Counseling Services

13November

With a Jewish Voice: Step 12

With a Jewish Voice: Step 12


12. Having had a spiritual experience as the result of this course of action, we tried to carry this message to others, especially alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

“If someone comes to you for assistance, and all you say to him is, “God will help you,” you become a disloyal servant of God. It is for you to understand that God has sent you to aid the needy and not to refer him back to God.” The Lelover Rebbe

Step 12 asks us to pay it forward. To carry the message. To give back what we have been given. A friend of mine in recovery was fond of saying, “I owe, I owe…,” singing it like one of the seven dwarfs. It plays in my head every time I get back to this step. I owe it to myself, I owe it to my friends, my partner and my family, and I owe it to the addict who struggles in the plastic chair next to mine. In this season of Thanksgiving, I give thanks.

Written by Eric Miller, Posted in Counseling Services

13November

With a Jewish Voice: Step 11

With a Jewish Voice: Step 11

11. Sought to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

In synagogues all over the world, we have gone back to the beginning of the Torah to tell the tale all over again. To learn, ask questions and discover new meaning. I love stories, and what a story we have to tell. The whole Book of Genesis is a story book. In the beginning, creation and the Garden of Eden. There are great highs… and great lows, Cain and Able, Noah and the flood, and the promise of the rainbow

Written by Eric Miller, Posted in Counseling Services

08October

With a Jewish Voice: Step 10

With a Jewish Voice: Step 10

Step 10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.

By now the 12 steps have started to make a real difference. The ‘promises’ are starting to come true. “We will intuitively know how to handle things that used to baffle us.” Maybe your relationships are getting better, maybe your job is more stable, maybe your heart has stopped racing.  But the work is never done.  As Rabbi Olitzky wrote,“Recovery is like breathing. If you want to stay alive, you have to do it.” This step will help keep you on track. Put aside time every day to review your actions and review your thinking. We hurt those closest to us, because they are the closest to us. But it isn’t inevitable. Stop and breathe, and make a habit of making amends.

Written by Eric Miller, Posted in Counseling Services

17August

With a Jewish Voice: Step 9

With a Jewish Voice: Step 9

Step 9: “Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.”

“The deed is more important than the thought; who we are is equal to what we do. Wonderful thoughts do not repair the world; small deeds begin to do so.” Rabbi Kerry Olitzky

At the start of getting sober, a lot of us are tempted to go on an ‘apology tour’ to reach out to anyone and everyone with an open ear. It felt so good to say, “I’m sorry.” If a little is good, then a lot would be great. Who cares what the apology is for; what’s important is that they hear, "I’m sorry.” Don’t you just love how an addict thinks?

Written by Eric Miller, Posted in Counseling Services

17July

With a Jewish Voice: Step 8

With a Jewish Voice: Step 8

“Wherever you go, God goes with you.”  Deuteronomy Rabbah 2:10

Step 8: Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

Now, we begin yet another process, another step. Make a list, it sounds so simple. Just like any attempt to repair the damage, you have to figure out exactly what is wrong. The Big Book says, “The alcoholic is like a tornado roaring his way through the lives of others. Hearts are broken. Sweet relationships are dead. Affections have been uprooted… a man is unthinking when he says that ‘sobriety’ is enough”.

Written by Eric Miller, Posted in Counseling Services

22June

With a Jewish Voice: Step 7

With a Jewish Voice: Step 7

“Wherever you go, God goes with you.”  Deuteronomy Rabbah 2:10

Step 7: Humbly asked G-d to remove our shortcomings.

Does God really hear our prayers? Doesn’t it seem that most times, prayers just go out of our mouths and into the air?  Like a great armada of boats, sailing up to heaven and into God’s presence. Is this what we really mean when we pray? The word makes it sound like asking for something. May I have an ‘A’ on a test, or a puppy? Or to get more serious, can I get back to health, may I pray for peace and serenity?  

 

Written by Eric Miller, Posted in Counseling Services

11October

Why PRIDE is so important

Why PRIDE is so important

Maybe you have heard this, maybe it’s been said to you as it has to me:

“Why do we still need Pride?”  “When is straight Pride? Straight people don’t get a day or a month to celebrate!” or “Why do people have to shove Pride/LGBTQ down my throat?”

Unfortunately, I have heard these things, even from people that I love. The answers are pretty easy – did you know that in over 70 countries being gay is illegal? Or that in over 10 different countries being gay is punishable by death?  And an occurrence that may be closer to home for some: the word “gay” is still used as a put-down. Do you ever hear anyone saying “That is SO straight!” and laughing mockingly? I have not.

Pride celebrates love and acceptance and gives people a particularly special freedom to express themselves however they would like in regards to their self-identity, partner choice, and more. Pride also promotes equality, visibility, and justice. Celebrating Pride openly is not just for those that identify with LGBTQ or Gender & Sexual Diversity firsthand; celebrating Pride is just as important for their allies! Pride allies that are open and visible about their support of LGBTQ/Gender & Sexual Diversity communicate to others that it’s ok to be you. Demonstrating that you are a “pride ally” at any time lets others know you are a supporter of equality and you are a safe place to turn to in times of need and reassurance that you will give that minority a positive reception.

The Pride celebration originated as a response to police raids on a gay bar in NYC in 1969 that resulted in riots. This raid and riots led to the birth of getting a large group of people together to promote fundamental human rights, rights that don’t just include those that identify as “straight”. Have straight couples been targeted for persecution or violence in the U.S.? The next time you are watching TV commercials, reading a magazine or paper – take note of the ratio of heterosexual (straight) examples there are compared to those that reflect Gender and Sexual Diversity. Also in response to the question “Why do people have to shove Pride/LGBTQ down my throat?”, again, take a look at so many commercials and printed advertisements that show sexual undertones – is that not shoving sexuality or “straightness” down someone’s throat?

How often do we have a month or a day devoted to celebrating the freedom to LOVE, the freedom to express your identity, self, or to celebrate your partner?  It’s a truly unique opportunity to promote hope, acceptance, and equality for all. It’s also an opportunity to learn – learn about the struggles and violence the LGBTQ community has faced and continues to face. If you aren’t on board with the idea of Pride Celebration, I encourage you to tiptoe (or run!) outside of your comfort zone and examine why it makes you uncomfortable? Seek out people you could have an open and non-blaming discussion with to broaden perspectives. I know there are wonderful folks at Jewish Family and Career Services who would be open to that.  We only get one shot at life – why not try to live it with open arms and open hearts – supporting equality of everyone, regardless of race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, or class.

JF&CS is proud to participate in the Atlanta Pride Festival by partnering with SOJOURN (Southern Jewish Resource Network)! JF&CS will be walking in the Atlanta Pride Parade on Sunday, October 14th. The parade kicks off at 12 pm, but we will gather in the queue beforehand. This is a family-friendly event so feel free to join JF&CS by walking in the parade as we celebrate equality and promote visibility for Atlanta's LGBTQ community and Gender & Sexual Diversity! Contact Ashley for more info at asemerenko@jfcsatl.org

Written by Ashley Semerenko, Posted in Counseling Services

04October

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM)

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM)

By Wendy Lipshutz, LCSW
Program Director, Shalom Bayit Program of JF&CS

There’s a very special tree outside our offices at Jewish Family & Career Services, which I remember planting with Shalom Bayit (Peace in the Home) clients in 1998 to honor survivors of domestic abuse and to memorialize those who died at the hands of their abusers. Over the last 20 years, this tree has grown tall and wide, and we now have a Shalom Bayit garden around it. For years, clients tell us how much the tree inspires them and the peace they find in the garden. Right now, as headlines about the #MeToo movement swirl in our national media, the tree, and the garden remind me of the significance of October: . This is a good time to reflect on 25 years of JF&CS’s Shalom Bayit program, which provides short and long-term assistance to those facing physical violence, emotional or sexual abuse in their families or intimate relationships.  While providing crucial, supportive counseling for abuse survivors, the greatest challenge is to educate our community about how to build healthy relationships, create safe schools, camps, and workplaces, and teach behaviors that avert violence. Attitudes are changing, but clearly, we still have work to do.

While domestic violence crosses all cultural boundaries, in the Jewish cultural mindset there’s a persistent idea that abuse doesn’t happen to us, that Jewish families are always loving and nurturing. Discussion of violence in Jewish marriage is still regarded as shameful — a shonda (shame) shrouded in silence. And emotional abuse in our families is similarly swept under the rug. Abuse often traumatizes victims for years.

Abuse is a pattern of power and control, where one person uses physical, emotional, or sexual violence to control another. Partner abuse occurs in all types of intimate relationships — marriages, dating relationships, and intimate heterosexual, lesbian and gay relationships. Abuse also occurs toward children and older adults.

In April, at JF&CS’s Community of Caring luncheon, we shared a video with the story of Robin A., one of our past Shalom Bayit clients. Robin talks about the violence and emotional abuse in her marriage that drove her to seek help more than 20 years ago. The abuse made her feel like her “soul was dying,” but she believes the help she received through counseling saved her life and helped her heal.

Over the past 25 years, Shalom Bayit has reached out to the community by offering education to young adults on how to recognize abusive relationships. We’ve created prayers tying in themes of domestic violence with Jewish holidays, and we have educated our clergy and community leaders to recognize signs of current or past abuse, and how to provide support. I am always heartened when our rabbis give sermons on the topic. One rabbi gave voice to the shame of his former idolization of OJ Simpson. Another shared a story of an emotionally abusive brother, and another of an emotionally abusive father. These public expressions validate the importance of breaking our silence about violence and abuse.

In the last year we’ve seen many abusers and sexual predators accused and exposed in the news. For many survivors, the courage of the women speaking out is empowering and decreases isolation, giving voice to their similar stories. At the same time, denials and discrediting survivors’ realities adds to their pain. Those speaking out in public, in these high-profile cases, underscore the tremendous need to teach boys and girls, and especially our teens, about respect, safety and components of healthy relationships.

My wish for the coming year is that we may all reflect the values and norms of loving, non-violent relationships. That we remember the strength of abuse survivors and the ongoing struggles of victims. And that we work together to create safe spaces across Jewish Atlanta. If you or someone you know is suffering abuse of any kind, please know you are not alone. Contact Shalom Bayit at 770-677-9322 or shalombayit@jfcsatl.org for information about confidential counseling or for more information about our programs for both adults and children.


The History of DVAM

Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM) evolved from the "Day of Unity" held in October 1981 and conceived by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The intent was to connect advocates across the nation who were working to end violence against women and their children. The Day of Unity soon became an entire week devoted to a range of activities conducted at the local, state, and national level.

The activities conducted were as varied and diverse as the program sponsors but had common themes:

  • Mourning those who have died because of domestic violence
  • Celebrating those who have survived
  • Connecting those who work to end violence

These three themes remain a key focus of DVAM events today. In October 1987, the first Domestic Violence Awareness Month was observed. That same year marks the initiation of the first national domestic violence toll-free hotline. In 1989, the U.S. Congress passed Public Law 101-112 designating October of that year as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Such legislation has passed every year since with National Coalition Against Domestic Violence providing key leadership in this effort. Each year, the Day of Unity is celebrated on the first Monday of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

The Impact of Domestic Violence in the Jewish Community

While domestic violence crosses all cultural boundaries, in the Jewish cultural mindset there’s a persistent idea that abuse doesn’t happen to us, that Jewish families are always loving and nurturing. Discussion of violence in Jewish marriage is still regarded as shameful — a shonda (shame) shrouded in silence. And emotional abuse in our families is similarly swept under the rug. Abuse often traumatizes victims for years.

A recent article on the Jewish Federation’s website by Wendy Lipshutz, LCSW, Program Director, Shalom Bayit Program of JF&CS goes into more detail of how this issue has impacted the Jewish community. You can read her full article here.

And if you or a loved one is experiencing domestic violence, please contact one of our counselors as soon as you can safely do so. Or contact one of the following organizations:

  • Georgia Domestic Violence Hotline: 1.800.33.HAVEN (1.800.334.2836) (V/TTY)
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1.800.799.SAFE (1.800.799.7233) or 1.800.787.3224 (TTY)
  • National Teen Dating Violence Hotline: 1.866.331.9474 or 1.866.331.8453 (TTY)
  • Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline: 1.800.4.A.CHILD(1.800.422.4453)
  • National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1.800.656.HOPE

Posted in Counseling Services

24September

Mark Your Calendars for Atlanta’s 2018 LGBTQ Parade

join us to celebrate equality and bring visibility to Atlanta’s LGBTQ community

Mark Your Calendars for Atlanta’s 2018 LGBTQ Parade

Mark your calendars and join us to celebrate equality and bring visibility to Atlanta’s LGBTQ community!!! We need YOU (and your friends and family!) to walk in the parade!!! This is a kid-friendly event!

I am so excited that JF&CS once again will be participating in Atlanta’s 2018 Pride Parade on Sunday, Oct 14th! And we want to have a large and vocal group of 'Allies' at the Parade

Tips for Being a Good Ally

Tips to be a good ally
Click image or HERE to watch video

This is a relevant example of the agency’s Welcoming Community Initiative which aims to make the agency an unmistakably welcoming and inclusive community agency to everyone in the Atlanta community. (More on the Welcoming Community Initiative soon…)

There will be Atlanta Pride festivities going on all weekend and the parade is downtown on Sunday, Oct. 14th – Please come play in the parade and represent JF&CS! The parade should start at 12pm sharp by the MARTA Civic Center Station, and we usually gather around 11am at the parade line – details TBD. We talk, we dance-walk, we wave…. A LOT of waving, we yell HAPPY PRIDE – what’s not to like??!!

What is the Atlanta Pride Parade Festival?

Hosted by the Atlanta Pride Committee, the Committee’s main mission is to provide lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, and transgender and queer persons with cultural and educational programs and activities which enhance mental and physical health, provide social support, and foster an awareness of the past and present contributions of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgender persons, through community activities and services, including an annual Pride event.

We will be representing JF&CS with another local organization, SOJOURN (The Southern Jewish Resource Network for Gender and Sexual Diversity). Many other local Jewish groups and organizations will be participating alongside of SOJOURN too. Together, we will be representing Atlanta’s Jewish Community and will march together in support of our family, friends, coworkers, and community members!

If you are interested in joining the parade group, please let me know so that I can keep a running list and keep you in the loop as more info become available. Hoping for a large turn out from our agency! SEE YOU THERE!!!

HAPPY PRIDE!!!!!

Parade photo courtesy of thegavoice.com

Written by Ashley Semerenko, Posted in Counseling Services

07June

Our Family's Counseling Journey

My daughter was struggling, and we had no idea what to do. She’d come home from school and immediately go to her room. We’d ask what was wrong – she’d give us a blank stare. She’d always been a good student – now she was really struggling, and her grades were lower than they’ve ever been. She wouldn’t see her friends and she rarely smiled. 

The day of the school conference was one of the hardest days ever. Somehow, we thought we’d get to the meeting and hear all the same things we’d always heard – that our daughter was bright and engaged, that she volunteered to help others, that she was a very sweet person. This time, that’s not at all what we heard. Instead, all of her teachers expressed serious concern about our little girl’s happiness and state of mind. She also suggested that we call JF&CS to set up counseling. 

That first call with JF&CS gave us hope. On the other end of the phone was a warm, caring person who was really committed to making the process easy for us. She listened to our concerns and connected us with a special counselor – one that was pretty perfect for our daughter and for us. 

It wasn’t immediate and there are still challenging times, but we can now see the light at the end of the tunnel. Our daughter has someone she trusts with her feelings – who understands how she’s feeling. More importantly, her therapist doesn’t finish her sentences or tell her how she should be feeling (things we struggle with as her parents). We also feel like we have a partner in raising our daughter – someone who can guide us and who understands that parenting is really hard work. 

Sometimes we all need a little help. We’re grateful JF&CS is here for us. 

Posted in Counseling Services

23February

How Do I know if My Teen is in an Abusive Relationship?

Tzipporah Gerson-Miller LCSW C-IAYT

Having any kind of suspicion that your teen may be in an unhealthy relationship can be extremely alarming. Not knowing how to spot definitive signs of abuse can be frustrating and lead to feelings of helplessness. If you know your teen is in an abusive relationship and you aren’t sure how to support them or what resources are available, it can leave you feeling powerless and isolated. According to the CDC, 1.5 million high school students experience dating violence from a dating partner in a single year. Not only can intimate partner violence be traumatic, it can be life-threatening.

Knowing how to identify early warning signs of an abusive relationship and what to do can be the best way to help your teen.


1.     Your child’s partner seems extremely jealous or possessive. Wanting to know where your partner is and who they are with is normal to a certain extent. However, if you notice that your teen’s partner is calling or texting excessively and wanting to know your teen’s whereabouts 24/7, that’s a good indicator that they are jealous and possessive.


2.     Your child begins to dress differently. Abuse is all about power and control. Parents often get to know their child’s typical patterns, tastes, and habits. If your teen used to like to wear certain clothing and suddenly wants an entirely new wardrobe, this may be a red flag that their partner is trying to control their behavior.
 

3.     Your teen loses interest in their usual activities and extracurricular activities. While loss of interest and motivation can be a sign of depression, if your teen is spending more and more time with their significant other and less time engaged in their usual activities, it can indicate that your teen’s partner is trying to manipulate their actions and decisions.
 

4.     Your teen spends less and less time with their friends or family. Isolation is a major tactic that abusers use so that a person will become more and more dependent upon them for love and self-acceptance. If you notice that your teen is turning down invitations to parties or other gatherings to spend time with their partner, their partner could be trying to control their social interactions.
 

5.     You notice that your teen seems depressed or anxious. It’s normal for a teen’s mood to fluctuate to some extent. We all have bad days and we all feel stressed out from time to time. If you notice changes in your teen’s sleep patterns, appetite, interest in social activities, self-esteem,  or any evidence of self-harm (i.e. cutting), or expressed feelings of hopelessness and guilt, your teen might be the victim of emotional abuse.


5 Ways to Support Your Teen If They Are In An Abusive Relationship

As a parent, your instinct is to protect your child. Sometimes the emotionally desire to protect your child from harm can undermine your ability to approach the situation calmly and skillfully. Here are some tips on how to navigate this difficult situation with your child.


1. Listen without judgment. It’s best to listen calmly and to assure them that it’s not their fault. Many teens feel ashamed that this is happening in their relationship and often are afraid that their parents will be angry or disappointed. Being supportive means taking time to understand their needs and practicing patience. People need time to process their feelings before taking action. Active, non-judgmental listening is a beautiful way to strengthen your relationship with your child.


2. Believe what your teen is telling you. If someone feels ashamed or scared about what is happening to them, having the courage to tell someone is a huge step. Acknowledging and validating their story unconditionally is a way of communicating trust. If your teen suspects that you don’t believe them, they will be hesitant to come to you for help in the future.


3. Don’t force them to leave the relationship. This circles back to wanting to protect them. It’s normal to want to start controlling their behavior in order to protect them. This may cause them to return to their abuser. Leaving the abuser can also increase their risk of harm.


4. Educate Yourself. Being able to identify the components of a healthy relationship can help you to facilitate a conversation with your teen so they can be better equipped to spot red flags and identify unhealthy behaviors.


5. Decide and collaborate on a plan of action together. Show genuine interest in knowing how your teen wants to handle the situation. Acknowledge their feelings, gather their input, listen empathically, and provide supportive feedback. If they don’t want to discuss it with you, don’t take it personally. Help them find support.



References: 
Smith, S.G., Chen, J., Basile, K.C., Gilbert, L.K., Merrick, M.T., Patel, N., Walling, M., & Jain, A. (2017). The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS): 2010-2012 State Report. Atlanta, GA: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
(2017) Get Help for Someone Else: Help My Child. Retrieved from: http//:www.loverespect.org

If you suspect that your teen may be in an abusive relationship, do not hesitate to seek support. Knowing where resources exist in your community can save someone’s life.  The Shalom Bayit Program at JF&CS offers counseling and support groups for victims of physical, sexual, or emotional abuse in their families or relationships. Counselors are available to see children, adolescents, teens, and adults. Please contact (770) 677-9322

Other resources include:

Georgia Domestic Violence and 24-hour Crisis Line, including access to emergency shelter: 1-800-HAVEN

National Domestic Violence 24 Hour Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE

National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline: 1-866-331-9474

Posted in JF&CS - Hope and Opportunity Happen Here, Counseling Services

16February

Signals for Attention from a Grieving Child

Grief is a natural part of life but with children, it can sometimes be difficult to know what to do to help them process their grief. Director of Clinical Services Dan Arnold has prepared this short list to help. If you need additional guidance or support we're here to help. Call 770-677-9474 or jfcsatl.org/counseling.

Signals for attention from a grieving child:

·      Marked change in school performance

·      Poor grades despite trying very hard

·      A lot of worry or anxiety manifested by refusing to go to school, go to sleep or take part in age-appropriate activities

·      Not talking about the person or the death.  Physically avoiding mention of the deceased

·      Frequent angry outbursts or anger expressed in destructive ways

·      Hyperactive activities, fidgeting, constant movement beyond regular playing

·      Persistent anxiety or phobias

·      Accident proneness - possibly self-punishment or a call for attention

·      Persistent nightmares or sleeping disturbance

·      Risk-taking behavior -- Stealing, promiscuity, vandalism

·      Persistent disobedience or aggression (longer than six months)

·      Opposition to authority figures

·      Frequent unexplainable temper tantrums

Posted in Child & Adolescent Services, Counseling Services

16February

Needs of a Grieving Child

Grief is a natural part of life but with children, it can sometimes be difficult to know what to do to help them process their grief. Director of Clinical Services Dan Arnold has prepared this short list to help. If you need additional guidance or support we're here to help. Call 770-677-9474 or jfcsatl.org/counseling.

Always remember that grieving children need:

·      Information that is clear and understandable at their development level

·      To be reassured that their basic needs are met

·      To be involved in planning for the funeral and anniversary

·      To be reassured when adults’ grief is intense

·      Help with exploring fantasies about death, afterlife and related issues

·      To be able to have and express their own thoughts and behaviors, especially when different from significant adults

·      To maintain age-appropriate activities and interests

·      To receive help with “magical thinking”

·      To say goodbye to the deceased

·      To memorialize the deceased

Posted in Child & Adolescent Services, Counseling Services

16February

Parenting After a Tragedy

When tragedy strikes it's difficult to know what to do, especially when it comes to comforting children. Director of Clinical Services Dan Arnold prepared this short guide to parenting after a tragedy. If you need additional guidance or support we're here to help. Call 770-677-9474 or jfcsatl.org/counseling.

·      Have your own support system and self-care practice

·      Encourage your kids to feel their feeling & share your own – give permission to feel and validate those feelings

·      Turn off the media coverage and monitor online activity

·      Start a dialogue but modify the conversation based on your child’s developmental readiness

·      Don’t make promises that you can’t keep

·      Establish (maintain) rituals that promote safety and security

·      Allow your children to ask questions

·      Be honest

·      Check back in

Posted in Child & Adolescent Services, Counseling Services

16February

A Message From the CEO Re: Parkland, Fl shooting

We're here to help

Dear Friends,

Yet again, another school shooting shakes our nation and breaks our hearts.

Last night, Dan Arnold, the Director of Clinical Services, and I appeared on Atlanta's CBS affiliate to highlight how JF&CS can be a resource to individuals, parents, and teenagers who need help and how early intervention can possibly prevent tragedy.  

At JF&CS, we specialize in treating mental health disorders. We stand ready in Atlanta to diagnose problems in children and teens and help them proactively work on their psychological issues. We are on most insurance panels and offer a sliding scale to help those who otherwise could not afford therapy.

In addition, we are here to help our families who are having difficulty handling the news and children who may become fearful to attend schools. We offer individual and group therapy for adolescents, teens, and adults.

Please know that if you or someone you know is showing warning signs - anger, depression, withdrawing from activities - we're here to help.

Contact us at 770.677.9436 or email info@jfcsatl.org.

Sincerely,

Rick Aranson
CEO, JF&CS

Posted in JF&CS - Hope and Opportunity Happen Here, Counseling Services

23June

Debra & Christian

How JF&CS counseling services helped a veteran and her son.

In 2009, Debra Johnson received orders to go to Iraq. Inactive Ready Reserve (IRR), with two months left in her contract, they orders took her by surprise.

“I had to go by myself, not with a unit, not with anyone I knew,” she said.

While on her tour, Johnson experienced a woman’s worst nightmare: sexual abuse. Medivacked home and suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), she spent months in different therapies. Eventually, she started drinking heavily.

If not for Christian, the “little life saver” born in 2012, she might have taken a different path.

Posted in JF&CS - Hope and Opportunity Happen Here, Counseling Services

19April

The Best Birthday Ever

Addiction, loss, and overcoming grief

The Best Birthday Ever
This is my first time writing for the newsletter. It’s no coincidence it is during Chol Hamoed Pesach (the intermediary days of Pesach) that I begin this part of our journey together, even though I know you will read this after Passover. There’s so much I want to share with you, but for now, I won’t go into too much detail about the cataclysmic loss that brings me to HAMSA… and that brings us together. The short story is that eight years ago, my 20-year-old son died of an accidental overdose.

Posted in Counseling Services

20March

A Lesson in Recovery

How Do You Learn to Rethink Your Day?

To live a meaningful life — day by day, minute by minute — may seem daunting. How can one possibly focus amidst all the distraction, problems, and emotions? Even when you are satisfied with your past accomplishments, how can you continue to grow? How can you break out of the old patterns and learn to look at life anew?

Written by Eric Miller, Posted in Counseling Services

26October

The Impact of Domestic Violence

Shalom Bayit

shalom bayit 2

 
Shalom Bayit’s impact is built on individuals speaking out and collaborations within our community.  Amy Robinson first connected with Shalom Bayit through her involvement with Congregation B’nai Torah, after her sister, Nique disappeared in July 2011.  Seven days after Nique’s disappearance her body was found. Four and a half years later, on February 5, 2016, Nique’s husband was convicted of her murder and sentenced to life without parole, plus receiving an additional 15 year sentence for eavesdropping charges. These words are from Amy’s “victim impact statement,” presented at the trial.

Written by Amy Robinson, Posted in Counseling Services

26October

How a Friendship became a Legacy

Shalom Bayit

We live in a world abundant with meaningful, worthwhile opportunities to give. Choosing the causes to support can be a challenge. For many, the decision is based on something that has touched them personally. For Helen Marie Stern, who passed away in June 2014, it came down to relationships.

Written by Sheri Panovka, Posted in Counseling Services

26October

Emotional Abuse: It Can Happen to You

Shalom Bayit

Emotional abuse quotes

Abusive behavior does not always look or feel like what we might expect. Emotional abuse can be difficult to recognize, devastating to your well-being, and a precursor to a physically violent relationship. Do any of these behaviors sound familiar? Do you ever hear these words from your dating partner or spouse?

Written by Patty Maziar, Wendy Lipshutz, Posted in Counseling Services

25July

With a Jewish Voice: Step 6

With a Jewish Voice: Step 6

Step 6:  Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

I don’t know about you, but the hardest thing for me to pray, is a prayer for willingness. This is the principle behind Step Six. Be willing and be ready to have God remove the defects of character. The same defects that have served so well in the past-- the drugs, alcohol, food, gambling – were not the problem; they were the solution.  

Step 12 asks us to pay it forward. To carry the message. To give back what we have been given. A friend of mine in recovery was fond of saying, “I owe, I owe…,” singing it like one of the seven dwarfs. It plays in my head every time I get back to this step. I owe it to myself, I owe it to my friends, my partner and my family, and I owe it to the addict who struggles in the plastic chair next to mine. In this season of Thanksgiving, I give thanks.

Written by Eric Miller, Posted in Counseling Services

25July

The Power of Song

The Power of Song
It is Friday and I am conducting my monthly Kabalat Shabbat service with a small group of Jewish residents at an outlying nursing home.  We recite blessings over candles, wine and food, enjoy a snack, sing some songs, usually learn about a holiday and spend some time together. My regulars include several Russian speakers, and a few residents suffering from various impairments which makes conversation difficult.

Written by Rabbi Judith Beiner, Posted in Counseling Services

06July

Supported Employment Brings Confidence and Stability

Supported Employment Brings Confidence and Stability
Gil Berman wants to de-stigmatize mental health issues and treatment. A bright and funny 23-year-old who exudes self-confidence, Gil has Asperger’s syndrome. He also has an anxiety disorder and “some other issues,” including Tourette syndrome, which he learned he had in fourth grade. 

“People would tell me I was so brave to talk about it,” he said. “That always confused me. It feels good to talk about it. Everybody is educated, and everybody wins.”

Written by Sheri Panovka, Posted in Counseling Services, Developmental Disabilities Services

15June

My Story, by Eric Miller

My Story, by Eric Miller
My name is Eric Miller, and I’m a person in long-term recovery. What that means to me is that it has been eight years since I last depended on drugs and alcohol to escape from my life.

Looking backward, it seems like a blink of an eye. 

But I remember looking ahead and thinking, “I can’t do this.”

Written by Eric Miller, Posted in Counseling Services

10March

How to Save a Life

How to Save a Life

As the JF&CS community chaplain, much of my day is spent in hospitals, visiting patients and their families. It is not an infrequent occurrence that a friend or family member of a patient will follow me out of the room into the hallway to speak to me privately. 

On one such occasion, the person following me out of the room said, “Rabbi, I’m not asking for myself, but for my friends (the patient and his wife). I know that their son is having problems with drugs…. Don’t you have a program for that at JF&CS?”  “Yes, we do” I answered.  I handed her our HAMSA brochure and spoke with her about our services.   

Written by Rabbi Judith Beiner, Posted in Counseling Services

22February

Mitzvot Behind the Scenes

Mitzvot Behind the Scenes

Eleanor Rigby died in the church and was buried along with her name

Nobody came

Father McKenzie wiping the dirt from his hands as he walks from the grave

All the lonely people

Where do they all come from?

Written by Rabbi Judith Beiner, Posted in Counseling Services

11February

HAMSA: A Jewish Response to the Heroin Crisis

HAMSA: A Jewish Response to the Heroin Crisis

I am no different than any other drug addict or alcoholic. I’ve spent days, months and years powerless over my need to drink and drug. Powerless to stop desire, an obsession that used everyone and everything as a tool for acquiring a manufactured release into a constant state of consumption. 

“What’s the point of living if we can’t feel good, can’t feel happy or high all the time?”

Written by Adam Abramowitz, Posted in Counseling Services

15January

The Stages of Change Model

Using the SCM can help people assess where their loved one is in the stages of change in order to understand how to offer help and support most effectively.

The Stages of Change Model

"The worst thing is watching someone drown and not being able to convince them that they can save themselves by just standing up." –unknown

Addiction continues to be one of America's biggest public health problems. According to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA Columbia), 40 million people age 12 and older meet the clinical criteria for addiction in the United States. For every person struggling with addiction, there is at least one concerned spouse, family member or friend who is greatly affected by the loved ones' disease.

As many of us know far too well, loving someone who struggles with addiction is one of the hardest, most painful things we go through in our lives. Most of us experience frustration, anger and helplessness when faced with confronting a loved one about his or her addiction. In the end, we often are left emotionally exhausted, saddened and pained, with the question of "What do I do next?" running through our minds. 

Written by Jessica Hallberlin, Posted in Counseling Services

17December

Heroin: America's Silent Killer — A Follow Up

Heroin: America's Silent Killer — A Follow Up

In last month's newsletter, I wrote about the heroin epidemic that is now among the leading causes of death in our country, killing more people than car crashes. Throughout the process of researching and writing on this topic, I noticed myself becoming increasingly alarmed and concerned. The more I read, the more taken aback I was with how little I actually knew. I began asking myself questions: "When did this problem get so bad?" "Why aren't more people talking about it?" "What resources are out there for people?" And most important: "What can we do to help?" 

Written by Jessica Hallberlin, Posted in Counseling Services

08December

Turning Lives Around

Turning Lives Around

When “Lin” first met Judy Spira, a licensed clinical social worker in JF&CS’ Shalom Bayit program, she was a lost soul with nowhere to turn. An educated, articulate, career-minded mother of three in her late 30s who had grown up in East Asia, Lin (not her real name) had recently divorced a man who was abusive in every way — emotionally, physically and sexually.

Written by Sheri Panovka, Posted in Counseling Services

08December

Preventing Addiction Early On

Preventing Addiction Early On

In 2014, close to 38 percent of teens had drunk alcohol by the time they reached grade 12 — National Institute on Drug Abuse. More than 35 percent had smoked pot, and nearly 30 percent had abused prescription drugs. The majority of kids experiment with them between the ages of 16 and 20, but national surveys indicate children as young as 12 are abusing drugs. 

Written by Sheri Panovka, Posted in Counseling Services

17November

Heroin: America's Silent Killer

Heroin: America's Silent Killer

Heroin use in the United States has surged over the past decade. In fact, the number of first-time users doubled between 2006 and 2013, according to recent federal reports. Even scarier, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the rate of deadly heroin overdoses quadrupled from 2002 to 2013. While use has increased in all demographic groups, it has increased most among non-Hispanics whites, specifically those from 18 to 25.

Today, heroin-related suicides and overdoses are one of the leading causes of death in our country, killing more people than car accidents. In response to what the media have deemed a "heroin epidemic," policy makers, politicians, parents and families are talking about the disease of addiction.

Written by Jessica Hallberlin, Posted in Counseling Services

19October

Breaking the Shame, Stigma and Silence around Addiction

Breaking the Shame, Stigma and Silence around Addiction

Patrick Kennedy, son of Senator Edward "Ted" Kennedy, recently went on CBS's "60 minutes" to discuss his personal and familial history with drugs and alcohol in an effort to help others battle addiction.

In his new book, “A Common Struggle: A Personal Journey Through the Past and Future of Mental Illness and Addiction,” Patrick Kennedy details his and his families private struggles with alcohol, drug addiction and mental illness in hope of helping break the silence, stigma and shame surrounding mental illness and substance abuse.

Written by Jessica Hallberlin, Posted in Counseling Services

17July

Reflections on Sobriety

Reflections on Sobriety

There is a story about G-d speaking to the prophet Elijah.

‘Elijah, Why are you here?’ “Because I am moved by a zeal for the Lord…”
So, G-d says to him, ‘Go out and stand on the mountain for the Lord is about to pass by.’
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart, and shattered the rocks.

But G-d was not in the wind.

And after the wind there was an earthquake. But G-d was not in the earthquake.
And, after the earthquake came a fire. But no, G-d was not in the fire.
After the fire – a still, small voice.” (I Kings 19:9-12) 

Written by Eric Miller, Posted in Counseling Services

17July

Why Group Therapy? From a Client’s Perspective

Why Group Therapy? From a Client’s Perspective

For someone who has been part of both group therapy and individual therapy, I am a big advocate for group therapy. I believe that there are many misconceptions about group therapy and I would like to debunk some of them using my own experiences. 

Posted in Counseling Services

22June

What is AA Sponsorship?

What is AA Sponsorship?

Sponsorship was born out of the idea that “You need another alcoholic to talk to. You need another alcoholic just as much as he needs you.” When someone is new in recovery, it is vital for him or her to get a sponsor. 

Written by Eric Miller, Posted in Counseling Services

27May

With a Jewish Voice: Step 5

With a Jewish Voice: Step 5

“Wherever you go, God goes with you.”  Deuteronomy Rabbah 2:10

Admitted to G-d, to ourselves, And to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

Looking at this step with a Jewish eye, it is easy to see the act of Teshuvah – the process we approach each year at Yom Kippur to repent for our sins. The process of Teshuvah has several components. One part is personal, another is spiritual and the other is with another human being.

Written by Eric Miller, Posted in Counseling Services

25May

Finding The Right Type of AA Meeting for You

If you're in recovery and looking for an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, you should know about the many types around town. It’s important to find the right meeting for you for where you are in your recovery and ​for what you need. Below is a list of some types. In addition, meetings can be geared toward young people, men, women or the LGBT/all welcome community.

Written by Rachel Rabinowitz, Posted in Counseling Services

28April

With a Jewish Voice: Step 4

With a Jewish Voice: Step 4

“Wherever you go, God goes with you.”  Deuteronomy Rabbah 2:10

Step 4: Made a searching and fearless inventory of ourselves.

And now the real work begins. It takes honesty, hope and faith to get here, and it will take courage to continue on. Here we are asked to look at ourselves in a mirror and to truly see. To not use the tools of avoidance and denial, but to give ourselves a critical eye and an honest assessment.

Written by Eric Miller, Posted in Counseling Services

28April

What is SMART Recovery?

What is SMART Recovery?

Are you not connecting with the 12-steps? Why not try out SMART Recovery. SMART Recovery is Self-Management and Recovery Training – it provides tools for addiction recovery based on scientific research. SMART Recovery is a self-empowering addiction recovery support group which offers face-to-face meetings and online meetings. An online message board and 24/7 chat room are also available. 

Written by Rachel Rabinowitz, Posted in Counseling Services

23April

Renewed Traditions and Healing Waters

Renewed Traditions and Healing Waters

Since Biblical times, Jewish tradition has understood the power of water for spiritual purification. The mikvah, the ritual bath, is the centralized space our community provides for spiritual cleansing and renewal. The mikvah becomes different from a regular pool by virtue of the mayim chayim, the “living” or naturally flowing waters which are incorporated into it. Traditionally, the mikvah is used by women for “family purity,” that is, the immersion following a menstrual cycle or in preparation for marriage and by men, women, and children for conversion to Judaism. Yet, the mikvah’s living waters offer us a space for that and so much more, opportunities to create new rituals and sacred time for the numerous life moments, bitter and sweet, which we seek to acknowledge in a Jewish frame.

Written by Rabbi Loren Lapidus, Posted in Counseling Services

23April

Why Advocacy Matters

Why Advocacy Matters

As Jews we are charged with Tikkun Olam, to make the world a better place.  Advocacy is a way to improve the world we live in and to provide us with an avenue to learn and think more deeply about issues. We come to understand how social injustice and criminal behavior (such as rape) can easily be minimized or simply misunderstood because of a lack of adequate and correct information. When we advocate for domestic violence issues, we can change public perceptions and public policy.

Written by Patty Maziar, Posted in Counseling Services

23April

My Chain of Advocacy

My Chain of Advocacy

A chain reaction is “a series of events in which each event is the result of the one preceding and the cause of the one following.”

It was time for me to find a cause; I needed something in addition to my “day job” to fulfill me. The first link in my chain of advocacy was to determine what that cause would be.

In a tiny space in my memory was an experience I had many years before; I was incredibly lucky to have had a long friendship with a man who, when I started to date him, told me he had “violent tendencies” toward me.

Written by Terry Spector, Posted in Counseling Services

23April

Reflections on the Shalom Bayit Seder

Reflections on the Shalom Bayit Seder

On April 8, 2015, we held our 11th annual Shalom Bayit Women’s Passover Seder. Twenty-two women gathered for a lovely Seder meal, guided by the   Journey Toward Freedom:  a Haggadah for Survivors of Domestic Violence.”  This year, once again, I was moved by the powerful women gathering to retell the story of Jews’ exodus from Egyptian slavery, while reflecting on their own struggles for liberation from daily intimidation, fear, violence and abuse in those places which should be the most peaceful and loving…their homes and intimate relationships.

Written by Wendy Lipshutz, Posted in Counseling Services

11March

Avoiding a Relapse

Avoiding a Relapse

Addiction is a disease that does not go away but instead goes into remission. Relapse can happen to anyone; it does not discriminate on sex, height, hair color, length of sobriety or strength of one’s program.

During my own recovery, I went on a six-month relapse. I’m not sure if you can even call that a relapse; it was more like a binge. I was in my second semester of my senior year of high school and had accumulated about nine months of sobriety. I thought I had it, and I guess I got complacent. I quit meeting with my sponsor, started going to meetings late or leaving early, would lie to my parents about even going to a meeting and started hanging out with old “using” people, in old “using” places, doing old “using” things, but I had not used, yet. Eventually, as these things continued to occur, I relapsed. 

Written by Rachel Rabinowitz, Posted in Counseling Services

18February

With a Jewish Voice: Step 3

With a Jewish Voice: Step 3

“Wherever you go, God goes with you.”  Deuteronomy Rabbah 2:10

Step 3: Faith

Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

“Get to know God, before you are ready to turn anything over. Use prayer and meditation. Create in Shabbat, the Sabbath, a place of peace and refuge for yourself.  Music and poetry can help too… Sometimes, we come to know God through other people. Try to be more aware of others. Listen carefully. God often speaks through those who seem least likely to be holy messengers.” (Rabbi Kerry Olitzky)

Written by Eric Miller, Posted in Counseling Services

02February

Lessons from Swimming

Lessons from Swimming

The wisdom of our Jewish Tradition includes teachings for parenting. One of the most famous Talmudic statements is a list of those things which a parent is obligated to provide for a child: "A father is obligated to do the following for his son: to circumcise him, to redeem him if he is a first born, to teach him Torah, to find him a wife, and to teach him a trade. Others say: teach him how to swim as well." (Kiddushin 29a)

Written by Rabbi Judith Beiner, Posted in Counseling Services

18November

How to get through the holidays when you’re recovering from addiction

How to get through the holidays when you’re recovering from addiction

Dealing with the holidays and being sober did not come easily to me. I really enjoyed going to holiday parties and New Year’s Eve events when I was drinking, because it helped me come out of my shell. Knowing I no longer could do that with alcohol by my side was a little frightening. I reached out to sober friends and family during these times because I knew if I didn’t, I probably wouldn’t leave the party sober.

Written by Rachel Rabinowitz, Posted in Holiday Survival Guide, Counseling Services

30September

Robin Levin's Hanukkah in July

Robin Levin's Hanukkah in July

When Robin Levin became an Independent Beauty Consultant with Mary Kay Cosmetics four years ago, her sales unit participated in a fundraiser aligning with the Mary Kay PINK CHANGING LIVES campaign to donate products to women in domestic violence shelters across Atlanta. The bags were to be delivered in time to be opened on Christmas morning by all the residents of each shelter.

Posted in Counseling Services

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