Categories
Addiction Recovery Anxiety & Stress Cancer & Medical Critical Incidents Death in Workplace Executive Social Intelligence First Responders Grief Life Transitions Survivors of Suicide Trauma and Post Traumatic Stress

Ben Carrettin – West Houston

Ben Carrettin, a seasoned professional in the mental health and addiction field since 1992, is the driving force behind Practice Improvement Resources, LLC. Under this umbrella, he has established two initiatives: Live Better Live Now and Texas Recovery Support. His extensive experience encompasses various settings, including private practice, intensive outpatient programs, partial hospitalization programs, full inpatient hospitalization and consultations for business and legal. He has served in several leadership positions in both business and healthcare.

Educationally, Carrettin holds an undergraduate degree in Psychology from the University of St. Thomas as well as a Masters in Clinical Psychology at Texas Southern University under a full scholarship. He is a Licensed Professional Counselor-Supervisor (LPC-S) in the State of Texas, a National Board Certified Counselor (NCC) and a National Board Certified Master Addiction Counselor (MAC). Additional credentials include Certified Anger Resolution Therapist (CART), Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM), advanced Cross-Cultural Communication with the Houston Language Cultural Centre and a sixteen week intensive program in pastoral care focusing on traumatic grief. 

Carrettin is also an Executive Social Intelligence (ESI) coach and consultant assisting leaders with a variety of issues from public speaking, organizational culture realignment, new hire screening as well as Voir Dire consultations for legal. He has also worked in healthcare business development and delivered specialized training for healthcare providers on topics such as social media and ethics.

Carrettin’s involvement extends beyond clinical practice; he actively participates in professional associations such as the Texas Society of Clinical Oncology (TxSCO), American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC) and NAADAC; the National Association for Addiction Professionals. He has served as the Clinical Director for a Medical Detox, Program Director for a concierge Residential Treatment Center and Federal and State Network Manager for a major managed care organization. Carrettin has also served on numerous community boards, school boards and task forces within Harris County, Ft Bend County, and the greater Houston area.

His expertise spans an array of specialized areas, including neurology/biology, positive psychology, epigenetics, cancer resilience, cross-cultural adjustment, addiction recovery, disaster response / critical incidents, medical trauma, micro expressions and nonverbal cues, organizational development, and workplace violence. Carrettin offers not only counseling services but also behavioral analysis and solution-oriented services for businesses and legal entities. This includes providing consultation on jury selection (Voir Dire), pre-hire assessments, strategic public speaking, organizational culture development, strategic management for new managers and workforce merge / transitions.

In his private practice located in Memorial / West Houston, Carrettin offers individual, couples, and family counseling, with a focus on cancer patients, pre and post organ transplant recipients, emergency response professionals, addiction recovery, post traumatic stress, complex grief, intercultural conflicts and challenging life transitions. His unique blend of academic background and training, practical and professional experience, and a fierce commitment to ongoing professional development ensures that his clients receive high-quality, comprehensive support tailored to their specific needs.

Ben Carrettin quote on importance of community
Community is important
Categories
Addiction Recovery Anxiety & Stress Cancer & Medical Grief Life Transitions Loss Survivors of Suicide Terminal Illness Uncategorized

Simple Buddhist Concepts for Recovery and Personal Growth

Many years ago a mentor of mine encouraged me to begin to explore simple Buddhist concepts for recovery and personal growth. That started me on a winding path of self discovery through Buddhist, Taoist and other Eastern philosophies that continue today. Below is a brief review of some simple concepts that aren’t typical in Western thought. Even so, they are growing in influence just as practices such as meditation and mindfulness have become more widely accepted.

Everyone experiences highs and lows throughout their lives. But not everyone’s story, self-image, or actions are a reflection of our hardest moments. As people, we are only defined by the current narrative we speak about ourselves and how we live it. Each and every day, we’re given the opportunity to grow and expand beyond what we always have been, allowing ourselves to unfold, heal, and release. If you’ve struggled at some point in your life or feel as if your past actions or choices have kept you from being the person you want to be in this world, following you will find a few key Buddhist practices that may help you achieve this. 

Suffering as Inevitable

All of us will experience pain and suffering, but ongoing suffering is at least partly, our own doing. One concept within Buddhism is that suffering can be overcome. This concept is the key to many intentions behind personal growth, whether you’re wanting to overcome suffering imposed upon you or suffering you impose upon others.

Suffering is an attachment to what is no longer wanted or wanted but no longer available. These may be negative experiences, thoughts or even emotions. When you allow yourself to continue to be attached to these experiences, you continue to empower them within your life. 

Learning to let go of this resistance in your life allows you to view these experiences in neutrality. This means not being swayed or affected by them in a hindering or diminishing way.

Suffering is also about perspective. If you are able to change your perspective of a painful experience, you may be able to dissolve the suffering surrounding it. Learning to find the positive in a situation, or even just the lesson learned, can help you find value in life’s darkest moments. 

Nothing Is Permanent

Life is always changing, flowing, and transforming. The same is true for people. As you move through time, you aren’t the same person as you were ten years ago, a year ago, or even an hour ago. Even if you aren’t aware of the subtle changes happening within you, they’re still happening. This concept can help you learn to release the past, which can sometimes dictate who you believe you are in the present moment. Also, viewing everything in life as temporary teaches you to enjoy the present moment for what it is, a gift. 

Live each moment as if it’s your last. Ask yourself, “what am I willing to let go of in order to embrace this moment?” How would you treat the people in your life? How would you view the world? Being present and allowing life to flow gives you a sense of freedom and empowerment. Stop allowing the past to dictate who you are and letting the fear of the future influence your present actions. 

Nothing Is Lost in The Universe

Everyone’s life has a purpose and experiences a variety of polarizing events. Some are wonderful, magically blissful, and others are painful, draining, and restricting. It’s easy to view these negative experiences as ‘wrong,’ but they are a part of your story, your history at this point. You cannot change them, but you can change from them. What you experience in life is just as important as the sun, the stars, and beyond. It doesn’t matter the life you’ve been dealt – why struggle against history? It matters what you do with it now. Your value is not condemned or diminished because of the failures you’ve experienced, how you’ve suffered or how far you’ve fallen. Your life has purpose. 

Even when you feel lost, some believe that you’re exactly where you need to be in order to awaken to the life lesson that you’ve been guided towards. Growth and expansion can only happen through change. Oftentimes, real change can only happen when you’re pushed out of your comfort zone or stripped from your attachments. (often resulting in suffering or loss.) Learn to look at life and all of the losses or disadvantages you perceive within your life, and recognize how they can motivate you, inspire you, or initiate a desire for positive change.

Embrace Your Life’s Journey

There isn’t a rule book for life and often no true guidance other than what other people have learned from their own experiences. Life isn’t meant to be perfected; there is no competition on who’s life is the greatest. Your life is unique, individual, and expansive. The journey you’ve walked may not look glamorous as someone else’s, but you’ll never truly know what they’ve experienced or gained from the life they’ve dealt with. 

There is meaning beyond the cycle of life and death. The impact and lessons we learn carry through all the lives we touch. That’s the promise if legacy; “plant the seeds even if you never see the trees they become”. Life isn’t perfect, and the lessons our souls crave can only be gained through experience. Learning to let go, accepting your past, and releasing resistance to any suffering you’ve experienced are achievements that few even choose to pursue. Be the exception! Remember that nothing is permanent; life is always changing and transforming. Rather than try to hold onto things that are changing, try instead to fully embrace the moment. Your life has meaning, you have worth! What you’ve experienced is invaluable and could likely have never been gained any other way than it already has.

Pain is inevitable, but suffering is, to some extent chosen. This doesn’t mean it’s your fault. It means you have the power within yourself to step out from the suffering and really live. We all need help with this from time to time in our lives. If you are suffering, get help; whether it be your physician, a professional counselor or someone else. To evolve and grow, it really does take a village. You don’t have to do it alone.

Categories
Anxiety & Stress Cancer Resilience Children & Grief First Responders Grief Life Transitions Loss Survivors of Suicide Terminal Illness

Emotional Support Animals in Texas

Emotional Support Animal Laws in Texas

Emotional Support Animals, sometimes referred to as ESAs, have special privileges in the State of Texas under federal laws; they are not considered pets.; they are assistance animals for people with mental and emotional health issues

Housing providers have to accommodate owners of emotional support animals free of charge as a necessity for their health condition. And, unlike typical pets, you don’t have to pay any extra deposits or fees for housing. Emotional Support Animals are also exempt from building policies regarding size or breed. 

These rights are given under the Fair Housing Act and guidance from the U.S. Department of Housing and apply to the State of Texas. 

Any domesticated animals can be kept as an ESA in the home, including dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, and yes…even sugar gliders and turtles! 

In this article, we’ll explain

How you can qualify for an emotional support animal in Texas. 

And, if you qualify,

How you can apply to receive a valid ESA Letter from a healthcare professional (*licensed in Texas) that you can use to secure accommodation for your emotional support animal.

Quick Review of Emotional Support Animal Laws in Texas

Assistance animals have rights under various laws, including the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Both are federal laws that apply to every state in the U.S., including Texas

The ADA governs service animals that have highly specialized training to assist people with both physical or mental disabilities. *Emotional support animals, however, are not the same as psychiatric service dogs. ESAs do not need special training and provide comfort for those experiencing mental or emotional distress just by being present around their owners. 

Emotional support animal owners have rights under the federal Fair Housing Act, which mandates that landlords reasonably accommodate tenants who require an assistance animal. 

Texas Emotional Support Animal Housing Laws Allow ESAs to Live with Their Owners Without Additional Fees.

If you own an emotional support animal, have valid documentation and reside in Texas, you do have certain RIGHTS for housing that protect you from discrimination due to your mental or emotional disability-related need for an assistance animal. 

  1. Housing providers such as landlords, condos, co-ops, and HOAs must reasonably accommodate ESAs, even if the building has an outright ban on pets. 
  2. ESAs are exempt from normal pet policies. That means restrictions on size, weight and breed of pets do not apply to emotional support animals. 
  3. ESA owners also do not have to pay any additional fees (including application fees) or deposits to live with their ESA. 

However, there are LIMITATIONS to these rights

  1. An emotional support animal must be domesticated and well-behaved. This means that you cannot bring a wild or aggressive animal into an apartment, etc. 
  2. Your ESA also can’t pose any health or safety hazard to other residents. 
  3. Some small housing providers are exempt from having to follow ESA rules, such as owner-occupied buildings with no more than four units and single-family houses sold or rented by the owner without the use of an agent. 
  4. In addition, you cannot bring your emotional support animal into your new home unannounced and expect everyone in a no-pet housing complex will comply. You must submit a request for accommodation to your landlord in advance and provide a copy of your ESA letter. 

It’s important to make sure that you have the right documentation for your emotional support animal. Most landlords in Texas are fully aware of what constitutes a valid proof for an emotional support animal.

*Landlords have every right to validate if you have a true emotional support animal by requesting an ESA letter from you

Qualifying for an ESA Letter in Texas

To have a legally recognized emotional support animal in Texas, you will need an ESA letter from a healthcare professional who is licensed in Texas. 

  1. You can request one from your current healthcare professional who is providing services for your mental health. 

OR

  1. You can also reach out to this counselor and apply online for an ESA Letter without having to leave your home.

What Happens Next?

First, the licensed healthcare professional will determine if you have a mental or emotional health disability that substantially limits a major life activity

Qualifying conditions include:

PTSD, anxiety, depression, phobias, autism, and learning disorders. 

Second, the healthcare professional will assess whether an emotional support animal can help alleviate the symptoms of that particular mental or emotional health disability. 

Pretty simple, right? (I told you it wouldn’t be as hard as you might think)

So, How Do I Get Started ?

Just call our number and leave the following. An application packet will be emailed to you and you will not be charged for the service unless you are approved. If approved, an original copy letter will be mailed to your physical residence.

Information we need to get started:

  1. your full legal name, 
  2. city in Texas where you live, 
  3. preferred phone number for contact (in case healthcare provider requires) and 
  4. a personal email where the application documents may be sent. 

(*all info must be that of the owner of the animal/s applied for)

Just Remember

If you’re a Texas resident, your ESA rights require that you have a legitimate ESA letter from a healthcare professional that is licensed in Texas.

man sitting at table with hand on face

Struggling with Mental/Emotional Health or Addiction in Houston?

Categories
Anxiety & Stress Cancer & Medical Children & Grief ESA - Emotional Support Animals First Responders Grief Loss Survivors of Suicide Terminal Illness

13 Facts Every ESA Owner in Texas Should Know

13 Facts Every ESA Owner in Texas Should  Know

On January 28th, 2020, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued new guidance regarding Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) in housing. 

(*This is a very important development for owners of ESAs and it is the first comprehensive update to ESA housing rules made since 2013.)

13 Facts Every Current or Potential Owner of Emotional Support Animals (ESA) in Texas Should Know

  1. Dogs, cats, small birds, rabbits, hamsters, other rodents and even turtles can be ESAs.
  1. Landlords are required to engage in interactive dialogue with tenants about ESA requests.
  1. ESA requests can be made orally or in writing (ESA Letter will still be required for approval)
  1. Tenants can make an ESA request before or after acquiring their ESA Letter
  1. HUD confirms that landlords are not allowed to refuse based on breed/weight restrictions.
  1. Landlords are prevented from being able to charge fees and deposits for ESAs.
  1. Landlords are expected to respond to ESA requests promptly, and at least within 10 days.
  1. Landlords cannot require your healthcare professional to use a specific form for their ESA Letter
  1. Landlords cannot request sensitive details about the tenant’s condition (your privacy protected)
  1. HOAs and Co-Ops are also subject to ESA rules
  1. Tenants can use the help of third-parties to care for their ESAs
  1. Registrations and licenses are NOT legitimate ways to qualify an ESA
  1. ESA letters can come from online health professionals (must be licensed in your State)

All current and prospective owners of ESAs in Texas should become familiar with these new rules which are now in effect and replace the 2013 rules.

 

Need other Emotional Health or Addiction Recovery services? 

Categories
Alcohol Anxiety & Stress Grief Life Transitions Loss Survivors of Suicide Terminal Illness Uncategorized

5 Warning Signs of Depression

Depression is one of the most common mental health conditions in the world. That said, the signs of depression can vary for everyone. Some people might experience more severe symptoms. Others might be “high-functioning” with their depression. Knowing the signs of depression can help you determine when it might be time to get some help.

Despite some of the differences, there are a few warning signs of depression to be aware of. You may not be experiencing full-fledged symptoms yet, or you might be noticing that you feel a bit “off.”

Understanding some of these warning signs early on will make it easier to seek out help sooner. As a result, you can take control of your depression and manage your symptoms more effectively.

Let’s take a look at a few of the most common warning signs of depression.

1. Your Outlook Has Changed

One of the most common symptoms of depression is a feeling of hopelessness. If you’ve noticed that you have started to see things in a negative light, or your mood is more “down” than usual, it could be an early sign of depression.

Keep in mind that everyone feels sad and down from time to time. But, if it’s persistent and those feelings don’t seem to go away, it may be something more.

2. Physical Signs

While depression is a mental health condition, there are physical signs to watch for, too.

Some of the most common symptoms of depression are changes in sleep patterns or eating habits. If you’ve started to notice some of those changes, consider why they might be happening. Are they connected to how you feel?

3. A Loss of Interest

Do you find yourself not wanting to do things you usually enjoy? It’s normal to want some alone time or to relax. However, if you’re always backing out of something you typically love, it could be a warning sign of depression. That’s especially true if those things usually bring you happiness.

4. Pulling Away From Loved Ones

In addition to losing interest in interests, another potential warning sign is withdrawing from the people in your life.

Have you said “no” to spending time with family and friends lately? When was the last time you talked to someone you love? Withdrawal is a common sign of depression, often linked with feelings of hopelessness or even fatigue.

5. Changes in Your Emotions

It’s not uncommon for emotions to fluctuate throughout the day. But, depression can take those emotions to the extreme. If you feel sad one minute and angry the next, to the point where it causes an irritable outburst, it’s likely more than just your “typical” emotions coming through.

People with depression also sometimes experience feelings of anxiety. Fear can be overwhelming, and you might feel as though it’s taking over every aspect of your life if you don’t find a way to fight against it.

If you feel like you are losing control over your emotions, or they’re controlling you, it’s essential to understand why as soon as possible.

What’s the Next Step?

Again, the warning signs of depression can be different for everyone. But, the signs listed here are relatively common. If you’re struggling with this condition, you’re likely to display at least one of them.

Thankfully, depression isn’t only one of the most common mental health conditions; it’s also one of the most manageable. If you’re experiencing any of these warning signs, even if you’re not sure why, feel free to contact me to set up an appointment or visit my page about Heart Disease and Depression.

Together, we can work out the underlying cause(s) of why you might be feeling this way. Once we understand that root cause better, we can work on a management plan to help you control those depressive thoughts and symptoms.

Categories
Grief Survivors of Suicide Uncategorized

Grief After Suicide: How to Make Sense of the Process

When someone you love commits suicide, the most difficult thing to wrap your mind around is often making sense of the whole process.

Survivors of suicide often have a difficult time dealing with the fact that their loved one is gone. Moreover, grief after suicide can be overwhelming. It can cause intense feelings of guilt, confusion, pain, and so much more.

Unsurprisingly, grief after suicide is often more difficult than when someone passes away naturally. Mostly, because it often comes with so many unanswered questions as well as an unexpected death.

So, how can you deal with grief after a suicide, and start to make sense of the process?

Understand the Stages of a Survivor

Suicide is traumatic for everyone involved. If someone close to you has decided to end their life, it will usually come as a shock. It’s important that you learn how to deal with the process, so you can eventually find peace and healing.

Many suicide survivors can fall into depression—usually stemming from self-driven feelings of guilt. You may start to think you could have done something differently to help your loved one.

Some survivors of suicide even begin to feel responsible for the untimely death of their loved one. As imagined, this type of processing can be dangerous, leading you to think suicidal thoughts as well.

It’s not uncommon for people to start feeling an extreme anger bubble up. They might be angry at the person who committed suicide. Or, they might direct that anger toward other people (or themselves).

Nevertheless, this is another frequent part of the process of healing. Because of the overwhelming force of these emotions, it’s helpful to know what to expect in grief.

Things like denial, shock, a loss of faith, and extreme grief are all often part of the process when someone commits suicide. This process might look different for everyone. Yet, it’s important to know how to get through it.

How to Deal With Grief After Suicide

When you’re trying to make sense of suicide, the most important thing to remember is that you don’t have to go through it alone.

There are many helpful options available. Depression counseling can be very helpful for someone dealing with grief after suicide, for example.

With counseling, you can work through the various stages of grief— from denial to acceptance, and everything in between. A counseling can help you navigate those complicated emotions.

As mentioned before, you may begin to notice symptoms of depression. Affecting your emotional, physical, or mental health, depression counseling can also help you to manage those symptoms.

Lean on Others for Support

Sadly, a suicide happens about every 40 seconds. For this reason, there are many support groups to help loved ones manage the traumatic experience.

Participating in one of these support groups can make a big difference. It’s important to connect with people who have similar, shared experiences.

Also, groups such as these make it easier to open up about your struggles and the kind of grief you’re dealing with. And the support and participation don’t end simply when you “feel okay” again.

People who have been through the process of suicide are often the most helpful to others who are struggling. You can “pay it forward” to others by sharing your story and giving helpful advice on how to move forward.

Perhaps you’re dealing with anger, shame, denial, or depression after your loved one took their life. Please, know that you don’t have to go through this alone. Support is here.

With professional help, you can move forward with your life.

If you have lost a loved one to suicide, please contact me today for support. Or, visit here to learn more about how I can help you.

Categories
Survivors of Suicide

Survivors of Suicide

Survivors of Suicide – SOS

Losing a loved one to suicide is very painful and leaves lasting consequences for the people who are left behind; the survivors of suicide. Suicide is a highly traumatic event and there are many consequences and effects that the survivors of suicide might experience.

Depression

Depression, sadness and grief are reactions that might occur after any loss, however, they might be felt more strongly after a loss by suicide. The person might feel crushed by feelings of guilt, shame and worthlessness, as they might feel a degree of responsibility for the suicide.
Depression and grief can be felt very strongly. A person might develop suicidal ideas and ideas that they might rejoin their loved ones by committing suicide. The pain is very strong, so it could be a good idea to reach out to mental health professionals and work with the grief in a more secure setting. Professional help might be especially needed if there are suicidal ideas.

Anger

Anger is another emotion that appears after a loss, but might be felt more strongly in a loss by suicide. The suicide survivor might feel anger at the person who committed suicide, but also at themselves, at other people (parents, friends, mental health professional, school authorities, etc.) who did not prevent the suicide. This is an emotion that is related to the grieving process.

Trauma and shock

The person may experience the after-effects of shock and trauma. It’s even possible to develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, for which counseling and therapy might be needed. The effects might be linked to flashbacks, nightmares, excessive adherence or obsession with anything related to the person who committed suicide or related to suicide and that pose severe limitations of the person’s life, hope for the future and relationships.

Denial

A possible first reaction to the situation is denial. The person might seemingly have a very subdued emotional reaction, not recognize what has happened or refuse to accept that it was a suicide. This reaction is usually a defense mechanism to protect a person’s mind from the shock and trauma, however, if the denial lasts for a long time, it can prevent the grieving process and lead to serious consequences. Denial might be expressed in different ways, for example, not crying or not getting angry, not touching the things or the room of the person who committed suicide, not visiting the grave, refusing help and refusing to talk about the situation for a long time. Denial might be a part of the grieving process, however, if denial does not give way to other reactions, it might seriously affect the person.

Guilt (the G word)

Guilt is commonly misidentified as a reaction among suicide survivors. Individuals might feel that they could have done more to prevent the suicide or that it was their fault that the person made that choice. But in truth, looking to ourselves for fault is an attempt to make sense or find a cause for the the senseless. Often times, the reason(s) is never fully revealed to anyone left behind. It is important to work with this emotion, because it can lead the person to act in self-destructive ways or to develop a strong depression.

Crisis of faith

This is a reaction that religious suicide survivors might experience. They might have a strong crisis and seek answers about why did someone close to them committed suicide or why their faith did not prevent what happened. The person might also feel anxious and worried about ideas related to suicide and hell or punishment. Some individuals might feel more drawn to religion for support in their grief, however, religious practices often do not substitute grief counseling.

Stigmatization by the community and blaming others

The aftermath of a suicide can be a difficult time, however, it can be made worse by the reactions other people have. Others might blame the person for allowing the suicide to happen or dismiss the reactions the person have. They might also discuss sensitive topics in an insensitive manner, for instance, saying that the person who committed suicide is surely in hell or that they were weak, in more extreme cases. Others might blame the family and friends and consider them to be dysfunctional or mentally ill as well. These reactions can worsen the state of the suicide survivor, especially if the person already feels guilty or responsible for what happened. In the aftermath of a suicide, some people might engage in finding someone or something to blame so as not to feel guilty, for example, family members might blame the friends or visa versa. This is usually not a constructive approach, as it often has to do with denial and with ignoring the pain different people are feeling at this time.

Seeking support and offering support

Individuals who are reeling from the loss of a loved one by suicide might look for support groups and communities where they can share their story with others who have had similar experiences. It’s a healthy way of coping with the situation, to be supported by others who can be truly empathetic, and to learn ways to move through the grief. Other individuals might choose to continue to participate in these groups to help others with their grieving process and make new support networks. Working a seasoned grief counselor who specializes in working with survivors of suicide can also be extremely helpful.

One last thought

There are many difficult stages to the grieving process after the loss of a loved one and many different ways to grieve. A suicide can be shocking, unexpected and more difficult to deal with than other types of losses. The person might feel guilty, angry and sad, experiencing many negative emotions and living through very difficult times. However, it’s possible to have a grieving process that will allow the person to move forward with their life, especially if the process is done with professional help and support.

image

Ben Carrettin is a nationally board certified and licensed professional counselor who specializes in traumatic loss; including working with the loved ones of someone who has commit suicide. He is a lay chaplain with advanced training in pastoral care as well as in many therapeutic processes that help to guide you through your own unique and personal, grief journey.

If you or someone you know has lost a loved one and is hurting right now. Please know, support is here.

Call Now (346)-493-6181