SPOTLIGHT – Who Is Ben Carrettin?

SPOTLIGHT – Who Is Ben Carrettin?

Benjamin is the owner of Practice Improvement Resources, LLC under which he has built two initiatives: Live Better Live Now and Texas Recovery Support. He has served as a founding board member with Greater Houston Area Treatment Providers / GHATP (the largest independent behavioral collaborative organization in Houston), as an active member of Houston Group Psychotherapy Society / HGPS, and is the Founder and Lead Administrator of Greater Houston Wellness / GHW (a focused collective of seasoned specialists in the Houston area). He is also the founder of a unique human behavior consultative service for business and law; called ESI.


Benjamin Carrettin has been working in the mental health field since 1992. He has worked in a variety of settings including private practice, private and grant-funded intensive outpatient programs, partial hospitalization programs and full inpatient hospitalization. Benjamin earned his undergraduate from the University of St Thomas and attended Texas Southern University under a full scholarship for his Masters in Clinical Psychology. He is a fully and independently Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in the State of Texas as well as a Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor (LCDC). Ben is nationally Board Certified by the NBCC, is a Certified Anger Resolution Therapist (CART) and has received intensive training in Critical Incident Stress Debriefing (CISM). In 2012, Benjamin completed a sixteen week Lay Chaplaincy training program in pastoral care with a specialized focus on the hospitalized, infirm and terminally ill and their loved ones. Benjamin is an active volunteer with the Texas Society of Addiction Medicine (TSAM); the state chapter of the well-known national organization and has served on several other community boards, service groups and task forces. He has completed advanced training in stress and pain management for medical patients as well as over seventy-two hours of direct training in Positive Recovery (a specialized program blending best practice addiction recovery with neurologically-supported principles of Positive Psychology).


Throughout his career Benjamin has continued to improve his knowledge and expertise through advanced training courses, field application training, specialized training in corporate and legal processes, as well as additional graduate level coursework and advanced training programs. The areas of his focus include neurology/biology, behavioral cues of deception, positive psychology and epigenetics (gene expression), cancer resilience, medical meditation, violence in the workplace, bio-mechanical basis of behavior, Eastern philosophy and the mind, critical incidents in industrial and corporate settings, first responders and traumatic events, opiate addiction recovery and much more. He is also a professional trainer in the area of social media and ethics.


In addition to working in mental health, Benjamin has also worked in behavioral managed care, both in a clinical capacity and as a Federal Network Manager as well as State Network Manager for Texas. One of his many duties included investigating concerns regarding physician and clinician quality of service, adherence to best practice guidelines, as well as both business and clinical ethics issues of contracted hospitals, physicians and clinicians. To this end, Benjamin is keenly aware of current best practices in the field of counseling as well as up-to-date, proven techniques to increase successful outcomes for his private clients. He continues to be actively sought for by behavioral health hospitals, physician groups and facilities to assist them towards more effectively negotiating their contracts with insurance / managed care organizations (MCO) as well as conducting private training workshops for private practitioners, teaching them how to build and improve their practice and work more successfully with insurance companies.


Beyond the more commonly known field applications for a specialist in human behavior, Benjamin Carrettin provides behavioral analysis and solution-oriented services for business and law. Employee Assistance Programs (EAP), Human Resource (HR) professionals, Law Firms / Plaintiff Attorneys and Business Leadership can access the follow services; Voir Dire Consultative Services, In-Service Training and Workshops, New Hire/Employee Assessment, Public Speaking and Presentation Skills for Leadership, Pre-Trial Focus Group Video Analysis, Clinical Assessment / Resource Identification and Workforce Transition Coaching. Benjamin’s own experience working in the business sector and the field of human behavior, his graduate education in Clinical Psychology as well as advanced training in Human Resources, Organizational Psychology, Strategic Management and Pre-Trial Focus Groups have helped him to successfully support clients across a much wider array of industries.


In his private practice, Benjamin still provides individual, couple and family services for cancer patients and their families, heart disease and depression, peace officers/first responders (traumatic events), professionals in addiction recovery, complicating anxiety/fear, grief and bereavement, survivors of suicide (SOS), death/dying and life transition.



Ben Carrettin is a Nationally Board Certified and Licensed Professional Counselor and is the owner of Practice Improvement Resources, LLC; a private business which offers an array of specialized counseling, evidenced-based clinical and targeted Business and Professional Services to individuals and businesses. 


Written and Posted by Live Better Live Now editorial staff

Grief & Bereavement Support Services

Grief & Bereavement Support Services

Confronting our own impermanence is one of the most difficult things we will ever do.

Whether we are facing the death of a loved one or our own impermanence we may experience all kinds of difficult and surprising emotions, such as shock, anger, and guilt. Sometimes it may feel like the fear and sadness will never let up. While these feelings can be frightening and overwhelming, they are normal reactions to loss. Accepting them as part of our grieving process and allowing ourselves to feel what we are feeling is a necessary part of our journey and healing.

Grief is a natural response to loss. It’s the emotional suffering you feel when something or someone you love is taken away. You may associate grief with the death of a loved one – and this type of loss does often cause the most intense grief. Equally powerful is our own internal evolution that happens as we are faced with terminal or potentially terminal illness.

Some of the losses that grief counseling or LifeRecovery sessions can help with are:

Death of a family member or friend

Cancer – in ourselves or family


Loss of financial stability or employ

Diagnosed with chronic/terminal illness

Multiple losses in a short period

A loved one’s serious injury or illness

Loss of a marriage or intimate friendship

Loss of safety after a trauma


Three Tips to Get You Started:

1. Everyone grieves differently

Grieving is a personal and highly individual experience. How you grieve depends on many factors, including your personality and coping style, your life experience, your faith, and the nature of the loss. The grieving process takes time. Healing happens gradually; it can’t be forced or hurried – and there is no “normal” timetable for grieving.

2. There is no right or wrong way to grieve.

But there are healthy ways to cope with the pain. You can get through it! Grief that is expressed and experienced has a potential for healing that eventually can strengthen and enrich life.

3. Don’t do it alone

The single most important factor in healing from loss is having the support of other people. Even if you aren’t comfortable talking about your feelings under normal circumstances, it’s important to express them when you’re grieving. Sharing your loss makes the burden of grief easier to carry. Wherever the support comes from, accept it and do not grieve alone. Connecting to others will help you heal.


Live Better Live Now / Grief & Bereavement Support Services – Houston, Texas

Individual LifeRecovery Sessions are provided by Ben Carrettin, MA, NCC, LPC, a state licensed and nationally board-certified counselor who is also a lay chaplain trained specifically in pastoral care. Sessions are personal, compassionate and respectful of each and every person’s dignity, beliefs and suffering. LifeRecovery is a blend of personal coaching and clinical consultation that uses both contemporary Western approaches as well as Eastern philosophies to address the logistical, emotional, relational and existential aspects of the grieving process. This is not traditional psychotherapy, but an alternative for support, guidance and expression.

Supporting Someone After A Suicide

Supporting Someone After A Suicide

Being a Friend to a Suicide Survivor

Death is inevitable. Nobody lives forever. Some don’t live to see the sunlight outside of their mother’s womb while others live to be over a hundred years old. There are many ways to die and probably one of the worst is suicide. Being a suicide survivor is way different than being left by a loved one who died naturally, through sickness or even through an accident. Those who die in accidents may also be as painful for their family members and loved ones as those who died through suicide because of the element of surprise; however, suicide is a choice. One cannot stop a suicide survivor from grieving for as long as they want because they have to face the reality that someone they loved chose to end his or her life.

Offer a Listening Ear to a Suicide Survivor

You do not need to give advice. You don’t have to force hugs if a grieving friend just wants to be left alone. Many suicide survivors would rather not speak about what happened for a while. Most find themselves confused asking why their loved one chose to die. Do not offer unsolicited advice and do not use clichés. Don’t even think of telling your friend that you know how it feels because even if you’ve lost a loved one in the past, suicide is way different…the details of each person’s experience is unique – you don’t know how it feels. Be clear in your understanding of this. Each person is unique, and each person who has committed suicide killed himself for a unique reason. It could be as simple as a failing mark in school or as complicated as a millionaire going bankrupt. No matter what the reason is, the ending stays the same which is they chose to end all their problems right there and then. Suicide survivors feel all sorts of pain when this happens; pain that is just beyond words and imagination. Why didn’t they know their loved one was going through such a deep problem that he was left with no choice but to kill himself? Why weren’t they there when the loved one needed them the most? Many why’s require no answer, not even an “I understand” reply. Just make them know and feel that you are there to listen. Should they choose not to talk about it yet, make sure your friend knows you are just around when they’re ready?

Suicide Survivors Don’t Simply Move On

Unlike dealing with other ways of dying, a suicide survivor will understandably have a more difficult time to move on. With questions left unanswered, perhaps forever, suicide survivors may or may not get over the situation for a long time. More often than not, suicides come as a surprise. There are many who just attempt it but would never really have enough courage to jump, pull the trigger or take the pill. Some may even try but survive the fall. For suicides that actually happened though, most loved ones will be taken by surprise. Especially without a suicide note or message left behind, the process of moving on becomes even more difficult as they do not know what exactly pushed the person to kill himself and what they could have done. Again, a never ending set of questions that may not have any answers at all forever. If a friend who is a suicide survivor refused to go back to his or her daily routine as soon as expected, he or she must be understood and not pushed. Crying is definitely encouraged as it is natural for anyone who is in pain. You must realize that a suicide survivor who is mourning and grieving for the loss of a loved one has already begun the long process of healing.

Respect and Give Space to a Suicide Survivor

While there are some who do not want to be left alone right after a loved one’s loss, there are also some who need space. After all, none of your hugs, pats on the back or comforting words can bring back their loved one. A suicide survivor needs space so that he or she can heal in his or her own pace and time. Respect the fact if your friend chooses not to talk about it or get into details about the suicide. Sometimes, your presence could be enough or could be too much. While it is best to ask what a suicide survivor prefers at a specific moment, it is also good to just be sensitive about the situation. Your friend’s eyes will tell you if he or she just wants you around, but he won’t verbally express it. His or her silence may also mean that he wants to be left alone. A suicide survivor may also curse and blame the heavens for what he or she is going through. Do not get into religion in situations like these. Be informed that if your friend questions God, it means that he or she believes in God’s existence. Eventually, he or she will realize that the healing power he need is actually God’s love. Do not push your beliefs and instead, let your friend realize what he or she needs to know.

Encourage Support Groups for Suicide Survivors

While there are many support groups that may be found in your city or online for those who are considering on committing suicide, there are also support groups who help suicide survivors. Inform your friend about a support group available because even if he or she may be hesitant at first, being around people who have gone through a similar experience and having the chance to talk about his or her feelings as often he or she likes is good way to heal. More than that, professionals who have dealt with similar cases for many years will be around to offer advice on how to heal, remain strong and eventually move on.

Suicide survivors need love and care though they may deny it at times. They will accept your love, care and friendship in a way only they would know. Be compassionate and let your friend know that you are not just standing behind him or her, rather you will stand with them through this journey and you will be right there until he or she fully heals.

Ben Carrettin

Live Better Live Now / SOS / Survivors of Suicide


HEADS UP HOUSTON ! Look what’s coming –

Suicide Prevention Symposium: Coming Together to Care 2015
Texas Suicide Prevention Council and Mental Health America of Texas.
Wednesday, August 19, 2015 Houston, TX

How to get the most out of seeing a therapist

The Law On Using Therapists:
Therapists are tools we use to accomplish our mission.

From Jim’s Daily Awakenings, July 2, 2015

The best therapist I ever knew made the same speech to all new clients. After hearing them talk about their problem, she would say, “You have a lot of dung in your life. The good news is that I have a shovel. My professional expertise is like a shovel. I will rent it to you, but you have to shovel your own dung.”

My therapist friend was right. If we go to a counselor without a clear mission and the determination to use the therapist’s tools to resolve the issue, we will waste a lot of time and money.

Many therapists have tools that are worth their weight in gold to us. But we have to use the tools or our goals are unaccomplished. We are responsible for doing the work necessary to bring about our own healing.

*For more helpful tips on Choosing The Right Therapist for You.

*To Sign up for Jim’s Awakenings posts.


Live Better Live Now – How to get the most out of seeing a therapist

…excerpt below is from the “Choosing The Right Therapist For You” link found above;

As you consider entering therapy, it is important to know what distinguishes licensed clinicians from those who do not hold a professional license. It is also important to be informed about what are your rights and responsibilities.

In most cases, graduates of accredited mental health education programs typically go on to receive further professional training under the guidance of supervision for at least 1-2 years after graduation. Once they complete a supervisory period, and attain the endorsement of their supervisor, they are permitted to sit for the state licensure exam. These exams assess the clinicians’ knowledge of multiple aspects within the arena of the mental health/counseling field.

Even after they are licensed, clinicians must continue – throughout their licensure and practice – to complete a specified number of continuing education hours and abide by their professional code of ethics and conduct. Clinicians who are more invested in maintaining up-to-date practices and continuing to develop themselves as clinicians will often take more than the minimum required continuing education trainings, engage in other workshops and trainings, provide seminars, and review current literature and research.

For more helpful tips on Choosing The Right Therapist for You.


The Three Stages of Grief – Part 3 of 3

Current literature points to three primary stages of grief. This 3 part blog post series offers a quick highlight of those three “new” grief stages.

The Three Stages of Grief – Part 3 of 3

RECOVERY – the third of the 3 new stages of grief.

After a year has come and gone, many of us will begin to sense some sense of improvement. Albeit, I must say that holidays and especially the first anniversary are usually times when we feel the loss of our loved one so very sharply. Recovery is a “journey”, a process, a path – there is a reason why these descriptions are used so frequently – it doesn’t happen by turning a corner or a single event. There are steps and more importantly is the progressive way we grow, change and evolve within ourselves as we adjust to and move through our grief.

Acceptance will not come as a singular moment or decision – but more by way of the slow and soft way that our depression and even despair begin to loosen their grip on our mind and spirit. The ache of the absence begins to lighten a bit and we find ourselves reconnecting and reinvesting more presently in our life in the moment. You may even find yourself wanting to be there for someone else.

By no means does this mean the pain is gone. More that the inability to function again in the world has slipped away. We do not forget the hurt, but we are able to make space for more happiness. The loss in a very natural way becomes a part of the woven background of our life – it loses none of it’s importance – still very precious – but other immediate things are allowed to have our attention. We begin again to invest in our life and the lives of those around us.

It is often said that the price of great love is grief – but there is also a beautiful gift available within the bereavement journey…an invigorated and very grounded clarity of the preciousness of life and the deep desire not to waste a moment of it.

Throughout the process – remember to allow yourself the time you need to grieve and the permission to be authentic with others about how you feel. Be kind and gracious to yourself – it’s important. Allow others to help you and reach out and ask for support you need. Take care of you.

“Stop. Take A Moment. Breathe. 

You Can Do This.”


Ben Carrettin – The Three Stages of Grief – Part 3 of 3
Texas Recovery Support – Grief Counseling
Houston, Texas

The Second Stage of Grief – Part 2 of 3

Current literature points to three primary stages of grief. This 3 part blog post series offers a quick highlight of those three “new” grief stages.

The Second Stage of Grief – Part 2 of 3

SUFFERING – the second of the 3 new stages of grief.

When the initial shock phase begins to wane – the “waves” of pain begins. This time is marked by extreme and overwhelming emotional discord and pain. The jarring to our psyche during this time is so incredible that the emotional pain may present as tangible; physical pain.

Typical symptoms include insomnia and disrupted sleep, restlessness, low frustration tolerance, guilt and anger, overwhelming sadness, rapid mood swings, loss of appetite, weight loss, chest pains and even severe periods of anxiety and even panic attacks. (Don’t write these off though – symptoms like chest pains are better assessed by your physician promptly. Even though these are common symptoms – it doesn’t mean they should be dismissed.) During this time – most of us feel like we may actually be “going crazy” and losing our sanity in the midst of our grief.

In this phase you need the support of loved ones more than ever. The challenge though is that at this point it is all too common that many folks have resumed their everyday lives; work and family routines, etc. Sometimes we even get pushed to “get up and move on” with our own life – which can be an incredibly isolating and very lonely experience.

Seeking a solitary path to coping with the loss is not a good idea in most cases. This is a pivotal time. Even the strongest of us can use the support of another – we are communal creatures, after all. And even though you may feel very against it – a counselor or support group at this stage can have an enormously helpful impact on your days ahead.

When you get well into this Suffering phase – you will find your daily life may fall into a more regular or patterned routine. But it doesn’t mean the inside of you is that way – in fact, the continual tide of depression, isolation and loss rolling in can make you feel like a churning river inside.

Here’s the point to hold to. If your feelings are evolving and changing as you move through this period, even as conflicted as they may be at times; ie if your internal river is still moving – than your grief is likely on the right track. If you feel stuck or progressively stagnant – you need to get more help.

In the midst of this unpredictable and rolling river of emotions it is important to let yourself feel it and be with your grief. Don’t deny it, hide it or try and shield it from others. You do not “have” to grieve in a certain way. As long as your safety and that of others is not at risk, there is probably no real wrong way to grieve…except not to.

One more thing – this stage isn’t necessarily brief. The waxing and waning of grief during this time can last for months – and even off and on for years. Don’t lose hope. The chaos diminishes and life does resume, differently, but yes, real life.

A very dear friend once shared with me, “Don’t believe those folks who tell you that time heals all wounds. It doesn’t. But time does change it from a searing agony in your head to a soft, heartfelt longing in a beautiful place deep in your heart.”


Ben Carrettin – The Second Stage of Grief – Part 2 of 3
Texas Recovery Support – Grief Counseling
Houston, Texas

Three Stages of Grief – Part 1 of 3

Current literature points to three primary stages of grief. This 3 part blog post series offers a quick highlight of those three “new” grief stages.

The First Stage of Grief – Part 1 of 3

SHOCK – the first of the 3 new stages of grief.

When we first receive the unsettling news that someone close to us has died, most of us react with an initial state of disbelief or emotional numbness. This period of shock is a common and very natural reaction – your mind’s attempt to protect and preserve you from being completely and utterly overwhelmed by the tragedy.

During this phase it’s pretty likely that you will be unable to think very clearly or make what typically would seem like pretty basic or simple decisions. Feeling like you are in a state of “un-reality”, foggy or even somewhat ethereal; as if the immediate moment is more like a story or film than your real life.

During this time it is really important to surround yourself with your closest support system; family, friends, congregations, neighbors, etc. As these folks rally about you – we need to accept the support they can give and let them be a help to you throughout the logistics and many difficult decisions that may come through the funeral and other exit processes.

Feelings like emotional/physical weakness, frustration and agitation, weeping and seemingly pointless activities are common and normal.

The Shock phase typically can last for a few hours up to weeks – but eventually, the reality of the loss and it’s impact will begin to set in…


Ben Carrettin – The First Stage of Grief – Part 1 of 3
Texas Recovery Support – Grief Counseling
Houston, Texas