{eds. note: This is a guest blog written by counselor Catherine McConnell. Click here for her website.}

Everyone knows that “drugs are bad, mmkay.” We’ve all heard it, “just say no,” “addiction is a disease,” and it has been glamorized for our entertainment in shows like “Intervention.” But what if it was more than that? What if I told you, that I can assist in treating addiction without EVER uttering a word about the drug?

I work with mandated Child Protective Services (CPS) cases and I see a lot of people who are forced to come to therapy.  Some of them are ready to quit and some aren’t. Do you know what they all have in common? Pain. There is no addiction without pain.  They come in expecting to be judged, to be told that drugs are bad and how they affect the body. They come in angry and looking for a fight. They want to tell me all the reasons they aren’t an awful human being (I agree with them there!). They’re often taken aback at my approach. I’m a little different. I listen… and then I ask “what are you running from?”…

Read more: A Different Perspective on Addiction

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To quote a popular song of the season: “It's the most wonderful time of the year!” While this sentiment may be true for many of us, it is not necessarily the shared sentiment of everyone. As the end of the year mark's a time for celebrations, holidays, and traditions which bring together families and spark feelings of joy, there are those whose memories and sentiments of this time of the year are quite different from customarily expected.

There are those who suffer from mental illness or whose memories of the holiday season are not of pleasant times. It is unfortunate that many of us forget that not everyone perceives this time of the year in the same way that we do. I'm not writing this to chastise anyone or to bring down the mood the season. What I am saying is that we need to be mindful of those around us who may be suffering while we celebrate.

Many of us feel the burden of unreasonable expectations for perfection this time of the year. While we still have our day-to-day tasks to do we must also decorate, buy gifts, and attend social functions. These expectations can cause stress and…

Read more: Tips For Helping Those Who Are Suffering During The Holidays

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“All we have is the present moment. Focus on it; don't miss an experience by living outside of the current moment.” - Chris Shea

This time of the year, between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day, is expected to typically be a time of joy, family gatherings, and the celebration of traditions. This is a time of the year when I reflect upon my childhood memories; memories filled with awe and wonder as the world seemed to be magical. Unfortunately, this time of the year is also one of increased stress due to all the activities we feel we need to do. Our wish to make this time of the year "perfect" increases our expectations, many of them unreasonable, causing us to overwork in our planning efforts.

"Preparing Christmas" Norman Rockwell

As a child I fondly recall watching the animated Christmas specials and reading all the Christmas books I could find. All of those stories not only have a positive ending, most of them depict a time of perfection. In these stories families gather and get along with each other, the house is majestically decorated, the dining room table set to rival the fanciest restaurant. My favorite American painter, Norman…

Read more: Coping with the stress of the holidays

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"Don't spoil what you have by desiring what you don't have; but remember that what you now have was once among the things only hoped for."Epicurus

 (Norman Rockwell "Traditional Thanksgiving")

Today, in the United States, we celebrate Thanksgiving, a holiday begun in 1789 by our first president, George Washington. In Washington's proclamation the president stated: "this is a day of national thanksgiving and prayer."  It is a day for us to gather in remembrance and gratitude for all the blessings bestowed upon each of us, and for us, in prayer, to unite with our Creator as the one who has bestowed these blessings we now celebrate.

Thanksgiving traditionally begins that time of the year when we celebrate family, joy, peace and traditions as we head down the road to Christmas Day and later to New Year's Eve/day. During this time I recall those special moments shared as a child; and now, as an adult, I again see that same joy, wonder and amazement through the eyes of the children in the family, and now, in their children's eyes!

Remembering our past and viewing the present through the eyes of children hopefully returns us to a time when, in our innocence, we…

Read more: Thanksgiving Day Reflection

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Many of us in the United States turned back the hands of time early this morning.  We have ended the period of Daylight Savings Time and are now on "normal", called "standard" time.  Our ability to change time prompts a few questions for me, some mundane and some a bit more philosophical.  But, to stay grounded I will refrain, for this post, from discussing the abstract philosophical notions of time.  Rather, I would like to reflect on this day in two specific ways, namely, how do we take advantage of our "extra hour", and, how do we turn back the hands of time in our own lives.

I am certain many of us have had life experiences for which we have wished we could turn back time to change the events.  There are times that we wish we could have back to cherish again, to say something different, do something different, or to have never had happen in the first place.  But, regardless of our ability to change clocks, we do not yet have the ability to go back in time.  Hence our personal feelings of resentment, disappointment, anger, sorrow, etc.  But, all is not lost.  Even though we cannot go back in…

Read more: Time May Change But Live in the Moment

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