Professional Drive Counseling Offices

Professional Drive Counseling OfficesProfessional Drive Counseling Offices is a community of independent licensed mental health practitioners.  We are located in the brick office park off of Professional Drive in Roseville, California near the sign that says “Corporate Commons.”  Information on our individual practitioners is listed under “About Our Practitioners.”  We serve adults, children, teens, couples, and families.  Our diverse practitioners have a wealth of knowledge and experience.  We are here at 2412 Professional Drive to help you with your counseling, psychotherapy, and psychiatric needs.

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Fostering Emotional Resilience in Kids

Here is the first in an occasional series of guest blogs by one of our Professional Drive Counseling therapists.  This blog is written by Dr. Patricia Brunner.  You can find her website at www.patriciabrunnerphd.com.

One of the biggest challenges facing parents today is how to help our children develop the ability to deal with their feelings, especially when they are uncomfortable or unpleasant.  As a parenting community, in an effort to help our children be safe and strive to raise their self-esteem, we have missed opportunities to help them learn to deal with the bad stuff – disappointment, stress, sadness, worry and just when plain old bad things happen.

Everyone wants their children to be happy and safe.  But when we protect their self-esteem too much, we rob them of important opportunities to practice.  And when adolescence hits, typically a time of overwhelming feelings, we end up with teens who are ill-prepared to navigate the emotional typhoon they live in.  And while no one would wish a traumatic experience on a child, we do see that those who experienced loss or trauma (and have adult support to learn how to cope) typically become more mature socially and emotionally.

So how do we help our children become more emotionally competent about the bad stuff?  First, we model a healthy way to deal with the bad stuff that happens in our own lives.  And secondly, we don’t rescue them from being cut from a team, getting a bad grade, not being invited to a party, or being “unfriended.”  Instead, we help them identify their feelings, feel the feelings, and move through the feelings with actions toward better coping next time.  As parents, let’s not focus on helping them feel good.   Let’s help them be good at feeling.

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Take in the Good

Re posted with permission from “Just One Thing at www.rickhanson.net

 

 

Do Positive Experiences
“Stick To Your Ribs?”
The Practice

Take in the good.

Why?

[Excerpted from Just One Thing, New Harbinger, 2011]

Scientists believe that your brain has a built-in negativity bias. This is because, as our ancestors dodged sticks and chased carrots over millions of years of evolution, the sticks had the greater urgency and impact on survival.

This negativity bias shows up in lots of ways. For example, studies have found that:

  • The brain generally reacts more to a negative stimulus than to an equally intense positive one.
  • Animals – including us – typically learn faster from pain than from pleasure; once burned, twice shy.
  • Painful experiences are usually more memorable than pleasurable ones
  • Most people will work harder to avoid losing something they have than they’ll work to gain the same thing.
  • Lasting, good relationships typically need at least a 5:1 ratio of positive to negative interactions.
In your own mind, what do you usually think about at the end of the day? The fifty things that went right, or the one that went wrong? Such as the driver who cut you off in traffic, or the one thing on your To Do list that didn’t get done . . .
In effect, the brain is like Velcro for negative experiences, but Teflon for positive ones. That shades implicit memory – your underlying feelings, expectations, beliefs, inclinations, and mood- i n an increasingly negative direction.
Which is not fair, since most of the facts in your life are probably positive or at least neutral. Besides the injustice of it, the growing pile of negative experiences in implicit memory naturally makes a person more anxious, irritable, and blue – plus it gets harder to be patient and giving toward others.
But you don’t have to accept this bias! By tilting toward the good – toward that which brings more happiness and benefit to oneself and others – you merely level the playing field. Then, instead of positive experiences washing through you like water through a sieve, they’ll collect in implicit memory deep down in your brain.
You’ll still see the tough parts of life. In fact, you’ll become more able to change them or bear them if you take in the good, since that will help put challenges in perspective, lift your energy and spirits, highlight useful resources, and fill up your own cup so you have more to offer to others.
And by the way, in addition to being good for adults, taking in the good is great for children, too, helping them to become more resilient, confident, and happy.

How?

1. Look for good facts, and turn them into good experiences.

Good facts include positive events – like finishing a batch of e-mails or getting a compliment – and positive aspects of the world and yourself. Most good facts are ordinary and relatively minor – but they are still real. You are not looking at the world through rose-colored glasses, but simply recognizing something that is actual and true.

Then, when you’re aware of a good fact-either some¬thing that currently exists or has happened in the past – let yourself feel good about it. So often in life a good thing happens – flowers are blooming, someone is nice, a goal’s been attained – and you know it, but you don’t feel it. This time, let the good fact affect you. Try to do this step and the two that follow at least a half dozen times a day. When you do this, it usually takes only half a minute or so – there is always time to take in the good! You can do it on the fly in daily life, or at special times of reflection, like just before falling asleep (when the brain is especially receptive to new learning).

Be aware of any reluctance toward having positive experiences. Such as thinking that you don’t deserve to, or that it’s selfish, vain, or shameful to feel pleasure. Or that if you feel good, you will lower your guard and let bad things happen.

Then turn your attention back to the good facts. Keep opening up to them, breathing and relaxing, letting them move your needle. It’s like sitting down to a meal: don’t just look at it – taste it!

2. Really enjoy the experience.

Most of the time, a good experience is pretty mild, and that’s fine. Simply stay with it for ten, twenty, even thirty seconds in a row – instead of getting distracted by something else.

Soften and open around the experience; let it fill your mind; give over to it in your body. (From a meditative perspective, this is a kind of concentration practice – for a dozen seconds or more – in which you become absorbed in a positive experience.) The longer that something is held in awareness and the more emotionally stimulating it is, the more neurons that fire and thus wire together, and the stronger the trace in implicit memory.

In this practice, you are not clinging to positive experiences, since that would lead to tension and disappointment. Actually, you are doing the opposite: by taking them in, you will feel better fed inside, and less fragile or needy. Your happiness will become more unconditional, increasingly based on an inner fullness rather than on external conditions.

3. Intend and sense that the good experience is sinking in to you.

People do this in different ways. Some feel it in the body as a warm glow spreading through the chest like the warmth of a cup of hot cocoa on a cold wintry day. Others visualize things like a golden syrup sinking down inside; a child might imagine a jewel going into a treasure chest in his or her heart. And some might simply know that while this good experience is held in awareness, its related neural networks are busily firing and wiring together.

Any single time of taking in the good will usually make just a little difference. But over time those little differences will add up, gradually weaving positive experiences into the fabric of your brain and your whole being.

In particular, as you do the practices in this book – or engage any process of psychological healing and growth, or spiritual development – really take in the fruits of your efforts. Help them stick to your mental/neural ribs!

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The Power of Refuges

Refuges are whatever protects, refuels, and inspires you. They might include teachers, teachings, the community of the taught, reason, practice, the Divine, mindfulness, your cat, pilates, good chocolate, meditation, the memory of your grandmother, or simply sitting quietly with a cup of tea.
Identifying your refuges, and finding ways to sink into them while they sink into you, is enormously helpful-especially during this celebratory and still often stressful time of year. -Rick Hanson, PhD (see www.rickhanson.net for equally fantastic food for thought).
*Those of us at Professional Drive Counseling wish you a peaceful and refuge-filled holiday season.

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Just one thing-protect your brain

Here is information from Rick Hanson’s Just One Thing, reposted with permission.  His website can be found at:

http://www.rickhanson.net/writings/books/just-one-thing

 

What’s the most important organ in your body?
The Practice

Protect your brain.

Why?
Your brain controls your other bodily systems, and it’s the basis for your thoughts and feelings, joys and sorrows. No question, it is the most important organ in your body. Small changes in its neurochemistry can lead to big changes in your mood, resilience, memory, concentration, thoughts, feelings, and desires.So it’s vital to protect it from negative factors like toxins, inflammation, and stress.

If you take good care of your brain, it will take good care of you.

How?
Avoid toxins. Besides the obvious actions – like don’t sniff glue, and stand upwind when pumping gas – be careful about alcohol, which works by depriving brain cells of oxygen: that buzz is the feeling of neurons drowning.Minimize inflammation. When your immune system activates to deal with an infection or allergen, it sends chemical messengers called cytokines throughout your body. Unfortunately, cytokines can linger in your brain, leading to a slump in mood and even depression (Maier and Watkins 1998; Schiepers, Wichers, and Maes 2005).

So take practical steps to reduce colds and flu, such as washing your hands often, and avoid any foods that set off your immune system. For example, many people have inflammatory reactions to gluten grains (e.g., wheat, oats, rye) and/or dairy products; it’s not surprising, since these foods were introduced just 10,000 years ago, a tiny moment in the 200 million-year evolution of the mammalian, primate, and human diet. You don’t need overt symptoms of allergies for a medical lab blood test to show that gluten or dairy foods aren’t good for you. On your own, try going to zero with both these food groups for two weeks and see if you notice a difference in your mental or physical health; if you do, keep staying away from them: I do myself, and there are plenty of delicious alternatives.

Get regular exercise, which promotes the growth of new neural structures, including via the birth of new brain cells.

Relax. The stress hormone cortisol both sensitizes the fight-or-flight alarm bell of the brain – the amygdala – and weakens (even shrinks) a region called the hippocampus, which helps put the brakes on stress reactions. Consequently, in a vicious cycle, stress today makes you more sensitive to stress tomorrow. Additionally, since the hippocampus is also critical for making memories, a daily diet of stress (even from just feeling frustrated, irritated, or anxious) makes it harder to learn new things or put your feelings in context. One major antidote to stress is relaxation, which activates the soothing and calming parasympathetic wing of the nervous system; see chapter 4 in Just One Thing for good ways to relax.

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Parking

Happy New Year!  As a reminder for our clients, please park in front of our building in the spots labeled “Reserved 2412” or in any unmarked spot.  Other reserved spots are reserved for our neighboring businesses.  Thank you!

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Just one thing…

Re-posting from :

http://www.rickhanson.net/writings/just-one-thing

 

Are you adding insult to injury?
The Practice

Don’t throw darts.

Why?

Some physical and mental pain is inevitable. I remember being six and slipping on an icy sidewalk in Illinois and landing hard on my tailbone: ouch! Much later, in my fifties, when my mother passed away, there was a different kind of pain. To survive physically, you need a body that tells you it hurts when it’s ill or injured. To flourish psychologically and in your relationships, you need a mind that sends different signals of distress – such as loneliness, anger, or fear – if you’re rejected, mistreated, or threatened.

To use a metaphor from the Buddha, the unavoidable pains of life are its “first darts.” But then we add insult to injury with our reactionsto these darts. For example, you could react to a headache with anxiety that it might mean a brain tumor, or to being rejected in love with harsh self-criticism.

Further, it’s common to have upsetting reactions when nothing bad has actually happened. For instance, you’re flying in an airplane and everything’s fine, but you’re worried about it crashing. Or you go out on a date and it’s fun, but then he/she doesn’t call for a day and you feel let down.

Most absurdly, sometimes we react negatively to positive events. Perhaps someone complimented you, and you had feelings of unworthiness; or you’ve been offered an opportunity at work, and you obsess about whether you can handle it; or someone makes a bid for a deeper friendship, and you worry about being disappointing.

All these reactions are “second darts” – the ones we throw ourselves. They include overreacting to little things, holding grudges, justifying yourself, drowning in guilt after you’ve learned the lesson, dwelling on things long past, losing perspective, worrying about stuff you can’t control, and mentally rehashing conversations.

Second darts vastly outnumber first darts. There you are, on the dartboard of life, bleeding mainly from self- inflicted wounds.

There are enough darts in life without adding your own!

How?

Accept the inevitability of first darts. They hurt, but pain is the price of living. Try not to get offended by pain – as if it’s an affront – or embarrassed about it, as if it’s a personal failing.

When pain does come, hold it in a large space of awareness. In a traditional metaphor, imagine pouring a big spoon of salt into a cup of water and then drinking it: yuck. Next, imagine stirring that spoonful into a big bowl of clean water and drinking a cup: not so bad now. It’s the same amount of salt – the same amount of physical or emotional pain – but now held and diluted in a larger context. Be aware of awareness: it’s like the sky – pain passes through it like storm clouds, never tainting or harming awareness itself. See if you can let the pain be without reacting to it; this is a key aspect of an unconditional inner peace.

Observe second darts. They’re often easier to see when others toss these darts at themselves – and then consider how you throw them at yourself. Gradually bring your recognition of second darts into the present moment, so you can see the inclination to throw them arise – and then catch them if possible before you stab yourself one more time.

A second dart will often trigger a cascade of mental reactions, like one boulder rolling down a mountainside setting off others in a chain reaction. To stop the landslide, start by relaxing your body as best you can. This will activate the calming, soothing parasympathetic wing of your nervous system and put the brakes on the fight-or-flight sympathetic wing.

Next, try to see more aspects of the situation that’s troubled you, and more of your life these days altogether – especially the parts that are going fine. Because of the negativity bias, the brain narrows down and fixates on what’s wrong, so you have to nudge it to widen its view to what’s right. The bird’s-eye, big picture view also deactivates the midline neural networks that do second-dart ruminating, and stimulates circuits on the side of your brain that can let things be as they are without reacting to them.

Don’t put more logs on the fire. Don’t look for more reasons to worry, criticize yourself, or feel mistreated. Don’t get mad at yourself for getting mad at yourself!

When you throw second darts, you are the person you hurt most. The suffering – mild to severe – in second darts is truly unnecessary. As the saying goes, pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional.

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Parking lot resurfacing update

The date for our parking lot re-surfacing has been moved to November 5th & 6th.  If you have an appointment in our office the weekend of the 5th & 6th please allow for a little extra time to park on the street and walk to the office as the parking lot will be roped off for re-surfacing.  It should be open and available starting the morning of Monday November 7th.

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Parking the weekend of October 22nd & 23rd

For all of our clients, patients and guests:

Our parking lot will be resurfaced the weekend of October 22nd & 23rd.  If you have an appointment that weekend the parking lot will be roped off.  Our office will be open but you will need to utilize on-street parking and walk to the office.  We apologize for any inconvenience.  We have been informed that the parking lot will be opened the morning of Monday October 24th at 6 am.  Thank you for your understanding.

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Just One Thing

As the beginning of a series, the administrators of Professional Drive Counseling Offices.com would like to re-post (with permission and/or linkbacks, of course) blogs and newsletters that we find helpful! Here is our first, from Dr. Rick Hanson’s “Just One Thing” (www.rickhanson.net/blog)

 
What happens when you look at someone?
The Practice
See beings, not bodies.
Why?

When we encounter someone, usually the mind automatically slots the person into a category: man, woman, your friend Tom, the kid next door, etc. Watch this happen in your own mind as you meet or talk with a co-worker, salesclerk, or family member.

In effect, the mind summarizes and simplifies tons of details into a single thing – a human thing to be sure, but one with an umbrella label that makes it easy to know how to act. For example: “Oh, that’s my boss (or mother-in-law, or boyfriend, or traffic cop, or waiter) . . . and now I know what to do. Good.”

This labeling process is fast, efficient, and gets to the essentials. As our ancestors evolved, rapid sorting of friend or foe was very useful. For example, if you’re a mouse, as soon as you smell something in the “cat” category, that’s all you need to know: freeze or run like crazy!

On the other hand, categorizing has lots of problems. It fixes attention on surface features of the person’s body, such as age, gender, attractiveness, or role. It leads to objectifying others (e.g., “pretty woman,” “authority figure”) rather than respecting their humanity. It tricks us into thinking that a person comprised of changing complexities is a static unified entity. It’s easier to feel threatened by someone you’ve labeled as this or that. And categorizing is the start of the slippery slope toward “us” and “them,” prejudice, and discrimination.

Flip it around, too: what’s it like for you when you can tell that another person has slotted you into some category? In effect, they’ve thingified you, turned you into a kind of “it” to be managed or used or dismissed, and lost sight of you as a “thou.” What’s this feel like? Personally, I don’t like it much. Of course, it’s a two-way street: if we don’t like it when it’s done to us, that’s a good reason not to do it to others.

How?

This practice can get abstract or intellectual, so try to bring it down to earth and close to your experience.

When you encounter or talk with someone, instead of reacting to what their body looks like or is doing or what category it falls into:

Be aware of the many things they are, such as: son, brother, father, uncle, schoolteacher, agnostic, retired, American, fisherman, politically conservative, cancer survivor, friendly, smart, donor to the YMCA, reader of detective novels, etc. etc.
Recognize some of the many thoughts, feelings, and reactions swirling around in the mind of the other person. Knowing the complexity of your own mind, try to imagine some of the many bubbling-up contents in their stream of consciousness.
Being aware of your own changes – alert one moment and sleepy another, nervous now and calm later – see changes happening in the other person.
Feeling how things land on you, tune into the sense of things landing on the other person. There is an experiencing of things over there – pleasure and pain, ease and stress, joy and sorrow – just like there is in you. This inherent subjectivity to experience, this quality of be-ing, underlies and transcends any particular attribute, identity, or role a person might have.
Knowing that there is more to you than any label could ever encompass, and that there is a mystery at the heart of you – perhaps a sacred one at that – offer the other person the gift of knowing this about them as well.
At first, try this practice with someone who is neutral to you, that you don’t know well, like another driver in traffic or a person in line with you at the deli. Then try it both with people who are close to you – such as a friend, family member, or mate – and with people who are challenging for you, such as a critical relative, intimidating boss, or rebellious teenager.

The more significant the relationship, the more it helps to see beings, not bodies.

* * *

Rick Hanson, Ph.D., is a neuropsychologist and author of the bestselling Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom (in 21 languages) – as well as the forthcoming Just One Thing. Founder of the Wellspring Institute for Neuroscience and Contemplative Wisdom and Affiliate of the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, he’s taught at Oxford, Stanford, and Harvard, and in meditation centers in Europe, North America, and Australia. His work has been featured on the BBC, NPR, Consumer Reports Health, and U.S. News and World Report. His blog – Just One Thing – has over 23,000 subscribers and suggests a simple practice each week that will bring you more joy, more fulfilling relationships, and more peace of mind and heart. If you wish, you can subscribe to Just One Thing here.

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