Stress, Pandemics, and Resiliency


From Pam Feldman, LIMHP:

This article from the New York Times helps us to understand how resilience is important in how we deal with adversity.  We face troubling times and it is more important than ever to look for ways to bolster our ability to stay on course and manage through crises.  We have options of how we handle the many challenges that face us.  I hope this article encourages you to find ways to stay positive.

From the NY Times:

“… the tools common to resilient people are optimism (that is also realistic), a moral compass, religious or spiritual beliefs, cognitive and emotional flexibility, and social connectedness. The most resilient among us are people who generally don’t dwell on the negative, who look for opportunities that might exist even in the darkest times. During a quarantine, for example, a resilient person might decide it is a good time to start a meditation practice, take an online course or learn to play guitar.”

Access the full article here

Workplace Bullying

Have you ever been subjected to Workplace Bullying by a boss or co-worker and not sure what to do about it?

Or have you ever witnessed or been subjected to what appears to be ridicule, intimidation, humiliation, or blame?

These behaviors are not okay at home, nor are they okay in the workplace. The link below will take you to the full article on the website. It identifies Workplace Bullying as a silent epidemic. You’ll find out what it is and what you can do.

Kerry Matuszek, MS, LIMHP, CPC

Here’s the link to the full article.

After you’ve read it, do your best to put some of the ideas into motion. Need more help with this? Please call us!

Service Animals

Service Animal documentation

We frequently get asked to provide a letter for someone wanting to travel with an animal – or to have clearance to bring an animal into group housing, such as an apartment complex, dormitory or care facility. Here are some things to keep in mind.

Summary by:
Scarlett Shockley, LPC, LIMHP

Do you have an Emotional Support animal or a Service Animal?  It’s important to know the difference! I reviewed an online post from Kimberly Duff LPC, CRC, and I’ve distilled out the main points for you.

Service Animals

service animal is an animal that has received special training to help a person with a physical, sensory, cognitive or psychiatric disability.

These animals are protected by Title II and Title III of the ADA.

The work of the service animal must be directly related to the person’s disability and certification and documentation of this specialized training is required for purposes of the ADA.

A letter from a doctor or other professional does not make the animal a verified service animal. Examples of service animals include guide dogs, animals that assist persons with a hearing impairment, and animals that provide a signal of an impending seizure to persons with epilepsy.

Service animals are specially trained to help a person with a disability and are protected by the ADA.

Emotional Support / Comfort Animals

An emotional support animal, sometimes known as a comfort animal, may help provide support to an individual by helping mitigate symptoms of depression, relieving loneliness, and / or providing companionship. 

Because emotional support animals are not trained to provide a service to a person with a disability, these animals are not covered by Title II and Title III of the ADA.

Emotional support animals do not have specialized training and these animals are not protected by the ADA.

When it comes to living and traveling with service animals, it is clear that the ADA protects the owners’ rights. However, a comfort animal can be more challenging, if allowed at all. Comfort animals are not protected by the ADA and should not be allowed in public places unless the establishment permits pets or other animals.  If you have a comfort animal, and are wanting to travel or move into a residence that allows comfort animals, you may need documentation from a health care professional supporting the need for your animal.  Ask the travel venue or the residence administrator if they have a form for you to fill out. If they do not, then speak to your healthcare provider about a letter of verification that includes:

  • The professional’s license, state or jurisdiction of the license
  • The date(s) of the license
  • The individual’s clinical diagnosis
  • A statement that the individual is under the care of this professional
  • That the animal is necessary for the individual’s functioning & treatment plan


Device overload item – could it be happening to you?

When the average American looks at his or her smartphone between 90 and 165 times per day, this average American is doing much more than practicing highly questionable personal hygiene.A spate of recent studies suggests that people constantly looking at their smartphones — or, even scarier, simply sitting near their smartphones — have lower rates of the following things: cognition, problem solving, creativity, attention span, sound sleep, affinity, trust and empathy. Basically, we are making ourselves demonstrably dumber and less happy.

Source: Hansen: We are slaves to our smartphones. We are the Facebook Zombie Army. We are the Walking and Tweeting Dead | Matthew Hansen |

from Pam Feldman, LIMHP

Is cell phone addiction really a “thing”? If everybody’s doing it, how can it be so bad?

Matthew Hansen’s article in a recent edition of the Omaha World-Herald, is a great example of how our children are becoming affected.

A recent issue of the Family Therapy Networker challenges therapists to address the effects of being constantly connected to cell phones, addicted to gaming, laptops, tablets and watches. Are we losing ourselves without recognizing it?

Next time you’re on your device, ask Siri how cell phones use is affecting children, marriages and other relationships. She’ll plug you in.


How Smart People Handle Difficult People

Studies have long shown that stress can have a lasting, negative impact on the brain. Exposure to even a few days of stress compromises the effectiveness of neurons in the hippocampus — an important brain area responsible for reasoning and memory. Weeks of stress cause reversible damage to neuronal dendrites (the small “arms” that brain cells use to communicate with each other), and months of stress can permanently destroy neurons. Stress is a formidable threat to your success — when stress gets out of co

Source: How Smart People Handle Difficult People

Chances are that you’ve encountered challenges in your work relationships, or elsewhere. The research evidence suggests that it quickly can take a toll on us. Sound familiar? We can help. 402-334-1122

Talking To Kids About Fear And Violence

Kids Get Worried

With everything that happens in the world, your kids will — potentially — get the idea that the world is a dangerous place. They will ask questions. So, you’ll want to be ready to talk about it with them calmly.

“Parents can help children gain a sense of personal control by talking openly about  violence and personal safety.” Recent acts of violence in Colorado, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin schools have stunned the nation. Children, in particular, may experience anxiety, fear, and a sense of personal risk. They may also sense anxiety and tension in those around them — friends, family members, loved ones, caregivers and other adults who have a direct impact on the well-being of children.

Source: Talking To Kids About Fear And Violence | Mental Health America

Phones & Separation Anxiety – link to original article

iPhone separation linked to physiological anxiety, poor cognitive performance

Cell phone in hand
Must the phone always accompany us through the day?

From Science Daily:

Cell phone use has become a common part of life as mobile devices have become one of the most popular ways to communicate. Even so, very little research exists on the impact of cell phone usage and specifically what happens when people are separated from their phones. Now, research from the University of Missouri has found that cell phone separation can have serious psychological and physiological effects on iPhone users, including poor performance on cognitive tests. The researchers say these findings suggest that iPhone users should avoid parting with their phones during daily situations that involve a great deal of attention, such as taking tests, sitting in conferences or meetings, or completing important work assignments, as it could result in poorer cognitive performance on those tasks.

Let’s talk – without the phone……

I love my smartphone. I don’t have one of Apple’s phones – but a pretty good Android. It pretty much does everything I want it to. It’s a tool, a communication device, a kind of Swiss Army Knife kind of object that I’ve come to appreciate over time. I wouldn’t want to go back to my flip-phone.

We, as a species, mastered fire about 70,000 years ago – as I recall hearing recently. We’ve only had these marvelous devices for 6 or 7 years. We await each new version with breathless anticipation. We stare at the screen to the degree that I’ve started to see articles online about orthopedic problems emerging from high use. We detach from social environments to check our Twitter feed or Facebook status updates. Look around the next restaurant you’re in – and take note of how many people are seated with others, but interacting with their phones. Airports, grocery stores, art galleries – we don’t want to miss anything, apparently.

People are carrying them into psychotherapy sessions, too. To show the therapist the nasty text from a problematic mate or family member. To catch the return call from the pediatrician [this one makes sense to me!] or risk waiting another 24 hours. To monitor emergencies back at the office. On and on.

But to what end?

To do more? Not miss out? Stay in the loop?

Trouble letting go of your continuous connection to everything? Think it through, and consider uninstalling a few apps – or turn off the notifications. Turn off the vibration feature on your phone – fewer prompts to check-check-check who-what-when-why.

Still anxious? Let’s talk it over.


What’s your ‘Catch 22’?

Catch 22 – revisited

I recently revisited the 1970 film Catch 22. I like older movies. They often offer more than today’s films, I think. Complexity of plot, character development, great cinematography, and very little computer generated content. I had seen the film a long while ago – I think perhaps it was when I was an undergrad at Creighton University. That dates me, I guess!

If you find the links to ‘external reviews’, you might click over to read Roger Ebert’s assessment. He was disappointed with the adaptation of the book. You have to love Ebert – tells it like he sees it. I wish he was still around to review more films. Perhaps that will be another blog post, on another day.


What is a ‘catch 22′, you ask? Wikipedia has a nice explanation. Essentially, it represents rules that create a sealed system. You can’t escape. In the film, pilots are flying dangerous bombing missions. You can ask to be evaluated to be grounded – but that just never works out. The inescapable environment, and the convoluted labyrinth constructed to maintain it is both laughable [at times] and tragic [all the time].

Limiting ideas

All this got me to thinking about the ideas that we carry around with us everyday – the ones that trap us from enjoying life and striving for the growth that we dream about. I suspect that most of us have a few. Perhaps it’s part of our development – we get feedback from our family of origin, teachers, coaches, friends, co-workers, intimate partners – just to name a few. Maybe there’s some value in taking a look at them, and deciding whether they are accurate or useful.

What’s weighing you down? Any of these sound familiar?

  • I’m not enough
  • I missed my chance
  • I’m unlovable
  • Everyone else has got it together
  • I’ll fail

Common Themes

The common theme of almost every self-limiting belief is that it:

  • Probably originates a long time ago
  • Came from someone else
  • Makes us miserable
  • Gets in the way of taking action and seeing a better future

What is therapy for?

One might say that there is no one-size-fits-all definition of the purpose of psychotherapy. Okay, fine. But consider this: maybe it’s all about examining the beliefs that we carry around with us – figuring out if those are helpful, or merely a source of pain, clarifying how we came to those ideas, and leaving them behind.

That’s what Alan Arkin’s character did. At the risk of spoiling the ending of a 40+ year old film, Arkin realizes that he must take action in order to escape the web he felt stuck to for so long. When he hears that another pilot successfully did so, he grabbed a life raft [nice metaphor!] and started paddling. All he needed was to know that one other fellow had done it.


Please share your thoughts on self-limiting beliefs and what helped you – in the comment section below.

Mental health on the go: Reducing anxiety with smartphone app

Mental health on the go: Reducing anxiety with smartphone app — ScienceDaily.


Playing a science-based mobile gaming app for 25 minutes can reduce anxiety in stressed individuals, according to research. The study suggests that ‘gamifying’ a scientifically-supported intervention could offer measurable mental health and behavioral benefits for people with relatively high levels of anxiety. [from Science Daily’s site]

The link above will take you to the full article. Check it out if you wish!

Really – has it come to this?

Most everyone who uses a smartphone typically comes to love it – the versatility & portability are hard to beat. But, do we have to use our phones for everything? I suppose I get it – another tool for people to consider. Maybe something to tide a person over – until other solutions can be found. And, yes, I agree that there are those among us who won’t put down their phones, won’t come for therapy – and so this sort of thing may represent a viable option.

But, what might a user overlook?

Put the phone down – and step back

What else could we do? What occurs to me:

  • Do nothing, or close to it. Mindfulness meditation, self-hypnosis, prayer, daydreaming – none of these things require an app or device.
  • Stretching – yoga poses that elucidate calming states. No phone here, either!
  • Put your device in airplane mode for a while. Your messages and notifications will load later, and you will stay a bit more focused.
  • Take a walk. Maybe bring the dog.
  • Make plans with a friend
  • Read a book or magazine
  • Discover new music – or dig out an older playlist that soothes you.
  • Schedule and attend a professional therapeutic massage
  • Pump up your tires, adjust your seat, and pedal on a local bike trail. Bring your water bottle.
  • Take a short nap. Careful – not too long or you’ll interfere with your regular sleep routine.

Once I get going making lists, I can get on a roll – but, at some point, I want you to take the list and make a choice or two. Then make a place for it in your day. See if it makes a difference.

What works for you?

See something on the list that appeals to you? Have something that works for you in dealing with stress or anxiety? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.



Telltale Signs It’s Time to Treat Your Anxiety

Telltale Signs It’s Time to Treat Your Anxiety | World of Psychology.

I often meet people who tell me that they’ve been dealing with intrusive levels of worry, tension, or distress for years. People who have been organizing their lives around the avoidance of people, places or situations for as long as they can remember.


This isn’t how life was supposed to be, I think. Follow the link, and see if you agree that it’s time to turn the table on anxiety