Monthly Archives: August 2011

Mental Golf: 3 Strategies to Lower Scores

When you have to assemble the latest appliance that has arrived in a box, do you begin assembling, and look at the directions later, or do you look at the directions then begin to assemble? We each may have a different method to achieve the goal, yet everyone will probably agree that the directions have a purpose of helping you assemble the appliance successfully. Do you want to lower your golf score? Here are 3 simple directions to create lower scores, even if your skill level remains the same. Are you ready to follow the directions?

Direction #1: Only attempt shots that you can comfortably execute at least 60% of the time. If you can drive the ball into this narrow fairway 2 out of 10 times with your driver, yet you can keep in the fairway 6 out of 10 times with your 5 wood. Use your 5 wood. With a higher percentage shot, your body is more comfortable, your confidence level is higher, and your chances of hitting a solid shot is significantly higher. The impact of the previous shot has a big influence on your next one. Isn’t it easier to maintain a solid rhythm when your previous shot was a solid, smooth and well hit 5 wood, compared to a nervously executed drive that sliced into the rough? Using the 5 wood off the tee may not be the best thing to impress your playing partners that you are “the man” who should be entered into the Long Drive contest, yet it will bring you satisfaction at the 19th hole when you are adding the scores. A major trap for golf players is trying to make up a stroke following an errant shot. If you drive into the rough and you have some obstacles between your ball and the hole, many players will try a low percentage; miracle shot that gets on the green. If you confidently pull this shot off over 60% of the time, go for it. If not, punch out safely onto the short grass. The biggest obstacle to faithfully following the 60% rule is an ego. How would you assess the control of your ego on the course?

Direction #2: Stay on the Short Grass as much as possible. This seems to be very obvious, yet it is not as obvious as it appears. You will score better hitting a lesser club, and staying in the fairway off the tee box, than if you use more club, and inconsistently get your drive into the fairway. Statistics are very clear about the correlation between fairways hit on tee shots, and lower scores. The fairway decreases significantly the chances of miss hitting, takes out the possibility of any major obstacles, and eliminate the chances of penalty strokes due to hitting out of bounds or into a hazard (few exceptions). Psychologically, the fairway increases confidence, promotes rhythm, and increases the ability to execute accurate shots. The next level is getting on the shorter grass or putting green. If you are ever hitting an approach shot that is between clubs, pick the one that will safely get you on the green. For the majority of players, putting accuracy is much higher than chipping accuracy of the same distance, so play to the short grass.

Direction #3: Increase your focus on WHERE you want to hit it, and decrease your focus on HOW you want to hit it. Focus on your target; get obsessed with the end destination of your shot and you will score better than if you are mentally concentrating on how you want to hit the shot. If you are absorbed in the mechanics and techniques of the shot, you loose your target consciousness, and your intensity for the target begins to disappear. When you loose your intensity of your target intension, you also loose the control of the flight of the ball. Do not misunderstand me in saying that the mechanics and techniques are not important. I will be the first to say that you need to develop great mechanical skills and techniques, yet this is the work reserved for the practice tee and golf instruction. When you are out on the course, it is the time to let the analysis go, and get focus on hunting down the target and scoring.
I challenge you to play 2 or 3 rounds following these 3 simple instructions, and I’ll bet your scores will improve. Let me know how things turned out!

Dean Sunseri, MA, MEd, is a specialist in Sports Performance Counseling and has coached Golf Tour Professionals, NFL Football Players, Professional Baseball Players and Professional Hockey Teams. He can be contacted at email or 225-290-7252.

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A Guideline for Blended Families or Step Parenting

A blended family or step parenting can be a very big challenge for everyone involved.  The following are some guidelines to make the new family unit function more effectively.

  1. Be Patient – A natural family is created slowly, yet a blended family is more abrupt.  Allow time for adjustment.
  2.  Make Respect a Rule – Demand that each member of the family is treated with respect.  Members may not like each other, yet acting with respectful actions and attitude is mandatory.  Discipline behavior and character.
  3. Allow time for bonding between Step Parent and Child.  Step Parent must take initiative to create a bond with the child.  Small behaviors lead to bigger behaviors.
  4. As the relationship increases, disciplining increases.
  5. Maintain harmony as a team or a united front between parent and stepparent.
  6. Understand the losses and hurts of the children.
  7. Step Parent has the authority initially like a baby sitter, teacher or coach.  The next stage is like an uncle or aunt.  The next stage is like a parent.
  8. Never speak negatively in front of the child about the biological parent.
  9. Communicate, communicate, communicate!
  10. Lower your expectation of the quality of relationship between the stepparent and child.
  11. Create a list of family rules and consequences.  Make the consequence facilitate the desired behavior.
  12. Write down the rules and consequences in a binder.

Follow these suggestions, and you will reap the benefits.

Dean Sunseri is a Licensed Professional Counselor or therapist experienced in General Mental Health Counseling, Family Counseling, Marriage Counseling, Substance Abuse Counseling, Christian Counseling, Family Counseling and Sports Performance Psychology in Baton Rouge, LA.

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What is Depression?

Defined: Depression is a debilitating state that has a negative impact on a person’s mood, and a loss of interest or pleasure in daily activities.   A depressed person will describe their mood as sad or empty, and sometimes he or she becomes irritable easily.  Some other characteristics are weight loss, difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much, low energy level, feeling worthless, difficulty concentrating and suicidal feelings.  This last factor is the reason why depression must be treated and addressed.  Depression can create a hopelessness that is so severe that it could lead to death.  Don’t ignore it, get help as soon as possible.  Depression often occurs following a significant loss, or a major life change.  It also occurs when a person feels stuck in a particular area of their life, such as stuck in a job, a relationship, or an illness.

Treatment:  Is depression treatable?  Absolutely Yes! With proper treatment, 80% to 90% of depressed people are able to move out of the depression.  The most common treatment is medication.  I advise individuals to investigate this option very thoroughly before making a decision for medication.  There are multiple side effects from anti-depressant medication.  It is considered the quick fix, yet like most quick fixes, it is not always a magic bullet.  Many people jump in without properly investigating the pros and cons of the medication.  The medicine deals with the symptom, and does not address the root cause of the depression.  Professional counseling has been very effective in treating depression.  A good therapist will help you identify the root cause of the depression, and teach you skills to come out of the debilitating mood.  The old cliché stands true, “What is not talked out is acted out.”  Talk out the depression and it will stop being acted out in your life.  Some say that this is too easy, yet it has been proven to work over and over again.

How long does Treatment Last:  This depends on the severity of the depression.  Sometimes a major life event causes an episode of depression, and the event must be worked through with a good counselor.  Sometimes the event is a trigger that surfaces many other unresolved experiences, and this therapy process will take a longer to resolve.  For example, the breakup of a relationship may bring up the grief of some others relationship failures that were never resolved.  It’s as if the pain of the broken relationship becomes magnetized to the other break ups, and all the pain surfaces at one time.  A good professional counselor will help you make the connections, and break free from the sadness.

Conclusion:  There is hope for depression.  You must deal with the root of the problem, and not just the symptom, to break free.  Find a good Professional Counselor or Therapist, and your investment in yourself will reap valuable rewards in your quality of life.

Dean Sunseri is a Licensed Profession Counselor experienced in General Mental Health Counseling and Substance Abuse Counseling.  He is located in Baton Rouge LA. and contacted at .

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What are the Symptoms of an Alcohol Problem?

Question: What Are the Symptoms of an Alcohol Problem?

Answer: Certain behaviors are known to be possible early signs of an alcohol problem. These include any established pattern of drinking, such as heavy regular alcohol consumption and/or frequent intoxication, which poses a high risk of future damage to physical or mental health and which places the drinker at risk of accidents, arrests, poor job performance or other social problems.

Alcohol dependence, sometimes referred to as alcoholism , is the most severe type of alcohol problem and is characterized by three of seven symptoms experienced during a one year time period. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, the symptoms of alcohol dependence include:

Symptoms of Alcohol Dependence

  • Neglect of other Activities: Important social, occupational, or recreational activities are given up or reduced because of alcohol use;
  • Excessive Use: Alcohol is consumed in larger amounts over a longer period than intended;
  • Impaired control: Ongoing, unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control alcohol consumption;
  • Persistence of Use: Alcohol consumption is continued despite knowledge of having a persistent or recurrent physical or psychological problem that is likely caused or exacerbated by alcohol;
  • Large Amounts of Time Spent in Alcohol Related Activities: A great deal of time is spent in activities necessary to obtain, use or recover from the effects of alcohol;
  • Withdrawal: Withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, sweating, shakiness, and anxiety when alcohol use is stopped after a period of heavy drinking;
  • Tolerance: The need for increasing amounts of alcohol in order to feel its effects.

Dean Sunseri is a Licensed Profession Counselor experienced in General Mental Health Counseling and Substance Abuse Counseling.  He is located in Baton Rouge LA.  and can be contacted at .

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20 Questions about Alcohol Addiction

The short quiz is commonly referred to as “The 20 Questions” and the original, developed by researchers in the addiction field, has been adjusted many times over the years to include all mood-altering substances and prescription medications. As a quick provider in indicating areas of concern, it has proven a valuable tool keyed to behavior among substance abusers and those who may be drinking too much alcohol.

If you or someone you know feels they may have a problem with alcohol, drugs or prescription pills we recommend answering the following questions as honestly as you can! All that’s needed is a simple “yes” or “no” and you’ll gain a perspective on what you should be doing to turn things around promptly .

  • Have I been gulping drinks rather than sipping them?
  • When I’m under pressure do I drink or do drugs more than usual?
  • Has drinking and substance abuse made me more impulsive and less rational?
  • Do I feel guilty about drinking and doing drugs?
  • Have I lost time from work because of my dependencies on alcohol and prescription meds?
  • Has my drinking and drug use caused abusive conduct at home with my spouse and children?
  • Do I continue drinking when companions have stopped?
  • Do I sneak drinks or pop pills before or during social events?
  • Have I ever had an auto accident because of drinking or substance abuse?
  • Do I forget things that happened when I drink or use drugs?
  • If alcohol is not available at a social event am I uncomfortable?
  • Am I harder to get along with after drinking for a while?
  • Do I still claim I can stop drinking and doing drugs whenever I want?
  • Do I crave a drink at any special time every day?
  • Do I ever need a drink first thing in the morning or a pill to get going?
  • Did I ever hide a bottle or a “stash at home?”
  • Do I prefer to drink alone so it’s possible to drink more?
  • Have I lost a job because of my drug use or drinking?
  • Do I ever need a drink or a couple of pills to get rid of the “shakes?”
  • Do chemical substances or alcohol help me build confidence?

If you answered “yes” to several of these questions it may be time for you to take a closer look at your drinking or use of mood altering drugs. If you took the test for someone else you might want to confront that person now with your results. Those who did answer “yes” should strongly consider consulting with a treatment professional now. One doesn’t jump to conclusions but this test will point out the proper direction to take.

Dean Sunseri is a Licensed Profession Counselor experienced in General Mental Health Counseling and Substance Abuse Counseling.  He is located in Baton Rouge LA. and can be contacted at .

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Covenant Marriage

There are 3 levels of agreement.  The first level is the lightest and most casual which we will call an agreement.  An agreement is a simple commitment between two people, such as making an appointment to go to lunch next Friday at a certain restaurant.  The next level of agreement is a Contract.  This type of agreement has some legal ramifications, and is often done in the form of writing.  This type of agreement carries more responsibility, and more consequences if it is broken.  An example is a contract to borrow money from a bank to purchase a house.  A contract requires a higher level of commitment, and each party has more at risk.  The highest level of agreement is a Covenant.  A covenant is the highest level of commitment a person can make with another person.  A covenant is a permanent agreement that is made before God as the highest binding authority, and the penalty of breaking this agreement is death.  A covenant is made for mutual benefit, and is characterized by making the other person just as important as oneself.  A covenant is never entered into lightly, and when the covenant is made, it is bound by some type of intense ritual that creates a permanent imprint on both parties.  Some examples of covenant rituals is the commingling of blood, branding of names or symbols in the skin or permanent placement of rings on one’s fingers.  The covenant partner will maintain the covenant, even to laying down one’s life to keep the covenant.  The covenant system has been lost in our modern life, yet marriage is an institution that grew out of a covenant bond.

Christianity is a religion based on the covenant ideal.  The bible is divided into the Old Covenant (Testament) and the New Covenant (Testament).  If Christians truly understood the covenant commitment, things would be very different in our churches today.  A covenant is an irreversible decision to move into a friendship bond that is deeper than blood siblings.  The Christian Covenant is beyond the scope of this article, yet it is the foundation of the covenant marriage.  A Covenant Marriage is the highest level of commitment two people could make towards each other.  The covenant agreement is made during the exchanging of vows, and the original purpose of the vows is to state before God the covenant agreement, and state that if one does not remain faithful to the vows, one understands that death will follow.  The understanding is that all possessions, talents and assets become part of the new unit, and there is no more “I,” there is only “we.”  The extraordinary aspect of Christianity is that God desires this type of relationship with each human through Jesus Christ.  The covenant marriage is really a trio covenant.  It is the bonding of the bride, the groom and God, into a new unity.

Premarital counseling is an important aspect of developing a covenant marriage.  The couple needs to understand the meaning of a covenant commitment.  They need to explore levels of compatibility, and ability to live the selfless life that a covenant demands.  A covenant commitment can be made only by mature adults, and the level of maturity of each person needs to be assessed.  The covenant terms, or marriage vows need to be clearly understood and discussed before entering into the covenant ceremony.  Pre marital counseling can help the couple discern whether they are truly ready to make the covenant commitment.

A covenant marriage requires a full commitment, yet it provides the highest level of security in a marriage.  It demands accountability to a partner and to God, yet it provides the deepest level of fulfillment.  The covenant marriage requires the greatest risk, yet it gives the greatest amount of benefit that a marriage can possess.  If you want a marriage that will last the test of time, consider making your marriage a covenant union.

Dean Sunseri, LPC is a minister and Licensed Professional Counselor who has helped prepare many couples for covenant marriage.  If you are interested in his face to face services or telephone services, you can contact him at

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What is an Intervention?

Intervention means to interfere in the affairs of another person in order to bring about a positive change.  The common use today in the mental health field is to interfere in life of a person who is in a self-destructive cycle.  Most of the time, the self destructive cycle has to do with habitual use of alcohol or drugs, yet it could also be self-destructive behaviors such as overeating, gambling and compulsive sexual behavior.  If a person is in a self-destructive cycle they will be intervened upon at some point by the legal system, financial institution, employer, spouse or the grave.  A planned intervention by loved one’s is a proactive step to stop the self destructive cycle, so that the individual does not need to lose his or her job, get a divorce, go broke or, most importantly, die.  Often times, family and friends are resistant to intervening, yet I remind them that it is much better for you to intervene than a prison sentence, bankruptcy court or the grave.  The self destructive cycle is not going away, so you may as well do the best you can to assist the person that you love.
Speaking about love, love and care is the only thing that can break through the denial system of someone who is caught in a self-destructive cycle.  When I talk about love, I am not referring to passively allowing the addict to have their way, and step on you like a doormat.  True love is honest, direct communication from the heart.  It is being willing to speak the truth in kindness, even if one is risking the relationship.  An intervention is when concerned family and friends have a meeting with the addict and communicate their care and concern about the impact of the self-destructive behavior.  Often times, family and friends know there is a problem, yet they do not know what to do or how to approach it.  When a trained interventionist leads the group, each individual will be coached on how to communicate to the addict.  Lessons learned will not only serve you during the intervention, but also assist you in communicating in the future.

Many ask me, “When is the right time to intervene?”  There is not really a good time, because the process is emotional and challenging, yet the love ones need to remember that there will be an intervention.  It will be pro-active, or one that happens due to the destructive behaviors running its natural course.   The suffering addict does not need to hit bottom, the intervention creates a bottom, and, more often than not, the addict goes for help immediately after the intervention.

An intervention is the most loving thing a person can do for a suffering addict.  He or she may not appreciate it at the time, yet after they begin the recovery process, they will tell you, “Thanks for saving my life!”

Dean Sunseri, LPC is a trained interventionist and has helped countless families find help for a loved one suffering with self-destructive behaviors.  He is located in Baton Rouge LA. and can be contacted at email.

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