Anger and Divorce: a better way

Here is a great article by author and Licensed Professional Counselor, Pamela Milam, on reframing anger and other negative emotions following a divorce or break-up.
http://tracycoopercounselingblog.wordpress.com/2013/06/12/the-angry-ex-tips-for-self-respect-fairness-and-insight/

Mental Health Therapy and Cancer

Cancer-2Mental health counseling and therapy can obviously be helpful when dealing with the anxiety and depression a patient may experience after first hearing a cancer diagnosis, but counseling can be essential later also, after the initial shock is gone.  Some patients handle the initial crisis stage quite well, but then struggle emotionally once treatment is completed.

When I was a cancer patient, I had a large red X on my calendar that showed me The Last Day Of Treatment.  It was almost always the first topic of conversation with fellow cancer patients.  We each asked of the other, “How many more rounds of chemo do you have?” or “When is your last day of radiation?”, etc., as we all eagerly looked forward to that last day.

As the last day came and went, I began to feel better physically, a little stronger each day. Psychologically, however, I began to experience some surprising new anxiety.  During treatment, my fears where assuaged with thoughts of “I am fighting this!” and “My doctors and nurses are doing everything they possibly can to help cure me.”  Once I was no longer seeing a medical professional weekly, I began to feel much more alone with my cancer.

Lidia Schapira, MD, medical oncologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, describes a patient’s coping with the end of active cancer treatment as follows:

Typically, there is a surge in anxiety and worry over the possibility that the cancer will return once active treatment is completed. Often, people feel they are not doing enough to actively fight the cancer.  People often want to know what signs to look for to detect a cancer recurrence (return) as early as possible and recognize the long-term side effects of treatment. 

If you are in treatment now, or know someone in treatment, remember the transition from cancer patient to cancer survivor can be a difficult one.  Some common symptoms of anxiety during this transition are:

  • worry about recurrence
  • worry about finances
  • thinking about dying young, before you expected
  • loss of ability to plan for the future
  • poor body image or self esteem
  • thoughts of “why me?”
  • blaming self and feeling “deserving” of the cancer
  • anger over the losses of time for treatment
  • fear of the long-term side effects of the treatments
  • fear of ongoing fatigue and weakness
  • inability to handle social situations
Mental health counseling or therapy can be beneficial during this critical time of transition.  One of the goals of the therapy will be to help the patient recognize, process, and reframe the anxiety-producing thoughts above.  The therapist can help the patient learn to work through the anxiety of transitioning into survivorship, and learn to celebrate the joys of the present.
Remember, the fight is not over once the treatment ends.  For some patients, an equally difficult struggle remains.  Mental health counseling can help ease this struggle.

Therapy for Managing Depression, Anger and Aggression

Classic Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy models are based on the assumption that thoughts(cognitive processes) dictate feelings.  Those feelings then dictate behaviors (or actions).

450px-Fire-lite-bg-10Here is a basic example:
A fire alarm goes off in a hotel at night
.

Person A thinks:  some kids pulled the alarm and now I am awake!
Person A feelsanger at the kids andannoyance about being awake.

Person B thinks: there must be a fire, I must get out!
Person B feelsfear of being trapped in the fire, worry about how to escape

Person C thinks: I remember when my friends and I liked to pull the fire alarm.
Person C feelsunderstanding of kids having fun and comfortable to go back to sleep.

You CAN control you thoughts, which leads to the ability to have more positive feelings.

Christy Motta, MA summarizes a Cognitive-Behavioral approach to dealing with aggression below:

In the case of aggression, the individual must change the perceptions and beliefs that contribute to increased anger. In order to do this, the individual must: 1. Cope with arousal. The first step is to identify (observe) what is happening. The individual must become aware of when they are angry and notice the physical sensations and thoughts that accompany it.

2. Replace problem thoughts with thoughts that are helpful in dealing with PROVOCATION. “This could be rough, but I can deal with it” “easy does it” “Live and let live” “Stick to the issues. Don’t take it personally.”

3. Modify problem thoughts to those that are helpful in dealing with CONFRONTATION. “keep my cool, walk away, take a time out” “I don’t need to prove myself” “There’s no point in getting mad”

4. Change appraisals and reflections AFTER A CONFRONTATION.

a. Unresolved: “They don’t have to agree” “let it go” “don’t take it personally”
b. Resolved. Label (Describe) what happened. Praise self.

People frequently need some external limits in order to identify their aggression as a problem and begin actively working on modifying their thoughts. Probation, the risk of losing housing and the risk of losing important valued relationships are common consequences that get people thinking about their aggression.