June 7, 2012
by Jay Tow, M. S.
It has been my experience when the thought of failure has not entered my mind, I have experienced the most success. I guess this could mean that thinking of possible failure results in thoughts that subconsciously place barriers to our success. This is another reason to focus on the steps you are taking toward a specific goal and not about the ultimate outcome. In other words, it is good to have goals but best not to focus on the goal.
You are capable of far more than you can imagine.
Power and Control
June 6, 2012
by Jay Tow, M. S.
Just how much power and control do we have over what happens in our lives? When things are going smoothly we feel very powerful and think we have everything under control. That changes quickly when something comes along and disrupts our lives. This can be due to something we did not anticipate or of which we were unaware. It could also be an unanticipated consequence of something we did or said. It can be caused by other people or natural forces.
It is very important to recognize and accept what we have can have power and control over as well as what we do not. Even though we can influence people and events, we do not have the power to control them. Touch the tip of your nose. This is where our control ends. We have the power and control of what we think and do. This very much determines what we feel. We do have control of how we react to events and deal with them.
Make the effort to accept these truths and it will make your life simpler and more easily managed.
June 4, 2012
by Jay Tow, M. S.
One question I am asked on a pretty regular basis is whether it is possible to change things about ourselves. The answer is "Yes" we are capable of changing how we act, think, and feel. Much of what we do and think are the ways we learned to and these have become habits. The next question is normally is: How do I do that?
The first step is to identify what it is you want to change. What behavior or way of acting causes you problems? What way of thinking do you wish to change? You need to start by increasing your awareness in order to start changing. You will also need to find out what you will replace those thoughts or behaviors.
The next step I call catch and correct. Every time you catch yourself thinking or doing what you want to change, you correct your behavior or thinking to what you would rather it be. This takes vigilance and persistence. It takes time to break habits and establish new ones. It will take time.
Some counselors make it seem so easy. These are simple steps. But changing isn't so simple and easy. Give yourself time and be gentle with yourself. You can do it!!!!!
What To Do When You Screw-Up?
May 30, 2012
by Jay Tow, M. S.
If you are someone who has never made a major mistake in your life my hat is off to you and I want to know how you managed that. I am one of those people who has made major mistakes (at least from my point of view) and had to suffer the consequences. It can be very painful and set your life back. To be honest, I have had to start over in my life more than once. I have had to change directions and even re-invent myself. The experience I have in this area has taught me a few things about dealing with mistakes.
Once the action that caused the problem has been done you have little control of the response. As much as we would like to, we can't take it back. It's alright to beat yourself up for a while. It is a pretty natural reaction for most of us. But, some people take it to the point of affecting life for many years. That is really unnecessary and self-destructive. So, give yourself some time and then have the goal of letting that go. The sun will continue to rise and life will go on. Your life needs to go on as well. From my experience, anxiety and depression are the feelings to be dealt with. There is a grieving period that takes place as well. Anger is also a part of the process and then acceptance and healing can happen.
I believe it is very important to take responsibility for our mistakes and not place blame on others or make ourselves out to be victims. You are experiencing something that will stimulate growth if you allow it.
Don't try to avoid or medicate your feelings. I believe that you can't get past issues without going through them. Part of being a human being is having feelings. Many of those feelings are unpleasant. Part of the healing process is the feelings we would very much like to avoid. Those feelings will not last forever. They never do. Whatever feelings you have will be replaced with other feelings. Even though it may not be visible, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Avoid trying to find meaning it what has happened. I don't believe there is a reason for everything. Sometimes we make bad choices and stuff happens. On the other hand, I believe that some of the worst things I have experienced in my life turned out to be some of the best things to have happened in the long term. But I was not aware of the for a long time after the event. Those are the events that taught me huge lessons and changed the direction of my life. Those are the events that opened my eyes to the inner strength that I have and the ability to bounce back.
Therefore, the next step is picking up the pieces and moving forward. Accept that you can't change the past and as uncertain as the future may be, you can only do things in the here and now to create a better life. Try to learn the lessons you can and apply them to your life. Put the past in the past. You have a choice to have a story or be your story.
Beginning the Process of Recovery
by Jay Tow, M. S.
This is the second in a series of articles about recovery from the affects of child sexual abuse.
If you experienced any kind of abuse as a child you can recover and eliminate the effects this abuse has had on you and your life. Abuse affects the way you see yourself, others, and how you interact with the world. Your thoughts and behaviors are based on decisions you made as that abused child. Part of the process of recovery is to learn to see through the eyes of the adult you are now and not continue to make decisions based on beliefs developed during childhood. A large part of what motivates someone who was abused as a child is to avoid being hurt again. Abuse survivors go to great lengths to avoid pain.
The beliefs and thought process I have been referring to is not done consciously. Just like most behaviors we repeat again and again, the thoughts have been so internalized that the process takes place subconsciously. When people get to the point of realizing that how they are living life is not working for them, they have little awareness of what thoughts and beliefs are the source of the problems. We can only experience life from our point of view and have difficulty recognizing alternative ways of thinking and behaving.
Most people have an automatic thought process (an internal conversation) that determines their mood and how they react to what happens to them. In order to change something, we must first become aware of what requires change. Increasing this awareness is the first step in implementing the recovery process. Most abuse survivors put a great deal of energy into avoiding certain thoughts and feelings because it feels too much to handle. So, the painful experiences and feelings are buried in order to keep them out of awareness.
The process of recovery does not require people to relive the abuse they suffered or re-experience the feeling they repressed. The process is more about coping and living more effectively in the here and now. You cannot change the past, so why go back and relive it? The goal is to develop healthier and more affective coping skills and live in the present rather than the past. I will discuss some ways of increasing awareness and identifying thoughts and beliefs that require change in my next article.
Improving Your Marriage May Begin with You
by Jay Tow, M. S.
My approach to working with couples has always started with the following:
Two people coming into a relationship with their own sets of issues. They act out on these issues within the relationship.
In order to deal with the issues that may be having a negative effect on the relationship, both people must first work through their own issues. What both individuals need to work on could range from minor issues or major issues like abuse or other trauma.
Most commonly, people who are having problems in their relationship never learned how to have a healthy relationship. They grew up in a dysfunctional family with parents who never learned the skills necessary to have a healthy relationship. Most of us learn how to interact in our close personal relationships by watching our parents. Without healthy role models, we never learn these skills.
Counseling is a very important ingredient to help learn how to have a better relationship with yourself and others. If you aren't feeling good about yourself you can't have a good relationship. Learning about how to get needs met or even expressing what your needs are can sometimes require the help of a professional. This leads to another problem many individuals encounter that negatively affects relationships. Many people are co-dependent. Put simply, a co-dependent's self-esteem is related to the feedback they get from the world. They work very hard to make sure others like them to the detriment of getting their own needs met. Unwittingly, they manipulate and try to control others. They avoid conflict and end up with a feeling of emptiness.
Many people have difficulty with effective communication. They need to work on expressing themselves and make sure they are understood. The other part of effective communication is good listening skills. This is the ability to make sure that you understand what is being communicated to you and the person doing the communicating knows that you understand.
As mentioned earlier, many people have difficulty dealing with conflict and may avoid it totally. All relationships have differences of opinion and conflict. If someone has difficulty resolving these conflicts or denying they exist, anger and resentment can build and seriously damage the relationship. Learning conflict resolution skills is important part of having a healthy relationship.
Fear of intimacy or the inability to have a close and intimate relationship will likely be the cause of problems within a relationship. Individuals who have some or all of the issues mentioned in this article would likely have a problem being emotionally intimate with their partner. If you are not feeling good about who you are you would likely believe that no one could love you if they knew the "real" you. A person with self-esteem or co-dependency issues will more likely try to be the person they think another would want them to be.
Work through your issues if you want to have a healthy and fulfilling relationship.
Here's an interview article:
What Sexual Child Abuse is and How You Can Help
What to look for and what to do about it
by JALEH DONALDSON
Yahoo! Contributor Network
May 17, 2010
It's very sad that there are many children who are being sexually abused. According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, "Child sexual abuse has been reported
up to 80,000 times a year, but the number of unreported instances is far greater, because the children are afraid to tell anyone what has happened, and the legal procedure for validating an episode is difficult."
To help us better understand sexual child abuse I have interviewed Jay Tow.
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
"I have been a psychotherapist for nearly 15 years and in private practice more than 10 years. I am also a Board Certified Sex Therapist. My professional career started as an addictions counselor. This is where I began treating (mostly) women who were victims of child sexual abuse. I have worked with victims of childhood sexual abuse as well as sex offenders (adult and adolescent). I use a technique that can resolve sexual abuse issues in as little as one session. My practice is in Plantation, Florida."
What is sexual child abuse?
"The legal definition of child molestation is "the act of a person who forces, coerces or threatens a child to have any form of sexual contact or to engage in any type of sexual activity at the perpetrator's direction." Child sexual abuse can include touching (fondling, having the child touch an adult in sexual areas, or penetration of a child's vagina, anus, or mouth with a penis or object for other than medical purposes). It can also be non-touching which would include exposing sexual organs to a child, showing child pornography, purposely engaging in sexual acts in front of a child. Child sexual abuse can also include child prostitution or using a child in pornographic material."
What is the common age range of children who are sexually abused?
"Children can be abused at any age. Sexual abuse can start with infants and toddlers."
What type of impact does it have on a child who is sexually abused?
"Sexual abuse can have devastating consequences for children and continue to have a major impact on self-esteem, identity, trust, and general mental health when they become adults. Victims of child sexual abuse have a difficult time with trust, which affects the ability to maintain close relationships. It can lead to substance abuse and self-destructive behavior."
"Depending on the severity of the abuse a child could have urinary tract infections and other physical problems that continue into adulthood."
What are some signs of sexual child abuse?
"Behavioral changes vary by age."
"Signs of abuse in infants and toddlers:
They could cry excessively, vomit, experience problems with eating or bowl movements, and have problems sleeping. Young children may show a failure to thrive."
"Signs of abuse in children over the age of 3 up to adolescence:
They could have a regression to behaviors like bed-wetting, fear of people or places, excessive masturbation, or victimizing others. They could have problems sleeping, nightmares, or could withdraw from friends and family."
The signs of abuse in older children and adolescents:
"They could show signs of depression, have nightmares or problems sleeping, do poorly in school, engage in substance abuse, become aggressive, run away from home, become promiscuous (or other behaviors that are not appropriate for their age), become anxious, or have problems eating, or exhibit anger. They could have suicidal thought or actions."
What can someone do if they suspect sexual child abuse?
"If you suspect that a child is being abused in any way, you should report it to the police or family services department of your state or local area. Remove the child from the possibility of continued abuse."
What type of help is available for a child who is sexually abused?
"Counseling is available for children who have experienced sexual abuse. There are mental health professionals who specialize in treating child sexual abuse victims. You can contact your local rape crisis center. Many localities have crisis/help lines you can call to get information and referrals for mental health professionals who work with sexually abused children. Most of all, the child needs you to be understanding, kind, and loving."
Thank you Mr. Tow for the interview.