Characteristics of an Effective Clinical Supervisor

“It was the bad supervisors who taught me what NOT to do.”
Are you an effective clinical supervisor? What is helpful… and unhelpful in supervision? Read about Reddit users’ experiences with clinical supervision, including the traits of “bad” supervisors.

By Cassie Jewell, LPC, LSATP

Shortly after being trained and approved as a clinical supervisor, I took on my first supervisee (whom I’ll call “DM”). I was confident in my abilities and knowledge as a counselor, but quickly learned it takes more than skill or expertise to provide effective supervision.

In one of my first sessions with DM, I inadvertently offended her (and thereby damaged our newly forming rapport). We were discussing personal and professional growth, which led to a “bucket list” discussion. I shared how I’d always wanted to do a police ride-along; DM immediately stated that as an African American woman, this was distasteful to her. Unfortunately, I missed my cue and continued to talk about how exciting it would be. Meanwhile, she felt disrespected. In this instance, I got carried away with talking about myself and my interests, ignoring her feelings on the subject. I came across as ignorant, in the least, and at worst, culturally insensitive or uncaring.  

Another time, I suggested that DM (who held a doctorate degree in counseling) stop referring to herself as “Dr. ____,” as it caused confusion when coordinating with outside agencies. Once again, she felt upset and misunderstood. She later explained that I failed to take into account all she had overcome to earn that degree. It was more than a title to her; it represented triumph in the face of adversity. Furthermore, it was a piece of her identity as a helper and as a role model to African American women. Although well-intended, my suggestion was offensive on several levels. In hindsight, I could have explored how she viewed herself as a professional or simply asked why she called herself “Dr. ____” before commenting.  


Self-awareness is crucial for effective supervision and self-care is essential for coping with stress.   

More recently, a different supervisee (whom I supervise both clinically and administratively) told me that I had been acting out of character by “harping” on her about completing various assignments. I checked myself and was able to recognize my high level of stress was indeed impacting our interactions. Self-awareness is crucial for effective supervision and self-care is essential for coping with stress.   

Reversing roles, looking back on supervisors I had in grad school and as a new counselor, I can recall what was beneficial and what wasn’t (or was annoying/upsetting/disturbing… even unethical). What helped the most was direct feedback, along with specific suggestions for improvement. Constructive criticism, while unpleasant, made me a better clinician (and probably a better person). Feeling supported and having my doubts or fears normalized was also helpful.


The bad supervisors taught me what not to do.

On the flip side, unhelpful, “bad,” supervisors were the ones who rambled on about their clients, micromanaged, were punitive, or who never met for supervision. There was even one who called me a hurtful name; the comment came from a misunderstanding, but I took it to heart. It was inappropriate and unprofessional; I carried it for a long time. The bad supervisors taught me what not to do.  

This post was inspired by my desire to learn more about what makes supervision effective. I looked to Reddit for others’ experiences and opinions and asked what’s most (and least) helpful in clinical supervision.

Gr8minds is a master’s student and MFT trainee who wrote, “For myself, what I find most helpful is when my supervisor shares questions I may have not thought of about the client’s case. This really helps give a second pair of eyes and I can take those into the next session.”

Questions are as fundamental to supervision as they are to the counseling process. A question inspires contemplation and may lead to a new understanding. An effective supervisor asks thoughtful questions about the client, their upbringing, their beliefs, etc., providing the supervisee with valuable tools to use with their clients.

RomeRawr, a doctoral student, shared about a self-centered supervisor who used sessions to talk about their clients instead of promoting the supervisee’s growth. “What I’ve found least helpful is my supervisor complaining to me about clients. Not conferencing, or asking my opinion, but just complaining to unload.”

A supervisor who complains/vents about clients should not be in a supervisory role. It’s one thing to consult, but to complain shows a lack of empathy and professionalism. It makes me question why that person is even in the field.

To an extent, I can relate; I previously mentioned a “bad” supervisor who, while he didn’t complain, regularly discussed his difficult cases in group supervision. This is how it would go: Dr. BS (Bad Supervisor) would present a case and then seek our (the students’) opinions. He had the audacity to take notes. When we were provided with (rare) opportunities to talk about our clients, he’d make comparisons to his private practice… and seek advice (un-cleverly disguised in the form of, “Well, what do you think you [I] should do?”)

While it can be helpful for a supervisor to share client stories, it should only be as a teaching tool (or to convey empathy). Similarly, a counselor should self-disclose for the client’s benefit, never their own.

grace_avalon, clinical counselor, holds a master’s degree and has been licensed in Minnesota for over a year. “I’ve had so many supervisors. The best ones worked me hard, required consultation with every DA (a word-for-word transcript of a counseling session)… [were] highly involved and observed me closely, tirelessly… and responded neutrally and understood my tears. We met privately, which was pivotal to growth.”


A supervisor can’t be a gatekeeper if they don’t know to close the gate.

An effective supervisor expresses empathy; they’re not reactive. An effective supervisor is also dedicated; they strive to help the supervisee by observing his/her interactions with clients and/or reviewing lengthy transcripts. A lazier supervisor might give advice/feedback based solely on the supervisee’s report, which is subjective. There’s a place for this in supervision, but it can’t be the only method of assessing a supervisee’s skill. Reviewing recorded sessions or transcripts is time-consuming (and, not gonna lie, boring), but imperative for a counselor’s growth. (It should also be noted that a supervisor can’t be a gatekeeper if they don’t know to close the gate.)

_PINK-FREUD_ is a clinical psychology doctorate student (with an MA in clinical psychology) who provides therapy to children, adolescents, and families. “My most helpful supervisor taught me to examine how my history comes into the room with clients. For example, my very first client told me something painful about a learning disorder and I responded with humor. Basically achieved the polar opposite of attunement. The footage was cringeworthy af. She didn’t shame me about it (of course, I was shaming myself anyway), but just inquired as to why I did that I realized I’ve dealt with my own LD with humor and by “laughing it off,” which led me to automatically and inappropriately apply that same response to my client… That supervisor showed me to move past the shame of making mistakes and towards understanding why I made that mistake. She led me through that process of self-examination countless times, and it taught me to do it independently.”

Being aware, both self and of what the client/supervisee is experiencing, is a vital component of counseling and supervision. In fact, many of my early (and more recent) mistakes could have been avoided had I been more attuned.

_PINK-FREUD_  also shared, “Another good supervisor trait IMO is someone who does not guess why a mis-step was made. I’m currently working on interrupting my clients more instead of letting them ramble –something I think mainly stems from the very common newbie clinician fear of invalidating or injuring the client. That supervisor pointed out my mis-step, then spoke about my need to “be friends with clients,” which felt off to me. When I tried to express that, I was perceived as defensive about having poor boundaries. It really broke my trust with that supervisor. I felt that he had made blind judgments about my underlying motivations for responses without listening to my explanation. It made it difficult for me to go to him for help with tough cases as I was afraid of the conclusions he would jump to. ASK, don’t tell your students for their motivations. It builds trust that you seek to understand them and also teaches them how to do this independently.”

Similarly, it broke trust when one of my “bad” supervisors called me a name. She made an assumption based on a blind judgment. Assumptions, sometimes true, but more than often not, have no place in supervision (or counseling). Going back to awareness, it’s important for a supervisor to recognize when they’re making assumptions.

alfredo094, an undergraduate student, shared that as a supervisee, “having [a supervisor] that knows me very well and listens to everything that happened to the session in detail is important.”

As counselors, we listen to what our clients say. By listening, we learn and are able to provide support and guidance. The same is true for supervisors. Listening and being fully present with the supervisee will help him/her to become a better counselor.

What are some of your experiences in supervision? Share in a comment!

Top 40 Most Disturbing Mental Health Posts on Quora

What questions are people asking about mental health? Quora posts indicate that misconceptions and myths related to mental illness and addiction prevail. Read the top 40 most unsettling questions on Quora.com.

By Cassie Jewell, LPC, LSATP

I conducted a Facebook poll to ask about knowledge of mental health. A majority of the respondents (83%) viewed themselves as “very or quite knowledgeable.” Only 17% of those polled reported having little (or no) knowledge.

However, it’s unlikely that my small sample size is representative of the general population. There are many common myths out there about mental health and addiction.

I turned to Quora (an online platform for asking questions) to see what individuals who view themselves as less informed may be asking about mental illness. What I found ranged from thought-provoking to comical to disturbing.

Continue reading for 40 of the most unsettling inquiries I came across. The following Quora question posts illustrate some of the misconceptions surrounding mental disorders.

1. “Is mental illness really an illness?”

2. “Is mental illness catchable?”

3. “Do people with mental disorders have friends?”

4. “Are people who self-harm just looking for attention?”

5. “Is drug addiction really just a lack of willpower?”

6. “Can a person be intelligent and a drug addict?”

7. “Should drug addicts be left to die?”

8. “Why can’t drug addicts just stop? What compels a person to continue with a destructive behavior despite the obvious problems their behavior causes?” (Note: Addiction is a brain disease, which is why someone struggling with substance abuse can’t “just stop.”)

9. “Why should one feel sorry or sympathetic for drug addicts, given most of them chose this life?”

10. “Instead of ‘rescuing’ drug addicts who have overdosed, wouldn’t society as a whole benefit from just letting nature take its course?” (If that was the case, shouldn’t we then withhold all types of medical treatment and preventative or life-saving measures… to allow nature to take its course?)

11. “Is there any country in the world that won in the war against drugs by killing the users or the drug addicts?”

12. “Why should we lament drug addicted celebrities dying of drug-related causes? It’s their fault for starting a drug habit.”

13. “Why save drug addicts from overdosing? From my experience they were problems for their families, a drain on society from their teen years, and won’t get better once addicted.” (All diseases are a drain on society to an extent; that doesn’t mean lives aren’t worth saving.)

14. “How do you differentiate between drug addicts and real homeless people when giving money?” (You don’t; find other ways to help.)

15. “What are the best ways to punish an alcoholic?”

16. “Don’t you think it’s time we stop spreading the myth that alcoholism is a disease? You can’t catch it from anyone. One chooses to drink alcohol.”

17. “Why do people who are oppressed/abused never defend themselves and have pride?”

18. “Why don’t I have empathy for people who end up in abusive or unhealthy relationships? I feel that they deserve it for being such a poor judge of character.”

19. “Why do most women put up with domestic violence?” (Most women?? “Put up”??)

20. “Are schizophrenics aware they’re crazy?”

21. “Are schizophrenic people allowed to drive?”

22. “Do people who become schizophrenic become that way because they are morally conflicted?”

23. “Are schizophrenics able to learn?”

24. “Can a schizophrenic be coherent enough to answer a question like ‘What is life like with schizophrenia?’ on Quora?”

25. “Can one ‘catch’ schizophrenia by hanging out too long with schizophrenics?”

26. “Can schizophrenics have normal sex?” (Yes, or kinky, whichever they prefer)

27. “Why do people ignore the positive impact spanking has on raising children?” (See #28)

28. “Is being spoiled as a child a cause of mental illness such as depression?” (No, but spanking is linked to mental disorders and addiction in adulthood.)

29. “Should mentally ill people be allowed to reproduce?”

30. “Should people with mental illness be allowed to vote?”

31. “Are we breeding weakness into the gene pool by treating and allowing people with physical and mental illnesses to procreate?”

32. “Why are we allowing mental illnesses of sexual orientation disturbance and gender identity disorder that were changed for political reasons, to be accepted like race?”

33. “Why do some people with mental illness refuse to work and live off the government when they are perfectly capable of working?”

34. “Why are mentally disturbed women allowed to have children?”

35. “I feel no sympathy for the homeless because I feel like it is their own fault. Are there examples of seemingly “normal” and respectable people becoming homeless?”

36. “How is poverty not a choice? At what point does an individual stop blaming their parents/society/the government and take responsibility for their own life?” (White privilege at its finest)

37. “Why are mental disorders so common nowadays? Is it just an “excuse” to do bad or selfish things?”

38. “Are most ‘crazy’ people really just suffering from a low IQ?”

39. “Why do some people have sympathy for those who commit suicide? It is very cowardly and selfish to take your life.”

40. “Is suicide part of the world’s survival of the fittest theory?”

Please leave your thoughts/feedback in a comment!

Free Printable PDF Workbooks, Manuals, and Self-Help Guides

A resource list for mental health professionals and consumers. Free PDF manuals/workbooks for group and individual therapy or self-help purposes.

Compiled by Cassie Jewell, LPC, LSATP

Updated April 16, 2019

free printables

The following list is comprised of links to over 100 PDF workbooks, manuals, and guidebooks that are published online and free to use with clients and/or for self-help purposes. Some of the manuals, including Individual Resiliency Training and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Psychotic Symptoms, are evidence-based.

12 Step Workbooks
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for PTSD: Group Manual
Adult Coloring Book for Mindfulness and Relaxation 
After an Attempt: A Guide for Taking Care of Yourself After Your Treatment in the Emergency Department (Spanish Version)
After an Attempt A Guide for Taking Care of Your Family Member after Treatment in the Emergency Department (Spanish Version)
Anger Management for Substance Abuse and Mental Health Clients: Participant Workbook (Spanish Version) (Provider Manual)
Anger Management Workbook
Anxiety Toolbox: Student Workbook
Back To Life: Your Personal Guidebook to Grief Recovery
Basic Anxiety Management Skills
Brief Counseling for Marijuana Dependence: A Manual for Treating Adults
CBT Worksheet Packet, 2017 Edition (Beck Cognitive Behavioral Therapy)
Client Workbook (from the Substance Use | Brain Injury Bridging Project)
Cognitive Behavioural Interpersonal Skills Manual
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Depression: Activities and Your Mood (Individual Treatment Version) Provider’s Guidebook
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Depression in Veterans and Military Servicemembers: Therapist Manual 
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBTi): Treatment Manual
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Psychotic Symptoms: A Therapist’s Manual
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Skills Training Workbook
Cognitive Processing Therapy Veteran/Military Version: THERAPIST AND PATIENT MATERIALS MANUAL
The Complete Set of Client Handouts and Worksheets from ACT books by Russ Harris
Comprehensive Cognitive Behavior Therapy for Social Phobia: A Treatment Manual
Co-occurring Disorders Problem Gambling Integrated Treatment Workbook
Co-occurring Disorders Treatment Workbook
Coping With Anxiety
Creating a Healthier Life: A Step-by-Step Guide to Wellness (Spanish Version)
Dealing With Distress
Dealing With Trauma: A TF-CBT Workbook for Teens
Depression Self-Management Toolkit
Determine Your Destiny (Self-Determination Series)
Eating Disorders Anonymous Step Workbook
Favorite Therapeutic Activities for Children, Adolescents, and Families: Practitioners Share Their Most Effective Interventions
Forgiveness Workbook: A Step by Step Guide
Generalized Anxiety Disorder: Patient Treatment Manual
Grief Counseling Resource Guide: A Field Manual (from NY State Office of Mental Health)
Group Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Depression: Thoughts and Your Mood
Guidebook on Vicarious Trauma: Recommended Solutions for Anti-Violence Workers
Happiness 101 Workbook
Happy for No Reason Workbook
Healthy Relationships Toolkit
HERO: Healthy Emotions and Improving Health Behavior Outcomes (Veteran Workbook)
Hope Focused Self-Help Workbook
The ‘Hurt Yourself Less’ Workbook
Illness Management and Recovery: Practitioner Guides and Handbooks
Individual Resiliency Training
Interpersonal Psychotherapy for Depression in Veterans: Therapist Guide
ISLAMIC INTEGRATED COGNITIVE BEHAVIOR THERAPY: 10 Sessions Treatment Manual for Depression in Clients with Chronic Physical Illness (Therapist Manual Workbook)
Johari Window Workbook
A Journey Toward Health and Hope: Your Handbook for Recovery After a Suicide Attempt
Just as I Am Workbook: A Guided Journal to Free Yourself from Self-Criticism and Feelings of Low Self-Worth
Lemons or Lemonade? An Anger Workbook for Teens
Life With Hope: 12 Step Workbook from Marijuana Anonymous
Manage Stress Workbook
Mapping Your Recovery
Matrix Series (Intensive Outpatient Treatment for People with Stimulant Use Disorders): Client’s Handbook
Matrix Series (Intensive Outpatient Treatment for People with Stimulant Use Disorders): Client’s Treatment Companion
Matrix Series (Intensive Outpatient Treatment for People with Stimulant Use Disorders): Counselor’s Family Education Manual
Matrix Series (Intensive Outpatient Treatment for People with Stimulant Use Disorder): Counselor’s Treatment Manual
Matrix Series: Using Matrix with Women Clients
Mindfulness and Acceptance-Based Group Therapy for Social Anxiety Disorder: A Treatment Manual
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR): Authorized Curriculum Guide
The Mindful Path through Shyness
Motivational Enhancement Therapy Manual: A Clinical Research Guide for Therapists Treating Individuals With Alcohol Abuse and Dependence
My Wellness Action and Recovery Plan (WRAP)
My Action Plan for Relapse Prevention
On the Wings of Grief: A Bereavement Journal for Adults
Open-Minded Thinking (DBT Workbook)
Opioid Overdose Prevention Toolkit
Personal Brand Workbook
PREPARE/ENRICH Workbook for Couples
A Provider’s Introduction to Substance Abuse Treatment for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Individuals
Reaching out to a Hurting World: Christ-Centered Workbook on Recovery and Coordinating Twelve-Step Meetings
REBT Depression Manual: Managing Depression Using  Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy
Refine Your Life Workbook
Relapse Prevention Workbook
The Relaxation and Stress Reduction Workbook
Remembering For Good: Wholehearted Living after Loss
Self-Care Depression Program: Antidepressant Skills Workbook
Self-Help Manual for Bulimia Nervosa
Self-Help Workbook: Calming Tools to Manage Anxiety
Simple CBT Worksheets (from Autism Teaching Strategies)
SMART Recovery Worksheets
Social Anxiety in Schizophrenia: A Cognitive Behavioural Group Programme
Social Emotional Activities Workbook
Social Skills Training for Severe Mental Disorders: A Therapist Manual
The Stages of Divorce
STEP AHEAD Workbook: Career Planning for People with Criminal Convictions
Steps by the Big Book
Substance Misuse Workbook
Survivor To Thriver: Manual and Workbook for Adult Survivors of Child Abuse Who Want to Move On with Life
A Therapist’s Guide to Brief Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
The Think CBT Workbook
Think Good – Feel Good
Tobacco Cessation: An Abbreviated Mini-Workbook (A Resource for Veterans)
Treatment of Individuals with Prolonged and Complicated Grief and Traumatic Bereavement
Trauma and Resilience: An Adolescent Provider Toolkit
The Trauma-Informed Supervisor
Understanding Depression
Wellness Action Recovery Plan (WRAP): Personal Workbook
Wellness Self-Management Personal Workbook
Wellness Worksheets, 12th Edition
What Do You Want to Do with Your Life? Your Life Plan to Find Your Answer
Women Healing from Trauma: A Facilitator’s Guide
Working Through Self-Harm: A Workbook
Working Toward Wellness
Your Best You: Improving Your Mood

Please comment with links to additional PDF resources for therapy or self-help!

Why Language Matters: 4 Words/Phrases to Stop Saying

Words have power. They are impactful. They can contribute to stigma and divide humanity. To help fight stigma, change your language.

By Cassie Jewell, LPC, LSATP

Have you ever been called a bitch? A creep? A whore? An idiot? Maybe someone said you were lazy or worthless or stupid. Words can hurt. They have power. (Consider the power of your name spoken aloud… you immediately respond by answering or turning your head… the sound commands your attention and response.)

Furthermore, words are impactful… not only for the person being labeled, but for an entire group of people. They contribute to stigma while fueling biases. They divide humanity. Retard. White trash. Crazy. Junkie. Nigger. Slut. Spic.

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A while back, a colleague made a racial slur in my presence. He seemed unaware, so I gently corrected him; he immediately lashed back, calling me the “PC Police.” Not only did this person perceive the slur as perfectly acceptable, he seemed to have a negative perception of “political correctness.” It was a joke to him: “People need to stop being so sensitive!” (Um, no… maybe people need to stop being degrading to each other!)

Honestly, I have trouble understanding the negativity surrounding political correctness. Why strive for anything other than accuracy? (Especially knowing the power language holds.)

stigma

If you side against ignorance and want to end the stigma associated with mental illness, change your language. The following words or phrases contribute to stigma:

“Addict”

There are many negative connotations surrounding this word. Similarly, “alcoholic” can be demeaning. A person who is addicted to drugs or alcohol has a medical condition. Instead of calling them an addict (or junkie or tweaker or crackhead), say “individual with a substance use disorder.” Demonstrate the same empathy you would for a person who has cancer or MS or paralysis.

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“Schizophrenic”

Don’t label a person who suffers from mental illness. They are more than the disorder they’re afflicted with. Calling someone “schizophrenic” or “borderline” or “bipolar” reduces them to an illness, not a person. It’s dehumanizing.

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“Retarded”

True, “mental retardation” used to be the diagnostic terminology for classifying individuals with lower IQs. Today, however, it’s mostly used as an insult. The American Psychiatric Association has eliminated the term as a classification; the correct term is “intellectual disability.”

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“Committed suicide”

This phrase suggests that the person who dies by suicide is criminal. Criminals commit crimes. An individual who dies by suicide should not be placed in the same category. Instead, say “died by suicide.” This demonstrates respect for both the individual and their loved ones.

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Words have the power to influence and shape the world. You have power. Be a positive influence and choose to fight stigma instead of contributing to the toxicity.

 

#JunkieLivesDontMatter

A person who struggles with a substance use disorder is choosing that life. Why interfere? (Especially when all that money could be spent saving more DESERVING lives.) “Junkies” don’t deserve second chances because #JunkieLivesDontMatter

By Cassie Jewell, LPC, LSATP

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Disclaimer: If you happen to believe that addiction is a choice – “They’d quit if they really wanted to” or “They made the choice to use; they made the choice to die” – then scroll on to the next blog. You’d only scoff at this post because #JunkieLivesDontMatter

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This blog post is inspired, in part, by a Facebook meme.

The meme said,

“So if a kid has an allergic reaction the parents have to pay a ridiculous price for an Epi pen. But a junkie who has OD’d for their 15th time gets Narcan for free? What a screwed up world we live in.”

Implications: “Junkies” don’t deserve a second chance at life. They’re a waste of resources because they lack the willpower to stop using. A person who struggles with a substance use disorder is choosing that life. Why interfere? (Especially when all that money could be spent saving more deserving lives.)

If you believe it’s screwed up for a “junkie” to have a chance at life (and recovery) because they “chose addiction,” your opinion is contrary to the National Institute of Health, the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association, and decades of scientific research. You’re either ignorant (maybe willfully so) or impressively arrogant. (Alternately, you could just be a jerk.) You’re a part of the movement: #JunkieLivesDontMatter

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Many have joined the movement, as evidenced by the following Facebook posts:

“Out of all of the houses, 2 hobos decided to overdose on my front steps… thank god the medics got here in time to ensure they could die another day…”

“I think we had less ODs before Narcan came on board. They realize they can be saved if gotten to in time. Maybe they need to be locked up & not let out until they attend rehab while in jail.”

“If it can be easily established that they have a recent history of drug [abuse]… then yes… withhold the lifesaving drug because they chose this. It’s harsh, but justice is not served by saving them.”

“If you don’t have it figured [out] by the 3rd overdose, you are just prolonging the inevitable and wasting tax payers money.”

“If we are repeatedly saving your life and you are not willing to change this behavior, why should we be obligated to keep saving you?”

“My personal opinion is we can’t keep letting people overdose and saving them just so they can repeat the cycle.”

“By continuously administering Narcan, sure, we’re saving their life, but are they really living? I don’t think so.”

#JunkieLivesDontMatter

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“No CPR for You, Fatty — You Chose Soda and Fast Food… Now Suffer the Consequences!”

According the the American Psychiatric Association,

Addiction is a complex condition, a brain disease that is manifested by compulsive substance use despite harmful consequence. People with addiction (severe substance use disorder) have an intense focus on using a certain substance(s), such as alcohol or drugs, to the point that it takes over their life. They keep using alcohol or a drug even when they know it will cause problems.

Addiction is a scientifically proven brain disease. Despite this, many persist in the belief that it’s a choice, or worse… a moral failing. (Note: This notion comes from an early model of addiction, “the moral model,” which was deeply rooted in religion. Addiction was attributed to a sinful nature and weakness of character. Therefore, the addict must repent… or suffer the consequences of his/her actions; addiction warranted punishment, not empathy. Unsurprisingly, this created stigma. It also prevented those struggling with addiction from seeking treatment. Centuries later, many hold on to the view that an individual suffering from a substance use disorder is lazy or weak.)

Today, in the midst of the opioid epidemic, stigma’s unrelenting grip perseveres. Stigma is a poison; it’s dehumanizing. It’s easy to forget a person is a person when you view them as garbage, trash… a “junkie.” Stigma tells us, “Take out the trash.”

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To fully recognize stigma’s impact, compare addiction to other diseases. Consider common medical emergencies; many are related to lifestyle. Imagine being hospitalized after your third stroke, and the doctor telling you, “This is the third time I’ve saved your life, yet you refuse to exercise. I shouldn’t be obligated to continue to provide life-saving care.” Or, imagine a long-time smoker who develops lung cancer; they’re not demeaned, called names, or denied treatment. Moreover, an EMS worker wouldn’t withhold CPR from an individual in cardiac arrest if they were obese. It’s not a debate.

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If You’re Dead, You Have a 0% Chance of Recovery

We’re in the midst of an epidemic.

According to the CDC, 115 Americans die from an opioid overdose every day.

In 2016, over 42,000 individuals died from opioid overdose.

Life expectancy in America is actually declining due to an increase in fatal overdoses.

Narcan does not enable addiction. It enables life. (A dead addict can’t recover.)

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#Recovery #Empathy #FightStigma #EndTheEpedemic #SaveALife


If you live in Fairfax County, sign up for a free REVIVE! Training!

Mental Health, Wellness, and Personal Development Blogs to Follow

A list of 30+ mental health, wellness, and personal development blogs

Compiled by Cassie Jewell, LPC, LSATP

Updated April 9, 2019

blogs to follow

Creating Mind ReMake Project opened my eyes to a whole world of blogs! There are tons of informative and thought-provoking blog sites out there that share my “niche.” This post lists a variety of blogs related to mental health, wellness, and personal development.

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  1. ACA Counseling Corner Blog

“Thoughtful ideas, suggestions, and strategies for helping you to live a happier and healthier life”

 

  1. Aim Hypnotherapy Blog

Therapist and blogger Aigin Larki blogs about anxiety, addiction, stress, and other mental health topics

  1. Anxiety Free World

A blog about coping with anxiety

  1. Beyond Meds

Award-winning blog written by ex-patient and mental health professional, Monica Cassani, on topics related to psychotropic meds and mental health

  1. Blue Light Blue

Amy McDowell Marlow, a 22-year survivor of suicide loss who lives with mental illness (bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder), blogs about living with mental illness

  1. Brave Over Perfect

Dr. Christine Carter and Susie Rinehart write about personal growth topics

  1. Brené Brown Blog

Personal growth and development blog

  1. David’s Blog

Dr. David Healy is a psychiatrist, psychopharmacologist, scientist, and author who blogs about pharmacology and mental health

  1. Dr. David Susman Blog

A clinical psychologist, mental health advocate, professor, and writer shares resources and inspiration for better mental health

  1. Dr. Melissa Welby Blog

Psychiatry and well-being 

  1. Dr. Sarah Ravin Blog

A clinical psychologist blogs about psychological issues and evidence-based treatments

  1. Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board News

If you live in Fairfax County, VA, sign up for CSB news to receive updates and links to helpful resources

  1. The Fractured Light

Living with borderline personality disorder

  1. Gardening Love

A unique wellness and lifestyle blog about enhancing mental health and well-being through gardening

  1. Healthy Place Blogs

A collection of mental health blogs

  1. Heather LeGuilloux Blog

A therapist blogs about mental health topics

  1. Info Counselling – Evidence based therapy techniques

Learn about the latest evidence-based treatments and download free therapy worksheets

  1. Kim’s Counseling Corner

Kim Peterson, a licensed professional counselor, created Kim’s Counseling Corner, a site with a variety of free downloadable resources for clinicians

  1. Love and Life Toolbox

Award-winning blog founded by Lisa Brookes Kift, marriage and family therapist, about marriages, relationships, and emotional health

  1. Mindcology

Mental health and self-help posts written by psychologists, counselors, and other mental health practitioners

  1. The Mighty

“A digital health community created to empower and connect people facing health challenges and disabilities”

  1. Momentus Institute Blog

A blog dedicated to building and repairing the social emotional health of children

  1. MQ Blog

A blog about transforming mental health care through research

  1. My Brain’s Not Broken

Living with mental illness

  1. NAMI Blog

Advocacy blog

  1. On Being Patient

Personal accounts of living with mental illness

  1. Our Parent Place

A place for parents with mental illness to connect and learn 

  1. PsychCentral Mental Health and Psychology Blogs

Blog posts by experts, professionals, and ordinary people who share their insights on a variety of mental health topics

  1. Psychology Today Blogs

A large collection of blogs on psychology-related topics, including creativity, intelligence, memory, parenting, and more

  1. SAMHSA Blog

“A place where up-to-date information including articles from SAMHSA staff, announcements of new programs, links to reports, grant opportunities, and ways to connect to other resources are located”

  1. A Splintered Mind

Douglas Scootey blogs about “overcoming ADHD and depression with lots of humor and attitude”

  1. Survival Is a Talent

“A digital platform for individuals to share their Stories of Survival relating to health and wellness”

  1. Thriving While Disabled

A blog about living with a disability

  1. Your Brain Health 

Dr. Sarah McKay, neuroscientist and blogger, writes about topics related to neurology and mental health


Also consider:

Janaburson’s Blog

A blog created to help people better understand the medication-assisted treatment of opioid addiction using either buprenorphine (Suboxone) or methadone from a physician, board-certified in Internal Medicine and Addiction Medicine

Pete Earley

Advocacy blog for mental health reform


Know of a great blog? Post in a comment!

Helping Vs. Enabling: How to Tell the Difference

If you’re unfamiliar with the term “enable,” it means “to provide with the means or opportunity.” When applied to substance use, it means a person in active addiction is provided with the means to continue to use. With substance use disorders, how can you know the difference between helping and enabling? This post explains how to tell the difference and provides 7 tips for helping a loved one who struggles with addiction.

By Cassie Jewell, LPC, LSATP

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With substance use disorders, how can you know the difference between helping and enabling? I’ve worked with family members who inadvertently fueled their loved one’s addiction. They “helped” by bailing them out of jail, giving them money, etc., which only permitted the individual to continue to get high. It’s hard for family members to differentiate between behaviors that help versus enable.

If you’re unfamiliar with the term “enable,” it means “to provide with the means or opportunity” or “to make possible, practical, or easy” (according to Merriam-Webster). When applied to substance use, it means a person in active addiction is provided with the means to continue to use.

When I worked at a substance use treatment center, I taught families and loved ones that helping a person in active addiction means supporting their basic needs, such as food, water, shelter, and clothing. (If someone is in jail or treatment, their basic needs are met; therefore, bailing them out would be enabling.) Thinking in terms of “needs vs. wants” helps you to recognize enabling.

Recently, I answered a woman’s question on Quora about how to distance herself from her heroin-addicted daughter. The following paragraph is from my response:

Distancing yourself (or setting a boundary) with your daughter will be difficult because you want to help. In the past, by “helping” her, you’ve enabled her addiction (which hurts her in the long run) and leaves you emotionally depleted. There’s a very fine line between helping and enabling; it’s not clear-cut. (Plus, it can be counterintuitive for a parent whose job has always been to protect your child.)

When a parent has a son or daughter who struggles with addiction, it’s especially difficult to make the distinction between helping and enabling. A parent’s natural inclination is to nurture and protect from harm. It’s heart-wrenching to see your child in pain. But if a parent doesn’t set (and adhere to) healthy boundaries, they will quickly become emotionally drained (as they enable their child’s addiction).

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Here are some suggestions for helping (instead of enabling) a loved one who’s actively using:

  1. Never (ever) offer money.

If asked for cash for food, for example, buy groceries instead (or offer to take them to lunch). I worked with a father who bought a bag of groceries for his son, who struggled with severe alcoholism and was homeless, on a weekly basis. This is an excellent example of helping a loved one versus enabling their addiction.

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  1. If asked for help paying bills, say no. 

If your loved one doesn’t have to pay the electric bill, they’ll spend the money on drugs or alcohol. Furthermore, if you protect them from the consequences of not paying bills (i.e. having the power shut off), your loved one is less likely to see a need for change. (People don’t change when they’re comfortable.)

  1. If your loved one is addicted to opioids (heroin, morphine, hydrocodone, etc.), attend a training or take an online course on opioid overdose reversal (Narcan [naloxone] administration).

If you’re unsure where local trainings are offered, a Google search for “Narcan training” or “opioid reversal training” will link you to resources in your area. Most trainings are free. Keep a Narcan kit on your person at all times. Provide your loved one with a kit (or two) as well. This is not enabling. This is potentially saving a life and offering an opportunity for recovery. (A dead opioid-user will never recover.)

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  1. Offer to help them get into treatment.

Become familiar with the different treatment options in your area. Don’t give ultimatums (i.e. “If you don’t get treatment, I’ll divorce you”) or make threats (especially if you’re not willing to follow through). Be supportive, not judgmental. Be patient; when your loved one is emotionally and physically drained from addiction’s painful consequences (or when they hit “rock bottom”), they may decide it’s time to get help. And you’ll be ready.

  1. Recognize that your loved one is not the same person they were before addiction.

Substance use disorder is a debilitating disease that damages the brain; it changes how a person feels and thinks. With addiction, the brain’s reward center is rewired, resulting in a biological “need” for drugs/alcohol. (Compare this to your need for food or water or air.) Your loved one’s addiction will lie to you; they will do whatever it takes to get their “needs” met. Your loved one’s addiction will steal from you. (Lock up your valuables if they have access to your home… and even if they don’t. I’ve worked with more than a few individuals who have broken into their parents’ home for either money for drugs or valuables to pawn for money for drugs.) Your loved one’s addiction will betray you. Accepting the nature of addiction allows you to set healthy boundaries.

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  1. Attend Al-Anon or Nar-Anon meetings.

By engaging with others with similar struggles, you’ll learn more about supporting your loved one (without enabling their addiction). You’ll also build a supportive network by connecting with others, strengthening your emotional health.

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  1. When in doubt, try asking yourself one (or all) of the following questions:

Will my actions allow my loved one to continue to drink or use? Is this a “want” versus a basic need? Will my actions prevent them from experiencing a natural consequence? If the answer is yes, it’s probably enabling.

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Addiction is a devastating, but treatable, disease. The road to recovery is difficult and long (with many detours). If your loved one has a substance use disorder, be kind and compassionate; they’re in an unthinkable amount of pain. They didn’t choose addiction. The best way to support them is by setting healthy boundaries to ensure you’re not enabling continued use. Boundaries allow you to help them without furthering their addiction. Boundaries also serve as protection for you and your emotional health; you’re in no position to help if you’re emotionally, financially, and spiritually depleted.

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Please share in a comment your suggestions for helping a loved one who is struggling with addiction.