What Can You Do for Yourself This Week?

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Negative emotions can eat a hole in our souls.

If your body and mind have been taking an emotional beating, you will certainly need a bit of self-care and well-being to get over it, and get through it in whatever ways and means are available to you — or new ones that you create.

Self-care is where we take our power back.

What is the one thing you could do for yourself this week?

Visit the below sites for a great deal of helpful information about a variety of subject.
Author: Sharon Valentino, MFT
Valentino Therapy – CA LMFT, RAS, ChT, CATC IV (#51746)
Visit my web: www.valentinotherapy.com
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Why Do We Need Friends?

Why Do We Need Friends?

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When dealing with addiction, friends are especially important for support and assistance in order to stay strong throughout the recovery process.

Friends are very important.
So important, in fact, that it’s been proven that friendship can extend life expectancy and lower incident of heart disease. Friendship ignites the part of the brain that makes us feel good, which makes us want to keep hanging out with our friends.
Our friends influence us in so many ways, including helping us to develop critical life skills at every point in our aging.
Having friends can help you get more friends so realize those you are introduced to are important. People want to be friends with folks that are said to be nice and helpful – are you projecting that?
Close friends can be a vital lifeline of support.
Most of us know that “Couple Friends” can support your own relationship if they have a good one of their own and are respectful of one another.
One of the most valuable things that friends can do is give you a reality check when you are going over the edge of clothing choices, behaviors and attitudes too.

It takes effort all throughout life to make friends, to hold onto the ones you have and to replace those who move, die or are no longer compatible with your views and needs.
The older you get the harder it can be to make friends. It takes more work since you are no longer looking for someone to come out and play ball before dinner.
So how long does it take to make friends? How much time is involved?
A recent study from Kansas University found that the average adult needs to spend 50 hours of time with a person for you to be able to reasonably consider them a casual friend.
And then it takes 90 hours to become real friends and 200 hours for someone to be your close friend.

How can you make a friend?
It generally starts best by not under or over-disclosing or you will start the interaction on a negative vein.
Many people find that asking a couple of simple non-personal questions or giving a compliment relaxes the other party and encourages conversation. Hopefully, they will reciprocate in like kind. Your share might be as simple as admitting you are shy around strangers or that you are new and hoping to make friends or get to know people.
So, sharing a very small personal piece of information to see if they will do the same lets you know how willing they are to engage and possibly become friends.
Then in subsequent meetings you share very slightly more personal information and wait to see if that sharing at about the same level is returned.
And it goes on from there in small increments at each meeting.
If someone immediately over-shares personal information you might want to back off; if you over-share you should also expect some backward peddling.
How about work? In order to make lasting adult friendships with colleagues, you have to remove the friendship from the workplace and spend time together outside the office. And if you leave that work place you obviously need to work to keep up the friendship. Just being around someone at work and chatting with them daily doesn’t mean you are friends. You need to find common interests and invite them to go share some activity with you.

You make friends so you live long, so you are happier, and so your people skills constantly increase with the changing times. It’s important.

Visit the below sites for a great deal of helpful information about a variety of subject.
Author: Sharon Valentino, MFT
Valentino Therapy – CA LMFT, RAS, ChT, CATC IV (#51746)
Visit my web: www.valentinotherapy.com
Facebook: Valentino Therapy and Ask This Therapist
Pinterest: Ask This Therapist

Mind Over Matter

Mind Over Matter – Happiness or Discontent

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When it comes to over coming addiction, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can be a very effective and useful method for fighting and not giving into cravings.

Research shows that CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) is the fastest and most effective for many conditions my clients are frequently describing.

Here’s some information on the STOP method which I helped develop and I promise you it works.
The first thing is to catch an unhelpful thought (meaning you have to be mindful and breathing deeply enough for your brain to get enough fresh oxygen to make great decisions), then vividly imagine a red, octagonal STOP sign and shout STOP! If you are around others, I’d advise you to shout silently, but w/some emotion. That should short-circuit your problem thought for 2 to 6 seconds, so you need to immediately substitute it with an entirely different, positive thought, or even a problem such as, “Where did I leave the keys to ___?”
Why don’t you take your most troubling thought right now? When you have troubling thoughts it is often a great opportunity to practice CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy). Originally introduced to treat depression it is now used for a variety of issues, such as negative thoughts, anxieties, fearful thoughts, unnecessary worry and a host of other troublesome automatic thinking patterns. The thought record is one of the fundamental tools in CBT.
The underlying principle can be summarized as “what do you believe, and why do you believe it and are you aware of the feeling/emotion in your body when you think this thought?”. A columned thought record can be used to:
•identify negative automatic thoughts (NATs)
•help clients understand the links between thoughts and emotions
•examine the evidence for and against a selected NAT – is it true, what can be done about it
In therapy clients often need assistance and practice in identifying the link between thoughts and emotions before they move on to challenging thoughts and substituting more helpful thoughts for less helpful ones. Some clients might find it helpful to practice identifying NATs using a Simple Thought Record before introducing the complexity of evidence-gathering and thought challenging.
The principle stems from Socratic Reasoning (is it true, is it always true, then is it false, is it always false)
The simplest version is:
What is your core belief (negative thought)?
List 3 reasons why it is true (or why I want it):

List 3 reasons why it might not be true (or why it would not be good for me):

What could you do to improve or eliminate this situation:

Our thoughts control how we feel about ourselves and the world around us.
Positive thoughts lead to us feeling good and negative thoughts can put us down.
Sometimes our thoughts happen so quickly that we fail to notice them, but they can still affect our mood.
These are called automatic thoughts. They are often negative or at least not useful. They can even apply to ruminations about romantic partners lost or present.
Oftentimes, our automatic thoughts are negative and irrational – sometimes not but can still be intrusive and unwanted. Identifying these negative automatic thoughts and replacing them with new rational thoughts can improve our mood.

CBT generally makes liberal use of worksheets to help quickly pinpoint the thoughts that are troubling you which saves time and speeds up therapy.

Visit the below sites for a great deal of helpful information about a variety of subject.
Author: Sharon Valentino, LMFT
Valentino Therapy – CA LMFT, RAS, ChT, CATC IV (#51746)
Visit my web: www.valentinotherapy.com
Facebook: Valentino Therapy and Ask This Therapist
Pinterest: Ask This Therapist

Grief and Loss

Grief and Loss

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When a person suffering from addiction loses a loved one it can be devastating and difficult to process, let alone assimilate.


There are many ways to deal with a loss.
It’s likely that more than one method may be useful to get through it.
Therapy can certainly help people avoid Complicated or Prolonged Grief and it can also help with Grief and Loss.
Nearly all helping tools and methods have to do with honoring what you had and not what you lost – being glad you had the person, not that you lost them.

Part of our self-identity comes from the relationships we have with other people. When someone you care for dies, your self-identity, or the way you see yourself, naturally changes. You may have gone from being a “wife” or “husband” to a “widow” or “widower.” You may have gone from being a “parent” to a “bereaved parent”. Maybe you are no longer the close friend, son or daughter, etc. – sometimes even an employee, if you’ve lost a needed job. The way you define yourself and the way society defines you is changed.
A death or great loss sometimes requires you to take on new roles that had been filled by the person who died, or you may now find a painful void in yourself that the lost one had filled.
You confront your changed identity every time you do something that used to be done by or with the person who died.
And you grow as a person when learning to fill your own void.
Many people discover that as they must adjust, they ultimately discover some positive aspects of their changed self-identity. You may develop a more caring, responsible or kind and sensitive part of yourself. You may develop an assertive part of your identity that empowers you to go on living and thriving even though you continue to feel a strong sense of loss.

Stages of Grief and Loss
A good starting place is read the Stages of Grief and Loss, readily available on the internet, to determine where you are on that list so that some of your feelings can perhaps feel normalized and the next Stages expected, making them more manageable.

Making Meaning
Making meaning will be as varied as personalities are.
A positive approach is needed to leave your personal feelings of loss or regret and focus and what that person gave you.
How are you different from having known them?
Did they make you feel safe and accepted?
Maybe they gave you or enhanced your sense of humor?
Perhaps they introduced religion or spirituality or Buddhism or meditation or Forest Bathing or other ways of learning to self soothe.
Were they a success in some way that inspired you?
What was special about them that you’d like to emulate?

Some people find comfort with planting a tree or bush in the memory of the person who has left.
Others prefer to donate to a group that would resonate with him/her.
Some write letters to help them come to acceptance and burying them when putting a special plant in the ground.
A letter that is burned so that the smoke goes up to the heavens is not uncommon.
I know a person who went to Iceland to see the Northern Lights feeling her loved one was there.
Some Latin countries celebrate The Day of the Dead once a year to honor those dear to them that have passed.
The Chinese also celebrate once a year in April. On this holiday China’s cemeteries are more densely populated with the living than the dead. Millions of people of Chinese descent visit the graves of their ancestors to burn paper money or other paper made into cars, houses, boats, hearts, etc. and believe that if you burn paper money and other offerings at the graves of your ancestors, they will receive them in the afterlife and, thinking kindly of you, put them to use. The graves are cleaned before candles and incense are lit. Often, messages to the deceased are also spoken out loud. This holiday of remembrance has become a bit commercialized, as has our Christmas, but it is about joy and love – not loss.
What could you do that could give you peace and meaning?

Many find solace in quiet reading.
I very recently bought these books for someone very close to me and she said they helped a lot.
-Please Be Patient, I’m Grieving
-Getting Thru What You Can’t Get Over
-Healing After Loss: Daily Meditations for Working Through Grief

Visit the below sites for a great deal of helpful information about a variety of subject.
Author: Sharon Valentino, LMFT
Valentino Therapy – CA LMFT, RAS, ChT, CATC IV (#51746)
Visit my web: www.valentinotherapy.com
Facebook: Valentino Therapy and Ask This Therapist
Pinterest: Ask This Therapist

Journaling Proven to Boost Self Esteem.

Journaling Proven to Boost Self Esteem.

Could that be true?

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When it comes to recovering from an addiction, journaling can also be an effective tool.

Journaling records go back all the way to 10th century Japan.

Successful people throughout history have kept journals. Presidents have maintained them for posterity; other famous figures for their own purposes. Oscar Wilde, 19th century playwright, said: “I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read on the train.” Why not try it?
Though clinicians make that claim quite often, and more and more research backs it up. Some feel that a journal is an excellent way to get negative experiences and thoughts out of you and onto the paper so you can write about your feelings, reactions, anger, hurt and, ideally, conclude that entry with an action plan for the future to deal with similar situations differently.
Many journalists report a release of tension, anxiety and generalized unhappiness immediately after journaling a negative interaction or event. My clients have found this to be very useful.
Setting goals for happiness or achievement and the steps planned to attain them are particularly useful too.
Other professionals advise a journal to be used solely to compliment yourself daily on conducting yourself in an estimable manner, helping others, accomplishing tasks and highlighting your good qualities. Everyone has positive traits, behaviors and accomplishments that are forgotten or that go unnoticed. Paying tribute to these can boost both self-esteem and self-respect over time.
Writing about gratitude is proven to fight both depression and anxiety.
Cursive writing uses your left brain, the base of analytical and rational thought so you can clarify your thoughts but leaves the right brain free to create, imagine, feel, and clarifying what really makes you happy and satisfied.
Writing about disagreements and unpleasant encounters helps to come up with sensible solutions if you first just let all the emotion out.
If you are right handed, cursive writing is slightly more effective than for left handed persons, but highly beneficial for all.
There is no right or wrong way to journal, except it is highly advisable to do at least just a bit every day, any way you want, not worrying about spelling or how upset you may be with someone. I do advise finding a way to keep your writing private though.

I’ve found that tremendous value can be had by reading your entries at the end of every month. You’d be amazed at how much you’ve accomplished, grown, decided on – or whatever was the theme of your writing over that month-long period.

Visit the below sites for a great deal of helpful information about a variety of subject.
Author: Sharon Valentino, LMFT
Valentino Therapy – CA LMFT, RAS, ChT, CATC IV (#51746)
Visit my web: www.valentinotherapy.com
Facebook: Valentino Therapy and Ask This Therapist


 What to Do If You’re Worried a Loved One Has an Addiction Problem

 What to Do If You’re Worried a Loved One Has an Addiction Problem

 Coming to the realization that a loved one has an addiction problem can conjure up an abundance of emotions, but the worst thing you can do is ignore the issue. Blaming yourself for letting it happen is not a constructive use of your energy. If they’ve been lying to you recently, understand that you can’t take this type of behavior personally, as this one of the side effects of addiction. You’re dealing with a completely different person now, so you’ve got to support your loved one as they are now — not who they were before drugs or alcohol took over their life. While you can’t magically fix the problem for them, you can make an effort to help them move in the right direction. Here’s how to get started.

Familiarize Yourself with the Different Types of Treatment

 Before approaching your loved one, familiarize yourself with the different types of treatment available. It can be helpful to have talking points that could help motivate this person if you hit on a point of interest. For example, maybe the thought of a traditional 12-step program scares someone. In this case, pointing out other methods, such as those that are either more religious-based or holistic, can make treatment seem less daunting. However, it’s not uncommon for recovery survivors to have feelings of shame and guilt. There are also several alternative therapies (to be used in conjunction with a traditional program) that can help banish cravings, prevent relapse, and help patients start a new sober life. Some examples include yoga, exercise, gardening, pet and art therapies, meditation, and acupuncture.

How to Confront Your Loved One

 There’s no doubt that confronting a loved one may be one of the most difficult things you have to do, but make sure you go in with compassion, not anger or hostility. Giving a person with an addiction problem reasons to be hopeful has proven to be helpful when they’re in treatment. Before having the talk, consult with an addiction physician or certified addiction mental health professional for guidance. Try to come up with as many details as possible, including what they’re using, how often, what side effects you’ve noticed, behavioral changes, etc.

Avoid speaking to your loved one when they’re under the influence, as the conversation is liable to get you nowhere or turn violent. Don’t approach them when they’re running out the door, as you’re going to need a good amount of time to have a discussion. Emphasize how much you care, but list very specific behaviors and actions that prompt you to believe there’s a problem. Make sure that you ask open-ended questions to avoid a lecture-like feel. Be prepared for denial and revisit the conversation at a later date. However, if you notice a life-threatening situation, seek help immediately via a crisis hotline or 911.

If you’ve made several attempts to try to get your loved one into treatment without success, it may be time to stage an intervention, especially if you feel their health is in serious danger. At this juncture, loop in a substance abuse counselor or intervention specialist to help back you up and provide expertise during the confrontation. Gather a group of friends, family, and other concerned loved ones and make sure everyone clears their schedule for at least a couple of hours. Make sure everyone is prepared to communicate clear thoughts and feelings. Choose a location that feels safe for your loved one such as your home or theirs, but don’t hold them against their will. Offer love, compassion, and resources to help them through the recovery process. If they accept help, note that this is not the end of your support, but just the beginning.


Bethany Hatton, a retired librarian with 32 years of experience, created PreventAddiction.info after her oldest grandson became addicted to opioids.
As her grandson recovered from an overdose, the number of questions Bethany had about his illness swelled: How had his addiction developed? Could she and other family members have done anything differently along the way? And most importantly, how could she help him get better and ensure others in her family and community didn’t suffer the same fate? Using the research skills she honed during her work as a librarian, she dedicated herself to searching the internet to find the most reputable, reliable information to share on her site. She analyzed, compiled, and categorized hundreds of resources so that she could be sure she included only the best of the best for her visitors.
Though she discovered there is no guaranteed way to prevent addiction; she was able to find many helpful resources that can keep the public up to date on the latest prevention, addiction, and recovery information.

For more help and information about a wide range of articles and information you could visit my website: www.valentinotherapy.com– Pinterest: Ask This Therapist (new and building more info daily)or Instagram: Ask This Therapist (also new and building a few posts weekly).
I post several times a week to:
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All this information and help is almost like having a therapist for free. 😉
Nothing is for sale unless WordPress or FB has slipped something of their own in, and I don’t capture your information or anything else. This information is solely meant to help and support people in their journeys in life. Sharon Valentino, CA LMFT

How Families Can Handle A Loved One’s Addiction

How Families Can Handle A Loved One’s Addiction

  Solemn, Pensive, Upset, Doubt, Depressed

So you’re ready for your loved one to get help for addiction, but he or she isn’t open to the idea. You’re not alone. Most addicts are unwilling patients. Usually, a life-altering event – such as a court order, divorce, loss of job, or hospitalization – pushes the addict into seeking treatment. There are ways that family and friends can help their loved one realize they need treatment before such devastating events occur.

From the Addict’s Point of View

The National Institute on Drug Abuse defines addiction as “a chronic, relapsing brain disease that is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences.” The addiction changes the structure of the brain and how it works, leaving addicts powerless and unable to make rational decisions and realize the severity of their disease. Addicts depend on drugs to function and make excuses to justify even their worst actions. Even in the face of losing a job, ruining relationships, and other negative consequences, addicts may still deny a problem exists and may resist treatment.

While the initial decision to try drugs or alcohol may be voluntary, when addiction takes over, the person’s ability to exercise self-control becomes significantly impaired. Through brain-imaging studies on addicts, experts have shown how drugs physically change the areas of the brain that are necessary for judgment, decision making, learning, memory, and behavior control.

From the Family’s Point of View

Addiction affects family and friends as much as it affects the addict. Family and friends may grow resentful of the addict or live in fear of the addict. Relationships with significant others and children are often in conflict. Many couples argue over money because the addict may lose his or her job, miss hours at work, make poor financial decisions, or spend a lot of money on drugs or alcohol.

Friends and family can suffer emotional trauma as the addict may yell, talk down to, insult, or manipulate them. Physical violence can occur in the household of an addict. Addicts may also engage in infidelity. All of these issues can lead to breakups, legal separation, or divorce.

How to Help

The first way to help your loved one is to get educated about addiction. Realize that addiction is a debilitating disease, and treat it as such. Educating yourself can help you provide support, patience, and understanding. Get support from groups or individual sessions with a mental health professional.

You can’t control your loved one’s behavior, but you can control how you react to the addiction and ensure you’re not enabling him or her. While you should certainly help your loved one in positive ways, such as looking for a job or choosing a treatment center, set clear boundaries around behaviors you deem unacceptable. For example, don’t allow him or her to hang around when they’re high or drunk. Likewise, don’t allow the addict to borrow money.

“Setting and enforcing boundaries not only allows loved ones to resume control of their lives, practice healthy detachment, and safeguard their own health and well-being but also helps the addict face the natural consequences of their actions,” says Psych Central. Staging an intervention works in many cases and can be a highly effective way to break through the addict’s denial and get him or her to agree to treatment.


Through intervention, friends and family get the addict’s attention and help their loved one understand the consequences of his or her destructive behavior before more serious consequences arise. A professional known as an interventionist helps to assess the situation, recommend treatment facilities and long-term after care plans, and ensure that the process remains productive and healing. There are specific steps that should be taken before, during, and after an intervention.

Your loved one may agree to receive treatment, but you and your family still need to seek professional help as well. Living with an addict can cause emotional trauma, especially in children, and as such, families of addicts should seek counseling. Each individual can attend counseling, or everyone can attend counseling as a family. When addiction recovery and therapy begin, the family can begin to heal and move toward a brighter, healthier, and happier future.

By guest author Adam Cook. Mr. Cook is the founder of Addiction Hub, which locates and catalogs addiction resources. He is interested in helping people find the necessary resources to save their lives from addiction. Adam’s mission is to provide people struggling with substance abuse with resources to help them recover.

Sharon Valentino, Psychotherapist, Behavioral Health
Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change.
Valentino Therapy
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (51746)
Serving individuals & couples in the San Francisco Bay Area
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