Category: Blog

Lawyers, Doctors, Accountants, Dentists and other Professionals are often viewed by society as strong, powerful, indestructible, and wholly self-reliant. However, reality is often quite the opposite.

As an attorney and mental health professional, I, too, have lived under that image and pressure. A self-maintained stigma that we can’t ask for help since we are the ones who are trained to help others. Recent studies show that professional men and women suffer greatly from mental health issues and substance-abuse.

A 2016 study done by the American Bar Association’s Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs and the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation found that out of 13,000 lawyers surveyed, between 20.6 and 36.4 percent could be considered problem drinkers. The study also found that 28 percent of those surveyed suffered from depression, and 19 percent had anxiety.

According to a 2018 article in Economia, nearly a third of accountants (30.4%) suffer from mental health issues, with more than half (51%) admitting depression and anxiety leaves them dreading going to work. The top factors cited by accountants as contributing to poor mental health included jobs being boring (42.1%), lack of confidence in one’s own abilities (31.6%), and working with customers and clients (26.3%).

Medical professions faced similar mental health issues. Nearly 40 percent of doctors in the United States hesitate to seek out mental health care out of concern it may negatively affect their licensing applications, according to a study published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings. Likewise, research shows that Registered Nurses suffer from depression at almost twice the rate of individuals in other professions. Dentists, unfortunately, are not immune from the impact that their profession has on their mental health.  One study summarized in the Journal of the American Dental Association examined more than 3,500 dentists. Thirty-eight percent reported feeling worried or anxious constantly or frequently. In the same study, 34% of respondents said they always or frequently felt physically or emotionally exhausted, and 26% reported continuous or frequent backaches and headaches..

How Are Professionals Impacted?

It would seem logical that men and women who have successfully completed college and then graduate school earning an advanced degree in law, accounting or medicine, would be immune from the pressure of their chosen careers. Research reveals a very different conclusion.

Working and building a career in these highly competitive professions often results in people feeling immense pressure to succeed at all costs. For medical professionals, graduating at the top of their classes in order to land the best residencies and hospital assignments is a significant factor in their self-imposed pressure. CPAs and Attorneys who work for large firms face the endless requirement to cultivate new and bigger clients for the firm so that they can one day become a partner in the firm is a 24-7 marathon. For dentists, working in isolation, in confined spaces and with little to no room for error can lead to depression.

In addition to anxiety and depression, substance abuse by professionals is growing day-by-day. Whether you are using drugs or alcohol to increase your energy and stamina to complete your workload, or using these substances to try and cope with your anxiety or stress, substance use often begins innocently enough, but quickly spirals out-of-control and ruins many lives.

Professionals and their mental health
Professionals suffer impacts to their mental health at very high levels

What Are Some Challenges To Getting Help?”

The biggest challenge for professionals receiving the mental health help that they need is their reluctance to ask for help. Professionals who are licensed by their State’s Board are often afraid to acknowledge any mental health issues for fear of the negative impact it could have on their license’s status. Similarly, those in work for large firms or organizations are often afraid to let higher management know that they may need help for fear of appearing “weak,” “unsuccessful” or a “drain” on the firm or organization. It’s very common and makes sense in context for a lawyer or CPA to withhold their mental health issue when they have already worked so hard to make partner or complete their partnership track.

How Can Eric Help?

As an Attorney practicing law for over 2 decades, I inherently know the challenges, pressure and impact that being a professional can have on one’s mental health. By combining that background and experience with being a Mental Health Professional with a Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy, I understand the impact your mental health has not only on you, but on your entire family system.

Working with a mental health professional who understands your lifestyle, your pressures, and your “world” without explanation is invaluable. Regardless of the extent of your concerns, I work with professionals like you in a collaborative manner, without judgment. I utilize various interventions and techniques, such as mindfulness, CBT, and experiential therapy to help you manage, reduce or eliminate these issues and problems from impacting your daily professional and personal life.


Here at Discovering Destinies, our mission is to provide effective, respectful and sensitive therapy and counseling to you, your spouse or partner, child(ren) and/or family so that you can live a happy, content and meaningful life. Most importantly, we never judge you based upon your values, beliefs, race, ethnicity, culture or sexual orientation.

If you or a loved-one are ready to Explore Your Emotions™, or are just contemplating individual, couples or family therapy, we are here to help by answering all of your questions and explain the process of therapy in a non-pressured way.  We can be reached at 561-475-5800 or e-mail us at eric@discoveringdestinies.com

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Addiction has hit society like a tidal wave, full of riptides, with giant currents that pull one in from deep beneath the surface. Families, together with the addict, are collectively swooped-up and spit-out. Half of the damage is from the current’s devastation and the other half results from cleaning-up the aftermath.

Addiction causes so much turbulence within families. More troublesome is the fact that the majority of families are hesitant to acknowledge the addict and his/her impact on the family. This is called denial and its extremely common – yet unhealthy – for everyone in the family system. There are many layers that comprise addiction.

In this issue, I’ll talk about how to families are affected by addiction and ways for the family unit to survive and flourish.

How did Addiction get us to this dark place?

Every family and its members have different origins to their struggles and challenges. For some families, it can be traced to watching their parent drink too much or use substances. For others, it can be traced to an abusive home-life or a house that never became a home. On the other hand, sometimes too much love or closeness or smothering can be the culprit. One thing is for sure. Regardless of the root of the problem, the end result is all too similar. Family members are hurt, in pain, suffering, and living their life wandering in the darkness of addiction. Survival of the day-to-day challenge of the family’s new “norm” becomes the primary focus on each day. Yet, it does not have to be that way.

The addict is definitely not blameless. However, it is important to delve into the root cause of the addict’s addiction to truly begin to understand how he/she got to their current state of addiction. Many times, it is because they believed that they had no other escape or goal in life because they were stripped of nurturing and attachment when they were young. These factors are necessary for child development. For some, they watched their parents, aunts, uncles, or older cousins try to cope with life’s obstacles and challenges through drinking or using drugs. They learned that the best way to deal with pain is to simply cover it up or drown it away. For others, they watched their peers in school turn to substances to cope with the pressures of being a teenager in our modern society.

addiction's twisted impact on families
Addiction causes the entire family system to be twisted like a pretzel

It no longer needs to be just our “norm.”

Just because an addict keeps doing what they consider their ‘norm’, or repeats the same destructive pattern of behavior, doesn’t mean there is no way out.  The addict must come to realize that blaming everyone else for their problems is both selfish and ineffective. Likewise, family members must also learn to cease blaming the addict for the entire family’s woes and troubles. The addict and the family unit both share responsibility for the addiction and its impact.

It is common knowledge that addicts often turn to the 12-step model of recovery, for example, AA or NA. I propose that family members also engage in a version of the 12-step model. It is important for the healing process and recovery of both the addict and his/her family that they dig deep to take a moral inventory of themselves and search internally to explore the how and why they all arrived at their current “norm.”

For the addict and the family, the first-step is acknowledging that their “norm” is not permanent or fixed. With hard work and exploring the emotions of addiction, a new “norm” is created where addiction is no longer the elephant in the room – but rather starts to diminish in size and impact. This new “norm” can become a reality and a permanent part of the family unit.

Learning what makes each family member content.

In paying attention to the cycle of addiction, families tend to have false notions and beliefs regarding what it means to be “happy” or “content.” Addiction often stems from false or misguided beliefs about happiness, contentment, sadness and uncertainty in life. It is these thoughts that often causes a person to feel shame or guilt, anxiety or unease. These emotional states trigger negative behavioral patterns which results in more negative feelings of worthlessness or hopelessness. Long-term recovery is rarely sustained unless the addict – and the related family members – explore these feelings and emotions and their root causes. Since all of us will experience up and downs in life, and be triggered by various stimuli and events, effective recovery for the family system requires that each learn new coping patterns and behaviors to respond in different and healthier ways when triggered.


Here at Discovering Destinies, our mission is to provide effective, respectful and sensitive therapy and counseling to you, your spouse or partner, child(ren) and/or family so that you can live a happy, content and meaningful life. Most importantly, we never judge you based upon your values, beliefs, race, ethnicity, culture or sexual orientation.

If you or a loved-one are ready to Explore Your Emotions™, or are just contemplating individual, couples or family therapy, we are here to help by answering all of your questions and explain the process of therapy in a non-pressured way.  We can be reached at 561-475-5800 or e-mail us at info@discoveringdestinies.com

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Typically when a child is born into a family, the proud parents of this newborn child are beyond words. Parents often idealize in their minds what it would be like to raise that child, nurture and coddle with their child. Then the obvious happens: the child either conforms to the parents expectations or doesn’t. Most children have an innate desire to love and long for their parent’s warmth, affection, and attention.

Life can throw a curve ball when that expectation becomes anything different than desired or needed.  The child that has been born first, becomes the prized possession. Everyone soon quickly forgets how normalcy takes over. The child coos on time, sits, rolls over, and can even begin to take their first step soon after their arrival in the world. This child faces no difficulty in being accepted. If anything, this child is sought after by family members, family friends, and school personnel.

But what happened to the child that isn’t the favorite because that child is unimaginably “different”, “the exception to the norm”, and most devastatingly “atypical”.  From the perspective of the family, that child is the one that captures all attention: positive or negative. That child has greater needs that far exceed any imagined by the family that rushes to judgment. Why does this child get to experience the abundance of attention, affection, and adoration?

In almost all households with children who have special-needs, autism, developmental disabilities or chronic illnesses, the parents’ attention understandably is focused on the child’s medical, behavioral and therapeutic needs. Hours are spent on the phone making appointments, finding the best doctor or therapist, or fighting with insurance companies for proper coverage.

Lost in all of this energy, worry, confusion, focus, exhaustion, single-mindedness and devotion, is the typical sibling. The brother or sister who is often left to the side, missing out on certain of childhood’s typical memories and experiences. The “missing” or “hidden” siblings.

The typical sibling must “fit into a mold” that society sets as the norm. Just because the typical sibling was born without developmental disabilities, defects in utero, and has the ability and capability to reach his/her milestones on time, does that separate this child out? Does that child grow up in a world that he/she feels misunderstood, looked upon more sensitively, and sometimes in his/her own way feel like the outcast to society? Can that child develop socially and make friends easily, or is there less resilience that child envelopes? Can other siblings that may be going through similar experiences, and are therefore able to fit in typically surround that child? These questions often swirl in the minds of family members, specifically those closest to the children they are raising.

Society dictates the standards that families often feel as a sense of belonging and acceptance.  Hence, their offspring are a product of that deconstructed reality. So, who actually loses out on those same experiences that other families get to enjoy, participate in, and appreciate. Fitting into a mold is often constricting, but in this case it is about redeveloping the mold. Siblings can adapt, and families learn to do the same. Siblings become resilient, sensitive, and carry a greater sense of confidence because of what they grew up living with. Their environment is carefully woven, and their ambition is often set out to educate the world about differences, immorality, and injustice. These siblings even learn to fight down bullies, and become the protectors in society. Overall, despite the adversities they have faced being raised around their atypical sibling, they fare well. If the so-called “mold” is something they learn to tolerate and overcome, then the greatest question of all is how can we as a society accept and reach the same victory?

Below is a Keynote Speech given by Gil Epstein, the 13 year-old typical sibling to his sister with special-needs. Listen as Gil explains in brutally-honest words the experience that is common to the typical-sibling. Let’s break the mold and remember the “special” needs of the “typical” sibling too.

 

 

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Have you ever wondered why you feel compelled to convince others how you feel about your autistic or special-needs child? Shouldn’t you just be allowed to FEEL, THINK, AND ACT? Maybe I can shed light on some of those feelings because I have lived through those tough and indescribable moments-in-time that feel never-ending, days that feel like years, thoughts that tend to shame us, and instinctual actions we took that were truly innocent and inherent.

This blog is not written or intended to bash parents or caregivers that raise special-needs children, but, rather, to give much needed permission for parents to come out of a hidden place and openly and candidly talk about the seemingly unnatural or unaccepted thoughts that you may not like your child and dislike a majority of what your child represents or how your family or relationships changed because of your special-needs child.

For those of you who are married or in a committed relationship, you undoubtedly will agree with me that it is difficult and challenging for two people to forge a strong relationship between one another – given a typical family environment. Both partners need to demonstrate the fortitude of early parenting skills and be secure with their attachment style so they can fully nurture their own creation. It is often challenging to even know where to begin or how to work together in an effective partnership.

When a mom or dad decides to become a parent and raise a child, they knowingly commit to give-up some freedom and some autonomy for the purpose of bringing a new life into the world. They are generally more than happy to sacrifice themselves to benefit their child. Part of that sacrifice comes with the expectation that as a baby, the child will need and take resources from the parents, and as the child matures into adulthood, that need lessens and lessens until the child is a self-sufficient adult.

But what happens now that the child doesn’t develop typically? What happens when the child does not or can not become independent?  What happens to parents of special-needs children when their willing sacrifices are never-ending and never-minimizing?

Parenting a child with special-needs requires parents to transform the unimaginable into reality; blurred and unmet hopes, dreams, and expectations into rediscovered and yet-to-be disccovered futures.

Sometimes, we just want to pretend that the life we have been dealt is just a bad dream that we no longer have to take from and live on a daily basis. Simply, it is typical for special-needs parents, to feel angry, jealous or envious of the typical life that other parents and families  around us are living. What would it be like to live the blissful and happy experience of raising a typical child? Is that expectation and hope reachable? Can we ever go back in time and experience the contentment of being happy-go-lucky?

The answers lie when we transform ourselves from feeling the need to convince to feeling the tranquility of acceptance. How do we stop feeling compelled to convince others that our life isn’t too “special” and accept that our life is typical, yet different.

The meaning of convince is to move by argument or evidence to belief, agreement, consent, or a course of action or persuade or cajole. I often ask myself if it is necessarily to try and persuade our family and dear friends to accept and know how hard our everyday lives are, or is it enough to know that for ourselves, and to transition from the mode of convincing others by arguing and getting upset, to just accepting our lot regardless of how others feel or how our lives compare to others around us.

The meaning of acceptance is the act of receiving something offered, the act of assenting or believing. To truly accept that we do not and will not live a “typical” life is life-chainging. When we can look at another family whose children are speaking clearly, playing appropriately, potty-trained or can make eye contact without any issues, we will have reached the magical plateau and place of acceptance. For me, that place seems like the place Dorothy visited in the Wizard of Oz – a fantastical place of joy, happiness and tranquility. It may not be a place that is easy to travel to, a place where we can use our GPS to drive, or a place that we can know when we first arrive, but it is a place that is definitely attainable and reachable.

I have strived for the past 15 years to find acceptance of my new identity: being the mother of a child with a developmental disability. I’ve grown tired of trying to shield myself and my loved-ones from the endless and tiring plight of the therapies, doctor visits, hospitals, IEP meetings, teachers, etc. I, like you, have travelled through an unexpected journey that is inescapable –  and no one can tell us otherwise. We are traveling along an untrammeled path – unique to each of us and our child. Have we reached our destiny? NO! We can work hard and be open to traveling different roads and paths to Discovery our true Destiny.

We will always endure that burden of caring for our special-needs child. And yes, it is a burden regardless how difficult it is to acknowledge that as a mom and parent. The trials and tribulations we have experience have made us wiser and stronger. We are resilient above all others, and are stronger than we ever expected. Our relationships, marriages and families do not need to crumble and succumb to the stress and challenges. We are strong! Strong to stay committed. Strong to be the parent of a child with special-needs. We just have to clear away the cobwebs and dust ourselves off. We are stronger than we thought, and so are our children with special needs and their typical siblings. After all, we created our children and they have our DNA. We are all blessed differently. However, we all have one gift that we often don’t even realize we have. Its called ACCEPTANCE.

If you are the mom, dad, sibling or family member of a child with special-needs, autism, a developmental disability or a chronic medical condition, Eric and Erica from Discovering Destinies, Inc. are ready and able to help you deal with the stress, cope with the trauma or just listen to your frustrations. Erica is a Florida Registered Marriage and Family Therapist Intern License # IMT2785 and the mother of a child with a developmental disability and chronic medical condition. Eric is a Florida licensed attorney, Florida Supreme Court Certified Family Law Mediator, and a Life/Relationship/Special-Needs Coach.

Feel free to call or email us for more information about our services. We are ready to  assist you.  We can be reached at 561-475-5800, our Facebook page is http://www.facebook.com/discoveringdestinies and our website is http://discoveringdestinies.com.

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