Counseling

Therapy is emotional support and guidance from a licensed clinical professional who assists his or her clients in emotional and psychological wellness. Therapy is especially useful during times of transition or when a person is struggling with family and/or relationship problems, grief and loss related issues, addiction (self or family  member), employment changes or losses, or any other situations or relationships causing stress, anxiety, or despair.


Addiction

Just like there is a difference between stress and anxiety there is a difference between use, abuse and dependence (addiction) on a substance or a behavior. Using a substance or engaging in certain behavior does not always mean that a person is addicted to it. The behavior may be a choice, not an addiction.

There are diagnostic criteria to determine addiction but the simplest explanation of addiction/dependence is:

When a person knows that something (or someone) is bad or unhealthy for them, and has, or will have negative consequences but feels like it is something (or someone) he or she just can’t live without...that's addiction.

Addiction not only hurts and is unhealthy for the person who is struggling with it, it is also hurtful and unhealthy for all of those who love him or her.

Anxiety & Stress

Suffering from anxiety is not the same thing as being "stressed out". Being stressed out means that you are reacting to life’s stressful or difficult situations.

Suffering from anxiety means that you are more than stressed. An anxiety disorder occurs when the anxiety you are feeling interferes with your ability to function in one or more areas of your life (i.e. relationships with your partner/spouse, child, boss, co-worker etc.).

A person who is suffering from anxiety often experiences both emotional and physical symptoms. Emotional symptoms might include:

  • Excessive and ongoing worry and tension
  • An unrealistic view of a problem, a situation or perhaps even a relationship
  • Feelings of being “edgy”
  • Feelings of restlessness and irritability

Physical symptoms might include:


  • Headaches
  • Muscle tension, aches
  • Nausea
  • Frequent need to go to the bathroom
  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Being easily startled
  • Trouble going to sleep or staying asleep

Couples Counseling

As time goes on, changes and challenges occur in all relationships. Often, when these changes and challenges arise, couples struggle with being able to communicate in a loving and healthy way.

All couples experience conflicts. A normal and healthy part of relationships, conflict occurs when two (or more) people don’t agree with each other. Conflict becomes unhealthy when the couple is no longer able to communicate or resolve the conflict in a healthy way or when the conflict escalates into verbal or physical violence. In a healthy relationship, each partner wants to solve the conflict not “win” an argument.

Long term unresolved conflict is often the catalyst to thoughts of ending a marriage or relationship.

Couples counseling can be helpful by teaching couples to communicate in healthy and more effective ways. healthy conflict resolution skills. Couples counseling can also be helpful to couples dealing with post extra marital affairs and trust related issues, perception of choice of pornography/internet over partner, parenting children after divorces, differences in parenting styles (especially when combined with step-parenting issues) as well as a number of other intimate partner related issues.

When one partner is caught cheating, struggling with addiction or just doesn’t always tell the truth, then trust in the relationship is broken. Love by itself, is often not enough for couples to communicate in a healthy way. They must also have mutual respect, trust and a willingness to listen, take responsibly and tell the truth.

Depression

Everyone feels sad sometimes, but being sad is not the same things as being depressed. Sadness is an emotion; depression is a state of being that includes feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and being overwhelmed. A person does not have to be suicidal to be depressed.

A person suffering from depression often experiences the following symptoms:


  • Not being able to sleep or sleeping too much
  • Loss of interest in daily activities, hobbies, interests, and perhaps even sex
  • Loss of energy, fatigue (others may call it laziness)
  • Feelings of hopelessness or helplessness
  • Feelings of restlessness and irritability
  • Difficulty focusing or concentrating on work, school or other things that you use to do with ease
  • Inability to control negative thoughts from entering your head, no matter how hard you try
  • Loss of appetite or you can’t stop eating
  • Increased irritability or shorter tempered than usual

In severe cases, a person with depression may even feel that life is not worth living. If this is the case please call and speak with someone immediately.

Domestic Violence

Types of Domestic Violence & Abuse in intimate partner relationship:


  • Physical abuse: any type of physical behavior used with the intention of controlling another person i.e. pushing, slapping, shoving, stabbing, pulling hair etc.
  • Emotional abuse: attacks on a person's self-esteem/emotions i.e. calling another person stupid, fat, ugly, worthless etc.
  • Mental/psychological abuse: playing head games, using fear and intimidation to get what the abuser wants i.e. “If you leave me I will take the children, I will harm you or kill you. Driving too fast to frighten or intimate his or her partner, etc.
  • Sexual abuse: Any type of sexual activity that is forced or not consensual i.e. forcing a partner to dress sexier than he or she is comfortable with, forcing/tricking a partner into pregnancy, withholding sex as a means of punishing a partner or exerting control, etc.
  • Destruction of property or pets: i.e. breaking things, punching holes in the wall, kicking the dog or cat
  • Environmental abuse: i.e. isolation, sabotaging a victim's support system, not allowing or sabotaging partners employment etc.

Regardless of the type of abuse the purpose for the abusive behavior is to gain or maintain control over the abuser's victim.

Abuse is not always only physical it is purposeful manipulative and controlling behavior that one partner perpetrates on the other in an attempt to gain or maintain control over them. Just because you can’t see “bruises” doesn’t make emotional or psychological abuse any less real…or any less painful. Emotional and psychological/mental abuse leaves bruises on the inside, on the soul and spirit. It effects the victim's self-esteem and often lasts as long or longer than physical abuse.

LGBTQ Counseling

A person’s sexual orientation, relationship status, or gender identity may not be a source of distress to everyone who identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and/or questioning (LGBTQ). However, they may find that the social stigma of living as a sexual minority is a source of stress or anxiety. When seeking therapy, whether for issues associated with one’s relationship, sexuality, gender identity or for everyday concerns, finding a qualified mental health professional who has experience and familiarity with issues that confront the LGBTQ community can be critical to a positive counseling experience. Dr. Laura has been providing counseling services to those in the LGBTQ community for over 20 years.

Sexual Assault

Sex without consent is rape. Coerced or forced sexual activity, even without vaginal or anal penetration, is still a sexual assault. When it comes to having sex, co-operation is NOT consent. If a person has sex (co-operates) because they are afraid of what will happen to them if they don’t ,that is not free will consent.

Questions to ask to know if you are able to give free will consent:


  • Are you old enough to give free will consent? The age of consent varies by state.
  • Are both you and the person you will have (or have had) sex with able to give free will consent? In other words you both are/were not significantly impaired by drugs, alcohol or mentally/developmentally disabled.
  • Do/did both you and the person you will have or have had sex with agree(d) to have sex prior to having it without use of any verbal or physical threats or coercion?

If you answered “no” to any of these questions, you may become or have already been a victim of sexual assault or rape.

Sexual Addiction

Liking sex, having a lot of sex (or sexual partners), watching more than occasional pornography, even engaging in non-traditional sexual or sexual fetish behaviors, does not make a person a sex addict. Like drug and/or alcohol addiction, sexual addiction has diagnostic criteria that needs to be met. Just like every person who has a drink is not an alcoholic, not everyone who looks at pornography or has an extra marital affair (even more than one) has a sex addiction. When a person has a sexual addiction, the compulsion to have sex (with themselves or others) has more control overthem than they have over themselves. Like other addictive behaviors, a person struggling witha sexual addiction can develop a tolerance (requiring more and more sex) and may experience withdrawal related symptoms when they stop or are unable to have sex.

Trauma

Trauma is stress “plus tax”. Interestingly, it is not the event that determines whether or not it will be a traumatic experience, but how the person experiences and perceives the event that determines how traumatic the event will be. Traumatizing events can be traumatic even when there is no physical harm or damage.

All traumatic events have three basic components:
The event causing the trauma was unexpected and overwhelming
The person was not prepared for the event/trauma
The person was helpless in stopping the event from happening.

Trauma may be caused by:
Nature (i.e. hurricanes, volcano, tornado, flood etc.)
Man (i.e. domestic/sexual violence, child abuse/incest, war, criminal activity/violence etc.)
And some traumas caused by man may be caused by accident or without intention of harm (i.e. auto accident, falling off a roof etc.)