linger longer than you may ever expect.

We here at Strategies for Success want to express our deepest thoughts and condolences to the victims and their families of the horror that occurred today in San Bernardino, California.  As I learn more about it, my heart feels heavy with despair.

New Counselor Starts in March

Curriculum vitaeStrategies for Success is excited to welcome Regina Robison to the practice starting March 23, 2015. Regina’s strengths as a clinician include being compassionate, non-judgmental, and utilizes a strengths-based approach to care. She believes it is important to look at each individual as a whole, taking into account each person’s spiritual, cultural, and environmental influences to assist clients in overcoming problems and achieve balance and happiness in their lives. Regina also believes that it is essential for people to work through past trauma in order to release residual blame and shame and break free of old patterns that can keep them stuck in maladaptive thinking and behavioral patterns in their current life stage.

Regina’s clinical experience includes over 10 years working with children, adolescents, adults, elderly and clients with disabilities. She also has experience working with individuals and couples, providing treatment for mental health issues and substance abuse concerns as well as with conduct disorder, depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, grief and loss, and relationship conflicts, to name a few. Regina has also led multiple groups on topics that include self-esteem building, anger management, social skill building, substance abuse and conflict resolution, and is excited about the possibility of leading some groups at Strategies for Success.  She has worked from a Multisystemic approach successfully,  with seriously delinquent adolescents, and is very well versed with adolescent and family concerns.
In 2008, Regina received her Master of Arts Degree in Professional Counseling from Ottawa University in Phoenix, and her Bachelors of Arts in Psychology from Arizona State University in 2004, Magna Cum Laude.  She currently holds independent Licensure with the Arizona Board of Behavioral Health, as a Licensed Professional Counselor.
Regina utilizes various therapeutic approaches to assist clients in achieving their goals including cognitive behavioral therapy, brief solution-focused therapy, existential therapy, insight-oriented modalities and narrative therapy. Regina is a firm believer  in the healing power of the client-therapist relationship. Each treatment plan is created and implemented collaboratively with each client, tailored to maximize positive outcomes and lasting results. To email Regina, please do so at regina.robison@saptherapist.com. To schedule with Regina starting at the end of March in our Chandler location, please call our Main Number: (480) 252-5152 or email us at appointment@saptherapist.com.

Living With Chronic Illness Builds Courage

Caucasian woman feeling sick flu illness

by Pauline Salvucci

Article from www.healingwell.com

The challenge of living with chronic illness isn’t always apparent when you’re first diagnosed. This is just the beginning. It takes time to understand your illness, the treatment options available, and how living with illness will affect your life and the lives of your partner and family.

Being sick is like being on a roller coaster — you can be up and hopeful one minute and down and doubtful the next. Your illness can take unexpected and unpredictable turns. One disease can dispose you to or give rise to another. This can be frightening as well as exasperating. Finding medication that works, being committed to following a good treatment plan and maintaining honest, direct and open communication with your healthcare providers takes time, energy and skill. But this is only part of the picture. Living with illness affects every part of your life and every significant relationship you have.

If you’re still able to work, you find yourself in the position of having to make decisions about what and how much you tell your employer and coworkers, especially if your illness requires you to make time adjustments to your work schedule. Responding to and dealing with coworker’s responses or reactions can be a challenge. Saying too much makes you vulnerable to unwanted questions, saying too little may raise questions of ‘special treatment’ and elicit criticism or even jealousy. Yet, not being able to work means giving up your role in the workforce as a productive employee — and facing the economic changes and problems of not being able to financially provide for yourself or your family.

When you live with chronic illness, every aspect of life takes on a new dimension. Your daily decisions and choices are examined through a new lens, and you often find yourself carefully weighing the ramifications and possible outcomes of your choices. But, wait. Wasn’t this the way it always was? Isn’t this something all intelligent and responsible adults do? Yes, of course. However, living with chronic illness broadens the scope of that decision making process. The question isn’t only how will this decision or choice affect you, but also, how will it affect your illness which in turn affects you and the choices and decisions you continually make.

Obviously, this is a demanding aspect of living with chronic illness. It’s also the measure of your courage. Living with illness affords ample opportunity to be courageous in living your life to the best of your ability. Why is this so? Because when limitations and diminished control over the effects of illness are part of your daily life, your choices and decisions become the stuff from which courage emerges.

The fact is, if you’re living with chronic illness you are courageous. In the process of meeting life’s challenges, you have learned and are continuing to learn how to meet your fears and move beyond them. Perhaps you don’t think of yourself as particularly courageous or even confident. Maybe it’s time to take a closer look. These four questions will help you do that.

  1. What have you learned about yourself since you were diagnosed with a chronic illness?
  2. What initially held you back from learning these things about yourself?
  3. What did you learn from the times you felt most discouraged?
  4. What will your legacy be to those who know and love you?

No one knows the journey you and your illness have taken better than you do, and no ones knows more than you, the challenges you’ve met and the wins you’ve achieved. Acknowledge and embrace them. Celebrate your courage.


Pauline Salvucci, M.A.is a former licensed medical family therapist. Now retired from the healthcare field, she is living with her own chronic illness and is designing jewelry online at her store, Sirona Jewelry.

8 Tips for Surviving Depression and Anxiety During the Holidays

by , Assistant clinical professor of psychiatry, NYU Medical Center

Article from The Huffington Post

Depressed man

Ah, the holidays! Most people feel a sense of anticipation and joy as we approach the holidays. Time for family gatherings and other fun activities. However, a considerable number of people, including those people in therapy, can feel depressed, frustrated, and anxious thinking about the holidays. These could be people without a family or without a significant network of friends. Or they can be people who have had mixed or negative experiences with friends and family in holidays past. What can they do to make the holidays more enjoyable?

“I don’t think I can stand another holiday,” said John*, my patient, a 54-year-old lawyer who lives in the city. He’s never been married, although he’s had a few short-term relationships. His parents died years ago, and he never was that close with them. He doesn’t have any siblings. His few friends all have commitments for the holidays. He has had depression since his mid-30s and has been off and on anti-depressants with good results. Of course, he has the week of Christmas off, but no idea what to do with himself. Last year he was so depressed in November and December that he considered committing suicide. A close friend of his did commit suicide 10 years ago around the holidays.

John and others like him are at considerable risk during the holiday season. He falls into a vulnerable category of older white men who have a higher risk of committing suicide, although the highest risk is for men over 75.

Suicidal thoughts and behaviors are commonly reported in the general population, especially during the holidays. People who may attempt suicide complain of hopelessness, rage, and the need to seek revenge. They are more impulsive than the average person. Other behaviors that may be associated with potential suicide include people making arrangements for someone else to care for their dependents, including children, pets, or elders.

John felt a lot of anger and he told me he was starting to drive recklessly. He said he felt trapped with no way out. He was increasing his alcohol use, but he didn’t return to his marijuana smoking, which he’d done in his younger days. Other people who have family and friends might withdraw from them and isolate themselves. John couldn’t isolate himself any further, but he said he felt no sense of purpose in life.

I suggested the following ways for him to get through the holidays. Even if you or your loved ones aren’t exhibiting the type of intense behavior that John is, the following ideas can help lift depression and anxiety:

• Try to schedule a theater or dance performance either the night before or the day of the holiday. In major cities across the United States, many shows are on during Thanksgiving and Christmas. If there is no live theater, go to a movie theater and watch a film. You can do this alone or extend an invitation to a neighbor or business colleague who may be spending the holidays alone.

• Go on a trip out of town. There are many cruises or day trips during this season. John expressed an interest in staying in a country inn upstate where he had Thanksgiving dinner once before. I encouraged this because it linked an image of the holidays with a past memorable experience and could boost the spirits quickly.

• Join a community group such as the YMCA, or take a photography or art class that has planned activities on or just before the holidays. John could take a class photographing trees and turning those pictures into holiday cards or presents.

• Organize a hike into the countryside or a park tour with a group. In New York City and Los Angeles, there are tours every day of the week, including during the major holidays.

• Go to a yoga retreat or a spa resort. Many hotels and spas have special weekend activities and rates at Thanksgiving and Christmastime.

• Plan an intensive exercise routine. John hadn’t exercised for a while and he was putting on weight. He hired a trainer who was free the week of Thanksgiving to work him out because exercise increases certain chemicals in the nervous system that fight depression and anxiety.

• Help others who are less fortunate by volunteering at a soup kitchen. One of the best ways to forget your own loneliness is to help others at shelters or hospitals. Getting “outside of ourselves” and helping others in need helps take the focus off of our own situation, circumstances, and feelings, and often delivers a significant emotional boost.

• Try an AA meeting if you find yourself drinking too much. For John in particular, I suggested he go to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting on the holidays, especially if he couldn’t do any of the above. AA and NA (Narcotics Anonymous) are immediate communities that help people deal with alcohol or drug abuse, which may be covering up negative feelings at this time of year.

Experimenting with a different way of celebrating the holidays this year can lift your spirits and get you out of a funk. For some, major depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts are alleviated if they are engaged in healthy activities leading up to and during the holidays.

*Not his real name.

For more by Carol W. Berman, M.D., click here.

Need help with substance abuse or mental health issues? In the U.S., call 800-662-HELP (4357) for the SAMHSA National Helpline.

Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

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