Maryland Life Coaching And Hypnosis

Maryland Life Coaching And Hypnosis


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Run, Hide or Fight. Surviving The Storm Of A Mass Shooter

Posted on March 4, 2018 at 3:30 PM Comments comments (0)

A few years ago I went and got my mass shooter certification. While I seldom do crisis work anymore, I thought the skill-set would be beneficial even if only on a personal level. But as the number of these shootings continue to increase, I have found myself taking more and more training's. I'm not sure how or why it has gotten so bad, but it is a subject that we can no longer afford to turn a blind eye to.


The sad fact is that we experience a mass shooting every one to two days here in the states. A mass shooting being defined as 4 or more people shot and or killed in one incident. And without turning this into the great debate on gun control laws, I want to focus on what you need to know to give yourself the best chance to survive, should you find yourself in one. After completing several training's and speaking with numerous law enforcement agency's, here are some things you should be aware of.


Long before a mass shooting takes place, you should be proactive and have a plan. Not just personally, but suggest it to your office manager, principle or whomever is in charge of the building. Having these systems in place increase your chances of survival exponentially. And take it a step further. If you have children, teach them as well.

As far as creating a plan, the first thing you can and should do is have a counselor, coach or mental health provider onsite. Just as schools and universities have counselors, business's should have EAP's. If you opt to forgo a traditional EAP, please make every attempt to have some resource available for your staff to circumnavigate everyday stressors. The next thing do is adopt a "see something say something" policy without fear of reprisal. Almost 60% of mass shooters have a connection to the location of the shooting. With that in mind, "see something say something" and EAP availability can make a huge impact on a potential incident.

When a mass shooting takes place, from the sound of the first shot fired, chaos will ensue. The average length of time a mass shooting last is between 5-15 minutes. Every second counts. So let me break down your options should you hear that first shot. The model that seems to prove most effective is Run, Hide or Fight.

The very first thing you want to do is take a deep breath to compose yourself and very quickly do a threat assessment. If you can escape, do so. This is why it is important to control your breath. Making deliberate movements could mean the difference between life and death. But know that you must act swiftly. Inaction or delayed movement gets people killed. If running is not an option, hide. Knowing that these events are generally over in minutes, take the follow steps immediately.

1. If you're in a room, lock the door. If the door doesn't have a lock, put whatever you can in front of the door.


2. Turn out the light. After looking at the data from passed mass shooter events, rooms with lights turned out often get passed up.


3. If the door has a window, cover it. If you cannot cover it for whatever reason, move everyone in the room out of the line of sight from the window. {This is an action item to be taken the next time you go into your office or classroom.} Simply stand outside and look in the window. Make a note of where the line of sight stops. Even better, put a few pieces of tape on the floor indicating where it is safe to stand.


4. Turn off phones. As soon as a mass shooting starts, silence your phone. You don't want a call or text to come through from a concerned party to give your position away. If you can call the police, do so quickly. Again you do not want to give your position away. If talking is going to jeopardize you, don't to it. Another action item is to know if you can text 911. Many areas 911 text is available, but you should know this long before a crisis situation. Get that information today.


5. If the door doesn't lock, do not all stand together. This will only make it easier for the person with the gun. It's called target availability. Most assault rifles will have a clip of 30-40 bullets. It would take special forces technical proficiency to hit the majority people if you're all scattered different locations within the room.

The option of last resort is fight. If you have no where to go, then you must prepare to fight. Take whatever advantage you can. Remember this is not a fair fight. So don't fight fair. Take advantage of angles and doorways. If you can have two people stand on each side of a door, position yourself that way. The gun is the biggest threat, so grab for the gun. Someone hit high and someone hit low. If you have a pen, use it. Whatever can be a weapon should be used.

Do not stand across the room and throw something. Again you have now given your position up, and there is a direct line of sight making you target available. The more people rushing the door, the better. Yes, some will get shot. But this tactic beats the alternative.


Keep in mind your options of Run, Hide or Fight. Run though your action items and know your plan. Ask your boss or supervisor to drill once a month on a active shooter scenario. Keep in mind "see something say something". It is far better to be proactive than reactive. Know your environment. Whether you're in a building that you have spent every week over the past decade, or if this is your first time there. Ask yourself the following questions.

Where are the exits?


Are there any barriers or obstruction to keep you from getting out?


Where do you meet should you get separated from a loved one?


Get into the habit of doing this. Have a plan.

There are other things you should be aware of. When putting together you mass shooter plan, you need to prepare for the worst case scenario. I ask one of the local sheriff's the other night what is something that the public would be surprised knowing about a mass shooter incident? He said that it literally could take hours to clear the building or environment, which would mean that many mass casualties victims may potentially bleed out and die. So, while putting together your mass shooter plan, make sure you include a few individuals go though trauma related First Aid course. The sheriff spoke extensively about knowing how to use a tourniquet. He said place them high or you die. He encouraged me to encourage my clients to put together a trauma First Aid kit and to have one available on every floor.


We need to remember that the police are not there to help us. They are not going to triage the wounded. Their sole purpose is to end the threat of violence. For this reason, we must be able to help ourselves until the environment is deemed safe and EMS can start treating the victims. Be aware when the police enter a room. You should have your hands in the air or visible {just like in a traffic stop} and do not have your phone in your hand. They are making split second decisions while full of adernaline. You do not want to get shot for a holding phone being mistaken as a weapon.


*The average police response time to an active shooter is 3-4 minutes. There is a new directive that many law enforcement agency's state that they go in as soon as they arrive on scene. Some departments wait to gain tactical advantage. This appears to changing. I can also speak to some agency's are training medical staff to enter the active shooter scene with the police to treat critically wounded onsite and in real time. The biggest take away that I am learning from my conversations and training's is the need to update and modify how to deal with an active shooter.


Depending on your company or schools budget, you can buy bullet resistant doors. Starting for just a couple of grand each, this maybe yet another option to build in your mass shooter plan. There are also door locking, jamming and wedging mechanisms that are very affordable {100.00-200.00 per device} that every business and school should have.


The last thing I want to mention is know how many people are supposed to be in your building on any given day? Be it staff or students, you should have a system of accountability. You should be able to quickly know who is accounted for and who is not. This will be helpful to the police and other interested parties such as family members and so on.

There are many programs available on threat assessment. Find one and go through a training. This article is a start. Develop a plan. No one wants to believe that they're ever going to be in an active shooter scenario. But, with the number of shootings increasing in volume, and as the causality counts getting worse with each event, unfortunately this is need to know information for everyone. Please don't delay.

Smoke Weed. Feel The Pain?

Posted on July 30, 2017 at 8:35 PM Comments comments (1)

Working 30 plus years in mental health, I am frequently asked about the use of marijuana. Let me start with my unusual story. Having grown up in the 60's and 70's, the height of the free love and marijuana movement, I can honestly say that I have never tried it. At age 52 at the time of writing this article, I am one of only a handful of people that I have ever met, my age who have gone without.

When I was growing up I was led to believe that pot was bad, and the people who did it would never amount to anything. The burnouts as they were called, were lacking ambition. And while I had friends who smoked pot, I was more interested in sports. So, I never really got the appeal. As I got older, I found myself in the minority at almost every event and with every women I dated. Still it never really mattered to me one way or the other.

Fast forward to modern times. I get asked from a professional standpoint at least once a month if smoking pot is bad. Will it led to addiction? My position is this. In a time where pot is quickly becoming socially acceptable, I see both the pro's and con's. Without going into the benefits or the side effects {yes, there are side effects}, I have seen enough data to believe that it does more good than harm. That said, it really is a discussion you should have with your doctor.

The pot culture has changed over the course of the last 30 years. The medical doctors that I personally know and work along side of once opposed the use of marijuana. At least publicly. With it becoming more accepting in the publics eye, they are more open to speak of the benefits of smoking pot.

Still when asked if smoking pot is harmful, my honest reply is yes, for some. What I tend to see is more and more people are abusing it. Not becoming addicted. But just as some drink a bottle of wine to end the day, others smoke pot. Its becoming more common to light up a joint.

I am seeing far too many people abuse it in the same sense that we as a society abuse prescription pain medication. In other words, when someone has an accident for example, and they are prescribed pain medication and physical therapy, many tend to lean on the medication. With physical therapy they can begin to regain their strength and range of motion, but often pain accompanies that process. So it is more appealing for many to take the medication rather than feel the pain.

This is what I have been seeing with marijuana use. If I can relax by smoking a little pot, verses a more hands on approach to stress reduction, why wouldn't I? Yoga, mediation, exercise or therapy take time. Smoking a joint is more social and requires little internal work. Granted in a palliative care scenario, cancer or some other horrible disease, it does make sense to employ the help of marijuana.

But today far too many people are taking the easy road. And just as antidepressants are among the faster growing {and most over prescribed } medication, many of these people too, are taking medication without working on the underlying issue. We have become a society of work less, expect more. And for so many, marijuana just as prescription medication can deliver.

So today when I'm asked if smoking marijuana is good or bad? My answer is, "go talk to your doctor about it".

Nuturing a Long-Term Love

Posted on June 12, 2017 at 4:15 PM Comments comments (1)

Over the course of working three decades in the mental health field, I have done my fair share of relationship counseling. There are no guarantees for long-term love, but there are tools to increase your chances. It seems as though many experts have varying opinions on what it takes to make your love last. However, most would agree on certain elements. This article will attempt to explore some of them. Here are your healthy relationship tips.

Show me the money! Almost everyone agrees that money is at the top of the list in terms of relationship killers. Next to infidelity, money is the cause for most domestic problems. Long-term couples understand this. It is interesting to me to watch the evolution of a relationship go 360 degrees. When couples first start dating there usually is a position of “my” money and “your” money. As the relationship gets more serious (especially should they move in together), the focus becomes “our” money and “our” bills. But what happens when one makes more than the other? Or one brings more debt into the relationship? What about individual spending habits? Money certainly can be a deal breaker.

So show me the money. In a healthy relationship the couple will put more value on the relationship and not the money. They have full transparency. They both know what is coming in and what is going out, and each has their own money for their own needs. So for so many long-term couples they come full circle with the “my” money and “your” money. They progress to “our” money and seem to work their way back to each having their own pot.

Full transparency is very scary. While in a relationship it is wise to keep your individuality, but some see that as a license to have a separate world. True while it is important to have your own life, not being able to talk about it breeds suspicion. I have actually worked with couples who hold the policy “no questions will be asked” on boys or girls night out. They tell me that this just works for them. I then remind them that if it did they would not be sitting in my office.

The point that I want to stress is enjoy your individuality. You don’t have to share everything in your life. But should your partner ask you a question, why wouldn’t you want to answer it? First, your partner is taking a active interest in your life. Second, by not talking about it suspicion sets in.

The door is closed for a reason. This is one of the healthy relationship tips that often saves a lot of time and arguments. I personally am a huge fan of this tip. Communication is essential for all relationships to survive. However, you can’t take your words back. When I think of all the couples that I work with who are holding onto past arguments, I realize that we often speak out of anger in a means to control. So I tell my clients to close the door. When a door is closed, the concept is to understand that the person who closed the door is not in a good place to articulate their feelings at that time. If we remember that we can’t take our words back, sometimes the price of silence is gold.

The key to this principle is to learn to respond and not react. When tensions are high, most of us react. Close the door and take some time. In most cases when you respond, you are saying exactly what you mean. And more often than not silence replaces the anger.

Give two, take two. Lets talk about all those things your partner does to annoy you. All those in long-term relationships could tell you every little thing their partner does that gets under their skin. But do you want to know why they’re in a long-term relationship? They don’t talk about it. It’s that simple.

Healthy relationship tip #4 is to take the two the most annoying thing your partner does and totally forget about it. Give them a pass. Then ask them to do the same in kind. What’s cool about this exercise is that you most likely will end up laughing at just how insignificant the irritant is. And who knows, you may just even learn something about yourself in the process.

Shape Your Life

Posted on June 12, 2017 at 4:10 PM Comments comments (0)

Social Community

We all need a Social Community. As much as we would like to admit that we are strong and could get along fine without a social community that simply isn’t so. Having a forum to speak your ideas and thoughts is vital to your health. We know that isolation often leads to depression. Depression often leads to physical illness and can lead to self destructive behavior, including suicide.

Depression: n. Psychol. An emotional state of mind characterized by feelings of gloom and inadequacy, leading to withdrawal. Depression is a mental state of excessive sadness characterized by persistently low mood, loss of pleasure and interest.

Social communities, be it friends, families or traditional support groups, enhance our lives. For those who feel the need to communicate about a specific problem, support groups can be a means of healing. Often those who are going through similar problems feel great strength in numbers. The reason being is that it helps to know that you are not the only one suffering. It is also a place where you can get first hand knowledge about your problem or issue. Support groups also give you an opportunity to give back. Find and embrace a support group. They are everywhere and they are for everything from AIDS to cancer to divorce or simple self improvement. Having a community who can identify with your illness and pain will give you that sense that you are not alone. It also affords you the opportunity to gain experience from the other members in the group (such as surgery/surgeons, medicine and health professional). Support groups are great for giving and receiving information and support.

“It is in giving that we receive”.


As we give of our self, we gain power over our own life (or situation). This is because we lose focus on our own problem and concentrate on someone else’s. Something miraculous happens when we give of ourselves. If you want to feel better, try giving more. This is one of the most universal truths there is. Your perception and attitude seem to shape your life.

Love Yourself

Loving your self starts with a healthy thought pattern. Knowing who you are and what you will allow in your life says a lot about self love. Studies suggest that eighty percent of what we are today is a result of what we learned between the ages of 8-12. Most of what we want to change can be traced back to our self image. At birth we have no self image. As we grow we respond to our environment. We learn what feels good and bad, our senses start to form. Our minds begin to take in the words we hear over and over again. Repetition is vital at this age. What are the words we are hearing? Are they directed at us or others? Are we learning to be honest and whole or are we learning to build a defense mechanism? This is where your self image is created. As we grow older we take on certain personality traits. We just do not decide to be one way or another. We learn them. We are a product of our environment and our genetics. We can not do anything about our genes, but we can do something about what we picked up along the way. What we decided to own as our own. What to believe and how to act. This is so important to understand. You need to realize that what you are today and how you think today is really what you were taught as a child. So, what does that exactly have to do with change? First, you need only to ask yourself why you want change. You want change because how you feel does not feel right. It does not feel right because you probably are working with a thought pattern that is not your own. And if that is not your thought pattern, then questions of who you are will soon follow.

Your self image and self worth are really all you have. If you do not believe in yourself, then all that surrounds you and all that you have are only possessions that define you. Most of what we want to change can be traced back to our self image. You are not your possessions. You are your thoughts. Your thoughts make you. Knowing how you want to live and what you want to have is your process, not your person. Start today and ask yourself questions like, “what will really make me happy,” and, “who am I”. Often when I teach a course and I ask the students who they are. I hear things like I am, and then they say their job. I point out that they are not their job. That is what they do. Who you are is your essence. And it will be totally different for every person in that room. And it should be. You are your thoughts. So when you want to create change, be sure you know what you want. The old saying, be careful of what you ask for, is so true. Material possessions are nice, but unless you are happy with yourself, then they will only bring short term happiness.

Over Under

Posted on June 12, 2017 at 4:10 PM Comments comments (0)

Overworked, under-paid, overlooked, and under-appreciated. Yes, you are no doubt stressed. In today’s fast-paced environment it’s easy to get overwhelmed. So what is the key to staying balanced when everything seems to be working against you? For me its perception. I’ll talk more about that in a minute, but I want to talk a little about stress first.

Stress is natural. There is both good and bad stress. We are all familiar with how the bad affects us. But what about the good? Good stress allows us to get things done. It’s in our primal nature. When we feel danger, it is that stress response that triggers a reaction. “Fight or flight” has been keeping us alive from the beginning of time. But for the purposes of this article, we’ll focus on the bad stress.

We’re familiar with the symptoms of bad stress. Being irritable, inability to sleep, over/under-eating, excessive drinking, and feeling lethargic, just to name a few. Stress originates in the mind and often will manifest physical symptoms. So if we can control the mind, can we control the symptoms? In most cases, yes. I read years ago that seven out of every 10 visits to primary care doctors were for stress or stress-related symptoms. I thought that if we could learn how to cope with stress, we could conceivably have a 70% chance of staying well. When I shared this information while lecturing at a local hospital, most doctors agreed. Not all, but it did seem to validate how stress directly affects our well being.


So let’s talk about perception. When it comes to stress I often ask my clients, “Is that a mountain or a molehill?” In other words, are you making the problem out to be bigger than it is? The truth is that most of what we think of as being stressful can easily be worked through with a little time and action. (Keep in mind that some stressors will require immediate attention, but more often than not stress has an accumulative effect.) In order to cope, we need a toolbox of stress management techniques.

Stress Management Technique #1

Do nothing. I have taught mediation for years. When working as a crisis counselor, the first two things I do are make sure the client is safe, and then make sure they are controlling their breathing. If you can control your breath during a stressful event, you can control your mind. Start with breathing in through your nose and out with your mouth. There is a physiological reason why this works. You can use abdominal breathing to help control your nervous system and encourage your body to relax, bringing about a range of health benefits.

Stress Management Technique #2

Reach out. So many refuse to talk about their problems because of the stigma associated with stress. They feel that they will be seen as weak or vulnerable. In reality to some, you might. The flipside to that coin is that having a supportive community during your stress event can be an invaluable resource.

Stress Management Technique #3

Turn it up. There have been many studies about how music can transform our moods. Be mindful here. The wrong kind of music (songs that you identify with a sad or negative event in your life) can increase your state of stress. Opt for happy, calm, or inspirational music. Music is a great distraction and mood enhancer.

Stress Management Technique #4

Make it healthy. Stress weakens the immune system. Eat and drink as healthy as you can. Our first response is to go for comfort food. There is nothing wrong with that if you’re having a bad day. But if you have prolonged stress, you’re going to need all the help you can get. That includes exercise. You’re going to want to sleep. Don’t do it. Get your blood flowing to your heart and oxygen to your brain.

There are many stress management techniques available to you. Do a little research before you are stressed. Know what your tools are. And remember, often we overthink our stress and under-act on it. Take action now with these techniques!

Weight Loss In 6 Easy Steps

Posted on June 12, 2017 at 4:05 PM Comments comments (0)

There are a lot of big-name diet companies out there. And it is not for me to say which is good and which is bad. The truth is if you use these programs, you probably will lose weight. But the real problem with dieting is that once you diet, you will have to stay on that diet unless you have learned to make appropriate changes to stay at a healthy weight. I personally am not a big fan of prepackaged food. But if you have lost weight that way or are currently losing weight that way, then stay with it. Using the information in this article in conjunction with a specific diet can and will help.

Please remember that these are tips for weight loss and also for keeping it off. Some will work for you and some won’t. Try a few or all and see what feels good to you and what brings results. Do not attempt to do them all at once. We want to take small steps.

Now for the tips:


1) Remember that protein is the cornerstone for losing weight.

A high-protein diet will help you lose weight. I would recommend adding protein to your diet to jumpstart weight loss. There is more than enough data (*see below) that support the claims of high-protein diets. I bring protein up because it is a great start but should not be the basis of your whole weight loss program.

*Participants in a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported greater satisfaction, less hunger, and more weight loss when fat was reduced to 20% of the total calories in their diets, protein was increased to 30%, and carbs accounted for 50%. The study participants ate 441 fewer calories a day when they followed this high-protein diet and regulated their own calorie intake.

2) Do not drink your calories.


When you stop and think about all that we drink during the course of the day, most people will drink in excess of 500-1,500 calories a day. Wow! That is way too much. With all the sodas, fruit juices, coffees, specialty drinks, and alcohol, we have got to cut back. I am not suggesting that you cut all of those out of your diet, but I am suggesting that you cut way back. In fact I would say try to keep your liquid calories to under 350 a day.

3) Mind your stress at all cost.


This is one of the most important tips for weight loss, because stress is a big factor in weight gain. How, you may ask? Well, some people do tend to gain weight when stressed. When you’re stressed out, many find it more difficult to maintain healthy eating habits. They may eat in an attempt to fulfill emotional needs during a stressful time. Also, the hormone cortisol is secreted by your body during stress. This will actually cause you to gain weight. The science is pretty clear on this. Prolonged stress will lead to weight gain. (Note: If you have high levels of stress and need help, please consult with a doctor or therapist.)

4) Consider alternative therapies for weight loss.

Acupuncture, hypnosis, and massage all have a pretty good track record when it comes to losing weight. If you would like to look into an alternative therapist, I would recommend that they have a license or be certified. Do not be afraid to ask about the process and their experience in helping their clients lose weight.

5) Take a pill.

A vitamin pill, that is. A study by the USDA confirms that women who take a multivitamin every day are slimmer. In fact, they have 15 percent more energy as well. Are all vitamins created equal? Depends on how you ask. The point is to get yourself thinking healthy. A store-brand vitamin should be adequate.


6) Avoid caffeine.

You’ll probably hate this idea, but caffeine can lead to higher stress levels, and we already discussed stress. If you can’t go decaf, try the “lite” brands of coffee.

There is no quick fix when it comes to weight loss. Responsible eating and movement are truly the way. If you do that, weight gain should not be an issue.

Never Quit!

Posted on June 12, 2017 at 4:05 PM Comments comments (0)

Whoever said only the strong survive, never met a person with a never quit attitude. I have met many people over the course of the years that appeared to be strong. But being strong does not guarantee survival. Nor does it mean they will end up on top.

There are many people who are well educated, come from a place of privilege or have unlimited resources. And while these all contribute to success, they are not the end all be all to be successful. The truly successful all have one attribute in common. The never quit attitude.

History proves that time and time again that the never quit attitude will eventually overcome. Determination, self belief and hard work trump strength every time, given enough time. When we allow our environment to control us, we are at the mercy of our environment. Instead learn to cultivate your never quit attitude and watch how you will control your environment.

I’ve had the privilege in my professional life to be apart of teams of these very people. Just as in my private practice, the clients who display the never quit attitude no matter how great the opposition or obstacle, finds a way to win. Be it out work, out smart or out last. The never quit attitude proves true.

Never quit. Make it your mantra. I promise it will serve you well.

The Value Of Employee Assistance Programs

Posted on June 12, 2017 at 4:00 PM Comments comments (0)

We’ve all heard the term EAP, but how many truly know the value? Over the course of 3 decades in mental health, I have found the companies who invest in their employees enjoy a higher rate of productivity and overall employee satisfaction. This investment unifies the company and strengthens its mission.

The onsite programs is designed to empower both employers as well as employees. Organizations that routinely make available EAP resources enjoy a host of benefits. These benefits include-

Prevention, identification and resolution of both personal and company issues.

Increased work productivity.

Decreased workplace injuries.

Decreased absenteeism.

Reduced medical cost.

Employee retention.

So what does the above translate into in dollars? The cost of workplace stress alone here in the US is 300 billion a year. The American Psychological Association shows that 75% of us feel that work is a major source of stress. As a result, organizations are paying higher {medical} insurance fees. And while EAP’s are now being integrated into the companies budget, those without will continue to be subjected to “at risk” situations in the workplace. Let me give an example how using a onsite EAP saves time, money and productivity.

Suppose you have an employee who is having a hard time managing their stress. The result ends in the employee engaging in increased alcohol consumption. With increased drinking comes a series of problems ranging from tardiness, missed days and health related issues. By the time management or Human Resources sits employee down, recreational drinking may have progressed into full blown alcoholism. To course correct, the employee goes to a 30 day inpatient treatment program.

Now lets look at the breakdown of cost. Not including the initial time and productivity lost, now the company has incurred the expense of the employee being out of work for 30 days. There will be an added expense of overtime or, bringing on a temp to cover this employees duties while in treatment. Total cost to the company on average will be 5-15k for this one employee.

Now lets use that example with a client who has access to a onsite EAP. Employee has hard time dealing with on the job stress. Employee discusses his concerns and drinking with EAP counselor. Employee now has a chance to decompress and learn coping mechanism. In addition, employee is given options such as out patient or AA to deal with their drinking before it progresses. By giving the employee an opportunity to be proactive rather than reactive, they {in many cases} are able to continue to work and feel valued as an employee.

Many organizations will shy away from EAP’s due to cost and time. Using the above model, I hope have demonstrated that it is more cost effective to the company by employing the services from a EAP, than to not. In my experience offering employees just 20-30 minutes a week to meet with a EAP consultant pays huge dividends.

My pitch has always been one of health. By bringing ona EAP consultant, you are effectively investing in the health of the company. The financial, emotional, physical and business health.

So what is the true value of an EAP? Are your employees happy and hitting their goals?

Why Bullshit Motivational Programs Won't Work

Posted on March 29, 2017 at 7:35 PM Comments comments (0)

I spent 3 decades working in mental health in various capacities and there is one truth that I have learned over those decades. It doesn't matter what self help program, the cost, the coach or belief system is, if you're not committed to calling yourself out on your own bullshit, it simply won't work. Attitude, intention and honesty are the key to moving forward.

I have seen many clients go through these self help programs and retreats. I have watched them spend literally hundreds of thousands of dollars, and in two to three months they are right back where they started.....if they're lucky. I say lucky because when their new outlook on life doesn't make them exempt from trying times, they end up feeling worse off then when they started. They feel a sense of failure because the initial high doesn't last. And who is to blame? If you ask me, in many cases it is the professional.

Just the other night I was speaking to a potential client who needed relationship coaching. During his consultation I told him that I could realistically help him with maybe 70% of his goals. That I would be more than happy to take his money off his hands, but in the spirit of best practices, I needed to inform him that he/they would fair better seeing a marriage counselor. {Some would say I suck at sales. I would said you suck at life. Just kidding.} I just believe in complete transparency. We need to be honest with our clients that if they are not fully committed to the process, that they should save their money until they are.

I can recall working in some of the worst addiction treatment centers and some clients against, all odds did exceedingly well. Fast forward to when I ran a very upscale treatment center where the clients would receive massage, personal chef and every other amenity under the sun, and would relapse over and over again. I'm talking about working with high profile people { CEO's, professional athletes and celebrities}. Why did the down and out client often shine while the professional didn't? Because they were out of options. They had nothing left but intention. While in many cases the professional just moved onto the next treatment center.

So yes, I routinely turn away clients. I think this comes with years of experience. When I was younger I would often take those clients I turn away now. With good intentions, I wanted to help them. Years later I realize that sometime good intentions can set a client back. So as we ask our clients to be honest with themselves, we as providers must be honest with ourselves as well. Because in the end, it is attitude, intention and honesty that will get your clients result, and not some bullshit motivational program.

While we can provide support, accountability and action items, its all wasted on a client who is not honest with themselves.

7 Years Without Tears

Posted on March 21, 2017 at 10:30 AM Comments comments (4)

So I was brushing my teeth and doing some reflecting. It seems I always go into deep thought while engaged in the mundane task of life. I started thinking about my 20 years as a crisis counselor working in the HIV/AIDS community. I recalled this one specific night.

It was December 1st, World AIDS Days. I was at a walk and remembrance in Annapolis Maryland. At this point I had been working with the disease for a few years. Interestingly enough, I was almost persuaded not to work with this population. It was the late 80’s/ early 90’s and we still did not have a full understanding of the disease. And for that reason, my family pleaded with me not to. They were scared that I would end up contracting the virus.

While at the remembrance I was talking to a volunteer and told her that just a few months ago I was at a funeral for one of my clients. While at this funeral a social worker from the local Health Department said to me “this is a sad day”. Being young and un-phased I replied, “yes, but this is nothing new.” {At that time we were losing about 1 client a week to HIV/AIDS.} The social worker looked at me and said “you haven’t heard”. I asked what she was talking about. She informed me that I had 3 clients all die on the same day and all were being buried today. I literally fell to the ground in disbelief. All I remember this volunteer saying to me was “Oh my God”.

As we started up the street on our silent vigil, my mind was racing. By the time we got to our destination I was completely numb. During the after walk presentation, we were supposed to write a name of someone who passed away on our candle and put it in the middle of the room. Here is where it gets fucked up. At this time I had probably buried 30-50 clients. Would you believe I could not remember a single name? Not one. It gets worse….

After everyone finished placing their candles in the middle of the room, we stood there holding hands in silence. It was at that time I noticed another volunteer looking at me. {I was considered the counselors counselor. I ran support groups to prevent caregiver burnout. They all thought, as well as myself, that I was invincible.} When my eyes locked with hers, every bit of emotion came pouring out. I started crying. She ran over to hug me. It was at that point I realized that I had not cried in 7 years. Now, I could not stop crying. {I’m crying now just writing about it.} We were so busy burying our clients that I forgot to live. I literally was lost in the world of the dead.

In 2011, I was running an upscale addiction center. Leading a support group one morning {again it was December 1st}, the presentation I was giving was about the risk of HIV associated to addicts. Halfway through my talk I lost it again. I quickly recovered and it actually made a lasting impression.

So I’m brushing my teeth tonight and thought, I want to live and feel alive in every moment. At age 51 I know statistically speaking I have another 20-25 years of life left. I want to feel every moment. I want to embrace every sunset. I want every kiss to have meaning. And most of all I want my life to have meant something.

May God Bless you all.