What Triggers the Feeding Frenzy?
By Steve B. Reed, L.P.C., L.M.F.T.

Nita is an expert at losing weight. She has lost the same 50 pounds over and over again. She has tried all the fad diets, diet pills and diet centers. She is on a weight gain/loss roller coaster. Each time she goes through the cycle of dieting, she gains a little more weight than she loses. At 270 pounds, she fears that she is gaining on 300. Ironically, that fear also contributes to her eating binges.

Nita, like many people, is an emotional eater. Food is no longer simply fuel for her body. It has become her drug of choice, her friend, companion, comfort and distraction from the unpleasant emotional experiences of daily life. At some point she discovered that eating helps to medicate her pain. That association between eating and easing her emotions gets reinforced daily.

There are many different triggers that can send a person into a feeding frenzy. For Nita, loneliness is a common trigger. Having been raised in a family that says “I love you” with food, eating has become associated with love. Now when Nita feels lonely, she feeds her hungry heart. A big meal feels like a warm letter from home. It’s the easiest way to fill her emptiness.

Julie, at 135 pounds, is only 10 pounds over weight but she too is an emotional eater. Her eating is triggered mainly by stress. As a customer service representative who deals with angry people all day, she soothes her frayed nerves with comfort foods. Ann’s critical, demanding boss sends her through the roof and to the candy machine to choke back her anger with something sweet.

Susan’s nemesis is fear. Her biggest fear keeps her big. As an adolescent she was raped several times. The trauma of these experiences lead her to believe that it isn’t safe to appear attractive. Weighing an extra 80 pounds, she feels more solid and secure. She also eludes male attention which feels threatening to her. Any attempt at reducing her size is sabotaged by the size of her fear. Being within 30 pounds of her goal weight triggers her subconscious need for protection.

Patricia eats when she’s depressed or bored. Appetite suppressants and antidepressants can mask her problems for a while. Eventually, however, she comes face to face with not liking herself and the way she lives her life. Jane has difficulty dealing with her marital problems. Conflict with her husband triggers a fight or flight to food response.

For these people, emotional eating and the resulting weight gain is a symptom of deeper issues. Each issue has certain triggers that we can track to the root cause of the problem. When people deal with the causes, interventions can be designed to create positive change. A therapist who has experience with emotional eaters can help them resolve underlying traumas using Quick REMAP & the REMAP process and develop better coping skills to manage stress. There are new treatments available that can make this work easier than ever before. By treating the causes of emotional eating there is hope for breaking the cycle of self-defeating behavior, reducing unwanted weight and living a healthier life.

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Alone In The Crowdisolation

How to Overcome Urban Isolation
By Steve B. Reed, L.P.C., L.M.F.T.

The pain of loneliness never knew a stranger. It is the constant companion of many a solitary soul. In this massive urban sprawl, the shadow of isolation is upon countless individuals. Most of us have felt the chill of loneliness. Some people even resign themselves to a life-style of being alone. With so many people around, it is ironic that connecting has become so difficult. There are two key reasons this. One reason is sociological and the other psychological.

For millennia, people lived in small rural villages. They had all their family and extended family close by. They grew up, went to school, worked, lived and eventually died with the same people. They did not have to do anything to become a part of it all. They were simply born into the close-nit, social fabric of a community. During the last 100 years, society has undergone profound changes that contribute to the problem of urban isolation.

These sociological changes include four main factors.   They are:

1.      the migration of the population to large cities since the industrial revolution;

2.      the loss of extended family as advances in transportation create an increasingly mobile society;

3.      the breakdown of the nuclear family with the social acceptance of divorce;

4.      and the loss of history with people as close friends move away to pursue education, jobs and promotions. We have not yet developed the coping strategies to deal with these radical changes.

Today people are trying to adjust and deal with loss, loneliness, isolation, constant change, high-paced stressful jobs, single parent families, blended families and the repeated necessity of rebuilding ones social support system. Many people who go into counseling are struggling with these issues.

One key antidote for urban isolation is membership in caring groups that you find meaningful and enjoyable. Any topic of interest is a catalyst around which people collect. You can join many possible groups. Among them, one of the few instant sources of caring community remaining in our society is the church. This institution continues to play a great a role in people’s lives, socially as well as spiritually. In some of my seminars, I suggest that people participate in at least three groups that they can feel a sense of inclusion, acceptance and caring. Membership does have its advantages.

However, not everyone is comfortable joining groups. There can be psychological reasons that block a person from joining even though they realize the benefits of a healthy support system. Some people have traumatic experiences in their family of origin. The family is the first group in which we have membership. If it was not safe to be yourself, to have your thoughts and feelings, with your family it may not feel safe to think of joining any group.

Others have felt deeply hurt by a peer group that was attacking, excluding or shaming. Such painful experiences can develop into a phobia of social groups. If the thought of getting closely involved in a group seems threatening and anxiety provoking, then you may be experiencing this type of phobia.

Lastly, even if you do not have any traumatic associations with groups, if you grew-up with parents who did, you may have learned to be afraid of groups simply because they were afraid.

Many excellent treatments are now available in the field of psychotherapy to help people resolve fears of closeness and connection to individuals and groups.  Any traumatic experience with family or peer groups can benefit from some of the newer trauma therapies.  Treatments that have a high success rate include the REMAP process, Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR).  Research is showing these methods to be both faster and more effective than the old ways of treating trauma that rely on talk therapy alone.  

Although these treatments represent recent advances in the field of psychotherapy, a growing number of therapists are becoming interested.  Those who train in these approaches find that many long-term problems can dissipate in short order.  Rather than years of therapy, many issues only take months.  Sometimes, even as little as a few treatment sessions can make a difference.

Last year, one of my colleagues showed an interest in using the REMAP process to treat her social phobia.  In less than an hour of treatment, she was already starting to feel better about her life-long social fear.  As the year went on, she kept telling me about how much more comfortable she was feeling in groups.  This was after just one treatment session.    

This shows that when you resolve these psychological blocks, the quality of your life can improve almost instantly.  This can clear the way for you to enjoy further improvement in the quality of your life by just adding people.

Steve B. Reed, LPC, LMSW, LMFT is a psychotherapist that specializes in treating trauma and anxiety disorders including social phobia.  He treats people at his Richardson, Texas office (Dallas area) and through phone counseling worldwide.  You can reach Steve at 972-997-9955.


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selfesteem3How to Improve Your Self-Esteem:

Even if you are caught in a web of negative thinking.
By Steve B. Reed, L.P.C., L.M.S.W., L.M.F.T.

One of my clients recently came to the conclusion that her mind was like an Internet of web sites.  She said, “But some of my web sites have self-esteem devouring spiders.”

Her humorous moment was born out of the frustration of dealing with a part of herself which seems committed to undermining her from the inside out.  She feels bad about herself and struggles with two questions:

1.  How did I get this way and
2.  What can I do to feel better about myself?

How is Self-Esteem Wounded?

Negative Brainwashing
Being raised in a toxic family is no vacation.  It’s more like a Bed & Brainwash than a Bed & Breakfast.  Like with all effective brainwashing, if given enough time the subject can be broken. In a toxic family system, parents attack their children for having needs, being vulnerable and imperfect.  Through a constant stream of negativity the child’s self-concept is eroded and they are shamed into submission.  A part of themselves learns to replay the litany of self-sabotaging and esteem-gutting messages like a mantra.  When the brainwashing is complete, the person is reduced to a shell of their potential.

Self-to-Other comparisons
Comparing ourselves to others causes us to feel either one-up or one-down.  Neither position is emotionally healthy. Such comparisons are often what we learn growing up among our peer groups.  The only fair comparison however, is self-to-self.  That information is useful in the quest for personal or professional growth.  Feeling less than another only serves to limit us. 

Self-Blame in Moments of Pain
When bad things happen to us, we search for some explanation or meaning to the trauma.  Hurtful events may inadvertently trigger a self-destructive pattern of illogic.  In those painful moments of overwhelming emotional experiences, we psychologically regress into a more child-like frame of mind.

From that perspective we may believe:
· I’m the center of my universe
· If I’m in pain, somehow I’m to blame
· If I’m the cause, I must be really bad, etc. 

Rising Above Your Raising

People learn to feel bad about themselves and they can learn to feel good as well.  The beliefs about oneself that lead to low-self esteem can be changed.  There is no innate problem with the hardware of your brain.  It is the software that needs up-dating.  A little psychological reprogramming of those belief systems can lead to Self-Esteem Version 2.0: A New You.  You can rework the website of your mind and debug any esteem devouring spiders.  In short, you can rise above your raising.

When you plan to undertake this process, I suggest that you seek the guidance and consultation of an experienced psychotherapist who is skilled in helping people to accomplish the following tasks:
· Identify traumatic or painful points in your life that caused you to imprint a negative belief about yourself.
· Desensitize the painful part of the experience that holds the negative belief in place.
· Replace that negative thought with a more desirable one. Imprint and integrate it well.

Ten Positive Messages That You May Want To Replace Esteem Busters:

1.  I have the right to be here.
2.  I am already enough.
3.  I am worthwhile.
4.  I am valuable.
5.  I am significant.
6.  I am glad to be myself.
7.  It is OK to think well of myself.
8.  It is OK to take excellent care of myself.
9.  I am capable of learning.
10.  I can own my strengths.


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Traditional Counseling

Traditional Counseling
traditional counseling

Traditional counseling approaches can help those who need to talk through issues, process experiences, and gain insight & understanding.

Some people need to be heard, understood or simply experience the healing gift of being accepted as you are.  Others want guidance, personal or relationship coaching and access to the knowledge of a trained professional with over 30 years experience in helping people with a wide range of concerns.

Steve has an ability to help you discover the resources within yourself that you need.  You can learn to experience, understand and become more at peace within yourself. You can learn to find a balance in your life, change what you want to change and increase your acceptance of your core self.  You can start to improve your relationships in the contexts of work, family, friendships or love.

Few experiences in life can be as enriching as the journey of self-discovery and personal transformation.  Steve is an accomplished and gifted guide who can help you along your own path of progress as you become your very best.  His concerned, supportive and caring approach has helped to ease the struggles of countless people.

Some of the more traditional methods Steve utilizes to help promote hope, healing and greater happiness includes: Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, Transactional Analysis, Redecision Therapy, Gestalt Therapy, Client Centered Counseling, Clinical Hypnotherapy, Assertiveness Training, Imago Relationship Counseling, Focusing and Brief Strategic Therapy.

CBT Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy has been shown to be as effective as antidepressants for depression. CBT is also effective for anxiety disorders including phobias, anxiety attacks, fear of flying, fear of heights, driving phobia and needle phobias.

In addition to methods that promote self-awareness, self-esteem and adjustment to the transitions that we all face in life, Steve is an anxiety therapist of national prominence in the art of helping people to resolve overwhelming or traumatic incidents, overcome anxiety and panic, recover from the exposure to abusive or toxic childhood experiences and learning to heal the fears and self-limiting behaviors that emerge from such experiences.  Such issues often require the utilization of one or more of the newer leading-edge therapies in which Steve is a leading expert.

Above all, your therapy will be custom tailored to meet your needs.  This is made possible by Steve’s ability to draw from the best of so many diverse and unique treatment approaches acquired through years of education, professional training and professional practice.  Whether you need the best that traditional counseling has to offer or the latest leading-edge advance in the field, Steve can help you.

How to Begin Therapy with Steve

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A Lack of Love sea_storm

Lies Beneath Many of Life’s Problems

By Steve B. Reed, L.P.C., L.M.F.T.


An Early Lack Of Love:
Jill’s experience of childhood neglect has left invisible scars that she is still trying to heal.  “If I was not worthy of time and affection,” Jill concludes, “I must not be worthy at all.”

The mind of a child struggles to make sense of what is happening to them.  Jill reached the conclusion long ago that there must be something terribly wrong with her.  “I thought I must not be very lovable or I would have been loved more,” she reasons.  “No one was there to tell me that my mother suffers from clinical depression or that she grew up in home that did not give her any support or affection either.”  Jill intellectually realizes that her mother did the best she could, but her struggle is to understand this at an emotional level.  That’s the level where that five year old part of her, whose still very much with her, takes responsibility and blame for the love she did not get.

Difficulty In Romantic Love Relationships:
Much of Jill’s self-defeating behavior serves to recreate the type of environment she lived through.  Like a magnet, she finds herself drawn to the familiar behaviors and feelings of her earliest years.  Jill is now aware of her tendency to fall in love with men who are emotionally or physically absent.

Her history has trained her to tolerate it.  In an odd way it feels familiar, like home and there are few things more attractive than that which is familiar.  Jill says, “I’ve been conditioned to settle for very little in a romantic relationship.  I suppose I don’t really feel like I deserve that much.”  Her belief becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.  Part of the blueprint she follows is leading her along the path to emotional emptiness.  Having learned what she lived, she now continues to live what she learned.

Problems In The Work Environment:
The wounds that are etched in her self-esteem shape her work life too.  Until recently, she worked for a small business that operates more like a dysfunctional family.

“When my hard work is not noticed or rewarded I feel disappointment but the lack of recognition is expected.  It’s just the way it has always been,” Jill says.  Jill’s willingness to settle for so little, for so long, also ties back to her conclusions about her own worthlessness.  She tolerates more than most people would.  For most of her life she has never even considered that she deserves anything better.  This pattern leads her to settle for a working environment that she hates and to believe that she is powerless to change.

Training Baby Elephants:
The neglect that Jill experiences in her family, romantic relationships, friendships, and at work is so pervasive that she rarely thinks to question it.  She is conditioned not to struggle.  She is like the elephant in a circus.  When elephants are very young, they tie a strong chain around one of their legs.  Then the chain is locked to a long steel spike that is anchored deep into the ground. The young elephant struggles against its captivity until it decides that it can not get away.  The elephant then gives up.  By the time it is grown, the elephant is so brain-washed that it will not try to break free.  It stays put even when it is only tied with a thin rope that is attached to a small wooden stick.  The lack of love that Jill suffered leaves her starving at love’s banquet.  She is unable to reach for the emotional nourishment that is all around her.  She questions whether being on the receiving end of love is even possible.  She is so bound by her old beliefs that she remains tied to a painful pattern of self-neglect and low self-acceptance.

New Goals — Self-Acceptance, Self-Esteem & Self-Love:
One thing that Jill does not question is her capability to learn.  She is embarking on a journey of self-discovery and healing.  A path of learning that leads beyond the ties that binds us to the past. She seeks the freedom to honor her needs and to love the part of her that suffers from neglect.

Learning to deeply and profoundly accept herself is the first step to accepting the love her life longs for.  That is a good start to solving many of life’s other problems.
Steve B. Reed, LPC, LMSW, LMFT is a counselor who is the developer of the REMAP process, a powerful tool that helps people build self-acceptance and self-esteem.  His office is in the Dallas area and he provides telephone counseling worldwide.  You can reach Steve at 972-997-9955.


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Confessions of a Serial Rescuernature9
On The Road To A Functional Relationship
By Steve B. Reed, L.P.C., L.M.F.T.

Alicia said, “I’m a serial rescuer. I’ve rescued before, I feel like I will do it again.” This was the first time in all my years in the mental health field that one of my clients put it quite that way. Alicia was dramatically owning her therapeutic issue. With clarity and insight she articulates a pattern that plagues her relationships today, as it did from an early age. She could pick them out of a crowd. Whether friends, boyfriends, employers or employees they were all victims ripe for the rescue. They were needy and all easy to connect with. “If you take care of them, they will just follow you home,” she said.

What is Rescuing?

There is a distinction between helping and rescuing. In helping, someone asks for a specific type of help. You think about it and upon consideration you agree to help. In rescuing however, you notice someone with a need and rush in with your prescription to solve their woes. This discounts the other persons ability to find their own solutions, implies that you know more about what’s in their best interest than they do and it invites dependency.

Wounded Bird Metaphor

Alicia would occasionally find wounded birds. She would take them home and nurse them back to health. When they were strong enough, they would fly away. Alicia employed the same strategy with men. She found Bill, wounded and heartbroken after a painful divorce. She took him home and nurtured him back to health. When he started to feel more self-confidence, he had an affair with another woman. Eventually, he also left Alicia.

The Positive Intentions Behind Rescuing

Alicia’s compulsion was rewarded in several ways:

1) he bond created by care-taking yields a sense of instant intimacy;

2) the rescuer gets to feel the familiar comfort of the giver role without any of the discomfort associated with the unfamiliar role of receiver;

3) the rescuer feels a sense of safety by being more in control of the relationship initially;

4) and for a while, the rescuer gets to feel important, useful and valued.

The Dysfunctional Outcomes

The unilateral contract: Alicia enters the relationship with an unspoken contract. She will care for Bill and when he feels better, then Bill can nurture her own underlying emotional wounds. Bill however has a different contract. His agreement is to enjoy the free gift.

The rescuer becomes a victim: At the end of this psychological game pattern, Alicia will switch to the victim role as it becomes clear that Bill has no intention of reciprocating the real nurturance she wants. She collects a payoff of disappointment, frustration and heartbreak.

Abandonment revisited: These feelings along with anger, sadness and fear mark Bills departure and betrayal of her love. Alicia feels lost and alone as she probably did many times in her past. This event knocks the scab off her old abandonment wound.

Paradise and self-esteem lost: When Alicia’s fantasy of happy-ever-after collapses, so does her self-esteem. She may blame some flaw in herself such as not being good enough rather than realizing that she’s following the wrong map.

Recovering From Rescuing

For Alicia and other serial rescuers, the reoccurring story with the unhappy ending is beginning to change. Now in therapy she is developing a new awareness and understanding of her patterns. Through the use of powerful new therapeutic tools, Alicia is starting to heal the emotional wounds that fuel her rescuing missions. As Alicia continues to grow and change, she will have more choices and pick more fulfilling relationships.   

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