Depression in Teenagers

on Wednesday, 14 March 2018.

Depression in Teenagers

Teenagers will often experience periods of time when they feel sad or “down,” but when these feelings are persistent, they may be suffering from depression.  According to Colombia University and the City University of New York, depression rates among teenagers rose from 8.7 to 12.7 percent between 2005 and 2015.

Though anyone can experience depression, the teenage years come with a unique set of challenges that can amplify the mental illness. Teens are often faced with school, social and family pressures, as well as hormonal changes due to puberty. 

Signs of depression in teens are numerous and can include persistent feelings of sadness, loss of energy or appetite, social isolation, low self-esteem, angry behavior, poor grades in school, self-harm, suicidal feelings or drug and alcohol abuse.

If you are a teen and you feel as though you have depression, there are things you can do to help your situation. Try to make new friends or join a new club or sport. Doing so can increase your self-esteem, keep you busy (so you cannot dwell on the negative feelings), and prevent you from becoming isolated.

However, if your depression persists and does not improve, then you should talk to an adult that you trust. A trusted adult can help you choose your best course of action. Therapy is a good option because a therapist can help you understand the underlying reasons why you are depressed, and he or she can help you create a specific course of action to address it.

Depression in teens is on the rise, so it is important to be aware of the signs and to know what to look for. Ignoring it will not make it go away, and untreated depression can have severe consequences, including suicide. If you are a teen who is depressed, remember that there are resources available for you.

How to Improve your Self-Confidence

on Tuesday, 06 March 2018.

How to Improve your Self-Confidence

You may think of self-confidence issues as something that teenagers deal with. You picture lonely teenagers in high school, struggling with self-confidence as they try to fit in with the cool kids. But the truth is, anyone can have issues with their self-confidence, including adults.


Self-confidence issues can make you feel sad and hopeless. People with poor self-confidence often hold themselves back in life because they are too afraid to take on risks or challenges. Ultimately, self-confidence issues can lead to an unhappy, unfulfilling life.


If you have poor self-confidence, there are steps you can take to build up your confidence. Firstly, think more positively. When you have poor self-confidence, you often feel down on yourself and have a negative feeling in regards to your life. To overcome this, focus on what is good in your life. What are the positive traits that you have? What are your greatest accomplishments? Thinking more positively about your life will help you to feel more confident.


Next, try to figure out what makes you feel bad about yourself. Maybe it is another person who makes snide comments about you, or it could even be a place or activity. Whatever it is, try to avoid it. Cutting the things that make you feel bad about yourself out of your life will make a huge difference.


Also, find a task to do, and stick with it until it is complete. This can be something as simple as making a new recipe for dinner, to something more elaborate such as planting a new garden. When you challenge yourself to do something and you carry through and complete it, you feel better about yourself because you know you can set goals and reach them.


Lastly, take care of yourself. Eat healthy, exercise and sleep well. Reduce the stress in your life, and try to present yourself in a way that will make you feel confident. A put-together appearance and a healthy body can go a long way toward making you feel better about yourself.


Poor self-confidence can hold you back, but there are ways to overcome it. Take control of your life today, and become the self-confident person you were meant to be.


How to Handle a Break-Up

on Tuesday, 06 March 2018.

How to Handle a Break-Up

Bad break-ups are often the focus of comedies in Hollywood. However, there are people who truly struggle with getting over a break-up with a significant other, and it can be a serious issue. Some people feel depressed or angry after a break-up, and others feel completely heartbroken or even sick. Whereas some people bounce back, others have a much more difficult time getting over it.

If you are in the midst of a break-up, and you find yourself having a hard time letting go, you must find ways to handle it better. Firstly, don’t suppress the feelings you have. It may seem as though ignoring your feelings is the way to go, but ignoring them will prevent you from moving on. Acknowledge how you feel, so you can better deal with the break-up.

Also, think positively. After a break-up, it is easy to despair and feel as though something is wrong with you, but these feelings are what is causing you to have a difficult time letting go. Instead, think of what is positive in your life. It could be your job or a talent that you have. It also could be other people in your life.

In addition, do not try to contact your ex. Doing so will just bring back all the feelings of negativity. Truthfully, if your ex broke up with you, it probably means that he or she does not want you in his/her life anymore. So, why try to go back to someone who doesn’t want you around? Instead, focus on the people who do want you in their lives – such as your friends and family – and spend more time with them. Spending time with the people who love you can help you feel better following a break-up.

It is also important to take care of yourself. You may want to stay home all day, watching movies and indulging in ice cream to make yourself feel better, but these unhealthy habits will take a toll on your body and make you feel worse in the long run. Eat healthy, get enough rest, and exercise. Take time to go out (instead of confining yourself in your home) and do the things that you love, such as going to the movies or doing yoga. Taking good care of yourself will help you to bounce back.

A break-up may feel like a trying time in your life, but it does not have to keep you down for too long. Ultimately, the decisions you make and the things you do after a break-up will determine how quickly you move past it.

Are you a Parent Who is Constantly Fighting with Your Teen?

on Tuesday, 06 March 2018.

Are you a Parent Who is Constantly Fighting with Your Teen?

The teenage years can be a tumultuous time for you and your teenager. As soon as the teenage years hit, it may seem as though your child has changed overnight. They are irritable, angry and rebellious. The hormones, social pressures and school can all contribute to these changes in your child.

Parents often speak about how the most difficult part of the teenage years is the constant fighting they have with their child. It may seem as though you are fighting about everything with your teen – from what they are wearing to their grades at school. You want to provide guidance to your teen and to prevent them from going down the wrong path. And your teenager wants to become more independent, which means, essentially, that they want you to leave them alone. The situation is prime for conflict.

If you are constantly fighting with your teen, one thing you can do is try to see the situation from their point of view. You were a teenager once; you may be able to understand where they are coming from and why they are angry.

Secondly, always try to deescalate the situation. If your teen is yelling, yelling back will just make the fight worse. Remain calm and try to speak to your teen rationally. Ask them what they really want. Sometimes, a fight can veer off course to include other issues that have nothing to do with the original fight. Getting the situation back on track will help end the conflict early.

Thirdly, try to compromise. Maybe your teen wants to stay out with friends until 3 a.m. when their curfew is at 10 p.m. Your first response may be a definite “no,” but giving this answer is likely to lead to a big fight. Instead, try to compromise. Maybe let them stay out until midnight, or tell them that they will be allowed to stay out that late in a few years.

Lastly, know what to do after a fight. Once the conflict is over, you may have trouble talking with your child (who probably does not want to speak with you). Let your teen cool off, and give them time and space. Eventually, you can try to correct things with your teen.

Fighting with your child is never pleasant, but it is a normal occurrence during the teenage years. With patience and a willingness to work with your teen, you should be able to deescalate confrontations and make them a little less unpleasant.

Managing a Midlife Crisis

on Tuesday, 06 March 2018.

Managing a Midlife Crisis

Midlife crisis is a common term, but do you know what it actually refers to? A midlife crisis can be described as a difficult life period that often occurs in a person’s 40s and 50s. It is a crisis in which a person faces challenging emotions and feelings as they reach middle age.

Signs of a midlife crisis can vary from person to person. Some people feel a sense of negativity in regards to their life, in which they have little hope for the future or believe that their best years are behind them.

Other people begin to feel bored with their lives and take drastic measures to make their lives more exciting, such as abruptly changing their career, spending money on lavish purchases or even having an affair.

Some people become obsessed with their appearances and take drastic measures – such as plastic surgery – to preserve their youth. Still others may even give up on their looks, deciding not to care about their physical appearance whatsoever.

If you exhibit any of these signs, then you may be experiencing a midlife crisis. Though there is no cure for it, there are steps you can take to cope.

First, focus on the good stuff in your life. You may be having second thoughts about your career and what you have not accomplished thus far, but you need to focus on what you do have. Sure, maybe you still haven’t traveled to South America or Europe, but you still have a loving family with possibly a leadership role at your workplace. Focusing on the good will help to suppress the difficult feelings you are experiencing.

Second, use this time period as a chance to reflect. Maybe you are beginning to realize that you have not accomplished some things that you always wanted to accomplish. And this midlife crisis should be your wakeup call that you need to work toward accomplishing those things.  

A midlife crisis is never easy, but it does not mean that something is wrong with your life. With time, thought and reflection, this challenging period of your life will pass, and you may even come out of it with a greater appreciation for what you do have.

How a Blended Family Affects the Kids

on Tuesday, 06 March 2018.

How a Blended Family Affects the Kids

Blended families – or families that contain children from a previous relationship of at least one of the partners – are becoming increasingly common. According to the Pew Research Center in 2015, about 16 percent of children in the United States are now living in blended families.


A blended family creates a set of challenges that are not often seen in traditional families. Particularly, blended families can create challenges for the kids involved. When you create a family that is a blend of different families, it is only natural that a child may have a difficult time adjusting as they gain new stepsiblings and new stepparents.


One challenge is that a child may see their new stepsiblings as rivals. Children see that their parent now has to devote part of their attention to the new stepsiblings – attention that was previously devoted just to them – and they become jealous and resentful. This is why it is important, as a parent in a blended family, to carve out time to spend solely with your biological children. It helps them to remember that they are still special.


Children also may have a hard time accepting or connecting with their new stepparent. This is normal, and it is best to just give them time. Experts say that it takes two to five years before a blended family is truly functional. Remember that the children did not choose to become a part of a blended family; the parents made that choice. Give them time to adjust to the dynamics of the new family.


When it comes to stepparents, children also may find it difficult to accept discipline from their new stepparent. In reality, in the early days of a blended family, it should fall to the biological parent to be chief disciplinarian of their children with the stepparent helping out. As time goes on, it should be easier for the children to accept discipline from the stepparent.


Blended families come with their own unique challenges, and the kids in them are often the ones who have the most difficult time. But, with time and patience, a blended family can come together and be just as loving as a traditional family.

Managing Guilt

on Tuesday, 06 March 2018.

Managing Guilt

Guilt, as defined by Psychology Today, is a feeling of emotion that tells you that you may have or will cause harm to another person. Harm, in these situations, can be emotional or physical.

Guilt is a common emotion that everyone will experience at some time. Most people can experience a total of five hours of the feeling each week, according to studies.

However, guilt can have negative consequences. The emotion can cause you to have difficulties concentrating and difficulties completing work. The feeling of guilt can consume your life to the point where you are unable to enjoy yourself or function properly.

In order to prevent the emotion from consuming you, the first thing you need to do is identify the source of the guilt. What is really causing the guilty feelings? Once you identify the source of the emotion, you can pinpoint what you can do to “fix” those feelings.

For example, maybe you are feeling guilty because you made a joke that hurt your friend’s feelings. Or maybe you feel guilty because you are not spending enough time with your family. In the first case, apologizing to your friend can rectify those guilty feelings. And in the second case, you can find ways to set aside more time to spend with your family members. Identifying the source helps you to create a solution.

Next, move on from the guilt. If you have made amends, there is no need to keep dwelling on the negative feelings. However, you still should learn from the experience. Referring to the cases mentioned above, the first case could teach you that you need to think hard before you make a joke, and the second case could teach you that you need to manage your time better.

Guilt is a normal emotion, but it has the potential to negatively impact your life. Learning to manage the emotion is crucial to prevent it from spiraling out of control. 


How to recognize drug and alcohol abuse in teens

on Tuesday, 06 March 2018.

How to recognize drug and alcohol abuse in teens

Many people in their teenage years try drugs and alcohol. Most often, they try the substances to fit in, to do something exciting, to seem more like an adult or because they like how it makes them feel.


Teenagers are more susceptible to drug and alcohol experimentation because of the development of their brains. During the teenage years, the brain’s pleasure centers develop faster than the decision-making parts of the brain. Simply put, teenagers are more likely to take part in riskier activities because their brains have not fully developed to understand the risks.


Unfortunately, occasional instances of using drugs and alcohol can blossom into addictions and abuse. Substance abuse can be defined as experiencing uncontrollable cravings for psychoactive substances such as tobacco, alcohol and drugs.


Teens who come from families with drug and alcohol problems are at an increased risk of experiencing the same issues. The risk also increases in teens who have poor relationships with their parents and with teens who experience low self-esteem and mental health issues.


What makes drug and alcohol abuse in teens so alarming is that it affects the brain during the key developmental years. The teenage years are critical years for developing a healthy brain for adulthood, and substance abuse can cause brain damage. Negative effects include memory problems, damaged connections inside the brain and missed learning opportunities.


If you are a parent or guardian who is concerned that your teen may be abusing substances, you need to know what to look for. Signs include red eyes, fatigue, poor attendance or performance in school and new friends who seem to have little interest in school or family.


If you discover an issue with your teen, the first step is to speak with them about it. Help them to understand why their habits are a problem and let them know that you still support them. Avoid having an angry reaction; this will just result in a negative response from your teen.


You also need to have your teenager see a doctor or a counselor. They can decide what the best course of action is to stop the drug and alcohol abuse. Above all, when you recognize substance abuse in your teenager, you need to take action quickly.

Are You Isolating Yourself?

on Wednesday, 13 December 2017.

Are You Isolating Yourself?

Isolation can be described as distancing yourself from others. Isolation, in psychology, does not refer to distancing yourself in the physical sense – that is solitude. Rather, isolation refers to being separated from others in the social or emotional sense.

Social isolation is when a person lacks social relationships. A person chooses to distance themselves, socially, from others, which leads to an absence of friends and acquaintances and little contact with other people. Though spending some time away from other people can be a positive thing, especially if you are an introvert, spending too much time by yourself can have negative consequences, such as depression and low self-esteem.

People who suffer from social isolation often suffer from emotional isolation, as well. Emotional isolation refers to when a person does not have a close partner with whom they can confide and share their feelings with. Emotionally isolated people do not express their feelings or emotions, and they have issues communicating with other people. They often feel numb and as if no one understands them.

To overcome social or emotional isolation, you need to discover what is the root cause of the isolation. A person may choose to isolate themselves due to trust issues, past abuse, mental illnesses, major life changes or bad experiences in previous social or emotional relationships.

Therapy can help a person overcome their social or emotional isolation. A therapist can help you to understand why you suffer from social or emotional isolation and how you can overcome it. In therapy, you will learn how to handle the fear or apprehension you experience when connecting with other people, and you will learn social skills that will help you to form social and emotional relationships. A therapist will even serve as a person with whom you can socially and emotionally connect with.

Stress Over the Holidays

on Monday, 04 December 2017.

Stress Over the Holidays

Though the holidays are often associated with relaxation, leisure and joy, they also can be a cause of stress. Holiday stress is a very real thing and with the winter holidays now approaching, you may already be feeling the tension.

Why do the holidays cause so much stress in people’s lives? The answer may lie in the fact that people often have higher expectations for the holidays than they do for other times of the year. People expect the holidays to be joyous occasions filled with activities and family time.

The holidays often require careful planning, which is another source of stress, and people often feel pressure to buy expensive gifts, which can cause stress over money.

If you are concerned that the upcoming holiday season will be stressful for you, there are steps you can take to prevent stress.

First, understand if your holiday expectations are even realistic. If you set unreasonably high expectations for yourself for the holiday season and you, more than likely, fall short of them, you will end up feeling disappointment and despair. Evaluate your expectations and make sure that they are reasonable. And if you fall short, don’t despair; take joy in the expectations that you did meet.

When planning for the holidays, you can avoid stress by setting a spending limit (and sticking to it), creating to-do lists, sharing the responsibilities with other people and not taking on too many tasks.

But, it’s not just the planning that causes stress; the events and festivities of the holidays also can be sources of stress. During the holidays, remember to leave time for yourself and take reprieves from the group activities. Too much time with others can overwhelm you and cause you to forget about your own needs.

The holidays can be a fun time, so make sure you are taking the necessary steps to enjoy them to the fullest. Take care of yourself and look forward to the positive aspects of the season and the opportunity to connect with others.  

Trust Issues

on Wednesday, 18 October 2017.

Trust Issues

Trust issues can be defined as difficulties a person has with trusting others. This person may also experience difficulty determining when to trust others and how much to trust others. Though it is normal to hesitate before determining whether to trust someone, it is not normal to have extensive trust issues where a person will never trust anyone under any circumstances.

Having trust issues prevents a person from experiencing healthy relationships or intimacy. The issues lead to them experiencing stress, anxiety, suspicion and fear because they are constantly worrying about people in their lives betraying them.

You may have trust issues if you don’t have any friendships; you are lonely or depressed; you are always suspicious of friends and family members; you seem to always be in dramatic, quarrelsome relationships; or other people view you as untrusting, unforgiving or difficult to please.

People often develop trust issues if they have been betrayed, embarrassed or taken advantage of in the past. These experiences make it difficult for that person to trust again. Childhood abuse, bullying and distressing life experiences, such as the death of a loved one, have also been linked to trust issues.

If you have trust issues, a good way to overcome them is to get a “trust partner,” according to Mike Bundrant of A trust partner is usually a therapist or life coach who has experience dealing with trust issues. With this partner, you can learn how and when to trust. You also will learn to take emotional risks, which is what extending trust is all about. “Trusting” with a trust partner helps prepare you for real-life situations where you have to decide when and to whom to extend trust.

Therapy also can help you to determine the underlying causes behind your trust issues and how you can work to overcome these issues. Group therapy is also an option where you complete trust exercises in a group setting. Whatever therapy method you choose, you need to be prepared and willing to work hard in order to leave your trust issues behind. 


Managing your Temper

on Monday, 09 October 2017.

Managing your Temper

Anger, as defined by the American Psychological Association, is “an emotion characterized by antagonism toward someone or something you feel has deliberately done you wrong.” Feeling anger from time to time is completely normal. In fact, it can actually be healthy to feel anger because it helps you to express negative emotions.

But, too much anger can have negative consequences. Whenever you feel angry, your blood pressure increases, and when you are constantly feeling angry, your blood pressure constantly increases. High blood pressure can lead to health and mental issues, and it prevents you from thinking clearly. Excessive anger also has the potential to negatively impact your career and the relationships in your life

If your temper constantly flares because of minor inconveniences, or your anger escalates uncontrollably, then you need to practice ways to better manage your temper. Managing your temper does not mean repressing your feelings of anger. Instead, it concerns understanding why you feel angry and learning how to express those feelings of anger in healthier, non-destructive ways.

First, understanding your anger involves looking at your childhood. Anger issues in adulthood are often the result of learning poor anger practices as a child. If you had parents with temper issues, you also are likely to have them because you never learned how to healthily express anger. Anger issues also can result from depression, trauma and long-term stress.

Also, understand that anger may not be the true emotion when you feel angry. Some people with temper issues often feel anger to disguise other feelings such as insecurity, embarrassment or hurt. This is often the result of learning to repress emotions as a child.

Once you understand the reasons for your temper issues, you can begin working on ways to better control you anger. First, when you become angry, remain calm. Remaining calm will help you to think more clearly in response to what is angering you, and it will help you to react in a less destructive manner. Also, think before you say something. When angry, you may say something that you will come to regret. It is better to cool off and be in a calmer state of mind before you speak.  

When you are angered, you also may find it helpful to step back from what is causing the reaction. For example, if you are angry because your computer is not working properly, take a break from working on it. Go for a walk, exercise or find another way to relax; just find a way to keep your mind off what is angering you for a period of time.

But if all else fails and you still have trouble managing your temper, see a therapist. Therapists can help you discover the reasons behind your uncontrollable anger and give you personalized ways to manage it. 


Feeling Stressed or Overwhelmed?

on Monday, 02 October 2017.

Feeling Stressed or Overwhelmed?

Stress can be caused by a variety of factors. School, work and other responsibilities, as well as dramatic events in your life – such as the death of a loved one – can all trigger stress.

Many people in Gainesville and the surrounding area experienced these feelings when Irma hit us.

When you experience too much stress in your life, you may begin to feel overwhelmed. And being overwhelmed can cause you to feel anxious, angry or irritated. You may even lash out or experience a panic attack.

Long-term stress can produce negative effects on your body including headaches, high-blood pressure, a weakened immune system, back and shoulder pain and digestive issues. Long-term stress also has been linked to depression and drug and alcohol problems.

Stress and feelings of being overwhelmed also negatively impact your mind. You can’t think or work properly when you feel stressed or overwhelmed, and you lose the ability to appreciate life.

Experiencing stress and feeling overwhelmed once in a while is completely normal. But, too much is problematic, and you need to take steps to reduce them. First, ask yourself what is actually causing the stress and feelings. Diagnosing the root will go a long way toward helping you to reduce and eliminate them.

Once you have the cause, you can then determine the best ways to reduce or eliminate the stress or overwhelming feelings. Unfortunately, some factors are outside your control. If a demanding teacher is the root of your stress, you cannot really control that teacher’s behavior. Instead, you have to determine what you can control. You can always control your reaction to any situation. 

If you find that school or work is the source of your stress, one of the main steps you can take is to practice better time management. Often, your time management skills are really to blame for the stress you feel. You may also find that taking part in activities or hobbies that you love will reduce the stress you feel from work or school. Taking part in extracurricular activities prevents you from always focusing on the stress of school or work.

Lastly, living a healthy lifestyle is a huge part of reducing stress. When you are not living a healthy life – which includes getting enough sleep, exercising and eating a balanced diet – you leave yourself more vulnerable to stress. You need to ensure that your body is well cared for so stress and feelings of being overwhelmed don’t cause you too much difficulty or pain. 


ITM Group is looking for a qualified therapist

on Monday, 25 September 2017.

The ITM Group is a for-profit provider of behavioral health services based out of North Central Florida. We have more than thirty years of providing specialized treatment for court-ordered individuals in the community, as well as, at locked facilities, and overlay programs. The program is currently looking to hire qualified full or part-time clinicians in the Gainesville and North Central Florida regions. We presently offer sexual offender treatment in more than 15 separate locations and are seeking experienced sex offender therapists in several locations to fill anticipated vacancies.

Position Description:

The primary responsibilities will include providing group counseling, individual sessions, and various forensic assessments for assigned clientele. The position will also be responsible for treatment plan development, consultation with referring agencies, and the timely submission of required reports (assessments, monthly progress reports, terminations, etc.)

All clinical staff members are expected to attend semi-annual staff meetings and participate in routine monitoring opportunities, including ongoing clinical oversight.

Minimum qualifications:

2 years of relevant experience with either juvenile or adult sex offender population

Master’s Degree or higher in Behavioral Health field

Florida Department of Health License will be required, but license eligible applicants can be considered pending anticipated licensing in Florida

Be a clinical member of ATSA or meet the requirements for a clinical associate member

Excellent verbal and written skills

Ability to work independently or in a group setting (team player)

Strong work ethic and organizational skills

Commitment to performing quality services as a clinician and as requested in the community (trainings)

Flexibility with work hours – generally between 10:00 a.m. and 8:30 p.m.


The ITM Group has typically provided services under 1099 subcontractor agreements, but has several options for employee positions for some locations dependent upon the opportunity/desire for involvement by the individual. The employee status has provisions for health care assistance, paid vacation, and holidays.


For serious consideration:

Please submit a cover letter explaining your qualifications and experience to the individual listed below. Additionally, if you would include your resume, date of possible availability, and at least two letters of reference.   


Send information to Brandi Smith –

How to Practice Self-Care

on Tuesday, 29 August 2017.

How to Practice Self-Care

Self-care refers to the practices a person consistently takes part in to maintain good health and well-being. A person’s health and well-being can be threatened by the daily strains and challenges they encounter, and self-care is a way to alleviate the stress caused by these strains and challenges.

Self-care also helps to maintain relationships – which you may neglect due to other duties –and create a balance between your work or school life and personal life. It can help you refocus your priorities and prevents you from becoming overwhelmed from too many activities.

You can practice self-care in different ways. Exercise and healthy eating are key parts of self-care because they help keep your body strong and healthy. You may be neglecting your body’s health due to work or school, but you truly need a healthy body to feel good and effectively fulfill your responsibilities.

Relaxation is another key part of self-care. With work and school, you may feel that you never get the time to relax. You might even feel as though relaxation is a waste of time –time that could be spent at work or at school. But, relaxation is not laziness. Relaxation allows you to step away from your work and “recharge,” so your mind is not overwhelmed the next time you complete your activities. It’s similar to exercising – you cannot just exercise for hours without a break. The body needs time to recharge from an exercise session so that it is rested and not overwhelmed for the next one.

Lastly, practice time-management skills. Often, stresses in your life are caused by poor time management. We take on too many tasks or we spend too much time on one activity. Ways to improve your time-management skills include making a schedule (and sticking to it), creating lists of tasks that need to be completed, and avoiding procrastination. You also need to know when you have too much on your plate; avoid taking on too many tasks.

Self-care is a vital part of living a happy and healthy life, and it should not be neglected. Work/school may be an important aspect in your life, but you should not neglect the other areas of your life because they are just as important. If you ever feel overwhelmed or stressed, turn to self-care. Your body and mind will thank you. 

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