Monday, November 30, 2015

Breaking Bad..Habits

By: Nate Webster, IMH

The term “Dry Drunk” was coined by AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) decades ago.  It is used to distinguish someone who is truly sober from someone who might be sober physically, but who is still a “drunk” mentally and emotionally. The term encapsulates the idea that even though someone’s dysfunctional behavior isn’t acting up, his or her heart remains unchanged and that ultimately it’s only a matter of time until he or she acts out again. Even though this term is applied mostly to addiction, the concept is applicable to most bad habits as well. How many of us have bad habits or dependencies we’re trying to stop, but we still just really want to do them?

Stopping a bad habit can feel like trying to stop a desire for breathing. You hold your breath, hoping that while you’re suffocating your body will suddenly stop needing oxygen, but eventually you just grow tired and frustrated and stop holding your breath! In my work as a counselor I have noticed that there are three patterns of behavior that make it hard for people to break bad habits: secrecy, idolization and dabbling.

·         Secrecy causes you to hide behind a mask, which often leads to stress that encourages your bad habit.
·         Secrecy gives your bad habit control over you, rather than you over your bad habit.
·         Secrecy isolates you from others, leaving you to deal with your habit and its residual effects alone without help or support.

·         Idolization gives a bad habit more power and influence over your life than God.
·         You can become a slave to your bad habit when you idolize it.
·         Your bad habit becomes your source of comfort instead of God or other people.

·         Choosing to only dabble in your bad habit once in a while can feel like a good way to stop it, but actually only increases it. Each time you dabble, it renews your emotional, psychological and physical connection to your bad habit. 
·         Dabbling gives you a fake sense of management and self-control over your bad habit.
·         Dabbling more often leads to excuses rather ownership of a bad habit.

If you’re trying to stop a bad habit, but are running into some of these behaviors, try these solutions below. Also consider seeking out some good counseling. A counselor helps you understand what life experiences have contributed to your bad habits and can help you overcome them to lead a fuller, healthier life.        

Secrecy: Try being more honest about your bad habit with a few people you trust. You will become more of a master over your bad habit rather than a victim of your bad habit.

Idolization: Try drawing some biblically-based boundaries for your bad habit. For example: God still loves me no matter how many times I do my bad habit or God is more powerful than my bad habit, even though I’m still struggling with it.

Dabbling: Try treating your bad habit differently. Instead of it being a tank that just needs to let off some steam, treat it like a backpack that you put a rock into every time you dabble. Eventually your bad habit will break your back. 

For more counseling resources check out

Social Anxiety on the Rise: Are you affected?

By: Nate Webster, IMH

There’s a growing trend of social anxiety that is leaving many of us feeling lonely and disconnected. Brought on by things like social media, online dating and television, people find themselves more afraid of each other than ever before but also wanting relationships more than ever before. In other words, we’re afraid of relationships but are also dying of loneliness. Whether we realize it or not, we’ve all felt the ripples of social anxiety. If you’re a millennial you might be living with it. If you’re of an older generation, you might have been a victim of it.

Below is a list of a few common behaviors of modern social anxiety to help you gauge where you may be. A quick preface though - the below behaviors are not always caused by social anxiety, but are good indicators that you may be struggling with social anxiety.

Indicators of Social Anxiety:

·         People in general feel like a burden and a problem to avoid.
·         Talking to a stranger for any reason leaves you feeling guilty or regretful.
·         You talk with people more over electronic devices than face-to-face.
·         You often pretend to not notice those you walk past.
·         You often talk softly in public to prevent others around you from listening.
·         You save your feelings for when you get home, and rarely show them in public.
·         Personal space and personal transportation are often a non-negotiable need for you.
·         You feel like most people rarely understand you or are on your level.
·         There’s a time and place for relationships and they shouldn’t interrupt the rest of your life.
·         The moment you begin a conversation you’re already trying to figure out how to end it.

These aren’t absolutes of course, but general indicators of social anxiety. These behaviors can be debilitating and can act as barriers to joy and fulfillment in your life. Fortunately Social Anxiety doesn’t need to run your life. Below are some hopeful tips for dealing with social anxiety.

Tips for Improving Social Anxiety

·         Remember that too much comfort and safety isn’t always a good thing.
·         Practice not always being in control of social situations. Wonderful things can happen when you let them naturally occur.
·         Remember that you aren’t weak if you can’t figure out something on your own!
·         Don’t let others blame you for their feelings and don’t blame others for your feelings.
·         Tell yourself who you are before you let others tell you who you are.

If you identified with any of the above points, the best way to address them is through counseling. Counselors help you understand what life experiences have contributed to your unhealthy beliefs and help you build new beliefs that create different outcomes in your life. For counseling resources check out our website at

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Group Crisis Intervention Training

Did you know only those trained and certified in crisis response are allowed to work on the scene of a disaster? If a School Shooting, Suicide, Bombing, Hurricane, Tornado, Fire, Flood, Car Fatality, Co-worker Suicide, Terrorist Attack or Airline Crash happened in your community, only those with the right credentials can work at the scene. 

Are you equipped to help a group of people in your organization?  If you were at the scene of a community shooting or community disaster would you know what to do with a group of people who were devastated by the crisis? 

Would you have the right credential?

ICISF Group Crisis Certification 

October 22-23, 2015 (must attend 9am-5pm both days to achieve certification) 
Orlando Group Crisis Certification is only $119 (advance registration by Oct. 9th)

This 2-day certification course is required for all ICISF/Critical Incident team members in Law Enforcement, Fire Services, EMT, EAP, School Guidance or Hospital Chaplaincy work to give them the necessary training to get an organization in crisis back to a functioning level. It is being offered for the first time in Central Florida.

 Participants will learn (among other skills):
Fundamentals of Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) 
Large & small group crisis intervention methods
Incident assessment
Strategic intervention planning
Risk reduction
Appropriate follow-up services and referrals after an incident
Continuing Education Information: 
14 Contact Hours, 1.4 General CEUs from University of Maryland/Baltimore Campus

This rapid crisis stabilization process is taught by Dwight Bain, a certified crisis response trainer who worked at Ground Zero after the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and has equipped thousands with psychological survival skills to use until emergency management teams arrive on the scene.  

Crisis events will come to Florida – will you be prepared to help or will you be a helpless bystander?
Space is limited. Register now!

ICISF Group Crisis Certification
Registration Form
October 22-23, 2015, 9:00 am - 5:00 pm daily
(must attend 9am-5pm both days to achieve certification)

ICISF Certified Instructor Dwight Bain
Training facility: Church on the Drive, 1914 Edgewater Dr., Orlando FL 32804
PLEASE PRINT your name clearly as you would like it to appear on your National Certification

Name:  __________________________________________________________

Address:  _______________________________________________________________                                 

Telephone: _______________________________________________________

E-mail:  ________________________________________________________________

____ $119.00 – early bird registration (by October 9th - a $30 savings!)
____ $149.00 - late registration (after October 9th if space is still available)
 ____ Group Discount -  4th person free with 3 paid registrations, ($149 value)

Names of 3 registered _____________________________________________________

Payment Options:
*   Make check payable to:
     The LifeWorks Group, 1850 Lee Road, Suite 250, Winter Park, FL  32789

*   Email this registration form with your credit card information to:
     Sola Thompson at    or  

*   Fax directly to:  407-647-8874

Credit card number_______________________________________________________

Expiration date ___________________ CVV code ________________

 Zip code for billing address of credit card _______________   

Refund and cancellation policy:
Full refund minus $25 processing fee if notice is given two weeks before workshop.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

7 Ways a Boss Can Be Abusive

By: Christine Hammond, LMHC

Usually, abusive behavior is discussed in the context of a marriage and parent/child relationships. But in reality, it can exist anywhere, even in a work environment. Many larger corporations address obvious abuse such as hitting or screaming though the human resource department. Yet few acknowledge the more subtle methods of abuse some bosses employ. Here are the seven ways a boss can be abusive.

Physical. Their posture is an aggressive stance or intimidating stare. They might even stand over the employee while talking to intensive feelings of domination. Some limit the ability to leave office by physically blocking doorway.  Shoving or pushing occurs behind closed doors with no witnesses. Even the room temperature can be increased to uncomfortable levels to further agitate the employee.

Mental. A rage occurs out of nowhere in private causing the employee to fear being alone with the boss. Some use gaslighting technique to abuse by lying about the past to make the employee doubt their memory, perception, and even sanity. Giving employees the silent treatment, twisting reality to avoid blame, and projecting their negative behavior onto employees are other tactics.

Verbal. They praise employees in front of others but privately are belittling, demeaning, bullying, and degrading. An abusive boss frequently interrupts, talks over, withholds key information, and interrogates.  Typical browbeating includes sayings like: “If only you would…, then I won’t have to be this way,” “The problem with you is…,” and “That (verbal abuse) didn’t really happen.” There is no apology, only threats of being fired.
Emotional. Some bosses nitpick employees apart, belittle their accomplishments, aspirations, or personality in front of co-workers. Teasing, sarcasm, or gossip is commonly used to degrade and mock. They embarrass employees by sharing private information without consent, treating employees like a child, or exposing some shameful event. Often in a passive-aggressive way, they remind employee of their shortcomings. They treat employees as inferior by holding them to an unrealistic, unattainable or unsustainable standard and gloating when they fail.
Financial. They like to use an employee’s need to earn money as a weapon by refusing to pay what is due, knowing the employee’s vulnerable position makes it unlikely that they will retaliate. They rewrite the rules to avoid paying bonuses, tell employees they can never earn any more money, make it difficult for employee to earn degrees, or limit employee’s ability to advance their career. The employee might be put on overly strict budget while the boss spends excessively.

Sexual. They suggest an employee dress provocatively to attract clients or hint that an employee should have sex with a client. Sometimes they tell inappropriate sexual jokes, knowing this bothers the employee. The more foreboding abuse involves asking for sexual favors in return for a favorable review, coercing employees into performing sexual acts, and threatening loss of job if sexual favors are not performed.

Spiritual. They refuse to give religious holidays off, such as Yom Kippur, when requested.  Employees who don’t comply with the boss’ beliefs are seen as disobedient. A boss may insult the religious choices or practices of employees or treat employees as less because of differing religious views. They might isolate employees from other co-workers due to religious differences. Spirituality or religion may be used as justification for performing abuse acts.

These abusive behaviors may begin cunningly and then escalate further as time goes on. It is similar to bring a pot of water to a boil over low heat. The change is not noticeable day-to-day, but reflecting on it over a longer period of time can reveal the abuse. 

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Secret Relationship Destruction - Understanding the Devastating Effect of Addiction on Marriage

By: Dwight Bain, LMHC

The #AshleyMadisonHack, #JoshDuggar, #JaredSubway and #BillCosby scandals have stunned America the last few days. How could leaders who were so trusted and so well-liked have such dark shocking secrets?
Why would someone who had it all- marriage, family, kids, money, career, fame, health- risk it all for fifteen minutes of physical pleasure? If they wanted another marriage partner they could have just legally divorced and gone on to date other people- right? Wouldn’t there have been an easier way to experience an intimate connection that wouldn’t have created so much scandal and shame for themselves and their families?
            Reputation ruin comes after secret addicts are discovered by a marriage partner- or in the case of these respected leaders- outed by the media. It’s a major new story when these dark secrets are leaked to the press. But that isn’t new. Did you know there was actually an ancient story about a public outing of someone with a secret lifestyle of adultery? Scripture teaches the Master Teacher was confronted by an angry crowd of leaders, (think CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX), who had caught a woman in the very act of adultery. They were judging her – they were humiliating her and they wanted to destroy her and the Master Teacher as well. Jesus simply said, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” Here is a trusted leader who understood there are two sides to complex situations. The public opinion side and then the spiritual transformation side and he always took people to the side which involved facing the issue and then having a very honest conversation. This approach changed everything then and it still does today.
            Reputation repair comes before the scandal- it comes when a man or a woman have the courage to face the secret addiction in their life and voice it to another. Maybe in a 12 step group meeting, or to a priest or pastor- perhaps to a trusted friend or family member, and for some it involves talking openly with their therapist. The gutsiest people are the ones who directly talk with their partner about the secrets- to straight up face the music with the one who they broke most trust before they get caught. Who expose their weaknesses openly which then allows others to help. This is rare – but when it happens you know someone is on the right road headed toward freedom from their secretive past.
            Secret addictions are broken when someone reaches the critical mass of saying to themselves- “I can no longer live this way- these secrets are eating me alive.” Maybe that is how you feel, or maybe it’s how someone you care about is feeling. Today could be the time for reputation repair by looking into the mirror and facing the secrets in the light of day. Secret addictions are in dark, and usually involves sneaking around. Open confession with a therapist or trusted family member is a way to bring secrets out into the light of day to do something bold about it – to create real change.

            Your reputation is in your hands. Will you wait for the hackers to reveal your secrets on Facebook or will you take control of your future by outing yourself with the people who matter most?  Secrets keep you in an addictive cycle that leads to dysfunction. Talking to someone is a way out of the darkness to a better place. This could be your time to shatter the addictive cycle to really experience freedom.  Please pass this on.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Consider This Before and After Checking the Hacked Ashley Madison List

By: Christine Hammond, LMHC

The release of names and emails hacked from the on-line cheater’s website Ashley Madison stirs up questions of fidelity even in the best of relationships. This is especially true in light of some high profile confessions. The website’s promise of anonymity has been comprised and what was done in secret is now being revealed. But before checking a partner’s email address on the hacked list, consider these things.

1.       Everyone is capable of making a mistake but not everyone does. No one is perfect. Having expectations of flawless living will only lead to disappointment. Committed healthy relationships demonstrate a willingness to admit errors, change behaviors, accept adjusted boundaries, and forgive. This is something both partners need to do.
2.       This above all: to thine own self be true.” (Polonius gives excellent advice to his son in Shakespeare’s Hamlet.) Before checking any list, take a moment to self-evaluate. Ask: “Have I ever thought of cheating on my partner?” “Have I ever acted impulsively or inappropriately with someone else?” “If my partner knew everything, would they see it as cheating?” This is the time to be honest before making accusations about anyone else.
3.       “Begin with the end in mind.” (This is habit 2 from The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey) What is the goal? Is it to see if a partner is trustworthy? Faith is a belief without proof. Trust is earned over time and should not be given without some verification. Faith and trust are not the same. However, trust is not built by obsessively checking for lies or constantly believing the worst about someone. Rather, trusting someone is a decision which should be evaluated from time to time.
4.       When trust is betrayed, the only person who looks bad is the person doing the betraying. This is essential in maintaining proper perspective. Deception is reflected on the deceiver not the victim. However, there is an Italian Proverb, “He that deceives me once, it’s his fault; but twice it is my fault.” Allowing someone to continually deceive without consequence demonstrates a lack of self-respect and appropriate boundaries. 

After reviewing the above, go ahead and check the list. There are several websites that allow a person to input an email address. Be willing to be honest about doing it. Demanding openness without reciprocating is unfair.  If the name is on the list, consider these points.

1.       Don’t jump to the worst possible conclusion. This is information only, not evidence. This piece needs to be evaluated in light of the whole big picture. Are there other signs of a cheating partner? Has something similar happened before? Take a step back and look at everything from an outsider’s point of view before any confrontation begins.
2.       Have a plan. Make a list of what is known and what is still a question. Knowing what needs to be asked beforehand will keep the conversation focused. Avoid asking obvious questions designed to entrap a person. Rehearse possible answers and reactions ahead of time to prevent emotions from taking over and clouding judgment.
3.       Confront in a neutral environment. For instance, a partner’s office can be a place of confidence and give them an upper hand. Find a location and time that is dispassionate, intentional and safe. Don’t back down on asking questions, this is a time to be strong and courageous.
4.       Listen to everything. Body language is amazingly revealing especially when a person is comfortable. It is not just the words said; it is the words not said that are equally important. Pay attention to repeated vocabulary, touching around the neck, or any mannerism that is inconsistent with past behavior.
5.       Get some help. This is a good time to seek out advice from a counselor, trusted friend or mentor. Avoid speaking with family as they tend to side with their own no matter what. A partner who demands additional secrecy is a red flag.

Remember a healthy relationship requires growth on both parts. This is not one sided, no matter what has actually occurred. 

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Do You Work With a Psychopath?

By: Christine Hammond, LMHC

There really isn’t any job a psychopath wouldn’t do so long as it benefits them in some way. Psychopaths can be business owners, surgeons, lawyers, data entry clerks, waste managers, salesmen, politicians, waiters, and even therapists. They don’t have to be serial killers or mob bosses to be a psychopath.
The term psychopath is over used in our culture and has come to mean something that it doesn’t. Episodes of Criminal Minds highlight the extreme violent behaviors of the disorder. However, many psychopaths do not commit heinous crimes. Some are involved only in white collar crimes while others don’t do any obvious criminal behavior.
What is a psychopath? The term is encompassed under the definition of Anti-Social Personality Disorder along with sociopath. However, psychopath and sociopath are not interchangeable terms. Think of them as two separate parts of a whole personality disorder. A psychopath has the ability to create an entire persona in direct contrast to who they really are. It is as if they are an entirely different person without the dissociative or multiple personality elements.
In a work environment, they can appear to be very responsible, charismatic, friendly, too good to be true, and a hard worker. Their resume which has been custom designed to match the job description will leave employers feeling like they are getting the better end of the bargain. They can talk whatever talk is needed to get the job, to excel at the job, and to get promoted. However, there is a darker side.
Psychopaths will appear to work within a team environment but really they don’t. The work generated is frequently at the expense of someone else and not a product of their own efforts. Back-stabbing, gossip, and manipulation are frequent tactics utilized to undermine authority, gain dominance, and eliminate competition. Rules are for fools to follow, not psychopaths. There is no social, corporate, or legal restriction that will keep psychopaths in line. Because they have no conscious, they are only bond by what they choose.
The goal for a psychopath is to gain as much power and control as possible with the least amount of effort. To a superior, a psychopath presents the better side in order to gain trust and confidence. Their magnetic personality is appealing to upper management as they easily fit into any environment. As a quick study of personalities, the psychopath is able to transform their appearance and body language into something that is appealing in as little as 30 seconds.
But to co-workers, the psychopath presents the darker side frequently stealing new ideas, destabilizing the team atmosphere, and refusing to complete assignments. Often, co-workers pick up the slack in an effort to maintain the collaborative work environment which psychopaths are all too willing to allow them to do. However, if a co-worker complains about the arrangement, the psychopath will attack with such force as to cause the co-worker to get fired. This enlists fear in the other co-workers who are then more willing to comply with the psychopath’s demands.

Diagnosing a psychopath should be left to a professional but even professionals sometimes do not see the deception. It requires an ability to assess the person in multiple environments before some of the fraud can be seen. Even then, it may be hard to tell. The best advice is to avoid anyone who fits this description. Better to be safe, then sorry. 

Friday, July 24, 2015

The Whirlwind of Social Media

The Lie of Facebook
By: Christine Hammond, LMHC

I don’t know about you, but if I see one more “cute” cat video on Facebook, I’m going to scream. How is it that my friends have time to find and then post silly videos? Are their lives so ‘purrfect’ (pun intended) that they have the luxury to do this? Or… is it a façade? Facebook allows a person to literally paint and alter their image without any consequences for false identity or misrepresentation. Think of it as a giant modern art canvas where realistic images are absent and abstract images are present. There is plenty of room for interpretation. My frustration over the videos is more about my interpretation of their time in comparison to mine, rather than an accurate reflection of my friend’s life.

Don’t waste energy on interpretative art. Instead, let it be what it is. 

Facebook: America’s Addiction
By: Cara Griffin-Locker

If you are like most people you probably have a Facebook account. You posts pictures, follow friends and family and maybe check into a place from time to time to get the occasional discount.  For some, this social media outlet is a way to stay connected but for others it is a socially populated outlet in which depression is generated.  It can create, envy, jealousy, hatred and at times an extramarital affair. Facebook, to many, is a new addiction. 
            Here are four of the most common ways in which Facebook can create depression in those who obsess over the materialistic things and unrealistic happiness that people can display.
1.     Isolation: Depression by itself is an isolating disease. Combine that with staring alone at a screen, reading about other people's lives, hoping and waiting for someone to comment on or like something you wrote and you have a recipe for disaster. This often creates even more isolation because of the obsession that results.
2.     Comparison: The art of looking at Facebook repeatedly can lead to the inevitable comparing game. So-and-so has this and I do not, or so-and-so is doing this and I am not.  This type of comparison makes us feel like we are missing out, inadequate or a loser. It creates a sense of worthlessness in our own being that can ultimately lead to depression.
3.     Fantasy/reality: Seldom do people post negative things on Facebook. In reality is their life perfect and all roses and butterflies? Of course not.  It is all about perception and what they want the world to believe. Their life is not perfect. No one’s life is.
4.     The Numbers Game: Like all social media platforms, Facebook is a numbers game that consists of how many friends you have and how many people comment on your posts or pictures.  These types of expectations can easily lead to depression.
Think about this the next time you scroll through Facebook - do you spend numerous times a day looking at other people’s pages and what they are doing? Do you obsess over what others have? If so, it may be time to cancel or at least take a break from Facebook and get back in touch with reality.

Life Through the Lens and the Keyhole
By: Matthew W. Sandford, LMHC

We all have a tendency, and some more than others, to view other peoples lives through our “lens” and assess their relative success, happiness and level of fulfillment. We all have longings inside of us and these longings play a large role in making up the “lens” through which we interpret the world. Often, the more dissatisfied we are with our lives, or the farther we are from being able to realize our longings, the more we are influenced by what we interpret about others.
But here’s the thing; we never have an objective view of the inside world of others, we only have a view that is akin to peering through a keyhole. Let’s say you hear of a party that you were not invited to and in your jealousy, you go the location and peer through the keyhole. From what you can see through the keyhole, it seems that everyone is having a wonderful time, moving around, chatting, happy, even dancing. Your heart sinks. Suddenly the door flings open as someone exits, and a clear and full view is exposed to you.  You see that the event was for disabled persons; a wheelchair here, crutches and braces there.  No one was moving around so freely as you had perceived.

 We really only have a keyhole view of anyone’s real life. That is, unless you are a counselor….