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Counseling a Minority Family in Grief

With many American families continuing to experience growth, through birth and immigration, mental health professionals must recognize that, even within a family unit, the cultural difference may be significant. For this reason, when counseling immigrant families, or families of minority status, the mental health professional must be well versed in the dynamics of the minority culture.

To ensure the family unit remains intact, in terms of social assimilation, the therapist’s goal is to not only unify and break the differences internally within the family but allow them to see the complexity of their misunderstandings and how it will impact the family unit from a societal standpoint. In many cases, a grieving minority family may be found to place every aspect of life on hold, including work, social networking and even interpersonal relationships, as they each grieve individually, often waiting for a spiritual intervention to set them free to move forward with their lives.

One way in which a therapist assists a grieving minority family through these interpersonal conflicts and suspensions of activity, is by combining two or three family members together as a sort of support network. Realizing no one in the family unit will move forward until permission and consent is given to everyone, creating these small networks within the family will allow the units to become more permissible in the resumption of activity after a death has occurred.

In exchange for the therapy provided to the family members, the therapist must also reach out to the grieving minority family and ask for guidance in how the therapist can serve them best. In doing so, the therapist can allow for the cultural views of the minority group to gauge the progress by which the counseling and grieving will occur and, ultimately, may work to reduce any potential conflicts in therapy recommendations. In other words, through the therapist’s ability to work as a team with the grieving family members, the family members will begin to view the therapist as part of their network and, ultimately, the therapy recommendations may be more receptive. It is important, therefore, to develop a we mentality rather than an I mentality in the therapy of minority groups.

As with any psychotherapy process, the key to successful outcomes lies in the ability of the therapist to remove personal emotions and bias from the needs of the person seeking mental health services. Because of the vast differences in and among immigrant families, providing therapy to these minority groups can be challenging.

The Basics of Acupuncture

A Brief History

Acupuncture has been practiced for over 2000 years. It is one of the oldest medical treatments still being
practiced in the developed world. Despite being associated mainly with China, people all over the world have been using acupuncture for centuries to treat a variety of ailments.

Procedure

Acupuncture involves placing very thin needles, much smaller than those used for injections, into the skin at specific points on the body. This is thought to correct imbalances in a person’s chi; energy flowing through the body. It is this imbalance that is believed to cause disease. Acupuncture is performed by a trained Acupuncturist who knows what type of treatment will be most beneficial to their patient. The Acupuncturist will decide how many treatments will be needed and where on the body they will take place. Most people do not experience any discomfort during acupuncture treatments because the needles used are so thin. Acupuncture brings immediate pain relief to many people.

Ailments Treated

Acupuncture has been used to treat numerous diseases and conditions. In fact, there is an acupuncture point for almost anything you can think of. There are even acupuncture points to treat addiction, infertility, and obesity. One of the most common uses of acupuncture is to relieve pain caused by anything from headaches, to arthritis, to cancer. It’s pain relieving properties are so powerful that in his book, Acupuncture: It’s Place in Western Medical Science, Dr. George T Lewith says that acupuncture has even been used as anesthesia during cesarean sections in China.

Possible Side Effects

According to the American Journal of Acupuncture, acupuncture is considered to be extremely safe. Most serious side effects occur as a result of an unqualified practitioner.These rare side effects include infection caused by improperly sterilized needles, Puncture of a vital organ, burns from heated needles, accidental abortion, and needles broken off in the skin. Again, these are very rare and not something that would occur with a properly trained acupuncturist. Slightly more common are minor, temporary side effect such as muscle spasms, minor pain at the acupuncture point, and nausea.

Finding an Acupuncturist

It should be relatively easy to find an acupuncturist in any city. In very small towns it may be a bit more difficult. Start by talking to friends or family who have had a positive experience with acupuncture. Your primary care physician may also be able to identify a qualified acupuncturist. Another option is to contact the American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. Once you find an acupuncturist make sure it is someone you are comfortable talking to about your health and lifestyle. Ask them about their training and experience. Above all, make sure this is someone knowledgeable that you trust. This will put your mind at ease, keep you safe, and most importantly, get you on the road to recovery.

Vines Intertwined

A number of friends and clients recently shared with me that, after learning that my partner and I go out on regular date nights, they began making date night part of their schedules as well. What a happy occurrence! It makes me smile to know that these couples are out chatting over dinner and enjoying each other instigated by my partner and I enjoying a regular date night.

With that said, I thought it worthy of taking this opportunity to share some food for thought about why fun habits like date night are not an indulgence, but a necessity.

Before we hone in on our personal experience as partners, a broad sociological perspective sheds some light on the state of committed partnerships as a whole. We regularly hear such phrases as the “decline of marriage” or “soaring divorce rates” on the news and in popular culture. As a coach, I am less interested in the institutional or political concerns and more interested in the individual’s experience of happiness and fulfillment in her or his chosen partnership. However, some studies do bear sharing.

According to a study published in 1998, only one-third of marriages were rated “happy” by the partners and intact after 16 years. Other longitudinal studies demonstrate that generally the longer we are married, the less happy we are in our marriage. Research on other types of committed partnerships beyond heterosexual marriage is sparse, but other sociological research, including that of Dr. Helen Fisher, points to a phenomenon of waning attraction between partners as time goes on. With the research about the happiness of individuals in long-term committed partnerships indicating a bleak future for those of us who are partnered or looking to be partnered long-term, what is a happiness-seeking, fun-loving dyad to do!?

At least part of the answer may be as simple as a regular date night. I can’t avoid saying it: “Couples who play together, stay together.” Who hasn’t yet heard this pop culture mantra? After a collective eye roll in response to the painful word crafting of said cliché, let’s take some time and explore why the phenomenon exists, the truth of the concept, and, if it does indeed exist, what keeps us from employing this ultimately fun strategy for keeping our relationship fresh?

For the factual foundation to this phenomenon and proposed solution, I again highlight Dr. Helen Fisher’s research. In her book, Why We Love, Dr. Fisher demonstrates the phenomenon that early in relationships we produce increased neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine. This happy biochemical occurrence leads us to feel increased motivation along with a boost to our mood and libido. Over time, the level of production decreases and lends to the phenomenon of “settling down” comfortably into a rut.

Research shows, and continues to show, that couples that engage in active and new experiences together are happier over the long-term. It seems as though combating the urge to settle down and resisting falling into that rut are wise moves on the part of the motivated couple.

Now, let me be clear, that doesn’t mean that date night should be at the same restaurant, at the same time every week, ordering the same things and talking about the same subjects. The research suggests that we schedule time to enjoy activities as a couple that are new, novel, active and fun. This includes activities that you may each deem a bit risky. Risky in the sense that they land you out of your comfort zone into the place of growth. Activities that push your edge. Now I am not suggesting that you run right out and schedule your first skydiving tour, but you should explore some activities that broaden each of your horizons.

I propose the concept of collaborative evolution. Collaborative evolution has many facets and playing together addresses a number of them. As I have shared before, we are all constantly changing and evolving personally. With clients, I enjoy regularly singing the praises of curiosity and the importance of regularly looking within.

Collaborative evolution is the idea that we take each other along on our journeys of personal evolution. This doesn’t mean you have to do all the same things and love all of the same activities, but it does mean you are open to different experiences, especially the ones your partner is passionate about! As we remain curious about one another, we maximize the opportunity to grow together, to evolve collaboratively, like vines each growing separately yet intertwined.

You don’t have to call it anything special. You just have to do it! The reality is most of us don’t do it for the most avoidable reasons: lack of planning, the excuse of being overscheduled, simply not making your relationship a priority. Well, research has shown us a fun solution to increasing our happiness as couples, now it is up to you to make it happen!

Here are some practical tips:

Agree with your partner that regular dates are a priority.

Set at least three dates immediately.

Keep up with scheduling. Always have a date to anticipate!

Vary your activities. Perhaps you alternate between each other’s suggested activities.

Keep in mind there is no need to break the bank! Be creative. There are many activities that don’t cost a cent.

Visit Chicago life coaches and get a session in with one of the best life coaches around and transform your life and your partner’s life.

Be open-minded and have fun with it!

Why should I do Yoga?

There are so many reasons to practice Yoga. Some come for the flexibility, others for the stress relief, still others to find relief from physical pain, and there are many more reasons to unroll your mat and practice. Yoga, which comes from the Sanskrit word “Yuj” means to yoke, join or unite. This implies joining or integrating all aspects of the individual to lead a balanced and useful life. Most importantly, Yoga teaches us to tune in to our “Self” by peeling off layers of expectations and conditioning. And then, in Yoga, we learn to really listen to ourselves and begin to understand. It is because of this tuning in, this listening, that Yoga can help us to become better communicators. So, maybe you did not come to your mat to become a better communicator, and that’s okay. But as you tune in, it is likely that you will, and here are just a few reasons why, from practical physical reasons to the more philosophical:

Yoga brings awareness to the breath. According to the Bergerac company, when we are nervous, speaking energy becomes trapped in our abdomen, the place most of us instinctively tighten when we feel threatened or under stress. As soon as we tighten the belly, the diaphragm cannot move properly. In our restoring fertility Yoga practice, over time, we intrinsically understand the ebb and flow of the breath, and will have the awareness, as well as many Pranayama techniques to guide us.

Yoga encourages Self acceptance. This acceptance, built over time in our practice, allows us to find equanimity in every situation so that we are confident in our Selves. We will not therefore, be as tempted to say something just to appease someone else, we will be able to use our authentic voice which will lead to more calm, clear and focused communication.

In Yoga, we learn not to judge control, force, coerce, or even expect. As far as how this can enhance your communication, this one speaks for itself!! Think about how much more effectively you can communicate if you let go of the control of every outcome and simply focus on sharing what you have to say and listening.

Yoga encourages you to listen. When you spend time in practice listening to yourself, and that means, really listening to yourself, you begin to understand what it means to be present and listen to what is there, not what you think is there, or what you have always thought . As you become more skilled at listening, this naturally transcends your practice on the mat and you are able to be fully present and listen to others as well.

Yoga encourages peaceful conflict resolution. So you are in class, standing on one foot, and lifting the other leg and wrapping it around your standing leg, and then you are wrapping your arms around each other, right? Sounds like the body is way out of its comfort zone. So what do you do? Become angry? Yell at the teacher? Withdraw and give up? Nope. You BREATHE. Now, if you can simply breathe into this challenge in class, surely you will approach conflicts off the mat with a little more tranquility.

Yoga encourages you to treat yourself with love, kindness and respect. And, thus, you can open to others in the same fashion.

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