Therapy That Works...

New Home Page and Marriage Program! - By Chris Gearing

Thursday, September 24, 2009

You may have seen our new home page on your way in!

Also, make sure to click over to Marriage (under Your Relationships) and read up on our NEW marriage program: 

Our Marital-Emotional Intelligence Program!

Written and developed by both Drs. Milton and Sylvia Gearing, this program will improve your communication strategies, give you a deepened understanding of one another and of yourself, and enhance your passion in the bedroom. A different kind of intelligence, our emotional intelligence skills breakthrough gridlock, heal emotional wounds and develop emotional empathy. All of these attributes are essential for a long and lasting love affair with your spouse.

Click over for all the information, or call and make an appointment today!

New Marital Program! - By Chris Gearing

Monday, September 21, 2009

In the next couple days, Gearing Up is rolling out our new Marital Emotional Intelligence program!

Dr. Sylvia has crystallized the latest research and methods with over 25 years of experience to craft the most effective marriage program available!

Marital Emotional Intelligence Program

We will teach our couples about managing emotions effectively, understanding their partner empathically, and how to sustain an emotionally intelligent marriage. Check back in the next few days in the "Marriage" section for the latest updates!

2005 CBS Stories - By Chris Gearing

Friday, September 18, 2009

We have now posted all of Dr. Sylvia Gearing's CBS 11 and TXA 21 stories from 2005! Go to the CBS/TXA button under "Media" at the top to read them today!

The Wisdom of Intuition - By Chris Gearing

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Wisdom of Intuition

September 17, 2009 

Dr. Sylvia Gearing, TXA 21 News 

Everyday we are forced to make split second decisions, often with minimal information. Intuition has always played an important part in our decisions at work and in our relationships. Now psychologists report that intuition can literally save your life.

So, what is intuition and why should you care?

Perimeter Protection System: Intuition is our perimeter protection system. It is a “knowing” that is often instant, without logic and beyond words. As one author said, “you are what you know.” Intuition originates in the “intuitive” circuitry that operates beneath our awareness, automatically and effortlessly, with immense speed. Our conclusions are often global and illogical but they make intuitive sense. We process in nano-seconds as we feel the raw power of our gut reaction warning us of danger.

Feeling Versus Analyzing: Raw, intense, and unexplainable, intuition is increasingly valuable in a world that is more complex and connected, we have to make decisions quickly based on minimal information in real time. Deliberating over a decision is often a luxury we cannot afford.

Analysis Can Lead to Denial: We now know that the brain operates analytically and intuitively. Our analytical brain weighs in later, draws on logic and deduction and selects the most reasonable decision. Unfortunately, it is easy to talk ourselves out of what we are seeing. Our intuitive brain is “way out in front” screaming warnings and protecting us against manipulators, narcissists and sociopaths. In these cases, denial can be our enemy.

Pay attention to the degree of what you are feeling, because not all intuitions are the same:

Intensity and Frequency Vary: Intuitions vary in intensity and frequency. They often occur randomly when we are mindlessly going through our daily business. Suddenly, our mind is issuing a warning to back up and protect ourselves.

Ordered Hierarchy That Builds: Intuition is comprised of an ordered hierarchy: nagging feeling, persistent thought, anxiety, apprehension, suspicion, hesitation, doubt, surge of anxiety and then outright fear.

We Don’t Pay Attention: People emit 1,000 different communications in a given day and our biggest problem is that we fail to track obvious behavior. We minimize the odd or even bizarre and amplify the normal aspects of other people’s behavior. People show us who they are and it is up to us to pay attention and put it all together. Believe your eyes.

A lot of my patients ignore their intuitions, sometimes with disastrous consequences. Here’s why:

We want things to be normal. We evaluate people constantly and are usually reassured that others are normal and trustworthy and have legitimate agendas. We do not want to believe that serious danger can exist right in front of us, especially in the business world. In the workplace, sociopaths abound and good people are especially vulnerable to disbelieving what is directly in front of us.

Another interesting facet of intuition is the gender differences in processing and purpose:

Draw Upon the Past to Assess the Present: Absolutely there are differences between the genders. Women have twice the emotional memory capacity in their brains as men so they are able to augment their intuition with memories of other similar situations.

Whole Brain Thinking: They have access to both sides of their brains so their intuition is influenced by both the raw, gut reactions of the intuitive brain leavened by the analytical capacities of the analytical brain. We are often willing to go with our gut feeling, which is not a fleeting emotional reaction. Intuition is a complex cognitive reaction that is brilliantly engineered by your watchful female brain.

The key is not to always “tune out” your intuition. Pay attention to the signals your mind is sending you:

There are several important survival signs that someone is potentially trying to manipulate you. You can use them in both business and in your personal life to protect yourself.

1.) Forced Teaming: When someone tries to project a shared purpose or experience when none exists, they are trying to manipulate you. Good cons want you to participate and drop your guard.

2.) Charm and Niceness: Charm is often a direct attempt to compel, control and direct. Ask yourself how sincere the “charm” seems. Is he trying to charm you or is he simply charming? There is a big difference.

3.) Too Many Details: People who lie talk too much. When people tell the truth, they do not feel doubted so they don’t oversupply you with details.

4.) Typecasting: Those little labels and criticism provide a slight insult and are usually easy to refute. However, the manipulator says it to keep you off balance.

5.) Loan Sharking: They love to set up situations in which you owe them. They offer assistance but he is always calculating what you owe him.

6.) The Unsolicited Promise: One of the most reliable signs of danger, the unsolicited promise is used to convince of a benign intention. They are used to lull you into complacency and to convince you that the outcome will be rewarding. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Sources:

"The Gift of Fear" by Gavin de Becker

The Monitor, The American Psychological Association, 2005

2002 CBS Stories - By Chris Gearing

Thursday, September 17, 2009

We have now posted all of Dr. Sylvia Gearing's CBS 11 and TXA 21 stories for 2002! Make sure to check them out!

Virtual Tour! - By Chris Gearing

Tuesday, September 15, 2009
It's finally done - our amazing Virtual Tour is complete. Thanks to Al Torrico (our amazing photographer) for taking the pictures and stitching them together and also to our great web guys at Relevant Made, DJ and Daniel. Hire these people, they're awesome!

To check out the Virtual Tour, go to "Overview" under the Media button at the top. Do it now! It's incredible!

New Website! - By Chris Gearing

Saturday, September 12, 2009

We are so excited about our new website from the awesome guys over at www.relevantmade.com. We really appreciate all the hard work they put into helping us pull this together and how wonderful the process was in working with them. Thanks Relevant Made!

As you know, with anything new, there must have been something before it. We've had almost a complete make over, so while we have quite a bit done, we still have a little more to do.

Be sure to check out the pages that pertain to you. If you happen to find a page that says, "Content coming soon!", be sure to check back often because we will be posting new content every day!

We also plan on moving all the CBS11 / TXA21 Scripts we published on the old site under the "Media">"CBS11/TXA21 Scripts" page of the new site -- be sure to keep an eye on that as well. We even made it searchable so you can quickly find the articles we publish that might help you that much faster!

We also have a virtual tour of the office we are about to upload so look for that under the "About Us" tab.

That's it for now. Be sure to follow us on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook. Happy reading!

Think Yourself To Sleep! - By Chris Gearing

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Thinking Yourself To Sleep

September 10, 2009

Dr. Sylvia Gearing, TXA 21 News

Insomnia strikes 30% of Americans according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and this trend has only worsened during these challenging economic times. Millions of us have turned to prescription sleep aides but a new study from the Mayo Clinic now reports that improving your attitudes about sleep may be the real key to getting that elusive good night’s sleep.

Most of my sleepless patients begin by asking me why it is so difficult to get a good night’s sleep. Here are the facts:

  • A Lot on Our Minds: Stress is the number one cause of short term sleeping difficulties and the number of people struggling with sleep has doubled since 2001. Forty million Americans struggle with over seventy different types of sleep problems with insomnia being the most common. You cannot sleep if you have adrenaline coursing through your body while you worry about your job, your school, your kids or your money. Such chronic stress can even erode your immune system.
  • Sleepless Youth: Insomnia is not confined to the middle aged or the elderly anymore. The use of prescription sleep medications by the 18 to 24 year old crowd has nearly tripled since 1999. Access to Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and texting keep us plugged in and sleepless.
  • Insomnia is Progressive: Sleep problems are progressive disorders. Unaddressed, short-term insomnia becomes long term, chronic insomnia. We begin to think that we cannot sleep and adopt attitudes that make it more difficult to sleep. We create an entire personal “culture” around why we cannot sleep.

Now that all sounds pretty bad, but it gets worse when we look at how sleeplessness actually affects its victims.

  • Thinking Less Effective: A weary mind cannot process the emotions of today and sleep deprived people overreact, snap at others and fail to concentrate and follow through. We end up with muddled minds and compromised careers.
  • Psychomotor Reactions are Compromised: We are simply clumsier when we are tired. Chronic insomniacs have four times the incident of car accidents. This phenomenon costs the U.S. up to $100 million a year in indirect costs. Falling asleep at the wheel causes half of all fatal accidents.
  • Increased Substance Abuse: People with sleep problems have 2.4 times more alcoholism than average. If they can’t sleep, many people turn to substances like alcohol and drugs to relax. This is dangerous especially since tolerance develops and we use more alcohol to get the same effect.
  • Sleepless and Blue: Insomnia does precede depression in most cases, and studies have shown that if you deprive a normal person of just two hours a night for five nights that they will begin to show symptoms of depression. Up to 90% of depressed patients have insomnia, and insomniacs have 35 times the rate of depression when compared to good sleepers.

The good news is that you can improve your sleeping habits by simply changing how you think!

When insomnia develops, it is often because of temporary circumstances that cause transient sleeplessness. We begin to believe we cannot sleep on our own and with $300 million spent on marketing last year by the top makers of sleep medications, we are often persuaded to take a pill. Unfortunately, experts are now reporting that medication may be more like a band-aid. The crisis may pass but our underlying attitudes and habits have shifted and are never addressed.

Are you ready to take the first step? Here’s what you should do:

Filling our minds with catastrophic outcomes keeps us up at night. The antidote, other than sleeping pills, is to focus on shifting your thinking from stressed to more logical, realistic thinking that is calming. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) helps you to control or eliminate worrisome thoughts about current stresses and about sleep issues. Remember that 70 to 80% of people with chronic insomnia seem to benefit significantly from CBT. It is natural, reasonably priced and lasting.

Here is an example of CBT steps:

  • Step One: Catastrophic Beliefs. Think of a current stressor that is troubling you. List the future-threat catastrophic thoughts that were produced by this adverse situation, and then record all the thoughts and emotions that you experienced. These catastrophic beliefs often “chain together”, meaning that one catastrophic belief will provoke and flow into another catastrophic belief. The downward spiral is difficult to escape.
  • Step Two: How Likely Are Your Fears? Most of us worry about what bad outcomes could occur without any concern about likelihood. The key to ending your catastrophizing is to break free of the future-threat beliefs. The best way to do that is to emphasize what you do know as fact. Usually, the only solid fact in the catastrophizing chain is the original adverse event that started it. The rest is guesswork and supposition. Use that fact to estimate the probabilities of your worst-case fears. Just how likely is it that all of the awful events in your negative chain actually will happen? Try to estimate a numerical probability of the likelihood that each event in the chain will occur. Is it 75%? Is it 50%? Is it one in a million?
  • Step Three: Best-Case Beliefs. Generate a best-case alternative for each of your worst-case outcomes. This forces you to escape your worst-case scenario thinking, at least temporarily. You are now beginning to think logically and to solve the problem. Suddenly, when you take a break from catastrophic thinking, you will be better able to create the positive outcomes because you’re not dwelling exclusively on the catastrophic outcomes.
  • Step Four: Focus on Realistic Outcomes. Often, your identification of the most likely outcomes will be negative, since your mind is already thinking negatively. When you focus on the more realistic probabilities of bad things happening (1 in 10 million), and then compare those probabilities to the odds of good outcomes occurring (such as 50% to 70%), your thinking and mood will automatically shift to the positive. Avoid catastrophic thinking by filling your mind with realistic, positive outcomes with a high probability of occurring. You will then be ready to tackle the problem creatively and forcefully.
  • Step Five: Pro-Active Solutions. Now it is time to generate the realistic action steps you can take to remediate the problem. Relax, breath deeply and begin to focus on concrete actions that are reasonably implemented to solve the problem. Implement as soon as possible. Remain calm. Again, stay away from catastrophic thinking since it is just a distraction from solving the problem and is a complete waste of your mental energy. The positive solution is at hand. You just need to problem solve to generate it.

Sources:

“Cost Effective Ways to Fight Insomnia” in the June 6th, 2009 New York Times

“Get A Great Night’s Sleep Every Night” from Good Housekeeping

American Academy of Sleep Medicine

“Insomnia Treatment: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy instead of Sleeping Pills” from MayoClinic.com

“Suffer From Insomnia? Try Cognitive Behavioral Therapy” from U.S. News and World Report

“The Resilience Factor” by Karen Reivich, Ph.D. and Andrew Shattle, Ph.D.

Bullying - By Chris Gearing

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Bullying: The Devastating Effects on Children and Teens

September 3, 2009

Dr. Sylvia Gearing, TXA 21 News

Bullying has become a serious mental health issue for millions of American families with up to 30% of students reporting their involvement in bullying as either the bully, the victim or bystander. The devastating consequences of bullying can be deadly with 2/3 of school shooters report being chronically bullied in school.

Here are the specific characteristics of bullying:

  • Intentional Harm: Bullying in childhood is an aggressive form of intimidation that marginalizes the best of children while deeply scarring them psychologically. It is a repeated attempt to harm and to emphasize a humiliating imbalance of power and influence.
  • Bullying Begins Early: Research reports that almost 34% of elementary school students reported being frequently bullied at school.
  • Middle School Peaks: Bullying increases during transition periods such as moving from elementary to middle school. This behavior peaks in middle school.
  • Group Bullying: Bullying is usually a group activity. Studies show that a single child does not usually victimize kids. Bullying involves both active and passive participation by a group. The kids adopt a mob mentality as they team together to ridicule or emotionally torture another child.

You may wonder why a child would bully their peers. Here’s what the newest research tell us:

Self-Centeredness: They are often victims of bullying at home and have parents who have problems with anger. They identify with the aggressor and inflict pain to establish internal self-control. However, lots of kids have difficult parents and don’t go out in the world hurting others. Bullies are choosing their heinous behavior out of their own self-centeredness and pain. These kids are in deep psychological trouble.

Bullies Know Difference Between Right and Wrong: The research about these kids suggests that most of the time they know exactly what they are doing. They understand the differences between right and wrong and commit the act anyway. They will lie, steal and cheat to avoid punishment and are sneaky around others. Although some studies suggest that around 40% of them have some mild empathy, another 40% are indifferent to the suffering of their victims and 20% actively enjoy the intimidation and control.

Websites like “Juicy Campus” and TV shows such as “Gossip Girl” have begun to shed light on a terrible new trend in bullying – cyber bullying.

Anonymous Bullies: The common denominator of all bullying is the intentional act to inflict pain on another person. Unfortunately, the anonymity of the Internet is ideal for such vicious behavior. According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project in 2006, one third of students are targets at some point.

Cyber Bullying Turns Dangerous: Most of the time, cyber bullying involves gossip and rude comments that do not express direct intent to harm. Around 50% of online bullies report that they inflict such cruelty “for fun” and to “teach the target a lesson.” However, a study published in 2006 reported that 12% of teens were physically threatened online and 5% actually feared for their physical safety.

Bullying can have terrible, long-term effects on children that can last a lifetime.

Three Victims: Words are weapons and psychological harm is as severe as a broken bone. Bullying involves three victims—the bully, the recipient of the bullying and the witnesses to such cruelty. Victims report more internal problems such as depression and anxiety while bullies have more conduct problems, anger and alienation from school and the community. Witnesses become desensitized to the suffering of others. The long-term effects of bullying for all groups can be severe with protracted trauma, depression and resentment stretching into the adult years.

Increased Suicidal Ideation: Researchers at the Yale School of Medicine found a significant connection between bullying, being bullied and suicide in a review of 37 studies from 13 countries. Bullying victims were much more likely to think about suicide.

Parents — if you are concerned, here’s what you can do:

  • Stop Denying: Many adults prefer to view bullying as a normal “rite of passage” through childhood. Nothing could be further from the truth. There are millions of victims who no longer believe that adults are going to protect them and they suffer in silence.
  • Bystanders Are Key: Research now argues that the bystanders of bullying are one of the vital keys to decreasing this growing problem. Teaching non-bullied kids to speak up, to refuse to be an audience, to label bullying publicly and to go and get help when the situation is out of control are essential steps for parents and teachers.
  • Empower the Victims: Believe your child about bullying. Victims are renowned for responding ineffectively through withdrawal, denial, silence and passivity. Such behaviors “feed” the bully’s control. We need to develop the victim’s talents, social skills, physical coordination and assertive abilities. He needs to be reassured that adults will take his complaints seriously and that he must report harassment. These are teachable skills and they increase self-confidence exponentially.

Sources:

American Academy of Pediatrics

Bullying and Teasing: Social Power in Children’s Groups, Gayle Macklem, Kluwer Academic/ Plenum Publishers, New York, 2003.

Cowie and Wallace (2006)

Patchin, J.W., and Hinduja, S (2006) Bullies move beyond the schoolyard: A preliminary look at cyber bullying. Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice, 4, 148-169.

Swearer, S., Espeleage, D. Napolitano,S. Bullying: Prevention and Intervention, 2009

Vossekuil, B., Fein, R.A., Reddy, M., Borum, R and Modzeleski, W (2002) The final report and findings of the safe school initiative: Implications for the prevention of school attacks in the United States. Washington, D.C: U.S. Secret Services and U.S. Department of Education.

Lethal Dangers - By Chris Gearing

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Lethal Dangers: The Dangers of Prescription Drug Abuse

August 27, 2009

Dr. Sylvia Gearing, TXA21 News

Monday’s announcement that the Los Angeles coroner has ruled Michael Jackson’s death a homicide has once again raised the issue of prescription drug abuse. According to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, prescription drug abuse has almost doubled in an eleven-year span, with 15 million Americans abusing prescription drugs.

But why is prescription drug abuse growing at such alarming rates?

Addiction is a lifelong disease characterized by compulsive use of substances despite the adverse consequences. These drugs hijack the brain and the individual cannot stop on their own.

There are several reasons why prescription drug abuse is increasing:

  • Access to Drugs: We have more effective drugs that are more vigorously marketed to the public ($60 billion annually spent on marketing by pharmaceutical companies). Approximately three billion prescriptions are written annually, and we are all encouraged to take pills to make things better.
  • Non-Medical Use of Prescription Drugs: We have grown more casual in self-medicating and in borrowing prescriptions from friends and families. One study found that fifty-six percent of pain relief abusers acquired the medicine from a friend or relative for free (National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2007). An estimated 48 million people have used prescription drugs for non-medical reasons in their lifetimes (National Institute of Drug Abuse). This represents 20% of the U.S. population.
  • Invisible Epidemic: We have been in denial about the severity of this problem. Alcoholism and drug addiction have received the most media attention in the past. Prescription drug abuse has been the most underreported drug abuse problem in the nation (National Institute of Drug Abuse). Unfortunately, it is now an epidemic.

Leading researchers also shed light on what kinds of prescription drugs are being abused and why:

Painkillers Dominate Abuse: Stimulant prescriptions have increase sevenfold (five million to thirty five million) over the last sixteen years. Opioid painkiller prescriptions such as oxycodone and hydro condone have more than quadrupled (forty million to one hundred eighty million) and are the number one abuse prescription drug. Benzodiazepines such as xanax and ativan are also quite popular.

Depression Rates Climbing: Depression is ten times more prevalent than it was fifty years ago and it strikes a decade earlier than it did a generation ago. Prescription drugs, particularly painkillers and tranquilizers, offer an endorphin rush that is alluring and addictive. Pain relievers mimic the body’s endorphins, but they are more powerful and last longer. Addiction is easy to develop because of these factors.

Prescription drug addiction can develop for a variety of reasons, but most often it is due to the following:

Pain Management Attempts: A history of pain can begin the cycle of addiction without people realizing it. The majority of people who become addicted never imagine that they will be in this situation—they just want the pain to stop. Over time, the painkillers deceive the brain and mimic the wondrous endorphins in a more powerful and lasting way. Substituting anything (including abstinence) for that “glow” is unacceptable.

Trauma Background: Trauma is an insidious mental health issue, and we know that the earlier in life it is inflicted, the more pervasive and intense the damage. A history of trauma can predispose individuals to becoming addicted to a variety of drugs later in life. Since addiction is a brain disease, early traumatic experiences in particular can deregulate the brain. Many addiction specialists view prescription abuse as an attempt to emotionally self-regulate.

If you are worried about a loved one, here’s what you can do:

Recognize the Problem: Your denial is the first hurdle to overcome. Most prescription addictions begin with a doctor’s good intentions. The slurring, drowsiness, craving and erratic sleep in the new addict are the first signs of an increasing problem. Pay attention, stay committed to change and do not be bullied by their anger.

Licensed Substance Abuse Professional: Seek help from a licensed substance abuse professional to get the best intervention plan. They will help you develop a list of triggers, the signs of using and a plan for family intervention. Carefully crafted intervention plans are highly effective and are often the reason why people finally address their addictive behaviors.

Sources:

When Painkillers Become Dangerous, Drew Pinsky, M.D.

Office of National Drug Control Policy

The National Institute on Drug Abuse

National Survey on Drug Use and Health: National Findings, 2007

Prescription Drug Abuse.com

The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia

MayoClinic.com


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