The Spin on Facebook

I recently went to the 60th Annual Tulane Brain and Behavior Conference, which was a two day event that brought together a wide variety of mental health professionals.  It was filled with informative lectures on a variety of topics and great discussion by some of the top minds in the country.  Truly, this was an experience on the cutting edge of research and practice for psychiatry and psychology.  I wanted to share a few thoughts with you from this weekend.  A little bit of a winding post, but stick with me through it!

In one presentation, Dr. Richard Dalton gave an overview of how psychologists viewed the development of “The Self.”  There have been many psychological theories on how The Self has developed over the years.  As a profession, it has been important to define what it is inside us before we can talk about how we interact among each other and what is “normal.”  Dr. Dalton’s described this process as figuring out, “who owns the negative affect?”  Infants believe that everyone feels they should be as upset as they are in the moment, but eventually realize that their caregivers are fine and do not have the same emotions at the same time.

This process changes into: as you grow up, how do you learn to tolerate bad feelings?  Do you over identify it as your fault?  Are you more likely to make it someone else’s fault?  What about a more balanced perspective that allows you to tolerate bad choices or mistakes and maintain a sense that you are still a good person?

That was a long way to get to this point:

Using the lens of, “Who owns the negative affect?”  How does this process interact with our use of Facebook and Social Networking?

People post information online about themselves and typically it is Spin.  That Spin is how people are framing their lives for other people to see and react.  But, if someone says something negative about the views we put on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc., then we have to make a choice about how to handle the negative reaction.

Suddenly, we are put in the position of defending the Spin.  Do you struggle to get that person to see you the way you want them to see you?  Do you give up the struggle?  Do you change your view of Self based on their negative comment?

Social Networking provides a very new and sometimes tricky place for us to exist and it is just beginning.  I found this topic to be profound as we spend so much time using Social Networking to interact with one another, without much regard for how it affects us or who we are connected to online.

-Logan Williamson, LPC

While you are here, please check out Student Health Services posting on the services they provide and check back to this blog soon for what to do if you have the Flu!

http://blogs.loyno.edu/counseling/2013/01/07/student-health-services-what-we-do-and-how-we-do-it/ 

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Life at Loyola can be fun and exciting while at the same time stressful and demanding.  A visit to Student Health Services could be your answer to getting well and staying well as you navigate the responsibilities of being a student and as we venture into the peak of flu season.  Your Student Health Services clinic provides healthcare for all currently enrolled Loyola students including residential, commuter, full-time and part-time.  SHS is staffed by contracted employees of Ochsner Health System and consist of a nurse practitioner, registered nurse, and a medical assistant.  You can check out their individual biographies on our main page: http://studentaffairs.loyno.edu/bios/dept/health.  Our collaborative physician/medical director is Dr. Margaret Pelitere. 

There is no cost beyond your tuition for the medical care provided at SHS; however, there are fees associated with laboratory testing (lab work sent off-site), prescriptions (Loyola does not have a pharmacy), outpatient x-rays, and immunizations.  If you receive a prescription, you will need to have that medication filled at a local pharmacy.  We can provide you with a list of nearby pharmacies.

We are located in the basement of the Danna Center, directly below the Orleans Room (OR).  Our office hours during the fall and spring semesters are Monday-Friday 8:30am-4:45pm.  There are limited same day appointments available with the nurse practitioner and nurse consultations are always available during office hours.  Medical services are provided for illnesses such as the flu, strep throat, urinary tract infections, sinus infections, dermatological conditions, just to name a few.  Think of SHS as your on-campus urgent care clinic. 

If you are sick and would like to see the nurse practitioner, simply call (504)-865-3326 or stop in to schedule your same day appointment.  It is best to call or stop by as early as possible in the morning to schedule your appointment, as there is a limited number of students that the nurse practitioner can see each day.  If the nurse practitioner’s schedule is full for the day, you can consult with the nursing staff.  She can offer you medical advice and provide a referral if necessary.  If you need medical attention after hours, you can refer to our website for area urgent care options.  For on-campus medical emergencies, contact LUPD at (504)-865-3434 for an ambulance. 

SHS staff can also make referrals to local hospitals, walk-in clinics, physicians, and specialists in the area.  Wellness appointments, such as well-woman exams and physicals, are scheduled in advance as opposed to same day “sick” appointments.  Immunizations for MMR (measles, mumps and rubella), tetanus, meningitis, flu, and TB test are available at a cost.

Strict confidentiality laws are firmly respected in SHS.  All medical records are kept strictly confidential and are not a part of the student’s academic record.  Medical records are only released with the signed consent of the student. 

For more information on SHS, please visit: http://studentaffairs.loyno.edu/health

Amie Cardinal, RN
Student Health Services

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Good Grief!

Recently, there have been more clients coming into the UCC needing help around the loss of a loved one.  Whether planned or unplanned, processing through loss can be incredibly difficult.  Sociologically, different cultures handle this process in a wide variety of ways, but every culture acknowledges grief’s role in maintaining a healthy community.

It seems counter intuitive.  How could someone permanently leaving be a strength in a healthy community?  But it is.  Death reminds us of our humanity and that we do not have forever to participate.  It centers us in the community that supports us.  It provides us with opportunity to give and receive support from others, which is necessary in our human relationships.  It also serves as a time for remembrance and reflection on the lives of those who mean so much to us.

The beauty among the wreckage, that is death, is that we don’t start relationships with the hope that someone will be there for us when we need it.  In grief, we don’t expect reciprocation because in that moment we can’t imagine anyone else possibly understanding what that loss means to us.  And yet we are still given support.  This comfort is so helpful in processing through the range of emotions that we feel for those who have passed, as sometimes we grieve for those who were wonderful influences, and sometimes for those whose death is more complicated.

So for those who are grieving, lean on your community.  We’re here for you.  For those who are being leaned on, know how much your support is needed.

-Logan Williamson, LPC

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“Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or your self-confidence.”
-Robert Frost

I picked up this quote from Eric Wagner, Ph.D. when he was discussing the intricacies of the counseling process.  I like this quote because it speaks to my experience as a therapist and as a student.  Through education, we are able to pick up a variety of different lenses in which to view the world.  The more time spent in the educational process, whether at an excellent four year institution like Loyola or otherwise, we are collecting different ways that people perceive the same event.  This is a far cry from where we started in our development; the only lens being our internal experience.

The tone of the quote is also something that I feel is worth emulating.  The end result of education should not be arrogance towards experience, but rather a calm curiosity for what can be new.  The possibility of viewing each experience through the variety of lens is fascinating and not tedious.  Time for anger or self-doubt quickly passes as you switch perspectives to help you make sense of your initial reaction.  We do this through following Frost’s advice; “listen.”  It is through listening and not hearing that we are able to experience.  Simple words that have so much meaning to them.

To put things in perspective, the Fall semester has come to a close.  You officially have new lenses to look through and have signed up to learn about more.  So this Spring semester, take each class as an opportunity to become more “educated.”

-Logan Williamson, LPC

Please check out the Care For the Pack Blog for information about the University Counseling Center, Student Health Services as well as more thoughts and musings from our contributors!

 

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The Art of War

Conflict can be difficult.  No one really enjoys it and those that do enjoy conflict are elevated to having their own show on E! because they are so weird.  I have a bias against reality television, but that is for another blog post.  Conflict can escalate over the holidays though for many different reasons.  Not least among them are high expectations, temporarily forcing incompatible personalities together, and heightened stress around organizing events so that everyone is “happy.”

I want to offer some advice for surviving this mess of priorities, personalities and potential conflict so that you can enjoy the spirit of the season.  When managing potential conflict, I tend to go towards the experts in search of advice.  Freud?  Gandhi? Jesus?  All great sources I’m sure, but I’d rather go with Sun Tzu.

Sun Tzu is a Chinese Military tactician from 200 B.C. and is generally considered one of the greatest minds in history.  He wrote a treatise called Art of War with wisdom on how to successfully win battles even against those with greater strength or numbers.  The piece that I draw from his work is a rather simple concept.  If someone is trying to engage in conflict with you, it is because they have viewed the landscape and judged it to be in their favor.  Basically, people are not likely to pick a fight they believe they will lose. 

If people begin conflict they think they can win, then it is important for you to survey the landscape too.  Usually, they are right.  Politics and Religion shouldn’t be discussed over turkey and stuffing for a reason.  The landscape is never in favor of winning.  However, because the relationship “landscape” is one that changes all the time, following Sun Tzu’s advice is wise.  Wait, delay, shift, reposition until things are more in your favor.

I want to be clear too.  Conflict with family is natural and expected.  I don’t mean yelling and shouting matches.  Well I do, but I’m also talking about how to make decisions about time spent with friends versus family or discussing your lower than expected grade in Biology.

Also, I’m not advocating avoidance.  Avoidance of the problem is generally a bad thing.  Sun Tzu was a military tactician and wrote about how to win.  Engagement around difficult issues should still occur.

Lastly, it is important to understand what it means to “Win.”  Winning isn’t best defined as getting your way or winning the argument.  Instead, resolving differences or soothing failed expectations in a way that relationships are maintained and strengthened can lead to more quality wins.  For instance, if your parents ask you about your poor biology grade and you are too disappointed to talk or your grandparents are coming over in 5 minutes.  Delay the conversation, even if you know that they will get over it.  You can win by discussing it after family is gone and you have more time to talk about your plans to do better, and in the meantime everyone was able to enjoy the extra family members.

-Logan Williamson, LPC

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After the massacre at Sandy Hook, I felt sad, irritable and almost disoriented.  From talking to others, my reaction seemed fairly normal.  Whew!  I had to rely on my coping skills (playing music and disconnecting from the information overload) to get myself back to a place where I could really examine what had happened in a critical fashion.

Recently, I moved to New Orleans from Denver, Colorado.  I treated children, adolescents and college aged adults in the same school district as Columbine High School – www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Columbine_High_School_massacre.  I had colleagues who were first responders on the scene and I had an office in a church where one of the shooters was a confirmed member.  I had a friend who was in the library where the shootings took place.  Additionally, I worked with clients who were separated by 2 or 3 degrees from victims of the Aurora Theater Shooting – www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aurora,_Colorado_theater_massacre.  This type of event hits home for me as someone with a more intimate knowledge of how mass shootings can destroy lives, families and bring entire communities to their knees.

I began to look at how I connected to the Sandy Hook community.  I realized that my most visceral reaction came when I heard that Adam Lanza had been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, which is a lesser form of Autism.  Working with this population is one of my clinical specialities… they are a part of my community.  I have worked with so many people who fit this diagnosis, and not one of them will ever turn out to be a mass murderer.  I could not stomach the thought that these people could be faced with another social mountain to climb.  The news media did not directly associate the two, but of course people are looking for an answer as to how this could happen.

I don’t think it will ever be clear which diagnoses Adam Lanza fit, but I hope that people do not associate Autism/Asperger’s with violence and murder.  I knew that if I am an advocate for this community, then I needed to voice my perspective and share my experience.

Recently, I read an article on this very point from someone who has Asperger’s and it can do a much better job of explaining why Asperger’s should not be associated with Mass Murder/Violence than I can: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/my-life-aspergers/201212/asperger-s-autism-and-mass-murder

The most salient excerpt:

“People with Asperger’s typically have difficulty reading the unspoken cues of other people.  You might say we are oblivious to the language of emotion.

Yet we are emotional people.  Many studies have shown folks with autism have very powerful emotions; the problem is, we often can’t express those feelings in ways others can recognize.  Sometimes our responses seem inappropriate (we may smile when you expect us to look sad.)  Other times, an event that triggers a strong emotional response in one person has no visible effect on a person with autism.

Lay people often take those signals to mean we Asperger people don’t have feelings, or we don’t care about them, or that we lack empathy.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.

As the definition of autism and Asperger’s says:  This is a communication disorder. It’s not a “lack of feeling” disorder.   In fact, most clinicians who work with people on the autism spectrum will tell you autistic people tend to care deeply for people in their lives, and have a sweetness; a childlike gentleness – something totally at odds with what you’d expect in a cold blooded killer.

There is nothing in the definition of Asperger’s or autism that would make a person think we are a violent group.  That’s reinforced by criminal justice studies telling us that people with autism are much less likely to commit violent crimes than the average person.  Indeed, those studies show autistic people are far more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators. 

If you’re looking for a group of people to fear, we’re not it.”

-John Elder Robinson

Someone asked me the other day if I take my own advice that I give to clients.  I hope you can hear it in this article.  Everyone needs effective coping skills and we all should stand up for the communities that mean the most to us.

-Logan Williamson, LPC

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Congratulations, you’ve officially made it through the fall 2012 semester!  Time for some much deserved R&R with family and friends during the break.  If your family lives in the Greater New Orleans area, you have probably been back and forth on several occasions to do laundry, eat a home-cooked meal, or just touch base over a cup of coffee.  If you live further away, the winter holidays might be your first trip home for the year.

Going home for the holidays can initially be filled with great expectations and a little anxiety.  You might believe that you have changed dramatically in your time at Loyola and wonder what your family will think of the “new you.”  In some ways, Loyola might feel more like “home” to you.  This is absolutely normal and signals your shift toward independence and adult living.

Don’t be surprised if you notice that your family and friends “back home” have also changed since you’ve been away.  You have probably heard the talk time and time again about how college changes the student; however, it is also a time of transition for your loved ones.

Here are a few tips to cope with the holiday trip home:

  • Holidays can be both joyful and stressful.  If you notice yourself feeling the “holiday blues” think about your expectations for returning home and put things back into realistic perspective.  Consider recording a “home for the holidays” playlist to assist with relaxation.
  • Try pre-planning your trip.  By setting a loosely structured schedule, you can more easily make time for friends and family.
  • Make time for rest and self-care.  You are likely to feel exhausted after final exams but still want to visit with everyone back home.  Plan your time to include sleep, exercise, and relaxation.
  • Talk openly with your parents about household rules.  Discuss curfews, chores/upkeep, and be open to compromise.
  • Keep in contact with your friends from Loyola.  Make a few phone calls, Skype, or send email/text messages.  You’ll be happy to pick up where you left off when you return to campus in January.
  • Volunteer.  Remembering the Jesuit ideals of compassion and dignity this holiday season and giving of your time and energy to assist in the lives of others will leave you feeling a sense of renewal and motivation for the spring semester.

So, here’s to you and making the most of your time over the holidays. Enjoy and we’ll see you next year!

Alicia A. Bourque, Ph.D.
Director, Counseling & Health Services

 **While you are here, click on our recent posts for a variety of different topics!  In fact, bookmark the Care for the Pack Blog as we update it twice a week!**

 

 

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Why Can It Be Difficult to Live At Home?

Living at home during college can be _________.  You fill in the sentence.

I bet it isn’t “awesome” or “ideal.”  Sometimes, at best, it can be“thrifty” or “convenient.”  Why is this?  Aren’t we supposed to love our family?  Aren’t they supposed to be the ones we can count on and who support us?  Then why do we have such difficulty when we live at home or go home for the break?

There are two concepts in Family Systems theory that help us understand why this is so difficult.  The first is individuation.  This is the process of our identity moving towards independence and responsibility and away from relying on the family to function for us.  In the past, reminding us to do our homework, clean our room, or brush our teeth before we left the house was necessary and helpful.  Now, in college, not so much.  Your room may not be spotless, or your dental hygiene perfect, but these are choices you are making about your lifestyle.

The next concept is one borrowed from 6th grade science class – homeostasis.  In Family Systems Theory, homeostasis is a family reacting to someone trying to make a change.  This reaction is trying to bring that person back to the way things used to be.  If you are less reactive to an argument with a sibling, they may become even angrier so they can illicit the angry reaction that they are used to getting in a fight.  Unfortunately, when talking about homeostasis, same = good, even if same = unhealthy as well.

If we put these concepts together we get homeo-individuation-stasis.  No, not really.  But we do get quite the mess.  If it is normal to take on more responsibility for your lifestyle and making choices that your family used to make, AND your family is primed to overreact to bring you back to how it used to be… you can imagine how fights quickly boil down to:

You: “Mom, I’m 18 years old.  I can make my own decisions!!!”

Mom: “Well I know how this is going to turn out and for these 3 really thought out reasons you should do exactly what I say!!!!”

You: *door slam*

The key to these situations is to realize when you might be getting into a scenario where you are taking over new responsibilities.  Once you realize you are there, acknowledging your family’s perspective rather than denying it outright can go a long way towards softening the blow when you make your own call.  Also, compromising can be an excellent way to show your ability to be an individual while leaning on the wisdom of your family.  Just because you are taking over new responsibilities, doesn’t mean that they are all against what your family believes.  Leave Rebellion back in High School where it belongs.  Maturing means negotiation and respect towards the people that care about you.  In this way you strengthen the bonds with people who you count on and who support you.

-Logan Williamson, LPC

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Finals Help – No One is Looking

Finals can be a tough time for everyone.  For the prepared, it is a work filled frenzy.  For the procrastinators, it is a work filled frenzy.  It can be a time where we become focused on ourselves and how heavy our work load is and how much stress we have before the last day of classes.  This is a time to rely on our values, not forget them until things get easier.  I’ve heard that values are what you do while no one is looking.  So if everyone is looking at themselves, this is the time to act!

In the spirit of service and community, do something nice for someone today.  Lend someone your notes.  Explain the question they are stuck on.  Offer up your car for the late night Taco Bell run as a study break.  Call your friend the morning of the final so they make it on time.  Open the door for a stranger.  Pull your head out of your own… To Do List and make a difference in someone else’s day and your day as well.

-Logan Williamson, LPC

**While you are here, click on our recent posts for a variety of different topics!  In fact, bookmark the Care for the Pack Blog as we update it twice a week!**

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Don’t Be a Jerk

I’m linking to an article I found interesting the other day.  Its title is less direct than this Blog Post – “How to Be a Jerk.”  It looks at how people can be jerks and with a wink and a nod forces you to look at how you are jerk… but of course that would never happen right?

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/ambigamy/201211/how-be-jerk

It gave me an opportunity to reflect on my own occasional outburst of jerkiness.  What I really took from this article is how unhappy Jerks must be… Being wrong happens and admitting it relieves the weight off of your shoulders of having to justify each step along the way.

I believe that patterns are easier to change once we have some insight into them.  After reading this article, it will be much harder to act like a jerk for too long.  When I hear myself saying, “I’m not insulting you, I’m just being honest,” I’ll know that I’m just saying, “Let me be a jerk for a little longer.”  And that is a tough thing to ask someone.

I think this article is also trying to get at the idea that our gut is sometimes a poor compass… to completely mix my metaphors.  This is a lesson that I have to continue to relearn.  No matter the level of expertise, we can tend to atrophy back into old patterns.  Accountability is essential to consistency.  So take a risk this week and see if you are being a Jerk.  Are you slipping into old patterns because “you got this?”  Maybe you need some extra accountability?  We all do!

-Logan Williamson, LPC

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