Maria Sikoutris Di Iorio 

MA, EdS, MFT, LPC

Clinical Director

Ask Maria

What is Sandplay Therapy?


Sandplay therapy is a nonverbal, therapeutic intervention that makes use of a sandbox, toy figures, and sometimes water, to create scenes of miniature worlds that reflect a person’s inner thoughts, struggles, and concerns. This form of play therapy is practiced along with talk therapy, using the sandbox and figures as communication tools. It is very effective with young children. Sandplay therapy is often used with those who have suffered some form of trauma, neglect, or abuse. Although sandplay is especially well suited for working with young children, who often cannot express their inner feelings in words, it is also a technique that is helpful for some teens and adults who are having trouble expressing themselves and who may have suffered some form of severe trauma. Sandplay therapy takes place in box-like containers referred to as sand trays. The trays are filled with sand that clients use, along with miniature toys, to create a play world that reflects some aspect of real people and real experiences in their own lives. The client chooses from a large collection of toys and builds a small “world” in the tray that reflects what is going on in their lives. The therapist observes the choice and arrangement of toys without interruption, allowing the person to find answers within themselves. After sandplay is completed, the client and therapist analyze and discuss the client’s toy choices, their arrangement pattern in the sand, and their symbolic or metaphoric meanings. Upon discussion, the client often chooses to make changes to the world they have created in sand. Sandplay therapy may consist of a single session or last as long as several years.




Should I Wait Until Kids Are Older to Divorce?


I’m often asked about divorce and the impact it has on children vs adult children. It is a common belief that divorce will not be as difficult for adult children as opposed to a younger child. Many parents will wait until their child is off to college and believe this to be a good time since they are out of the house. For many adult children the experience of going off to college is new. They are approaching unknown territory, whether it be in or out of state, establishing new friendships, living on their own for the first time, etc., leaving them somewhat vulnerable. Knowing that they can return home for holiday’s and weekends can provide stability and comfort to them even with the knowledge that their parents are not on the best of terms. Family stability as well as family traditions are important at all times regardless of age. College experience is over-whelming, let alone discovering that your parent’s are now divorcing. They begin to experience the loss of their parents being together and the additional loss of the family unit that has been in place for many years. This is not to say that young children are not impacted by the loss of the family, however, younger children tend to be more resilient and bounce back faster than older children who have lived with their parents for many years. Parents tend to protect the younger children while divorcing as opposed to the older children, assuming as adults they are aware of the circumstances and are better able to handle the transition. However, adult children tend to take on some of the responsibility and take an active role in the process and become involved in caretaking. This causes stress, tension and oftentimes resentment. On the other hand, if children whether young or adult witness their parents constant fighting, it can be devastating and more harmful than the actual divorce. I often hear children express a sense of relief once the divorce is announced. Every situation is truly unique and a myriad of factors need to be weighed such as timing, age of your children, safety for you and your children, financial ability to split up as well as other resources on hand. However, divorced parents must fulfill their responsibilities to their children whether young or adult children. Every child whose parents divorce has: The right to love and be loved by both of their parents without feeling guilt or disapproval. The right to be protected from their parents’ anger with each other. The right to be kept out of the middle of their parents’ conflict, including the right not to choose sides, carry messages, or hear complaints about the other parent. The right not to have to choose one of their parents over the other. The right not to have to be responsible for the burden of either of their parents’ emotional problems. The right to know well in advance about important changes that will affect their life; for example, when one of the parents is going to move or get remarried. The right to reasonable financial support during their childhood and through your college years. The right to have feelings, to be able to express their feelings and to have both parents listen to how you feel. The right to have a life that is as close as possible to what it would have been if their parents stayed together. Divorce is never easy. It is probably one of the most challenging and stressful times one can experience. What can affect one in a very profound way, may not affect another. We each process loss differently. It is always best to speak to a licensed professional for emotional support and guidance during these difficult times.




How Do I Talk With Kids About the Ariana Grande Concert Explosion in Manchester?


Whether you are very young, adolescent, teenager or even an adult the music of Ariana Grande has a catchy tune that we can all sing along to. Concerts are supposed to be fun and safe. On May 22 in Manchester, England, at the Ariana Grande concert, an explosion took place that killed 22 and injured 59. Millions of parents are facing the question of how do I explain this to my teen? It is important to share the facts when asked what occurred and to limit vivid upsetting media to the younger child. Teens and older kids are able to view much of the story on the internet, cell phones, etc. Many of our children may be able to relate because they recently attended a concert and can personalize the incident with “what if”? Talking this through with them is essential and we want to validate their feelings, not dismiss them. Many safety questions will arise. Reassuring your children that they are safe and that everyone around them whose job is to keep them safe is doing just that is an important discussion. Keep in mind giving age appropriate information. A 3-year old, 7-year old or even a 10 year old doesn’t really need to know a lot of the details. Ariana Grande is a tween icon, and if parents turn off the news on the attack, kids can still follow social media. Pre-adolescents and adolescents are at a very vulnerable age developmentally so it is so important to talk to them about what they already know and how they feel. Talk with your children about how there are things in this world that we cannot predict, bad things do happen. We live in a world where people can get hurt. You can get hurt getting out of bed in the morning. It’s important for parents to model good coping skills. They will look to you to see how you deal with the uncertainty of life. Let them know that you do everything you can to keep them safe and that authorities are doing the same. Help your child figure out some ways to take action to fight violence in our world. Perhaps getting involved in anti-bullying programs, find out whether their school has a group of volunteer students to help out in emergency situations, inform and educate your child on how to report suspicious activities or situations. We all feel better when we are able to take a tragic event such as this and do something positive to make a change.




How Do I Set Healthy Boundaries?


We all have personal boundaries. Our boundary defines who we are and determines how we are able to interact and relate to the world, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. My boundary lets me know where I end and you begin. My boundary allows me to express who I am and allows you to do the same. Boundaries exist for our protection. When our boundaries are intact, we know that we have separate feelings, thoughts and realties. If we grew up in a dysfunctional family, inconsistency and various forms of abuse influenced our ability to form and maintain our boundaries. We also have difficulty identifying the boundaries of others. Damaged boundaries is another symptom of codependency. When we have a lack of boundaries it becomes difficult to distinguish self from others. I feel my feelings and all your feelings too. I begin to define myself according to your definition. I lose my own identity. My feelings are your feelings, my thoughts are your thoughts, and I behave the way I think you want me to. I lose my own sense of self and cannot define myself. I live my life through you. You need an internal boundary so you can detach enough to accurately hear what another person tells you about who he or she is, and you can separate that person’s feelings and thoughts from your own. With a good internal boundary, you can be in a relationship without projecting your own skewed interpretations onto the other person or allowing that person’s fear or pain, for instance, to become your own and overwhelm you. And an intact internal boundary is especially helpful and necessary when someone is confronting you. Emotional boundaries protect us like an internal shield, helping us determine which emotions are ours, and letting us deflect emotions that are not ours. When we have healthy emotional boundaries, we can honestly determine our feelings about any situation, person, place, or thing. If we take responsibility for expressing our emotions and notice the impact of our behavior on others, we have healthy emotional boundaries. With healthy boundaries you can truly detach from other people while staying in caring relationships. You can begin to choose your own behavior, thinking, and feeling. Learning to set healthy boundaries is a very big part of recovery from codependence. Learning to set healthy boundaries usually takes time, practice and patience and does not happen overnight.




Why is saying “No” Difficult and Why Does it Make Us Feel Guilty?


Some of us may derive our sense of self by doing things for others. When this becomes extreme and we cannot say “no” for fear of not being liked, we lose our own identity. People pleasing or caretaking are learned behaviors to take care of others’ needs at the expense of their own. The inability to say no may be linked to the self esteem you think you earn by doing things for others. Since your self esteem seems to depend on the things you do for other people, your reluctance to say “no” is understandable. Saying “no” probably makes you feel guilty or selfish because you equate it with disappointing and letting others down. After years of saying “yes” we have taught others that we will “take on” whatever it might be, after all, it is expected that we comply. Some examples of caretaking are: doing what isn’t our responsibility and what we don’t want to do, doing what people are capable of doing – and need to do – for themselves, meeting people’s needs without them asking for help, getting involved in what isn’t our business, doing more than our share when someone asks us to help, facing people’s consequences so they can avoid them, taking care of people’s feelings or problems; and neglecting our own and giving more than receiving instead of mutual giving. When it becomes time to “change the rules”, it is necessary to inform and gently let our friends and family members know that we have decided to take time for ourselves. When you are faced with any request or invitation from another person, your immediate response will be to say “yes”, however, delay your response. In order to break your habit of giving an automatic “yes” response to requests from others, you need to delay your answer in order to think through your options carefully. You can simply say “let me get back to you after I check my calendar”, or “this is a bad time right now, let me get back to you”. You have every right to think before you commit yourself to doing anything and this requires some thinking prior to responding. Your intention is to gain some time so that you can make a good choice instead of giving your usual people-pleasing “yes” response. You have become accustomed to thinking that there is only one option – saying “yes”, when someone asks you for something, however, you have other options. You can respond with a “no” or modify what they are asking. For example, someone might ask you to help out for an entire afternoon and you can respond with “I would be able to help for two hours”. Establishing healthy boundaries will not only help you, but help others. What we do not realize is that the more we do for someone else, the more dependent and needy they become. Rather than it being a help, it becomes an enabling behavior. It then leaves us feeling frustrated, overwhelmed and wondering why others always come to us for their needs. Learning to balance our needs and others takes time and practice.




What is an Emotional Affair?


An emotional affair is when you turn to a friend or co-worker for emotional (not physical) intimacy. The seduction is that this person gives you what you feel that your spouse does not: support, ego boosts, playfulness, empathy, flirting, and understanding. This relationship begins in a very innocent way, yet you may begin to share more with this person than with your spouse. You know you are having an emotional affair when: 1) He/She is the first one you want to share good news with; 2) You text a lot; 3) You blow off your friends for him/her; 4) You share secrets or information you haven’t shared with your spouse; 5) You fantasize about him/her; 6) He/She just “gets” you; 7) You plan what your going to wear around him/her; 8) You keep this friendship a secret from your spouse; 9) You start wishing your spouse was more like him/her; 10) You spend significant time alone with him/her. You may think having an emotional affair is different than a physical affair. The major difference between a physical affair and an emotional affair is the actual physical contact. Usually cheating involves people meeting face to face and then engaging in physical intimacy (sex). An emotional affair does not involve sex, however, over time inappropriate behaviors begin to develop. Many people who are emotionally cheating do not consider it to be infidelity. Their thinking is that because there is no physical contact, the behavior cannot be cheating. The result is that the unfaithful spouse is paying more emotional attention to someone other than their spouse and they are removing themselves from the commitment of marriage. An emotional affair can lead to a physical affair. Emotional affairs are hurtful. If you suspect your partner is having an emotional affair or if you are having an emotional affair, know that your marriage requires work and can be improved. Focusing on someone else will not solve the problem. As a matter of fact, if you have not explored what the problem is in your marriage, you will be sure to repeat it again.




How Do I Take Responsibility of Myself?


We all have personal boundaries. Our boundary defines who we are and determines how we are able to interact and relate to the world, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. My boundary lets me know where I end and you begin. My boundary allows me to express who I am and allows you to do the same. Boundaries exist for our protection. When our boundaries are intact, we know that we have separate feelings, thoughts and realties. We are able to say “I” when others are demanding “we”, we are able to contain our reactivity to the reactivity of others, be clear about our own values and goals, to maintain a non-anxious presence in the face of anxious others, and take maximum responsibility for one’s own emotional being and destiny rather than blaming others. When we have a lack of boundaries it becomes difficult to distinguish self from others. I feel my feelings and all your feelings too. I begin to define myself according to your definition. I lose my own identity. My feelings are your feelings, my thoughts are your thoughts, and I behave the way I think you want me to. I lose my own sense of self and cannot define myself. I live my life through you. You need an internal boundary so you can detach enough to accurately hear what another person tells you about who he or she is, and you can separate that person’s feelings and thoughts from your own. With a good internal boundary, you can be in a relationship without projecting your own skewed interpretations onto the other person or allowing that person’s fear or pain, for instance, to become your own and overwhelm you. And an intact internal boundary is especially helpful and necessary when someone is confronting you. Emotional boundaries protect us like an internal shield, helping us determine which emotions are ours, and letting us deflect emotions that are not ours. When we have healthy emotional boundaries, we can honestly determine our feelings about any situation, person, place, or thing and not lose ourselves. If we take responsibility for expressing our emotions and notice the impact of our behavior on others, we have healthy emotional boundaries. With healthy boundaries you can truly detach from other people while staying in caring relationships. You can begin to choose your own behavior, thinking, and feeling. Your relationships will improve. Learning to set healthy boundaries usually takes time, practice and patience and does not happen overnight.




Why Use Genograms to Track Family Patterns?


A genogram is a graphic representation of a family tree that displays detailed information on relationships among individuals. It is more detailed than a family tree and allows the user to analyze hereditary patterns and gather information about family members and their relationships over at least three generations. Genograms contain information such as name, gender, date of birth, education, occupation, major life events, chronic illnesses, emotional relationships, cut-off’s, as well as information on disorders running in the family such as alcoholism, mental illness, depression, etc. Why begin therapy with a genogram? A genogram allows a therapist and his patient to quickly identify and understand certain patterns in the patient’s family history which may have influenced the patient and his/her current relationships and family. Family systems work suggests that therapy based on family-systems principles is more likely to produce desired lasting change than working with individuals. The goal of family systems therapy is for family members to understand and accept their individual responsibility in the emotional functioning of the family unit. By learning to recognize the emotional patterns and how anxiety is handled in the family, individual members can manage themselves in healthier functional ways. If anxiety is present in one family member, it can easily spread to others within the family. Learning about your family history is an exciting way to gain insight about yourself and your family members. At the Hellenic Therapy Center, 567 Park Avenue, Scotch Plains, New Jersey we offer individual, family and marriage therapy. It is very common for us to invite family members into our sessions so that we can track patterns in the family system. We believe that when one person is affected in the family system, it also affects other members in the family. We begin all our therapy sessions with genograms whether we are working with individuals and/or families or couples.




How Do Behaviors Affect Self-Esteem?


Any activity, substance, object, or behavior that becomes the major focus of a person’s life to the exclusion of other activities or has begun to harm the individual whether it be physically, mentally or socially is considered an addictive behavior. A person can become addicted to anything whether it be shopping, surfing the internet, food, alcohol, drugs, compulsive gambling, sex, work, running, or even another person. Most of us have at one time or another been “hopelessly devoted” to someone or have experienced some kind of obsessive attraction. Most of us also know what it feels like to believe “I’ve just got to have that “whatever”; and most of us have felt hysterical or upset because someone didn’t agree with us or give us what we wanted. If you have ever violated your values and ignored responsibilities to pursue an overpowering desire, then you understand the feeling of addiction. Codependency frequently underlies addiction. A codependent person is someone whose core identity is undeveloped or unknown, and who maintains a false identity built from dependent attachments to external sources – a partner, a spouse, a boyfriend, family, appearances, work or rules. Codependency is essentially an addiction to security. There are some common characteristics of addictive behaviors: Depression is common in individuals with addictive behaviors Low Self Esteem Person hides the behavior Person does not appear to have control as to when, how long, or how much he or she will continue the behavior The person becomes obsessed with the object, person, activity or substance The person will seek out the behavior even though they know it is causing harm with themselves and others In therapy we work through many of these issues and study the family of origin because; depending on the individual; it is often helpful to understand how these behaviors were passed down. Other approaches include cognitive behavioral therapy, 12 step programs, family work and building self esteem. Individuals lacking in self esteem are likely to be very easily influenced by their environment or attracted to addictions. If the environment is perceived as unfavorable, their self esteem is lowered. Individuals with high self esteem are less influenced by the environment. They feel that they can master the environment and, thus, their self esteem is relatively stable. At the Hellenic Therapy Center we strive to promote a healthy self esteem.




How Do I Resolve Conflict in a Marriage/Partnership?


Most people believe that in a healthy relationship, conflict does not exist. This is not true. It is necessary to have conflict since no two people are alike. Avoiding conflict rather than discussing problems in a respectful manner can build up until one is ready to explode. Constructive conflict permits no mention or questioning of the basic foundation on which the relationship rests. In a constructive marital conflict, neither spouse raises doubt about the presence or degree of commitment or fidelity nor whether there is mutual love and respect. Threatening words such as separation or divorce have no place in a constructive marital conflict. Some couples interrupt, roll their eyes, and rehearse what they’re going to say next instead of truly listening and attempting to understand their partner. Once the foundation of any relationship is called into question, the conflict turns destructive. Constructive conflicts are safe and productive. They produce new agreements based on deeper mutual understanding. Constructive conflicts, unlike those that are destructive, reach an endpoint in the form of resolution. People pleasers try to avoid conflict. Avoiding conflict can be related to conflicts in the past or your upbringing. Chronic conflict avoidance through people pleasing can be destructive. Overcoming your fear of conflict and learning new ways to confront in a healthy way are essential in a good marriage. Many people pleasers fear conflict and feelings of anger. They have a desire to be liked, therefore, raising conflict or dissatisfaction, is unheard of and instead withhold their thoughts and feelings. Couples who can weather problems and develop effective solutions generally experience confidence that they are able to resolve their issues, grow stronger in their relationships, and experience true intimacy.




What Is The Truth About Self-Esteem?


Self Esteem is a way of thinking, feeling and acting that implies that you accept, respect, trust, and believe in yourself. When you accept yourself, you can live comfortably with both your personal strengths and weaknesses without undue self criticism. When you respect yourself you acknowledge your own dignity and value as a unique human being. You treat yourself well in much the same way you would treat someone else you respect. Self-trust means that your behaviors and feelings are consistent enough to give you an inner sense of continuity and coherence despite changes and challenges in your external circumstances. To believe in yourself means that you feel you deserve to have the good things in life. It also means that you have confidence that you can fulfill your deepest personal needs, aspirations, and goals. The truth about self esteem is that it needs to come from within. When self esteem is low, the deficiency creates a feeling of emptiness that you may try to fill by latching on – often compulsively - to something external that provides a temporary sense of satisfaction and fulfillment. When the quest to fill your inner emptiness by appropriating something from outside becomes desperate, repetitive, or automatic, you have what is called an addiction. Addiction is an attachment to something or someone outside yourself that you feel you need to provide a sense of inner satisfaction or relief. Frequently this attachment substitutes preoccupation with a substance or activity for healthy human relationships. It may also substitute a temporary feeling of control or power for a more lasting sense of inner confidence and strength. A healthy alternative to addiction is to work on building your self esteem. Growing in self esteem means developing confidence and strength from within. While still enjoying life fully, you no longer need to appropriate or identify with something or someone outside yourself to feel okay. The basis for your self worth is internal. As such, it is much more lasting and stable.




What Happens When Couples Argue?


Marriage therapy focuses on the conflicts and disagreements between two people. The difference between a happily married couple or unhappy couple frequently involves the ability to discuss and resolve those differences in a positive manner that respects the interests and needs of each individual. Happily married couples understand their own and partners emotional triggers that contribute to unnecessary anxiety, frustration and resentment in relationships. Happily married couples are characterized by respect, affection, and empathy. They pay close attention to what’s happening in each other’s life and they feel emotionally connected. Common unhealthy, damaging relationship communications usually include interactions such as: Defense responses Emotional triggers (when you find yourself in a place of over-reaction, be on the lookout for your own emotional triggers) Dragging old information or experiences into a current argument Put-downs, name calling (criticisms) Hostility, or verbal or physical attacks on the other person Lack of communication Lack of intimacy (sexual problems) Withdrawal Infidelity Control Issues Anger and Temper Issues Stress can add to marriage conflict. For example, the stress of caring for a new baby, loss of interest in sex and romance, health problems, exhaustion from working too hard, the loss of a job, death, or caring for elderly parents. Conflict/stress is inevitable in any marriage and some problems never get solved. But some couples do not get stuck in their separate positions. They keep talking with each other about the conflicts. They listen respectfully to their partner’s perspectives and they find compromises that work for both. At Hellenic Therapy Center we specialize in marriage therapy. At the first session we will see you together, though oftentimes we will also ask to see each person individually. The goals of marriage counseling are generally to help the couple: Improve communication patterns Develop empathetic, active listening skills Improve problem-solving skills Resolve conflicts in ways that meet the needs of both partners Resolve differences Behave like good friends




How Can I Build a Better Relationship with My Child?


One way to help children belong is to focus on building positive relationships with them. Strong positive relationships can go a long way toward helping children learn to cooperate and be responsible. Four ingredients of strong relationships are: Showing respect Having fun Giving encouragement Showing love Parents often complain that their children do not respect them. Yet many times, adults show children a lack of respect by nagging, yelling, hitting or talking down. They will do things for their children that they can do for themselves and at times will follow a double standard. Doing too much for children teaches dependency, not self reliance. In a democratic family, no one is considered more or less important than anyone else. You show respect when you treat your child like an equal. This does not mean that you are not in charge; it is your job to guide your child, however, you can do it respectfully. Democratic parenting encourages children to make some decisions alone. They ask for their children’s ideas about some family decisions too. This shows children that parents respect their opinions also. Many parents find it difficult to let go as their child begins to explore and become a “self”. Parents will pick out their clothing, make decisions for them and prevent them from making mistakes. Mistakes are essential for children. Mistakes offer us the opportunity to learn. You can’t grow if you don’t allow yourself to make mistakes. The trick is always to focus on what you’ve learned from it and hopefully not make the same mistake again. Having fun might seem impossible in our busy daily lives. Keep it simple. It doesn’t have to be a big project. Even the busiest of families can add fun to their daily lives. Spend a least a short time each day with your child whether you play a game, toss a ball or read at bedtime. Giving encouragement is essential so that children can feel capable, loved and to trust their own decisions. Children need to feel good about themselves. Every child is unique. Your child has many special and wonderful qualities. When you notice these qualities and point them out, your child will feel encouraged. You can’t say “I love you” enough. Begin your day by telling them you love them and end your day with saying it. Children need hugs and pats on the back in order to feel secure and loved. You show love by your words and your actions. Help build a healthy self esteem for your child.




How Does My Thinking Affect How I Feel?


How you think affects your emotions, feelings, relationships with others and your overall happiness in life. The way in which you think can lead you to talking yourself into, or out of, certain emotions or behaviors. Your thinking about events that occur in your life often dictates how you feel and act. It can either build a healthy or unhealthy self esteem. Two people can have the same exact situation happen to them and react to it entirely differently. Losing a job for example can make a person distraught, depressed and angry. Whereas, another person may experience it as a good opportunity to explore other options and eventually find a better job. If you become aware and recognize your errors in thinking, called cognitive distortions, you are in better shape to change your thinking. Changing your thinking in turn may have a positive impact on both your emotions and your behaviors. Learning to identify and change distortions in thinking can help you overcome negative emotions and enhance your self esteem. Some common distortions of thinking are: Black and white thinking – this refers to seeing things in all-or-none categories; Making things worse than they really are – this refers to making “mountains out of molehills”; Overgeneralizing – this type of thinking is one in which you reach a general conclusion based on a single-experience; Expecting the worst to happen – ignoring the possible positive outcomes of a situation and focus instead on the negatives….”worst case scenario”; Ignoring the positive – ignoring and minimizing your achievements, strengths, or positive traits; Jumping to conclusions –when you react too quickly before having the facts of a situation ….”mind reading”; Emotional reasoning – this type of distorted thinking happens when you assume that your negative feelings reflect the way things really are; Should or must statements – rigid rules you set regarding your behavior; Mislabeling – mislabeling yourself with a negative label. – labeling self a “failure”; Personalizing – taking responsibility for events and situations that aren’t really your responsibility. Once you are aware of your particular beliefs and errors in thinking, you are in a better position to take steps to challenge illogical or irrational beliefs or thoughts, or conclusions you reach that are based on insufficient evidence.




What is People Pleasing?


As you were growing up you may not have learned how to take good care of yourself. In fact, much of your attention may have been in taking care of others or on just getting by. People Pleasing is a term that refers to taking care of others’ needs rather than taking care of ourselves. People often confuse “people pleasing” with being unselfish and make comments such as “I am not a selfish person”. However, always putting other people’s needs before your own can exhaust you. By caring for others at your own expense, you are inviting illness, depression, stress and other illnesses. Always doing for others when you really wish you could say “no” instead of “yes” sets up resentment. We begin to feel angry and resentful especially when we ask that particular person for a favor in return, and they cannot accommodate us. The other extreme is being selfish. Being completely selfish requires always putting your needs first and foremost, even stepping on others to get what you want. What we do recommend is “self interest” and what this means is taking good care of yourself, even putting your needs first at times, while considering the needs of others. The best balance in relationships is to give and receive. Your own needs, desires and ideas are just as important as anyone else’s. Begin today to take good care of yourself. Take time to do things you enjoy, give yourself rewards, take time to exercise, eat healthy, enroll in a yoga class, art class, spend time with people who make you feel good and practice saying “ NO”. Those who have a problem saying “NO” have difficulty affirming themselves and exercising their ability to form and maintain personal boundaries. When people say “YES” when they really want to say “NO”, self esteem erodes. Such behavior conveys the attitude, “your feelings are more important than mine.” Pay close attention to your own needs and wants and listen to your “inner voice.”




How Can Anxiety Affect All In The Family?


There are two types of anxiety, acute and chronic. Acute anxiety occurs on a daily basis. Examples are the reactions we get to stressors such as being late for a meeting, a child waking up with a cold/illness, minor car accidents, financial worries, etc. Chronic anxiety is more of a background of anxiety that we carry with us. Much of this type of anxiety is programmed into us during our years in our family of origin, a level of anxiety that was/is usual for the family. We carry it around like a bad habit … it is more or less automatic. We seem to pass it along to other family members including our children. If the family anxiety tends to settle in a child, the child will develop a symptom (either physical, mental/emotional, or social). The onset of the symptom will add to the parents anxiety. They will begin to worry and the more they worry, the more the child becomes anxious. When a family becomes stressed, everyone feels anxious. The anxiety moves easily from person to person in the family. Anxiety that affects one, affects all. Anxiety affects your whole being. It is a physiological, behavioral, and psychological reaction all at once. On a physiological level, anxiety may include bodily reactions such as rapid heartbeat, ability to act, express your self or deal with everyday situations. Psychologically, anxiety is a state of uneasiness. In most extreme cases, it can cause you to feel detached from yourself. A complete program of recovery from an anxiety disorder must address all three levels to reduce physiological reactivity, eliminate avoidance behavior and change your inner voice (self talk) from negative to positive. Symptoms of anxiety include shortness of breath, rapid heart beat or irregular heart beat, shaking, numbness, sweating and dizziness. When you can reduce your own anxiety, you will notice a significant difference within your family members. When you become less reactive, there are less symptoms and the family is freer to be the best it can be.




How Do I Deal With Addictions and Recovery?


You don’t recover from an addiction by stopping using. You recover by creating a new life where it is easier to not use. If you do not create a new life for yourself, then all the factors that led you to your addiction will eventually catch up with you again. You don’t have to change everything in your life. But there are a few things and behaviors that have been getting you into trouble and they will continue to get you into trouble until you let them go. The more you try to hold onto your old life, the less successful you will be. Some important common things that people need to change in order to achieve recovery are high risk situations. Knowing yourself well enough to identify loneliness, tiredness, hungry, anger, is key in maintaining sobriety. We help you be proactive and provide the tools and skills you will need with a focus on relapse prevention through cognitive and behavioral techniques. Recovery is an opportunity to change your life. Changing your life is what makes recovery both difficult and rewarding. Recovery is difficult because you have to change your life, and all change is difficult. Recovery is also rewarding because you get the chance to change your life. At the Hellenic Therapy Center we offer “Recovery Support Groups”. Our groups are limited to 10 participants. In these groups we teach self empowerment and self reliance. Meetings are confidential, educational, supportive and include open discussions. Call us at 908-322-0112 for further information on date and times.





© Hellenic Therapy Center

maria@hellenictherapy.com

567 Park Ave, Suite 203

Scotch Plains, NJ 07076

Hours of Operations:

Monday - Friday 8am-9pm

Saturday 8am-2pm

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