December 15, 2011

A Special Christmas Message from Enough is Enough's Team

Dear Friends!

The team at Enough is Enough just wanted to take a moment to wish you a very happy and safe holiday season. Peace and good will to all to you from us at Enough is Enough. Have a wonderful Christmas and a great New Year !




December 8, 2011

Christmas Holidays – The Gift We Give Ourselves


Christmas is coming........
As the end of the year draws near, you can possibly find yourself looking forward to the end of the holiday season instead of the beginning. Maybe not everything in your life is the way you want it to be or maybe you experienced some trauma, loss or grief during this year. Maybe you live alone, and very often Christmas time is just a time of loneliness for you, when it seems that everyone in the world has someone to celebrate with – except you.

The truth is that Christmas offers us a wonderful opportunity to reinvent ourselves and take one small step towards a new life, a life that will be a little bit different than the life you had before. A life with more joy, appreciation, excitement and peace.


We might use the end of the year as a time to reflect on our own journey this year. We may ask ourselves what we loved most, what were the most difficult things and the most exciting things for us this year, what we learned and what we could have done differently. We can accept our ups and downs of the year, and decide in which area of our lives we need more attention in the coming New Year. 



Magic of Christmas

Imagine now that this is going to be your happiest holiday season ever.

Make up your mind, that a Christmas season is supposed to bring out the best in us, rather than do us in.

With your expectations set on positive, here are some attitude adjustments to try: 
* I’ll let the holidays flow, rather than trying to make them fit into a fixed schedule.
* I’ll remember that people are more important than things. 
* I’ll relax my expectations for myself and others this year. 
* I’m going to live in the present moment and enjoy each activity for itself instead of always thinking about what is ahead of me. 
* I’m going to approach the holidays with a sense of joyful anticipation and wonder, just like I did when I was a child.                      (by Dr. Wayne W. Dyer)
                                                                                                                   


Each moment of our lives affords us a choice. You have choices of holiday celebrations. Try to find in each present moment of the holiday season something to savor and enjoy. The true meaning of the holidays is one of joy, love, peace and happiness.   


Cultivate a child-like awe and appreciation and have  joyous holidays and a happy New Year!
Stay with us in 2012! 




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Violence in Media: Four Parental Media Monitoring Strategies


Over the past half-century, an explosion in electronic media including television, cable television, video games, computers, the Internet, cell phones, and iPods marketed directly at the youngest children in our society, have been regarded with dismay by adults concerned about how these changes have played out in young people’s lives.


Used properly, the media can teach children many positive things about the world as well as teach them a sense of belonging and social responsibility. Child informative, high-quality educational TV content is shown to be associated with better educational outcomes and academic engagement, in opposite, viewing violence on television and playing violence video games has the potential to affect an individual child’s behaviour, psychological wellbeing and beliefs about the world. (Schmidt and Anderson research, 2007).

Media and Violent Behaviour

Many children’s programs – especially the so-called classic cartoons present violence in a humorous fashion that minimized the pain and suffering of victims. As a result , when children watch this type of depiction, they may learn that violence is funny and has little negative impact on victims.


The news media can lead people to believe that the stories reported are closer to home, or that they happen more often than they do in real life. Violence in schools is an example of a prevalent story in the news. So prominent in fact, that adults and kids alike are afraid that violence is sure to happen in their schools. The reality, however, reveals that there is less than a one in two mission chance that a child will be injured during a violent outbreak at school.

Can learning teens about bullying be presented using violence scenes? 


Take a look at a 17 minute short film launched by Australian Communications Minister Stephen Conroy in Sept 2011 about the dangers of sexting and cyber bullying, with some scenes including a fight captured on a mobile phone and posted online and teenagers taking nude photographs of each other and sending them to others. The video went around the world and was watched by tens of thousands. However, an expert on bullying, Professor Kenneth Rigby of the University of South Australia, said there was a risk that rather than acting as a warning about the dangers of bullying, the video was “allowing people to revel in a violent spectacle.” (1)

Extensive research evidence indicates that media violence can contribute to aggressive behaviour, desensitization to violence, nightmares, and fear of being harmed.

What about violent video games?

We recommend reading:
Pilots use flight simulators to learn to fly. Motorists use driving simulators to learn to drive. This kind of visual imagery is a very powerful learning medium. Some children are “print aversive” and thus even more receptive to visual imagery than others. 

Prof. Dave Grossman of West Point Military Academy uses the same violent video games that our kids play with; to teach army recruits and policemen to overcome their natural reluctance to kill another human being.

Prof. Grossman calls violent video games; “killing simulators” because they’re such an effective medium to teach someone the will and the skill to kill” They are very effective in turning human beings into compliant automatons.

An increasing amount of research is being conducted into links between online video games playing and “pathological internet misuse”.  International mental health experts are considering including “video game addiction and internet addiction” in the next edition of globally recognised Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders “to encourage further study”.  In the most extreme cases, teens and young adults spend up to 50 hours almost non-stop playing online computer games, even refusing to take toilet breaks. (2)

Strategies for Parents




Parents sometimes feel overwhelmed and wonder if they are actually able to make a difference in media saturated world. 
The good news is that the research demonstrates that parents are actually in a very powerful position. 

When parents set limits on the amount of screen time their children watch (or play), set limits on the content so that it is age-appropriate, and talk about what they see and hear, this is a powerful protective factor for children. (3)

In 2001, Amy Nathanson, a researcher at The Ohio State University, published an article outlining the 3 basic ways that parents can help prevent their children from experiencing negative media effects. In past years, few studies have examined parental regulation of video game play, adding one more strategy to Nathanson’s parental monitoring.


1. Restrictive Mediation:

Limit-setting on amount of media
Limit-setting on content of media
Putting in action:● Does your family have rules about how much TV may be watched (videogame played)?
● Does your family have rules about when TV may be watched?
● Can your child only watch TV when you are in the room to watch with him/her?
● As a parent, do you help your child decide what programs to watch?
● How often does your child have to ask your permission before watching a movie orDVD on TV?
● How often do you decide what video games you may rent or buy for your child?
● How often does your child have to ask your permission before playing video games?

2. Active Mediation:

Commenting on program(video game) contents and discussing these with children, helping them to understand what they see (play) on TV , computer, or news. Engaging the children in communication about what is being viewed.
Putting in action:It is important to talk with kids about what they see and hear. Ask your child questions that help him/her think through the messages that may not be immediately apparent.
It is actually very difficult for most parents to do especially with tough issues, and require  time, thought and courage. For example, after viewing a show, ask them what they think about that. Ask them why they think the show portrayed it that way. Let your children know not to be afraid to talk with you whenever they see something they don’t understand.

3. Co-viewing Mediation:

Watching together and discussing programs in general
Putting in action:How often do you watch TV together with your child?
How often you play computer or video games with your child?

By sharing the experience with your child, you will be able to know exactly what they are being exposed to and can talk with them about it. If you see something that may be upsetting to your child, or make them scared or confused , you can start a conversation on the subject. For younger children, you may also consider setting rules against watching TV/Playing games when you aren’t around.

4. Peripheral Monitoring Strategy:

Strategically placing game platforms in public areas such as the living room, offering them the possibility to keep an eye on their children’s gaming while doing other household chores at the same time.

Research suggests that the most effective parental practices are co-viewing programs with children and active mediating, while the popular practice of restrictive mediation is less effective. (5)

As a parent, only you can decide what strategies are most appropriate for your child. Today, our kids have access to much more information than previous generations. They are likely to learn things from media that parents don’t want them to learn. Media can affect their health, behaviour and family life in negative ways. It is why it is so important to understand the negative impact of media to know  how to use it properly  for healthy children’s development.


Resources:
1. Bullying, violence, revenge: the dangers of antisocial networking laid bare for children, Stephanie Gardiner
2. War on Young Minds, by Bruce McDougall
3. Research of the Effects of Media, Douglas A.Gentile , Ph.DThe Effects of Violent Media on Children www.psychology.org.au
4. Talking with kids about tough issues, http://www.childrennow.org/index.php/learn/twk_news
5.Parental mediation of children’s video game playing: A similar construct as television mediation, by Peter Nikken

November 24, 2011

Power of Attitude of Gratitude


Gratitude is the feeling of being thankful and it comes from the Latin words:
                     gratia , meaning favour, charm and thanks and,
                     gratus, meaning pleasing and grateful
Gratitude is an inspirational force that causes us to draw our attention to the good, the beautiful, and open up a host of possibilities. It is exactly what we need when we are in pain and it can help us to cope with our loss.

It has been irrefutably proven that every emotion and every thought has a measurable frequency. Emotions and thoughts of love and gratitude resonate at a frequency that brings about balance of all the cellular functions of the body. Many studies show that practicing gratitude may be the fastest single pathway to the emotional wellbeing, long life, and prosperity.

Your brain can only hold one thought at a time! Choose that thought! Choose to live in “An Attitude of Gratitude”. If you are grateful for something, it is impossible to hold on to thoughts of anger, grief, and hate.

Most of us are thankful for the good health, families we love, our jobs and for our opportunity to live our lives the way we want to. Yes, it very easy to be grateful for pleasant and peaceful experiences.
The difficulty comes in being grateful for the things that upset, offend, hurt and injure us. Grief can be the result of many events such as the loss of a family member, friend or pet, serious illness, separation or divorce, or a move to an unfamiliar town.

 How can I be thankful for anything when I am grieving and in pain? I can’t begin to think about appreciation or being grateful”.

Nothing and no one can truly be destroyed.
When you heat an ice cube, it turns to water. If you continue heating that water, it turns to steam. The essence of the ice cube remains; just the form is different.  
Maybe not everything in our lives is the way we want it to be, but some things are wonderful, and the things that aren’t so wonderful will get better in time. Experience of emotional pain is opportunities to learn love. Even the deepest, darkest sorrows have an equal amount of joy – the sooner we find it, the sooner we experience the blessings. Developing a mental “Attitude of Gratitude” will give you inner strength that will bring you inner peace in such difficult time of your life.
When times get tough, everyone has to make a fundamental decision: to complain or to be grateful. Focus on everything that you are grateful for, communicate this, and open yourself each day to the best possible consequences.

Developing Attitude of Gratitude:

 ● List three achievements you are proud of accomplishing. For each of the achievements you listed write five ways you received help from others. 
● List the three most recent act of service you have performed. Then write five ways these acts of love helped you fulfil your own inspired dreams. 
● When grieving, if anger hangs around too long in your thoughts, switch your attention to a person, place, or thing you are grateful for.  Use your self-talk to change the scene: “I have this anger and rightly so, but I am choosing to be thankful for all of the help I am receiving from my friends/my family. I am truly grateful.”

"Be grateful for the learning experience of loss.
You cannot change what has happened – it has happened.
You can change the way you think about it!!
Feel gratitude for the life-enhancing opportunity to learn and grow from this."
                                                                        Ken B Marslew, CEO of EIE


Resources:
Time to Take a Chance/ by Dr. Wayne W. Dyer
Grief and the Attitude of Gratitude by Joseph Burgo, PH.D.
Keep your attitude of gratitude – even during grief by Ann Ulrich Miller
How Gratitude Will Reduce the Pain of Grief by Lou LaGrand

November 22, 2011

Stress and Job Burnout

Burnout can manifest in many ways. It is a complex human reaction to ongoing stress, the signs and symptoms can appear the same as excessive stress but the symptoms of burnout include a more emotional response including emotional exhaustion and increasing feelings of negativity. Responses to burnout can be different for each person but the causes are common to most people.

For the purpose of this article we’ll stick to the area of burnout associated with the work environment. 


Being able to make the connections and recognise events or issues leading to burnout is the first step. These causes can include:

  • Feeling powerless to make improvements or contribute
  • Feeling unappreciated for effort or work done
  • Feeling pressured to achieve at work
  • Working in a conflicted environment
  • Dealing with complex personal problems or conflicts outside of the work environment
Once you have recognised the presence of these causes and/or the series of events that have lead to burnout you may then be able to link physical symptoms and mental stress symptoms that indicate an abnormal level of stress.

Making decisions about work/life balance can be the first step in a self care plan which should include the three categories:

  • Physical – diet, exercise
  • Mental – relaxation, meditation, breath work
  • Strategic – having realistic, achievable goals & recognising limitations
We highly recommend reading:
Self-compassion as a coping strategy
during stressful life events
Other interventions may need to be more specific or tailored for different outcomes or understanding. Counselling can help with the assessment of a person’s vulnerabilities and help with strategies for increasing awareness. Burnout can be healed in these ways.If you are experiencing any of these concerns or would like more understanding about your own situation our professional counsellors can make assessments and provide counselling.

Please contact our office or see our website for further information or to make an appointment. Ph: 9542 4029 or www.enoughisenough.org.au

Deborah, Counsellor at Enough is Enough

November 14, 2011

Teaching Your Child Active Listening Skills

Active Listening is one of the most important communication skills you can have. People often think that confident communication skills are about being articulate, telling a good tale or having a wide vocabulary. Yes, all of these are important, but the ability and willingness to listen to others is more important. How well you listen has a major impact on your job effectiveness, and on the quality of your relationships with others. Listening actively is required in every area of life.

Consider the questions below about your own listening skills and tick the answers that are relevant to you.

While the other person is talking, do you:
□  Rehearse what you are going to say?
□  Wish they would get to the point more quickly?
□  Interrupt?
□  Mind-read?
□  Judge them by appearance or accent?
□  Filter what you already think or want to think?
□  Daydream?
Most of us do some of these some of the time. We might think we are listening but we are not. Active listening skills are  very difficult master . People whose profession is to listen have spent years being trained to do so. In a recorded counselling or therapy situation it is likely that the voice of the listener will only be heard for 10 % of the 50 minutes. The benefit to people of being able to just talk can be amazing. 


One of the best things that you as a parent can do is to become a good role model. Develop your own active listening skills. Adults and children make common listening mistakes. If you make them, your child could mimic you.
Our two previous blog articles provide some great tools and techniques to build active listening skills for adults:

And as a parent, you can help your child to develop active listening skills and provide your child with foundation communication skills that last a lifetime.


Strategies for parents

1. Help your child to make better choices of activities to participate in during the day
Aim to develop your child's patience so he or she at least has the chance to pay attention to the person who speaks. Many studies conclude today's children suffer from a lowered attention span due to activities like TV and computer games.  Listening to action songs (songs that tell your child to do something) is an example of the activities that you could organise for your child. It's always fun to dance, and if your child follows along to the words, he's exercising his listening skills.
2. Read to your child then have him or her talk to you about what you read
Interact while reading together. Before you turn the page, ask your child to predict what might happen next.
This aims to help them to focus and teach them a briefly summarizing technique, as well as to develop their imagination.
3. When you say something to your child throughout the day, ask your child to say his or her understanding of what you said
Very often, children are required to keep quite and pay attention - so-called "listening" as they associate good listening with not interrupting and not saying a word, which creates "mindless" hearing in their relationship communication. Your goal in this exercise is to build a relationship and practice a correct response.
4. Teach your child to listen non-verbally
Have them maintain reasonable eye-contact with the speaker and develop other non-verbal skills such as facing you, not fidgeting, and maintaining good posture where appropriate.
Good listening skills take practice. The more your child practices, the sooner being an active listener becomes second nature!


Resources:
http://www.mindtools.com/CommSkll/ActiveListening.htm
Tower of Power, Joshua Uebergang, http://www.towerofpower.com.au/free/
Active Listening Skills Improve Communication, Ranjit Das, http://www.suite101.com/
Perfect Confidence by Jan Ferguson
Fun Ways to Practice Listening
Michelle McNally
,http://www.savvysource.com/parenting/12761-fun-ways-to-practice-listening

November 3, 2011

Don't Give Up: Your 8 Recovery Steps from Alcohol Addiction

Want to stop drinking alcohol? Overcoming an addiction to alcohol can be a long and bumpy road. At times, it may even feel impossible. But it’s not. 

With these 8 recovery tips on how to stop drinking alcohol, you will have some self - help ideas on how to start to make the change and where to look  for help and support.

Whether you are a regular drinker or you quietly drink a six pack by yourself each night, you may have fallen into the trap of alcohol abuse. Alcohol abuse is heavy drinking, where your drinking leads to problems—physical, mental or emotional.

On the other hand, alcohol addiction is a physical addiction or need to drink more and more. With addiction, the alcohol takes first place in your life—over family, friends, job, school and even your physical and mental health.

If you’re willing to stop drinking and to get the support you need, you can recover from alcoholism and alcohol abuse—no matter how bad the addiction or how powerless you feel.

There are many things you can do to help yourself stop drinking and achieve lasting recovery.

Alcohol treatment & recovery step 1: Commit to stop drinking


If you’re not sure if you’re ready to change or you’re struggling with the decision, it can help to think about the costs and benefits of each choice.
Example: Evaluating the costs and benefits of drinking
Is Drinking Worth The Cost?
Benefits of drinking:
• It helps me forget about my problems.
• I have fun when I drink.
• It’s my way of relaxing and unwinding after a stressful day.

Benefits of not drinking:
• My relationships would probably improve.
• I’d feel better mentally and physically.
• I’d have more time and energy for the people and activities I care about.
Costs of drinking:
• It has caused problems in my relationships.
• I feel depressed, anxious, and ashamed of myself.
• It gets in the way of my job performance and family responsibilities.

Costs of not drinking:
• I’d have to find another way to deal with problems.
• I’d lose my drinking buddies.
• I would have to face the responsibilities I’ve been ignoring.
Make a table like the one above, weighing the costs and benefits of drinking to the costs and benefits of quitting. Each list can be as long as you like.  
Do the costs of drinking outweigh the benefits? If so, you may want to consider making a decision to stop drinking.

Alcohol treatment & recovery step 2: Set goals and prepare for change

Once you’ve made the decision to change, the next step is establishing clear drinking goals. The more specific, realistic, and clear your goals, the better.
Do you want to stop drinking altogether or just cut back? If your goal is to reduce your drinking, decide which days you will drink alcohol and how many drinks you will allow yourself per day. Try to commit to at least two days each week when you won’t drink at all.
When do you want to stop drinking or start drinking less? Tomorrow? In a week? Next month? Within six months? If you’re trying to stop drinking, set a specific quit date.
After you’ve set your goals to either stop or cut back your drinking, write down some ideas on how you can help yourself accomplish these goals and set the stage for a successful recovery from alcohol addiction.
Example #1: My drinking goal
• I will stop drinking alcohol.
• My quit date is __________.
Example #2: My drinking goal
• I will stop drinking on weekdays, starting as of __________.
• I will limit my Saturday and Sunday drinking to no more than 3 drinks per day or 5 drinks per weekend.
• After three months, I will cut back my weekend drinking even more to a maximum of 2 drinks per day and 3 drinks per weekend.
Can I cut back on my drinking or do I need to stop drinking completely?
Whether or not you can successfully cut back on your drinking depends on the severity of your drinking problem. For most people with an alcohol problem, abstinence is the safest and easiest strategy. Regular drinking can quickly turn into problem drinking, and as long as you’re drinking at all, you’re taking that risk.
If you’re an alcoholic—which , by definition, means you aren’t able to control your drinking—it’s best to try to stop drinking entirely.
If you’re not ready to take that step, or if you don’t have an alcohol abuse problem, but you want to cut back for personal or health reasons, the following tips can help:
How to Cut Down on Your Drinking:
• Set a drinking goal. Choose a limit for how much you will drink. Make sure your limit is not more than one drink a day if you’re a woman, or two drinks a day if you’re a man. Now write your drinking goal on a piece of paper. Put it where you can see it, such as on your refrigerator or bathroom mirror.
• Keep a "diary" of your drinking. To help you reach your goal, keep a "diary" of your drinking. For example, write down every time you have a drink for 1 week. Try to keep your diary for 3 or 4 weeks. This will show you how much you drink and when. You may be surprised. How different is your goal from the amount you drink now?
• Watch it at home. Keep a small amount or no alcohol at home. Don't keep temptations around.
• Drink slowly. When you drink, sip your drink slowly. Take a break of 1 hour between drinks. Drink soda, water, or juice after a drink with alcohol. Do not drink on an empty stomach! Eat food when you are drinking.
• Take a break from alcohol. Pick a day or two each week when you will not drink at all. Then, try to stop drinking for 1 week. Think about how you feel physically and emotionally on these days. When you succeed and feel better, you may find it easier to cut down for good.
Adapted from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

Alcohol treatment & recovery step 3: Get support

Whether you choose to go to rehab, rely on self-help programs, get therapy, or take a self-directed treatment approach, support is essential.

Don’t try to go it alone.
Recovering from alcohol addiction is much easier when you have people you can lean on for encouragement, comfort, and guidance.
Support can come from family members, friends, counsellors, other recovering alcoholics, your healthcare providers, and people from your faith community.
Lean on close friends and family – Having the support of friends and family members is an invaluable asset in recovery. If you’re reluctant to turn to your loved ones because you’ve let them down before, consider going to couples counselling or family therapy.
Build a sober social network – If your previous social life revolved around drugs, you may need to make some new connections. It’s important to have sober friends who will support your recovery. Try taking a class, joining a church or a civic group, volunteering, or attending events in your community.
Consider moving in to a sober living home – Sober living homes provide a safe, supportive place to live while you’re recovering from drug addiction. They are a good option if you don’t have a stable home or a drug-free living environment to go to.
Make meetings a priority – Join a recovery support group and attend meetings regularly. Spending time with people who understand exactly what you’re going through can be very healing. You can also benefit from the shared experiences of the group members and learn what others have done to stay sober.

Alcohol treatment & recovery step 4: Explore treatment options

When evaluating the many types of alcohol treatment programs, remember that everyone’s needs are different.

A quality treatment program not only addresses the alcohol abuse, it also addresses the emotional pain and other life problems that contribute to your addiction.

We highly recommend reading:
Self-compassion as a coping strategy
during stressful life events
As you seek help for alcohol addiction, it’s also important to get treatment for any other medical or psychological issues you’re experiencing. Alcohol abuse frequently goes hand in hand with other mental health problems, including anxiety, depression, attention deficit disorder, and bipolar disorder. In many cases, the drinking is an attempt to self-medicate. When these problems co-occur, recovery depends on treating them both.


Alcohol treatment and recovery step 5: Get sober safely


Some people can stop drinking on their own without a doctor’s help, while others need medical supervision in order to withdraw from alcohol safely and comfortably. Which option is best for you depends on how much you’ve been drinking, how long you’ve had a problem, and other health issues you may have.
Be prepared! : Withdrawing from alcohol

When you drink heavily and frequently, your body becomes physically dependent on alcohol and goes through withdrawal if you suddenly stop drinking. The symptoms of alcohol withdrawal range from mild to severe, and include:
• Headache
• Shaking
• Sweating
• Nausea or vomiting
• Anxiety and restlessness
• Stomach cramps and diarrhea
• Trouble sleeping or concentrating
• Elevated heart rate and blood pressure
Alcohol withdrawal symptoms usually start within hours after you stop drinking, peak in a day or two, and improve within five days. But in some alcoholics, withdrawal is not just unpleasant—it can be life threatening.
Call or go to the emergency room if you experience any of the following withdrawal symptoms:
• severe vomiting
• confusion and disorientation
• fever
• hallucinations
• extreme agitation
• seizures or convulsions
The symptoms listed above may be a sign of a severe form of alcohol withdrawal called delirium tremens, or DTs. This rare, emergency condition causes dangerous changes in the way your brain regulates your circulation and breathing, so it’s important to get to the hospital right away.

Alcohol treatment & recovery step 6: Find new meaning in life



To stay alcohol-free for the long term, you’ll need to build a new, meaningful life where drinking no longer has a place.

5 steps to a sober lifestyle
1. Take care of yourself. Basic self-care practices are essential to alcohol recovery. To prevent mood swings and combat cravings, concentrate on eating right and getting plenty of sleep. Exercise is also key: it releases endorphins, relieves stress, and promotes emotional well-being.
2. Build your support network. Surround yourself with positive influences and people who make you feel good about yourself. The more you’re invested in other people and your community, the more your have to lose—which will help you stay motivated and on the recovery track.
3. Develop new activities and interests. Find new hobbies, volunteer activities, or work that gives you a sense of meaning and purpose. When you’re doing things you find fulfilling, you’ll feel better about yourself and drinking will hold less appeal.
4. Continue treatment. Your chances of staying sober improve if you are participating in a support group like Alcoholics Anonymous, have a sponsor, or are involved in therapy or an outpatient treatment program.
5. Deal with stress in a healthy way. Alcohol abuse is often a misguided attempt to manage stress. But there are healthier ways to keep your stress level in check, including exercising, meditating, using sensory strategies to relax, practicing simple breathing exercises, and challenging self-defeating thoughts.

Alcohol treatment & recovery step 7: Plan for triggers and cravings

Cravings for alcohol can be intense, particularly in the first six months after you quit drinking. Good alcohol treatment prepares your for these challenges, helping you develop new coping skills to deal with stressful situations, alcohol cravings, and social pressure to drink.

Avoiding drinking triggers:

Give yourself the best possible chance of staying sober by minimizing temptation and developing strategies for staying strong when it’s unavoidable.
• Avoid the things that trigger your urge to drink. If certain people, places, or activities trigger a craving for alcohol, try to avoid them. This may mean making major changes to your social life, such as finding new things to do with your old drinking buddies—or even giving up those friends.
Practice saying “no” to alcohol in social situations. No matter how much you try to avoid alcohol, there will probably be times where you’re offered a drink. Prepare ahead for how you’ll respond, with a firm, yet polite, “no thanks.” Don’t give yourself time to start coming up with reasons why it’s okay “just this once.”

Learn to Say NO nicely – “N.I.C.E” to say NO
N: Say “No”. Not “maybe” or “later”.
I:  Follow with an “I” statement: “I’m not going to .... , it is not part of my life plan”
C: If pressure continues, “Change”. Change the topic. Change your conversation partner. Change the location.
E: If these strategies do not help, you need “Exit “plan. Leave a bad situation immediately.

Managing alcohol cravings:

When you’re struggling with alcohol cravings, try these strategies:
• Talk to someone you trust: your sponsor, a supportive family member or friend, or someone from your faith community.
• Distract yourself until the urge passes. Go for a walk, listen to music, do some housecleaning, run an errand, or tackle a quick task.
• Remind yourself of your reasons for not drinking. When you’re craving alcohol, there’s a tendency to remember the positive effects of drinking and forget the negatives. Remind yourself that drinking won’t really make you feel better.
• Accept the urge and ride it out, instead of trying to fight it. This is known as “urge surfing.” Think of your craving as an ocean wave that will soon crest, break, and dissipate. When you ride out the craving, without trying to battle, judge, or ignore it, you’ll see that it passes more quickly than you’d think.

The 3 basic steps of urge surfing:

1. Take an inventory of how you experience the craving. Do this by sitting in a comfortable chair with your feet flat on the floor and your hands in a comfortable position. Take a few deep breaths and focus your attention inward. Allow your attention to wander through your body. Notice where in your body you experience the craving and what the sensations are like. Notice each area where you experience the urge, and tell yourself what you are experiencing. For example, “Let me see . . . My craving is in my mouth and nose and in my stomach.”
2. Focus on one area where you are experiencing the urge. Notice the exact sensations in that area. For example, do you feel hot, cold, tingly, or numb? Are your muscles tense or relaxed? How large an area is involved? Notice the sensations and describe them to yourself. Notice the changes that occur in the sensation. “Well, my mouth feels dry and parched. There is tension in my lips and tongue. I keep swallowing. As I exhale, I can imagine the smell and tingle of booze.”
3. Repeat the focusing with each part of your body that experiences the craving. Pay attention to and describe to yourself the changes that occur in the sensations. Notice how the urge comes and goes. Many people, when they urge surf, notice that after a few minutes the craving has vanished. The purpose of this exercise, however, is not to make the craving go away but to experience the craving in a new way. If you practice urge surfing, you will become familiar with your cravings and learn how to ride them out until they go away naturally.
Source: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

Alcohol treatment & recovery step 8: Don’t give up!

Changing problem drinking habits takes time, especially if your social life has revolved around alcohol or you’ve used drinking to cope with stress and numb your emotions. There is no quick and easy fix. Alcohol recovery is a process—one that often involves setbacks.
What to do if you slip:
• Get rid of the alcohol and get away from the setting where you lapsed.
• Remind yourself that one drink or a brief lapse doesn’t have to turn into a full-blown relapse.
• Don’t let feelings of guilt, blame, or shame keep you from getting back on track. Call your sponsor, counsellor, or a supportive friend right away for help
Learn from your drinking relapse:

Don’t give up if you relapse or slip. A drinking relapse doesn’t mean you’re a failure or that you’ll never be able to reach your goal.
Recovery isn’t hopeless—even if you’ve relapsed many times. Each drinking relapse is an opportunity to learn and recommit to sobriety, so you’ll be less likely to relapse in the future. Think of relapse as a detour on the road to recovery, rather than a derailment. You can choose to get back on the main path and continue travelling in the direction of positive change.

Call us for the individual counselling session on 02 9542 4029.
We provide a professional service with fully qualified counsellors.

Source: Alcohol Addiction Treatment and Self-Help, http://www.helpguide.org/mental/alcohol_abuse_alcoholism_help_treatment_prevention.

October 27, 2011

Anger Management Using Active Listening Techniques

Communication is the greatest tool we have as human beings to deal with any situation

Anger – one letter short of Danger

Everyone has been angry and knows what anger is. We get angry when our expectations are not met – whether those expectations are about themselves, or about others. When our expectations are unmet, we revert to illusions of control, “unrealistically expecting all people to behave and all situations to turn out as we think they should”. Anger often leads us to blame others and shift aggression towards them.


Aggression is sometimes the appropriate response to anger, as it allows us to protect ourselves and things that are important for us from harm. However, in case of overreacting, our anger can get out of control and become destructive and damaging. In this state of rage, the individual can become a danger to themselves or to others. Even the nicest people who do not see themselves as violent and would never anticipate hurting others are capable of the most awful acts if they allow themselves to become overwhelmed with rage. In fact, this is obviously what is meant by the term "losing control of one's self."


Your anger is a natural response to certain threats. If you would like learn how to control your anger, you need to learn what triggers it in you and how anger affects you. There are many techniques to help you to handle your anger once you learn to recognize it and catch it early on.

Please check yourself:

□  Do you ever find yourself in a highly intense argument or an extremely tense situation with another person when your uncontrolled anger leads you to become extremely aggressive and even violent, to the point of no logic or reason? 
□  Do you often find yourself jumping to conclusions or to be overly critical during a heated argument? 
□  Do you control your anger or does your anger control you when you start angrily defending yourself, interrupting the other person instead listening to the other person’s side? 
If you answered Yes at least once, we suggest you to learn and practice Active Listening Skills as an Anger Management Technique to help you manage your anger through improving your communication skills.
Communication doesn’t always have to mean being able to talk about one’s feelings openly – it also means being able to listen intently to others. And listening is of great importance when trying to keep your anger at bay.

Active listening is a two-way process that involves listening and responding in an empathic way, combined with the right questioning and summarizing techniques. It involves the receiver (the listener) with the sender (the speaker). The receiver in active listening process is as active as the sender.


Active listening techniques will help you to understand the message the other person is trying to convey, including the unspoken message, meanings and feelings. Using active listening skills, you will avoid jumping to conclusions and overreacting, so you will be able to handle and control your own possible anger. 

Building Active Listening Skills

Step 1: Understanding what is not Active Listening


Remember 5 Don’ts of Listening that can cause the anger reaction during communication:
A      Silent listening
N     Interruptions and not allowing the speaker to complete his or her thought
G     Critical response and teaching – a response that expresses a form of  criticism resulting from a natural tendency to judge, approve, or disapprove of a message received
E     Advising. It should be given when requested.
      Before offering advice , make sure:
  • that other person really wants to hear your suggestions
  • the other person is ready to accept it
  • your advice is correct
  • that receiver won’t blame you if advice doesn’t work
R    Changing the subject or moving in a new direction during conversation


Step 2: Understanding Questioning during Active Listening

During active listening we ask for additional information to get a clear understanding before responding.


Questioning in active listening skills is more about the quality of the question.


Only one question should be asked at a time and, if necessary, unclear responses should be played back to check understanding. If there is something you do not understand, then ask your partner to rephrase, restate, or repeat the statement.
The two main approaches are to use open and probe questions.
Open questions are general not specific. They provide room for people to decide how they should be answered and encourage them to talk freely.
Open questions help to create an atmosphere of calm, for example:
● What do you feel about that?
● Tell me, why do you think that happened?
● Tell me, how did you handle that situation? 
Probe questions seek specific information on what has happened and why. They can:
● show interest and encouragement: “I see, and then what?”
● seek further information by asking “Why?” or “Why not?” or “ What do you mean?”
● reflect views: “Have I got the right impression, do you feel that..?”

Combine your questioning skills with body language because it will communicate an interest towards your partner. Make good eye contact. Face your partner and show the person you are their primary concern.

Step 3: Understanding Summarizing Technique

Summarizing involves rephrasing what the person has said in your own words.


The secret here is “in your own words” and without adding any justification or interpretation. 

Summarizing is a great technique because it develops a connection and builds intimacy in your relationship. The other person hears your summary of what he or she said and knows you understand or will then restate what you do misunderstand.
Here are some examples:
Paraphrase back what the other person has said with phrases such as:
● ” What I hear you saying is...” OR You can use a phrase like the following:
"I'm going to repeat in my own words what I just heard you say to make sure that I understand what you're saying. Please correct me if I misinterpret anything you've said."
● When someone criticizes you, refrain from reacting defensively using the next steps:
1. Hear them out, wait until she or he finish, look for a core of truth in what they’re saying
2. Agree with that using summarizing technique: “It is true that I leave my clothes on the floor.”
3. If you do not agree with another’s person’s point of view, acknowledge nojudgmentally that your view is different from theirs: “But I disagree with you when you say...”

When someone is speaking, wait until she or he finished before you begin to speak

Step 4: Empathizing (empathic listening and empathic response)


Empathizing identifies with speaker’s emotions and opinions. Through empathic listening the listener lets the speaker know,


“I understand your problem and how you feel about it, I am interested in what you are saying and I am not judging you.”


The listener conveys this message through words and non-verbal behaviours, including body language. The listener encourages the speaker to fully express herself or himself free of interruption, criticism or being told what to do. Empathic listening requires an actual acceptance of the speaker’s feelings, no matter how different they may be from the listener’s. 


Acceptance does not mean agreement; it does not mean the listener has to agree. It simply means showing personal acceptance and concern for the speaker’s point of view:
“I understand you and I am interested in being a resource to help you resolve this problem.”
Here is some examples of empathic responses:
● Use of brief responses like “ I see”, “Wow”, “OUCH”, “My Goodness”
● “ I can see that really hurts”
● “I know how important that was to you”
● “ I think I’ve felt that way too”
Responses like the following are not empathic responses:
“Don’t worry about it”
“It’s nothing to get so upset about”
“That is a silly way to feel”

Step 5: Practice with your partner!

Active listening does not come naturally – it is a learned skill. 


It is an active process that must be practiced and practiced. Mastering the art of active listening is similar to mastering the art of driving a car. In the beginning you learned the necessary skills, but you still really have to concentrate on every aspect of doing it, and continuing practice, driving becomes your second nature.
Exercise:
1. Find a subject on which you and your partner seem to disagree – a moral issue, philosophical or personal task 
2. A makes a statement, B paraphrases the idea and feedback to A (only what B has heard without adding any interpretation or justification) 
3. A responds to B whether the response was accurate or what change needs to be done 
4. B then summarised the revised statement or uses right questions for clarifying information, again check till B and A understands correctly 
5. B and A can reverse role and repeat the process 
Conclusion:
How do A and B feel? Is there A greater understanding? Do they feel better? How such techniques can be helpful in life?
We would like to finish this article with the quote by David Roush, National Juveline Detention Association, which states that active listening may not just clarify thinking and provide a necessary emotional release, but facilitates problem - solving :

"When in doubt about what to do, use active listening."

Resources:
Controlling Anger: Tips, Techniques, and Resources , http://www.squidoo.com/anger-management-resources#module46941432
Consequences Of Anger, by Swami Sivananda
Rage and Its Consequences, by Allan N. Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D.
Guidelines for Empathic Listening by Richard Salem
Manage your Anger by Learning to Communicate Better, http://www.angermanagementstrategies.com/Learning-Better-Communication-Techniques.html
Roush, D.W. (1996) Desktop guide to good juvenile detention practice. National Juvenile Detention Association. pp.133-134