Jan 27

At first glance, one might think that Therapy Revolution: Find Help, Get Better, and Move On without Wasting Time or Money is slamming the psychotherapy field. However, upon closer inspection of his book, Therapy Revolution, you will learn that Zwolinski, a nationally and internationally licensed psychotherapist and addiction specialist, is suggesting that, as with any field, there are legitimate, competent players who follow best practices for therapists, as well as unethical persons who prey on persons who already are struggling with emotional issues.

In his book, the author encourages clients to empower themselves, by learning how to find help, get better and move on with their lives without getting caught up in “therapy addiction.” According to Zwolinski, many clients are trapped in bad therapeutic situations that not only aren’t helping them get better, but may actually be doing them more damage both emotionally and financially.

Zwolinski says that successful therapy must include five “fundamental ingredients.”
1. The therapist must be a motivated, experienced professional.
2. The therapist must use evidence-based treatments; that is, proven methods and techniques.
3. Therapy must be carried out in a reasonable treatment time frame.
4. The therapist’s hourly fee and the entire cost of the course of treatment must be fair and reasonable.
5. The patient must be a motivated patient.

In the interest of ensuring the client has control over his or her own therapeutic experience, the author has included several checklists throughout the book that can be used by the client in all stages of the therapeutic process – from selecting a therapist to determining when it is a time to move on. The author also includes a number of case studies that assist the client in recognizing what is considered good and acceptable therapeutic treatment, and identifying “red flag” situations where violations and ethical breaches have occurred.

These “red flag” situations are discussed in greater detail in the chapter, “Experienced, Ethical, Competent, and Caring – or Not.” Some are more obvious than others – the therapist is constantly late, has no empathy, behaves unprofessionally or blames the client. Some “red flag” situations are a bit more insidious, and thus, may not be easy for the patient to recognize right away. For instance, the author warns clients of therapists who are manipulative or dishonest, stating, “If a therapist tries to cover up failings or errors, especially if he says his failings or errors are actually “part of your therapy,” this shows he lacks foundational morals.”

Zwolinski also explains that while a client should be able to trust his or her therapist, this does not give the therapist license to use “emotional blackmail” to control his clients, who already are vulnerable:
“By the use of emotional blackmail, a person aims to control another and/or force another to do what the perpetrator wants by subtly or overtly threatening consequences, such as inducing overwhelming guilt in the victim.”

Another “red flag” situation is when the therapist begins to blur the boundaries of what is considered an ethical client/therapist relationships.

“When a therapist’s and patient’s lives intersect in some kind of relationship outside of therapy . . . this is a no-no. Having a professional or interpersonal relationship with a therapist is confusing, at best, and can possibly cause severe emotional suffering.”

Therapy Revolution is a book that is intended to help clients learn to advocate for themselves, establish ethical client therapist relationships and take responsibility for their therapeutic experiences, according to Zwolinski, who states, “By being a savvy consumer of therapy, you have learned how to actively be involved in healing yourself. Now that’s good therapy.”

Richard M. Zwolinski, LMHC, is a nationally and internationally licensed psychotherapist and addiction specialist, who has been practicing therapy for more than twenty years. He is a New York State-licensed mental health counselor.

For Information on Therapy Revolution
For More Information on a list of Counseling Centers

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Jan 14

In the aftermath of a Haiti disaster, Miracle on the Hudson survivors will still commemorate the one-year anniversary of the day that 155 people took a swim in the Hudson River along with a commercial airbus, two life rafts, and a whole lot of plastic inflatable life vests “stowed underneath your seat in case of a water landing.”

That’s what was happening on January 15, 2009. What’s happening in the days surrounding January 15, 2010 is very different. The attention of the world is focused on Haiti, and the human drama that is playing out there. But that shouldn’t dim the celebration that is still legitimately joyful, and filled with book signings, reunions, celebrations, speaking engagements, and lots and lots of media attention for 155 Hudson crash survivors.

We need to remember things like the Miracle on the Hudson during tragedies like the Haiti earthquake because we can only make it through the disasters by keeping focused on the hope of a better future. Hope is what the Miracle on the Hudson made us all feel, and that’s what we can legitimately allow ourselves to feel again one year later.

This one-year anniversary is an important and meaningful time for everyone who played an integral part in creating a real-life miracle. In a different way, it is equally important and meaningful to everyone else who watched with awe as the drama unfolded before the eyes of the world, as if it was the ultimate reality show. In great contrast to the Haiti earthquake disaster, the Miracle on the Hudson was a disaster avoided. And it’s important to remember what that feels like.

Those who felt renewed in their faith can remember and feel that faith again. Those who were filled with appreciation for how precious life is can remember and feel that appreciation again. Those who were reassured that there are still heroes – like Captain Sully Sullenberger, Jeff Skiles, New York Waterway boat crews, first responders, firefighters, police officers, EMT’s and Red Cross volunteers – can remember and feel reassured again. Those who were filled with awe about breath-taking moments that shouldn’t happen – but somehow do – can remember and be filled with awe again.

Those who want to feel uplifted will be lifting a glass during the official toast at the crash site. Those who have an insatiable fascination for near death experiences and second chance lives will be standing in lines to meet the survivors who wrote their own stories for the Miracle on the Hudson anniversary book, “Brace For Impact.” Those who want to feel inspired again started the week watching the “Brace For Impact” documentary on TLC, and will be listening intently to the interviews and speeches that are happening all week. Those who have lost interest will probably ignore everything and miss a rare opportunity to participate once again in something extraordinary.

Some anniversaries – like September 11, and now the Haiti earthquake – are thrust involuntarily upon us. But most anniversaries are commemorated by choice because of the positive feelings they help us recall. The Miracle on the Hudson will be an anniversary celebration of choice for millions of people for many years to come. It represents the best of the human spirit, the highest form of fate, and the fairy tale ending that we want to believe can happen for us all. It reminds us that even the devastating collapse of physical structures in Haiti cannot collapse the structure of the human spirit.

Happy anniversary to a miracle! And many happy returns.

More on the Miracle on the Hudson Anniversary:

Miracle on the Hudson Anniversary Book
Brace for Impact Second Chances Writing Contest

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Jan 12

Along with the announcement that the New York City Health Department is establishing guidelines for the sodium level of foods sold and served within its city limits, was an admission by Mayor Mike Bloomberg that he is a big salt consumer himself.

Reportedly Mayor Bloomberg loves hot dogs and popcorn, eats peanut butter and bacon sandwiches, and adds extra salt to his pizza and saltine crackers. The reason the Mayor seems to have an insatiable appetite for all things salty is because sodium is an addictive substance, according to nutrition experts.

“The more salt you eat, the more salt you want. It’s a vicious cycle,” according to Tammy Lakatos Shames, a New York registered dietitian. “Salt is an acquired taste. You aren’t born craving the taste of salt, but you build up a tolerance to it over time” adds Lyssie Lakatos, Tammy’s dietitian twin sister.

The Lakatos sisters (a/k/a The Nutrition Twins) put great emphasis on sodium intake in their nutritional counseling practice because they believe it is one of the biggest health risks in America today.

“People think if they don’t have high blood pressure they don’t have to worry about salt, but that’s not true,” Lyssie says. In the book that the Lakatos sisters co-authored, called “The Secret to Skinny: How Salt Makes You Fat,” the Nutrition Twins list a number of serious maladies that researchers have linked to excessive sodium intake.

Impaired brain function, kidney damage, stomach cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis, and strokes can all be caused by sodium toxicity, researchers say. But the biggest health consequence for excessive salt intake for Americans, according to the Nutrition Twins, is obesity. “Salt makes you fat,” both sisters state emphatically.

In their “Secret to Skinny” book, the Lakatos sisters explain how salt toxicity produces more fat in the body, makes the fat cells more dense, increases food cravings, and decreases the body’s ability to burn fat and repair muscle. This is information that the Nutrition Twins think is vital to the 70 million Americans who are struggling with obesity.

“We definitely think it’s a step in the right direction,” Tammy Lakatos says about New York’s sodium guidelines. “Hopefully this will lead to more awareness about the dangers of salt,” she says.

New York’s sodium guidelines are just the latest in regulatory efforts to motivate healthy eating in the Big Apple. In 2008 New York became the first U.S. city to require restaurants to display calorie counts of foods in menus, on menu boards, and on display case labels. Prior to that, in 2006 New York became the first U.S. city to ban trans fats from all foods and ingredients served in New York City restaurants.

With the latest campaign against high sodium foods, Bloomberg is once again pointing New Yorkers towards good health, and setting the pace for other U.S. city government leaders as well. Hopefully Bloomberg will be pointing his own eating habits in a low-sodium direction too.

Although it’s not clear what, if anything, Mayor Bloomberg will be doing to reduce his own sodium intake, Tammy and Lyssie suggest that he is probably addicted to the taste of salt. If that is the case, going cold turkey is the best way that he could break that addiction.

“Taste buds turn over in 21 days or less,” Tammy says. That’s why, in their book, the Nutrition Twins recommend a 21-day cold turkey salt detox. “After 21 days, your taste buds will adjust, and then when you add salt back into your diet, a little bit will taste like a lot,” Lyssie says.

The Nutrition Twins are hoping that Mayor Bloomberg will use the copy of “Secret to Skinny” that they are sending him to break any addiction he may have to toxically salty foods. But until Bloomberg’s sodium detox is complete, the Lakatos sisters have one big caution for him and every American.

“Read labels!” both Nutrition Twins say emphatically. “Nearly 80% of the sodium intake of the average American is from processed foods, not from what we’re shaking onto our plate,” Lyssie says. “We all need to know more about what how much salt we’re eating and what that sodium is doing to our bodies,” Tammy adds.

Tammy Lakatos Shames and Lyssie Lakatos are registered dietitians and personal trainers with a private practice in New York. They are co-authors of the book, “The Secret to Skinny: How Salt Makes you Fat and the 4-Week Plan to Drop a Size and Get Healthier With Simple Low Sodium Swaps,” and are featured regularly in the media as nutrition and fitness experts.

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