5 Tips on How to Stay Calm Before Organ Transplant Surgery

Having any kind of surgery can be stressful for a person. It’s normal to feel a little nervous. But, being able to stay calm before organ transplant surgery can make the entire experience easier and less stressful.

As far as surgeries go, organ transplant surgery isn’t something to take lightly. It’s important to fully understand why you need the surgery and how it will benefit you in order to be at peace with it.

Surgery anxiety is a very real thing. If you’re feeling symptoms like nausea, irregular heartbeat, or even problems sleeping in the weeks leading up to your surgery, you could be dealing with a certain type of anxiety.

Thankfully, it’s possible to stay calm before organ transplant surgery. Keep these five tips in mind as your procedure draws near, and you can ease your fear.

1. Educate Yourself

One of the best ways to reduce your fear is to learn as much as you can about your surgery. This is different from going to a search engine and researching things that could go wrong. Instead, educate yourself about the medical condition that makes the surgery necessary.

Focus on the success rates of the surgery rather than possible side effects. Think about how much better you’ll feel once it’s done, and how you can take control of your life once more.

2. Talk with Your Surgeon

Don’t be shy about discussing your fears with your doctor/surgeon, medical social worker, counselor or other resource. Not only can they give you more tips on how to stay calm before organ transplant surgery, but you’ll feel more comfortable simply forming a relationship with them.

When it comes any surgery, if you’ve never met the person performing your procedure, it makes sense that you would find it that much harder to trust them. By getting to know your surgeon ahead of time through a few meetings, you’ll likely be more trusting of them when it comes time to have surgery.

3. Find Support

Family, friends, or even a specific kind of support group can be helpful if you have anxiety leading up to your surgery. You’re not alone in feeling this kind of anxiety. And you don’t have to be alone as you go through it.

If you know someone who has had the same surgery or something similar, talk to them about it. Ask them to share what was hardest and what was easiest about the experience, what little things they wish they had known beforehand to help them and even tell you a funny story or two about it. This is a “big life moment” and these moments are always unique and full of adventure. Talk with someone who has met a similar challenge before and get them to share their stories of inspiration. Or, even just talk to them about the process and take note of how well it turned out for them.

Hearing from people who have been in similar situations, whether helpful logistics or feelings, is often a huge help.

4. Journal Your Thoughts

Another effective way to stay calm before organ transplant surgery is to write down all your anxious thoughts. Keep a journal of how you feel in the weeks leading up to your procedure. This will help you to look closely at the  negative thoughts that creep up over time, see how they change as you talk about them with loved ones and your treatment providers and keep them in perspective as you get closer to the procedure date.

Giving your fears a voice helps to weaken the intensity of those negative and anxious thoughts. Suppressing your fears and secreting them away would only make things harder for you. If you hold all of them in until the night before or the day of your surgery, you could really feel overwhelmed with anxiety and fear.

By writing those fears down, and talking about them with someone who supports you, you’re taking more control. The day of the surgery won’t feel nearly as overwhelming when you have been able to look at those fears, talk about them with friends, family and your physician and even just giving them a voice; speaking them aloud.

5. Consider Patient Counseling

Patient counseling can be a huge help for someone dealing with anxiety before surgery (and even the anxieties that sometimes follow surgery). You can learn techniques to keep yourself calm, all the way up until the moment you go in for surgery.

Talking to a counselor who specializes in this area can also help with those thoughts of fear and anxiety – especially with regards to losing power, even temporarily, over something as intimate as our own bodies. When you get them out in the open, your counselor can guide you on how to deal with them, and how to work through them.

Again, staying calm before organ transplant surgery may not be easy, but it certainly isn’t impossible. If you’re feeling anxious and scared, don’t be ashamed! What you’re experiencing is completely normal. In fact, I’ve been there and experienced my own debilitating illness. I know the courage it takes to face the fear of our own impermanence.

Which, is why I’d like to help you. Talking to a skilled counselor who understands the intense and complicated feelings that accompany medical challenges like the ones you are facing can reap numerous benefits.

Visit here to learn more about how I can help. Or, contact the office today at  (7)-489-3329.


Your Addiction: 5 Important Reasons Why You Should Get Help Now

It’s easy to ignore things that are hard or don’t always feel good. We all procrastinate or avoid from time to time.  And when you’re struggling with addiction, it’s really easy to ignore all the reasons why you need to get help now.

The addiction takes center-stage and demands all of your attention. All your focus on is getting your next drink, your next fix – so that you feel “normal” or “better.”

But the truth is; you will never truly feel better.

Not in the midst of the drinking/using and all the chaos that comes with it. It doesn’t matter how convincing you are – this isn’t about will power. There is a reason why addiction is called a “brain disease”.

And eventually, it will always take more drugs or alcohol to get even close to the same effect you had the first time you used.

There is an end point to this terminal disease. And it isn’t pleasant or happy or freeing. So don’t succumb to it – stand up and get help.

It may be hard to believe – but you CAN do this and there are a lot of folks out there who can help.

If you need some important reasons why you should get help for your addiction—now – then here you go…

1. Improving Your Health

The first important reason to consider is your health. Addiction only makes your health worse, not better.

If you are young, you may not have noticed much of a difference yet. But, as time goes by, you will see and feel dramatic changes happening to your body.

For example:

  • Your liver starts having a harder time processing the alcohol and can’t do its job properly to the point where you experience liver failure
  • You become more vulnerable to a heart attack or stroke
  • Your skin tone and quality changes
  • Your lung capacity diminishes
  • You have a greater possibility of contracting HIV/AIDS due to sharing intravenous needles
  • Your life expectancy is shorter

Clearly, addiction is not good for your health.

2. Strengthening Your Relationships

Another reason to get help is the relationships that you hold most dear. Whether it’s your partner, children, parents, or friends, addiction causes tremendous hurt and pain to the people you love.

You may have said or done things that you later regret and, thus, strained these relationships to the breaking point.

What’s happened in the past is done. However, by getting help, you have the power to strengthen those relationships and keep or bring those people close to you.

3. Saving Your Career

Did you spend years and thousands of dollars getting to where you are in your career? What would you do if you lost your job?

Addiction takes a toll on your work as well. At first, it’s occasionally showing up a little late or missing a project deadline. A reprimand or even a poor performance review doesn’t help. In fact, they may spur you forward in your addiction. Then, it’s more consistent absences or a blow-up at the office. Eventually, your employer will decide that it’s better to let you go.

If this scenario happens a few times, it can be damaging to your career. And once unemployed, you most likely resort to other means of feeding your addition and getting the substances you crave.

4. Bringing Joy Back Into Your Life

Remember a time when you felt happy and joyful? Was it while pursuing a hobby or sport that you like?

When struggling with addiction, it’s hard to feel happy at all. In fact, many also develop depression alongside their addiction.

There are several reasons why this occurs:

  • You are more isolated from those you care about
  • Hobbies, sports, and other recreational activities no longer have the same appeal
  • Your focus is now on getting more drugs
  • Your health and physical appearance have declined

It’s easy to focus on the obvious things that you lose with addiction. However, joy and happiness are just as important as your health, relationships, or even your job. Don’t let it slip through your fingers.

5. Having Peace of Mind

Finally, your peace of mind is certainly a reason why you should get help now for addiction. You probably feel sad, angry, and anxious with addiction.

Although when under the influence, you may experience a heightened state of pleasure—it doesn’t last. Most of the time you are in a more miserable state of mind. You may even recognize that you are miserable and need to get better.

Is that how you want to live your life?

Ultimately, you can list all of the reasons in the world why you should get help – thinking about it is easy. Talking is easy too. But until you’re willing to act – to actually get the help, real relief and real change simple will not follow. So, whether your personal motivation comes from the inside or outside—find your reason to change and take action!

Please, contact me to start your addiction recovery. Or, visit here to learn more about how I can help you.


Faced with Major Life Transitions? – How to Embrace the Change

Major life transitions happen to almost everyone at some point. Often, these transitions can leave you feeling as though you don’t know what to do. After all, change isn’t always easy and can cause some speedbumps in your life.

Thankfully, by embracing these transitions, you can get through them smoothly. Coping with big changes isn’t impossible. Actually, embracing change doesn’t always require a lot of effort.

What it does require is the ability to use both emotional and physical energy to adapt to your new situation(s). If you’re willing to do that, it’s easier to move forward with your life quickly.

Whether major life transitions are planned or unplanned, positive or negative, embracing the change will make a big difference in how you handle it.

If you’re struggling, keep these tips in mind to adapt.

Be Present

When we’re presented with new, big life changes, our minds often go to the future.

It’s normal to wonder what your future holds, how things will be different, what to expect, etc. Even if it’s a good change, these thoughts and feelings can quickly become overwhelming.

One way to avoid getting overly-stressed about such things is to be “in the now” as much as possible. Take things one step at a time by accepting each element of the transition as it comes.

Lamenting about the past or worrying about the future won’t get you anywhere. It will likely make you feel even more stressed out, robbing you of time and energy.

By being present within those changes, you can focus your energy on what’s happening, and learn to appreciate it more.

Understand the Importance of Change

Change is natural and necessary throughout life. Some changes are for the better, and some can be a struggle. Some changes are even painful. But, it’s important to understand that without these major life transitions, we would never grow and learn.

Transitions help us to become stronger. They allow us to be prepared for the next big change to come along, and the one after that, etc.

The more you go through, the better prepared you’ll be. And, the less negative change will be able to overwhelm you.

So, while embracing major life transitions and changes (especially difficult ones) isn’t always easy, you can look at it as a sign of growth. The next time you face a life transition, you’ll have wisdom and experience on your side.

Take Care of Yourself

One of the best things you can do when you’re going through major life transitions is to practice self-care.

Find time to relax, and do some things that you enjoy.

If you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed by the changes, don’t be afraid to try something new in an effort to “de-stress.” Many people benefit from things like meditation or deep breathing exercises.

Self-care is also about taking care of yourself physically. Be sure to eat a sensible diet, and exercise. Something as simple as a leisurely walk can make a big difference in how you feel.

Make sure whatever you choose to do physically is something you enjoy, and not something that becomes a chore.

Change is inevitable throughout life. The more you’re able to embrace these transitions, the better you will be. But, you don’t have to do it alone.

If you’re struggling with a major life transition, be sure to talk to someone about it. Having a support system can make the transition easier.

A therapist can also be part of your support system. Please contact me today for help in managing a major life transition. Or, visit hereto learn more about how I can help.


Student Stress and Addiction – How to Understand the Connection

Stress and addiction go hand-in-hand for many reasons. When it comes to students, stress and addiction can have an even stronger relationship.

Students—especially on a collegiate level—are constantly bombarded with changes and challenges they may have never had to face before. It’s an exciting time of life, but the stress of it all can become overwhelming at times.

It’s no secret that the drug addiction rates in this country have skyrocketed. Young people are some of the most susceptible, and many are turning toward various types of drugs to manage their stress levels.

Normal Stress vs. Chronic Stress

Everyone experiences stress on a regular basis. It’s a reaction to a specific situation that can leave you feeling overwhelmed. That’s considered “normal.”

Chronic stress, on the other hand, is more prominent and experienced more often.

When you’re in college, experiencing new things for the first time, you may be more at risk for chronic stress. Juggling classes, relationships, friendships, extracurricular activities, and independence, your mind and body can easily feel overloaded.

Stress itself can cause negative symptoms like headaches, fatigue, or even nausea. But, it’s how you respond to the stress in your life that makes a difference.

Using Drugs to Manage Stress

When your body experiences stress, it goes into “fight or flight” mode. You then have to make a decision on how you’re going to handle it. This is the point where many young people turn toward substance abuse.

By taking a substance, you’re able to eliminate the feelings of stress and anxiety for a while. If you’re dealing with chronic stress, addiction can happen rather quickly. Mostly, because you’ll want those negative symptoms and overwhelming feelings to be gone all the time. So, you’ll turn to drugs more often.

When you’re under a lot of emotional stress, you tend to lose control of your impulses, too. So, it becomes easier over time to reach for some type of harmful substance without even thinking about it. Unfortunately, that adds fuel to the addiction, making it harder to escape your drug habit over time.

Finding Better Ways to Cope

Using drugs to manage stress is simply a way to “escape” for a while, and to dissociate yourself from the overload of emotions you might be feeling.

This isn’t the best solution or form of “treatment” when it comes to managing stress. Thankfully, there are many healthier options you can take to manage your stress levels and beat your addiction.

If you’re starting to feel overwhelmed by the stress, don’t hesitate to ask for help. A strong support system can make a big difference in managing anxiety and coping with stress. Things like exercise, meditation, and deep breathing can also be effective.

The sooner you recognize your coping mechanisms for stress aren’t healthy, the better. As you start to utilize other options, you can begin to steer yourself away from drug use.

Seeking Professional Help for Stress and Addiction

One of the most productive and effective things you can do to combat stress and addiction is to take part in addiction counseling.

This is especially effective if your substance use has gotten out of hand and you can’t manage it on your own. Getting to the root and underlying cause of your stress can make it easier to deal with your addiction.

As a college student, it’s not uncommon to turn to a quick fix to combat your stress levels. But, turning to different substances will quickly lead you down a path that is difficult to escape.

The connection between student stress and addiction may not come as a surprise. However, that doesn’t mean it’s a connection that has to keep getting stronger.

If you’re a college student struggling with addiction due to stress, please contact me. You can also visit hereto learn more about how I can help. Together, we can work on different coping mechanisms to help you manage your stress levels, and deal with the effects of addiction.


Chemo and Radiation: 5 Ways to Make Sense of the Emotional Impact

Cancer patients who undergo chemo and radiation treatment have to deal with a lot all at once. While these treatments are designed to kill the cancer cells, they impact your body in many negative ways as well.

Chemo and radiation can make you feel weak and sick. For many people, hair begins to fall out. You’ll likely start to notice other uncomfortable symptoms, too.

Most people tend to focus on the physical impact of chemo and radiation. Yet, it’s also important to recognize the emotional impact of the process.

To put it plainly, these treatments are difficult to go through. Not only are you dealing with a scary disease, but the treatments for that disease can be just as troublesome.

Thankfully, making sense of the emotional impact can actually make chemo and radiation easier to get through.

Let’s take a look at five effective ways you can manage that emotional impact.

1. Understand You’ll Have Ups and Downs

Just as some days you’ll physically feel better than others, your emotions may be all over the place, too.

Some days you might feel happy. Others you might feel angry, sad, or frustrated.

Accepting the fact that your emotions can change quickly is an important part of getting through your treatment. Give yourself permission to feel what you feel rather than getting down because you can’t always control your emotions. Ups and downs are part of the journey. 

2. Learn Your Triggers

One thing you can do to help you make sense of your emotions during chemo and radiation is to identify what might be triggering the negative ones.

When you have an idea of what changes your outlook from a positive to a negative one, you can take better control over it. Then, the emotional impact doesn’t seem so powerful or as extreme.

3. Identify What’s Really Bothering You

One of the best things you can do to make sense of the emotional impact of these treatments is to find out what’s really bothering you.

This is different from what triggered the emotions. Instead, you may have several things going on all at once aside from treatment—household duties, work responsibilities, relationships issues—causing you to feel overwhelmed.

Furthermore, you may hold onto those feelings for too long, causing the negative emotions to rise up. When you figure out the underlying cause of those negative emotions, you can focus on it, and work on strategies to get through it.

4. Don’t Go Through It Alone

Having a strong support group is invaluable when going through any type of treatment for cancer. The emotional impact is often too much to handle on your own. Plus, you shouldn’t have to!

Making sense of your emotions doesn’t have to be something you go through alone. Talking to someone you love about those emotions can actually make a big difference.

Surround yourself with people who support you and will be there for you. They can lift your spirits and provide a comforting ear to listen. Simply talking through your emotions with someone can help you to make more sense of them.

5. Counseling for Cancer Patients

Along those same lines, some cancer patients benefit from seeing a counselor or therapist. If you’re really struggling with how to handle your emotions from chemo and radiation, a professional can help you to work through your feelings and learn to manage them.

There is absolutely no doubt that going through these treatments is one of the most difficult things to endure. The physical, mental, and emotional toll it can take can feel crippling.

Being able to talk to someone who can give you the tools you need to get through it can make a big difference in your overall treatment.

When you better understand your emotions, you can put a different spin on the entire treatment process.

While chemo and radiation will always be difficult to go through, knowing how to make sense of your emotions can lessen the overall impact, and motivate you to stay strong as your body fights back.

If you’re ready to make sense of your emotions as you navigate the chemo and radiation process, I would like to help. Please, contact me today. Or, visit here to learn more about how I can help you.

Addiction Recovery

Addiction Intervention

Addiction Intervention

Compassionate Intervention Consults (aka “soft interventions”)

So you are trying to decide whether or not to organize an intervention for a loved one? Choosing to confront a loved one about their addiction is a difficult decision and most people are at their wits’ end by the time they start looking at intervention as an option. You need reliable and targeted information to help you determine what’s best for your loved one. And perhaps more importantly, for them to be able to see the severity of their current situation. I have worked in this field, in this city, for over 22 years and I know the resources available locally, within and outside of Texas.

Before You Start

When you start planning an intervention for a loved one struggling with addiction you want to be sure the  professional you work with looks at your family dynamic in its entirety. There are a lot of different certifications, licenses and types of interventionists out there – very few of them are fully and independently licensed and even those who are credentialed rarely are licensed in both mental health and addiction. Fewer still have the precision that comes with years of counseling professionals struggling with addiction or having served for years as the Clinical Director of an inpatient medical detox hospital.

“Recovery is an evolutionary process of the self.

It requires change, commitment, community and time.”

BW Carrettin, 2013

Whomever, you consider – be intentional. Ask questions; interview them. You are trying to do the best you can for the one you care about – it’s okay to be thorough. Here’s a hint/hack for you; if the professional cannot weather a little scrutiny and direct questioning from you, how could they ever be successful in an intervention?

It’s also helpful to keep in mind that getting sober is only a fixed state (think is or is not), but staying sober is a gradual, ongoing process. To fully embrace and maintain true, life-changing recovery requires a commitment to whole life recovery as a way of living. This isn’t accomplished in a single week or even a month or two of treatment in a facility. But it can certainly begin there. The person who is addicted will ultimately need to commit to major lifestyle changes in order to return to enjoying a full life and ongoing success. In the beginning, just getting into treatment is a start in the right direction. While I definitely want those who need it to go to treatment, I want more. Whether it’s alcohol, opiates, cocaine, synthetics or something else, my goal is to have them understand for themselves why they need it and to make that choice. They are the only person who can ultimately decide if they will stay sober/clean. I believe it helps if they decide to start the path as well.

A Different Kind of Intervention

In my practice, I provide in-office, compassion-driven intervention consultations and therapeutic services for adults struggling with addiction. Through my practice, I also provide counseling for clients after they complete treatment and work with spouses and families of loved ones in active addiction and early recovery. Through my work I help families prepare to undertake a substance abuse intervention and also find the best possible treatment options for the adult who is in crisis. With over 20 years of experience working with individuals and families in crisis I am uniquely qualified to help you develop the best possible treatment plan for your loved one. My non-confrontational, invitational approach to intervention is proven effective and allows for a family to lovingly, effectively and compassionately encourage a loved one to get the help they need.

Please note, I do not use “tough love” or other adversarial, aggressive approaches. I have seen these work only insofar as, occasionally getting a person to agree to go to treatment and shortly after admitting, leaving against medical advice and relapsing, which can ultimately be life threatening. That is not to say that getting a person into treatment isn’t a first step or that harder approaches have not been successful for some and may be what your loved one needs. But if force is the flavor you intend to use, I am not the best option for you.

“Sobriety is a state of condition. Recovery is a way of living.”

BW Carrettin, 2003

Knowing the Options

I have developed relationships with many hospitals, residential treatment centers, intensive outpatient programs, physicians, and sober living houses over the years and have acquired inside knowledge of all these options. Each year, I dedicate time to personally visiting, evaluating and re-evaluating programs so that I can stay up to date on what they are doing and how they are doing it. This helps me to effectively support you and help you select the most effective programs available for your loved one’s needs. We work together so that you have the best information from the intervention through the treatment process and into aftercare to make it less stressful for you. The goal is to do everything possible to ensure you have the best information and support possible.

My Services

The consulting services I provide are both individualized and comprehensive. I assess each individual’s and family’s strengths and weaknesses to develop a plan that most effectively addresses their treatment needs. I meet you where you are in the intervention process and tailor a plan that helps you achieve your goals for success. Collaboration is key and I often consult with other professionals and utilize a team approach to develop a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary plan to most effectively meet your individual needs. Additionally, I can follow up with the program while your loved one is in treatment and coordinate aftercare plans for after they have completed a program.

In addition, I am a Nationally Board Certified counselor, fully and independently licensed therapist, licensed addiction specialist, have advanced training in traumatic loss and am trained in critical incident stress management. This means that I am uniquely qualified to assess programs and match individuals to the right type of services for their individual needs. I also work closely with the family after the intervention in order to support you through the treatment and recovery process and prepare you for your loved one’s eventual return home.

If this sounds like I may be the right person for you, please give me a call.


Ben Carrettin is a Nationally Board Certified Counselor (NCC), Licensed Professional Counselor-Supervisor (LPC-S) and Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor (LCDC). He is the owner of Practice Improvement Resources, LLC; a private business which offers an array of specialized counseling, evidenced-based clinical consultation, Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) and targeted ESI-based services to individuals and businesses.


Ben Carrettin – Loss and Grief Counseling


Has a Recent Death in the Family or the Decline in a Loved One’s Health Left You with Feelings of Emptiness, Grief or Despair?

Have you recently lost someone you love to an illness or accident? Has this sudden separation left a void in your life, and you’re struggling to feel whole again? Perhaps a loved one has taken his or her life and you are trying to deal with feelings of guilt and depression as a survivor of suicide. Has a loved one’s absence either through illness or death created a hole that you cannot or do not want to fill? Is there a stillness in your life that keeps you awake, tossing and turning at night? Perhaps you are caring for someone whose health is slipping away everyday, and you are struggling to balance hope with the reality of impermanence. Do you wish you could feel like you were standing on solid ground again, seeing the world as it is, and not through the veil of grief and loss?

Loss floods us with emotions of fear, guilt, anger, grief and despair. Suddenly the person who you thought would always be there is gone, yet reminders of him or her are everywhere you look. The house feels a lot bigger than it once did, and an incredible stillness and silence lingers uninterrupted in every room. You might see the world without color, in shades of gray. Food has no flavor. Pleasure has no appeal. The sun shines and you can’t see it. The rain falls and you can’t feel it. You might feel trapped in quicksand, and every effort to escape only drags you deeper down. You wait for time to heal all, but it doesn’t, and everyday becomes more difficult, confusing and meaningless than the last. There is a gaping wound in your soul that you either can’t close or do not want to heal. And while you want to feel whole again, the physical emptiness left by your loss has been replaced with a greater, existential emptiness.

Grief and Loss Affects Almost Everyone at Some Point in Their Lives

Grief is one of the most common emotions humans feel. At some point in life, we all experience feelings of emptiness, loneliness and even abandonment as a result of a loved one’s death. But, feelings of grief and loss can also be a result of a dramatic social change. Leaving everyone you love to move to a new city or country, having a spouse abandon the family or losing your home and possessions to a fire or natural disaster can cause significant emotional trauma. While grieving is a natural and healthy part of the healing process, many people can begin to experience symptoms of depression, anxiety and trauma. The fear of the new unknown, the stress of facing the world alone or the sheer sadness caused by of a loved one’s absence can erode your strength and perseverance and even adversely affect your health. The good news is that grief is a natural part of life, and there is help and hope. With the support and guidance of a compassionate and understanding therapist, you can work through your loss and resolve feelings of confusion, grief and even anger.

Grief Counseling and Emotional Trauma Therapy Can Help You Find Strength and Wholeness Again

The sudden absence of a family member, friend or significant other can elicit extreme grief, fear, depression, anxiety, apathy and even anger and resentment. Despite our knowledge of our own mortality, actually witnessing the decline of life and death can be a world-shaking experience, especially when someone is ripped out of our lives. Fortunately, grieving is a normal and healthy healing mechanism. And, in warm, safe and confidential grief therapy sessions, I can help you sort through challenging emotions and regain a sense of normalcy and wholeness again.

I believe in inclusivity, and will meet you where you are regardless of religion, spiritual practice, sexual orientation, culture or political position. In a comfortable and safe, living room-style environment, we can explore the thoughts, feelings and problems that are burdening you daily. By addressing your loss directly, I can help you regain a sense of clarity and help you develop ways to re-engage and reconnect with life. Through a combination of conversational techniques and a mindfulness approach, I can help you confront your grief, manage your loss and renew your engagement in the present moment.

I have been providing grief and loss counseling as a standard part of my practice since I began helping people with cancer and medical trauma in 1992. I understand the devastating impact that loss can have on individuals and families. But, I also know that there is help, healing and hope. With a kind, conversational and mindfully guided approach, I can help you process your loss and regain your sense of self and wholeness.

You Still May Have Questions or Concerns About Grief Counseling…

I’m afraid of the emotions I might encounter if I talk about my loved one’s absence.

Confronting death can be a terribly frightening ordeal that requires incredible courage and strength. Whether watching someone slowly decline in health or having a loved one pass suddenly, the emotions we experience can be so overwhelming that we want to avoid thinking about them. But, avoidance can create other problems. Despair, depression, anxiety and apathy can cause you to withdrawal from those still around you, slowly eroding at the wonderful life you still have. By gently confronting your vulnerabilities and exploring your emotions, I can help gain clarity and confidence about the future.

If therapy is successful, am I erasing the person I lost from my life?

Grief therapy will never erase someone from your life. Loss is like a deep scar. It heals and it even fades, but it never goes away. It lives with us as a reminder of the past. Even though it is always there, eventually the pain of the wound subsides, and even the sight of the scar fades. Grief and emotional trauma therapy can help you to understand the difference between forgetting someone and letting him or her go. In our sessions I can help you move forward with your own life while acknowledging and celebrating the precious one you lost.

I don’t need counseling; I should be able to work through this on my own.

Loss is one of the many powerful things that make us equal. And, it takes strength and resilience to face death or loss. Just by seeking grief counseling you are already taking the first bold step toward healing yourself. Seeking help is a sign of not being broken or weak. Rather, it truly is a sign of strength. With grief and loss counseling I can help you empower yourself, and find strength, hope and peace in the present moment.

You Can Find Purpose, Healing and Wholeness in the Midst of Sorrow…

You don’t have to work through these difficult times alone. I invite you to call me for a free 15-minute consultation at (346)-493-6181. I would be happy to talk through any questions you have about my practice or grief and loss counseling.


Ben Carrettin is a Nationally Board Certified Counselor (NCC), Licensed Professional Counselor-Supervisor (LPC-S) and Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor (LCDC). He is the owner of Practice Improvement Resources, LLC; a private business which offers an array of specialized counseling, evidenced-based clinical consultation, Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) and targeted ESI-based services to individuals and businesses.

Pre & Post Surgical

Counseling Before and After Surgery

Counseling Before and After Surgery

Surgery has been suggested to you because it is believed to be an appropriate medical choice for dealing with your current condition. Although you may accept that surgery is the best treatment approach, it is very natural to have some thoughts and fears around the “unknown”. It is important that you discuss any questions or concerns with your surgeon and determine whether counseling before and after surgery may be recommended as part of your treatment plan.

You may be relieved to know that there are other things that you can do to prepare for your surgery and also to recover in the best possible way. What your surgeon brings is his/her skill and expertise, which you have confidence in. But what can you bring? You have the ability to bring the most positive emotional attitude and lowest stress possible – to give your body the best environment for surgery and for healing and recovery afterwards.

When we are stressed – our blood pressure goes up, or quality of sleep/rest go down and our brains produce a chemical called cortisol which for short time and infrequent time is pretty normal. But when we stay anxious, afraid or “tense” for longer periods of time or to a larger degree this can spell trouble for our physical health. Any medical professional will tell you that chronic or severe stress complicates recovery and has a directly negative impact on your health. Whether before surgery or in the days and weeks after surgery – high and frequent stress put you at risk.

Only you are in control of your thoughts and in turn the emotions that you will experience and even how your body may respond. The mind and the body are connected in an amazing way and your belief in “yourself” and in the healing process is important for your overall recovery. By taking an active approach to your healing and recovery, you become an important and active team member along with your surgeon and the other health professionals taking care of you.

It can be empowering to know that there are real, tangible ways for you to prepare for surgery and optimize your healing and recovery after return home. Even if you are challenged with an ongoing illness that you must still manage after surgery, there are valuable skills that you can learn that may help you cope better and help you live a full, active and engaged life.

The overall experience and outcome of surgery can be enhanced when you make the choice to take an active role in your healing and recovery. The stress of a diagnosis, an illness or injury, the impending surgery and the recovery process all can have a significant impact on your physical, psychological and social state. From the time a decision is made to have an operation until the recovery is complete, there are major physical and psychological processes that can either enhance or impede healing and recovery.

Your body is an incredible gift and it has within it the wisdom and power to influence your emotional and physical well-being. There is no such thing as failure…health and healing are a lifelong journey. There are times that the goal may not be for a cure or even for complete recovery. Instead, the rewards could come from discovering new aspects of life and your truest, most authentic self, from new lessons learned to the joy of facing difficult challenges, or from the deepening of relationships and the appreciation of the unique preciousness of your own life.

Whether you are dealing with an illness, preparing for surgery or concerned about your recovery, it is my hope that you would know that there is assistance available to guide you along your journey. If you would like to discuss any of the issues addressed above or if counseling before and after surgery may be right for you, please feel free to contact me for a consultation.

Want to learn how you can become an active partner in  your recovery process?

Call Now (346)-493-6181

Our brain was built for learning and survival. We have to teach it to be happy.

Ben Carrettin is a Nationally Board Certified Counselor (NCC), Licensed Professional Counselor-Supervisor (LPC-S) and Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor (LCDC). He is the owner of Practice Improvement Resources, LLC; a private business which offers an array of specialized counseling, evidenced-based clinical consultation, Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) and targeted ESI-based services to individuals and businesses.

Counseling Before and After Surgery

Organ Transplant

Counseling Organ Transplant Patients

Counseling for Organ Transplant Patients

Having trouble sleeping? Finding it hard to focus on anything else? Tensions building between you and your loved ones? Organ transplant surgery is an amazing life-extending medical marvel – it’s also a very taxing process; on you and your closest circle of supporters. Whether you are waiting for an organ donor match to come up or adjusting to the changes that follow – organ transplant surgery is both exciting and stressful. Each person will travel this journey a little differently, your
experience is personal and parts of it very unique to you. Counseling for organ transplant patients helps clients live their best life every day, before and after surgery.

But keep in mind that all surgery, especially organ transplant surgery, no matter how successful is still a traumatic experience for your body. And what affects the body also affects the mind – there’s an integrity of experience here that in it’s best condition keeps us grounded, clear and working towards keeping a healthy balance in life. It’s perfectly normal to experience a full spectrum of emotions and feelings – anxiety affects us all. If sleep problems, irritability, adjusting to new health requirements, poor memory or focus and intrusive worries are plaguing you – before or after transplant surgery – I’d like to help. Counseling with a seasoned, counselor who specializes in working with organ transplant and medical patients can make a big difference.

Your Reactions Are Normal, The Situation Is Not

Most people go through their lives not really giving a second thought to the stress associated with surgery; why would they? But all surgery – even your successful organ transplant – is a hardship and an intrusion to your body. Just because it helps doesn’t mean the experience isn’t difficult. Surgery is a traumatic experience for the body and it’s pretty common for your emotions and thoughts to respond to this as well. Anxiety before or after surgery is to be expected. For some patients this may be periodic and mild stress reactions. Others may experience, insomnia, panic attacks, relationship strains and more. It’s important to keep in mind that you are likely having normal reactions to an abnormal experience.

When facing a challenging period in your life, your positive and peaceful frame of mind can be one of the best preventative medicines. Here’s an example; stress often invokes the production of cortisol in the brain. While cortisol is a natural and necessary function – too much, too frequently can actually diminish your physical health. Being your healthiest you possible as you are preparing for your new liver or kidney or maintaining optimum physical health after your successful surgery are very important goals that you are facing. Not addressing the stress and anxiety you are experiencing actually puts a hardship on your health. To ensure your best outcomes – it’s extremely important to manage your anxiety as best you can.

How I Can Help You Now

In my practice I keep the counseling experience personal, pragmatic and applicable. I meet each person with compassion and always preserve their dignity. It’s a challenging journey and making the decision to do everything possible to come out ahead takes real courage. In our sessions you will learn how your brain and body respond to stress, gain concrete tools for reducing and managing your anxiety and practice skills that increase your focus and encourage a healthier and happier frame of mind as you transition through each stage of your organ transplant process.


I have been working with patients struggling to balance severe medical conditions, anxiety and depression for over twenty years. I work with patients and their family/loved ones who provide caregiver support. I am nationally board certified and a fully and independently licensed professional and perhaps more important to know is that I am very dedicated to my patients and the constant growth of my specialties; including counseling organ transplant patients.

Why Your Journey Matters To Me

More personally, I have been through several years of a progressive and debilitating illness before a successful surgery intervened. I understand personally the strain, fears and confusion that plague us as we face and deal with an illness, manage the relationships with our loved ones and adjust to life after surgery. That call, from deep inside that drives us towards a life where we can be healthy, be whole and live more fully in every precious day we have is one that I have heard and continue to answer.

The many years of seasoned professional experience, paired with the understanding that only comes from a shared experience, puts me in a unique position to be able to help my clients who are facing serious medical challenges. I pull from neurology, physiology, cognitive-behavioral therapy, solution-focused and brief therapy and even Eastern practices such as mindfulness when counseling transplant patients to help guide my clients through this life transition successfully.

If you have questions or would like to talk about whether this is a good fit for you (or one of your patients), please feel free to call me directly at 832-498-7071. I always offer a free, 20 minute phone consult and am happy to talk with you. You can also find loads of articles on an array of subjects on our blog at Live Better Live Now.

It’s a courageous and overwhelming path you are on. I’d like to help.

Call Now (346)-493-6181


Ben Carrettin is a Nationally Board Certified Counselor (NCC), Licensed Professional Counselor-Supervisor (LPC-S) and Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor (LCDC). He is the owner of Practice Improvement Resources, LLC; a private business which offers an array of specialized counseling, evidenced-based clinical consultation, Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) and targeted ESI-based services to individuals and businesses.

Cocaine & Stimulants

Cocaine and Stimulant Addiction

Counseling for Cocaine and Stimulant Addiction

Life will get hard at times; there is no doubt about it…how we as unique individuals cope during these dark times can make all the difference in the long game. Some people choose to turn to family or friends to help them through, some may engage in online “retail therapy”…then there are some of us turn to using illegal substances, such as cocaine or Adderoll, to curb depression, energize us or push us through during hard times. And in the moment, even though we know better, we may actually think it’s working. But ultimately, the drug takes over our lives, we lose the person we thought we were and more times than not, become addicted and unable to walk away on our own. The recovery path from cocaine and other stimulants is extensive and requires great motivation once they choose to get their lives back on track. Counseling with a seasoned, professional who specializes in cocaine and stimulant addiction can be a great help.

Sometimes it gets even more complicated when we have pursued relief from one stress not realizing we have added to another. For example, a client may be prescribed stimulant medications such as Adderoll if they suffer from ADHD with the goal of helping to treat their condition which may not be an issue if the medication is taken as prescribed. However, if prescription stimulants are taken in doses and in different manners other then prescribed by the physician, there can be complications. On the other hand there are other stimulants, such as cocaine, which wreck havoc on the brain and body no matter how it is ingested.

When stimulant substances are ingested there is a rapid increase in the release of dopamine in the brain and in a very amplified way. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter in the brain that is associated with pleasure, movement and attention. When stimulants are abused or too much is taken in at once, there will be disruption of the normal communication between the brain cells and the release of dopamine. There will be a notable increase in the release of dopamine causing individuals to feel a sense of euphoria…which they will enjoy and want to keep coming back too, which is what places them at risk for addiction. And here’s the kicker, the dopamine high of that first time can never be reached at that level again, but the addict will continue to chase it’s ghost in hopes that it can be reached. And so increases of use and frequency as well as combining with other substances is likely to follow.

Not only do stimulants produce feelings of euphoria, but they can cause other health effects that may lead to long-term complications, including:

Increased blood pressure
Increased heart rate
Increased body temperature
Decreased sleep
Decreased appetite (malnutrition)
Feelings of hostility
Stroke (if used in high enough doses)

Prescription stimulants, such as Adderal, are also often abused and taken in higher quantities or in different ways than they were prescribed. This is because these medications will suppress the appetite, increase wakefulness, and increase focus/attention. Most often they are abused for weight loss purposes or to enhance performance. College campuses are seeing a steady increase of problems with cocaine and stimulant addiction and abuse abuse by students hoping to stay awake and study longer. Prescription stimulants may also deliver feelings of euphoria which may, like cocaine, lead them to abuse the substances for recreational purposes…such as to “get high.”

Cocaine and stimulant addiction are very real and can occur in anyone that takes them, especially if they are without medical supervision or decide to take the stimulants in their own ways. If stimulants are abused long-term, individuals may begin to experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking the substance or are without it for a significant length of time. These symptoms may include: fatigue, depression, and disturbed sleep patterns. In addition, with long-term abuse of stimulants the individuals will have recurring drug cravings, loss of control of how much they take, and a desire to get the drug no matter what the consequences. Individuals who have been abusing or are addicted to cocaine of stimulants will require treatment for medical detox and continued counseling to help with the management of their addiction. It takes time to wean the body off of the substances and also to decrease the negative feelings and improve their overall well-being.


Counseling and ongoing support programs can be very helpful in this process and require different time commitments depending upon many factors including genetics/family history, what the individual has an addiction to, length of time and volume of use, their overall health and how resilient they are to cravings. It’s important to note that an ample amount of time will be needed to allow the brain to recover from how it has been changed physiologically while using the stimulant substance(s).

During detoxification the individual will experience great urges to find and consume more of the stimulant they were addicted to just from cues in their everyday environment that they may have associated with their drug intake. For that reason, relapse related to use of stimulant substances are fairly common. Even in individuals who ultimately recover and establish a long-term abstinence from abuse of stimulants, the persistent drug-using urges from their environment can trigger them to easily relapse either during treatment interventions or long afterwards.

Ultimately, cocaine and stimulant addiction should be taken very seriously and individuals can suffer life-threatening complications from the improper use and abuse of these substances. If you or your loved is struggling with a stimulant dependency or addiction it is never too late to seek help. Watching someone you love develop and lead a life that revolves around such a devastating habit can take a toll on all who are involved. With the right treatment, the right motivation, and great support you or your loved one can be on your way to discovering a healthy, happy and fulfilling life. Don’t let your addiction steal away any more of your life!

Call Now (346)-493-6181


Ben Carrettin is a Nationally Board Certified Counselor (NCC), Licensed Professional Counselor-Supervisor (LPC-S) and Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor (LCDC). He is the owner of Practice Improvement Resources, LLC; a private business which offers an array of specialized counseling, evidenced-based clinical consultation, Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) and targeted ESI-based services to individuals and businesses.