Sarah’s Testimonial

  Sarah’s Testimonial

 
“In 2020, I experienced a very difficult time.  I started drinking alcohol to cope with things, drinking to have fun, and drinking because I was sad.  I reached a point where I needed an outside perspective to help me learn and grow.  I had some obstacles that stopped me from getting enough money together, but I started weighing out the pros and cons of getting help and working with Dr. Chen.  I loved the flexibility he offered where I could have in person, digital, or phone appointments.  I travelled frequently and this flexibility offered me the opportunity to access help when I wasn’t able to go to his office.  I never missed one session during the time I worked with Dr. Chen.  This flexibility was a big factor and I feel it was worth the money.  I would highly recommend that you think about what you are worth.  I believe you can always make more money, but you only have one life.
Working with Dr. Chen was the best growing experience I have ever had.
It made me accountable to me.
 I am forever grateful to Dr. Steven Chen.”
Sarah
*Note – Names or details may have been changed in this testimonial to protect the privacy of the individual.

Overcome Self-Doubt

What is “Self-Doubt” and how you can overcome it?

Self-doubt is the belief that you are:

a. not as good as you want to be,

b. you are not able to do something as well as you would like to or

c. other people will criticize you if or when you fail.

The strength of your negative belief is influenced by your experience(s) of failure, hearing someone (parent, religious leader, etc.) criticize you

or someone you know or experiencing some other negative situation.  The frequency and intensity of the negative experiences impact the strength of your self-doubt.  In general, the more frequently and the stronger the intensity, the stronger your self-doubt.

In the article, How to Overcome Self-doubt – 8 Ways Highly Successful People Overcome Self-Doubt, Bruna Martinuzzi writes, successful people don’t let self-doubt keep them from achieving what they want to accomplish.  She lists 8 ways to constructively cope with self-doubt.  Here are 4 of her ideas.

  1.  Avoid Making Excuses – Martinuzzi indicates that self-doubt often makes us rationalize a situation to fit our emotional picture.  We may be afraid to fail, look bad, or take on more than we think we can handle.  We make excuses for why an opportunity isn’t a good fit.  She says that excuses are mental barriers we build that hold us back.
  2. Beware of Your Close Circle – There is a saying that we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with.  There is no scientific study to support this notion; however, there might be some truth to this statement.  We know through brain plasticity research that experiences reorganize neural pathways in the brain.  Neural connections reportedly change even after a 20 minute conversation.  Martinuzzi asks the questions – Who do you spend the most time with?  What effect do they have on you?  When you spend time with them, do you walk away feeling better about yourself or worse?
  3. Raise Your Self-Awareness – Self-awareness is one of the most powerful tools in your personal arsenal.  Make use of it by understanding the root causes of your self-doubt.  What situations trigger self-doubt?  If it is lack of skill, then get some training or coaching.
  4. Practice Self-Compassion – It is often easy to have compassion for others, but difficult not to have self-criticism for ourselves.  Self-compassion is being kind to oneself.  Martinuzzi says studies find a strong correlations between self-compassion and positive mental health.  Dr. Kristen Neff from the University of Texas, Austin campus talks about the following process, notice your own suffering (caused by self-judgment); don’t be cold hearted or mean toward yourself, remember that we are all imperfect.

To read the other 4 ways to overcome self-doubt, please visit How to Overcome Self-doubt – 8 Ways Highly Successful People Overcome Self-Doubt.

 


Three Best Rated

3 Best Psychologists in Salt Lake City, UT

The experts at Three Best Rated recently recognized Steven J. Chen, Ph.D. as one of the top 3 Psychologists in Salt Lake City, Utah. They report that all of the psychologists they review actually face a rigorous 50-Point Inspection, which includes customer reviews, history, complaints, ratings, satisfaction, trust, cost and general excellence. Three Best Rated believes that the public deserves to be treated by the best providers.

Three Best Rated says –

Here’s The Deal:
Dr. Steven J. Chen is one of the best and leading psychologists in the region of Salt Lake City, UT. He graduated from the Brigham Young University with honors. Dr. Steven J. Chen provides a comfortable, caring environment where the patients can feel at ease. Dr. Steven makes every effort to be understanding, open-minded & non-judgmental, which is highly preferred by the patients. He works with the patients to identify the source of their challenges & create a plan to work through it. He has professional memberships in the National Alliance for Mental Illness, American Psychological Association and Utah Psychological Association.

Specialty:
Couples Counseling, Marriage Counseling, Anxiety Therapy, Depression, Alcohol and Substance Abuse, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Career Counseling, Stress Management, Pain Disorder, Social Phobia, Bipolar Disorder, Anger Management, Primary Insomnia, Panic Attacks, Specific Phobias & Seasonal Affective Disorder

Thank you to – Three Best Rated -for recognizing me as one of the best rated psychologists in Salt Lake, Utah!

 

three best rated

 


Building Happiness In Relationships

Building Happiness In Relationships

 

In the article, Love the One You’re With – December 2021 issue of Psychology Today, Art Markman, Ph.D., considers the idea of building happiness in relationships.  Dr. Markman writes that humans are a special species that generally like being around each other compared to being alone.  He poses the question, “does spending time with family, friends, or partners, make us happier than spending time with non family?”  He indicates that the answer depends on how we define happiness.  He discusses a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

In the study, the participants charted their daily activities like commuting, childcare, and socializing.  Participants also reported who they were with (children, their partner, other family members, friends or coworkers) and their mood during the activity.  Finally, they rated their overall emotional state and sense of life satisfaction.

The study found the following:

* When doing a “fun” activity, participants rated their happiness was higher with friends, followed by partners, then children.

* Participants tend to engage in more enjoyable activities like “socializing” or “watching television” with friends.

* Participants engage more frequently in daily tasks like: “cleaning” or “care-taking” with partners and their children.

* When compared “head to head” participants were just as happy spending time with partners or children as with friends.

*  Overall happiness and life satisfaction increased when spending time with a partner.

Pleasant activities tend to bring us joy, regardless of whom we are with, it may be that deliberately engaging in more enjoyable activities with our partner could increase a person’s “in the moment” happiness.  It also appears that couples who spend time engaged in chores and less fun activities will result in more fulfillment and a sense of purpose.

It appears that people in relationships can benefit from engaging in both fun and investment (daily task) activities.  Both types of activities can help build happiness in relationships.

 


Gratitude Habit

Gratitude Habit

 

 

 

 

 

In the book, Learning to Dance in the Rain, the Power of Gratitude, Mac Anderson and BJ Gallagher discuss ways to develop the gratitude habit.  They believe that if you do something for 21 days, then it will become a habit.  They think that you can set a goal to bring more gratitude into your life.  They provide a list of suggestions on how to develop the skill of gratitude.

Before you go to bed at night, write down three things you are grateful for.  Don’t write down obvious things like home, friends, pets, and family.  Look deep for subtle things that you may take for granted.

On your way to work or school, notice three to five things that you are grateful for along the way.  For example, being grateful to have transportation, good roads, competent drivers, nice community to live in, et cetera.

While you are at work notice a few things about your job, boss, coworkers, or company that you appreciate.

While you are running errands or doing chores, see if you can find gratitude for things while in the process.

When you are doing things you don’t enjoy, see if you can find something to be grateful for.

These don’t have to be big things, they can be little things.  The more you train your mind to look for positive things, rather than negative things, the more gratitude you will experience throughout the day.

Dr. Christiane Northrup a women’s health and wellness expert says, “Feeling grateful or appreciative of someone or something in your life actually attracts more of the things that you appreciate and value into your life.”

Do these habit forming exercises for 21 days and see if they make a difference in your daily life.  Over time, you will have the opportunity to integrate the gratitude habit into your every day life.

 


Coping With Holiday Depression

 

In the PsychCentral article, 9 Tips to Cope With Holiday Depression, Darlene Lancer, JD, MFT, writes that the holidays can create sadness and depression for many people.  She believes that during this time, people can have many expectations about being happy and generous.  People end up making assumptions about what they are suppose to think and feels.  When thoughts and feelings don’t live up to expectations or assumptions, this can leave people feeling depressed.

She says there are a host of things that add to stress and negative emotions during the holidays.  For example:

  1.  When people worry about finances or don’t have enough money to purchase presents then this can lead to sadness.  These feelings are made worse during times of economic downturn.  Lancer indicates that when you can’t afford to celebrate it can feel devastating.
  2. The stress of shopping, planning get togethers, and cooking can be overwhelming.  Especially when you already feel overworked.
  3. Loneliness is another issue.  Lancer indicates that approximately 43 percent of Americans are single and 27 percent of Americans live alone.  When others are with their families, it can be painful for those who are alone.  Seventeen percent of singles are over 65 when health issues make enjoying yourself difficult.
  4. Missing a deceased love one can be especially painful during the holidays.
  5. Some people struggle with estrangement issues.  When you are not speaking to a relative or don’t get along with family, this can bring of sadness and frustration.
  6. If you are newly divorced, the holidays can bring up reminders of happier times and accentuate your grief.
  7. If you are the adult child of divorce, your stress may increase due to having to visit two sets of parents.
  8. Trying too hard to please family members can also lead to depression.  Trying to decide what to get, whom to see, and what to do, can leave you feeling guilty and like you are not doing enough.
  9. May people struggle with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) during the winter months, due to the gloomy weather and decreased sunlight.

In order to combat these challenges, Lancer suggests making plans in advance on how the holiday will be spent (where to go and what to do).  She indicates that uncertainty can add enormous stress.  Plan ahead by talking to family members about not being able to afford gifts or shop early to avoid doing things at the last minute.  Make time to rest and attend to self-care.  Take time to grieve if necessary.  Lancer says that it is good to socialize and not isolate.  She thinks it is important to do something nice for yourself as part of self-care.

Knowing the symptoms of depression can also be helpful.  Some of the signs are sadness, guilt, irritability, crying, loss of interest, worthlessness, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, isolating, changes in sleep, weight, or appetite.  If symptoms persist, it is important to seek professional help.

 


Gratitude

Gratitude

In the book, Learning to Dance in the Rain, the Power of Gratitude, Mac Anderson and BJ Gallagher say that a wise person once observed, “Circumstances don’t determine character – they reveal it.”  Anderson and Gallagher indicate that who we are as people is revealed most clearly during times of struggle, hardship, pain, and suffering.  They believe it is easy to be a good person when things are going great.  However, when things are hard, that’s when you find out what you’re made of.

They think that nowhere is this more true than with regard to gratitude.  Then they ask the following questions:

Are you grateful when the storm clouds gather, and it rains on your parade?

Can you find gratitude in your heart when you don’t get what you want?

Do you feel grateful when illness strikes?

Do you feel grateful when loved ones don’t show up for you?

Are you grateful when jobs and careers disappoint?

Are you grateful when nothing seems to be going your way?

They believe that gratitude is not a fair weather virtue.  True gratitude means appreciating your life no matter what the storms may bring.  Is simply being alive gift enough for you to feel grateful?

They think that most people have a hard time being thankful when things aren’t going well.  They say that when caught up in the present moment, most of us simply can’t see that things are alright.  They talk about accepting going through a rough time, and recognizing that this is normal.  Then they suggest asking yourself the following questions:

Could things be worse?

Are there bad things that could have happened, but didn’t?

Are there other people who are suffering from worse calamities than yours?  Are you glad that the mess you’re in isn’t worse?

If you answer yes, then there is something to be grateful for.  It may be only a small step, but it is a start toward gratitude.  They also say that making a list of terrible things that didn’t happen can be helpful.  This is because no matter how bad things are, they could always be worse.  You can start finding gratitude for what might have happened, but didn’t.  You may not have gratitude for everything, but you can be thankful for something.


Focus On Emotional Abuse

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In this blog, I focus on emotional abuse.  Many people have questions about emotional abuse.  Emotional abuse is one form of domestic violence.  According to the CDC, the statistics for domestic violence indicate the one in four women in the United States will experience abuse in their lifetime.  Females most commonly experience domestic violence between ages 18-24 (38.6%).  Women often find that emotional abuse is difficult to name or talk about.  They often wonder if it is serious because you cannot see it, like physical signs such as bruises or broken bones.

Emotionally abused women state that one of the biggest problems is that others seldom understand or take it seriously.  The following questions will help you identify if you are being emotionally abused, and provide some ideas on what you can do about it.  It is good to take inventory of your relationship by considering the following questions:

What is your relationship like?

Do you think that something is wrong with your relationship, but you don’t know how to describe it?

Do you feel that your partner controls your life?

Do you believe that your partner does not value your thoughts or feelings?

Will your partner do anything to win an argument, such as put you down or threaten you?

Does your partner get angry and jealous if you talk to someone else?  Are you accused of having affairs?

Do you feel that you cannot do anything right in your partner’s eyes?

Do you get mixed messages, such as the reason you are abused is because he loves you?

Are you told that no one else would want you, or that you are lucky your partner takes care of you?

Do you have to account for every moment of your time?

When you try to talk to your partner about problems, are you called names such as “bitch” or “nag”?

Are you prevented from going to work or school?

If you wish to spend money, does your partner make you account for every penny, or say you don’t deserve anything?

Does he use the children against your in arguments?

Does your partner blame you for everything that goes wrong?

How are you affected?

Are you unable or afraid to make decisions for yourself?

Do you do anything you can to please your partner or not upset him?

Do you make excuses for your partner’s behavior?

Are you forgetful, confused or unable to concentrate?

Have you noticed changes in your eating, sleeping, alcohol or drug use?

Have you lost interest or energy to do the things you used to?

Do you feel sick, anxious, tired or depressed a lot of the time?

Have you lost contact with you friends, family or neighbors?

Have you lost self-confidence and feel afraid that you could not make it alone?

What can you do about it?

Realize that emotional abuse is a serious problem and you can get help.

Recognize that emotional abuse is as bad or worse than physical abuse.

Take your own safety and the safety of your children seriously.

Know that emotional abuse can lead to physical violence or death.

Know that you are not to blame for your partner’s abusive behavior.

Find people to talk to that can support you.  Consider going for counseling.

Do not give up if community professionals are not helpful.  Keep looking for someone that will listen to you and take emotional abuse seriously.

Recognize that you have the right to make your own decisions, in your own time, and that dealing with any form of abuse may take time.

Trust yourself and your own experiences.  Believe in your own strengths.  Remember that you are your own best source of knowledge and strength, and that you already have the tools you need to survive.

Where can you turn?

Women’s help lines.  Find the number in your area.

Shelters do accept women who are emotionally abused and have not been physically abused.  The help line can refer you to the nearest one.

If you have been threatened with harm or death, or are being stalked by your partner or ex-partner, you can call the police (dial 911).

If you are considering leaving, especially if you have children, see an attorney.

Abused women are at the greatest risk of being harmed or killed when they leave.  Ensure that you have a safety plan in place.

Note:  These questions about emotional abuse are adapted from Dr. Chen’s Dialogue Article about How Abuse Happens.


Serenity Prayer Continued

 

The most well known version of the Serenity Prayer is attributed to 20th century theologian Reinhold Niebuhr.

However, Niebuhr indicates that the prayer has been around in a various forms for centuries.  The prayer is not part of any religion, it is a non-sectarian prayer.

Serenity Prayer Continued

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.

The Huffpost article (updated 12-06-2017) describes 5 Timeless Truths From The Serenity Prayer That Offer Wisdom In the Modern Age.

The following are five areas that the article helps us to consider:

1. Acceptance is not a passive activity

When we focus on things that we cannot change, we devote emotional, physical and mental energy that could be better directed to important areas of our life.  Accepting that there are some things we cannot change does not make us slothful or lazy.  According to the article, it constitutes a leap of faith.  The article also indicates that the prayer  goes on to say, “that He (or the universe or time) will make all things right if I surrender to His Will.”  Thus we learn to let go and have faith in the outcome.

2. Focus on changing ourselves

It is difficult to identify and change deeply ingrained habits.  The Huffport article indicates that habits gain power through repetition and that it takes real focus to take a look at ourselves and ask, “is this how I really want to live?”  This interpretation of the prayer  leads us to the conclusion that self-investigation is an act of “courage.”

3. Hardship can be a good teacher

The prayer goes on to state, we must accept “hardships as the pathway to peace.”  We all encounter obstacles and hardships.  When we view these challenges as opportunities for growth, we can change and possibly even transform our circumstances.

4. Surrendering requires courage

The Serenity Prayer frames the idea of surrender as an act of faith.  The prayer helps us see the wisdom in trusting powers beyond ourselves.

5.  We can obtain happiness now and in the future

The prayer’s ending has a profound comment about happiness.  It says that if you follow the prayer, we may be “reasonably happy in this life.”

The Huffpost article states that our culture measures happiness and success mostly in terms of money and power.  The word “reasonably” gives us a modest definition of a successful life.

Instead of wondering about why we aren’t happier, the prayer helps us focus on the present  and enjoy one moment at a time.

Finally, the prayer encourages us to celebrate our own potential, limits, and capacity for rising above our current situation.


The Meaning of the Serenity Prayer

The Meaning of the Serenity Prayer

The book, Proactive 12 Steps, cites Reinhold Niebuhr’s version of the Serenity Prayer.

His version seems to be the most well known.

 

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things
I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can, and the
wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardship as the pathway to peace.
Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is,
not as I would have it.
Trusting that He will make all things right if I
surrender to His Will;

That I may be reasonably happy in this life,

and supremely happy with Him forever in the next.
Amen

 

There appear to be three important parts to understanding the meaning of the Serenity Prayer.  The first is the serenity to accept the things that cannot be changed.  The definition of serenity is a state of being calm, peaceful, and untroubled.  If one will seek to honestly assess a situation, not be complacent, and learn to accept things it can lead to a sense of peace.  The second part asks for the courage to change the things that can be changed.  The definition of courage is strength in the face of difficulty, pain or grief.  If we seek to intelligently assess and change a situation we can avoid acting impulsively or foolishly.  The third part is to seek wisdom to know the difference – about what can and cannot be changed.

Wisdom is the soundness of an action or decision with regard to the application or experience, knowledge, and good judgement.

The difficulty is knowing when to apply these important characteristics, when to be accepting or courageous.

The problem is that denial, rationalization, and self-deception make it challenging for us to tell when and how to apply these characteristics.

Ultimately, if we seek a Higher Power to guide us to assess situations we will make better decisions.