Happy New Year!

January 3, 2018


We talk a lot about acceptance AND change in DBT. In order for us to most successfully change long term, we must accept the reality of what we are struggling with.  When you think about those New Year's resolutions, be sure to balance out the changes you are striving for with a dose of acceptance.  Acceptance doesn't mean approval, or that we like the fact that we are overweight, broke or lonely.  It just means that we are able to see objectively what the issues are that we are wanting to change, without a bunch of shame and self hatred.  

I love the way Brene Brown talks about guilt and shame.   "I believe that guilt is adaptive and helpful – it’s holding something we’ve done or failed to do up against our values and feeling psychological discomfort. I define shame as the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging – something we’ve experienced, done, or failed to do makes us unworthy of connection. I don’t believe shame is helpful or productive. In fact, I think shame is much more likely to be the source of destructive, hurtful behavior than the solution or cure."

We all feel both guilt and shame, and learning to differentiate between the two is crucial.  

If you, or someone you know, is looking for proven strategies and skills to FEEL BETTER, have better relationships, be able to cope in healthier ways, and to regulate strong emotions, I am accepting both individual and group clients right now.  I am starting a WOMEN'S DBT Group next Tuesday, 1/9/18 from 11-12:30, and have a couple spots open.  Call or email if you are interested in joining, or if you'd like to start individual DBT therapy.  I'd love to be part of your 2018 plan to make this year wonderful!  

My email is austindbt at yahoo.com and phone is (512) 680-0425.

© 2018 Candace Smith

Sign up to receive new blog posts directly to your inbox.  Just fill in your name and e-mail address and hit the “Sign Up” button in the "gift" box to your right.  You will then get an e-mail asking you to confirm your e-mail address.  Once you do that, you will be signed up to receive new blog posts.

WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR EZINE OR WEB SITE? You can, as long as you include this complete blurb with it: “Candace Smith, an Austin-based DBT psychotherapist provides adolescents and adults with specialized skills training and therapy so they are able to manage their emotions and cope in all types of emotional situations."
 

What can Parents do to help their teen?

September 5, 2014
During the Parent Group today, we discussed the importance of VALIDATION in communicating with teens who have emotional sensitivity.  Validation is how we show understanding and empathy towards others, and even if we don't agree with what the other person is saying, we can still show acceptance around their perspective, feelings and desires.  

There are many benefits of validating teenagers.  Validation helps us stay connected and attuned.  If teens get even a whiff of judgment or disapproval ...
Continue reading...
 

Mindfulness Benefits Teens Academically

April 13, 2013
A recent study done by the University of California Santa Barbara shows that just two weeks of mindfulness practice can improve the cognitive abilities in teenagers.
"Mindfulness training improved both GRE reading-comprehension scores and working memory capacity while simultaneously reducing the occurrence of distracting thoughts during completion of the GRE and the measure of working memory."

Mindfulness is the ability to manage your attention in the way that best serves you, and allows you to...

Continue reading...
 

Parenting Teens and Young Adults with BPD

December 3, 2012
“Your children are not your children.
They are sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you.
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For thir souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes...
Continue reading...
 

Procrastination and Perfectionism

October 22, 2012


Think of something you have procrastinated on recently.  What were some of your thoughts and feelings about the task that influenced your decision to procrastinate?  

I work a lot with my clients on this issue, as it seems to affect everyone in different ways.  I have found that perfectionism is often the underlying (and often unconscious) issue that lies beneath procrastination.  We often feel as though we need to be able to do something 'all the way' or in a 'perfect' way before we can get s...


Continue reading...
 

What to Do When Your Teen Is Self-Injuring

October 21, 2012


 Have you recently discovered that your son or daughter is engaging in self-injury behaviors?  

It's a shocking, confusing, anxiety-producing time when you first learn about it, and of course you have many emotions and questions about how to best handle the situation.  Self-injury is a way that many teens (and adults) are coping with intense emotions.  The sooner you notice it, talk about it and get help for it, the better. Of course, many teens do not want to talk about it with their parents,...

Continue reading...
 

Do I have Borderline Personality Disorder?

February 17, 2012

I get asked this question many times per week in my psychotherapy practice.  It's hard to give an easy answer to people who ask, since there are many parts to this disorder and a lot of people do meet some of the criteria.

Most people who have borderline personality disorder suffer from:

  • Problems with regulating emotions and thoughts
  • Impulsive and destructive behavior
  • Unstable relationships with other people

According to the DSM, Fourth Edition, Text Revision (DSM-IV-TR), to be diagno...


Continue reading...
 

Super Health

August 20, 2011
I am attending a Super Health training this weekend, which is a yoga-based treatment for addictive behaviors designed by Yogi Bhajan.  Yogi Bhajan came from India to the US in the 1960s and began teaching Kundalini yoga and meditation to Americans seeking spiritual fulfillment.  Yogi Bhajan saw that the majority of Americans were addicted to some type of substance, whether it was alcohol, prescription pills, relationships, work, etc.  He then was on a mission to see how much a mind body spiri...
Continue reading...
 

Regulating Emotions

July 14, 2011
One of the most frequent questions my clients ask me at the start of our work together is, "Am I ever going to figure out how to get a better handle on my negative emotions?" One of the first ways we get started on managing intense emotions is to use compassionate curiousity in understanding what we are feeling.  Gently investigating into what has come up, where we are feeling it and if possible, putting a name to what we are noticing.  Once we have put an accurate label on what we are feelin...
Continue reading...
 

Happy New Year!

January 3, 2018


We talk a lot about acceptance AND change in DBT. In order for us to most successfully change long term, we must accept the reality of what we are struggling with.  When you think about those New Year's resolutions, be sure to balance out the changes you are striving for with a dose of acceptance.  Acceptance doesn't mean approval, or that we like the fact that we are overweight, broke or lonely.  It just means that we are able to see objectively what the issues are that we are wanting to change, without a bunch of shame and self hatred.  

I love the way Brene Brown talks about guilt and shame.   "I believe that guilt is adaptive and helpful – it’s holding something we’ve done or failed to do up against our values and feeling psychological discomfort. I define shame as the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging – something we’ve experienced, done, or failed to do makes us unworthy of connection. I don’t believe shame is helpful or productive. In fact, I think shame is much more likely to be the source of destructive, hurtful behavior than the solution or cure."

We all feel both guilt and shame, and learning to differentiate between the two is crucial.  

If you, or someone you know, is looking for proven strategies and skills to FEEL BETTER, have better relationships, be able to cope in healthier ways, and to regulate strong emotions, I am accepting both individual and group clients right now.  I am starting a WOMEN'S DBT Group next Tuesday, 1/9/18 from 11-12:30, and have a couple spots open.  Call or email if you are interested in joining, or if you'd like to start individual DBT therapy.  I'd love to be part of your 2018 plan to make this year wonderful!  

My email is austindbt at yahoo.com and phone is (512) 680-0425.

© 2018 Candace Smith

Sign up to receive new blog posts directly to your inbox.  Just fill in your name and e-mail address and hit the “Sign Up” button in the "gift" box to your right.  You will then get an e-mail asking you to confirm your e-mail address.  Once you do that, you will be signed up to receive new blog posts.

WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR EZINE OR WEB SITE? You can, as long as you include this complete blurb with it: “Candace Smith, an Austin-based DBT psychotherapist provides adolescents and adults with specialized skills training and therapy so they are able to manage their emotions and cope in all types of emotional situations."
 

What can Parents do to help their teen?

September 5, 2014
During the Parent Group today, we discussed the importance of VALIDATION in communicating with teens who have emotional sensitivity.  Validation is how we show understanding and empathy towards others, and even if we don't agree with what the other person is saying, we can still show acceptance around their perspective, feelings and desires.  

There are many benefits of validating teenagers.  Validation helps us stay connected and attuned.  If teens get even a whiff of judgment or disapproval from their parents, it shuts them down.  So, even when they are telling us things that alarm us, or that we absolutely do not condone, we can choose to validate the underlying reasons or intentions that make them think they want to do those things.  

Here are the levels of validation: 
  1. Pay attention.  We can validate by simply listening to what they are saying.  Try and notice the urge to jump in and give solutions to what the teen is telling us.  Before ANY problem solving can be done, the teen first needs to be HEARD.  So, show interest and let them talk, and inquire (gently) into what they are thinking/feeling if you're wanting a bit more info into their perspective/experience.
  2. Try to accurately reflect or summarize what the teen is saying ("You're feeling frustrated with your teachers, and don't want to go to school").  Ask if this is correct.
  3. Try and pick up on the emotions the teen is having (if they are not expressing them).  Ask if they are feeling a certain way about the situation.
  4. Validate the person's feelings or behavior given past experiences ("It makes sense you would have anxiety about going to school after having a tough semester last year").
  5. Communicate that the teen's feelings MAKE SENSE, given their temperament and past experiences.  
Bottom line, listen without judging or giving advice, and let them know you understand where they are coming from (put yourself in their shoes for the moment).  THEN, you can move into helping them problem solve ("That sounds difficult. What do you think you are going to do?").  Because validation diffuses emotions, the teen might feel better just after being heard and understood.  Ask them if they would like to brainstorm possible solutions or ideas to deal with the situation, and if they want to, then you can help them come up with some options. 

It's also important for parents to VALIDATE THEMSELVES when dealing with emotionally-charged situations involving the teen.  If parents can take a moment to validate their own emotions and urges, that can help to decrease the intensity. For instance, if your teen is angrily refusing to give you their cell phone at night, even though they know this is the expectation, and the parent gets mad or anxious about the teen's reaction, it can be helpful to first self-validate.  Saying to yourself, "This is frustrating, and it makes sense I would feel this way due to all of the previous conflicts we've had about this" can help to slow your reactivity and help you to be calmer in your approach.  You can then try to validate the teen's anger by saying, "I know this is frustrating to you, and that you'd prefer to keep your phone with you all night, but we've discussed the expectation that the phone needs to be in my room after 11 pm").  

If you're interested in joining the PARENT GROUP on THURSDAYS from 12-1 pm, contact Candace at (512) 680-0425 or by email at austindbt@yahoo.com  



 

Mindfulness Benefits Teens Academically

April 13, 2013
A recent study done by the University of California Santa Barbara shows that just two weeks of mindfulness practice can improve the cognitive abilities in teenagers.
"Mindfulness training improved both GRE reading-comprehension scores and working memory capacity while simultaneously reducing the occurrence of distracting thoughts during completion of the GRE and the measure of working memory."

Mindfulness is the ability to manage your attention in the way that best serves you, and allows you to let go of internal or external distractions.  Teenagers are often inundated with distractions, thoughts, and worries that get in the way of being able to perform at their true potential academically, which is often a source of stress and angst for them and their parents.  By learning ways of harnessing their attention through mindfulness practice, teenagers can not only learn and absorb new information more effectively, but retain it and use the information in ways that can help them at school and in their daily lives.  

Just think of times when you were in class or at a new job where you were trying to learn new material.  If you were able to be fully present and engaged in the moment, you probably noticed how much more you got out of that experience.  If on the other hand, you were preoccupied with a worry, or if there was a lot of distractions going on around you, you probably felt like you didn't absorb much of the information being taught.  The ability to quiet the mind and to fully participate in these types of moments is crucial in comprehending new material.

When children start school, the first things teachers often tell them is, "Pay attention.  Focus.  Concentrate"  But they don't often get taught HOW to do that!  It's easier for some, but for many children and teenagers in this day and age, there are so many distractions and stimuli both inside and around them, that their attention is often scattered, and they often feel like there isn't anything they can do about it.  Plus, the distractions inside their minds like, "is the guy I like going to talk to me today" or "I hate the way I look" can often be more compelling than the material being taught, since our minds naturally pay more attention to emotionally charged thoughts and images than to neutral or less stimulating material.  

Mindfulness teaches us HOW to focus and concentrate on what is important at that moment, and how to better determine what is important or effective.  It teaches us how to notice distractions, and to table the thoughts that we want to get back to later.  For instance, when we are trying to fall asleep and we start having thoughts of items we need to do the next day.  An untrained mind will often get caught in these thoughts without realizing it, which then leads to anxiety and stress, which hardly is helpful when trying to relax and fall asleep.  If you have been practicing mindfulness, you can better notice those thoughts with some distance, and realize they are not going to be helpful to get into right then.  Once you set the intention around not getting into those thoughts, you can more successfully shift gears and move your attention towards things that are less emotionally stimulating, and have an easier time falling asleep.  

It just takes practice, like with anything new, before you can start using mindfulness to concentrate and perform better.  DBT is based on mindfulness, because of its importance in regulating emotions and reducing problematic behaviors.  Mindfulness skills are so important in so many ways, for people of all ages.  It's never too late to learn them, either!  Come in and see me if you'd like you or your teenager to learn these valuable skills. 

 

Parenting Teens and Young Adults with BPD

December 3, 2012
“Your children are not your children.
They are sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you.
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For thir souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the make upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness.
For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He also loves the bow that is stable.”
Kahlil Gibran

Parenting in general is not easy.  Parenting teenagers is beyond difficult.  Parentings teenagers and young adults who have BPD is one of the most challenging roles of a lifetime.  Teens and young adults want freedom, power and control no matter what emotional disturbances they face, and this is often the root of what parents who love them struggle with the most. How in the world do parents know what limits to set when their daughter or son is driven by emotion and acting in impulsive ways?  Parents want their children to be happy, but also safe. 

The guidelines adapted by the Borderline Personality Disorder National Education Alliance offer some wonderfully wise suggestions and ideas in parenting those with BPD. The more understanding parents have of BPD, the more likely they will be able to communicate effectively with and set realistic expectations and limits with their teen and young adult children with BPD. This website is an overall great resource for parents, family and loved ones of those with BPD, so I encourage you to check it out.

http://www.borderlinepersonalitydisorder.com/family-connections/family-guidelines/
 

Procrastination and Perfectionism

October 22, 2012


Think of something you have procrastinated on recently.  What were some of your thoughts and feelings about the task that influenced your decision to procrastinate?  

I work a lot with my clients on this issue, as it seems to affect everyone in different ways.  I have found that perfectionism is often the underlying (and often unconscious) issue that lies beneath procrastination.  We often feel as though we need to be able to do something 'all the way' or in a 'perfect' way before we can get started.

So when we think about doing something, say, writing a blog entry (haha), and even if we already have the topic picked out, our thoughts can get in the way of us getting started.  Thoughts like, "I don't think it's going to be very good," or "I need to get a lot more information before I can write a quality post," or "It's going to take so long and require so much work, I can't even think about doing it now," can all stop us in our tracks.  The corresponding emotions with those thoughts are usually anxiety-related, and the biological urge of anxiety is to avoid.

Avoiding = Procrastinating!

Common procrastinating thoughts are:

  • I am not good enough
  • I will get rejected, and if that happens, I couldn't tolerate it.
  • It is too overwhelming.
  • I don't know how it will turn out.
  • I don't feel like it.
  • I have to do it all, and I don't have the time nor the energy.

In my counseling practice, I first get clients to identify what thoughts they are having that proceed procrastinating, and to work on reframing and challenging the thoughts. I then coach clients to break their goals/projects down into smaller pieces, and to not get too in front of themselves about what might happen down the road.

I then help them with skills to manage rejection, and how to work with anxiety around doing the steps towards the goal they are working towards. I often point out that there is typically an all or nothing thought process around things, and that they will feel better if they try and find some middle ground. Just by starting off with small, manageable steps towards a goal will help them feel less anxious and give them a sense of accomplishment, that will build the momentum it takes to keep going.

I also help them try and learn how to redirect their attention when they are feeling negative and hopeless, and to get out of having to evaluate themselves, and to just do the behaviors like writing one blog post, or sending one resume per day or week. 

So, if you are procrastinating on something, identify and challenge the thoughts getting in the way, and then break down some of the pieces involved into manageable steps.  Set realistic goals around doing these steps, like cleaning one room in the house today, or taking a 15 minute walk in your neighborhood this week.  Once you have a few steps set, just do them without thinking/evaluating too much. 

Remember, avoidance = procrastination.

The more you can push yourself to not act on the avoidance, the anxiety will decrease and the motivation will increase!


Feel free to forward this on to those who might find it useful!  

Candace Smith
LCSW
 

 

What to Do When Your Teen Is Self-Injuring

October 21, 2012
What to Do When Your Teen Is Self-Injuring


 Have you recently discovered that your son or daughter is engaging in self-injury behaviors?  

It's a shocking, confusing, anxiety-producing time when you first learn about it, and of course you have many emotions and questions about how to best handle the situation.  Self-injury is a way that many teens (and adults) are coping with intense emotions.  The sooner you notice it, talk about it and get help for it, the better. Of course, many teens do not want to talk about it with their parents, which is why it's helpful to find a therapist. Even if your teen says they do not want to go to therapy, bring them anyway. Self-injury will only get worse if not treated, and it grows in secrecy. 

Adolescents often do not understand their emotions, and why their moods are rapidly changing. They do what they can to try and deal with the confusing and at times overwhelming emotions, and it often means cutting.  Self-injury can provide a physiological change that for some is relieving, others numbing, and for some it's a way to channel the emotional pain into physical pain. It has different effects for different people, but at the root of it, it's a way that people are trying to regulate their emotions, and it can become addictive over time.

Some of the first steps to take when you find out your teen is cutting are:

Try your best to not get angry with them, or punish them. Instead, talk in as neutral of a tone as you can, and ask if they are hurting themselves on purpose. You want to give them a safe place to open up to you about it, so try to reserve judgments and your own emotional reactions. 

Ask if they want to talk about the emotions or problems they are having that may have contributed to them hurting themselves. If they don't want to talk about it, ask if they would like to at least talk about different ways to handle strong emotions.  

Ask them if they feel suicidal.  Most of the time, teens are not suicidal when they self injure, but sometimes they are.  It's better to at least check-in with them about it to see, and if they are having suicidal thoughts or urges, you can take them to Seton Shoal Creek Hospital  or call 911 and ask for a mental health deputy to come and assess the situation.  If it's not urgent, but they are having some suicidal thoughts come and go, then make the soonest appointment possible with a psychiatrist (since suicidal thoughts are often indicative of a mood disorder like Major Depressive Disorder), and with a therapist.  

Let them know that you see that they are in pain, and you are going to take this seriously.  Let them know you are going to get a professional involved, and that they can help choose whom they would like to see (i.e. do a google search for therapists who treat self injury and look at websites together to decide).

Come up with things you can do together in the evenings, such as watching a favorite tv show, walking the dog, or doing some arts and crafts.  I find that most adolescents are self-injuring in the late evening after finishing homework and before going to bed.  This unstructured time is often when they get 'lost in their thoughts' and ruminate about the negative things going on in their lives, or how much they hate their body, which often leads to feeling really down and depressed.  

Remind them that bottom line, you love them and want them to feel better, and are going to do what it takes to help in whatever way possible. Ask them if there is anything you can do to help them right now, and if it's within reason, do it.

Here is a website that can give you more information about self injury.
 
Please call or email me if you would like to talk about bringing in your son or daughter for psychotherapy. I have over 9 years of experience working with adolescents and self-injury, and would be happy to help you in any way I can during this often challenging and stressful time.

Candace Smith, LCSW 
 

Do I have Borderline Personality Disorder?

February 17, 2012

I get asked this question many times per week in my psychotherapy practice.  It's hard to give an easy answer to people who ask, since there are many parts to this disorder and a lot of people do meet some of the criteria.

Most people who have borderline personality disorder suffer from:

  • Problems with regulating emotions and thoughts
  • Impulsive and destructive behavior
  • Unstable relationships with other people

According to the DSM, Fourth Edition, Text Revision (DSM-IV-TR), to be diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, a person must show an enduring pattern of behavior that includes at least five of the following symptoms:

  • Extreme reactions—including panic, depression, rage, or frantic actions—to abandonment, whether real or perceived
  • A pattern of intense and stormy relationships with family, friends, and loved ones, often veering from extreme closeness and love (idealization) to extreme dislike or anger (devaluation)
  • Distorted and unstable self-image or sense of self, which can result in sudden changes in feelings, opinions, values, or plans and goals for the future (such as school or career choices)
  • Impulsive and often dangerous behaviors, such as spending sprees, unsafe sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, and binge eating
  • Recurring suicidal behaviors or threats or self-harming behavior, such as cutting
  • Intense and highly changeable moods, with each episode lasting from a few hours to a few days
  • Chronic feelings of emptiness and/or boredom
  • Inappropriate, intense anger or problems controlling anger
  • Having stress-related paranoid thoughts or severe dissociative symptoms, such as feeling cut off from oneself, observing oneself from outside the body, or losing touch with reality.

No single test can diagnose borderline personality disorder. Scientists funded by NIMH are looking for ways to improve diagnosis of this disorder. One study found that adults with borderline personality disorder showed excessive emotional reactions when looking at words with unpleasant meanings, compared with healthy people. People with more severe borderline personality disorder showed a more intense emotional response than people who had less severe borderline personality disorder.

http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/borderline-personality-disorder/index.shtml

 

 

Super Health

August 20, 2011
I am attending a Super Health training this weekend, which is a yoga-based treatment for addictive behaviors designed by Yogi Bhajan.  Yogi Bhajan came from India to the US in the 1960s and began teaching Kundalini yoga and meditation to Americans seeking spiritual fulfillment.  Yogi Bhajan saw that the majority of Americans were addicted to some type of substance, whether it was alcohol, prescription pills, relationships, work, etc.  He then was on a mission to see how much a mind body spirit approach could work to help people reduce their dependencies on these behaviors.  What Yogi Bhajan found was that a blend of Kundalini yoga, meditation, counseling, and nutritional changes could have amazing positive effects of those who were addicted, and thus Super Health was born.  There are now Super Health centers around the world providing help for addictions, emotional disorders and stress. 

I am learning not only the philosophy of Kundalini yoga, but some pretty amazing techniques that can be used both in and out of session to help regulate emotions and decrease undesirable habits.  I am excited to utilize these methods with my clients in conjunction with DBT to increase effectiveness.  We all use external stimuli to feel better or to escape, and often these patterns get imprinted and ingrained.  We then start to feel like we have to do those things to feel ok, and that's when the problem gets going.  One of the main reasons that the Super Health philosophy cites as a reason we use external stimuli, like drugs, smoking, food is that we are often disconnected with spirit.  This is why so many addiction treatments all around the world stress that building or rebuilding our spiritual life is crucial to recovery.  It's also why so many people get turned off by treatment.  We have such an all or nothing relationship with spirituality in this country, so we often feel as though we need to be really religious, going to church, reading the Bible, or else we just don't believe in anything (and often shut ourselves down from exploring a spiritual life that feels right to us).  So in my mind, the middle ground is where we have to find our own spiritual path, our own connection to the universe, God, Higher Power, however you want to call it.

The benefits cited by Super Health of Kundalini yoga are:
  • balances glandular secretion
  • strengthens nervous system
  • rids body of toxins
  • changes the chemistry of the blood and food metabolism
  • balances neural patterning

The Kundalini mediations help people to remain calm and non-reactive under challenging situations and to increase clarity in thinking. 

Kundalini yoga really focuses on breath work and how to use our breath in so many ways to decrease physiological stress.  We have already done some really interesting techniques that I have never seen before in any other yoga classes.  One of the meditations is designed to change unwanted emotions to a positive state of mind.  I wasn't feeling bad when I started, but I did notice a very positive set of sensations during and afterwards.  It was very calming and grounding.  Looking forward to learning more today and sharing more with clients and on my blog!

Candace Smith, LCSW

 

Regulating Emotions

July 14, 2011
One of the most frequent questions my clients ask me at the start of our work together is, "Am I ever going to figure out how to get a better handle on my negative emotions?" One of the first ways we get started on managing intense emotions is to use compassionate curiousity in understanding what we are feeling.  Gently investigating into what has come up, where we are feeling it and if possible, putting a name to what we are noticing.  Once we have put an accurate label on what we are feeling, such as "I am noticing worry", it can help to start the process of what the next steps will be in either attempting to change the feeling, or change the way we are reacting to the feeling.  I often have my clients spend time just practicing observing an emotion, like frustration or sadness, and to sit with it for a few minutes to notice what it is and where you feel it.  Typically, we often cut off emotions as soon as we can (by eating, drinking, distracting) OR we get stuck in our emotions, and they grow stronger as a result. 

There is much more to regulating emotions, but this is something that you can start using to get started.  I'll write about many more techniques you can use in my future blog posts!  Or if you want more immediate help on this, email or call me, and we can start working together on improving the way you manage your intense emotions.

~Candace Smith, LCSW