Today is PTSD day. When I realized this, I immediately thought of my friend, Jon. While I specialize in Happiness, Jon specializes in trauma. As a therapist, I feel very grateful that I can refer people to Jon to make sure they get the best treatment possible. It feels good when I give out Jon’s phone number because I know that person will be feeling better soon – and that’s what it’s all about.

Frank Clayton LPC

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Report from IPPA Conference, Day 2

Day two of the 2nd Congress of the International Positive Psychology Association was simply amazing.  I learned SO much!  At one point I laughed to my friend “Teacher!  My brain is full!”  Here’s a report of the day’s events:

It began with Ed Deci speaking about self-determination and its relationship to positive psychology – in other words: the self-fulfilling prophecy.  He showed scientific proof that believing that you are doomed and things will never get better can actually bring that about.  Using a simple analogy (of my own), if one is drowning and they really don’t think anyone will come to rescue them, they can behave based on this belief by not paddling and dying before help could arrive.  But Deci really wowed the crowd when he reported that studies repeatedly proved that external rewards kill off intrinsic motivation.  For instance, when we try to control our children either by giving them a reward for doing well (the carrot) or punishing them when they do not do well (the stick), we inadvertently are hindering our child’s innate love of learning!  You can bet I will be blogging more about this. Continue reading Report from IPPA Conference, Day 2

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Once upon a time, I worked at a residential treatment center (RTC) for teens. When parents reached a point where they did not know what to do with their child and felt that their kid was in danger of hurting themselves or others (through a variety of means) – in other words they were at their wit’s end – they would send them to such a facility. It was here that I saw first hand what a fundamental shift can happen when one focuses on the positive rather than the negative. At this RTC there were four different houses. One of the houses was struggling significantly. The staff were burned out and there was a great deal of acting out behavior by the youth. A nurse there said she could feel the negative vibe emanating from the house. Something had to be done. The powers that be decided to rotate the staff so that the teens had a fresh new team to work with. Before day one, the staff huddled and decided that they were going to do two things: enforce the rules and accentuate the positive. In other words they were going to focus on what was RIGHT instead of what was wrong. Three days later, the aforementioned nurse said when she walked into the house, she knew a significant change had occurred. The students were more than just compliant they were happy, courteous and kind to one another. They did their chores with little complaint and began complimenting one another as staff had done to them. Not surprisingly, the staff was happier too. From this movement sprouted the Positive Difference Program. When staff saw students going above and beyond, they gave them a Positive Difference card, describing how they had made a positive difference. Attached was a ticket that allowed them to participate in a drawing for prizes at the end of the week. Though initially cards were only given from staff to students, it was not long before students wanted to give them to each other. It went so far that students wanted to give them back to staff and to their parents. As you may imagine that within a month’s time, the house had gone from one with a bad reputation to being the house everyone (staff and students alike) wanted to be.
This idea was started by one person. One person that decided to focus not on what was wrong, but what was right; to compliment rather than criticize. It radiated out and changed their focus. It changed their entire way of thinking and permanently changed lives.
What do YOU focus on? What impact do you make? Because whether you realize it or not, you already impact others. Is it a positive one or a negative one (or something in between)?
YOU can make a positive difference – in your immediate family, your extended family, your work, your friends your church and beyond – even strangers on the street.
Be aware. Decide. Act.

Frank Clayton
Licensed Professional Counselor

P.S. Attached is a short movie by Kurt Kuenne showing how one person can make a big difference

Validation

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Grief is tough. Two of the toughest parts of grief is feeling alone and not knowing how to grieve. In our fast-paced world, we are given very little time to work through our grief. This can leave us feeling like we “should be over it by now”. There are a lot of right ways to grieve. The only real way to do it “wrong” is to attempt to avoid it. Ironically and sadly, this prolongs the process. I have worked with many people recently who are struggling with unresolved grief. Specifically grief over the death of a loved one that occurred over a year ago and they are having difficulty getting past it. This unresolved grief obviously thwarts efforts to be happy.
To alleviate feelings of isolated, lonely grief and to help educate mourners on the process of grief, I offer the Unresolved Grief Group. Most of the work done in regards to grief occurs outside of the therapeutic arena. Therefore, this group will be offered once a month, to give mourners an opportunity to do the work needed between groups.
This will be a closed group. This means that once the group has begun, newcomers will not be allowed into the group. Those who attend are making a commitment to show up each month for 12 months. Group members must be screened by me to determine whether the person is appropriate and a good fit for the group. Such a consultation will be 10-15 minutes in length and that consultation will be free of charge. The cost of the group will be $25 for each group which is expected to last approximately one and half hours. The group will be held at my office (220 East 3900 South #7) on the first Wednesday of each month. To set up a consultation or if you have any questions, please E-mail me at frank@saltlakementalhealth.com or call 877-476-6338 for recorded information

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Sleep deprivation can definitely impede on your Happiness. In his book The Promise of Sleep (Dell, 2000), professor William Dement of Stanford University School of Medicine states that if American’s got just one more hour of sleep each night our “sleep sick” society would be much healthier and happier (Sonja Lyubomirsky, The How of Happiness).
If you have difficulty sleeping, I prescribe some of the techniques we use in Happiness 101:
* Be mindful -of what you are doing or not doing that may be contributing to poor sleep
* Recognize what you have control over and what you do not. For example, staying up to watch Dave or Jay are within your control. What time the sun rises is not in your control.
* Make a plan. For instance, “I will turn off the T.V. at 10pm”.
* Implement the plan. “Do, or do not” and take full responsibility for that decision.

To help you recognize some of the little things you may unwittingly be doing to undermine your ZZZ’s, I direct you to sleep hygiene. There is much out there written on the subject. You have but to look. Please take care of yourself. Sleep and feel happier.
~Frank Clayton, LPC

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GriefOxymoronic, isn’t it? Grief never feels good but there are good ways to grieve. This implies that if there are good ways to grieve, there are bad ways to grieve as well. The best way I can explain it is the band-aid analogy. You can do it the fast painful way or you can drag the pain out – possibly for years. While taking off the band-aid has two speeds – fast or slow – the speed of grief is more like slow or slower. Many have hoped that after two or three of those gut-wrenching sobbing sessions that they are all done, they’re over it. In her book, The Worst Loss, Barbara Rosof states that typically grieving lasts for weeks if not months depending on many things – particularly the strength of the relationship. No one wants to grieve. No one wants to feel that pain. Many people go to great extremes to avoid feeling their pain, immersing themselves in drugs, alcohol, work or an endless stream of projects. There is no way around it. The only way through it is to feel your feelings and allow yourself to heal. This is not to imply you will “get over it”. Grief is about learning to live with the loss. Aside from feeling your feelings, Rosof recommends two other critical points: your grief is unique and has its own timeline. Comparing your grief to others will probably only serve to make matters worse. The final point is to get support. Ironically, many people tend to isolate when they need to reach out the most. Caring Connections offers a grief support group. The Sharing Place offers support as well, not only to adults but specialize in helping children to grieve. If you are grieving, please reach out for help.
~Frank Clayton, LPC

Please pray for Haiti

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