Dan Knoepfler, MC, LMHC
Individual, group, and family therapy
Thoughts for the Day
Every day I try to learn something new.  Or remember something that struck me.    Whether in day-to-day life or at work, the world is a wealth of information.

Within the mental health field, there are many specialties. If you have a specific issue you want to address, make sure you ask your potential provider if that is within their area of expertise.   Similar to physical health care providers, there are generalists and specialists.   Many people can be treated by a generalist.  However, there are issues that are narrow enough in scope that it makes sense to seek out a specialist.   One of the most important aspects of selecting your healthcare provider is the fit with the person.  Sometimes we don't have a choice because of who is a preferred provider within the network of people or clinics approved to provide us services.   However, many times, even within that network there are a few options.   Asking a few questions, or giving it a month trial can be a wise way to approach starting therapy.

I was inspired by my cousin today. He is an artist among other things.   Someone asked on social media if anyone other than the artist should be allowed to destroy a piece of artwork.   My cousin's reply was "Art parallels life, and life is not permanent."   Life is precious and transient.   Live in the moment, while not forgetting one's past, or planning for the future.     

Today a client was doing everything but accepting responsibility for what he had done.   He professed to be devout in his faith.   I asked him why he wasn't praying for strength to deal with the issue instead of focusing on defending himself.   He said he would pray if I did along with him.   He did, and I did with him.   In asking God for strength, and in facing the problem rather than trying to avoid responsibility he actually received a less negative response from someone he expected to be judged by.  In the end he thanked me for praying with him because things turned out much better than it would have otherwise.  Prayer didn't solve all his problems, but it did give him the strength and courage to face what he needed to face.

There are many ways to soothe oneself as a way to provide self-care.     Think about which of the 5 senses helps you relax or be calm,  or gets you worked up.   Find things that soothe you when it comes to that sense.   Some people love the smell of freshly baked bread.   Others like a hot shower.  Some people have a favorite piece of music they listen to.   There isn't one right answer to this.  It's figuring out which of the senses impacts you the most and when it comes to that sense, what changes your mood in the way you want it to.  I have a can of citrus (lemon) oil spray.    I don't know why the smell of lemons puts me in a good mood, but it does.   Smelling the scent of lemons is one example of a self-soothing technique I use.

At least once I month I push myself to really test my limits physically.  Usually I do this is by walking and doing stairs. I walked 9 miles around town Sunday and did the equivalent of 21 flights of stairs.   Usually I do my 10K steps a day, so this was about double that and the stairs is way beyond what I usually do.   It is a good thing to push ourselves to go further and do more than we usually do.   Don't let fear of failure prevent you from testing your limits.   And if you don't do as well as you had hoped, try not to judge yourself.   And if you judge yourself, try not to judge the judging.

Some people are determined to self-destruct and there is little that can be done sometimes to stop the train until it wrecks.   That doesn't mean you should stop encouraging them to make different choices.  But realize that sometimes there has to be an opposing force that is met before change can occur.   You hope it doesn't result in serious harm or death in the meantime.   But a determined person will show you how little control you really have if you try and stop them.

Be kind.   You cant always rewind.  

I had a client come in yesterday and tell me he broke an expensive piece of electronic equipment that was important to him.    His frustration boiled over and in the moment it felt very cathartic to smash something.    Then the reality of what he had done settled in.    Replacing not only the hardware but the software is going to be costly.   Sometimes it is tough to take a step back and cool off.  In the moment it can be tempting to say or do things we will regret.  People have been taught to take deep breaths and count to ten.    Not only is there a physiological change to the body through this process, but it does something else that is  equally important.   It buys time to think.   It doesn't take away one's option to say what one was going to say or break whatever it is you were contemplating breaking.   It just gives you a little time to weigh whether that is really what you want to do.

If you have questions or comments, please feel free to email me at:

I have a professional neighbor who has fallen on hard times.   He can't afford rent for an office as well as pay for a place to live.   His professional practice provides low-cost services to the poor.  He has chosen to live in his office for the time being so that his patients have a doctor to see.   It's easy sometimes  to be judgmental of others and their life decisions.   However, it's much more useful to find a way to be compassionate because in the end we are all just doing our best to get by.

I was sitting with someone who was talking about how he has been called "retarded"  for many years.   We talked about how harmful it is to instill in someone the belief that they aren't smart.  As much as we fight this, it's hard not to internalize labels when they are spoken by someone close to us.   Inspire people to be aware of their intelligence and share it with the world.  Having faith in a fellow human being and their ability to contribute will bring a smile to their face and warm their heart.  Help inoculate them from the people in the world who purposefully or inadvertently make them feel less than.

A mentor of mine taught me that when people are thinking about suicide or feeling hopeless, remind them that you care if they live or die.  It's very simple yet quite powerful. Many people who struggle with depression and/or have suicidal thoughts received messages that it would've been better if they had never been born.    We all have a purpose in life and it is our job (with a little help from our friends) to figure it out.

Not sure why the universe is sending people with drug addiction issues into my professional life, but there is definitely a pattern emerging.  Regardless of the substance or behavior, it always makes me wonder how people would fare if their favorite coping mechanism became off limits or even illegal.   Is their any activity that you like that you would risk jail time to do?  If your Xbox and games became illegal, could you, or would you stop playing?   When thinking about asking people to stop using drugs, beyond the obvious issue of physical withdrawal, do they have  any other ways to cope that aren't destructive or illegal?   Just say "No" isn't enough.   There needs to be a plan in place.  And would you take a 3a.m. phone call from a friend or loved one white knuckling it, truly trying to abstain?   Before you tell someone they should stop, are you willing to be part of the plan to support them if they do make an attempt to quit?

Today I was talking to a person who is quite different in the way they deal with the world, and even as a human being.   When asked how they feel about being different, the person told me they don't judge their uniqueness as being positive or negative, they just acknowledge that that is who they are.  I aspire to be more like that.

I  really loathe my commute many days.    I used to love driving.  But I will say that the rules of the road have broken down.   Maybe it is more accurate to say that they have changed.   Driving in the city requires a lot of attention and vigilance because there are more people driving who are less polite, more aggressive, and generally will do most anything to get one car ahead.   Today, for whatever reason, I didn't let other drivers and their aggressiveness bother me.     The consequence of this was that I may have ended up getting home 5 minutes later than I would have otherwise.  However, I walked in the door when I got home a much happier person.

Trying to disconnect from politics in our country is difficult. On the one hand, disconnecting is good for my blood pressure and overall stress level.   However, at the same time there seem to be scary changes that are within the realm of possibility, and ignoring politics would be like burying one's head in the sand with one's backside fully exposed.    Everyone has to find a place where they are comfortably connected, but not to the point that it is overwhelming.   That can fluctuate for me from not watching or reading the news at all, to immersing myself in what is going on.     Try totally disconnecting for a day and see how you feel at the end.   It can be really nice.

Today I did a more traditional mindfulness exercise completely focusing on breathing and nothing else.   I forgot how helpful it is to do this.  I  have vowed, even if its only for a couple minutes, to do this every day.

Sometimes people say the darnedest things.   Today someone came in and told me that they were co-dependent and cant stand being alone or lonely, but wanted that to change.   When asked what their plan was to deal with this, the person said, "There's one thing I can tell you for sure, I will never be able to fix this problem on my own."