The Candid Counselor

Helping individuals overcome anxiety, depression, and life's issues

Dr. Julia Becker

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Licensed Psychologist
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Serving the greater Waco, TX area, including Woodway, Hewitt, Lorena, Bellmead, Robinson, and China Spring.

Are Halloween Costumes Offensive?

Posted by Dr. Becker Thursday, October 27, 2011 1 comments


Halloween Along with the traditional ghost, cartoon character, and princess costumes, you may see some different characters this year. Halloween costumes are supposed to be fun and humorous, but is there a line between funny and offensive for Halloween costumes?


Many people believe so, including some University of Ohio students.  These students are protesting costumes depicting people of different ethnicities, such as Japanese geishas, a Latino wearing a poncho and sombrero, and an Arab terrorist wearing a fake bomb.  Such costumes can promote stereotypes and hostilities against certain ethnic groups. 


Especially troubling is the new “sexy anorexia” costume, depicting a skeleton body with measuring tape around the waist and neck.  Making a joke of anorexia or depicting it as “sexy” sends the wrong message to girls and women.  This also fuels the general public’s misunderstanding of anorexia and other eating disorders. 


Children and teens may have strong emotional reactions to the Halloween costumes their peers wear to school.  Kids and teens already deal with the normal developmental tasks of trying to fit in and developing self-esteem.  At the same time, they may also be struggling with an eating disorder or discrimination based on their ethnicity.  Seeing their peers depict these issues in humorous Halloween costumes may cause feelings of shame, anger, sadness, or confusion.


However, these costumes can also provide an opportunity for people to start open conversations about eating disorders, discrimination issues, or any other concerns that the costumes may evoke.  Parents can take this opportunity to talk to their children after school and discover what their kids and teens think about these issues.


Please visit Becker Counseling and Psychological Services for more information.

What kind of stress management do you need?

Posted by Dr. Becker Thursday, October 20, 2011 0 comments


It’s no secret that we live in a high stress world.  Stress is not going to go away, but it can become more manageable.  Many people come into counseling with the goal of working on stress management.  They know that stress is a problem in their lives, but they do not fully understand how or why stress affects them.  When thinking about ways to manage your stress, consider the type of management you need.


For example, do you need to manage your reactions, your time, your habits, or your relationships?


Managing your Reactions:

Think about how you react to changes and stressful events.  Do you get anxious and upset? Do you tend to have a lot of negative thoughts, such as thoughts about how this event will negatively affect your future?  Do you have muscle tension and aches when you experience stress?  We can’t control everything that happens, but learning to manage our reactions to stress can improve overall health and wellbeing.


Managing your Time:

Sometimes simply making small changes to schedules can improve one’s sense of control and peace.  Other items, larger changes need to be made.  People are often overscheduled and overcommitted. Managing time may involve looking closely at your schedule and deciding what needs to be cut out.  Furthermore, when people are overscheduled, sleep is often the first thing that is sacrificed.  Not getting enough sleep can increase irritability and feelings of stress. 


Managing your Habits:

Behavior has a major influence on mood and health.  Not getting enough sleep, unhealthy eating, and not exercising are just a few of the habits that can lead to increased stress.  Employees who spend their lunch breaks working or surfing the web often feel more tension throughout the day than employees who take a brisk walk or go out to lunch with a friend.  Think about your daily activities.  What are all the small things you do that lead to increased stress?  What do you do that helps decrease your stress?


Managing your Relationships:

Think about all of your relationships and how they affect your mood.  Not having enough social support makes people more vulnerable to experiencing anxiety and depression.  Having close relationships that are high in conflict or emotionally draining also leads to feelings of stress.  Managing your relationships may involve developing new relationships, creating boundaries in existing relationships, and managing your emotional reactions to other people’s behavior. 


Please visit Becker Counseling and Psychological Services for more information.

What to do when your doctor says “It’s all in your head.”

Posted by Dr. Becker Wednesday, October 12, 2011 0 comments



It’s a common experience:  A patient goes to see the doctor about a physical problem such as  frequent stomachaches, chronic pain, or fatigue.  After some tests and appointments with a specialist, the doctor concludes that the problem is psychological, or “in your head.”


Patients may then asks themselves “What does this mean?  Is the doctor saying my symptoms are not REAL?  I know they’re real!”  This feeling of being misunderstood can lead to a shut down in the communication between doctor and patient.  The patient leaves the office silently, intent on finding a new doctor who will understand these physical symptoms.  Although the patient was given a referral for a counselor or psychologist, the patient promptly throws it away, certain that no psychologist could help with a physical problem.


Were the problems “real” or “psychological”?  The answer is not so simple.  Physical problems can have multiple causes, and can be “real” and emotionally based at the same time.  Psychological factors such as anxiety, stress, and depression cause real physical symptoms.  In recent years, research has demonstrated the powerful connection between the mind and the body.  Through this research, psychologists and physicians continue to discover specific ways that mental states affect physical functioning.  Research has shown that many physical problems are influenced by a person’s emotional state, including:

  • High blood pressure
  • Perception of pain
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Breathing problems
  • Migraine Headaches
  • Seizures
  • Immune system functioning

Furthermore, research has shown that psychological therapy produces positive changes in the brain that are detectable by medical tests such as a PET scan or MRI.  When the brain changes, the body can also change.  If your doctor has advised you to see a counselor, consider whether this may be useful to you.  Ask your doctor questions about why they think counseling will help you.  When in doubt, seek a second opinion.  Many people with psychologically based physical problems benefit from a combination of counseling and traditional medical treatments.  Your counselor can talk with you about how counseling can improve your physical problem.  Learning to manage stress and learning relaxation exercises are common approaches that counselors use to help people with physical problems.


Please visit Becker Counseling and Psychological Services for more information.