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.

Should You Make New Year’s Resolutions?

Posted by Dr. Becker Thursday, December 29, 2011 1 comments


NewYears There’s something about the new year that fills us with hope and a sense of possibility.  This new beginning inspires many people to make New Year’s resolutions.  Often these resolutions are changes that people have thought of throughout the year, and even changes they have tried to make in the past.


Many people make the same resolutions each year, and they fail to keep these resolutions year after year. One reason people don’t keep their resolutions is because they get discouraged.  People who experience repeated failures can develop a sense of helplessness and doubt in their ability to succeed.  They may start to interpret setbacks as failures, rather than as obstacles to overcome.


Tips to making (and keeping) your New Year’s resolutions:


1. Think about what you can realistically accomplish. Making changes will take both time and effort.  Consider your other responsibilities, available time, and energy level as you make your resolutions.


2. Think in terms of behaviors, not just end results. If your goal is to lose weight, the end result is your goal weight.  The behaviors related to this goal may be the decision to exercise three times a week, eating out once a week or less, and planning healthy meals each week.  


3. Set smaller goals and monitor your progress.  Breaking the task into smaller steps will help you stay motivated, help you feel less overwhelmed, and give you a sense of accomplishment as you complete each step.  For example, if your goal is to write a book by the end of the year, give your self deadlines for chapters or for number of pages to complete.


4. Predict potential challenges, and decide in advance how you will deal with them.  Making major changes is a difficult task, and you will face setbacks along the way.  Setbacks will be easier to overcome if you have already planned how you will deal with them. 


5. Decide who you will rely on to help you meet your goal.  This may be a supportive friend, a personal trainer, mentor, or teacher.  Having social support, accountability, and professional expertise can mean the difference between success and failure.


6. Consider getting assistance from a professional counselor.  For many people, self-doubt and fear of failure are major roadblocks to success.  A counselor can help people overcome these feelings in order to reach their goals. 


Please visit Becker Counseling and Psychological Services for more information.

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year…Or is it?

Posted by Dr. Becker Thursday, December 15, 2011 0 comments


christmas_shopping If you have listened to the radio during the Christmas season, you probably heard many songs proclaiming how joyful this season is, including the song “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.”


For many people, Christmas is a time filled with mixed emotions, including sadness, anxiety, and grief.  These feelings can be increased by the expectation that people are supposed to be happy around the holidays.  A person experiencing sadness or anxiety may have feelings of loneliness and shame as they think that everyone else is so joyful at this time.


People may have increased sadness and during holiday seasons for several reasons, including:

  • Grief reactions: The pain of losing a loved one becomes more pronounced during the holidays.  Even happy holiday memories involving deceased loved ones may cause bittersweet emotions.
  • Expectations: Holidays carry certain expectations, including expectations to participate in holiday events, expectations regarding gift giving, and expectations that people should be joyful.
  • Worry about spending time with family: Unresolved family issues and dysfunctional communication patterns cause added stress during the holiday season. 
  • Money problems: The expectation to give gifts to family and friends can be stressful for someone who is experiencing financial problems.  Believing that you have to “keep up” with others and spend a certain amount of money adds to this feeling of stress.

How to deal with holiday blues:

  • Recognize that other people are experiencing these feelings too.  Give yourself permission to feel sad, and let go of the expectation that you have to be joyful because it’s the holiday season.
  • Let yourself experience some joys of the season that are meaningful to you.  Do you have a favorite holiday tradition? Consider participating in those traditions that bring happiness. Even if you are depressed, you may still feel some joy while participating in these activities.
  • Say no to holiday activities that bring stress and sadness.  You do not have to attend every party or every family holiday activity.  Know your limits and plan accordingly.
  • Plan a gift budget and stick to it.  Long after the holiday have passed, your credit card bills will still affect your life.  Is it worth it?  If finances are a big concern, consider handmade gifts or give the gift of time—plan a special activity with family or friends.
  • Set boundaries regarding family interactions. Decide in advance how you want to respond to dysfunctional communication patterns and behavior.  Plan opportunities to relax and separate from your family if your stress level increases.

Please visit Becker Counseling and Psychological Services for more information.

OCD does not stand for “Organized and Clean Disorder”

Posted by Dr. Becker Thursday, December 1, 2011 0 comments


“Is it you, me, or OCD?”  This is the question on the minds of “Rachel” and “Clint” as they enter the office of their new OCDandCleanpsychologist.  Rachel and Clint are seeking couple’s counseling to figure out how they can resolve their differences.  Rachel is fed up with Clint because he insists on having things organized a certain way, and he is very rigid about his routine.  Clint is irritated with Rachel for not helping him keep the house organized and for not understanding his need for certain routines. 


Although this particular story is fictional, it represents the struggles of many people as they interact with their partners, friends, and family members.  Some people are very structured and organized, while others are not.  Some people are very concerned with germs and cleanliness, while others do not think twice about eating food that has fallen on the floor.  It is not uncommon for people to joke that their friend has OCD because she insists of keeping everything clean and organized.  Another person may joke that his friend is “OCD about Star Wars” because he has a tendency to collect Star Wars memorabilia and is very familiar with Star Wars trivia.  Everybody has a range of personality traits and individual differences.  But when does cleanliness, intense interest, and organization cross the line to OCD?


OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) is a psychological diagnosis given to people who have obsessions and compulsions.  Obsessions are intrusive, disturbing thoughts that cause anxiety and impairment in daily functioning.  Compulsions are repetitive behaviors that a person feels compelled to engage in.  If a person with OCD is not able to engage in these compulsive behaviors, intense anxiety often results.  Only a psychologist or other qualified health professional can diagnosis OCD.


OCD is a disabling condition that affects interpersonal relationships and daily functioning.  It is sometimes very difficult for someone to understand why their partner engages in compulsive behavior and obsessive thinking.  Often these behaviors are dismissed as “silly”, and the person is told to “just stop” doing them.  In the case of the couple mentioned above, the counselor may work to help each person understand and accommodate their partner’s personality traits.  However, if Clint truly has OCD, this approach would not work.  Asking Clint to give up his routine may spur feelings of anxiety, followed by feelings of defeat when he is not able to succeed in changing behaviors.  This may lead to feelings of resentment and anger in Rachel when she sees that Clint is not changing his behavior.


The good news is that there is treatment for OCD.  Cognitive behavioral therapy has shown great effectiveness in reducing OCD symptoms so that OCD sufferers can get their lives back. 


Organization and cleanliness are not clinical diagnoses, but Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is.  If you think you may have OCD, please consult a psychologist in your area. 


Please visit Becker Counseling and Psychological Services for more information.