Alpha Counseling Center Closing December 31, 2016

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The Alpha Counseling Center
3625 Helton Drive
Florence, Alabama
is closing
December 30, 2016

Monica Ross
(under the clinical supervision of Debbie Gibson, LPC)
will continue counseling and may be reached at 256.340.0300

Cayron Mann
(under the clinical supervision of Kay Parker, LPC)
will continue counseling and may be reached at 256.320.4200

Record information for Bill Bagents, Rosemary Snodgrass and other former Alpha Center counselors may be found by clicking on the “Records Request” link above or you may call 256.765.7111 for more information.

New Classes

Portrait of a Family Lying on GrassThe Alpha Center now offers a Co-Parenting program that faces the challenge of restructuring a family in the wake of a divorce or separation of parents. Personal issues can sometimes become inadvertently blurred with a child’s needs. A negative response to divorce or separation can often place a child in the middle of conflict and may jeopardize their well being.
The program includes two classes + two co-parenting counseling sessions.
Topics include:
– The Child in the MIddle
– Communication and Negotiation
Call today (256.765.7111) to find out more about how to enroll in these child-centered Co-Parenting classes.

Thanksgiving Office Hours

The Alpha Center will be closed November 25-27, 2015 in observance of Thanksgiving. We will reopen on Monday, November 30, 2015.

If you have an emergency, please call the Crisis Intake Line at 256-768-9128 or arrive at Eliza Coffee Memorial Hospital Emergency Room for Mental Health Evaluation and Services. Emergency Mental Health Services are available 24 hours a day.

Lemons and Lemonade

free_lemonade_shutterstock_53368357_webFirst, a sweet recipe for homemade lemonade for these hot days.

You’ll need:

1 3/4 cups white sugar     8 cups water     1½ cups lemon juice

In a small saucepan, combine sugar and 1 cup water. Bring to boil and stir to dissolve sugar. Allow to cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate until chilled.
Remove seeds from lemon juice, but leave pulp. In pitcher, stir together chilled syrup, lemon juice and remaining 7 cups water.
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And now, some sweet words from our Bill Bagents…

Lemons and Lemonade
Sometimes I like football a bit too much. In an effort to reduce stress and keep priorities in order, I missed a chunk of the New Year’s Day bowl games shopping with Laura. It worked out just fine. We found some sweet gifts that we hope to take to some super people in Cape Town later this year. I found a couple of books that were even better than I thought they’d be. One deals with hope and the other with sarcasm. It’s a perfect pairing for a person who loves and lives irony.

I’m able to be a bit philosophical about my team’s loss. On the season, they fell notably below expectations. Maybe one more loss will heighten their humility index and make them hungrier for improvement next year. Win or lose, my team is still my team.

With some of the other games, I was blessed not to have a dog in the hunt. Whatever happened, happened, and I didn’t much care. Sad to say that there was a time when I cared way too much about games, polls, predictions, and such. I used to think that a game couldn’t be completed unless I watched.
How dumb is that?

I was able to send a few emails of congratulation and condolence on January 2. Since my team was among the defeated, there was no temptation to gloat and no danger that the condolences would seem insincere. I’m not much into the idea that misery loves company, but Romans 12:15 is a solid principle, even when the source of tears is a ballgame.

In large measure we get to choose what we invest in, what we give to, and what we hurt over. One cost of being a fan is that you hurt when you lose. With little things like games, we dust ourselves off, get back up, and move along to more important matters. No one always wins. And there’s always next year.

When it comes to using lemons to make lemonade, I hope that I’ve finally learned:
• God is good all the time. With every disappointment, He can teach us something important about life. If we can’t find another lesson, we can always be reminded to anticipate the perfection of joy in heaven.
• Sometimes the other guy wins. Let him enjoy his moment. Don’t see his joy as demeaning toward you or as disrespectful of your feelings.
• If the other guy is disrespectful, be glad that it’s him and not you. Don’t sink to his level. Two wrongs not only don’t make a right, they often make the beginning of a war.
• God is great about helping us keep things in perspective. Consider Ecclesiastes 12. Choose to appreciate and enjoy the blessings of each day and of each stage in life. Respect God above all.
Remember Matthew 6:33. The needs and the good of the kingdom trump all other interests.
• If a hobby, habit, or recreational interest stops blessing you, either drop it or cut it back. That’s not quitting. Rather, it’s a strategic reallocation of resources. Adjust intelligently.
• Don’t trust the experts more than is merited. Name one person who was on the record predicting that five of the SEC West teams would lose their bowl games. Same with weather forecasts. Same with nay-sayers who tell us what can’t be done to the glory of God.
• Don’t put all hurts in the same category. Let the little stuff be little. Save your heart of hearts for the things that really matter.
• Never think of the pain of others as little. To live BIG, we must love BIG   (1 Peter 4:8). –Bill

April is National Child Abuse Prevention

Child abuse–what a stunningly sad commentary on the inhumanity of some humans. What on earth is more precious than a child?  Sweet.  Loving. Innocent.  A world of potential to be taught and treasured, to be prized and protected.

As dark as the subject is, we dare not close our eyes or our hearts.  When we see something that’s awry, we must say something.  Even better, we have the opportunity to educate and encourage in prevention of child abuse.  Caring for our children is an ever sacred trust. –Bill Bagents

For more information, please visit:

www.childwelfare.gov/topics/preventing/preventionmonth

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Suicide: A Stunning Tragedy

Yet another report of suicide—this time it’s a teen, a young professional, or a senior citizen. We always hope it isn’t so.  Maybe there was a terrible accident and the authorities got it wrong.  Our hearts go out to the families and friends of the deceased.

From a preventive perspective, good people frequently wonder, “Why didn’t I see this coming?” “What could I have done to prevent it?’ And simply, “Why did this happen?”

Often there are indicators of suicidal ideation. People will talk about ending their lives. They may “put their affairs in order.”  Sometimes they give away prized possessions, say their good byes, or research suicide methods on the internet.  We dare not ignore such signs.  But sometimes there are no signs.

When we see “signs” that scare us, love compels us to act.  Sometimes it’s wise and courageous to ask, “Are you thinking about harming yourself?”  Sometimes it’s better to help the person connect with medical or mental health professionals.  It’s always proper to increase our love and support. To borrow and tweak familiar language, “When you see something that’s scary or unsettling, say something.”

We commonly tell those who are hurting over a friend’s suicide, “Please remember that you can never know all that’s going on inside another person’s head.”  Only the Lord has such knowledge.  Ultimately, we cannot control the actions of others.   Those words are true, but they don’t provide much comfort.

Some have described suicide as “a permanent solution to a temporary problem.”  Others suggest that suicide becomes an option when the pain of living exceeds the fear of dying.   We want to be very careful with clichés and truisms.  For Christians, suicide is never a valid option.  Respect for life and the Giver of life preclude it.

Partly in an effort to prevent suicide, some have unwisely asserted, “Suicide is self-murder. Murderers fall under biblical condemnation. Therefore, all who commit suicide are excluded from heaven.”  While scripture forbids murder and teaches the reality of God’s righteous judgment, there is a flaw of omission in this assertion.  It fails to consider the victim’s mental state. Only the competent can be responsible and culpable for their actions.  The assertion also contains a theological flaw.  Judgment belongs to the all-knowing and all-loving God.  It’s unsafe, unwise, and harmful to say more than we know.

What can we do to stem the tide of the stunning tragedy of suicide?

  • Affirm that life is a precious gift from God (Genesis 2:26-27 & 4:1, Acts 17:24-28).
  • Love people, especially hurting people, with the love of the Lord (1 Corinthians 13).
  • Never joke about or make light of suicide or depression (Colossians 4:5-6).
  • Especially with hurting people, do the good we know to do (James 1:22-24, 2:14-17, & 4:17).
  • Pray for all, especially those who are obviously troubled and burdened (1 Timothy 2:1).
  • Treat all with dignity and respect (Matthew 7:12).
  • Even when we don’t know what to say, show up and show love (Ecclesiastes 4:7, Job 2:11-13).
  • Don’t try to explain the inexplicable.
  • Respect people’s feelings. Allow them to voice their feelings without reproach.
  • Ask for help from God and from others (James 1:5). God often blesses through human hands.

–Bill Bagents

For additional information or immediate assistance, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or visit www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org

Happily Blundering Along

Mark Zuckerberg, the chairman and chief executive officer of Facebook recently announced that his new year’s resolution is to read more books. Our own Bill Bagents has some thoughts on reading that we think you’ll enjoy.

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Books and I get along well. Even new ones often feel like old and happy friends.  They don’t object when you read their every word.  They’re just as compliant if you skip around or save certain sections for the next rainy day.  They’ll wait on you if you get too busy. Sometimes, they even stay where you put them.  It’s amazing how things without feet or wings move around so much.

The diversity of books astounds me—even of books within a particular genre or field.  Being a sometimes counselor, I’ve been known to plunder in the Marriage and Family Resource Center at Heritage Christian University.  There’s always something new, but the old stuff can still pique my interest too.

If you ever happily blunder along among books, you’ll know what I mean.  Among the books, time seems to stand still.  “I’ll look for only ten minutes” is never much true.   It’s ten minutes here, five there, and two yonder. And the time always seems well-spent.

Where do they get those titles, and I don’t mean “where were the purchases made?” Who thinks of these things?  Don’t Let Jerks Get the Best of You.  Which came first, the title or the content?  How many of the titles came from marketing experts versus the mind of the author? Does it matter if the title helped you choose to look and find a gem of insight?

The Husband Project.  Do most wives view their husbands as projects?  On our better days, we’ll admit that we need more than a little work.  If I’m a project, how am I coming?  Is there hope for BIG improvement, or is too much already set in stone?

Why Women Shouldn’t Marry.  Is this one literal or paradoxical?  If literal, what’s on the list of reasons?  How many of those reasons would fit me to a T?  If paradoxical, what a concept!  What a vehicle for telling ladies how to practice self-defense and critical thinking in the process of mate selection?  Could it have both literal and paradoxical elements?  How cool would that be…

Stop Signs: Recognizing, Avoiding, and Escaping Abusive Relationships.  Should it be read before or after Don’t Let Jerks Get the Best of You?  Will it be Dragnet dry—just the facts ma’am?  Will it move us to tears as we read stories of unspeakable pain?  Will it make our hearts soar as we hear about the amazing courage that it takes to escape multigenerational cycles of pain?  I want to know. Somehow life will be better—maybe I will be better—if I know.

Coping with Difficult People.  Will we really learn how?  Maybe the book will serve as a mirror; we’ll come to see ourselves more accurately. Sometimes the difficult person is us. If it is a mirror, will it help us change?  You know from experience that some books have that power.

So many books, so little time. There’s the one about the twins, one that society considers “normal.” Yes, it’s fine to ask, “Says who?” and “How can you know?” The other is deemed functionally impaired. “Who’s not?”  “To what degree and in what ways?”  “Aren’t we all?’  Labels are challenged. New and broader thoughts make us step back and examine our assumptions.

There’s the one about the parents who thought they should hide their son’s physical deformity.  What courage to test and reject that errant and harmful approach!  Letting their son’s “issues” move them to educate, challenge, and encourage other parents opened doors of tremendous influence.

The Shelter of Each Other.  That’s where I met Mary Pipher—the wise lady that most meet through Reviving Ophelia. Having met and been blessed, there was no temptation to ignore Another Country: Navigating the Emotional Terrain of Our Elders. Each book radically different, but each way cool, offering food for the soul.

And that’s just one section of one library.  How many adventures and discoveries lie ahead?  Should I ask for recommendations?  I don’t mean to be rude, but “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” is stunningly true with literature. Might my well-intentioned friends steer me wrong without even knowing It? Might I need more or  less steering than I realize?

I’ll take the recommendations, but with a grain of salt.  Maybe I’[l even remember to make my recommendations with salt in hand.  I’m happily blundering along, finding energy in the journey.  Education is too precious a process to stop.  –Bill Bagents

Happy New Year – 2015

We hope your new year brings hope of good things to come.

“Make New Year’s goals. Dig within, and discover what you would like to have happen in your life this year. This helps you do your part. It is an affirmation that you’re interested in fully living life in the year to come.
Goals give us direction. They put a powerful force into play on a universal, conscious, and subconscious level. Goals give our life direction.
What would you like to have happen in your life this year? What would you like to do, to accomplish? What good would you like to attract into your life? What particular areas of growth would you like to have happen to you? What blocks, or character defects, would you like to have removed?
What would you like to attain? Little things and big things? Where would you like to go? What would you like to have happen in friendship and love? What would you like to have happen in your family life?
What problems would you like to see solved? What decisions would you like to make? What would you like to happen in your career?
Write it down. Take a piece of paper, a few hours of your time, and write it all down – as an affirmation of you, your life, and your ability to choose. Then let it go.
The new year stands before us, like a chapter in a book, waiting to be written. We can help write that story by setting goals.”
― Melody BeattieThe Language of Letting Go: Daily Meditations on Codependency

The Alpha Center Holiday Hours

The Alpha Center will be closed the following dates:
December 24, 2014
December 25, 2014
December 26, 2014
December 31, 2014
January 1, 2015
Thank you for allowing us to serve you in 2014.                                                         We look forward to serving you in 2015!
~The Staff of The Alpha Center

Welcome

The Alpha Center staff welcomes you to our site!  We are an independent, non-profit, outpatient counseling center dedicated to encouraging our clients’ emotional, psychological, and spiritual wellness and growth by providing individual, couple, and group counseling and education.  Our counselors are well-qualified to work with children, adolescents, and adults.  We encourage you to explore our site to learn about our counselors and the services we offer.  Please contact us by phone or email if you need additional information.