As of April 2017, the Netflix original series 13 Reasons Why broke a new record: it saw more social media volume than any other Netflix original series. During it’s first week alone there were over 3.5 MILLION tweets including its title (not to mention Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat, Tumblr etc)! The show was produced by Selena Gomez, who is no stranger to mental health topics. In an interview from June 2017, Gomez responds to questions about the dark comment by saying “Whether or not you wanted to see it, that’s what’s happening. The content is complicated. It’s dark and it has moments that are honestly very hard to swallow, and I understood that we were doing something that is difficult. But these kids today are so exposed to things that I would never even comprehend when I was 8.”
As a therapist, I can completely agree with what she is saying. I hear a lot of parents holding tight to their “not my child” or “not at my kid’s school” mentality…and I talk to enough middle and high schoolers to tell you YES, your kid is exposed to these topics and YES, it happens at your kid’s school (as well as on-line, via texting, on television and at sleepovers).
The thing I liked the most about 13 Reasons Why was that it exposed the sexualized cultures and chronic sexual harassment that young girls have come to expect in middle and high schools around the country. It seems to be starting younger and younger too…I have 5th and 6th graders regularly discuss the frequency of sexualized talk, jokes, and requests.
The thing I liked least about the show however, was the ease with which the main character killed herself and the graphic nature in which it was shown. No human being needs exposed to those types of graphic images in any context. It is unnecessary violence that further perpetuates our culture’s desensitization. I further dislike that the image is one more thing for people who are depressed and considering suicide to struggle with thinking obsessively about. They are already fighting so hard to block their own intrusive thoughts and images, I do not believe this horrific scene was necessary in order to get the show’s message across.
In response to 13 Reasons Why, our practice chose to ask our clients why they choose life. We asked them to write anonymously on post-it notes and put their answers on display in our lobbies on our (More than) 13 Reason’s Why Not posters. What we found was interesting. It seems that the majority of our answers fell into five categories:
The beauty of this is that we can draw a conclusion that if you continue to work on these categories in your life, then you will decrease your risk of suicidal thoughts and gestures. If you are struggling with finding reasons to live, I strongly suggest that you reach out to a therapist for guidance. Therapy is a collaborative experience in which the therapist will work with you to explore your values and help you set goals to achieve your life worth living. Please feel free to contact Compass Point Counseling Services if you live in the Greater Cincinnati area (www.cpcs.me), we’d love to help.
Meet the author
Among my other roles here at Compass Point, I have the pleasure of leading the ACES group. ACES is a fairly new curriculum and group so there are always many questions. I am going to take them one at a time.
So the first question, what is ACES? ACES is a program developed for people that have done a full year of DBT but find there are still areas in which they could improve. It builds on the foundation of DBT. It’s primary purpose is to introduce the idea of building your life in such a way that you no longer need therapy. It can be scary to contemplate life without therapy when you have been in therapy for years. ACES is all about setting yourself up for success when you do graduate from therapy.
The second question, what kind of commitment is it? ACES 6:15-7:45 every Monday night for a year. There is an expectation to do homework every week and to be seeing an individual therapist weekly at the start of the program. The plan would be to decrease the individual therapy over time. The homework includes reading material and practicing skills.
Why so long? Most of you will have been in the mental health system for years. Making the change is a process and we want to set you up to not only succeed but thrive. For that reason the curriculum is pretty comprehensive. We spend a month on each on 12 important topics.
How do I know if it is right for me? Have you done a year of DBT? Then it might fit you. Are you currently seeing a therapist or would you like to? Then it might fit you. Has it been three months since you engaged in self-harm or acted on suicidal thoughts? Then it might fit you. Are there things on the list of topics that you want to improve on? Then it might fit you.
How do I get in the group? If you have a compass point therapist simply talk to them about doing an application and they can contact me. I will give them the application and let them know when the groups next open is. The group opens once a month but caps at 12 members. If you do not have a compass point therapist, you or your outside therapist can contact me at Compass Point or ask any staff to connect you with me for an intake to ensure you are a good fit for the group.
Please note this is a private pay group that charges $20 per week.
Contact info: 513-939-0300 ext 171
Compass Point's Mindful Recovery Group meets weekly on Thursday evenings and is appropriate for either behavioral or substance abuse addictions. Mindful Recovery is an 8 week commitment. Discount price of $175 when all 8 classes are paid up front.
To sign up for this group please call the front office at 513-939-0300
DBT Friends and Family is a support group for individuals who have a loved one that is participating in DBT treatment. We understand that the DBT concepts and skills are foreign to you and that your loved ones behaviors, thoughts, and/or feelings may be confusing. We believe that you have a desire to help facilitate positive change.
The goal of DBT Friends and Family is two-fold:
1. We seek to support you and connect you with others who understand this stress
2. We seek teach you core DBT skills and concepts so that you can relate and help your loved one
This group is offered in both Anderson + Fairfield on a rotating basis. Ask the front office where the next class will meet
To sign up for the next meeting call the front office at 513-939-0300
Target Population: Clients who have completed two cycles (one year) of Standard Dialectical
Behavioral Therapy skills class and are still struggling to find their life worth living -or- are seeking a greater understanding or practice of DBT skills and concepts of behavioral change.
Goals of DBT-ACES: Clients will push ahead with new goals to help them create a support network, acquire employment that is in line with their values and needs, experience their emotions and are able to demonstrate mastery of standard DBT skills. At completion of DBT-ACES, the client will be finished with standard weekly therapy or will seek a specific treatment (ie: exposure therapy). It is recognized that continuing with standard weekly therapy keeps the client dependent on the mental health system thus reinforcing their identity of mental illness.
Additional Requirements: The client will need to continue with an individual therapist and continue using a diary card. If the therapist is unfamiliar with the DBT-ACES protocol, an overview will be provided. As mentioned above, a goal is to reduce dependence on the mental health system; as time progresses the standard rules of phone coaching will change and frequency of appointments should decrease. The client must be free of suicidal and self-harming behavior for at least 3 months prior to beginning DBT-ACES.
For more information please contact the facilitator, Charity Chaney, at Compass Point Counseling Center (513) 939-0300
How You and Your Loved One Can Get Through Addiction
Opioid abuse can affect anyone and cause excessive pain. Its impact on relationships and families can be devastating. If you're the partner of a person with an opioid abuse, it can be distressing even looking for evidence of misuse. No matter the upset, however, it's important to be open about addiction, and encourage treatment. Only through recognizing addiction and committing to treatment can couples start to heal and rebuild a relationship.
The Warning Signs
Looking for indications of opioid abuse can be difficult, especially if they are hesitant to discuss any of your suspicions. There will be many physical symptoms, such as nausea, drowsiness, and constricted pupils, but other signs can give the sort of tangible evidence necessary to discuss what can be a hugely sensitive matter. You may notice extra pill bottles in the garbage, or that your loved one has been taking more than their prescribed dosage. Sudden financial issues may arise that can't be easily explained. Your loved one may become less social and more avoidant of their interests and responsibilities. It will be important to look out for any patterns of behavior that either contribute or enable addiction.
The stereotype of intervention, as portrayed by popular media, is one of confrontation. Dealing with addiction, however, may require much more tact to be successful as “tough love” interventions can be counterproductive. Arguing, even pleading, is likely to fall on deaf ears. Being the partner of an person with a substance abuse disorder is distressing, of course, but it's important to pursue positive communication as a crucial step to recovery. Encourage your partner to recognize their addiction, and help them move on from denial. Seeking professional support will be essential. This could include treatment at a recovery center, either as an inpatient or outpatient, and some form of addiction therapy. Recovery will be an ongoing process, and likely require a combination of treatments. All this can be overwhelming, so consider support for yourself as well. Some groups can provide a space where your experiences will resonate with others, giving you a place to seek advice and be listened to.
Repairing the damage addiction causes is a long-term process, both for recovery and the rebuilding of relationships. With time and patience, things can get better. Together with professional recovery support, it can be truly beneficial to commit to couples therapy. This can become an essential part of the healing process, as it can create a supportive environment that can encourage greater openness about the struggles that are being faced, and provide guidance for self-care. While professional support is key, consider also pursuing activities that you can do as a couple that are separate from recovery. Shared experiences, whether it's learning new skills or volunteering locally, can help some way to mending the relationship. Not only that, but it may give someone going through recovery much-needed purpose and focus to further strengthen their commitment to sobriety. There will be plenty of challenges, and some of the hardest will be dealing with forgiveness, understanding, and restoring trust as you both continue to heal.
Sometimes, unfortunately, no matter what is done, healing may be possible only through separation. It can be heartrending reconciling yourself with such a proposition. You may already have been advised by a counselor to practice positive reinforcement, wherein you spend time with your partner only when they are not impaired by substances. But this, of course, is different. Communicating this is important, but even the prospect of separation can do little if the addiction has taken such a desperate toll on your loved one. Nevertheless, if your own well-being is in peril, or you have children, separation may ultimately be the most viable option for everyone concerned.
Addiction is a treatable condition. Through patience and understanding, couples can rebuild their relationship, heal whatever damage there is, and create a healthy future free of substance abuse. Couples may find that communication and trust has been strengthened through their experiences. The process will be hard and addiction will not be overcome quickly, but it's important to remember that healing will be possible no matter what happens to the relationship.
Janice Miller has always been an advocate for ensuring safety. It started just in the community, in a physical neighborhood but the more she engaged herself online she has found that there is a need to ensure safety on the interweb as well.
When we are struggling, it can be hard to muster up the motivation, focus, and follow-through to secure the support we need. Add to this the fact that the mental health world can be daunting and difficult to navigate - even for seasoned mental health professionals - and the unfortunate consequence is that many people who want and would benefit from treatment end up going without. If you are in need of mental health support but are not sure where to start or are confused about the information you have already found, the following may be useful in guiding your next steps:
Types of mental health care
Levels of mental health care
If you are not sure which type of treatment or level of care is appropriate for you, an initial diagnostic assessment by a qualified mental health professional is a good place to start. The evaluating practitioner can use the information you provide during the assessment to determine areas of need and provide referrals accordingly. Here at Compass Point we offer a service called Care Connect which helps match you to the type and level of care that you need.
Finding a Provider
So, you have a general idea of what is out there in terms of mental health treatment...but how do you access it? Here are some options:
Compass Point is now offering free weekly zen meditation. On Wednesday mornings from 10:00 am to 10:20 am. We have a brief introduction to the style of meditation followed by a 15-20 minute meditation sitting practice. After, we spend a few minutes discussing the experience. A small amount of time that makes a big impact! Walk ins are welcome, however we recommend coming about 10 minutes before meditation starts.
Below is an article from Alyx Beresford on the benefits of practicing weekly zen meditation shared from her blog, your mental restoration.
Formal Zen meditation is the type that I practice and encourage my friends, family, clients, etc to practice also. Notice I said practice…yes, sitting upright and still requires PRACTICE! The basic components are:
You can really meditate whenever your want, where-ever you want, with whoever you want. I recommend group meditation in the beginning…think about how much you cognitively know about exercising and eating healthy vs what you actually do in your day-to-day life…? I find that group meditation holds you accountable and achieves better results just as group exercise does! Most major cities have group meditations or a zen center to provide this structure.
TAPS Care Groups provide emotional support and camaraderie for military survivors. Lasting relationships can be built on common threads. These local survivor support groups are encouraging and enlightening. Many find they learn new coping skills and stress-relieving strategies by talking to others who can relate.
If there's not a TAPS Care Group in your area and you're interested in finding other local community support you can request a community resource report. If you're interested in starting a TAPS Care Group in your area, the first step is to become a TAPS Peer Mentor. For more information about a TAPS Care Group or becoming a peer mentor, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 800-959-TAPS (8277).
Thinking About Therapy?
How do you decide that now is the right time?
If you wake up most mornings with a sense of dread and discouragement, now is the right time.
If you no longer enjoy things that used to give you pleasure, now is the right time.
If your emotions are controlling you instead of you controlling them, now is the right time.
If you feel withdrawn or disengaged from the important people in your life, now is the right time.
If you can't stop thinking about something bad that happened in the past, and feel "stuck" as a result, now is the right time.
If you are having trouble sleeping, or are no longer motivated to take care of your physical health, now is the right time.
If you are struggling with conflicts in an important relationship, and can't seem to resolve anything, now is the right time.
If your kids' behavior is driving you up a wall and nothing seems to work, now is the right time.
You deserve to find, or rediscover, peace, satisfaction, and connection. You deserve to enjoy and savor your life and relationships. If you don't, maybe now is the right time for therapy.