As a therapist, I have very strong opinions about feelings. One observation goes against many's core belief that we get to choose how we feel. From my personal and professional experience and observations, I've come to the conclusion that we don't get to choose how we feel. We can choose environments that cultivate certain feelings. We can choose to be around people that can cultivate certain feelings. Things happen and we feel. Your dog gets hit by a car. You don't choose to feel sad, you just do. The key is in choosing how to respond to whatever feeling is coming up. So with that said, I compare feelings to toddlers.
Some toddlers are adorable! They are fun and full of energy. They make us laugh, they do cute things…we want to be around them. Some toddlers are not fun to be around. They are loud and sticky and have to be everywhere you are. They are disagreeable, stubborn and have a mind of their own. Regardless, they need to constantly be acknowledged and validated.
Some feelings are awesome! They're fun and pleasant and enjoyable. They bring smiles to our faces and laughter to our days. Some feelings are not fun to have be around. They are loud and sticky and are everywhere you are. Regardless of how hard you try to ignore them or hide them or correct them, they have a mind of their own. Regardless of if the feeling is fun or not, they too need to be constantly acknowledged and validated.
The bad news is that you can't choose how you feel and when. The good news is you can control how you respond to feelings. You can cultivate relationships and situations that help cultivate particular feelings. The trick is to acknowledged whatever feeling is going on. Validate it and figure out what message the feeling is giving you. If you can do something about it, do. If you can't, acknowledge that you can't.
Once your feelings are have been acknowledged, they typically either simmer down (like the toddler who just wanted mommy to watch them jump "really high").
There's that moment that I have to guess every bishop has had when, in a conversation with a ward member, it clicks. "This is not my expertise, this is more than an issue of the spirit, this an emotional/mental issue." Professional counseling by a licensed therapist can be very helpful in a ward member's life depending on the issue they are dealing with. When seeking out counseling, here are some things to be aware of.
LDS Family Services have new policies as of January 2017. LDS Family Services no longer accepts insurance and also requires that the ward member has a referral from a bishop. In part, these policy changes are causing a lot of referrals into the community to occur. It is completely appropriate and within church policy to have ward members receive counseling other agencies aside from LDS Family Services. A bishop will want to make sure to know the following things including the price of services before moving forward with counseling.
How Often Does the Bishop and Therapist Talk?
Most therapists like to keep in close contact with their clients' bishops. Being a therapist for LDS Family Services for a handful of years trained me that bishop contact is essential in the treatment process if the client would like it to be present so I do my best to reach out about once a month or once every 4 sessions. With that said, a bishop can contact a therapist whenever he'd like to talk and a therapist should be contacting a bishop whenever clinically appropriate.
Who Calls Who?
The therapist should be reaching out to the bishop to discuss the assessment, treatment plan and payment initially. Then, as stated above, the therapist should be keeping in regular contact. I do my best to make this happen but sometimes it doesn't so I'm always grateful if a bishop who'd like to talk about things reaches out to me.
How Do We Schedule a Phone Call?
Some therapists can set up a time to talk with a simple phone call. Emails and texts are the best way to get a bishop on my radar.
How Does Payment Occur?
Unlike LDS Family Services, other therapists can't just pull the amount owed out of your ward's account. Most bill out monthly and send an invoice to the bishop. I try to do this around the 1st of the month. Then, the bishop writes a check out to the agency (BRICKS Family Counseling, in my case) and mails it out.
How Do I Know If the Therapy is Progressing?
Most bishops would be surprised what information can and can't be shared. As long as a Release of Information Form is signed by the ward member, open dialogue between the therapist and bishop can occur. Constant contact with the ward member and the therapist can help a bishop know how the process is going and if progress is happening. With that said, therapy is not an event. It is a process. Though there are some things that can be addressed in 4-8 sessions, most issues are going to take longer. The therapist should keep a bishop in the loop as to progress their seeing or challenges in the process and as the bishop meets with the individual and talks with them, they should be begin seeing changes too.
The key is to match up with a therapist that respects the sacred funds being used for the therapy and that values contact with the bishop.
Before we get into the ins and outs of addiction, self-reflection is the first step in identifying if addiction is present. Self-reflection is encouraged straight out of the gates not because the addiction is a spouses fault (it isn't) but because the spouse's recovery is separate from the person with the addiction. If a person wonders is their spouse has an addiction to police them, convince them to get help or to decide for their spouse that they indeed do have an addiction, coming to the conclusion that the spouse is an addict will have little value. If you're wondering about an addiction so that you can identify how you can respond to it and how to begin your own recovery, then knowing if an addiction is present or not will be helpful. Reflect on your intent.
There is a big difference between a problem, a habit and an addiction. A problem, by definition, is "a matter or situation regarded as unwelcome and harmful and needing to be dealt with and overcome." Playing a lot of videogames is a problem.
A habit is "a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up." Playing videogames instead of hanging out with the family or instead of doing homework is a habit.
An addiction is the fact or condition of being physiologically or psychologically dependent on to a particular substance, thing or activity. Playing videogames for hours, neglecting family or other responsibilities, losing sleep to play videogames or having the majority of focus being on when you can next play videogames is an addiction.
A person with addiction typically has relationships deteriorate because the behavior becomes so excessive, extreme or disruptive. They also seem unable to stop engaging in the specific behavior, even when the individual experiences negative consequences that are directly related to the behavior.
Although the DSM 5 is very specific in what can or can't be considered a diagnosable addiction, there are any number of behaviors and substances that fall into that category.
If there are additional questions, concerns or if the consideration of these things seems to be a fit, have an open conversation with your spouse about your thoughts, feelings and the plans you have to begin your own recovery
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