eNewsletter - December 2017

Behavioral Health Partners



Presence and Presents: Self-caring this holiday season 
By Terry Ciszek, LCSW, CSADC

This article is about helping those of us in the helping profession practice good self-care through the holiday season. Here is my advice: say no to all requests to do anything you do not want to do, and hunker down at home in front of the fireplace (real or the ones on television) with milk and cookies until Jan. 2.

Now that we got that out of the way, I want to tell you a story. I was 8 years old and I knew the truth—there was no Santa Claus. No matter what my parents and older sister said, I knew the truth and I was going to prove it. In our home, we went to church on Christmas Eve and when we returned home from the service, Santa had come and delivered presents under the tree.

I formulated a plan that year to prove “my truth.” If I am too sick to go to church, I will rest on the couch 3 feet from the Christmas tree and then Santa Claus will not come because he doesn’t exist. So I purposely got sick (another story for another time) and against my wishes, my mom stayed back to care for me as my dad and sister left for church.

My plan was working. Minutes ticked away and no jolly man in a red suit had come. Mom was very attentive to me, keeping my glass of 7UP filled and encouraging me to drink plenty of liquids to keep my slight fever from spiking.

I thought my mom would be more worried than she appeared since I was blowing the top off of a well-kept secret. But she remained calm and smiling throughout the evening. Then it happened. I had to go to the bathroom. My dad and sister were due home in fifteen minutes. I can hold it. I can hold it. I CAN’T hold it!

I threw off my covers, ran to the bathroom, did my business, and ran back to the living room. I stopped dead in my tracks. There, under the tree were the presents from Santa Claus. It could not be true—but it was. And sitting in her chair with a big smile on her face and a twinkle in her eye was my mom, who said, “Sorry dear, you just missed him!”

This is more than a story about a parent outwitting their child in order to keep a mystery of childhood alive for one more year. It is part of my story and also a story about therapy. Our clients come to us with their stories. Their stories are their truths; beliefs they believe deeply to be true. Usually these stories are self-limiting. Stories of being trapped; trapped in addiction, depression, anxiety, dysfunctional relationships, and emptiness.

But by sharing with us, they are giving us their greatest gift possible: their precious life story. We need to honor and hold their stories as sacred because they are. As we mindfully listen to our clients’ stories without judgement or criticism, we begin to help our clients make room for a trusting relationship in their lives. By validating their stories with compassion, we help our clients experience the basic spiritual need of being understood by at least one other human being. We are not alone.

One of the goals of therapy is to help bring order to our clients disordered and fragmented stories. By reframing and offering alternative meanings to their stories, we open up their creativity, and hope to re-author their stories in a more caring and compassionate manner.

In order to be the story receptacle we need to be for our clients, we need to be mindfully focused and attentive during the sharing of stories in therapy. We need to be fully present.

Spencer Johnson wrote the beautiful parable, The Precious Present, in 1981 and it has become a classic story emphasizing the need to “stay in the present” as we live out our lives. The past is gone and the future hasn’t arrived yet. Many of our patients come to us living in the past or in the future. But truth be told, especially during the holidays, so do we as helpers. We have to intentionally guard against both the external expectations and the internal noise that fight for our attention.

The key to remaining in the present is our own self-care. Research consistently demonstrates that the quality of the therapeutic relationship is more predictive of counseling outcomes than any other factor. Dedication to our craft starts with dedication to ourselves. Our wellness is the most important tool of our craft.

During the holidays self-care can be difficult because the outside world expects more of our time and attention. We all know what is in our best interest. We also know because of our humanness, knowing and doing are two different things. It is especially important during the holiday season to look inward and acknowledge our value and purpose of being the best therapist possible, and do the things necessary to be mindfully present for our clients and ourselves.

If my advice in the first paragraph did not meet your needs as far as guidance, try these tips for self-care this holiday season:

  1. Eat and drink in moderation. Eating mindfully will help you say no to the cookie tray making its second pass around the table.
  2. Get sufficient rest. Loved ones will prefer to be with a well-rested you than to see more lights hung outside.
  3. Exercise at least 20 minutes a day, 3 times a week. Body movement helps us stay grounded and gives us energy.
  4. Pray/meditate in the morning before you start your day for guidance, and at the end of the day to give thanks.
  5. Practice Radical Acceptance with the “stinkers” in our life. We all have them. It is past time to let go!
  6. Plan time with friends/family to have fun. Keep it simple. Play a game, color together, go for a walk/drive together in the neighborhood to look at decorations.
  7. Step away from technology for a few hours. It isn’t going anywhere.
  8. Listen to holiday music and sing along. Belt it out and when done, drop the imaginary microphone. Have fun with it.
  9. Make one plate of intentionally funny looking cookies. Enjoy the process of imperfection and share with a friend.
  10.  Tell a funny story about you as a child during the holidays. If you cannot come up with one, you have my permission to use mine. The working title is: “To pee or not to pee — that is the question.”


Terry Ciszek, LCSW, CSADC, director of social services and case management at Linden Oaks Behavioral Health, has 40 years’ experience in behavioral health services.  He has a masters in social work from the Univeristy of Illinois-Chicago and has expereince working in both leadership roles in both the inpatient and outpatient settings.



2018 Linden Oaks Seminar/Webinar Educational Calendar
Events for Behavioral Health Professionals

Linden Oaks is proud to announce the Seminar and Webinar dates and topics on our 2018 Professional Educational CEU Calendar.  

Our 2018 schedule contains a variety of new and timely behavioral health topics and speakers designed to provide quality educational experiences to community behavioral health professionals.

Our professional Seminars and Webinars are open to community providers, referral sources and other mental/behavioral health professionals.  This is a great opportunity to network with colleagues, stay up to date on current best practices in behavioral health and learn new and innovate ways to help your patients. 

All of these presentations offer continuing education units for professionals. Units are available for IAODAPCA (CADC), LCPC/LPC, LCSW/LSW, LMFT, and Psychologist licensure.   

Our live seminar series takes place at the Linden Oaks Naperville Outpatient Center (1335 N. Mill St., Education Center, Naperville).  Exact presentation dates and times are listed below. Half-day seminars are $30 and full day seminars are $60.    There is discounted admission for students and Edward/Elmhurst employees.  

Our free online webinar series takes place every other month on the 3rd Wednesday of the month from 12:00 noon to 1:00 pm.       

Registration is required for all educational opportunities. You will find the registration links below.   

12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Continuing education units: 1.0
Cost: Free
Linden Oaks Outpatient Center, 1335 N. Mill Street, Naperville
Cost: $30 half-day/$60 full-day*
Wednesday, January 17
Bullying Behaviors: Strategies for Prevention and Intervention

Wednesday, March 21
Behavioral Health in the Digital Age: How Technology is Changing the Industry

Wednesday, May 16
Grief Counseling: Techniques, Interventions, and Treatment

Wednesday, July 18
Psychological Assessment and Testing

Wednesday, September 19
Compassion Fatigue: Recognizing Burnout and Prioritizing Self-care in Your Busy Schedule

Wednesday, November 21
Borderline Personality: Trends and Treatment
Friday, January 12
9:00 am - 3:15 pm
Continuing education units: 5.0
Navigating The Expressive Therapies: An Evidence Based Creative Approach To Mental Healthcare

Friday, February 9
9:00 am - 12:15 pm
Continuing education units: 3.0
Binge and Emotional Eating: Advances and Updates in Treatment

Friday, March 9
9:00 am - 12:15 pm
Continuing education units: 3.0
Recent Advances in the Diagnosis and Treatment of Bipolar Disorder

Friday, April 13
9:00 am - 12:15 pm
Continuing education units: 3.0
Treating the Adolescent Patient: Working with Families, Schools, and Individuals Effectively

Friday, May 11
9:00 am - 4:15 pm
Continuing education units: 6.0
Behavioral Health Ethics and Cultural Competence Summit: Ethics in the Modern World and Treating the LGBTQ+ Patient
(An LSW/LCSW 3.0 Ethics and 3.0 Cultural Competency Workshop)

Friday, June 8
9:00 am - 12:15 pm
Continuing education units: 3.0
Beyond the Bulletproof Vest: Getting to the Heart of the Law Enforcement Offcer in Treatment

Friday, July 13
9:00 am - 12:15 pm
Continuing education units: 3.0
What’s New in Psychopharmacology

Friday, August 10
9:00 am - 12:15 pm
Continuing education units: 3.0
Neurobiology: What Behavioral Health Professionals Need to Know

Friday, September 14
9:00 am - 3:15 pm
Continuing education units: 5.0
Motivational Interviewing in Addiction Treatment

Friday, October 12
9:00 am - 12:15 pm
Continuing education units: 3.0
The Myths and Facts about Non-suicidal Self Injury

Friday, November 9
9:00 am - 12:15 pm
Continuing education units: 3.0
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

Friday, December 14
9:00 am - 12:15 pm
Continuing education units: 3.0
Treating the Geriatric Patient