The Ten Most Frequently Asked Questions by Clients

1. What is a positive mental health attitude and how can a positive mental health attitude help me improve my life?

Remember the old adage that there are two kinds of people in the world. There are those who see the glass half empty, and there are those who see the glass half full. Seeing the glass half full is learning how to appreciate the things you have as opposed to worrying about the things you don’t have. The appreciation of the gifts of life results in not only a happier outlook, but also a longer and healthier life.

A positive outlook also sensitizes you to the opportunities in life because you are able to envision a successful outcome. Positive people do not dwell on their failures. This is a needless waste of energy. Rather, use failures as a learning experience. Profit from your mistakes so as to be more successful the next time. Concentrating on failure is living life in the past. Looking backward only slows progress. A positive attitude is also infectious. It creates better social and familial situations because people like to be around you.

2. What can I do to build a better mental health attitude?

The key to a healthier mental health attitude is self-acceptance. Many people take themselves too seriously concentrating on each and every one of their flaws. Try to be your own best friend. The more accepting you are of yourself, the more you will be accepting of others around you. Make a list of all of your positive traits. These are your assets. Be proud of them. Concentrate on them and incorporate them into your self-image. Also, reward your hard work on a regular basis even if others are not appreciative, you know you have given your best. Finally, concentrate on your own agenda rather than what others may want. Do not worry about other people’s approval and do not worry about their assets. Life is not about the accumulation of toys. Emphasize building positive interpersonal relationships. We are social creatures who enjoy friends and companionship.

3. Why do people get addicted and how do you stop an addiction you or a loved one may have?

Addiction is a layman’s term for people who feel as if they are over involved with some activity, food, or drug. In everyday terms, addiction can be thought of as habits that continue to occur over a long period of time. One of the latest addictions that many people are concerned about is internet addiction. People fill the void of loneliness and living meaningless lives through the anonymity of a keyboard and screen. They are either afraid or shy to establish personal involvements. Over involvement in any activity usually meants that the individual does not have a well-rounded life. The addicting activity or drug is used as a substitute for more appropriate forms of self-enrichment. As an example, many people are addicted to food as a substitute for love and affection. The first step in breaking an addiction cycle is to stop being too preoccupied to pursue meaningful rewards. The second step is to believe you can overcome this preoccupation. This is called self-efficacy. The final step is to seek out somebody who can be of assistance to you in gaining both a balanced life with a realistic perspective. This may take the form of a support group or a mental health professional.

4. Is it normal to sometimes feel depressed or anxious?

Believe it or not, nearly 30% of the population of the U.S. on any given day is depressed. Indeed, depression is often called the common cold of mental disorders. It usually occurs when we feel a loss or when our self-esteem has been attacked. It is also quite common to be anxious when one is depressed. Anxiety can also be experienced without depression. Usually it is experienced when a person feels he or she is losing control. For some of us a moderate amount of anxiety is a positive force towards “psyching us up” to perform more effectively. It is only when you begin to feel hopeless that you may be suffering from a clinical depression. Some of the signs of a relatively serious depression are: severely depressed mood, feelings of worthlessness, inability to concentrate, sleeping difficulties, and maybe even suicidal thoughts. Serious forms of anxiety are associated with feeling immobilized. Symptoms include: tremors and shakes, rapid heartbeat, and shortness of breath. If you have any of these more serious forms of depression or anxiety, you should seek assistance from a mental health professional.

5. With today’s hectic schedules how can I learn to relax?

The most important advice I can give with respect to this question is to put things in perspective. Many of the activities that we try to cram in on any given day are relatively insignificant in the scheme of things. If we are able to successfully compete two or even three major goals in one day, consider yourself successful. Hectic schedules are usually caused by people who are insecure about themselves. They are afraid they will fail if they are not busy all of the time. Your health and peace of mind are too valuable to sacrifice by cramming your schedule full. For you to perform effectively, you must have time to breathe and to consider the activities upon which you are about to embark. Successful people are prepared and calm.

6. How can a psychologist help me to learn to live the life I want?

A psychologist cannot decide for you what should be your goals and aspirations. What a psychologist can do is to help you to meet those goals and aspirations. He or she can also assist you in effectively and efficiently planning your efforts. One of the essential tasks of a psychologist to help you reality test. Are my goals too narrowly defined? Do I have the requisite skills or must I go back to school? A common form of assistance is called executive coaching or mentoring. The psychologist works with a healthy individual to assist him or her with a problem. As an example, I recently worked with a client who was unable to approach women and ask them for a date. I helped this individual to practice engaging in conversation and listening to others so as to learn more about them. There was no pressure to ask them out. After significant practice, this young man was able to have an active social life.

7. How can I get my spouse/partner to listen to me?

If your spouse/partner is not listening to you it is probably due to the fact that he or she is disrespectful. Gaining someone’s attention does not occur through crying or yelling. A calm and insistent manner will help the other person understand that you mean business. If your spouse or partner continues to ignore you after earnest efforts to communicate with him or her, then it is time to take a stand. You may have to insist on mediation through a third person. Mental health professionals who specialize in marriage and couples therapy are most useful in this regard.

8. Why do other people’s children seem better behaved than mine?

Unfortunately, the answer to this question is, because of you. Your children are what you train them to be. You are their primary influence until their early adolescence. While each child has his or her own temperament and personality, they learn socialization skills from their parents. Rudeness, inconsiderateness, and aggression are all caused by inadequate parental supervision. The most important variable in raising children to follow rules and to be respectful of others is consistency. Children need to know that there is an older person who will watch over them, and who will set limits on their behavior. Meeting out consequences for unacceptable behavior is as important as providing for food and shelter. Parents mistakenly believe that their children will not love them if they discipline them. Actually, the opposite is true. One of the fundamental developmental tasks of children is to learn that they are not necessarily the center of the world. They will need to learn to respect the rights of others. This is why play groups and day camp are so useful in socializing children. Take the time and effort to discipline your child.

9. How do I keep romance alive in my relationship?

Thoughtfulness and consideration are the keys to keeping the romance alive in any relationship. People love to be recognized even if it is with such insignificant things as a note on the desk or a card mailed to them while away on a business trip. Letting the other person know he or she is special secures the bond between two people. Breaking routine is also romantic. You may consider spending a weekend in a downtown hotel, or a surprise trip to a country inn or the beach. Showing both concern and creativity in giving to the other person is a reflection of love. Write a poem. Prepare a special dinner. Throw a surprise party. Romance is based upon an active fantasy life. Try various roles and themes in your social life and your sexual activities.

10. How do I deal with loss and grief?

Almost all of us have suffered a significant loss in our life. It is normal to feel sad, to be depressed, and to cry. The grieving process should not be aborted. It is a natural part of life. Many of us have experienced grief at a fairly young age with the loss of a pet. Part of working through our grief is to appreciate what we had rather than obsessing over the loss. The normal grieving process takes from 3 to 6 months. In severe losses such as that of a spouse or child, it may take longer. Ritual is also a part of the grieving process. Visiting a grave on an anniversary, lighting a candle, or saying a prayer for the loved lost one at a house of worship helps to express our love and remembrance of the deceased. Finally, some form of replacement for the loss is important. Buy the child a new dog. Encourage the widow or widower to meet new people and develop friendships.