What I Can Help With
Alcohol & Drug Counseling
"Teleconferencing now available anywhere in the U.S.A as well as local Office Appointments"
We can accommodate almost any schedule
Counseling or therapy can very well be one of the most rewarding and helpful things you can do for yourself. Unfortunately, in many parts of society, there is still a stigma attached to seeking help for a problem that is behavioral, emotional, or related to substance abuse or addictions. The stigma is particularly strong with substance abuse because so many people really do not understand what is involved and mistakenly believe that a person ought to be able to stop if he really wants to. They simply do not understand all of the intricacies of a substance abuse problem/addiction. Furthermore, the person having the problem often has the same viewpoint and ends up viewing himself as either weak, incompetent, helpless, hopeless, all of the above, or something else inappropriate.
Alcohol and drug counseling is like any other medical intervention. Fundamentally you are dealing with a disease process. A lot of people do not believe that, but they are simply misinformed or misguided in their judgments. Substance abuse and addiction is as much a disease like diabetes or cardio-pulmonary disease. In many ways, it functions like cancer, and many professionals see addiction as a cancer of the mind, body, and spirit. The difference is that someone with diabetes or cardio-pulmonary disease is not judged harshly or assigned some major character defects. Unfortunately, many people see substance abuse and addiction as some kind of moral weakness, some type of personality disorder, or something else totally inaccurate. They do not realize that it is a product of liver dysfunction and primary brain dysfunction. A person who has abused substances for a significant period of time experiences damage in almost every part of his body and certainly in every part of his life. Yet because of some antiquated social beliefs, norms, and values, many people keep trying to deal with it on their own, and they reinforce their own sense of powerlessness each time they fail.
Often times, many years go by before a person seeks professional help. It simply does not have to be this way. Think about it. If you have an abscessed tooth, you see a dentist. If you have flu or flu-like symptoms, you see a doctor. Even if there is something wrong with your car or your plumbing, you will most likely seek professional help to solve the problem. When it comes to substance abuse or addiction, however, people resist getting assistance because they mistakenly believe they ought to be able to handle it on their own. Substance abuse/addiction can have such a thorough and devastating effect on all parts of a person’s life that dealing with it alone is next to impossible. Substance abuse/addiction affects people physiologically, biochemically, psychologically, and emotionally. There will often be problems with family and friends as well as with work and finances. It really does affect every aspect of a person’s life. Anyone who has seen someone struggle with substance abuse/addiction for any length of time knows this to be true.
Chances are if you are reading this article and wondering if you have a substance abuse/addiction problem, there is some probability that you do or that you might at least be headed in that direction. A good counselor/therapist can help you answer any questions that you may have. The earlier you make contact, the better.
As with any disease, the earlier you begin treatment, the more likely it is that the treatment will be successful. If the therapeutic process begins early enough, sometimes just identifying where you are in the process, getting some new information, and making some simple adjustments can reverse the destructive pattern that a person may be in.
A good counselor/therapist can help you determine not only where you are in the process, but what treatments are available and what you can do to resolve any problems before they get worse.
Working with a counselor/therapist does not have to come, as too many people believe, after one “hits rock bottom.” The best time to contact a therapist is after the first indicators suggest that there might be a problem. Indicators may come from family members, close friends, co-workers, or other associates. Other indicators may come from your own sense that things just haven’t felt right for a while, and your use of substances has increased significantly. If there are some indicators, then it is time to make contact with a good counselor/therapist. In a relatively short period of time, a good counselor/therapist should be able to help you understand your relationship with alcohol/substances, what role it plays in your life and what you can do to halt any destructive patterns. Too often, people wait years to initiate the therapeutic process only after experiencing either some long sense of failure, negative self-esteem, worthlessness, hopelessness, desperation, or all of the above. Too often, they must experience a traumatic event or a series of traumatic events before they seek professional help. This is so unnecessary and sad not only for the person who is suffering but also for all the people surrounding the person with a substance abuse/addiction problem.
If you think that you or someone you know might have a problem with substance abuse or addiction, go ahead and get the information you need as quickly as possible from a qualified counselor/therapist. At the very least you won’t have to guess. You will be able to identify if, in fact, there is a problem and what you can do to resolve it. Here at Side By Side Counseling, we use cognitive, emotional and behavioral therapies which will give you overall improved coping skills, stress management skills, anger management skills, communication skills, and other lifestyle skills to ensure that you make any necessary adjustments so that you can have the quality of life to which you are entitled. Here at Side By Side Counseling, we deal with substance abuse and addiction holistically because it affects every aspect of your life, including your family, friends, coworkers, and associates.
We offer individual, family, couples, and group therapy, and we even offer our clients a 30-minute consultation that is free of charge so that we can answer any basic questions they may have. The suggestion I always make to people who contact me is to get any questions answered for yourself before they get answered for you by someone like an employer or an estranged spouse or even by some major trauma or catastrophe. Sadly, all too often, that is the case.
Therapy can help you make more informed decisions about what is best for you and how to achieve the quality of life that you have always wanted. Please feel free to contact us here at Side By Side Counseling should you have any concerns or questions.
Michael G. Morris CDWIE, CRT, LCAS
Therapy for Depression, Anxiety & Other Mental Health Disorders (COVID or other)
Mental Health Disorders generally fall into three categories:
Here at Side By Side Counseling, we have dealt mostly with substance-induced mood disorders and mood disorders that are made worse by the use of substances. Most people who have a substance abuse disorder, whether they know it or not, have a coexisting disorder like depression or anxiety. If a client is aware of a coexisting disorder, we work very closely with their medical doctor to coordinate treatment and to mitigate or remove as many symptoms as possible. If a client is not aware of a coexisting disorder and a coexisting disorder is diagnosed, we will work closely with the client to choose a good medical doctor who will coordinate treatment on a regular basis.
The main goal here is to serve the client’s multiple needs and reach the best therapeutic result possible. The use of cognitive-emotional behavioral therapy here at Side By Side has been very effective by itself and even more so when working with a medical doctor because the client receives more thorough and consistent treatment. The time period of that treatment is going to vary from client to client. Typically people with substance abuse/addiction disorders, along with a coexisting disorder, will be in treatment for several months to a year or more.
Some of the benefits of cognitive-emotional behavioral therapy include improved self-esteem and overall quality of life, better communication skills, enhanced stress or anger management, and other lifestyle coping skills.
This is done by helping clients identify and uncover unconscious determinants of behavior, explore and uncover cognitive distortions and learn to be more conscious and to use more rational thinking.
Desensitization skills can be used to deal with irrational fears. Fundamentally clients learn to do things differently and more appropriate to their needs by making healthier choices instead of reacting. The amount of techniques and skills that can be learned from a good counselor/therapist who is proficient at cognitive-behavioral emotional therapy is tremendous.
I have been using these skills for over 30 plus years, and I have felt privileged to be a part of helping people change their lives for the better. We offer very professional and highly confidential services in a relaxed, comfortable environment. Should you suffer from any kind of anxiety, depression or mood disorder, whether it is substance abuse related or not, please feel free to give us a call and set up a free consultation to determine whether treatment here at Side By Side is something you would like to investigate further. We look forward to hearing from you and working with you in whatever capacity you might need. Professional help can make sure that you do not waste months or years in misery, have a severely diminished capacity to enjoy life, or remain stuck in an extremely poor quality of life. We will work with you to help you reach the quality of life you deserve. We will provide that treatment ourselves and/or coordinate that treatment with other health professionals, social workers, or other professionals to ensure that you don’t just endure life, but that you enjoy it.
Michael G. Morris CDWIE, CRT, LCAS
ALL Court Ordered Assessments
This would include DWI Assessments, Substance Abuse & Anger Management Assessments.
The staff here at Side By Side Counseling is very aware of and sensitive to the stress and frustration that people experience once they become involved with the criminal justice system. Often it seems like a long, drawn-out, complex maze of negative consequences, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be that way. Whether you need a DWI assessment or substance abuse assessment, we here at Side By Side will do everything we can to make that process as simple, understandable, and comfortable as possible.
People often wonder whether there is a difference between a DWI and a substance abuse assessment, and essentially the assessment itself involves no differences.
The assessment requires, by the statute of the state of North Carolina, that a person have a standardized test and an interview with a certified clinical addiction specialist or a substance abuse counselor. In the case of a DWI, treatment recommendations must follow state-mandated requirements that take into account the number of DWI charges, breathalyzer results, or other mitigating factors.
Side By Side Counseling is fully credentialed in the state of North Carolina as well as the nation to provide assessment and treatment services to the public. The assessment is done in a very relaxed and professional environment, and it is done in a manner in which all of your questions can be answered.
We will work closely with the District Attorney’s office or with your own attorney if you have one as well as any probation officer that may be involved. We have been serving this community for over twenty years, and we have an excellent reputation for making this potentially difficult process much more manageable. We offer individual, couples, family, and group therapy.
The client will receive alcohol and drug counseling, relapse prevention planning, and any other therapeutic services necessary or desired, including coping strategies and behavior modification. The overall approach is cognitive/emotional/behavioral therapy for whatever issues may be involved, including those unrelated to the actual charge. We make a serious effort to meet all the needs of our clients, not just those related to the judicial system.
Please feel free to contact us to make an appointment or to get further information. Once you make that phone call, we will take care of all correspondence with the judicial system, attorneys, district attorneys, probation officers, and the state of North Carolina to ensure the successful completion of any state requirements.
Basically, we really do help you take care of everything from beginning to end.
Marriage, Family & Couples Counseling
Marriage, family, and couples counseling can be extremely rewarding, and most people find it enjoyable on some level. With the divorce rate approaching 60% in the last several years, it is one of the most needed counseling services in the country. Some might even say that it addresses one of the most important problems facing our country. Unfortunately, most people do not seek professional help for their marriage, family, or other significant relationships. They might fear being labeled or falling prey to some inaccurate, social judgment. Another reason people do not get help is that they have endured the problem for so long that they begin to experience a sense of helplessness or a belief that nothing can really change, even with professional help. All too often, people endure the hurt, pain, isolation, and overall sadness that goes along with an unhappy or dysfunctional relationship for way too long, and it just simply does not have to be this way. Marriage, family, and couples counseling can help people make tremendous strides in a relatively short period of time by getting new information, learning new behavioral and communication skills, or simply by having someone give them a perspective other than the ones in which they have become stuck or rooted.
Certainly, there are inappropriate and dysfunctional patterns that emerge in relationships. Long term, these difficulties can result in behavioral, emotional, psychological, and even physical problems. Interpersonal dynamics can become habituated to the point where they are still being used despite their ineffectiveness. One of the most basic problems involves communication. Marriage, family, and couples' problems are primarily rooted in communication difficulties. So many of the problems in all relationships are fundamentally rooted in poor communication skills. The fact that families, couples, and people simply give up and stop communicating as often or as intimately as they once did sheds light on why there are so many troubled relationships in the world. It is sad because so much can be accomplished when people begin to understand what the other person or people in the relationship really are feeling. Understanding, or at least acknowledging, another’s thoughts and feelings is typically where marriage, couples, and family therapy begins.
Getting started with therapy doesn’t have to be difficult. It doesn’t necessarily require a lot of hard work. A good counselor/therapist can help couples or families make tremendous strides with some very simple techniques, such as making eye contact. When people make eye contact, they tend to talk to each other rather than at each other. It is something that can take just moments to master. Another valuable skill is using “I” statements rather than “you” statements. “I” statements can more clearly define and share one’s own awareness and feelings, whereas “you” statements can be experienced as some kind of attack. Nobody enjoys being told what they think or feel, particularly if it is inaccurate.
By getting the individuals to focus on their own experience and share appropriately without placing blame or making some decision about who is right or wrong, a good counselor/therapist can help clients avoid one of the most common problems in relationships, and that is playing “the blame game.”
Most people would really be surprised, and some may be in fact amazed, by the number of relationships that have been saved simply by getting new or more accurate information about each other’s experience, learning a few simple communication techniques or just by establishing a time period in which no negatives are discussed. Certainly, not all problems are going to be systemically cleared by using some of these simple techniques, but they are an integral part of getting couples and families started.
Here at Side By Side, one of the main goals is to get families or couples involved in elevating their level of accountability to a sense of “us” rather than a sense of “me vs. you.” This can take some time, but it is a fundamental shift in the dynamics between the people, and ultimately they end up seeing each other as something greater than themselves which can take them to levels of joy, happiness and even excitement and adventure that they would not have been able to accomplish alone. It is well known that as a species, we do better in the overall quality of our lives in relationships than we do as individuals. It is also well known that if two people share a common commitment toward a mutual goal, they can accomplish more success, more happiness, and better overall experiences than is possible alone.
Couples and families can do a lot in a short period of time simply by learning new communication styles, exploring behavioral dynamics, learning stress management or other coping skills, or evaluating each one’s own wants, needs, and aspirations. Most people, once they understand what the experience is like for the others involved, will begin working together as a unit to bring about the desired result with the ultimate result being that the family or couple is more important and has more potential for good than any individual on his or her own.
Here at Side By Side Counseling, we work very closely with family members and couples to get them to elevate their own individual and mutual awareness, to improve their communication skills and to change the behavior patterns back to the level of intensity and intimacy that occurred when they were first drawn together.
It happens here all the time, and that is why I share with my patients that it does not have to be an ordeal to get a family or couple back to an increased level of intimacy, a sense of enjoyment or peace with one another or even a sense of excitement and adventure for the new things to come. If you are serious about saving your relationships, get in touch with a good counselor/therapist. You may want to interview several. Most good counselors/therapists will give you a free consult so that you can determine whether or not there is a connection and a good possibility that you can work together to move forward and resolve whatever issues there may be. We have always done that here at Side By Side Counseling, and we look forward to working with you in whatever capacity you may need.
Michael G. Morris CDWIE, CRT, LCAS