Tag Archives: Mental Health

Being Numb Means Never Growing or Changing

Staying Numb Means No Change

By Justin Lioi, LCSW, Relationships and Marriage

Some people drink a lot, smoke pot a lot, or work a hell of a lot.

While for many people, these activities might indicate a clinical addiction that needs to be directly addressed, for many others, these—and other activities—may be used to avoid discomfort.

A few of the most common issues people find themselves trying to avoid include:

  • Disappointment in relationships (or the lack of a relationship)
  • Feeling used at a job or unenthusiastic about work
  • Remembering something painful they would rather forget

Anyone who grew up with a pet hamster probably noticed how it would spend its day running in place on a wheel. Well, we can be like that, too. We can run and run as we try to hold off feelings of discomfort. The problem is, once we stop, we’re still on the wheel. We’re more exhausted, but we’re still in the same cage.

The Numbing Process

Some people I work with experience anger issues, but many others experience what appears to be the opposite: They go numb.

Through the anesthesia of their choice, they attempt to cordon themselves off from feelings. This can actually be effective for a certain amount of time. In fact, many people swear by this technique. Often, they’re proud of they way they “compartmentalize” so well!

Yet, feelings find a way to come out.

If you deal with discomfort by going numb, you’re hiding two things: You’re warding off the initial feeling, and you’re growing more worried of what will happen once that feeling emerges.

  • If you allow yourself to get angry, will you insult or hurt someone?
  • If you allow yourself to grieve, will you ever find your way out?
  • If you allow yourself to be scared, will you ever be strong again?
  • If you let others know you’re sad, will they say, “Get over it,” or tell you that you’re too needy?
  • If you let others know you’re angry at them, will they disappear?

Avoiding Feelings to Protect Our Relationships

Numbing is sometimes used to protect the status quo in our relationships with other people.

We are constantly changing and the world around us is constantly changing. Numbing, however, keeps things just as they are.This is often easier to see in others than ourselves. Can you think of a person who has a girlfriend, a parent, or a friend that they are always making excuses for? Maybe you question how and why they continue to keep this person in their life?

If they really considered the way that person treated them, they might need to say something or make some real changes in the relationship. Avoiding the negative feelings and continuing to run on the wheel means that someone doesn’t have to risk change. Change is scary, and it can sometimes be painful, so many people choose to avoid the risk.

Resistance to Change

We are constantly changing, and the world around us is constantly changing. Numbing, however, keeps things just as they are.

It’s hard to keep things the same when we live in a changing world. Both the people we love and the people we hate are changing. Maybe these changes aren’t big ones, and maybe people don’t change in the way we’d like them to change, but no one is static.

When we’re drunk, the world might seem OK. When we’re high, we can’t help laughing. When we’re at work six days a week, 10 hours a day, we are accomplishing something and stressing about something that has nothing to do with us. We’re running on a hamster wheel that we perceive is protecting us, but we’re not feeling what’s actually going on around us.

It’s not by accident that transitions—birthdays, breakups, funerals, graduations—are often surrounded with alcohol. We’re scared during these times, even if the transitions lead to something exciting. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with this. Fear can be adaptive when we’re actively taking part in the transition to something new. It’s unhealthy, however, when we’re OK with being stuck on the hamster wheel.

© Copyright 2015 by Justin Lioi, LCSW, therapist in Brooklyn, NY. All Rights Reserved.

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Posted by on September 16, 2015 in General, Mental Health


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The Action Plan for Happiness

Happiness - Take Action NowTake Action Now!

If it’s going to be, it’s up to me

Post published by Russell Grieger Ph.D. on Aug 02, 2015 in Happiness on Purpose

In my clinical practice, I treat people who suffer from just about every imaginable emotional malady – depression, anxiety, anger, addictions, eating disorders, sexual malfunctions, obsessions and compulsions, borderline personality disorders, impulsive acting out, relationship dysfunction, and on and on. To every single one of my patients, I emphasize how important it is for them to step up to the plate and take responsibility for their recovery.

How do I do this? I first help them understand the precise nature and cause of their problems. Then, in the spirit of what the psychologist Carl Rogers taught, “Insight is necessary but not sufficient,” I do my best to convince them that, to get better, they need to work hard, really hard, not only during our sessions, but also in the days between our sessions. I tell them: “The measly forty-five minutes you spend with me each week pales in comparison to the hours you spend with yourself, unwittingly rehearsing and practicing your irrational thinking and dysfunctional behavior. I’ll do everything in my power to teach you what to do, but, if you don’t work your therapy every day, you could very well come to our next appointment next week worse than better.”

In this vein, I make it a point to never let a patient leave my office without at least one between-session therapy assignment. It can be some therapeutic reading, a cognitive restructuring assignment, a behavioral task, or some combination of all three. It never fails that when patients works their therapy, every day, with vigor and focus, they get better.

The same dedication to work applies to creating happiness. All the wonderful happiness strategies in the world will be for naught unless you are willing to use them to bring happiness into your life. If you work them, life will get better. If you don’t, it won’t. It’s that simple.


So, dear reader, here’s your chance to get organized, get focused, and most important, get to work to increase your happiness quotient. I share below a three-step process I call ACT – A refers to creating your Action Plan for Happiness; C has to do with your massive Commitment to do what it takes to bring more pleasure, satisfaction, and happiness into your life; T means Turning On the Action. So, let’s swing into ACTion – now!

Action Plan For Happiness

Starting way back on February 19, 2013, and then each month thereafter, I have published a series of thirty blogs, each with a profound, powerful happiness action strategy. The first ten focused on ways to be happy with yourself (blogs 2/19/13 – 10/31/13), the next ten on how to create happiness with others (11/30/13 – 8/31/14), and the last ten on ways to be happy with life in general (9/30/14 – 6/30/15). In each package of ten, the first five strategies are cognitive or attitudinal, the second five behavioral things to do.

Whether you’ve followed my blogs month-by-month, logged in here and there, or are a first-timer, I suggest that you take the time to browse through these blogs. This may take some time and energy on your part. But, I think your happiness is worth it, don’t you? Once you’ve done this, you are to select one strategy you will begin to do to be happier with yourself, with others, and with life. Write them down below. For each, make notes about where, when, and with whom you’ll act out these strategies.

                                                       My Action Plan

Happiness With Self Strategy:

Happiness With Others Strategy:

Happiness With Life Strategy:


All right, great job! You’ve created a concrete happiness action plan that can add tons of pleasure and satisfaction to your life. But, all the plans in the world, without action, will be useless. You need to commit to follow through. Consider what the genius, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: “At the moment of commitment, the entire universe conspires to assist you.”  Here now are three ways for you to get and stay motivated to act out your Action Plan for Happiness each and every day.



Mental Health CE Courses of Interest


Should therapists and counselors use humor as a therapeutic technique? If so, should they be formally trained in those procedures before their implementation? This course will review the risks and benefits of using humor in therapy and the relevant historical controversies of this proposal. The paucity of rigorous empirical research on the effectiveness of this form of clinical intervention is exceeded only by the absence of any training for those practitioners interested in applying humor techniques. In this course a representative sample of its many advocates’ recommendations to incorporate humor in the practice of psychological therapies is reviewed. Therapeutic humor is defined, the role of therapists’ personal qualities is discussed, and possible reasons for the profession’s past resistance to promoting humor in therapy are described. Research perspectives for the evaluation of humor training are presented with illustrative examples of important empirical questions still needing to be answered.Course #21-02 | 2015 | 24 pages | 14 posttest questions


In Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) the human-animal bond is utilized to help meet therapeutic goals and reach individuals who are otherwise difficult to engage in verbal therapies. AAT is considered an emerging therapy at this time, and more research is needed to determine the effects and confirm the benefits. Nevertheless, there is a growing body of research and case studies that illustrate the considerable therapeutic potential of using animals in therapy. AAT has been associated with improving outcomes in four areas: autism-spectrum symptoms, medical difficulties, behavioral challenges, and emotional well-being. This course is designed to provide therapists, educators, and caregivers with the information and techniques needed to begin using the human-animal bond successfully to meet individual therapeutic goals. This presentation will focus exclusively on Animal Assisted Therapy and will not include information on other similar or related therapy.Course #21-05 | 2015 | 36 pages | 16 posttest questions


It has long been observed that there are certain children who experience better outcomes than others who are subjected to similar adversities, and a significant amount of literature has been devoted to the question of why this disparity exists. Research has largely focused on what has been termed “resilience.” Health professionals are treating an increasing number of children who have difficulty coping with 21st century everyday life. Issues that are hard to deal with include excessive pressure to succeed in school, bullying, divorce, or even abuse at home. This course provides a working definition of resilience and descriptions of the characteristics that may be associated with better outcomes for children who confront adversity in their lives. It also identifies particular groups of children – most notably those with developmental challenges and learning disabilities – who are most likely to benefit from resilience training. The bulk of the course – presented in two sections – offers a wide variety of resilience interventions that can be used in therapy, school, and home settings.Course #30-72 | 2014 | 53 pages | 21 posttest questionsJuly Monthly Special Ends 7/31/2015


Self-defeating behaviors are negative on-going patterns of behaviors involving issues such as smoking, weight, inactive lifestyle, depression, anger, perfectionism, etc. This course is designed to teach concepts to eliminate these negative patterns. The course is educational: first you learn the model, then you apply it to a specific self-defeating behavior. A positive behavioral change is the outcome. Following the course, participants will be able to identify, analyze and replace their self-defeating behavior(s) with positive behavior(s). The course also provides an excellent psychological “tool” for clinicians to use with their clients. The author grants limited permission to photocopy forms and exercises included in this course for clinical use. Closeout Course #40-08 | 2007 | 44 pages | 35 posttest questions

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The Way We Talk About Mental Illness Needs To Change

By Erin Schumaker

Rethink Mental IllnessResearch by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy shows the loaded words used to describe drug addiction, such as “clean” vs. “dirty,” can actually drive people away from getting help, The Huffington Post reported in March.

The same is true of terminology used to describe mental illness, where phrases such as “unsuccessful suicide” can exacerbate rather than improve the dialogue surrounding suicide and depression.

Mental illness cuts across a wide swath of society. One in five Americans will experience a mental health issue in their lives, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and many say they feel stigmatized for their illness by friends, family, strangers and the media.

Because media reporting has a large impact on the public’s perception of mental illness and can be fraught with tough language choices, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) put together a rubric to help journalists write responsibility about mental illness and suicide. Click here to view.

“Words are very important,” Michelle Riba, MD, a clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Michigan Health System, told HuffPost. (Riba is also a former president of the APA, but did not have a hand in compiling the organization’s mental illness reporting guidelines.) “Let me just say that this is not just for reporters. I think this helps us all think about ways to talk about these issues and communicate.”

One of the most important changes that can be made when talking about mental illness is to stop labeling people as diseases. Instead of saying someone is a cancer patient or a schizophrenic, for example, the language should be “This is a person who has breast cancer” or “This person has schizophrenia.”

There’s a phrase for this type of humanizing sentence construction: people-first language, which Mental Health America describes as “speaking and writing in a way that acknowledges the person first, then the condition or disability.”

“It helps people understand that the person isn’t the disease, the person has the illness,” said Riba. “It doesn’t stigmatize the person — it gets to the point that the person has something that needs to be evaluated and treated.”

Riba also noted that the term “substance abuse” was dropped from the latest addition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which mental health professionals use to determine common language across the profession. The new terminology will be “substance use disorder.”

“Use of terms more in keeping with this medical malfunction, such as describing an affected person as an individual with, or suffering from, a ‘substance use disorder’ — as opposed to a ‘substance abuser’ — may decrease stigma and increase perceptions of a need for treatment,” John F. Kelly, associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, told HuffPost in March.

One way to frame conversations and reports about mental illness is to think critically about the goal of the conversation or report.

“The message that you’re trying to convey is often very important,” Riba said. “Then the words will follow.”


Professional Development Resources offers a variety of online continuing education (CE/CEU) courses for healthcare and mental health professionals that address the mental health needs of our communities. Click here to view.

Professional Development Resources is approved by the American Psychological Association (APA) to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. Professional Development Resources maintains responsibility for all programs and content. Professional Development Resources is also approved by the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA); the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR); the California Board of Behavioral Sciences; the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy, Psychology & School Psychology, Dietetics & Nutrition, Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, and Occupational Therapy Practice; the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board; the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs; and by theTexas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists and State Board of Social Worker Examiners.


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Florida Mental Health Laws and Rules – New CE Course from PDResources

By: Leo Christie, PhD

Florida Mental Health Laws and RulesFlorida Mental Health Laws and Rules is a new 3-hour online continuing education (CE/CEU) course approved to meet the requirements of a Florida Laws and Rules course as a license renewal requirement for Florida-licensed clinical social workers, marriage and family therapists, and mental health counselors.

Click Here to Learn More About This Course!

It is required every third biennium after initial licensure. Content of this course will include excerpts from the relevant Florida statutes and Administrative Code regulating the practice of social work, marriage and family therapy and mental health counseling, along with interpretive commentary and case examples. Included are Chapter 491 of the Florida Statutes – the practice act for these named professionals, Chapter 64B4 of the Florida Administrative Code – establishing the Board of Clinical Social Work, Marriage & Family Therapy & Mental Health Counseling, and selected sections from Chapters 39, 394, and 456 of the Florida Statutes.

Emphasis is on those issues most important for practicing mental health clinicians in delivering ethical, legal, and competent professional services while attending to prudent risk management practices.

The goal of this course is to make life easier for clinicians by presenting a brief summary of the relevant laws and rules of practice in the State of Florida, leading to an ever-increasing awareness of and conscious compliance with the particulars of those bodies of legislation.

Course Directions:

This online course provides instant access to the course materials (PDF download) and CE test. Successful completion of the online CE test (80% required to pass, 3 chances to take) and course evaluation are required to earn a certificate of completion. You can print the test (download test from My Courses tab of your account) and mark your answers on it while reading the course document. Then submit online when ready to receive credit. Email any questions to – we’re here to help!

About the Author:

Leo Christie, PhD, LMFT, is a Florida-licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with a doctorate in Marriage and Family Therapy from Florida State University. Past President of the Florida Council on Family Relations, Dr. Christie is currently CEO of Professional Development Resources, a Florida nonprofit corporation whose mission is to deliver continuing education credit courses to healthcare professionals throughout the United States. He has more than 20 years’ experience in private practice with a specialty in child behavior disorders and as an instructor for over 500 live continuing education seminars for healthcare professionals.

CE Information:

Professional Development Resources is approved by the American Psychological Association (APA) to sponsor continuing education for psychologists; by the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC ACEP #5590); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB #1046, ACE Program); and the Florida Board of Clinical Social Work, Marriage & Family Therapy, and Mental Health Counseling (#BAP346) and is CE Broker compliant (courses are reported within one week of completion).

Source: Florida Mental Health Laws and Rules


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License Renewals and Continuing Education for Tennessee Mental Health Counselors health counselors in Tennessee have a birth month license renewal every two years.

Continuing education is due December 31st prior to the renewal year. Ten (10) continuing education hours are required for license renewal. Of the ten hours, five (5) hours of home study are allowed if NBCC approved, and three (3) hours of ethics are required at each renewal.

Continuing education ensures the top possible standards for the mental health counseling profession. All licensees are required to complete continuing education as a licensing condition.

Professional Development Resources is an NBCC-Approved Continuing Education Provider (ACEP #5590) and may offer NBCC-approved clock hours for events that meet NBCC requirements. The ACEP solely is responsible for all aspects of the program.

CE Requirements

Mental health counselors licensed in the state of Tennessee have a birth month license renewal every two years, with continuing education due by December 31st of the renewal year.

Ten continuing education hours are required for license renewal. Of the ten hours, five hours of home study are allowed if NBCC approved, and three hours of ethics are required at each renewal.


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South Dakota Mental Health Counselors CE Requirements and License Renewals health counselors licensed in the state of South Dakota have a yearly license renewal with continuing education due every two years on December 31st, odd years.

Forty (40) continuing education hours are required to renew a license. There are no limits on home study if NBCC approved. Four (4) hours of ethics are required at each renewal.

Continuing education ensures the best possible standards for the mental health counseling profession. All licensees are required to complete continuing education as a licensing condition.

Professional Development Resources is an NBCC-Approved Continuing Education Provider (ACEP #5590) and may offer NBCC-approved clock hours for events that meet NBCC requirements. The ACEP solely is responsible for all aspects of the program.

Requirements for Continuing Education

South Dakota-licensed mental health counselors have a yearly license renewal with continuing education due every two years on December 31st, odd years.

Forty hours of continuing education are required for license renewal. There is no home study limit if NBCC approved, and four hours of ethics are required at each renewal period.


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