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Welcome to CombatCounselor Chronicle, an E-zine dedicated to giving you the most current, pertinent information on cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and mindfulness-based CBT available.

Chris Sorrentino, a.k.a CombatCounselor, is a leader and expert in cognitive behavioral therapy. He combines 30 years of experience in psychology with the discipline from having served as a U.S. Air Force officer for 20 years, 4 of those in combat zones, retiring as a lieutenant colonel in 2005.

The Leader in Military and Veteran Psychology ... Follow Me to Mental Health!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Grief: Feel the Pain to Heal

Grief, be it the loss of a friend, family member, OR pet, is difficult. Don't avoid those feelings, embrace & accept them.

The pain can seem unbearable, but it is not. Many times we avoid the emotions associated with loss and tell ourselves "I'm strong", "I can take it", or "I'll deal with this later". Not a good idea. Although difficult and painful, if you do not let yourself experience the emotions (anger, depression, guilt, etc.) now, they will catch up with you later, when you least expect it. That is called avoidance. I am not saying that you should wallow in your grief or pity, and there definitely are limits on how long you should grieve, but experience the emotions naturally in order to heal.

The opposite of avoiding grief is lingering in it. You should experience the emotions as long as they last. Do not avoid them, but do not hold on to them any longer than necessary. You will never totally get over the loss of someone you love, and you should not, but the pain will ease with time IF you allow yourself to experience the pain naturally and in the present.

StayPresent, BeResilient

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Thought of the Day

We cannot change evolution's work, but we can alter what we pay attention to (mindful experience ) and how we REACT to "perceived" threat (acceptance).

Evolution has predisposed humans to be on the lookout for danger, even when there may be none (e.g. worry about flying). If we can be mindful and fully experience the present moment, understanding that the anxious thoughts we are having are merely thoughts, then we are able to experience what is happening in a nonjudgmental way.

Practice being mindful throughout the day in different contexts, enjoying each moment rather than ruminating about the past or worrying about the future because THIS MOMENT WILL QUICKLY VANISH AND BECOME A MEMORY. Do you want that memory to be of the past, future, or of what is happening RIGHT NOW?



Monday, December 5, 2011

Trouble Sleeping? ... Join the Club!

Do you have trouble sleeping? Well, a great many Americans do, so you are not alone! Want to do something about it? Read more...
A recent study in published in the journal Sleep indicated that the average American loses 11 working days each year due to insomnia...11 DAYS! 
BOTTOM LINE: Use common sense and reduce exposure to blue light after dark to sleep better. You can also:
1. Sleep in a cool, dark room.
2. Avoid caffeine and nicotine (stimulants) at night.
3. Develop a regular sleep routine, waking & going to bed at the same time EVERY DAY OF THE WEEK.
4. Use your bed for sleeping (sex is OK...whew!) ONLY.
5. Exercise regularly - more than 2-3 hours prior to bedtime
6. If you are having trouble sleeping, get out of bed until you are tired enough to sleep.
7. Download a "White Noise" app for your smartphone (turn ringer off or use "airplane mode")
The April 2012 issue of Money Magazine stated that "If Nothing's Working...Try cognitive behavioral therapy: CBT, a form of therapy that seeks to train your mental habits is one of the most effective methods of treating sleep ills. Most people see improvement after four to six's usually about $200 a session...a good night's sleep is always a sound investment."  You can find a cognitive behavioral therapist on Psychology Today's Therapist Finder  by entering your zip code and using the advanced search to narrow your options down to "cognitive behavioral" therapists in your area, specializing in your unique situation...there are many, many filters to find the therapist you need. REMEMBER: MANY THERAPISTS CALL THEMSELVES "COGNITIVE BEHAVIORAL" in order to receive payments from insurance companies, so understand what a cognitive behavioral therapist does and ask pertinent questions to see if they are who the say they are:
  • Which theorists do you base your work on? 
    • B.F. Skinner, Aaron/Judith Beck, Albert Ellis, Donald Meichenbaum, Marsha Linehan, Steven Hayes are all acceptable
  • Which cognitive behavioral techniques do you use (have them explain their answers)?
    • Cognitive restructuring, exposure, response prevention, prolonged exposure, interoceptive exposure, mastery and pleasure activity scheduling, mindfulness, dialectics, cognitive defusion, values-clarification are valid answers
  • How long should therapy take?
    • CBT is time-limited by nature and should take no more than 3-4 months MAXIMUM to complete
    • Most treatments take from 4-14 sessions (50-90 minutes each), but some of the more complex cases, like DBT for Borderline Personality Disorder, take as much or more than one year
There has also been recent research that proves that "blue" light, the kind we get from sunshine, TV and computer screens, light bulbs, even alarm clock numbers, stimulates seratonin (which helps keep you awake and alert among other things) and suppresses melatonin (a hormone which tells you it's time to sleep). Orange light, which comes from the opposite end of the light spectrum, has the opposite effect, helping to produce melatonin and inducing sleepiness.
So, what does that mean for you insomniacs? Reduce eye exposure to blue light after dark by staying away from the sources listed above or use orange light at night to read and do other things. Candle light produces orange light, so act like Abe and go "au naturale" after dark (I mean read by candlelight, not get naked).
You can buy orange lightbulbs online and there are other things you can do:
2. Download a free app that will automatically adjust your monitors visible spectrum based on time of day:

                                              CLICK HERE - LINK TO FREE APP

3. Buy orange safety goggles or glasses, also available online, and wear them at night before bed.Sleep tight!

Thank for information on the ligjt spectrum and effects on sleep.

© 2012 CombatCounselor - All Rights Reserved

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Do you want pity, unoriginal content, obscure quotes, or updates on my life?

If you want pity, unoriginal content, obscure quotes, or updates about my life, you came to the wrong place...stop whining, complaining, and feeling sorry for poor little you! Take responsibility for your life and do something about what's bothering you . THAT'S AN ORDER!

I offer 100% FREE INFORMATION based on 30 years of education and clinical experience. Listen to what I have to say or don't. It doesn't really matter to me, I'm going to keep it up whether you listen or not. Why? Because I'm passionate about what I do and want to help people who have the spine to ask for help and put in the hard work it takes to change.

If you can find one place on ANY of my sites where I ask you to buy something, as Cal Washington used to say, "I'll eat my hat"!


Have a great life...StayPresent, BeResilient, StayTheCourse!

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Friday, December 2, 2011

The Therapeutic Alliance

This article focuses on therapeutic (working) alliance in counseling, a critical component related to successful outcome in counseling.  I examine a small number of studies, providing background related to the general effects of counseling and the Working Alliance Inventory (WAI) and discussing the impact of the alliance in counseling.  I conclude with a discussion of the implications of the information presented, specifically focusing on the contextual model and the importance of general effects in counseling, the importance of developing a collaborative relationship with clients early on, understanding how clients early formative and current relationships affect their ability to form a working alliance, achieving a balance between process related techniques and alliance strengthening skills, and, finally, evaluating client attachment style and how it may affect the working alliance.  
                        Keywords: Alliance, therapeutic, counseling, client, attachment, contextual.

           The therapeutic alliance, or “working” alliance as Bordin (1979) defined it, is widely accepted as a crucial component of successful outcome in counseling and has been studied extensively.  I examine a relatively small number of studies here and with a somewhat limited focus due to time and other constraints related to this assignment.  I will start by providing some background related to the general effects of counseling as well as a widely used instrument in measuring the alliance, the Working Alliance Inventory (WAI).  I will then discuss the impact of the alliance in counseling, focusing on a few key studies, finishing with a discussion of the implications of the information presented.
General Effects and the Therapeutic Alliance
            In Wampold’s book, The Great Psychotherapy Debate, he identified therapist effects as a “critical factor in the success of therapy” (2001, p. 202).  More specifically, in their article on therapist and patient variability in the therapeutic alliance, Baldwin, Imel, and Wampold (2007) pointed out that it is the therapist’s contribution to the alliance that is foremost in determining a successful outcome for the client.  Wampold (2001) supported the contextual model (versus the medical model), contending that is the general effects (common factors – therapeutic alliance, therapist competence, a belief, by the therapist and client, in the effectiveness of the therapy, etc.) of psychotherapy that are key to a successful outcome, not the specific effects (techniques) of any particular therapeutic approach.   That being said, it is widely contended that it is the therapeutic alliance that will account for a great deal of the variability, both positive and negative, in the client’s outcome.
The Working Alliance Inventory (WAI)
            The Working Alliance Inventory (WAI), developed by Horvath and Greenberg in 1968, is a widely used instrument for measuring the therapeutic alliance and was the instrument of choice in the majority of the studies discussed here. The WAI is a 36-item self report survey consisting of three subscales that mirror Bordin’s three components of the working alliance, goals, tasks, and bonds, and uses a 7-point Likert-type scale.  Parallel forms are available for both clients and counselors (Satterfield and Lyddon, 1995).
The Therapeutic (Working) Alliance
            One of the most important tasks that we as counselors have is to form a positive, healthy, nurturing working alliance with our clients.  As we discussed briefly above, Bordin (1979) defined the working alliance as a collaborative process in which client and counselor  (a) mutually endorse goals or counseling outcomes; (b) join in tasks related to the attainment of successful outcomes; and (c) establish positive personal attachments, or bonds, which are characterized by trust, acceptance, and confidence.  A good working alliance is based on two important factors.  The first factor is the relationship that the counselor develops and fosters from the very beginning of counseling.  Kokotovic and Tracey (1990) found that clients who were viewed by their counselors as having poor social relationships in general had greater difficulty in forming working relationships (alliances) with their counselors.  A second factor is the relationship the client has or had with his or her parents, because that relationship will give us insight into how the client relates to their social network and, ultimately, most likely predict how they will relate to their counselor.  In support of that assertion, Mallinckrodt (1991) also reported evidence of a correlation between clients’ recollections of the quality of their childhood bonds with their parents and the strength of the working alliance.
            In Kivlighan’s (1990) study, the relationship between counselor technical activity (use of intentions – set limits, educate, assess, explore, change, restructure, and support) and working alliance (as rated by the client) was analyzed during the course of four counseling sessions.  Two groups of undergraduate students were asked to participate in a study in which sessions were analyzed to see if the use of intentions by the counselor affected the quality of the therapeutic alliance.  The study found that during the four sessions, three of the intentions mentioned above, assess, explore, and support, were negatively correlated with the working alliance as measured by the WAI.  The authors were somewhat surprised by the negative correlation of the support intention (offering support or encouragement) with the alliance, but concluded that this may have occurred because it put the client in a more passive role.  They also proposed the following questions: 1) “Can counselors be trained to decrease their use of the assessment, explore, and support intentions?” and 2) “Would this training affect client-rated alliance?” We are not sure that such training would be either indicated or useful based on a study with such obvious limitations, considering the importance of assessment, exploration, and support in counseling.  At best, the study points to the need to balance such strategies, with the counselor paying particular attention to the use of intentions that may put the client in a more passive role versus those that will enhance the working alliance.
            According to Satterfield (1995), a client whose attachment style is characterized by a lack of trust in the availability and dependability of others (low level of “depend”) may be more likely to evaluate the counseling relationship in negative terms, particularly during the early phase of counseling. The authors recruited ninety-six first-time clients seeking counseling through the university to participate in a study in which they completed the Adult Attachment Scale (AAS) prior to counseling and the WAI (client version) after the third session.  Sixty participants completed the study and the authors concluded that client attachment, particularly the “depend” measure, is in-fact negatively correlated with the working alliance and may lead to unfavorable counseling outcomes. They also recommended further research on the impact of counselor knowledge of client attachment dimensions and the affect they may have on the working alliance.
            What should counselors focus on if we are to accept the hypothesis of the contextual model and the importance of general effects in counseling as proposed by Wampold?  Based on the research, one of the most important things we can do is learn how to better foster a therapeutic, empathic, nurturing alliance with our clients.  As Bordin (1979) recommended, we should focus on developing a collaborative relationship with our clients early on, setting mutually agreeable goals, working together toward successful outcomes, and establishing positive bonds.  Kokotovic and Tracey (1990) and Mallinckrodt (1991), taught us that we should understand how our clients early formative relationships and their ability to form and maintain current relationships affect their ability to form a strong working alliance.  Kivlighan  (1990) emphasized the importance of focusing on a balance between process related techniques (intentions) and alliance strengthening skills, such as those endorsed by Carl Rogers (genuineness, empathy, and warmth).  Finally, Satterfield (1995) points us to the need to assess our client’s attachment style, looking particularly for those clients who may be characterized by a lack of trust in the availability and dependability of others, and how their attachment style may contribute to the alliance.   In conclusion, because alliance effects are so intertwined with outcome, whether positive or negative, we owe it to our clients to “do no harm” and do everything in our power to foster a positive working alliance.
Baldwin, S.A., Imel, Z.E., & Wampold, B.E. (2007).  Untangling the alliance-outcome correlation: Exploring the importance of therapist and patient variability in the alliance. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 75 (6), 842-852.

Bordin, E. S. (1979).  The generalization of psychoanalytic concept of the working alliance. Psychotherapy, 16, 252-260.

Kivlighan, D. M. (1990). Relation between counselors' use of intentions and clients' perception of working alliance. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 37(1), 27-32.

Kokotovic, A. M. and T. J. Tracey (1990). Working alliance in the early phase of counselor. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 37, 16-21.

Mallinckrodt, B. (1991). Clients' representations of childhood emotional bonds with parents, social support, and formation of the work alliance. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 38, 401-409.

Satterfield, W. A. and W. J. Lyddon (1995). "Client attachment and perceptions of the working alliance with counselor trainees. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 42 (2), 187-189.

Wampold, B. (2001).  The Great Psychotherapy Debate. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erbaum Associates.

© CombatCounselor 2011 – All Rights Reserved

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Freud and Psychoanalysis versus Hayes and ACT: Time for a Change?

Sigmund Freud
It goes without saying, Sigmund Freud is an icon, having had a tremendous influence on psychology in general and psychotherapy in particular.  However, exposure to Freud and psychoanalysis in undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate programs, I believe, has outlasted his contributions and become rather tedious.  Studying Freud and psychoanalysis in an undergraduate introductory psychology course or even an undergraduate or graduate theories course is understandable and warranted.  I have been exposed to Freud countless times in numerous courses and, to be totally honest, I think it is a waste of time to continue to study a theory that has never been proven and been the laughing stock of serious behavioral scientists for decades.  It is hard to believe that clinicians still practice psychoanalysis in the 21st Century and that a current text applying developmental theories to counseling (Kraus, 2008) or one on theories of human development (Newman and Newman, 2007) would spend as many as 67 pages discussing it.  Surely, there are more deserving, practical, and recent theories that could have been printed on those pages, Relational Frame Theory for instance.
“The third wave of behavior therapy” (Hayes, 2004, p.16), as Steven Hayes and others have called it, has emerged to provide an experiential option for those who practice and are treated with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).  This third wave of therapies includes Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT – pronounced as a word, not an acronym) and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT – Linehan, 1993), both of which focus on mindfulness and acceptance, and influenced by the tradition of Zen Buddhism.  ACT is based on the philosophy of Functional Contextualism and a developmental learning theory known as Relational Frame Theory (RFT), a fairly recent theory developed by Hayes over the past 15 to 20 years. 
Relational Frame Theory is a rather difficult theory to grasp, but both Blackledge (2007) and Blackledge and Hayes (2001) helped clarify the theory and the connection between language, experiential avoidance, cognitive defusion, and exposure.  Blackledge and Hayes (2001) also clarified the difference between ACT and CBT, where thoughts emotions, and memories are simply accepted as such (in ACT) rather than trying to modify them as is done in CBT.  According to RFT (Blackledge and Hayes, 2001), language and rule-governed behavior are additive in the sense that what we have experienced (behavior, thoughts, emotions, memories, etc.) can never be eliminated and, therefore, we must create positive, novel, experience-based memories founded on acting in accordance with personal values rather than “replacing” negative experiences.  This concept is quite contrary to CBT, where thoughts are analyzed and manipulated, even though ACT is considered a cognitive behavioral therapy.
            Relational Frame Theory has been studied extensively and Hayes et al (2006) has done an excellent job of describing the framework of ACT, explaining the basic philosophy, theory, principles, and processes in a succinct and easily understandable manner.  There is a large and ever-accumulating body of research and literature, both on RFT and on ACT, empirically supported and validated research as opposed to the unproven psychoanalytic or psychosexual theories of Freud and his cohorts.  In my opinion, the 67 pages spent on Freud in our two texts would have been much better spent focusing on a more recent and exciting theory such as RFT. I have personally seen RFT and ACT in action in my own practice, and the results are quite amazing, results taking days or weeks rather than years, as is the case in psychoanalysis. In conclusion, my reaction to Freud and psychoanalysis are, obviously, quite strong.  Again, my goal is not to diminish Freud’s impact or contributions, only to recommend that our time might be better spent on something more current and relevant to clinical practice in the 21st Century.

Blackledge, J.T. (2007). Disrupting verbal processes: Cognitive defusion in Acceptance and          Commitment Therapy and other mindfulness-based psychotherapies. The Psychological Record, 57, 555-576.

Hayes, S.C. and Blackledge, J.T. (2001). Emotion regulation in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. Psychotherapy in Practice, 57 (2), 243-255.

Hayes, S.C., Luoma, J.B., Bond, F.W., Masuda, A., and Lillis, J. (2006). Acceptance and             Commitment Therapy: Model, process and outcomes. Behaviour Research and Therapy,             44, 1-25.

Hayes, S.C., Strosahl, K.D., and Wilson, K.G. (1999). Acceptance and Commitment Therapy:      An Experiential Approach to Behavior Change. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.

Hayes, S.C. and Strosahl, K.D. (Eds.). (2004). A Practical Guide to: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.  New York, NY: Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.

Linehan, M.M., (1993). Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder
New York, N.Y: Guilford Press.

Newman, B.M. and Newman, P.R. (2007). Theories of human development. Mahwah, NJ:            
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers.

Walser, R.D. and Westrup, D. (2007). Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for the Treatment     of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Trauma Related Problems: A Practitioners Guide         to Using Mindfulness and Acceptance Strategies. Oakland, CA:  New Harbinger     Publications, Inc.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Anxiety: Change the Context, Not the Content

Tweet from @CombatCounselor:

"You cannot make #anxiety go away. You can change your relationship to it and #embrace, rather than #avoid it.#StayPresent, #BeResilient"

What I mean is that if you TRY to eliminate anxiety by avoiding it, it only makes things worse. By avoiding, it may be very rewarding in the short-term, but you don't learn that anxiety naturally goes away on its own. This process is called HABITUATION.

If you fear anxiety, you'll avoid it and make it your enemy. If you change the way you relate to it, embracing anxiety instead, you can experience it on your terms, making it less threatening.

Changing the CONTEXT, the way you perceive anxious thoughts, sensations, and memories, rather then trying to change the CONTENT (e.g. positive thinking), allows you to control the situation. Because you can't control anxiety, control.the way you react to it.
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Sunday, November 27, 2011

Resilience: Armor for Your Mind

Listen carefully to what I say, but don't believe a word of it. Language and rule-governed behavior have severe limitations, experience does not.

We can't change evolution's work, but we can alter what we pay attention to (mindfulness) and how we REACT to "perceived" threat (acceptance).

Resilience is key to mental health and is something you can enhance through acceptance of and willingness toward aversive events. Are you focusing on the content of your life (thoughts, sensations, emotions) or on the context (what's happening right now)? You do have a choice.

NOW, GET OFF YOUR BUT! Yes, it's spelled right. Replace the word "but" with "and" and accept responsibility for your behavior and your life. Try it, see how it feels.

StayTheCourse ... BeResilient!

Title: Resilience: Armor for Your Mind

Key Words: anxiety, combatcounselor, depressed, depression, health, kccbt, mental, resilience, resilient, therapy, fear, armor, mind, PTSD, BeResilient, chronicle

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

"End of the War" by Brittany Holmes

Brittany Holmes, an upcoming new artist, sent me this link. Thanks for this inspiring and beautiful song will be a star!

Institutional Terrorism: The “Good Ol’ Boys Network” at Work

Institutional Terrorism:
The “Good Ol’ Boys Network” at Work

By Chris T. Sorrentino, MS, LPC, NCC

Chris Sorrentino is a combat and disabled veteran, retired military officer, and licensed professional counselor.  He was an Assistant Professor of Behavioral Sciences and Leadership and Counselor at the United States Air Force Academy from 1988 to 1993  and has over 30 years of experience and education in clinical psychology and mindfulness-based cognitive-behavioral therapy.  He is the author of You Think, You Are…Anxious: A Journey from Avoidance to Acceptance, the first installment in the You Think, You Are series and is the creator of Body-Mind-Behavior Therapy (BMBT).

Jerry Sandusky, Penn State’s long-time defensive coordinator, has been exposed long after an alleged 2002 child molestation incident, and several others apparently, and Penn State’s legendary coach, Joe Paterno, has been fired. Moreover, this is just the tip of the iceberg.
Apparently, “Stand-Up” Joe (Paterno), as he is affectionately known by the student-body, did not stand-up and do the right thing when one of his former players, a graduate assistant at the time, approached him with news of a ten year old boy having been molested in a shower at Penn State University by Sandusky in 2002. Sandusky’s alleged attacks apparently go back to the mid-90s and continued long after he was reported to Paterno and the Penn State Athletic Director.  I will not go into the details of the allegations because that is not the subject of this story. This is merely one example among thousands that occur in this country each year where innocent people are harmed and the institutions sworn to protect them stand by and do nothing…what I call “Institutional Terrorism”.

The Penn State cover-up reminds me of a similar case in the Diocese of Kansas City and St. Joseph, Missouri, very recently in the news for similar allegations. Catholic Bishop Robert W. Finn and the Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese have been indicted by a grand jury on a charge of failure to report suspected child abuse by one of the diocese’s priests. This Class A misdemeanor carries a potential sentence of up to one year in jail and a fine up to $1,000 for the bishop. Finn reportedly failed to notify the police regarding the sex abuse of a minor by one of the priests in his diocese after having been made aware of the situation in December of 2009. According to the Huffington Post, Finn is the highest-ranking Catholic clergyman ever to be indicted on criminal charges in a court of law in the United States.  As I will discuss later, this is only one example of Bishop Finn’s propensity to cover-up for one of his own, also known as (a.k.a.) the “good ol’ boys network”, even when he knew his subordinates had done wrong.

As a retired military officer and licensed professional counselor for over 20 years, I have seen and heard of numerous incidents over the years where individuals have been abused, harassed, bullied, discriminated against, then ignored, ostracized or retaliated against for having the audacity to come forward to protect themselves or to file a complaint against their aggressors.

The United States of America has been in a “War with Terror” since September 11th, 2011, a war with an invisible enemy and a relatively small number of casualties worldwide, comparatively speaking. The U.S. has spent billions and sacrificed the lives of thousands of men and women in the armed forces to wage this war, yet we are no closer to a conclusion than we were ten years ago. 

Institutional terrorism is a term I use to define what our nation’s corporations, institutions, and bureaucracies (large organizations) are doing to their workers when they abuse, harass, bully, or discriminate against them or tolerate the illegal or unethical treatment to occur without any repercussions to the offenders. Thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands or more, of our citizens are being tormented every day by an abuser, bully, “control freak”, sadist, or micro-manager, so much so that the stresses caused by these perpetrators result in illness, mental anguish (anxiety and depression), and even suicide or murder (as in going “postal”). What are the other costs? Not just the emotional costs the victims must face night after night, morning after morning, but the real costs related to sick days, medical treatment, administrative time, legal fees, and court costs brought about by their perpetrators? We are talking about billions of dollars annually, and those are just the monetary costs.

All public and private institutions in our country are required by law to treat the people within their organizations fairly and without animus based on their race, religion, gender, national origin, age, sexual orientation, veteran status, and other protected categories. The laws which protect these people include Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin; the Equal Pay Act of 1963, which protects men and women who perform substantially equal work in the same establishment from sex-based wage discrimination; and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 among others. However, the penalties for not complying with these laws are considered “civil” infractions, not “criminal” acts and those found guilty are given a “slap on the wrist” in the form of monetary compensation to the victim by a jury, if it ever gets that far. Even then, these large organizations have high-priced lawyers defending them, scaring away complainants whom rarely have the resources to fight back, and insurance policies to “pay off” the claims if they are, in-fact, ever held accountable in a court of law.

Having defined institutional terrorism and discussed how our laws (fail to) protect workers and others covered under these statutes, I will now elaborate on a few such cases and provide a synopsis of what I believe needs to be done to put an end to these practices. 

Victim #1 is in a helping profession, a generally tolerant, easygoing, empathic person and it is normally quite difficult to ruffle his feathers. Having spent many years in the military, several of them in combat zones, he has also learned to be very patient, respectful of others, and loyal to his superiors and to the organization in which he works.

In December of 2007, Victim #1 and his wife were traveling from their home in Colorado Springs, Colorado to visit Florida with the intention of possibly relocating.  He had told an old and dear friend who lives in a large Midwestern metropolitan area that they would be passing through, so his friend was gracious enough to invite them to stay at their home for the night, which happened to be Christmas Eve. This man had been Victim #1’s commander while assigned to the NATO headquarters in Naples, Italy and, beside being his former boss, they had become very good friends. Who else would invite you to spend Christmas Eve and morning with him and his family, right?

To make a long story short, on Christmas eve, as they sat around the fire having a glass of wine, His friend asked Victim #1 if he would be interested in moving to the area because he had an opening for a purchasing manager in his company. His friend had become the president of a subsidiary of one of the nation’s largest construction companies after retiring from the Army a few years before and was in a position to offer Victim #1 a quite tempting and lucrative offer.

After quite a bit of deliberation, Victim #1 and his wife decided the offer was too good to turn down even though they had no desire to move to the Midwest. He had a cursory interview for the job shortly thereafter, was hired, and moved 600 miles to the area in March 2008. Sounds wonderful, does it not? In such a friendly Midwestern city, what could possibly go wrong?

Well, Victim #1 was bullied, harassed, and threatened by his new thirty-something MBA of a boss from the very beginning, putting up with it for over a year before approaching his friend (his boss’s superior) to discuss the problem. To Victim #1’s utter amazement and dismay, his “friend” threw Victim #1 out of his office, not wanting to even listen to his side of the story. Victim #1 went immediately to human resources (HR) to fill them in on what was going on. He filed a formal complaint against his immediate supervisor a few days later.

Victim #1 had thought that his good friend would never believe the word of such a rude and unprofessional person over that of an old friend and fellow military officer. Friendship is an important bond, one that cannot be broken except in the most extreme circumstances, but officership, the bond between fellow military officers, is one that Victim #1 thought was insurmountable and unbreakable. His “friend” had broken both of those bonds and Victim #1 was devastated.

Once he filed the complaint, the retaliation commenced. The very day he visited HR for the first time, his ex-friend approached him and asked, “So, are you going to resign”? Victim #1 told him that he had no intention to resign and that he (his ex-friend) was picking the wrong side. In addition, the very day he filed the complaint with HR, Victim#1 was brought into an office with his bosses and a representative from HR and, after having been a model employee for over a year, receiving a promotion and a substantial bonus in recent months, Victim #1 was given a written performance plan. Suddenly it was his behavior that was in question, not his boss’s.

It was obvious what was happening in the weeks that followed with Victim #1’s supervisors, including his ex-friend, scrutinizing everything Victim #1 did on a micro-level, bringing him into meetings and lambasting him for one thing or another, even in front of subordinates. He complained to HR about the retaliation, but it was obvious that they would not interfere with the “good ol’ boys network” within the company. His ex-friend was too powerful and had chosen whom he would support. Not knowing what his rights were and psychologically beaten, Victim #1 resigned from his lucrative position after just 15 months, during the worst recession since the great depression, rather than be subjected to the daily torment he had been subjected to for so many months.

Victim #2 had a secure position in one of the “best” school districts in the city. Having been lured from Colorado Springs, she had given up a well-paid tenured position for an excellent salary in this highly respected school district. Victim #2’s principal, who was also new to the school and uninvolved in her hiring, made it obvious from the beginning of year one that she did not like Victim #2, treating her coldly and differently than she did all of the other teachers (who happened to be fair-haired, blue-eyed, and fair- skinned for the most part). I will also point out that there was not a single minority out of 35 full-time employees in the entire school. Year one seemed to go well even though Victim #2 was routinely treated rudely by her principal.

However, at the beginning of year two, it was obvious that something had changed. A little over a month into the school year, Victim #2’s principal decided to put her on a performance plan, even though she had been a model educator for 17 years without a single blemish on her record. I cannot go into details because Victim #2’s discrimination and retaliation case has not yet gone to trial, but she was terminated illegally for filing a lawful complaint based on national origin discrimination (she is an Italian citizen).

The school district supported the perpetrators of the discrimination, performing a cursory investigation at best before finding that “no discrimination” had occurred (one of the perpetrators actually performed the initial  investigation). Of course, they would say that, not admitting publicly that one of their own had been negligent. The superintendent and school board even refused to hear Victim #2’s appeals in order to protect their employees from further unwanted public scrutiny. Fortunately, the teacher’s union was involved from the very beginning, sitting in on every meeting between Victim #2 and the district and supporting her 100 percent. She has a solid case and one of the best discrimination lawyers in the city on her side, but the worst that can happen to the district and the perpetrators is a financial judgment against them. Their insurance company will probably end up paying a majority of the costs once Victim #2, hopefully, prevails.

In July 2010, Victim #3 was attacked in what he thought was a safe haven, the university he attends as a post-graduate student. By the way, Victim #3 is a Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society scholar with a 4.0 GPA in four semesters in the School of Education and a 96 percent average in his courses. Victim #3 is also a non-traditional student being over 50 and a military (disabled) veteran.

He filed a complaint against an instructor in July 2010 for possible discrimination on a course project on which he was graded drastically different (lower) than his classmates for no apparent reason. His advisor, a woman of color, accepted the complaint on behalf of the university, the investigation was mediated within the School of Education, and both sides were satisfied with the result. His advisor did make a strange comment at the end of their first meeting on the issue, stating, “I hope you learned something from this”, as if he, the victim, should learn something from being treated differently and discriminated against? He sent an email to his advisor noting the inappropriate nature of her comment, but thought little more about it.

In May 2011, Victim#3’s advisor called him into a meeting and accused him, without warrant, of acting “aggressive and threatening” in email communications with faculty. He noted that he was surprised by such an accusation and when he asked for specific examples of such behavior, his advisor could provide not a single example, saying “it’s just a perception” (that’s what people apparently say when they want to demean or accuse a person and have no evidence to substantiate their claims). His advisor then threatened his status in the program, telling him that she did not think he had the ability to complete the program successfully, even though Victim #3 is a high-ranking retired military officer, highly decorated war veteran, and Phi Kappa Phi scholar. After doing a little research, it turned out that his advisor was friends with the instructor Victim #3 had filed the complaint against in July 2010, having done research, written papers for journals, and presented at conferences together on several occasions.

When Victim #3 filed a complaint of retaliation and discrimination with the university’s Office of Affirmative Action against his advisor, he was met with resistance from the beginning. Having officially accepted the complaint, they gave him the email runaround for over a week, even insulting him, comparing him to those who had discriminated and retaliated against him (in an email inadvertently sent to him and meant for the Chancellor’s Chief of Staff). The Deputy Chancellor for Diversity, Access and Equity finally decided that Victim #3 had no basis for a complaint because he “had not followed proper procedures” and refused to investigate his legitimate complaint when, in fact, he had followed university policies to the letter.

Having nowhere to appeal within his university, Victim #3 appealed to the president of the state university system, his chancellor’s boss. Even the president of the university refused to acknowledge his complaint until it was sent certified mail, return receipt (signature required) with copies going to the victim’s U.S. senator and representative, state senator, Missouri Department of Higher Education, and the governor as well as several local media agencies (television and print). Since the acknowledgment of receipt of his complaint by the president’s assistant over three months ago, Victim #3 has not heard a single word from anybody, including his elected officials. In the interim, he was forced to withdraw from courses two semesters in a row, being only two semesters shy of graduation, because his complaint has not been successfully resolved. Victim #3’s principles prohibit him from attending an institution that treats people the way this institution has done and will not pay another cent in tuition, even if that means not graduating, which seems highly likely at this point. It is amazing that a public institution of this size and stature, a state university, is not held accountable for their actions when they fail to enforce the very diversity policy and U.S. laws they are sworn to uphold.

Victim #4’s church has joined the list of organizations that could not care less about human beings, protecting their own at all costs.  Having gone through a very difficult two years financially (and emotionally), Victim #4 and his wife started businesses to try to make ends meet. Their only option, to try to salvage their lives from financial ruin, was to start businesses in their respective areas of interest and expertise.

Because they were struggling financially, the only way they could give back to their (Catholic) church was through the donation of time and services, and they had been attempting to do so for several months. They attempted to contact the business manager of their parish on several occasions, offering  thousands of dollars worth of their services to the needy. Having been ignored for months, they wrote an email to the manager explaining their situation, but they received a reply from the parish priest, not the business manager. Instead of getting answers to their questions and concerns, the response from the priest was superficial, defensive, and insulting. He defended his business manager’s behavior, indicating that Victim #4 was incorrect in his assessment of the situation. 

Victim #4 decided to write back, telling the priest he was confused and disappointed by his response. Two weeks passed without a word, so Victim #4 decided to take it to the next level, sending an email to the bishop of the diocese (with all previous messages attached), again explaining what he wanted to accomplish and expressing his disappointment with the response from his priest. He told the bishop (this is the same bishop, Bishop Finn, who is now being investigated for covering up knowledge of a pedophile priest and indicted) what had happened and, again, the bishop missed the mark, defending the parish priest instead of offering a simple apology and solution to the situation.

Once again, the diocese protected one of their own instead of doing the right thing, admitting to a mistake, and trying to resolve the problem professionally and amicably. Bishop Finn obviously has a history of covering-up for and protecting his own as is obvious in the charges against him for covering-up for the pedophile priest.

Finally, Victim #5’s business advertisements (postcards) were approved by his local YMCA’s general manager to be placed in their “vendor” area, providing several customers and hundreds of dollars in business revenue each month.  The ads were left “mostly” undisturbed for over a year, having been located in the same exact spot during that entire time.  Various business owners, who felt they could displace the ads with their own any time they pleased, had vandalized the postcards from time to time during that period. In May 2011, Victim #5’s advertisements were once again displaced by another business’s, so Victim #5 complained to YMCA staff. The staff, including the general manager, all of whom appeared defensive, saying they “didn’t have time” to manage business advertisements, seeming  perturbed by the complaint. Oddly, the postcards suddenly started to disappear in bulk (50 or more at a time) and when Victim #5 asked a staff member what had happened to the cards, he was  informed that the general manager had removed them.

Victim #5 brought the matter to the attention of the general manager, but she appeared to care less, giving him the impression that she was in-fact behind the vandalism and petty theft of the cards.  The victim’s business is a service-disabled veteran-owned small business by the way.  Having mentioned the problems to management on numerous occasions, they seemed to care less, appeared to not want to be bothered, and in-fact appeared resentful and even hostile at times.

Getting no assistance or resolution from YMCA staff, Victim #5 decided to file a report with the local police department and sent a letter of complaint (certified mail with return receipt/signature) to the YMCA Board of Directors, asking them to have their staff refrain from stealing postcards and treating him (a service-disabled veteran business owner) differentially from other business owners.  Nearly six months have passed and the YMCA Board of Directors has yet to either acknowledge or respond to his official complaint against YMCA staff. He has since removed his business’s advertisements and the businesses are, unfortunately, closing due to lack of clientele and some additional assistance from the local YMCA.

Does anybody deserve the kind of treatment these victims have been subjected to? Absolutely not! Does it happen? You bet it does and these victims are not alone. Discrimination laws in this country are a joke. As I mentioned earlier, there is no criminal penalty for discrimination or retaliation. I had thought it was a crime to discriminate until just recently. However, discrimination and retaliation cases, when they proceed to trial, are heard in “civil” court, not “criminal” court.

It is not a crime to discriminate and nobody goes to jail for mistreating people based on color, national origin, religion, veteran status, or other protected categories. The worst that happens is a slap on the wrist. If an organization is found negligent, their insurance company usually ends up paying the bill. Most cases are swept under the rug and never heard about because the insurance companies settle with the victims before it can go to trial, avoiding negative media exposure and possible internal sanctions.

If you have not figured it out yet, you may be surprised to know that I am Victim #1, 3, 4, and 5 and my wife is Victim #2.  This has been the story of our lives over the past three years. Having spent nearly 25 percent of my 20 year military career in combat zones, being shot at by Bosnian-Serb snipers in Sarajevo, the target of Serbian artillery while fighting for the liberation of Kosovo, and on an aircraft targeted by Al Qaeda surface-to-air missiles while in Saudi Arabia shortly after 9/11 while supporting Operation ENDURING FREEDOM, I have never in my life been the target of such unwarranted, ruthless, and needless attacks as we have since moving to Kansas City, Missouri in 2008.

As I said earlier, we are not alone and this is a huge problem in our nation. Many thousands of citizens and non-citizens are being abused, bullied, harassed and discriminated and retaliated against while the bureaucracies their aggressors work for turn their heads the other way, covering up for the corporate elite and refusing to do the right thing.

Joe Paterno and Bishop Finn could have stopped needless sexual abuse had they come forward immediately and reported the offenders as is required by law, but the institutions they represent let the offenders continue their abuses in the name of protecting their own and their institution’s “good” name. Whether it is child abuse, sexual abuse, bullying, harassment, discrimination, or retaliation, if an institution covers-up an offense, whether criminal or civil, they are not acting in the public interest, they are acting in their own interest.

As I see it, being not just an expert in human behavior, but a management and leadership expert as well, the many difficulties we are experiencing as a society stem from a lack of accountability as well as a lack of clarity regarding our values. Let me explain briefly.

First, individuals are not held accountable within organizations because to admit wrongdoing when a complaint of abuse, harassment, bullying, or discrimination is lodged against an employee, is to admit that the institution is culpable. I have seen it repeatedly that the powers that be refuse to protect the victim, siding with the aggressor in order to save face and avoid possible litigation and responsibility.

Because bullying, harassment, discrimination and retaliation are civil crimes at the very worst, they are swept under the table until the victim navigates a complex web of requirements and deadlines in order to file a case, often without the assistance of a lawyer.  Why no lawyer? Because the legal profession will not lift a finger until they see “dollar signs” and, by then, it is often too late because the victim had missed one step or strict deadline along the way, negating the validity of the case in the eyes of the law.

Did you know that if you are discriminated against, you have just 180 days (in most states), only 6 months, after the alleged offense to file a formal complaint or you lose your right to justice? Even then, you must follow the institutions complex policies to the letter, then filing with the appropriate state agency (e.g. Human Rights Commission) or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (federal).  Until these laws are changed, making them criminal rather than civil offenses, and the aggressors, as well as those who cover-up those offenses, are held accountable, going to jail when appropriate, these institutions will continue to hide their atrocities as was recently the case at Penn State and in Kansas City’s Catholic diocese.

Second, individuals and institutions have lost touch with their values, if they ever had any in the first place. I have seen it repeatedly in my practice; people do not have a clue what their core values are. That is why my therapy, Body-Mind-Behavior Therapy (BMBT) focuses on values clarification and living a value-driven life. Without clearly defined values, it is impossible to set clear, just, and attainable goals. These institutions have lost touch with what it means to do the right thing, even if it means making themselves look bad or turning-in one of their own when they have done wrong.

Until many more Americans and American institutions start holding their people accountable and stop giving “lip service” to their core values, starting to make decisions based on them instead, our country is going to continue to deteriorate. We see it more and more very day. Bernie Madhoff, Elliot Spitzer, Enron, AIG, Bank of America, Joe Paterno, Bishop Finn, the list goes on and on, people and institutions will do practically anything and crush anybody that gets in their way in the name of self-preservation, preserving the status quo…“the good ol’ boys network”.

Chris Sorrentino is host of the weekly series, CombatCounselor Q&A, on YouTube’s CombatCounselor Channel, airing Saturdays at 11:00 AM CSTThis series answers viewer’s questions, taking them through ten steps toward better mental health while incorporating his proprietary, holistic, cognitive-behavioral approach to the treatment of anxiety and depression known as Body-Mind-Behavior Therapy (BMBT).  Chris also plans to write a series of books, the You Think, You Are series, focusing on the role of cognition, physiology (e.g. diet, exercise, and sleep), behavior (positive and negative), and emotion in maintaining a healthy mind and positive lifestyle. You can follow Chris on Twitter @CombatCounselor or read his blog, CombatCounselor, on Blogspot.

COPYRIGHT © 2011-2014 – C.T. Sorrentino and 3rd Wave Publishing – All Rights Reserved

Sunday, November 13, 2011


Penn State cover-up another example of INSTITUTIONAL TERRORISM and the "good ol' boys network" Penn State cover-up another example of INSTITUTIONAL TERRORISM and the "good ol' boys network" at work. Here's another
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CombatCounselor Q&A Episode 3

Watch the latest episode and stay tuned for more, every Saturday at 11AM CST, on the CombatCounselor Channel.
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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Watch The CombatCounselor Channel on YouTube ... Over 500,000 Views!

CombatCounselor During Kosovo Operations - March 1999


CombatCounselor with the first-ever Czech Republic NATO airlift
mission in Skopje, Macedonia during Operation ALLIED FORCE

Title: Watch The CombatCounselor Channel on YouTube ... Over 500,000 Views!

Key Words:  "CombatCounselor Q and A" "The CombatCounselor Channel" series "Body-Mind-Behavior Therapy" questions viewers show Twitter CombatCounselor YouTube, 

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Your "Self"

How you perceive your "self" is a fluid process & not necessarily accurate. It is the accumulation of acts & behaviors which define "you".
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Thursday, October 27, 2011

"To be" in Italian is "essere" from the Latin root "esse" and is defined as "Being". Are you "Doing" or "Being"? Before you go to bed each night, reflect on your day and note the things you did that brought you closer to your values, then plan tomorrow in a value-based way.

For more information and DAILY INSPIRATIONS, follow me at hhtp://www.Twitter.CombatCounselor, you'll be glad you did!
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Saturday, October 15, 2011

Healing and the Mind with Bill Moyers

Mindfulness and Chi in Healing and the Mind, a video series by Bill Moyers.
In the series, Mr. Moyers explores Eastern beliefs such as the concept of Chi, the energy which flows throughout the body which, when interupted, can cause illlness.  Tai Chi, accupuncture, massage, and mindful meditation are a few of the ancient forms used to balance Chi and explored in the series.

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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Comment on Show on Psychic Frauds - Anderson (10-13-2011)

Mr. Cooper,

It is ridiculously clear that the average American does not have a clue what a "qualified" counselor/psychotherapist is. One of your guests mentioned "certification" being a determinant, but licensing is the real issue here.  The woman (who pays $30K per year) stated that she does not go to a "real" therapist because she does not want to be judged.  Licensed, certified psychotherapists DO NOT JUDGE people and, if they do, they do not deserve to be licensed. Licensed, certified psychotherapists SHOULD take an entirely non-judgmental stance and objectively help clients solve their problems based on years of education and experience.

It's not only the psychic mediums, healers, and the like who are scamming the public, "life coaches" are the latest frauds bilking naive individuals into believing they are qualified to help you solve your problems. A life coach gets a "certificate" (which isn't actually required because they, life coaches, are not recognized by any state) in a couple hours to a couple days, many times by filling out a form online and paying some money.
You may want to consider doing the American public a service by doing a show what to look for when looking for a "qualified" counselor/therapist. Psychiatrists, psychologists, licensed professional counselors, and licensed clinical social workers MUST complete a graduate degree (master's or higher), complete a practicum and internship (usually one year each), complete a minimum of 3,000 hours of supervision (under a qualified, licensed therapist), and pass a national exam, as well as a background check, before receiving a license (which is required BY LAW in all states to practice psychotherapy).  For example, I have been licensed (CO and MO) AND certified (National Board of Certified Counselors) for over 20 years, completing a MINIMUM of 20 hours of continuing education each year (required by the states and NBCC), and I only charge $125 per hour.  If your guest was my client and I saw her once a week for a year (my clients rarely need more than 12-14 sessions), she would have paid $6,500 (not $30,000) and may have been able to be reimbursed by her insurance company (I do not accept insurance) by filing a claim.  Insurance companies DO NOT reimburse psychics or life coaches because THEY ARE NOT QUALIFIED to help you.  Most life coaches are out of work MBAs or other unemployed people trying to make a quick buck with little, if any, training requirements.  It is a very lucrative business.  This is not only a disservice to unsuspecting consumers, it takes business away from qualified clinicians and MAY EVEN CAUSE HARM.  My ethical code (a non-existent entity in the world of psychics and life coaches), requires me to, above all else, DO NO HARM to my clients and I take that requirement very seriously.

If you would like to read and learn more, visit my blog at You can also visit my website, or follow me on Twitter @CombatCounselor for more information that is RELIABLE.
Stop the ignorance and pain these frauds are causing to unknowing, undereducated consumers, not to mention the financial hardship they cause by making people pay large sums for their UNLICENSED services.

Thank you for getting the dialogue going by exposing psychic frauds.  Now, take it a step further by educating people about what to look for when they need psychological help. Within the realm of licensed psychotherapists, there are some questionable "modes" of treatment available, so a license is not the only thing required to make sure you get what you are paying for, but that is an entirely different story.