Them’s Fightin’ Words: Changing the Tone of Your Relationship from Conflict to Co-operation

Even the best relationships run into trouble from time to time, but the when an already bad relationship starts to go south things can get ugly very quickly. That’s when it may be time to call in the help of seasoned professionals. Counseling and mediation can really help in these situations, and it may be necessary for one or both partners to take anger management classes. If things continue to escalate, eventually ending in physical harm, domestic violence classes may help.

It’s possible to save your relationship from a trip to the therapist, but it requires you and your partner to work together so that you can improve the communication in your marriage.

Communication is Both the Problem and the Solution

Things begin to go wrong in a relationship with one or both partners feel as though they have unfulfilled needs. This could be related to the partnership, or these needs could stem from outside situations. If the people involved don’t address or communicate these needs directly, misunderstandings will start to happen. The husband may snap at his wife about something small. He’s stressed over an unrelated situation, but at the time it feels like it’s her fault. She gets upset and defensive. Feeling put down, she either attempts to correct what was never wrong to begin with or snaps back at him.

Either way, neither person has done anything to solve the real problem. Instead, they’ve invented new challenges to add to the pile.

Fighting Fire with Gasoline Isn’t Going to Help

It’s not right to add anger to an already angry situation, nor should you attempt to make up for something you haven’t done wrong. Instead, it’s better to give the angry person their space until they calm down. If they do not leave you alone, then you need to remove yourself from the situation until they are willing and able to listen. Once both of you have cooled off, sit down together and have a real conversation.

domestic violence classes in chicago for couplesIn a real conversation, both people listen to each other. They reserve judgment and make the decision not to take things personally. To follow up on the above scenario, the woman could start by saying “you were angry with me earlier, but I feel like it wasn’t actually about me. What’s bothering you, and is there any way I can help?”

This takes the responsibility for the anger off your shoulders, but it doesn’t displace it onto the angry person. Doing so will only make them feel guilty, and that will lead to more anger. From this point, continue the discussion and focus on resolving not only what made the other person angry, but also on how to prevent this from happening in the future.

Professional Help is Always Available

Polite conversation can’t solve everything, and some couples may not even be capable of this. For those times when you keep hitting a brick wall, consider anger management classes or domestic violence classes.

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In-Person DUI Classes vs Online DUI Classes

While it’s causing a bit of a controversy, it’s now possible to take the required DUI classes through various online venues. It costs extra, but it saves you from having to beg a ride from a friend to fulfill the requirements necessary to earn back your license.

This actually isn’t new. In the past, this option was only offered to those who couldn’t find a valid course in their area. Now the DMV has relaxed these stipulations, allowing anyone with an internet connection to enjoy the convenience of virtual learning.

In Person DUI Classes a thing of the past?

It seems the idea is popular because traditional, in person DUI classes are becoming a thing of the past. There’s not enough interest in sitting in the classroom, and many people opt for the convenience of the online option despite it being much more expensive.

This has raised a lot of questions, and opponents to the change have expressed a fear that this will only remove roadblocks to driving under the influence. If it’s easier to fulfill the requirements of the program, people may be more inclined to get behind a wheel while intoxicated.

While this is an understandable concern, it has some problems. Most states have a three-strike rule that results in permanent suspension of the license and jail time for repeat offenders. However, even a first-time offender can cost the life of a loved one. The question here is, if potentially costing a life isn’t enough to stop someone from making such a bad choice, then is the threat of having to attend a class going to be enough?

The thing about it is that repeat offenders don’t have a problem with bad decision-making. They have a problem with addiction. Addicts are not rational, and repercussions fly out the window when an addict imbibes in their addiction.

Cons of Online DUI Classes

This actually highlights an argument against online DUI classes that has more credence. Addicts are presented with very few opportunities wherein they are faced with the consequences of their actions within a supportive environment. These opportunities have the potential to save the addict’s life and the lives of anyone who may be affected by their DUI classes illinois

That’s the drawback to an online course. Without a physical instructor present, the chance of an addict seeking real help because of the experience is almost non-existent. This is probably the strongest argument against the program, but even it is somewhat invalidated. Getting an addict into rehab takes a level of self-realization that probably isn’t going to be achieved by a day in DUI classes.

People have also expressed fear that the offender may simply get another person to take the course in their place. The online course is based on the honor system, and honor isn’t something addicts are known for. Honestly, it’s probably not easy to find someone willing to sit through a DUI class for you.

While online DUI classes have caused a controversy by potentially killing the in-person DUI course, it remains to be seen as to what effect this will truly have in the future.

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6 Reasons Parenting Classes Create Healthy Families

Professional parenting classes can teach you everything you need to know about children as they progress through each stage of development. Healthy families are made from loving and informed parents who foster good relationships. Here are 6 ways parenting classes in Chicago will help you create a healthy family.

  1. You Will Learn How to communicate with your child

Children talk in a different language than adults; one that evolves alongside their mental, physical, and emotional capacity. Listening is the foundation of communicating effectively. Parenting classes will help you understand how your child thinks, and this will improve your ability to truly listen when a child communicates. Instead of reaching a conclusion based solely from an adult perspective, you’ll learn to understand the child’s perspective based on their level of development. Once you learn to understand and speak their language, it becomes easier to teach them yours.

  1. You Will Learn More About Child Development

As children grow, they hit milestone achievements in mental, physical, and emotional development. These are like signposts that show if the child is behind, on track, or advanced in any area. Parenting classes can help you understand each stage of development. Understanding the milestones in children’s development will give you the tools you need to ensure your child succeeds throughout life.

  1. You Will Be Better Able to Meet Your Child’s Emotional Needschicago parenting classes create healthy familities

Discipline is one of the most confusing aspects of parenting. Acting out is part of being a child because children are built to test boundaries. Sometimes, however, children act out to show that something is off. It could be something very simple, like wanting a little more time with you or having seen something frightening on television. Understanding more about emotional needs at different stages of development will help you understand when your child is misbehaving to test boundaries, or when your child legitimately needs help.

  1. You Will Feel More Confident

Children play on the emotions of the adults around them. The authority in the room will direct how they respond because young children have no blueprint for how to act. The more confident you are, the better behavior you will model. Children will feel more secure, and they will likely follow directions better.

  1. You Will Learn How to Choose a Good Daycare

Many children spend most of their waking childhood in daycare, so it is essential to find a good one. Avoid changing daycares before age three as well because this can be detrimental. The more you understand your child, the better you will be able to discern if they are happy and progressing normally. This makes it easier to tell if your daycare isn’t living up to their promises.

  1. You Will Learn All Sorts of Parenting Hacks

Having kids is hectic sometimes, so it helps to have a few tricks up your sleeve! You can find classes that will teach you how to calm a crying baby instantly, diaper like a pro, or fix quick and balanced meals.

As you can see, parenting classes help to create peace of mind and confidence. They can also help you understand your child better, which helps them to understand you better. That’s a sound basis for any good relationship, and good relationships make for healthy families.

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Learning about the Immigration Hardship Evaluation Process in Chicago

Moving to a new country is always challenging.  People do it for better opportunities, safer living, or to earn enough money to support family still living in their home county.  Adjusting to the new life may be particularly difficult for those families whose members do not have legal status.  Obtaining legal status in the United States is a long and complicated process.  Those who lived in the U.S. illegally are required by law to leave the country to apply for status change, but for many families that means long-term separation.


Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility


One way to avoid the separation of the family is to apply for a waiver of grounds of inadmissibility.  If the waiver is granted, the immigrant who would otherwise have to leave the country for three or ten years, may remain in the U.S. while obtaining the permanent resident status.  Before the waiver can be granted, the family needs to prove that a qualifying relative, who is a citizen or a legal permanent resident, would suffer extreme hardship if the person applying for the waiver left the country.


Qualifying relatives are typically parents or spouses of undocumented immigrants.  As part of the immigration process, they can submit to a psychological evaluation to demonstrate extreme hardship.  While the psychological evaluation is not mandatory, it can be very helpful in the immigration process, because it can help the family present a fuller picture of their life difficulties to the immigration judge.  It is important to note that according to the immigration law, the mere separation of the family and expected suffering that comes with it is not considered hardship.


What is Extreme Hardship


Extreme hardship is more than what an average person is expected to experience when separated from a family member.  Unfortunately there are no clear criteria explaining what the immigration office considers extreme hardship, so each case has to be explained individually.  The hardship evaluation will explain difficulties the qualifying relative will likely experience in different areas of his or her life.  Those difficulties may be related to physical or mental health, financial problems, or lost educational or career opportunities.


The Evaluation Process

extreme hardship evaluation in chicago illinois

Most people seek the hardship evaluation at the suggestion of their immigration attorney.  However, a referral from an attorney is not required.  The hardship evaluation is done by a psychologist or mental health counselor, whose role is to collect information from the qualifying relative and other family members and write a report that will be submitted to the immigration office.  Depending on the individual situation, the number of information-gathering meetings can change, but typically two to three meetings may be needed.

Immigration judges take everything into consideration before making a decision about granting or denying the waiver.  While the hardship evaluation does not guarantee the outcome of the case, it can help significantly because it presents additional information that you or your attorney may otherwise not communicate to the immigration office.


It is not easy to deal with immigration laws, but remember that there are many people able and willing to help.  Working with immigration attorneys and mental health counselors familiar with the immigration process can improve your chances of getting your green card.




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How to Help a Loved One Manage Chronic Pain and Addiction

When I was little, my favorite uncle was injured on the job and prescribed a prescription painkiller. He’d suffered back pain for years and finally decided he’d accept the extra help to manage the pain. Though he was eventually able to return to work and all appeared to be back to normal, he just didn’t seem the same anymore. He didn’t joke and play with me the way he used to, instead always resigning himself to a quiet spot apart from the rest of us at family dinners. A few times he even dozed off in the middle of our meal. Then he stopped showing up to family functions altogether. Though I was too young to understand at the time, my uncle had developed a serious opioid dependency that had quickly taken over his life.

My family spent a painful few months trying to get him help, and it led to some tough calls. My aunt refused to let him live at home while he was using, and he was no longer invited to our family gatherings unless he was sober. My mom stopped answering his calls because they inevitably led to him asking for money and refusing to consider treatment. Though my uncle was finally able to find sobriety, it took some tough love on my family’s part — a strength that many loved ones face each and every day.

Addiction is a major battle for anyone, but it can be especially dangerous for someone with chronic pain who becomes dependent on their prescribed medication. When it happens to a loved one, you must find the balance between offering your support without enabling their addiction. It’s a complex situation, but there are ways to help — first, you must identify and confirm the issue, then help your loved one overcome their addiction and find healthy ways to conquer their chronic pain.


Is it Addiction?

Many with chronic pain see their pain medication as essential –  something they “need,” but it’s a slippery slope to addiction. And the longer they are taking the medications, the more likely that they will develop physical dependence and possibly psychological addiction.

It is very difficult to tell if someone is addicted to prescription medications when the medication is prescribed to them, but, there are some ways. Watch for warning signs such as:

  • A lack of energy or drowsiness. Your loved one may seem like they could fall asleep at any moment, which may be a pattern that seems to happen throughout the day.
  • A lack of concentration or motivation: As much as opioids can help someone, they can also interfere with an individual’s thinking and can lead to tolerance, which means that a person requires more of the same substance in order to achieve the same level of relief. If your loved one is addicted to their medication, they will probably begin to miss a lot of work, leave work early, and may even begin performing poorly at their job.
  • Changes in their social life: It is inevitable that your loved one’s social life will be interrupted by their addiction. Due to the way they feel and act, it may create disagreements and challenges in maintaining friendships. They will usually become more isolated and disengage from their previous social behaviors.
  • Changes in their appearance: You may have trouble telling if your loved one is misusing their medication. Some of the signs that a person has taken too much medication include slurred speech, an intense calming, nodding of their head, a flush neck and face, drooping eyes, itching of the legs, stomach, or arms, or pupils that are constricted, even in dim lighting conditions.
  • Increased secrecy: Your loved one may seem to be hiding something from you. It may seem like they’re leading a double life. They don’t want to let people know that addiction is taking over, but sometimes by trying to hide it, they make it more obvious.


You Can Only Do So Much

You can’t take away your loved one’s chronic pain, and you can’t “fix” their addiction. This is something you need to face so you can move on and give as much assistance to them as possible. When it comes to your loved one’s addiction, one of the best things you can do for them is to let them know you are there for them when they need you. Sit with them, listen to them, or offer to take them to their doctor appointments. Don’t give them lectures or judge them. Encourage them to lead a healthy lifestyle and to be honest with their doctor about everything. This includes previous or current addictions or substance abuse problems.

As for the chronic pain? There are many things you can offer to help with that may ease their burdens. There are also things that you can do together to take their mind off of their pain or other problems, such as taking an exercise class or working out together at home. Low-impact aerobics have been shown to be very helpful for those with chronic pain. These exercises include stretching, swimming, or biking, among other things.

You could also think about a yoga, Pilates, or a strength training class. Even walking together provides an opportunity to talk while also doing something good for your body. Many doctors recommend walking or participating in some other form of exercise for at least 30 minutes each day.

Don’t let your loved one forget about the importance of deep sleep. It is crucial for them to get adequate REM sleep, which is the time the body uses for rest and rejuvenation – thus, adequate sleep will only help them feel better throughout the day. Another idea might be to take a cooking class together. You both can learn about what kinds of foods are healthy, and you might even discover foods that can reduce pain and inflammation.


Time Apart to Heal

It may be necessary to give your loved one some breathing room initially. Let them work on their recovery and get through the healing process

alone, if need be. You can still be there for them simply by letting them know you’ll be there when they need you. Hopefully at some point during their reco

very you’ll both be ready to spend time together and engage in healthy activities such as daily walks or a group exercise class.

Never forget that one of the most important things you can offer is your love and support. Let them know that while you may not be able to totally understand their struggle, you love them and are cheering them on. With your compassion, your loved one can get back on track and find the way to a happier, healthy life with limited pain.


Article wrote by Caleb Anderson

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Getting a SAP Evaluation from the Department of Transportation

SAP stands for Substance Abuse Professional. While anyone who has ever worked for public transport is required to undergo drug screening prior to beginning work, employees who have caused an incident or been caught breaking this rule will find themselves in front of a SAP. Sometimes the DOT performs random drug screenings, and that is how many offenders get in trouble.

These parameters are put in place to protect the public, but that doesn’t make it any less of a hassle for the employees who need SAP evaluation. Here’s what to expect from the process:

Standard Pre-employment Drug Screening

Drug screening is a necessary step for anyone beginning work as a driver for public transportation. The initial screening requires basic drug testing, which means you will have to find a qualified lab. They will then run the SAP evaluation based on your urine. You will have to leave all items at the front desk and fill a specimen cup in the restroom. Depending on what your employer requires, this may be monitored. The urine is then checked for temperature to prevent fraud and sent off to a lab. A negative result means no drugs were detected in the urine, whereas a positive result indicates the opposite. If you come up positive, you’re going to need a SAP evaluation.

SAP Evaluation Following a Failed Drug Screening

If you’ve been caught unaware by a surprise test, or something happened that put you under suspicion by the DOT, then you’re going to have to find a substance abuse professional to perform an evaluation. This goes way beyond a drug test. If you haven’t been caught outright, you will likely need to fail a drug test in addition to whatever happened to bring you into question before you end up in front of a SAP.

During substance abuse evaluation, you will sit down with a trained SAP and have a clinical assessment. This person is familiar with addictive behaviors, and they will be able to tell if someone is likely to repeat the offense. Based on this conversation, they may make a recommendation for treatment programs. After successfully completing the treatment program, you will have a follow-up SAP evaluation.

substance abuse evaluation by dot

The SAP has to provide you and your employer with an official write-up of both evaluations and any treatment recommendations. They may also suggest additional drug screenings or treatment sessions. Once the process is completed, they mark you as either compliant or non-compliant.

It is important to note here that a SAP evaluator does not make a recommendation to your employer regarding your future employment. They are an impartial evaluator put in place to protect the safety of the public. Even if you are judged as not in compliance, your employer could still choose to work with you. Unfortunately, the opposite is true as well. Compliance doesn’t guarantee your job. The best way to stay out of a SAP evaluator’s office is simply to follow the DOT guidelines and not partake in prohibited substances.

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What You Need to Know About Court Ordered Drug and Alcohol Evaluations in Chicago

If you get caught partying and end up in front of a judge for your Friday-night antics, you may just find yourself facing a drug and alcohol evaluation. If you’re caught driving under the influence in Illinois, you’ll have to be evaluated before the judge will even sentence you.

The reason the judge requires a drug and alcohol evaluation is because it has a direct impact on the nature of the sentencing. That’s why it’s ill-advised to take the drug and alcohol evaluation lightly. It’s recommended that you enlist the services of an attorney to help you through the process as the outcome can affect your life far into the future. Depending on your assessment, the evaluator will determine what level of risk you pose:

  • Level 1 is a minimal risk
  • Level 2 is a moderate to significant risk
  • Level 3 is high risk

What the Different Risk Assessment Levels Mean

Each level carries a different set of requirements as to treatment, and this treatment must be completed to fulfill all obligations to the court. Additionally, it’s possible for the judge to change the terms of the treatment depending on how they feel about your behavior. If you lie to the evaluator and get caught, don’t expect leniency. If the judge changes the terms of treatment, you are bound by both the original document and the judge’s input. Here are the legal mandates for treatment with DUI classes for each level of risk:dui risk assessment

  • Level 1: DUI Risk Education (10 hours)
  • Level 2, moderate: DUI Risk Education (10 hours); early intervention (12 hours over a minimum of four weeks); possible requirement for ongoing continuing care plan
  • Level 2, significant: DUI Risk Education (10 hours); substance abuse treatment (20 hours); mandatory continuing care plan participation
  • Level 3: substance abuse treatment (75 hours); mandatory continuing care plan participation or admission to in-patient treatment facility.

As you can see, this could play a part in your life for a very long time. Get an attorney’s help before submitting to the evaluation to ensure the best possible results.

Know the Alcohol & Drug Evaluation Rules for Your County

If you’re located in Cook County, the rules may be a little different. The evaluations in Cook County are performed by Alcohol and Drug Evaluation Services (ADES). Central States Institute on Addiction operates ADES. Different countys will require that you use different agencies for the substance abuse evaluation. That’s why it’s best to work with an attorney. That way, there’s no question that you’ve chosen the right agency.

Don’t Evade Questions or Lie to the SAP (Substance Abuse Professional)

The person evaluating you will note if you are honest, consistent, or non-evasive. The judge’s primary goal is to ensure public safety by preventing repeat offenses. Lying does not make the judge feel comfortable that you will stay on the straight and narrow should leniency be granted to you. Working with an attorney can help you prepare to answer questions in a way that results in a low-risk assessment—provided that the charges against you do not show otherwise.

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