At Houston Counselor, I provide services to individual adults and to couples in troubled, yet committed, relationships.
My specialty is assisting individuals who are grieving and those coping with chronic and terminal illness, including caregivers. In addition, I treat anxiety and mood disorders, trauma-related issues, relationship difficulties, life transitions, and stress.
Grief and Bereavement
Working through your grief with a professional who is trained and experienced in working with bereaved clients can help you adapt to your loss and encourage more rapid healing.
If you are grieving, I don’t need to tell you that grief is really hard. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you when you’re going to feel better. No one can. But I can tell you that grieving appropriately will help you learn to accept your new reality. You will never “get over” losing your loved one. But you will feel better, on your own time and in your own way.
If you love someone who is grieving, please understand that you do not know how they feel, even if you also had a relationship with the deceased. Every person on the planet is unique, therefore every relationship is unique. You can only understand that they are in pain, not how they feel. Please remember that there is no timetable for grief. It lasts as long as it lasts and it waxes and wanes, sometimes over very long periods of time.
Throughout my career, the care of the grieving has been an important focus for me. My training and experience in caring for the grieving is extensive. If you are looking for a grief counselor, please choose someone who truly understands how to help you.
Coping with Chronic or Terminal Illness
I know from personal experience how shocking and devastating the diagnosis of a chronic or terminal illness can be for everyone, whether the patient is you, your spouse, your parent, your child, or your friend. Generally, dramatic lifestyle changes accompany the diagnosis of a chronic illness. These changes affect both the patient, and those that care for the patient. Lifestyle changes of any kind can be difficult and there is generally a period of psychological adjustment. However, the diagnosis of a chronic or terminal illness, in and of itself, is a traumatic experience and coupling that with significant lifestyle changes can be quite overwhelming.
Depression and anxiety can further complicate a patient’s medical problems, and in some cases, prove counterproductive to the treatment for his or her illness. Depression and anxiety are also significantly likely to occur in caregivers, overwhelming their ability to function normally, as well as negatively impacting patient care. If you think you may be suffering from depression or anxiety, or are having significant difficulty adjusting to your condition, please consider scheduling an appointment with a counselor.
Mood Disorders (Depression & Bipolar)
Depression is one of the most common psychological problems affecting work, social, and family adjustment. It causes pain and suffering for those who have the disorder and for those who care about them. Feelings of sadness, fatigue, or discouragement are normal when they do not linger, but if they persist and interfere with work, school, or family responsibilities, it may be time to seek professional assistance. A counselor can evaluate your clinical symptoms and determine what kind of services you need. Although antidepressants can improve functioning in some clients, to more fully encourage healing from depression, it is wise to seek the assistance of an experienced mental health professional as well.
Trauma is any event for which we were not prepared that has had a lasting negative effect. These events are often emotionally painful, distressful, or shocking. It’s common for people to suffer lasting effects from their traumas, making it important to seek help from a professional trained and experienced in treating trauma.
Here’s an explanation of post-traumatic stress responses: The part of the brain that scans for potential danger is known as the limbic system. When the limbic system connects things in our current environment to those associated with our traumatic memories (for example, loud noises or authority figures), we are triggered or “become the wound,” rather than simply remembering it. These memories tend to be felt rather than just cognitively remembered and the experience tends not to change much over time. This is how an old traumatic memory can be experienced in much the same way it was at the time of the actual event.
What is EMDR?
EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a method of psychotherapy that has been extensively researched and proven effective for the treatment of trauma, as well as other mental health issues. EMDR is a set of standardized protocols that incorporates elements from many different treatment approaches and can often achieve profound and comprehensive improvement in the short periods of time. EMDR works very well at changing emotional reactions, negative thought patterns and, oftentimes, the physical discomfort that people can’t just “think themselves out of.”
Stress, Adjustment, and Life Transition
Are you effectively coping with the stress in your life? Take this short quiz to find out.
____ Give yourself 10 points if you feel you have supportive family around you.
____ Give yourself 10 points if you actively pursue a hobby.
____ Give yourself 10 points if you belong to a social or activity group in which you participate more than once a month.
____ Give yourself 15 points if you are within 10 pounds of your “ideal” body weight, considering your height and bone structure.
____ Give yourself 15 points if you practice some form of “deep relaxation” at least five times a week. Deep relaxation includes meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, imagery and yoga.
____ Give yourself 5 points for each time you exercise for 30 minutes or longer during an average week.
____ Give yourself 5 points for each nutritionally balanced and wholesome meal you eat during an average day. A nutritionally balanced meal is low in fat and high in vegetables, fruits and whole-grain products.
____ Give yourself 5 points if you do something you really enjoy and which is “just for you” during an average week.
____ Give yourself 10 points if you have a place in your home to which you can go to relax or be by yourself.
____ Give yourself 10 points if you practice time management techniques daily.
____ Subtract 10 points for each pack of cigarettes you smoke during an average day.
____ Subtract 5 points for each evening during an average week that you use any form of medication or chemical substance, including alcohol, to help you sleep.
____ Subtract 10 points for each day during an average week that you consume any form of medication or chemical substance, including alcohol, to reduce anxiety or just to calm down.
____ Subtract 5 points for each evening during an average week that you bring work home – work meant to be done at your place of employment.
A “perfect” score is 115. If you scored in the 50-60 range, you probably have adequate coping skills for most common stress. However, keep in mind that the higher your score, the greater your ability to cope with stress in an effective, healthy manner.
If you scored less than 50, however, it may be helpful for you to speak with a professional counselor about your stressors and to assist you in developing good coping habits.
*Reprinted from a U.S. Public Health Service pamphlet, “What Do You Know About Stress” (DHHS Publication No. PHS79-50097) by Dr. George Everly, Jr., of the University of Maryland.