“Exploring our Diet from the Inside Out: Why Gut Health Affects our Mental Health” Guest Blog by Alicia Galvin Smith

We often think too narrowly about what success in treatment looks like. Whether you are struggling with mental health or substance abuse, it’s a common mistake to think that the only goal is treating the primary problem – and getting that to disappear. At Innovation360, we don’t just focus solely on the presenting issue. i360 intervenes in all areas of life to rebuild a healthy foundation. One of those areas is physical wellness, which includes taking a deeper look at our diet. Today we are bringing in an expert in this area, someone we have collaborated with frequently to help our clients uncover some of the issues they might be experiencing in the realm of diet, so that we can address wellness from a bigger picture. Alicia Galvin Smith, MEd, RD, LD, CLT was generous enough to share her expert insights, talking about why gut health matters:

“All disease begins in the gut” was a statement spoken by Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine, over 2000 years ago, but recent research is confirming that this is very true. Your gut houses 70-80% of your immune system and you have over 10 trillion bacteria that call your intestines  home. In fact, there are 10 times more bacterial cells in your body than there are human cells. It therefore makes sense, and research is emerging to show, that when there is an imbalance in the gut it can directly impact and throw off the rest of the body. Research showed significantly altered behavior when one mouse’s gut bacteria was swapped with that of another. Researchers transplanted microbes from one group of mice, which were characterized by timidity, into the guts of mice who tended to take more risks. What they observed was a complete personality shift: timid mice became outgoing, while outgoing mice became timid.  What’s happening in our gut can truly determine how we move through life.

Often times the role of nutrition and gut health is overlooked when working with depression, anxiety, OCD, ADD/ADHD, bipolar disorder, and various other mental health conditions. Yet it can make all the difference in the world. For instance, about 90% of serotonin (yes, the same neurotransmitter found in the brain) is actually made in the digestive tract by specialized cells.  And a deficit in that same chemical can lead to depression. So yes, there is a link between our gut health and our mood, memory, sleep, etc.

Additionally, specific vitamins and minerals are required to produce neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine and epinephrine. For instance, vitamin D, iron, vitamin B6, and omega fatty acids should be at optimal levels for the body to efficiently make serotonin. A deficiency in any of these can inhibit the pathway and production.  In addition, deficiencies in zinc, magnesium, vitamin B12, and folate have been linked with conditions such as depression and anxiety.  Evaluating for vitamin and mineral deficiencies is important, as is the consideration of a nutrient dense diet. What we eat influences the balance of gut bacteria – the proper foods and a nutrient dense diet will shift the balance toward good bacteria. As we examine our overall physical and mental health, these are critical factors to consider.

There is a lot to consider beyond therapy and medication when it comes to helping people overcome mental health issues. If you are struggling with mental health or addiction, it’s important to address the essential areas of life which often impact the primary issues. And diet, vitamin/mineral deficiencies, and gut health should not be overlooked. There is a two-way street between what’s going on in the gut and what’s happening in the brain.  So reflect on what you are putting into your body, and maybe what you aren’t.  And see if a change in that area leads to change elsewhere. Because “my gut” says it will.


To learn more about Alicia Galvin Smith, visit her website here. She can be reached at alicia@aliciagalvinsmith.com or 469.340.8449. She can help you experiment with some changes in diet and nutrition that could lead to positive changes in mental health.


1. Yano, Jessica M. et al(2015) Indigenous Bacteria from the Gut Microbiota Regulate Host Serotonin Biosynthesis. Cell, 161 (2). pp. 264-276.

2. Bercik, Premysl et al. The Intestinal Microbiota Affect Central Levels of Brain-Derived Neurotropic Factor and Behavior in Mice. Gastroenterology , Volume 141 , Issue 2 , 599 – 609.e3

3. Patrick, R.P., & Ames, B. N. (2015). Vitamin D and the omega 3 fatty acid control serotonin synthesis and action, part 2: relevance for ADHD, bipolar, schizophrenia, and impulsive behavior. The FASEB Journal, 29, 1-16

4. Swardfager. Depression Linked to low Zinc Levels in the blood. Biol Psychiatry. 2013;74:872-878

5. Hector M, Burton JR. What are the psychiatric manifestations of vitamin B12 deficiency? J Am Geriatr Soc 1988;36:1105–1112.

6. Coppen A, Bailey J. Enhancement of the antidepressant action of fluoxetine by folic acid: a randomised, placebo controlled trial. J Affect Disord 2000;60:121–130.

7. Skarupski, K. A., Tangney, C., Li, H., Ouyang, B., Evans, D. A., & Morris, M. C. (2010). Longitudinal association of vitamin B-6, folate, and vitamin B-12 with depressive symptoms among older adults over time. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 92(2), 330–335.

8. Sartori, S. B., Whittle, N., Hetzenauer, A., & Singewald, N. (2012). Magnesium deficiency induces anxiety and HPA axis dysregulation: Modulation by therapeutic drug treatment. Neuropharmacology, 62(1), 304–312.


“Where do CEOs with addictions go when they hit bottom?” Fortune Magazine article features Innovation360 expanding on this topic

Anna David, Editor-in-Chief of RehabReviews.com, is a recovering addict, and she said that in her experience, the CEO with an addiction is by no means a rarity, and neither is the treatment facility catering to his or her needs.

“Rehabs targeting this demographic have started popping up seemingly every second,” she said. “Many of these rehab owners are addicts who got sober, became quite successful as a result, and know exactly how to treat these people, because they are these people.”

These facilities aren’t exactly cheap — David said that at the high end, the $100,000-a-month inpatient facility is not unheard of — but she also said that they’re ideal for easing a chief executive officer into recovery.

“Having the best therapists around, 1000-count sheets and an all-organic, ‘paleo,’ vegetarian, what-have-you meal plan… will encourage more of them to go to treatment, and ultimately to thrive there,” she said. “I’ve seen amazing transformations… people who come into rehab with the most entitled, obnoxious personalities imaginable, who end up having spiritual awakenings that cause them to check out as different people.”

There are different treatment options available to executives, all with different approaches, philosophies and costs. Fortunespoke to some of the professionals who offer them, and got their observations.


Situated in Texas, Innovation360 is an outpatient facility with locations in Dallas and Fort Worth. Clinical psychologist Kevin Gilliland operates out of the Dallas facility, and he estimated that patients pay between $15,000 and $25,000 for their first month of treatment at the center. He said that alcohol is the substance that he most frequently sees executives struggling with.

“It’s legal, it’s accepted as part of entertainment and business, and even expected by some clients,” he said.

For many of these patients, the barriers to treatment that they encounter are also signs of their success. They often can’t be fired, they’re too wealthy for anyone to force them into treatment by threatening to cut them off, and although “lonely at the top” is a well-worn cliché, it’s no less true of the CEO with an addiction.

“People will choose alcohol or drugs over developing significant relationships that can help them manage the challenges of the position,” he said. This is especially true of executives who are too image-conscious to seek treatment.

“CEOs and senior executives are all concerned about perception, and rightly so,” he said. “How well would you sleep if you knew your hedge fund manager watching over your hard-earned money and retirement has an alcohol addiction?”

Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation

The Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation is the world’s largest nonprofit treatment provider. According to public relations representative Christine Anderson, one month of inpatient treatment costs approximately $33,000.

Chief Medical Officer Marvin D. Seppala, M.D. said that the biggest hurdle in treating the executive is the alpha dog mentality – ironically the very thing that made him or her successful in the first place.

“Our treatment is primarily accomplished with group therapy, which requires that people share their problems and express their feelings,” he said. “As you can imagine, this does not come naturally for most high-powered executives.”

It may not be an easy sell, but he said that the group setting is essential to the way the Foundation provides treatment.

“It is much easier for those with addiction to recognize problems in others than to see the exact same problem manifesting in their own lives,” he said. “Group therapy allows for initial recognition of someone else’s shortcomings — ultimately the individual begins to see and admit to their own problems as well.”

The Foundation also looks ahead to what happens when a patient has finished treatment, and offers a variety of resources to help when the going gets tough, as it inevitably will.

“We offer assessments, residential and outpatient treatment, structured living, continuing care, family programs, social communities, parent recovery groups, parent coaching, children’s programs, and prevention programs,” he said. “We integrate addiction and mental health treatment so that both issues are addressed at the same time.”

Coaching Through Chaos

Coaching Through Chaos is a private practice located in San Diego and run by Colleen Mullen, Psy.D., LMFT. She said that her executive patients frequently present with addictions to opiates that were prescribed for pain management.

“Their tolerance to the medication has built up, but the pain is still there, so they begin taking more than prescribed,” she said. Eventually, the pills just don’t do the trick any more, and she said that it’s not uncommon for someone in that situation to move on to a drug such as heroin.

“By that time, no matter what position in life the person started out in, they often look like any other addict, except maybe they still have a nicer home to use in,” she said.

Whatever their appearance, they have reputations to protect and businesses to run, so she’s tailored certain aspects of her practice to suit those needs.

“In addition to traditional insurance-covered therapy services, I offer a cash option, should they want to fully protect their anonymity,” she said. “I also provide concierge therapy services in which I can come and meet with them in their office or provide extra support by way of coaching phone calls or video-conference sessions when they may be traveling.”

As an outpatient provider, the costs for Dr. Mullen’s monthly services don’t reach the heights of those of a high-end, residential inpatient facility.

“My hourly in-office rate is $120,” she said. “The average person comes at least one time per week. If someone hires me for concierge services, ranging from meeting with them outside of my office or extra coaching calls, we could be looking at $600 or more per week. So the average range is about $500 to $4,000 a month.”

Seasons in Malibu

Dr. Nancy Irwin is staff therapist at Seasons in Malibu, an inpatient facility. She said that the average 30-day stay costs approximately $55,000, but patients get a lot of bang for their buck. In fact, the center offers treatment options so enticing that even the utterly lucid might briefly entertain the prospect of checking in.

“Our holistic modalities include art therapy, massage, cranial-sacral work, hypnotherapy, acupuncture, spiritual counseling… and a host of groups — trauma, men’s, women’s, dream interpretation, family systems, and more,” she said. She also noted the physical exercise options, which include surfing, yoga and Muy Thai.

If business simply won’t wait, Seasons in Malibu offers “Executive Track,” a plan that allows patients to attend to company matters via video-conferencing while they’re still on the facility’s grounds. “We don’t want people to think their business is going to tank if they’re here for 30 days,” Dr. Irwin said.

She said that stress and unresolved trauma were common triggers that cause these kinds of patients to relapse after leaving the facility. However, she objected to the negative connotation associated with the word “relapse.”

“Most addicts do relapse, but we view that as a stepping stone to success,” she said. “Wise people learn from a relapse, like any other mistake, and use that to empower their success, versus viewing it as proof of the limiting belief, ‘Once an addict, always an addict.’”

Original Article Found at Fortune Magazine online here.


By Daniel Bukszpan. 

Daniel Bukszpan is a New York-based freelance writer.


Support for Parents

We often feel so isolated when our kids are struggling. It’s so easy to withdraw and not stay plugged in with other people who can help give us perspective. At i360, we encourage parents to be connected with other parents who have been there, and who are going through it, so you have that validation that you are not all alone in this. When you plug into Parent Support Group you realize you are not alone, you are not crazy, and there are other families struggling with the same things. And there is so much hope that comes with that.

When your son or daughter struggles with mood disorders, psychiatric illnesses, and/or substance abuse, it can be a very tough time for the whole family. During challenging times, healing can be found through connecting with others who share similar experiences.

Join us at Innovation360’s Parent Support Group each Monday night. Parent Support Group offers education, encouragement, and support. It’s a time when parents can hear others voice the same concerns about parenting teens or young adults who are struggling with chronic emotional struggles, substance abuse, and/or psychiatric illnesses.

When: Mondays from 7pm-8:30pm.

Where: 6600 LBJ FWY #240 in Dallas, Texas 75240

Contact: John Wilson at 214.733.9565

Topics may include:

  • Clearing communication lines
  • Reclaiming your life from fear and shame
  • Enjoying balanced family relationships
  • How to help a loved one who is struggling
  • Rediscovering intimacy
  • Learning to discern lack of ability vs. lack of willingness


For more information on parent advice, see our video below or click this link. We hope to see you soon at our Parent Support Group.



When our counselors read that “Palcohol” won federal approval this month, we just thought, “Wonderful. One more thing to look out for now.” Palcohol is a controversial powdered alcohol product that is packaged in a small, portable pouch. And though originally designed with the idea that hikers can enjoy a refreshing beverage after their sweaty adventures without having to carry heavy bottles, I’m not so sure that this target market will be the ones lining up to purchase it.  Something about “Pargaritas” and “Partinis” don’t seem to go hand and hand with outdoor enthusiasts. But that could just be me.

What would concern me is that powdered alcohol – with it’s discreet pouch and ability to be so easily transported – could exacerbate underage alcohol abuse. Underage drinking is a growing epidemic and at i360 we often see the aftermath of the affiliated tragic consequences. It’s not a problem just for some families – it’s a concern that affects the nation as a whole.


Here are some warning signs of underage drinking:

  • Academic and/or behavioral problems in school or after-school activities
  • Changing groups of friends
  • Less interest in activities such as sports, music, and other hobbies
  • Change in appearance or clothing style
  • Slurred speech
  • Lower energy
  • Memory and/or concentration problems


By the age of 15, over 50% of teens have had at least one drink (ref: NIAAA). By the age of 18, more than 70% of teens have had at least one drink. And when young people drink, more than 90% of the time they consume their alcohol by binge drinking. And that’s scary. Our duty at i360 goes beyond the four walls of therapy; we are here to educate, bring awareness, and provide advice when we are able. Parents, we encourage you to be as actively involved in your child’s life as you can. Have conversations with them about the dangers of drinking and about life in general. Get to know their friends. Provide a good example. And watch out for “Palcohol”…!

For more on the new Palcohol approval, read this CBS News Article here from March 11, 2015, 11:46 AM.




Written by Lauren Barnett, Marketing Director


What’s Sleep Got To Do With It? Guest blog from Cooper Healthy Living’s expert Jill Turner

At Cooper Healthy Living, adults from around the country come spend a week on the Cooper Aerobics campus where they stay, learn and transform their health. Equal parts nutrition, exercise, and overall well-being, the common denominator among the people who come is a dissatisfaction or concern about some aspect of their health. Many people complain their life just isn’t as balanced as want it to be, that they are tired, stressed, and weigh more than they’d like. Sleep, or lack of sleep, is a big issue for many.

For well over a year, I wore a wrist activity tracker, and in addition to tracking activity the device also tracked sleep. With a job that keeps me seated (in meetings, on the phone, or behind a computer), the first thing I quickly learned from the tracker is that I need to walk (and at a pretty good clip) for 40- to 45 minutes in order to get the surgeon general recommended 10,000 steps per day. The fact that I need time for purposeful exercise wasn’t a surprise, but the data on sleep was. After a few months of use, I had enough data to realize I need to subtract a full hour for non-sleep time from however many hours I’m in bed each night to accurately count my sleep. This was frankly a shocking revelation as my husband has long claimed I’m like a baby doll with eyes that slap closed when prone! However, the device reflected the truth – that it still takes time to fall asleep, time for a middle-of-the-night bathroom break, time to return to sleep after the cat walks across my body or after the dogs awake to go investigate a potential critter in the backyard. So all those nights I was thinking I’d gotten 8 hours, it was really 7, as I wasn’t estimating non-sleep time very well at all. Looking at the statistics of my tracker buddies, I don’t think I’m that unusual.

As most of the people I encounter don’t get enough sleep, I was fascinated to read about a study conducted by Matthew P. Walker, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of California. It looked at the impact of sleep deprivation on our brain. In the study (reported in 2013), Walker recruited 23 healthy young men and women to come spend the night at the lab on two separate occasions, separated by about a week. On the first visit, the individuals arrived at the lab, slept for approximately 8 hours, and then after a small breakfast of toast and strawberry jam, had a MRI (brain scan) while looking at 80 pictures of a variety of foods and rating how strongly they wanted the food in the image. (As part of the experiment, the subjects were promised that at the end of the test they would receive one of the foods that they had rated the highest.) About a week later, the individuals returned to the lab, but this time stayed awake the entire night. (While up, the individuals had snacks like apples and peanut butter, to offset the extra calories they burned being awake rather than asleep.) After being up all night, they repeated the exercise from the previous week – rating the same 80 food pictures while undergoing an MRI.

What Dr. Walker found was really interesting – when the individuals were rested, they chose healthy items to eat, but when they were tired, from just a single night of no sleep, they chose fattening foods, like salty treats, fried foods, or desserts. In fact, the caloric difference between the food choices of the well-rested subjects and the tired subjects was about 600 calories! In comparing the “rested” and “tired” MRIs of the individual, the MRI in a “tired” state showed a sharp reduction in activity in the frontal cortex, a higher-level part of the brain where consequences are weighed and rational decisions are made.

“What we have discovered is that high-level brain regions required for complex judgments and decisions become blunted by a lack of sleep, while more primal brain structures that control motivation and desire are amplified,” said Dr. Walker. Moreover, he added, “high-calorie foods also became significantly more desirable when participants were sleep-deprived. This combination of altered brain activity and decision-making may help explain why people who sleep less also tend to be overweight or obese.”

It’s not our imagination – Dr. Walker’s study scientifically shows how our brain is physically impacted by the level of sleep we have.

In Cooper Healthy Living I talk about this study to hone in on the importance of sleep. Firsthand, I know that if I’m rested, I have better impulse control, and if someone walks into my office bearing treats, there’s a much better chance I will focus on my long term goal of being able to continue to fit into my pants. On the other hand, if I’m tired and someone walks into my office bearing treats, regardless of whether I’m physically hungry or not, there’s a very good chance I’m going to accept, and hope they offer me seconds! When it comes to mental health, sleep problems are particularly common in patients with anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Furthermore, it doesn’t seem implausible that if, when tired, I have difficulty making good, healthy decisions about what I should eat, the same might be just as true for the tired person who has an addiction – be it shopping, alcohol, drugs, or gambling.

Last month, the National Sleep Foundation released new sleep duration recommendations, after an expert panel of eighteen leading scientists and researchers reviewed more than 300 current scientific publications to determine how much sleep we really need. A chart was created that gives “rule-of-thumb” recommendations for all stages of life. Adults, age 18 and up, are now divided into three categories (young adults 18-25 years; adults 26-64 years; and older adults 65 and up), and currently all three categories have a recommended average of 7- to 9 hours of sleep. The chart also reflects that for some of us, fewer hours are needed, and for others, more. Interestingly, both too little sleep and too much sleep isn’t good for our health. I hope you’ll look at the chart, consider your own particular circumstances, and evaluate if some additional shuteye (or perhaps less), might be helpful in your overall health goals.

Written by Jill Turner, President of Cooper Healthy Living. Individuals interested in Cooper Healthy Living can call us at 800-444-5192 or by going to the website at www.CooperHealthyLiving.com.



Understanding Addiction

Have you ever had the feeling that there is something that you just can’t live without? Maybe when you had your first date with someone and it was better than you ever expected. Each day and night you waited for that one person to call and when the phone rang you were disappointed if it wasn’t them. When they finally called, nothing else mattered in the whole world except talking to that one special person. Have you ever wanted something so bad that it consumed every waking thought? Try thinking of a child who is just able to understand the concept of Christmas morning and they are getting no sleep, have no appetite, and can’t think or do anything else but ask about when it will finally be the day to open the gifts! The anticipation of a bride walking down the aisle to her groom, or vice versa, is overwhelming and it takes over each waking moment until that day finally comes. Everyone in your life is affected by this monumental day and is also right along with you on your journey to experience something that is so important to you.

This is a shadow of what an addiction is. A shadow is merely a glimpse of what is truly there, a shape of something that is so detailed and intricate and woven into whomever is suffering. It is a major part of what that person is made.


Addiction is a persistent, compulsive dependence on a behavior or substance. The term has been partially replaced by the word dependence for substance abuse. Addiction has been extended, however, to include mood-altering behaviors or activities. Some researchers speak of two types of addictions: substance addictions (for example, alcoholism, drug abuse and smoking); and process addictions (for example, gambling, spending, shopping, eating, and sexual activity). There is a growing recognition that many addicts, such as polydrug abusers, are addicted to more than one substance or process.

Addiction is the closest, most valuable relationship to the person who is suffering from it. It is the most taxing one as well – over the spouse, children, family and friends, and job. Most people who struggle with addiction have lost many opportunities within their lifetime due to this relationship with drugs or alcohol. To people who do not struggle with addiction, it may seem that a mother who endangers her children while under the influence of drugs or alcohol may not love her children. Obviously, or she wouldn’t continue to spend rent money on drugs or pass out while the children are left unattended if she loved them. It may seem that she cares more about her addiction than her own children. That is not true. The addiction is just a lot stronger than she is able to handle. It’s a brain disease…

There is a part in an addict’s brain that is rewarded when they use alcohol or drugs. “Everything we do affects these areas of the brain, especially anything we personally find enjoyable — like most of us do when socializing with other people. When we are having an enjoyable conversation with another person, it leads to a biological and behavioral response. We can even “crave” talking to that person again, since we often make a date to see that person again. None of these things are necessarily unique to addiction.” Over time it becomes a coping mechanism for daily life and takes away the ability to learn essential life skills necessary for living healthy lives.

A person who continues to drink alcohol despite clear-cut consequences, or someone who continues to spend too much money despite losing their car or home, clearly has dame to their brain that leads them to continue that behavior even though they are fully aware of all they are risking. So after the first DWI, the normal drinker will stop drinking. The addict though will rationalize, justify and normalize their troubles and continue the same pattern of behavior until it catches up with them. It is also natural for the addict to point the finger and blame others for their problems. It is just a form of denial and it protects them from having to fully look at themselves in the mirror to see who they really are. It works for a period of time until something terrible happens. Most endings of addiction are death or prison. The path is long and hard when addicts don’t get the proper help for their addiction; it is going to be a long road for them and the loved ones who travel it with them. It’s not a person’s fault if they develop an addiction. But they do have to take ownership of the problem, and work toward its resolution.

The good news is that there are vast numbers of treatment options available for people struggling with any type of addiction. A recovered life is a much more rewarding way to live and is an option for all who put great effort into living it. Getting into a program, staying accountable and helping others are all ways to combat an addiction. Speak out and help others if you have overcome an addiction!

Written by Kayla Proffitt, CIP






Engaging in Motivation

How many times have you felt unmotivated to do something? Or have used the phrase “I’m just not motivated to do that right now”? We tend to use a “lack of motivation” as an excuse for not acting. Could it be that by not acting we are actually removing any opportunity for motivation?

Often times we can think of motivation as something that one either has or does not have. When taking this view in the context of treatment, we can be quick to dismiss people on the basis of a lack of motivation. According to Dr. William R. Miller and Dr. Stephen Rollnick, motivation is not a trait or something that one either has or does not have; however, it is an action. “Motivation can be understood not as something that one has but rather as something one does. It involves recognizing a problem, searching for a way to change, and then beginning and sticking with that change strategy. There are, it turns out, many ways to help people move toward such recognition and action.” -Dr. William R. Miller

I love this! With this redefinition we can now empower people with motivation instead of it being a prerequisite for treatment. 

This is one of the great benefits I have found in i360’s Life Development. Many times people have the desire to change but struggle with actively engaging in the motivation to make those changes and stick with them. Life Development helps people participate in that motivation by reflectively listening and helping to identify goals. It also aids in processing through current behavior to see if that behavior is helping the individual move towards those goals or away from them. With our clients, we work through conflict and confrontation and continue to focus positively on the ever constant opportunity we have for impactful and meaningful change.

It is my personal opinion that for anyone to engage in motivation that will lead to sustainable change, one must have another individual to participate with in the process. Whether it’s resisting the urge to take a drink or going to the gym to work out, it is easier to obtain continued favorable outcomes when we are actively involved with others to achieve motivational success.

To read more about Motivational Interviewing refer to http://store.samhsa

Written by Matthew Green


Does My Loved One Have an Addiction?

It’s challenging to help a loved one with addiction. Especially if you aren’t really sure what’s going on. . . Maybe over time the suspicions began to add up. Until you realized one day that there is something bigger happening in your loved one’s life. Or maybe one day it hit you like a brick wall, leaving you with not a doubt in your mind that he or she needs help, help beyond what you can provide.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) nearly 50 million people in the U.S., and their families, are affected by the disease of addiction. This includes drug and alcohol addiction, as well as behavioral addictions such as eating, gambling, gaming, sex, spending, shopping, and work. As a result of the widespread impact of addiction, at i360 we often work with family members who wonder, “Does my husband, son, daughter, or mother have an addiction?” Although a professional should evaluate someone struggling with possible addiction before a diagnosis is made, the following are ten basic criteria for addiction:

Preoccupation – obsessive thoughts or fantasizing about a specific substance or behavior.

Loss of control – using substances or engaging in behavior more than originally intended.

Compulsivity – a pattern or theme of acting out over an extended period of time.

Efforts to stop – a history of attempts to stop behavior that fail.

Withdrawal – stopping use or behavior causes physical symptoms, distress, anxiety, restlessness, or irritably.

Escalation – The substance is taken in larger amounts or over a longer period of time than was intended, or there is a need to make the behavior more intense, frequent, or risky.

Loss of time – a large amount of time lost using substances or engaging in behavior and recovering from the effects.

Inability to fulfill obligations – substance use or behavior interferes with work, school, and relationships.

Losses – experiencing legal, relational, financial, physical and/or work consequences.

Continuation despite consequences – failure to stop the substance use or behavior even though you are experiencing legal, relational, financial, physical, and/or occupational problems.

If you or a family member can identify with the following criteria, we are here to help. At i360 we help individuals and families through the recovery process. This is done through a unique blend of individual, group, and family therapy in the office, and walking with clients in their real world environment to apply their insights as they build a new, healthy, satisfying life. This is what we call life development, and this happens outside of the traditional office setting. In collaboration with all the professionals working with an individual, it’s a very effective and unique approach to treatment. No matter what your situation is, talk to someone, sit down with someone, and figure out that you can have a very different future.

Written by Mitchell Isle, LPC



How to Care for those Experiencing Grief during the Holidays

The holiday season brings with it certain nostalgia. The cooler air is filled with memories of family gatherings, friendly meetings and a general coming together with those we love. There is an expectation of sorts to be merry, to be carefree, to be whimsical. Yet, for those of us dealing with the loss of a loved one, the holiday season often amplifies the pain and sadness already lingering in their absence. As we move through December and into the new year, be mindful of those near to you that may be struggling through this season. Here are some specific ways we can extend care for those experiencing grief this year:

·Reach out and remember: Sending a card, extending a phone call, sharing an invitation to coffee all serve as fairly simple ways to communicate you care and haven’t forgotten about the person’s loss during the holidays. Offer to help bake or decorate or shop for gifts. These tasks can be overwhelming for someone that is dealing with raw emotions. Especially if time has passed since the loss, you may unintentionally forget that the holidays can be hard.

·Do not avoid the topic: It can be uncomfortable to inquire about difficult situations, yet leaning into the discomfort can help someone who is grieving talk about the event, and the gesture relays that you are truly interested. Questions such as, “How are you doing?” “What is difficult right now?” “What do you need during this season?” can open the door to conversations someone may not bring up otherwise.

·Listen, listen, listen: As you engage in conversation with someone grieving, listen without preparing how you will respond. This is not a time where you have to be conversational. However, if you are comfortable, share what you are feeling as he or she continues to share, or even how you may relate to his or her loss. Try to connect with the feelings of hurt, the feelings of pain, and avoid attempting to solve or fix it. It is risky to share about a sad or difficult topic if you do not believe you will be heard. Letting the other person know you hear him or her and are ok with being with there in that moment of grieving goes a very long way.

It can feel scary to ask or inquire about a person’s loss. However, making the effort and expressing concern is often appreciated. Additionally, some folks may request to not talk about their loss, but still be thankful you asked. Respect where the person is in terms of dealing with that circumstance. Anger may accompany the sadness and often it is not personal towards you. As you offer support, honor how the person chooses to respond and trust that there is no right or wrong way to celebrate the holidays while navigating a loss.

When we go through difficult times, we often isolate and disconnect from the things in life we need. Maybe you are going through a hard time. Maybe a loved one is. Whatever the case, connecting with others can give us hope for a different future. Talk with someone, sit with someone and explore some possibilities to have a very different chapter in life. Reach out to us at i360 at 214.733.9565.

Written by Lindsay O’Connor, LPC – Client Advocate and Therapist at i360


5 Things We Rarely Do That Would Make Life More Joyful

5 Things We Rarely Do That Would Make Life more Joyful

Disclaimer: As you read this, every single one of you will be able to conjure up multiple excuses about why the following actions can’t be possible for you or how out of touch with reality I am.

Recently when I spoke on the topic of marital satisfaction, a woman in the crowd stood up with a sly smirk on her face and tried to publicly invalidate the points I had made. “Do you have children? It sounds like you don’t, because there is obviously no way my husband and I could go on date nights with four children.”  She proclaimed this as if being too busy to spend time with her spouse was a badge of honor. I disclose this to set the stage in asking you to enter into this blog with an open mind, dwelling not on your limitations but on the hope of a fuller and richer life, even if you are already functioning at a high level. I challenge you to move towards embracing these FIVE actions.

1. Accept that you will never get rid of negative feelings. Read that first sentence again and let it sink in. The main reason so many patients come to see me is because they have been lied to. Other therapists have given them countless tips and tricks on how to get rid of bad feelings, leading them to believe they can magically eradicate all pain and suffering. They eventually exhaust themselves by failing to rid themselves of negative emotions and they come to see me. The foolish notion that we can “get rid” of bad feelings is a Western idea that impatient Americans dreamed up. We can improve our lives by taking action, but we will always experience pain and suffering. Big salaries, luxury cars, children and spouses can’t stop you from hurting.

My patients have also been lied to by churches and pastors who have told them that if they pray enough, have enough faith, engage in community, and stop sinning that they will magically feel better and be happy. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Bible is filled to the brim with stories of Biblical leaders who lived agonizing lives filled with anxiety and depression. David, Elijah, Saul, Sampson, Moses, and many others suffered from the same mental disorders that we suffer from today. Even Christ wrestled with strong feelings of anxiety, so much so that many believe he suffered from hematidrosis (a condition that causes one to sweat blood from high levels of stress) near the end of his life. And during his most anxious moments, none of his friends told him, “Don’t be anxious Jesus! Why don’t you pray and petition God!” And we shouldn’t be telling people that either…

There are many things we can do that provide us opportunities to live meaningful lives, but we must ACCEPT that suffering and pain are inherent in life. Scratching and clawing and trying to push away the pain only intensify the pain. Release the notion that you can feel better by getting that promotion, praying harder, having children, marrying that guy that just won’t seem to ask you, making just a bit more money, buying that house, or any other “next big thing” that you know deep down won’t really satisfy you…

2. Explore your upbringing and heal wounds from family and friends. The most common phrase I hear during first sessions with new patients is “I had a great childhood!” And whenever I hear those words, I immediately think, “Oh. They didn’t have a great childhood!” It’s easy yet destructive to ignore our family’s failures. People often refuse to admit the ways in which their parents have wounded them because they don’t want to feel the sting of what really happened. But, unfortunately, if we don’t ever take a close look at the way in which our families failed us, we can never understand exactly why we are wired the way we are, how we move through the world, and how we relate to others.

“That’s ridiculous! Why bring up the past? I refuse to blame my problems on my parents!” my patients aggressively say as they cling to a “pie in the sky” version of their mom and pop. They misunderstand the point of uprooting the past. We talk about these things not to bash family members, but rather to help them heal properly. Without exploring these familial issues, we will never heal properly and we will hurt others close to us because our wounds have never been properly cleaned and bandaged. Faith alone won’t take the wounds away. Community won’t. Your spouses and children won’t. Alcohol won’t. Working through them, not around them, in therapy properly heals the wounds.  When these wounds are healed, we can start to experience a peace we hadn’t known before.

3. Let yourself REALLY be known by others. Shockingly, only 1 out of every 5 of my patients actually have close friends, but 4 out of 5 think they do. “But Doug, there are many people that I’ve told very personal details of my life to at church, work, recovery programs, etc. But I still feel lonely…” I hear it all the time. Merely telling people personal details doesn’t connect you to them; however, consistently sharing life with them does.

How do you truly “share life” with others? Here’s a great test to see how connected you are to others. Are there 1 to 2 people (outside your spouse) who, if I called at the end of every week, could tell me where you are at emotionally, spiritually, and physically? Could they tell me about the insecurities you had that week? Do they know about the fight you had with your husband? Do they know how you are spending your money? Do they know how much time you’ve been spending with your children? If they looked at your Internet history would they be surprised? You can get by without these relationships, but your life can be so much more meaningful and joyful with them.

But deep relationships are risky, so we turn to social media for “faux friendships.” 99% of your Facebook and Twitter friends aren’t really your friends. Looking at someone’s Facebook timeline is like watching a highlight reel of his or her life. The bad parts are omitted and the good parts are amplified. If you were really having as much fun as you publicly proclaim, you wouldn’t have time to post “check ins.” The Facebook “Check In” button could be changed to a “Jealous of Me Yet?” button. Healthy, face-to-face interaction with others fulfills a deep need in us – the need to be known and know others. This is doing life with others. By failing to do life with others and by not permitting them to see all your insecurities and fears, you deprive yourself of something life giving…something deep and sacred.

4. Exercise and eat healthy. Here’s a shocking fact. I have never had a patient who committed to eating healthy and exercising 4-5 times a week for 45 minutes who didn’t report feeling much more joyful and content. Unfortunately, I can count on one hand the amount of people who actually followed through. Many want to take action, but few do. Most really don’t have any idea how to start and make the age old mistake of merely joining a gym, thinking that it will jump start their work out routine. Here are some ways to own your new workout plans:

  • Set a goal based on what you enjoy. If you run, slowly increase the time you do so, or shoot for a certain number of miles. If you like elliptical machines or bicycles, do the same. If you like lifting weights, shoot for increasing weights or find new routines.
  • Perhaps try a new diet-like a vegetarian diet…which is amazing and incredibly helpful for our animals and our world. : )
  • Exercise with others. There are hundreds of walking, running, kayaking and cycling clubs found online. For most, the workout experience is heightened when exercising with others.
  • If you don’t like traditional exercise machines or weight lifting, find a sport you enjoy that gives you a cardio kick. Try something new. Try boot camps, jump in a pool and swim, try tennis, football, dirt biking, etc…
  • Find something to make the experience more enjoyable, like listening to music while you work out or attend a class your gym offers.
  • Give the routine time to become a routine. For the first few weeks, you will think of exercise as a burden. But the more you go and receive endorphin and adrenaline kicks, your brain will begin to long for that same reward and chemically, you can actually look forward to exercising. But you must give your brain a chance to do this by consistently following through.


5. Play. Remember the wonder of being young, waking up in the morning and feeling raw excitement in the pit of your stomach, knowing that you had an entire day to wear yourself out? It doesn’t have to stop now that you’re grown up! Some patients report that impromptu board games, soccer, football or ultimate frisbee games with their children or friends have been some of the best weekends of their lives! Break the mold and find new things to do with your children, spouses or friends that you’ve never done before. Don’t let your to do list stop you from saying yes to things that bring you joy. Approach the day with child-like excitement, take nothing for granted and appreciate again all that the day has to give. Play again.

The above listed are five actions over which we have control. There are many things that are completely out of our control, but these are actions you can take to create a more fulfilling life for yourself.  Take action now to add more color to your days.

Written by Doug Chisholm, LPC