Counselor for cities in the Amarillo area
Valle De Oro
Office Hours by Appointment
Not currently accepting new clients.
Darren is a graduate of West Texas A&M University with a master's degree in professional counseling. He is a Licensed Professional Counselor working with individuals, couples and families. Darren's counseling interests include emotional eating, helping clients to get "unstuck", mind-body connection, trauma related issues, and pornography/sexual addictions. Darren also treats clients with anxiety, depression and anger issues.
Visit Darren's Smart Quotes blog.
We don't necessarily need to look at the dizzying array of statistics concerning the growing number of us who are overweight or obese to see that we are slowly losing the battle of the bulge. The CDC reports that obesity rates are up year after year in spite of the fact that Americans spend $60 billion a year on various weight loss plans, including surgery. Perhaps we should look at the role food and eating play in our lives and not merely the number of calories consumed. When we find ourselves in situations that we wish to avoid, such as in times of being overwhelmed, boredom, loneliness, fear or anger, it’s oftentimes easier to “escape” into a bag of potato chips or a very large amount of soft drink (ever notice that Toot N Totum no longer sells soft drinks in a can...apparently we’ve outgrown the vintage 12 oz can).
On the upside, this “escape” is a protective mechanism that keeps us safe from feelings or emotions that may threaten our sense of well-being. The downside is that we generally find ourselves numb from the process. If you’ve ever suddenly, inexplicably, found yourself with a very empty carton of ice cream or wonder where all 44 ounces of your Diet Coke went, you are familiar with this numbing process.
So where is that place, that tranquil place, where we aren’t overwhelmed by our emotions and not numbing ourselves with food. Where is that place that leaves us safely embodied and present to our lives? Fortunately it’s not a place but a spiritual journey that reminds us to rely on God instead of chocolate and to lean on people instead of cookies. It is a path that encourages us to uncover our hurts and let God heal us instead of keeping the scary parts layered under our next food fix. It is certainly not easy to undo years of coping by using food. If you struggle year after year with “big pants syndrome”, discovering the role food and eating play in your life is ultimately more satisfying, healthier and may yield better results than jumping on the latest diet bandwagon. If we are to change a troubling trend, we have to begin to look at a process of regulating our emotions in ways that don’t require so many calories.
The guru of this type of work is Geneen Roth (http://www.geneenroth.com) who has been working with this issue for more than 20 years. Geneen Roth shares seven guidelines to eating more consciously in Women, Food, and God:
"Eat when you are hungry.
Eat sitting down in a calm environment. This does not include the car.
Eat without distractions. Distractions include radio, television, newspapers,
books, intense or anxiety-producing conversations or music.
Eat what your body wants.
Eat until you are satisfied.
Eat (with the intention of being) in full view of others.
Eat with enjoyment, gusto and pleasure."
The intent of these eating guidelines isn't to oversimplify emotional eating or to assume that we can easily follow these guidelines but to begin to understand ourselves during those times when we can't follow the guidelines.
Please see the Amarillo Eating Group Flyer for additional information about weight loss in Amarillo.
How You Do Anything is How You Do Everything
When we find that we are worrying about the past or living for the future, we miss living in the present. It's that place that never feels like enough but where everything happens. The following is one of my favorite resources for this idea of staying in the present.
In What I Gained by Losing in Madoff, author Geneen Roth recounts how she lost all of her retirement to Bernie Madoff:
"Although I never would have chosen this path, and although it still feels terrifying at moments, I know I can never see the whole picture in the chaos of the moment. Sometimes it feels as if a bomb exploded in my chest. And sometimes, sometimes I am aware that there's an unimaginable unchartered world on the other side of this loss, like stepping through the Narnia wardrobe.
On this other side of loss, there is the necessity -- the urgency -- of staying in the moment. This breath. This step. This splash of sun. The money is lost but if I wander into fear--what if my husband or I get sick and we can't pay the medical bills, what if there is an accident and we can't work, what we will do when we get old -- I'm lost as well. Being fierce about staying in the present -- where there already is enough -- is an unexpected GOM (Gift of Madoff)." ... read more
Sex and Pornography Addiction
With the explosion of the internet, broadband connections and now internet capable smart phones, reports of internet pornography use are soaring. If you, or someone you know, is struggling with this issue or a related sex addiction issue such as affairs, please feel free to email or call me. Many who want to come to terms with this issue try to do so in isolation. Others find that they are not able to stop using pornography or having affairs without professional help. Good professional help and a sense of community makes recovery much more likely. My training in sex and pornography addiction issues is through Dr Doug Weiss and the American Association of Sex Addiction Therapy (www.aasat.org).
Please also see the Sex and Pornography Addiction Counseling page.
Marriage and Couples Counseling
The beauty and magic of marriage or couples counseling is that your partner's reactions and behaviors are a metaphorical "mirror" on which we can see ourselves not as our ideal self but how we are in a relationship. As a wise teacher once wrote, "Life is relational." Marriage and couples counseling involves learning about our past and our hurts. This type of counseling demands personal responsibility and to learn to stop blaming. If we can begin to tolerate the emotional flinch in a loving and trusting relationship instead of emotionally shutting down or lashing out, we can begin to be transformed. We are hurt and healed in relationships.
Darren's Smart Quotes Blog