A Raleigh Therapist's Blog

Thoughts on counseling, healing, and creating the life you want

Why Anger Management doesn't Mean Anger Avoidance

Looking back over the years, it’s hard for me choose any one practice location that was my favorite. I have worked with client populations from about every walk of life I can imagine, and some I couldn’t have imagined before I met with them. And, they have taught me some things that I would never have figured out on my own in a million years. This is one of them:

Trying to avoid or ignore getting angry doesn’t make you any less angry. It does, in fact, sometimes serve to make you angrier.

Oh, how I struggled the first few years of being a therapist. I was working with clients, both male and female who had been adjudicated by the court system for “anger management” and domestic violence therapy sessions. We worked long and hard on the logic of getting so violently angry about what often seemed to me to be the smallest of things. We talked it out, we developed strategies to avoid that level of anger and we processed it some more in group therapy. But, I didn’t notice it helping all that much, really. I took this struggle with me to Orlando when I moved there and worked in a Department of Juvenile Justice lockdown facility for youthful female offenders. I mean, these kids were angry. They weren’t just there for talking back to their mamas. I once assessed a young woman who had slit the throat of the last therapist who had tried to assess her. So yeah, because I’m fond of my throat just how it is, I developed a vested interest in working with clients who presented with anger.

I owe a great debt to those young women. All of them had been through some tough stuff and had lived to tell about it. And, I am humbled and honored that many of them did tell me about their experiences. I think of them often and wonder where they are now. Working with them helped me develop a different sensibility about being angry. Here are a few things I have learned along the way:

1) Run, Forrest: Human beings don’t like to feel pain, and anger is one of those crappy-feeling emotions. Once you get past the adrenaline high of righteous indignation, there is only the elevated blood pressure, churning in your stomach and sore muscles from tensing up your body. (Men can add the ever-potent testosterone to that cocktail.) Who wouldn’t want to make that experience go away as quickly as possible? Some folks make it go away by lashing out behaviorally with fists and words in an attempt to fight fire with fire–neutralize a very physically experienced emotion with physical effort. Others storm out and try to disconnect with it. But those solutions are like taking an aspirin for chronic headaches without finding out the underlying reasons for them. Therapy and mindfulness exercises can help you sit with the anger, experience it as much as you need to and make conscious choices about how to deal with it.

2) Accept it you must: We live in a society that promotes happiness as something you can attain like a shiny new toy. And why, if you are not happy, then there must be something wrong with you, you negative Nellie. But this just isn’t true. Anger is like any other emotion–valid. When you realize you’re angry how does that make you feel about yourself? What do you believe it means about you if you’re angry? What would it mean about you if you owned up to the anger and figured out in a gentle, purposeful way where it comes from and what you want to do with it?

3) Visualize it: Clients have told me that they want to memorize the feelings associated with how they will behave in highly-charged situations. They have done this by doing meditations in which they envision feeling the anger, experiencing it fully and making choices that are different than the ones they have made in the past. We bring up the situations that provoke the anger in therapy as vividly as possible and then, through a variety of different means explore and enact the different behavior. One client who had struggled with angry outbursts most of his life decided that he wanted to laugh (in a nice way, not a scary serial killer way) when he got too heated. After practicing this for a bit, he genuinely began to regard his anger with gentleness and chuckled to himself in situations in which he previously  might have blown his top.

Do you need some help managing difficult emotions? Why don’t you give me a call so that we can talk about it?

Your Partner in Healing, 

Holly

Are you looking for individual, couples or group therapy in Raleigh? Call me today to schedule a FREE 30-minute consultation to learn how counseling can help you. Please contact me at (919) 714-7455 or email me at holly@lotustherapycenter.com. Visit me on the web at www.lotustherapycenter.com or:

Twitter: HollyCoxLMFT

Pinterest:DrHollyCox

Facebook: Lotus Therapy Center

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A Push From Your Friendly Raleigh Therapist to Visit Your Doctor

I am the unfortunate recipient of some pretty gnarly stuff in my family’s gene pool. I think I have been a good sport about that for the most part. I got my teeth straightened. I wear contact lens and wait for the cataracts I’ve had since birth to demand removal. I cope with always being kinda anemic. But, I thought I had weathered the worst of that and headed into my adult years as a healthy gal in complete control of her body and her destiny.

Then, I found out that I have Grave’s Disease.

My grandmother had it too, and on the outside of it, it doesn’t appear to be too much of a show stopper. Grave’s disease, otherwise known as hyperthyroidism, can be treated with medication, eating a radioactive pill to kill off part of your thyroid, or worst case, having the whole dang thing removed and living on thyroid meds forever. But, fortunately, the long and short of it is that you live.

I am blessed with a wonderful team of health care providers who have worked together to manage my disease and help me make decisions about how long my thyroid will continue to take up residence before it overstays its welcome. I don’t know all the answers yet, but I am working hard with both traditional MDs and with a fantastic holistic doctor as well to find some level of healing. However, I would still be suffering in misery if not for the quick thinking of my primary care doctor in checking my thyroid during his first round of testing. He’s a thorough guy, and I am grateful for it. Which brings me to the point of this post:

Go see your primary care doc once a year. Do it. Do it now if you haven’t yet done it. Do I need to wait here while you go make the appointment? Don’t tempt me. Ok, I’m waiting….

The only symptoms of my thyroid disease that I noticed before being diagnosed (even though it was already waaaaay out of hand) were hives, blurry vision and a general sense of anxiety and on-going panic. Research shows that thyroid disease (both hyper and hypo) is often missed because its myriad of symptoms can look at first like depression or anxiety. If my doctor had not been so thorough, he would have given me a script for Xanax and asked me to seek counseling. When I was put on the correct thyroid medication, my symptoms subsided and I was able to resume a life I recognized.

I have been toying around with starting a support group for individuals with thyroid disorders and/or fibromyalgia in Raleigh because my own experience with thyroid disease has been so profound. Would this be helpful to you guys? Let me know and we’ll get it on the books. Also, if anyone wants to know the names of my providers I would be happy to hook you up with them.

Your Partner in Healing,

Holly

Are you looking for individual, couples or group therapy in Raleigh? Call me today to schedule a FREE 30-minute consultation to learn how counseling can help you. Please contact me at (919) 714-7455 or email me at holly@lotustherapycenter.com. Visit me on the web at www.lotustherapycenter.com or:

Twitter: HollyCoxLMFT

Pinterest:DrHollyCox

Facebook: Lotus Therapy Center

Google +: Holly Cox

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The Importance of Sacred Spaces Plus an Invitation

I love putting together a new office. There is a wonderful sense of newness and urgency about it. It just feels like every great thing that is going to happen in that space will manifest all at once if I can hurry up and get the curtains hung. The new Lotus Therapy Center feels warm and cozy. I’m setting it up so that both you and I can express our awesomeness in there appropriately.

I think everyone should have somewhere–your car, a corner of your closet, a yoga mat and candle out on the fire escape–somewhere, that you can access a few moments of quiet and inspiration. For me, that place is usually my office. There are numerous reasons for this that include but are not limited to: 1) There are no legos to step on anywhere 2) I don’t have to put my coffee at a level somewhere above my head for fear that I will later be drinking after my mountain-climbing pug 3) I decorated it myself and all my best books are there.

Sacred spaces are important for recharging your batteries and equipping yourself to handle new challenges that come your way. You wouldn’t expect your car to continue to run if you don’t put gas in it. But, so many folks navigate the rigors of modern life by pushing through on fumes. Here are a few tips for creating sacred spaces in your life:

1) Wherever you go, there you are: Back in the day when I did in-home and in-school counseling, I carried around a very strongly-scented peppermint aromatherapy lotion from Origins. (It’s called Peace of Mind if you’re interested.) I did this for several reasons. First, studies show that athletes who smell peppermint feel better, perform more strongly and are more cheerful about the entire endeavor. Did you know you could get that kind of boost in a smell? Secondly, it gave a olfactory clue that our therapy sessions, no matter where they were that day, were sacred spaces. So, really all you need is a cue, a quiet place (seriously, your car will do) and a few minutes to set your intention on whatever will help you most.

2) R-E-S-P-E-C-T: I hope you just sang that in your head like I did. If you respect your responsibilities and want to do your best, you have to respect the instrument that will get all that stuff accomplished first–you. You are your own first and last resource for health and better performance. Can you make a corner of your office (you don’t have to tell anybody) a sacred space? My office has a plant my husband gave me many years ago, a special rock I got from a seminar I found inspiring, and a small statue of Kwan Yin. It doesn’t look like anything but a collection of mementos. But to me, it reminds me that if I want to practice compassion towards others, I have to do it for myself.

3) Come Together Right Now: There are those of us who make it our business to create sacred spaces to share. Folks who lead mediation groups, worship leaders of all religions, yoga teachers, massage therapists and a host of others are available to enter into those collaborative spaces with you. I would love to take this opportunity to invite you into mine.

Your Partner in Healing,

Holly

Are you looking for individual, couples or group therapy in Raleigh? Call me today to schedule a FREE 30-minute consultation to learn how counseling can help you. Please contact me at (919) 714-7455 or email me at holly@lotustherapycenter.com. Visit me on the web at www.lotustherapycenter.com or:

Twitter: HollyCoxLMFT

Pinterest:DrHollyCox

Facebook: Lotus Therapy Center

Google +: Holly Cox

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Follow A Raleigh Therapist on Pinterest

I have come undone.

Social media has had me in its steely sights for some time now. But, last night I discovered a new revelation in sharing stuff. Pinterest.

Am I the only one that thinks this thing is seriously cool? I like Facebook because it’s a good way for me to keep up with all my friends and family. I grudgingly have a Twitter account because some business guru somewhere felt I should. But Pinterest….Oh, Pinterest, my sweet love, where have you been all my life?

If you want to connect with me on Pinterest,  go to www.pinterest.com and follow me. My name there is DrHollyCox. (You know, much like in real life. Go figure.)

I am so excited to see what excites you guys. And, you can find out interesting facts about me too. For instance, I have a secret desire to be a roller derby girl.

Why don’t you come on over so we can get connected?

Your Partner in Healing,

Holly

Are you looking for individual, couples or group therapy in Raleigh? Call me today to schedule a FREE 30-minute consultation to learn how counseling can help you. Please contact me at (919) 714-7455 or email me at holly@lotustherapycenter.com. Visit me on the web at www.lotustherapycenter.com.

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