Blog posts and FAQ by Metairie & Mandeville, LA therapist and counselor, Dr Andre Sagrera Judice, Ph.D., LPC, LMFT, DCEP. Ask Dr Andre a question today. Email askdrandre@northshorecounselingandwellness.com

Five Things to Tell Yourself to Relieve Feelings of Social Anxiety

How can I overcome Social Anxiety?

Whether we are obligated to go to office parties, or we choose to attend New Year celebrations, we are often faced with situations in which we need to be “social.” For those who struggle to feel comfortable in those situations, here is a list of five phrases that either help to ground the user in the present or reminds the user of their own power.

 

  1. I’m going to this event to have fun. Fun is healthy! –Sometimes we give ourselves a hard time about having fun. Like we’ve somehow not earned it or deserve it. When we feel this way, we are dooming ourselves to a more anxious time.
  2. What other people think is none of my business. – If we can let go of the anxiety that comes with worrying about what others think, we may just have enough time to keep thinking about #1 up there.
  3. No one deserves my criticism without earning it. – It would be hypocritical to force ourselves to not be critical of others at times, but did they actually EARN the criticism? That is, would you want to be judged as harshly as you might be judging another?
  4. Every day is a chance for me to make the decision that I’m confident. – It makes no sense that we may believe an “old dog” can’t learn new tricks. We most definitely can. And in that vein, we can decide that we are going to do all we can to emote confidence today. Done.
  5. No one is perfect, and the world would be a really boring place if they were. – If we never lose, we never know the joy of winning. Acceptance of oneself is the best gift.

 

So, the next time you are looking in the mirror and thinking “ugh,” or the next time you are invited somewhere and tempted to go to the old “I can’t this time” excuse, try talking a little to yourself and see what happens!

 

If you are having difficulty with this and you don’t think you can handle it on your own, help is available. Call 985-624-2942 to make an appointment with one of our qualified therapists at either our Mandeville or Metairie locations! – Micah P. Hatchett, Ph.D., LPC-S, NCC

 

Dr. Andre, Why do I have a quick temper?

Why do i get mad so quickly?

A quick temper is often a result of being parented by one or both parents who had a quick temper.

In order to be more level in one’s response there would have to have been models of that behavior in your early environment. If both of your parents were able to handle their anger in a healthy way and you still find your self with a quick temper then there is probably some kind of trauma that caused the temper. If something happened in your life that was a great injustice or extremely frightening and you didn’t have help to handle it, then anything that reminds you of the incident could trigger an anger response. It might seem irrational to you but there is always an underlying cause that can be tracked down.

Does group therapy help anger management? Groups are very helpful. First you get to meet other people who are dealing with the same problem and it helps the feeling of being alone with the problem and you have people who understand what you are going through and who you can talk about your issues with. Hearing a lot of different people talk about their anger helps you to understand more about your own anger and having a lot of people giving how they deal with their anger gives you different things to try in your own life.

-Submitted by Counselor Chris DesJardins, M.Ed., CI

Contact us today in Metairie or Mandeville for help with anger management therapy.

Do I have a Dissociative Disorder?

Dissociative Disorders are those psychological disorders characterized by a person’s tendency to dissociate, or “check out” mentally.  Of course, we all dissociate in small ways, such as when read something and then don’t remember what we just read, or when we drive somewhere without remembering getting there.  While this level of dissociation is normal, the frequency and intensity of dissociation is much higher in that group of disorders.  Conditions such as Multiple Personality Disorder, now called Dissociative Identity Disorder, are real.  The ability of the brain to dissociate is a coping mechanism, a way of blocking out or sectioning off certain information to attend to other information.  When someone has a dissociative disorder, they have a need to block out such an overwhelming amount of information that dissociation is their primary coping skill in life.  People who have undergone severe trauma have a higher likelihood of dissociative disorders.

…characterized by a person’s tendency to “check out” mentally

In everyday life, a common place to see problematic dissociation (although not at the level of being a disorder) is in rage and domestic violence.  Sometimes people become so angry that they are physiologically and/or psychologically overwhelmed, and the mind dissociates.  This creates a situation where the angry person “blacks out” or does not remember what occurred.  In another example, people experiencing high levels of stress or anxiety might say or do something they don’t remember.

…a common place to see problematic dissociation is in rage and domestic violence.

Therapy can be effective when dissociation is problematic, such as in the anger example, and when there is an actual dissociative disorder.  In therapy, we help clients learn to handle the stress or anger (or other trigger) without actually blocking information from consciousness.

We are located in Metairie (504) 717-4043 or Mandeville (985) 624-2942. Call us for information on how to deal with dissociative disorders.

Dr. Andre Sagrera Judice, Ph.D., LPC, LMFT, DCEP

Dr Andre, What is Collaborative Divorce?

Collaborative Divorce is a team-based process with the purpose of providing a non-litigious and efficient process for couples who are divorcing.  It is structured very differently than what most people think of in a traditional divorce process.  There are 6 team members trained in the process: two attorneys, two therapists who serve as coaches, a therapist who serves as a child specialist, and a financial planner.  These professionals are trained to guide each person in the couple through to a “win-win” resolution of all matters related to the divorce while avoiding any court involvement.

..a non-litigious and efficient process for couples who are divorcing

The couple is assisted in working out their own custody arrangements and financial outcomes within the legal constraints in Louisiana.  This allows them to keep control over their outcomes, as opposed to a judge making such decisions.  Additionally, the process allows the matter to remain private, which is often important to business people who don’t want their financials to become part of public record and available to others such a business competition.  Another benefit is that, because each person has a supported voice in the process, the agreements reached are ones that both people can live with for the long-term, which greatly decreases the likelihood of revisiting custody or other matters well after the divorce is final.

…a “win-win” resolution of all matters related to the divorce while avoiding any court involvement.  

Some people have questions about the cost of this process as compared to traditional divorces.  While there are more professionals involved in a Collaborative Divorce, this does not mean the cost is higher.  Less time is required of the attorneys, who typically have the highest fees.  Attorneys also are not spending time sitting in courts waiting for your case to be heard, which can be a large expense.  The coaches and financial professional spend the majority of the time with the couple in order to work prepare them for productively moving through the important decisions and minimizing attorney time.  Therefore, time is not lost in conflict, disagreements, or court time.  The team can flex the use of the professionals to the specific needs of the couple, thereby streamlining costs.

Clients of the Collaborative Divorce process experience an effective and productive working environment in which all parties are assisted to remain neutral and both people’s concerns are addressed.  This process helps take the “drama” out of divorce.

Want to know more about what is collaborative divorce? Call our office for an appointment. We’re located in Metairie (504) 717-4043 or Mandeville (985) 624-2942

 

-Andre Sagrera Judice, Ph.D., LPC, LMFT, DCEP

Dr Andre: Do I have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?

Doctor, Do I suffer from OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)? 

Often we throw around the term “OCD” as a way to describe someone who tends to be meticulous, controlling, or otherwise particular about wanting things a certain way. While most of us can recognize that we likely do not really suffer from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, how do we know if there is a chance that we actually do?

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is diagnosed based on two major benchmarks.

The first is the presence of an obsessive thought. This is not a passing worry, but a thought that does not go away after some period of time or once a problem is solved. An obsessive thought that occurs with this disorder is often irrational (for example, that a catastrophe is going to happen), and does not go away until the second benchmark of this disorder is performed, the compulsive act. A compulsion is the urge to complete an act in order to get rid of the obsessive thought. For example, often people who are diagnosed with this disorder may believe that unless they wash their hands repeatedly throughout the day, they will contract a deadly disease. Some people must check things, like doors or light-switches in order to alleviate thoughts that someone will get into their unlocked house or their house will burn down from a light being left on.

The second major component to this disorder is that those thoughts or acts are intrusive in the sufferer’s life. That is, the person cannot skip the compulsive act to alleviate the thought, or else that thought or fear intrudes on the person’s ability to proceed with daily functioning.

Is there a possibility you are suffering from this disorder? The good news is that there is help that really works. On the Northshore (Mandeville) and Southshore (Metairie) Counseling and Wellness, we offer a comprehensive approach to working with people who may be trying to deal with these symptoms. There are two components to the treatment of this disorder: counseling and medication therapy. Our trained therapists utilize cognitive-behavioral techniques, focusing on helping the client gain control over the thoughts that become so intrusive. Looking at all the various stressors and components of that client’s life is often part of this approach too. Processing ways to cope with stress, ways to gain and utilize support systems, and helping the client feel more empowered over this disorder are just a few additional ways that therapy can be beneficial. We can also offer assistance in helping the client determine the best course to take when making decisions about medication as well.

Call our office for an appointment to help you manage living with OCD. We’re located in Metairie (504) 717-4043 or Mandeville (985) 624-2942 For more information about OCD, visit the National Institute of Mental Health’s OCD information.

Submitted by: Micah P. Hatchett, Ph.D., LPC-S, NCC

How do I communicate with my TEENAGER!?!!??

Why does my teen feel the need to argue with me?

Your teen DOES NOT feel the need to argue with you.  Your teen DOES feel the need to be heard, understood, and accepted.  When your teen feels they are not being heard they will argue, yell, and act out because they are frustrated and feeling alone.

How do I make my teen feel understood?

By listening to them!!  When an argument begins parents are so frustrated with being disrespected they close their ears to their teen; much like their teen does when they’re frustrated with not being understood.  By repeating what your teen wants in a clear, calm manner you show them you are taking in what they are saying to you.

How is telling them what they want to hear helping them?

Letting your teen know you hear them is not the same as letting them have their way.  Once you’ve calmly showed them you are listening to them, it is your turn to explain your opinion.  You can still tell your teen no and let them know you understand where they are coming from.

What’s the best way to talk to my teen?

Stay calm!!  You set the tone of the conversation with your child, if they try to escalate the conversation to an argument it is up to you to stay calm and keep the discussion from turning into a screaming match.

What are other important things to remember when talking to my teen?

Don’t judge.  Don’t tell your teen “You don’t understand”.  Do create a safe, open space for expression.  Do show your child how to keep calm by doing so yourself.  Always remember that you are a parent, not a friend; it’s ok for your teen to be angry with you for not giving them their way, just continue to show them you are listening to them and taking in everything they are saying.   If you would like to involve a counselor in your conversations to better help you communicate with your teenager, please call our office for an appointment.

We’re located in Metairie (504) 717-4043 or Mandeville (985) 624-2942 -Dr. Andre Sagrera Judice, Ph.D., LPC, LMFT, DCEP

 

-Contributed by Michelle Haeur, M.Ed., NCC, Counselor Intern

Am I Bipolar?

Dr Andre, How do I know if I am Bipolar?

 

Do you experience days without sleep yet you don’t feel tired? Do you experience days, weeks, months of depression and irritability so severe that it affects your ability to relate to others? If so, you may need to be evaluated for Bipolar Disorder.

As more people become informed about mental illness, Bipolar Disorder (formerly called manic-depressive illness) seems to be gaining more visibility. Bipolar Disorder is characterized by a number of symptoms, primarily severe highs (mania) and lows (depression) in mood, energy, and a severe deficit in judgment.

It is important to understand that Bipolar Disorder is not like “regular” ups and downs everyone goes through due to various stressors in life. This disorder causes major problems in a person’s ability to function in relationships as well as on the job. They can exercise poor judgment in dangerous situations, and when the illness is exacerbated, can potentially become psychotic or suicidal. When depressed, people will often exhibit a severely depressed mood, in stark contrast to their manic phases.

If you or someone you know is exhibiting these symptoms, don’t hesitate to call a mental health professional right away for assessment. With the right help, this is usually a very manageable illness that responds well to treatment. For more information about this disorder, see the National Institutes of Mental Health website at: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/bipolar-disorder/what-is-bipolar-disorder.shtml.

If you would like an assessment of your mental health please call our office for an appointment. We’re located in Metairie (504) 717-4043 or Mandeville (985) 624-2942

-Dr. Andre Sagrera Judice, Ph.D., LPC, LMFT, DCEP

Social drinking question

Dr Andre,

When is it time to seek help with a social drinking question? I do not share the same opinion of my wine with dinner as other members of my family?

 

Since there is a conflict of opinion it would probably be helpful for both parties(all) to be fully heard. Often in a neutral setting each side can actually speak and be heard without interruptions. Sometimes this is the first time people actually truly listen to each other!  From there, a decision could be made by you for guidance, suppport, or general reassurance , or any other goals that may be discovered in session. If you would like more specific information regarding your family communication please call our office for an appointment. We’re located in Metairie (504) 717-4043 or Mandeville (985) 624-2942.

 

-Dr. Andre Sagrera Judice, Ph.D., LPC, LMFT, DCEP

Couple’s Communication 101

Dr Andre, Why can’t I communicate with my partner?

 

“We just can’t seem to communicate!” I hear this often in sessions with couples. Here are a few pointers that I always offer my clients who struggle with communication.

First of all, we need to understand the differences in the way men and women communicate. Men are generally far more concrete and linear in their thoughts and statements, whereas women are more abstract and detailed. For men, YES and NO are perfectly acceptable answers. Women, however, are more likely to respond with more information. For example, when a lady asks a man if she looks OK in a particular dress, a man believes he has answered her question when he responds with “yes” or “no”. Another female is more likely to respond to the same question with, “Well, I like the color of the dress, but…”

A gifted communicator knows how to listen.

Another communication challenge happens when a man asks a woman what is wrong and she answers “nothing”. He usually believes her! This does not mean he doesn’t care about her. Men are just not good mind readers. Ladies, they depend on you to tell them what you want or need. But, remember, we all get the best results when we speak in the “I” rather than “you”. Starting a statement with “you” tends to put the other person on the defensive because it has an accusatory tone. And, let’s not forget tone and timing are very important.

A gifted communicator knows how to listen. Men, by nature, are problem solvers. Women vent their feelings and problems to men who in turn have the urge to fix the problem. Great news, guys!  You don’t have to fix it – just listen. Listen without judgment. She just needs to get it off her chest.

Great news, guys!  You don’t have to fix it – just listen.

Finally, have you ever heard of QTIPS? It’s the acronym for Quit Taking It Personally, Silly. We all need to remember that not all problems are about us; so, let’s not assume he or she is angry at or disappointed with us. Your partner’s attitude or expression may be the result of something that happened at work or with someone else. Just ask, “You look upset. Is this about me?” When you respond with openness, your partner will feel safer to share with you. However, if the problem is about you, remember tone and timing. We can say almost anything when we say it with kindness and respect.

…remember tone and timing.

For more in-depth help with relationship and communication challenges, our therapists at Northshore Counseling and Wellness and always happy to help you be your best self. Please call our office for an appointment. We’re located in Metairie (504) 717-4043 or Mandeville (985) 624-2942

-Dr. Andre Sagrera Judice, Ph.D., LPC, LMFT, DCEP

Contributed by Janis Caserta, LPC, LAC