From Maesk Counseling in Fort Lauderdale - Following Your Plan of Care

Many times, patients quit their treatment prematurely because the immediate crisis is over. This is equivalent to quitting a two week antibiotic prescription after the second day’s dose; the SYMPTOMS are eased, but what about the root cause? It will surely return later because it hasn’t been thoroughly addressed. Momentum toward recovery will be lost as well.

Depression, anxiety, relationship issues, panic attacks, teen and children’s behavior issues, anger management, divorce recovery—these all take time to change, to heal. You didn’t GET this way in a month or two, and it will take longer than that to heal completely. Often, we’ve carried problems of poor self- esteem, drug or alcohol addiction, and other counseling issues for most of our lives.

Periodic check ins, where we go over your progress and look again at your goals in the Plan of Care, help us understand where we have been together in therapy, what we have accomplished, and what still needs to be addressed. This is also a great time for you to “dream” and set new goals for a better life! When these goals have been met and all issues addressed, you are ready to go on to “maintenance care,” where you come in to see me every few months or so for checkups. These checkup visits can go a long way toward maintaining the growth and rational thinking you worked so hard to achieve in our sessions.

When I give you a Plan of Care, I’ve carefully considered your issues, your hopes and dreams, and your goals, using all of my education and experience to help you toward as happy a life as possible. It can be painful to go deeper at first, but the rewards you can experience can be very gratifying and life changing!

From Maesk Counseling in Fort Lauderdale - Healthy Boundaries

“My mother is always telling me what to do, and then she wonders why I don’t call her more often,” my client sighed as she wiped away tears of frustration. 

“Do you tell her that you’d prefer her not to do that?” I prodded gently.

“No! I can’t talk back to my mother,” she replied, shocked.

All of us have personal space that we must protect from invasion by others and most of us are aware that our bodies belong to us. This is why we recognize that it’s not OK to force or coerce our children into hugging or kissing people against their will. Our bodies are ours alone.

We realize we should protect our physical space from those who get closer or more physical than we’d prefer, but do you know that you have emotional space that belongs to you as well? I use the hula hoop as an illustration of this.

My feelings, my decisions, my consequences…

As an adult, it’s my right to determine my own life. Imagine a hula hoop worn by each of us. Inside that hoop are decisions such as when you sleep, what you eat, whether or not you exercise, take care of yourself, whether or not you attend worship, have hobbies, political or religious beliefs, how you raise your children-well, you get the idea. 

When we start to tell people our opinions about how they choose in these areas, we are jumping their hoop and getting into the space that rightly belongs to them. When we allow others to criticize or lecture us about our choices, we allow invasion into our hula hoop as well. This causes insecurity, resentment, and the presence of control.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me…

Keeping our opinions to ourselves about the life choices of other adults is part of respecting the freedom we all have to live our lives the way we see fit. Saying a firm but friendly “hey, that’s my call about how I live my life, so let’s talk about something else” is essential to taking care of YOU.

 I can help you with assertive and kind answers to keeping others out of your hula hoop. Let’s get started!

From Maesk Counseling in Fort Lauderdale - Emotional Support Animals

Maesk Group Counseling provides Emotional Support Animal (ESA) evaluations.  It is well documented through research that pets provide benefit to people suffering from anxiety, depression, PTSD, insomnia and many other conditions.  Having an ESA prescription letter allows you to have your pet in no-pets housing, and allows you to travel with your pet in the cabin on airlines at no additional cost.

Also, not a week goes by where we do not receive a call from a patient stating that their out-of-state ESA letter was rejected by their condo board.  We are located in Florida and serve Florida.

There are other details/benefits.  Feel free to contact the office to schedule your consultation.

From Maesk Counseling in Fort Lauderdale - Do I Need Counseling?

Every day many people in Fort Lauderdale and Broward county search online for help with their problems, wondering if it’s finally time to reach out for direction and support to handle sadness, depression, anxiety, stress, fights with their partner or spouse, and family issues, among others. Here are some of the questions and mistaken beliefs we encounter as therapists every day.

Can’t I just talk to my friends about my problems?

Talking to a friend about mental health or personal issues may bring you temporary relief, but will make the problem more deep seated in the long run because you become more identified with the issue the longer you complain without intervention. Remember, you get what you pay for, and zero-cost advice is pretty much worth zero!

Nobody can change my situation, so why pay to see a professional about it?

There is a saying that “your world changes when YOU change.”  A professional, licensed therapist is trained in ways to help you respond to your world differently. We have at least two college degrees and extensive supervised training thereafter. There are thinking patterns, usually formed in childhood, of which you are completely unaware. I can show you how you are holding yourself back and perhaps help you find insight and freedom. It’s often a cage of your own making!

I’ve felt this way so long…

If you had a persistent fever, would you just say “oh well” and live with it? Or would you go to a health care specialist who could evaluate, diagnose, and treat it? The average person doesn’t realize how common mood and relationship problems are to the human condition, and that they can be (and are) identified and studied. Whole systems of therapy are developed for common issues, much as drugs are developed for physical ailments. 

What will people think?

The people intelligent and mature enough to seek therapy realize that it doesn’t matter what people think! It matters how you live every day of your limited, precious life, and whether you can enjoy that to a higher degree and love more fully. Besides, you would be surprised how many of those “imaginary people” you think are judging you are actually patients themselves.

Is it time for YOU to feel better? It’s time!  Get started NOW.

From Maesk Counseling in Fort Lauderdale - Couples Communication

WHAT Did You Just Say? Communication Differences between Men and Women

“He should just know what I want if he loves me,” she exclaims.  “I try to solve her problems, but she gets mad when she’s upset and I give her advice,” he declares.  Both of them think they are right.  And both of them have a right to see it that way.  Both of them would be wise to learn to see it from another point of view.

Individuality notwithstanding, the stereotypes are somewhat borne out by research:  men are generally problem solvers and women generally want intuitive, compassionate responses.  To put it another way, when we approach our partner with a problem, we expect them to react the way our best (same sex) friends do. Or to put it another way: Men “fix” and women “feel.”

“And here’s what you SHOULD do, wife…”

Men most often communicate in order to solve a problem, and they feel a sense of responsibility and love when their partner is upsetWhat he doesn’t realize is that she is not generally asking for advice, unless she comes out and says so.  Instead, she would like to be listened to and valued while she processes her problem verbally.  It tends to go something like this:

She: “I got so mad at my boss today.”

He: “Well, you should just quit that job and look for another.  Here’s the employment listings.”

When he jumps directly to his solution for her life, she feels belittled, as if he feels she is not capable of adult decisions.  She really just wanted him to listen, not solve!  Let’s look at a better way:

She: “I got so mad at my boss today.”

He: “You seem really upset. Tell me more.”

“If you LOVED me you would just KNOW, husband…”

A mistake that women often make when communicating with the opposite sex is called “mind reading,” that is, expecting to just hint, sigh, glare, or otherwise get him to pick up on what she wants.  This conversation might go:

She:  (sarcastically) “That trash really smells, doesn’t it?”

He: “Sure does.”

Of course, she wanted him to take the trash out, not agree with her!  She winds up frustrated and furious that he didn’t bow to the control, hint, guilt and manipulation barely hidden in that remark.  A better way would be:

She: “Would you please take the trash out sometime in the next hour?”

He: “Sure, it’s my turn anyway.”

Women are socialized to be tactful, accommodating, and indirect, but this does not serve them well in the real world.  Instead, women (and indeed, men as well) should be DIRECT, BRIEF, and SPECIFIC when asking for what they need.  This could save a lot of resentment; we all appreciate honest, courteous, and upfront communication. 

So it goes like this: men, you get in a lot of trouble when you offer solutions instead of focused, eye-to-eye, undivided attention and a listening ear when she is sharing her problems with you.  And women, you shut down any hope of getting what you need when you hint, sigh, use sarcasm, or otherwise expect him to read your mind.  Instead, be direct (“the trash”), specific (“within the next hour”) and courteous (“please”).

Communication is a skill that must be learned, but the basic principles listed here can go a long way toward each person getting what they want - a “win-win” for all parties.

From Maesk Counseling in Fort Lauderdale - Emotional Support Animals

Maesk Group Counseling provides Emotional Support Animal (ESA) evaluations.  It is well documented through research that pets provide benefit to people suffering from anxiety, depression, PTSD, insomnia and many other conditions.  Having an ESA prescription letter allows you to have your pet in no-pets housing, and allows you to travel with your pet in the cabin on airlines at no additional cost.

There are other details/benefits.  Feel free to contact the office to schedule your consultation.

From Maesk Counseling in Fort Lauderdale - Counseling for Children

Child counseling can be extremely successful if you support your child throughout the counseling process. Family counseling also works wonders if everyone bands together and supports each other through the changes that are being made. Follow these tips to support your child and family in therapy:

1. Be there to listen and offer caring support, without judgment, to your child during the time in child therapy

2. Meet with the child’s counselor to make sure personalities are a match for you and your child.

3. Be open and talk frequently with your child. Make sure discussions are age appropriate; early school aged children need brief, simple discussions or explanations, upper elementary age children may ask more detailed questions and may need help figuring out reality from fiction.

4. Don’t pressure the child to talk to you about what happened in the child counseling session, your child may tell you in his/her own time in his/her own way.

5. Keep the lines of communication open with the child’s counselor and the child. Showing your child that you trust the child’s counselor helps build trust.

6. Try not to rush change. Remember trust is built over time; it’s not any different in child and family counseling. Allow time for your child to learn to trust his/her counselor. If you become intimidated by the child-counselor relationship, bring it up to the counselor (there’s nothing to be embarrassed about).

7. Patience is extremely important throughout the child and family counseling process. Children often don’t know how to express their emotions and fears like an adult would, therefore may have some temporary behavior changes throughout the process.

8. Be a good role model, show the child you are willing to take care of yourself and if you need counseling, seek it.

9. Make time to discuss your child’s worries, fears, and even accomplishments. Be sure to turn off any distractions (phones, TV, video games, etc.) so your child knows how important the time with your child is to you.

10. Most importantly, enjoy favorite activities with your child alone and with the entire family.

If you have any questions, throughout the process, speak up. Maesk Group Counseling is here to help!

 

From Maesk Counseling in Fort Lauderdale - Assessing Your Healing

Assessing Your Healing: Signs of Progress in Therapy

Do you know that you can focus on various areas in your life to see if you are feeling better in specific ways? This is a fun, informal quiz to use for this purpose. Rate your improvement from 1 to 4, with 4 being the most improved. Leave it blank if it doesn’t apply to you. Take the results to your therapist for discussion.

LIFE ISSUES*:

__Self Esteem

__Ability to reach Life Goals

__Personal Safety

__Your work or career

__Level of happiness

__Intelligence

__Use of your talents

__Sense of Humor

__Ability to care for others

__Personal self-care/Attractiveness

__Ability to make friends

__Relationships (friends)

__Relationships (family)

__Getting along with coworkers

__Taking time for you

__Treating yourself well

__Putting your needs first

__Taking care of your body

__Not getting overly tired

__Taking care of yourself when ill

__Eating well

__Sleeping enough

__Exercising regularly

__Appropriate alcohol use (or none at all)

Track your progress on a regular basis. Therapy is all about improving your life and making it the best it can be!

(Adapted from It’s My Life Now by M. Dugan)

From Maesk Counseling in Fort Lauderdale - Emotional Support Animal Evaluation

An Emotional Support Animal (E.S.A.) can help with a variety of psychological issues, and can provide a source of comfort and grounding.  Most typically, though not always, Emotional Support Animals are dogs or cats.

Registering your pet as an Emotional Support Animal on a website will NOT afford you any protections.  In order to be qualify for an Emotional Support Animal, you must be evaluated by a licensed mental health professional.

There are two main benefits of having an Emotional Support Animal.  The first is that under The Air Carrier Access Act of 1986, you are allowed to have the animal fly with you in the airplane’s cabin.  The pet must be able to fit on your lap or under the seat in front of you.  The airline is also prohibited from charging you extra for your Emotional Support Animal.

The second is that under The Fair Housing Act of 1988, those who have an Emotional Support Animal can still qualify for housing, primarily an apartment or condo, that has a “no pets” rule. This extends to all types of limits imposed on housing, such as housing that sets a “certain size” or “breed-specific” types of limits.

Maesk Group Counseling can provide you with an Emotional Support Animal Prescription Letter for either air travel, housing or both.  The process is simple and straightforward.

First, you simply call or email Maesk Group Counseling to schedule an evaluation.  In some cases, evaluations can be done by phone or video conference as long as your primary residence is within the state of Florida.

Second, you will meet with Doug Maesk, LMHC, either in person or via the alternate methods just described, who will conduct a thorough diagnostic assessment.  This is designed to assess your symptoms, gather history,  and determine if you meet the criteria for a mental or emotional disability recognized by the DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.) Examples of a qualifying disability are depression, anxiety, PTSD, insomnia, etc.  The assessment will also determine if an Emotional Support Animal helps to mitigate your symptoms.  

Finally, you will be presented with a Prescription Letter for your Emotional Support Animal which you can present to an airline or homeowner’s association/condo board.

Get started today - and bring your pet in with you!  Call Maesk Group Counseling at 954-353-4680 to schedule your Emotional Support Animal Evaluation.