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Tuesday, September 20, 2022

What are some benefits of seeing a counselor?

Tuesday, September 20, 2022 @ 12:38 PM

What happens during an Assessment Session.

An empathetic ear…
Reaching out to a counselor can be a very scary thing for most of us. I mean, “I’m going to unload all of my troubles and fears to this complete stranger?!!” It can feel very overwhelming.

The reality is, we don’t know, what we don’t know. Removing some of that mystery may make things easier for the client. (I, personally use the term client, because the image of a patient is not very empowering.) Therefore, I want to walk you through an Intake Session.

Remember that every counselor is going to have their own methods, this is simply what I do.

After you first reach out to me expressing an interest in having a first session, I reply with the following 2 assignments for you to do:

Before we meet, I would like you to do these two assignments and send them to me. You can keep them very simple if you like:

First; I would like you to draw up a baseball diamond and name the most pressing presenting problem(s) in your life at home plate (at the bottom of the page). As you move to the pitcher’s mound (Center), name other problems that are also serious, but not as urgent. As you move along the bases (Counter-clockwise at 3, 12 and 9), name other issues in your life that you want to work on. Finally, in the outfield (at the very top), name other issues that are not as pressing~ more like they’re on the “back-burner” that you would like to address someday in the future. If baseball is a foreign concept, then just make a list and that’ll be fine.

Second; Write down 10 goals~ what you want to achieve in your life between now and when you turn 75. Begin each one of them with: I want to … Do your best, but don’t worry if you don’t have 10 at this time. Send the assignments to me before the session. Thank you.

The first exercise examines the past and the second one examines the future. We will also look at issues of “self-care” during the first session. Change is painful~ but it is necessary to go through the pain of change.

So we begin our first session. I tend to prefer meeting via Skype video. I explain that everything discussed is covered by Canadian Confidentiality Laws. We also discuss fees and how we deal with sudden cancelations, etc.

So we begin with either questions they may have, or the two assignments, or their own story beginning in childhood, growing up. That is up to the client to decide. In the beginning, I’m mostly listening, posing the odd question for clarification. I explain that I am here to assess, and not to judge. My focus as an inter-faith pastoral counselor is on both mystery and grace. The pastoral side looks at the power of stories in religious or secular literature that touch us, that we resonate with.

After 30 minutes, I inform them that their free block of time has run out. They may elect to continue, and we turn on the “meter” or they may elect to end the session. If they end it, I try and ascertain if they might want to set up an appointment another time, or not. If not, that is fine. I only ask that if they found the session helpful, that they might refer me to others. If they do wish to have a session in the near future, then let me know when would be best. (It does not need to be written down in stone at this time.)

Finally, how I and a few other fellow counselors are different than more traditional therapists.

First, I am very eclectic in my approach and methodology.

Second, When possible, I let the client decide how long the session will be. Typically it will end at a half-hour mark, but they decide when they are finished. It’s not always ideal, but we do what we can. (I have had very long sessions with certain clients…they have found it to be beneficial.)

Third, like many therapists, I offer a “sliding scale”. If a person cannot afford to pay the full fee, we will come to an agreement on a lower fee. I do not do “free therapy”, I think that is most unhelpful. A client needs to feel that s/he is giving and receiving something from the work they are doing.

Counseling is hard work. There is much pain. Journeying together is a healing art. I hope that you have found this to be helpful in taking the first step in getting in touch. Remember, there is hope!

Yvon


https://harpo.ca/index.html


by Yvon Malenfant | Medium

Monday, September 19, 2022

“I” Versus “We” In A Healthy Relationship

Monday, September 19, 2022 @ 6:31 PM

Most people have a pretty well-developed sense of self before they enter a romantic relationship. Christians in particular have a strong sense of identity based upon the foundation of their faith. This is valuable in entering a relationship because a strong sense of identity and a balanced ego are fundamental to personal mental health and well-being. Bu then, after you enter a relationship, another process begins: your sense of self evolves, whether you often stop to reflect on the change or not.

After a divorce or the death of a partner, people are often struck by the effect of the loss on their personal identity. This often happens because people had not realized just how much their sense of self had evolved. For example, therapists illustrate the point by asking someone to imagine their identity before entering a romantic relationship as a circle — and their partner’s identity as a similar, separate circle. As their relationship develops, the circles begin to overlap one another. This is the development of a sense of identity as a couple. After a divorce or death of a partner, the now lone partner is often struck by another loss: the loss of their identity as a couple.

How much the circles should overlap, so to speak, is a matter that deserves reflection. If you think of the extremes, it’s fair to say that two people in a healthy relationship should not retain two completely separate individual identities without creating a shared identity as a couple. Likewise, it’s fair to say that people should not completely lose their identities as individuals.

Which brings up a vital, related question: What’s a healthy balance between independence and interdependence in a relationship? Completely retaining your independence has its drawbacks. That’s especially true if the partners are out of sync — if one person is overly dependent while the other is overly independent. On the flip side, interdependence is sometimes negatively but unfairly described as “co-dependence,” which as a concept is almost intuitively negative.

To understand the balance, it might help to start by considering what a healthy balance of dependency and independence might look like. Healthy dependency in a relation means sharing with your partner your most private sorrows, doubts and fears — and depending on them to respect your feelings. And that just might require more courage than many people might imagine. Obviously, it’s a tough balancing act. But if you reflect long on hard on your own sense of self in a relationship, and invite your partner in on your reflections, you may be delighted with the reward.

Thursday, August 25, 2022

The Brain and the Bible: Requirements for Recovery

Thursday, August 25, 2022 @ 1:58 PM

Dr. Dave Stephens

All of us know our brain controls our body and itself, but we don't often think about what that really means. In short, if our brain is not functioning as it should our bodies, our emotions, our thinking, our behaviors, and even our relationships with God and others will be challenged or compromised.

In much the same way, we all know that the Bible is the guide for our lives but we don't always know what that means or how it looks in everyday living. It was much simpler in the Old Testament. Jews knew that the law as given to Moses provided detailed instructions about much of everyday life. As time went on rabbis and Jewish leaders kept expanding the law and soon microscopic details like how many steps you could take on the Sabbath were prescribed for you. Jesus came to fulfill the law, but he did not provide detailed instructions on how to live your life.

The best treatment for life problems and training on how to love God and others well does not come from either psychological theories or Biblical platitudes. Contrary to popular belief, psychology does not address brain functioning in any meaningful way, and brain functioning must be addressed if life problems are to be resolved. If we were to put it in computer terms, brain functioning is the hardware and psychological theories are one type of software. The hardware must be functional if any of the software is going to run effectively and be helpful.

A recovered, fully functioning brain results in emotional stability, reduction or elimination of problem behaviors of all kinds, and the ability to know you are loved fully and to fully love others. The hardware problems of compromised brain functioning come from a variety of life events, including the head injuries or trauma many have experienced. Despite developing hardware problems in the form of a less than fully functioning brain, full brain functionioning can be restored. Once this occurs and the hardware problems have been eliminated the software can run as it should.

To continue the computer analogy, the Bible is the hardware and how we apply it to any given situation is the software. Learning to manage life problems, being able to demonstrate and express God's love and image to others, and living in the security of being fully loved come from counseling conversations that are guided by the Biblical hardware. We don't have to specifically reference the hardware in every conversation, but we do need to do make sure our software conversations and actions are incorporating the principles of the hardware.

By combining restored brain hardware and accurate Bible hardware, and creating software applications that come from each of these hardware sources, you can achieve the fulfilling life God created for you.

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Enjoying the Journey

Tuesday, August 16, 2022 @ 1:25 PM

Enjoying the Journey
Is life living you or are you living life?
So often we get caught up in the daily grind and forget to slow down…look around and realize all that we have in this life…
Take a minute today and enjoy the beauty of the sunrise or the glorious stars that blanket our night sky…
Hug your family…laugh with them…call your sister, mother, brother…
Tell your friend how much you appreciate them…
Seek those things that feed your soul…
Especially your relationship with the Creator of all...
Just do something…
If you feel like you’ve lost your way…seek out a good counselor to help you get back to the life you desire…
And remember…I’m here to help if you’re nearby…
Wishing you a glorious life…
Tamra 💜💙💛💚

Saturday, August 13, 2022

Are You Trapped in Your Own Story?

Saturday, August 13, 2022 @ 10:19 AM

The stories you tell yourself abut what needs to change and why, can make all the difference. Because HOW you think about your life, shapes your life. So, to get familiar with HOW you think, here's two questions to ask yourself:

1. Can I switch from having an issue with my circumstance to having an issue with what I believe about my circumstance? Thoughts like, "This will never change." "I can't do this." "He/she should be better than this." limit your ability to move forward. To get unstuck, you need to start recognizing the thoughts that are keeping you here.

2. What if I were interpreting this from a perspective of strength, instead of weakness; how might that feel different? If you believed your life is unfolding from God’s desire to bless you, what would you make this circumstance mean? Anxiety produces tunnel vision and you miss other (better) options that are available.

You can change your story! But first, you need to change yourself. Sound impossible? Nothing is impossible with God!

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

RIGHT KIND OF CANDY (GOOD COMMUNICATION IS SO SWEET!)

Wednesday, July 27, 2022 @ 8:34 PM

“Everything you say and do, AND everything you don’t say or do, is communication.”
(Clifton Fuller)

Today, let’s talk about Learning to Communicate in the language your partner speaks.

But first, let's look at the wrong kind of candy...

When I was in grad school, my wife and I worked long hours to make ends meet financially. During that time, we decided that, for our family, which included two young sons, my wife would be a stay-at-home-mom rather than work outside the home (she is an educator). This would allow her to be with and teach our two children while they were young. Any income she brought would come from the home, as I was working full-time and attending grad school full-time. It was a busy time for all of us.

Because we only had one car, I did the weekly grocery shopping on my way home from work, based on a list we would compile during the week. This was decades before mobile phones, so I’d clutch my paper shopping list, rapidly work my way through the grocery store, then come home to enlist the kids’ help carrying in the shopping bags.

I grew up poor in the 1950s. For me, candy was a fairly rare luxury, even the crummy stuff. Time and money were tight in grad school, but my wife has always been happy with simple expressions of love. A flower was picked for her along a walk, discovering a heart-shaped rock and special hand-made notes from the boys. She also loves chocolate. So, I would pick up a candy bar for her every once in a while. It wasn’t one of those cheap kinds, no way! I’d buy her one of the GOOD ones. The big name, high-roller confections, a King-Sized bar, caramel, nougat, topped with peanuts, chocolate, THE WORKS. I’d go all out; I knew that she knew how proud I was to be able to do that; childhood poverty has a way of making even small gestures carry fairly major emotional rewards. I also knew she’d love the thought that I had been thinking about her while in that store.

One evening, while the kids attempted to load each other with grocery bags like competitive sherpas, I started putting the groceries away with my wife, and that big king-sized candy bar was in my grocery bag. I proudly showed it to her, she smiled, and I asked her where to hide the candy bar from our young, rowdy sons. She quickly told me there was a little box on our kitchen's top shelf of an antique built-in wall-hutch. That out-of-the-way hutch was where she stashed sweets away from our freakishly tall kids. I opened the top cabinet door, and a bunch of candy bars tumbled out, much to my surprise.

I asked, “What are all these candy bars doing here? Why are you stockpiling the candy bars?”

My wife responded, “I just didn’t want the kids to have candy too often.”

“Honey,” I replied, “I haven’t been buying these for the kids; I’m buying them for YOU.”

“But I don’t like peanuts in my candy.”

Can you imagine my shock? And honestly,…a little hurt, as well. I had made this incredibly sweet gesture, had built a habit of a performative, concrete action that showed that I cared about the woman, this soulmate I had found by the grace of God, the love of my life and mother to my children. As I gathered up the candy bars, it suddenly hit me that I’d never thought to ask HER what kind of candy SHE liked! I had bought the kind of candy bar I thought she’d like…the kind of candy bar I liked.

All my effort into months of affectionate action wasn’t wasted; my wife thought it was still very caring and loving. She understood me and knew how important it was for me to perform the gesture. She thought it was directed at the children (who, disclaimer, I also love) instead of her. I was being a sweet and caring father when I was trying to be a sweet and caring husband. Fortunately, it was an easy fix; the kids quickly volunteered to help us get rid of the stuff topped with peanuts. From that time on, I started buying the kind of candy she loved. And we never told the kids where the candy bars were hidden:)

I’m a big believer in learning from my mistakes, and there was certainly a lesson here.

We do not naturally communicate what we want, what makes us feel cared about, and what we need; we’re often caught up in the fear that our partner will see us as too needy, too weak, or too picky. That’s a LIE.

We also don’t ask! Sometimes we don’t know things because we don’t think to ask.

When we commit to a relationship, we need to commit. Something as simple as making a list, and being honest, without fearing ridicule, is one of the simplest things we can do.

My youngest son, who helps type these articles for me and is objectively the better-looking of my children (editor’s note; Don’t push it, Jonathan:) said that on his first date with the woman who would become his wife, she approached dinner like a contract situation; as soon as the sushi arrived, she asked him, straight-faced, “Where do you see this date going? What is it that you’re hoping to achieve?” It caught him off-guard but also intrigued him that this woman was so forthright and open to genuine discussion of who they were and their expectations without any facades. They’ve been married for over a decade now. They’re still nuts about each other and know each other well. They are committed to the person they knew before marriage, as there were no artifices from day one. Whether they agree or disagree with each other’s views, they try to work things out as they care more about their partner than personal or others' views. They know each other well.

Give it a try! No matter how goofy you feel, get together, sit down, and make a list for each other. Start with “I FEEL CARED ABOUT WHEN…” and

Write down the things that make your heart flutter.

This part is essential: make sure that the things you write down are positive (no room for ‘dirty positives’ here…as those are like paper slices that wound). Be specific and list small things. We want actions and gestures that are simple enough to be performed daily, not financially burdensome or intensely time-consuming, and can be built into positive habits.

Make sure that the action is NOT the subject of a recent conflict; if there was a spat about something in the past couple of weeks, don’t include it on the list, no matter how good it would feel to push that button.

Good examples are actions such as “kiss me goodnight,” or “keep a can of soda in the fridge for me,” instead of dead-in-the-water entries like “buy me a new car,” “solve the conflict in the Middle East,” or “convince our more aesthetically pleasing son not to get a degree in theatre.” (another Jon comment:) The first two hit all our criteria; the last three are functionally impossible.

Now… list a bunch of items! Like… fifteen. Twenty, if you feel like you want to wow your partner.

The goal is to give your partner a list with many options, enough that they can do multiple actions a day, not necessarily every one of them. You can also choose different daily items to create variety to show caring acts of love toward your partner.

Do the same for your partner, as this is a two-way street. Make sure you both make lists. If you both followed the criteria, you’ll be AMAZED at how easy it is to do and how much it means to your partner... and you! And to top it off, if it’s positive and focused on making your partner happy, it can also be a lot of fun for both of you!

Add to the list as your relationship deepens and you realize that the #1 person in the world is your partner. It’s renewing to a relationship if you both seek simple ways to show and reinforce your love for each other in the ways the other understands is totally for them.

Carry the list with you. Do the little things as part of your life… not as big grand gestures, but as simple acts of love toward them.

Make sure you’re giving your loved ones the right kind of candy.

P.S. This also works with others, including children. Listen to what they are trying to tell you about themselves.

HUMOR! (LEARNING TO LAUGH AT OURSELVES)

Wednesday, July 27, 2022 @ 7:57 PM

Even though it may be a rough time for many folks, we all need to experience humor. Not just laughter, either… we need laughter for physical and mental health.

I want to share how important it is to learn how to laugh… at ourselves.

That’s a LOT harder than it sounds. It requires a tremendous amount of confidence, a huge brain, and a powerful sense of belief in our sense of self. It takes bravery, honesty, and, most critically, patience. For some, it may be a lot of work, but it is worth every second of it. Pulling it off allows us to find a sense of joy even in our darkest times. It will enable us to hang on and even pull ourselves back up… because it’s FUN.

It’s really easy these days to forget how to laugh at ourselves or things. Political strife, war, the pandemic… it is a time of chaos and conflict, and if we are ever going to regain and rebuild a sense of peace, we will need to learn how to take ourselves much less seriously. We need to remember that not every single thing is always a matter of life-and-death, of absolutely critical importance, or seriousness. We must give ourselves permission to enjoy our lives. We admire people who are in difficult times yet can always seem to find something positive or funny they can laugh or comment about.

We’ve got first to change how we see ourselves.

Start here… what is it that you find funny? When was the last time you laughed, full and loud, and felt joy rising within you without restraint or inhibition? Seriously, try and remember, write it down. We may have to become introspective for a while because everybody’s sense of humor is different, so different approaches may be necessary. Humor changes and evolves with time, which is why we get confused by what “the kids” are into these days. It’s also why we tolerate and repeatedly laugh each time a 4-year-old tells us another joke (or the same joke) about why the chicken crossed the road. That’s ok… we need to know what we find funny to determine the style.

There are generally four “styles” of humor that we’ll get into in a bit, based not on what we find funny but on how we use the feeling of “funny” to change our emotions. Our brains are complicated, and we unconsciously seek humor to help ourselves process the emotions that come from stress. It’s why, when we’ve come through a particularly rough patch, we eventually hear something that cracks us up. We laugh, not because we want to, but because psychologically, we NEED to.

Humor works because there is an expectation, and then something that subverts that expectation. For instance, a knock-knock joke is often funny because I have absolutely no intention of opening the door. There are bears outside. One of my favorite comedians, Steve Martin, said that he would sometimes set up a joke that had no punch line; he would continually increase the tension of the story with tangents and irrelevant details, delaying the set-up and the expectation of an expectation for so long, that eventually someone would laugh because of the innate absurdity of the “joke.”

Once you know what you find funny, could you look at it? Strip it down to the barest parts, and examine it intellectually. Compare it to the ‘Four Styles of Humor’; Affiliative, Aggressive, Self-Defeating, and Self-Enhancing. When we do that, we can figure out what motivates our humor and then use THAT knowledge to find it intentionally. We can teach ourselves to get the joke!

Let’s break down the Four Styles. Keep in mind that our personal senses of humor are often a mix of two or three of the styles:

Affiliative Humor is the kind of fun that we use to fit ourselves in with a group of other people. Inside jokes are the kind that develops organically within the family, friend group, or workplace, for instance. I have a partner in my therapy practice that I have been messing with for decades, constantly attempting to get him to laugh. He’s a tough nut to crack, very stone-faced, sooooo professional, but he gives as good as he gets. We’ve pranked each other through the mail, through gifts left in each other’s offices, we traded a whale sculpted from lard back and forth for a few years… Affiliative humor can get REALLY weird on a long enough timeline. Another example from my family is the ritual of giving a can of soup as a gift for Christmas. It’s heart-warming and affirming because it relies on a previously set expectation; it cements acceptance as a part of that social unit and tends to build a sense of camaraderie and unity.

Aggressive Humor is the spiciest of humor. Aggressive humor points out subversion of expectation through mockery, either of an event or a person involved. Think about most late-night shows and an AWFUL lot of stand-up sets. Usually, someone else is the butt of the joke. This type of humor is tricky, and we need to be careful how we use it; there is a psychological rush in landing a good quip at someone’s expense because it alters the power dynamics of that situation, and not always in a positive way. Terry Pratchett, an excellent author, said, “Satire is meant to ridicule power. If you’re laughing at people who are hurting, it’s not satire, it’s bullying.” (Read about bullying here). We must make sure that our use of the aggressive style doesn’t get away from us… use it to equalize power, not affirm it.

Self-Defeating Humor is a bit harshly named, but I didn’t name ‘em, so here we are. This kind of humor is the self-deprecating joking that takes one’s own position in the power dynamic and subverts it. My kids are both voracious readers, and for many years, they have joked with each other by giving book recommendations for the weirdest stuff, trying to “out read” the other, not to prove that they’re the wiser brother, but to prove that they’re not. This is another style that can be tricky; it requires the person to use humor to know that it’s not true and not dig too deep into their insecurities to get the laugh. Some things are joking matters, and some are not; it takes a good deal of nuance for someone using Self-defeating humor to know the difference and weigh the value of self- mockery. Groucho Marx was the KING of this style, and his line “I don’t want to belong to any club that would accept me as one of its members” is a beautiful example.

Self-Enhancing Humor is the Holy Grail, the brass ring we’re reaching for. It’s humor that bolsters our sense of self and reassures us that we can handle the stress we experience. We reach pure Self-enhancing style mastery when we can appreciate and find amusement in the subversion of expectations in our lives and laugh at how absurd and silly everything really is. When we don’t take ourselves so seriously, we can let stress and negativity roll off of us because it’s just ridiculous! Every one of us is a complicated and intricate miracle, molded by experiences and perspectives that nobody else can fully comprehend, full of ideas about heritage, culture, faith, and everything that makes us human. Are we worried about a traffic jam? That’s ludicrous. That’s silly. We’re incredible, and if we ease up on ourselves (and others), we can remember that. We can find humor, even in dark times, and find the will and drive to go on, to experience more, and mold ourselves into more peaceful people.

We have to laugh at ourselves sometimes. Just like in the Steve Martin example we mentioned above, as the tensions in our lives continue and increase, it will eventually become a necessity. So, take a look at the things that make you laugh, and, if you can, try and engage in more Self-Enhancing humor rather than poking fun at others. Look at how wonderful and hilarious and incredible you are. Rejoice and enjoy it! Revel in it! Laugh at yourself, and you’ll never miss the punch line.

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

10 Tips For Prioritizing Your Mental Health

Wednesday, July 6, 2022 @ 8:50 PM

During the Covid-19 pandemic, as lockdowns were enforced globally, we saw one of the greatest mental health crises in history.

What caused this? the vast majority of society was forced to isolate, change daily habits and many people lost their jobs. With these sudden and significant changes, general society struggled to understand or appreciate the connection between these changes and how they impacted this thing called our 'mental health'.

Up until relatively recently general acceptance or recognition of one’s mental health was limited and often misunderstood. The phrase 'Mental Health', historically, was very rarely used and synonymized with extreme psychiatric cases like schizophrenia or PTSD.

So as you further learn to understand what mental health is, what are some of the ways that we can prioritize our mental health to ensure that our emotional/psychological state is healthy?

This article looks to provide practical tips that you can use to prioritize your mental health.

Tip 1: Awareness and appreciation of your mental health.

Until relatively recently, the concept of one’s mental health was not widely understood or appreciated. Many of us have exerted incredible stress and strain on ourselves psychologically (Whether we have done this knowingly or unknowingly), and when the negative affects of that strain start to appear, we don’t understand how to resolve or appreciate the connection between what is causing the negative affects.

"Recognition is half the battle"

For us to prioritize our mental health, we must first recognize that we have a “mental health” and that it is highly impacted by how we live our lives. Our mental health can be impacted by many things, below is a list of some of examples:
- how and what we think, especially what we think about ourselves.
- how we spend our time: Are you working excessively
- the amount of conflict in our life
- the stress we apply to ourselves (even physically)

Tip 2: Set and enforce boundaries

One of the number one causes of poor mental health is a lack of boundaries.

Here are some examples of where someone may lack boundaries (Potential justification in brackets):
- You work well into the evening after your official ‘work-day’ is over (“I want to be seen as a good employee”)
- You let anyone call you at anytime. (“I want people to know that they are important to me”)
- You let people take advantage of you(“I don’t want to have conflict”)

Establishing boundaries allows you to set expectations with yourself and those around you on what is OK and what is not OK for you and your mental health.

This can be incredibly difficult to do. You may worry how those around you will interpret these boundaries. Boundaries may also limit your ability to get as much done as before which in the case of work may have a monetary impact.

Does setting boundaries have consequences? Yes. Like all decisions, every decision made has positive and negative outcomes. So our recommendation is to define and understand your current boundaries and consider whether ‘stricter’ boundaries in certain areas have benefits that outweigh the negatives.

As you read the remaining tips of this article, consider how boundaries can be utilized or adjusted to prioritize your mental health.

Tip 3: Tap into things that bring you joy

As we get older and the responsibilities of life build up, it can be easy to forget to find things that bring you joy and happiness.

Joy and happiness are critical to having a a healthy and happy life.

Whether thats completing activities or simply being with close friends or family, tapping into things that bring you joy is an incredibly powerful way to prioritize your mental health.

Practically speaking when you are joy-filled, you have reduced stress and increased general happiness, anxiety affects you less and you are less likely to be depressed.

Operating out of a state of joy and happiness also has a large impact on the neurological state of your brain: Less stress reduces your cortisol levels (stress hormone) and can increases the levels of serotonin and dopamine which can have compounding benefits on the rest of your body.

Tip 4: Play

Play, as defined by Brené brown, is doing something enjoyable for no other reason than it’s enjoyable. Play is activity that is in direct contrast to what we would define as strenuous or work related activities. Some examples of play could be playing a game, sports and dancing.

Play has huge positive mental health benefits. Play can help your body and mind rest and relax from strenuous work activities that you may have recently experienced.

Similar to tip 3, playing helps to re-adjust the hormones in your brain and your general neurological/psyhcological state. This supports your body in relaxing which makes it easier to enter into a parasympathetic state. In this state our body and mind are able to heal faster from where any strain/stress damage may have occurred.

Completing ‘play’ activities with others is also a great way to connect with others and support your relational desires, increasing your sense of connectedness (which is a great segway into tip #5)

Tip 5: Connect with others

Humans are relational beings. We crave, desire and ultimately require connection with other beings.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, as lockdowns were enforced globally, we saw one of the greatest mental health crises in history. One of the major contributors to this was the sudden and extreme disconnection that was felt by many.

Studies have shown that, in children, neglect (lack of connection or attention) by parents and family can have equal levels of trauma to that of physical or sexual assault. Connection is paramount to our mental health.

“But I’m an introvert and find my alone time restorative and regenerative”.

As you will hear in tip 7, alone time is equally important for your mental health and we recognize that there are individuals who find social environments exhausting and taxing. You may be a naturally introverted person who finds alone time recharging, but ultimately it's a human need and desire to have some level of connection with other beings though maybe in less quantities than others.

Not all connection is healthy:
You may reflect on recent social interaction and recall that you left feeling anxious, depressed or insecure which are all signs of decreased mental health. The reality is, many relationships can be toxic and not supportive of you as a person. In this case, by spending time and connecting in these relationships, you are actually not prioritizing your mental health.

In these circumstances you may need to exercise boundaries (refer to tip 2) to protect your mental health. That may look like one of the following:
- Limiting the frequency you connect with an individual.
- Limiting the conversation topics discussed with that individual to ‘safe’ topics.
- all-together ending the relationship for the sake of your health and psychological state.

Healthy connection is paramount to a positive mental state. If you are struggling with this over an extended period of time, we recommend you connect with a counsellor to discuss why this may be.

Tip 6: Get outside into fresh air and nature

Getting outside can have a wonderfully positive impact on your mental health. Fresh air and being in nature can reduce levels of stress and anxiety. Getting outside can remove distractions like work and household chores that may be plaguing your mind and causing stress.

‘Fresh air naturally has higher levels of oxygen than that of our homes and offices. Higher oxygen levels support better respiration and breathing which ultimately has a huge impact on overall brain functioning.

Being outside can also be a great place to connect with other people (as discussed in tip 5) and, conversely, can be a great place to get away from people to spend time with yourself (as discussed in tip 7).

Tip 7: Spend time with yourself alone

Spending time with yourself is a powerful way to positively improve your mental health.

Space to be by ourselves allows us to prioritize what we want or need for us during that time. We may need to relax after a stressful period; We may need to recover from a busy socially filled week. Whatever the reason, time by yourself allows you to focus on your needs without having to worry about anyone else’s concerns or considerations. This ties in huge to our next tip.

Tip 8: Remove distractions, give yourself time to think and reflect

When we remove all distractions (other people, social media, tv, etc) this can be a great time to process our thoughts and emotions of the day/week/month and understand how we are doing: physically, psychologically, spritually, etc. This is a powerful way of prioritizing our mental health.

“I distract myself so that I don’t feel the pain”

For many of us, we don’t want to remove the distractions. Sometimes, we actually look for distractions. For many of us, we may have been struggling with negative mental health symptoms (anxiety, depression, insecurity) for decades but use distractions to avoid these feelings. If this is you, we recommend for the sake of your mental health, and the enjoyment of your future, that you find ways to work through any psychological pain you may be feeling. A very practical way to do this is to connect with a counsellor to discuss the pain that you feel when you remove the distractions.

Tip 9: Limit multi-tasking

For those of us who get a great sense of achievement and identity from getting lots done, multi-tasking can be an attractive way to try and achieve more! Alternatively, you may feel so overwhelmed with everything on the go that musti-tasking is a requirement.

Whatever is the justification, multi-tasking is very taxing on the brain and actually results in less effective decision making and thinking which can ultimately reduce productivity and the quality of your work.

Practically speaking, your brain cannot process multiple items at the same time. What your brain is doing is processing intermittently between the different tasks.

When you exert this type of strain on your brain for long periods of time, your brain will need time to recover. If you don’t give your brain time to recover, your mental health may suffer and you may start to exhibit signs of poor mental health: Foggy thinking, anxiety, struggling to sleep, etc.

Tip 10: Eat good food

Eating well can have a large impact on your mental health. A rounded diet provides the necessary calories, minerals and vitamins your body and brain needs to function properly. When your body and brain is healthy, it is much easier to have a healthier emotional state.

Conversely, eating poorly can have a lot of mental health implications:
high sugar intake can lead to blood sugar highs and lows which can have significant impacts on your mood.
A lack of vitamins or nutrients can limit the brain’s ability to produce necessary hormones.
Eating highly processed foods can leave you feeling bloated and fatigued.

Additionally, there can be great joy and happiness found in the process of making and eating great food. Making food can be a great way of giving yourself space and time to think about your day. Eating food with friends and family can be a wonderful time of connection.
Counselling Calgary: 10 tips for prioritizing your mental health

Summary: Do you need extra support?

Prioritizing your mental health is paramount to living a joyful, happy life. If you are struggling in your mental health journey or having difficulty applying some of the above tips, our counsellors at Master’s can support you in your journey towards positive mental health.

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Souled Out Volume 2

Tuesday, July 5, 2022 @ 5:36 PM

When unopposed pain, loss, and tragedies can leave us distressed broken, shattered, and hopeless. Yet knowing who we are in Christ and taking hold of His best for us will change every aspect of our being and position us to live unabridged lives without limits.

Do You Want To Be Made Whole? A Biblical Guide to Mastering Your Purpose

Tuesday, July 5, 2022 @ 5:01 PM

God has a purpose for mankind, and we have been created to fit into His tailor-made frame. You may have only scratched the surface of living out your God-given purpose. Now, is the time to dig deeper. This book is intended to inspire, challenge, and encourage all followers of Christ Jesus to pursue biblical wholeness. Stop merely existing. Take action. Turn the pages of this book and master God's purpose for your life.

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Getting Frank About Leadership With Frank

Wednesday, June 29, 2022 @ 11:24 PM

Frank Reagan, the family assistant patriarch and chief of police for NYPD (played by Tom Selleck) on Blue Bloods, displays great qualities of leadership with balance and poise.

Frank knows the difference between grace and truth and keeps a good balance as a leader and family man.

He also knows the difference between the letter of law and the spirit of the law.

Frank understands the balance between loyalty to people and loyalty to the truth.

He has possessed with great patience but knows when he's been patient enough.

Frank stands behind his people.

You will frequently find him seeking and listening to good counsel from his family or his staff.

He does not see people as all good or all bad

He tries to avoid nepotism and favorites.

You will find him being true to himself and having good boundaries.

Balancing work and family is one of his most important priorities.

He invites and listens to disagreement.

Although he certainly could be, he is not intrusive with his wants or desires.

His honor and morals is what keeps him afloat in a murky environment.

His faith gives him values and direction

He listens to problems without giving immediate solutions.

He has a low respect for image management.

The people he admires are good leaders themselves.

Only when needed will he do close-in leadership

He has a sense of humor about himself and life as well as spirit of celebration.

Walking in grace, he can hear the truth about himself and try to make corrections.

Do you possess some of these qualities? Would you like to? Ask for help to grow these characteristics. They may be ideal, but the more of them you have as leader the more effective you will be.

Sunday, June 26, 2022

See our blog and website

Sunday, June 26, 2022 @ 3:16 PM

We seek to always encourage and love all. See us at therapyhearttalk.com

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Lessons from a Teacher's Heart

Saturday, June 25, 2022 @ 7:06 PM

Lessons from a Teacher’s Heart (Audiobook) Price: $9.98

Lessons from a Teacher’s heart is a funny, heart-stopping, and heart-tugging book that allows you to share the many moments that I experienced during my 16 and a half years of teaching in the South Florida area.

In a Teacher's Heart you will learn:

*How to find joys in the many moments of frustration

*Many relatable funny moments that will let you know that you are not alone in the madness

*What it is like to really be a teacher in a world of uncertainty in the classroom

***Each audiobook purchased allows us to give back to the men and women in the educational field a portion of the proceeds in the local and global teaching communities.***

Payment Option: www.sssmovement.org website.

SN: When you order the audiobook please include the following information your full name, address, email address, and the word “Teacher”. By doing this it will enter you in a raffle for a mystery surprise.

Monday, June 13, 2022

Forgive to Health

Monday, June 13, 2022 @ 4:27 PM

How is a person's physical and mental health linked to emotional health? Is it possible that your frequent head aches, joint pain, troubles with eating, sleeplessness, depression, anxiety, or similar symptoms have an unhealthy emotional root connected somewhere to the cause? The likelihood is very real, and even more chronic conditions like cancer are often linked to bitterness and unforgiveness in a person’s heart.

Research Reveals

Anger, when turned to bitterness, hatred, resentment or rage, is very destructive to the human body. Holding grudges, rehearsing retaliatory speeches in your mind, and ruminating (dwelling on negative consequences of hurt and mistreatment) create harmful stress that the human body is not designed to tolerate. Research has shown the link between harboring negative feelings and the breakdown of mind and body. This topic is addressed in a recent book called The Forgiveness Project by Michael Barry and is subtitled, the Startling Discovery of How to Overcome Cancer, Find Health, and Achieve Peace.
Here is the back cover description of Barry’s book: "Internalizing anger is destructive to our spiritual health and can destroy families, marriages, and even churches. But what about our physical health? Is there a relationship between a spirit of unforgiveness and disease? Between forgiveness and healing? After extensive medical, theological, and sociological research at Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA), author and pastor Michael Barry made a startling discovery: the immune system and forgiveness are very much connected. Through the inspiring stories of five cancer patients, Barry helps you identify-and overcome-the barriers that prevent healing and peace. See how a breast cancer patient named Jayne experienced spiritual and physical renewal when she learned to forgive. Meet Rich whose surprise cancer diagnosis led him to forgive his cousin. Be inspired by Sharon's story of spontaneous remission. With each true account comes proven strategies, tested and used by CTCA, that you can implement to find peace with your past, relief from hatefulness, and hope for healing."
Unforgiveness may not create disease, but it certainly fuels the condition(s) for disease to take hold. In his book Barry reports Robert Ader, at the University of Rochester Medical Center as saying, "psychological experiences, such as stress and anxiety, can influence immune function, which in turn may have an effect on disease course.. Certain data indicate that factors such as suppressing emotions of anger and hatred (which are the ingredients of unforgiveness) negatively influence a person's susceptibility to disease."
Dr. Everett Worthington,, forerunning researcher and author of numerous books on forgiveness, writes, "Chronic unforgiveness causes stress. Every time people think of their transgressor, their body responds. Decreasing your unforgiveness cuts down on your health risk. Now, if you can forgive, that can actually strengthen your immune system."
So maybe you haven't been diagnosed with cancer. What about the everyday aches and pains for which many Americans customarily turn to pills for treatment?
Many visits to medical doctors could be averted if people paid more attention to their emotional health. Herb Benson, MD, proves the point when he says, "Sixty to 90 percent of visits to physicians are for conditions related to stress. Harmful effects of stress include anxiety, mild and moderate depression, anger and hostility, hypertension, pain, insomnia, and many other stress-related diseases."

Stress Relief

Because it is widely misunderstood, forgiveness is often overlooked as a major source of stress relief. In chapter two of my book Escaping the Pain of Offense: Empowered to Forgive from the Heart, I discuss the evidence of people's misunderstanding of forgiveness. Many people incorrectly assume their decision to forgive has cleared them of the negative effects of the baggage that goes with unforgiveness. Mentally deciding to forgive does not equate to willingness and commitment to taking the action steps of release in the heart.
Forgiveness does not come from simply saying, "I forgive ... ." It requires a heartfelt change through which the anger and hatred are transformed into feelings of peaceful neutrality and on to genuine love and concern for the offender. My book mentioned above explains this process from a Christian perspective. Forgiveness is surrendering to God the ultimate right to judge. Forgiveness cannot be reduced to methodology solely achieved by following pre-determined step-by-step instructions. It is much more complex and gradually accomplished by gaining new insights and practicing empathy and love.

Avoid the Misunderstandings

Eva Mozes Kor and her twin sister, Miriam, survived the Holocaust and the Auschwitz concentration camp, Eva was asked, "What is the thing that is most misunderstood about forgiveness?' She replied, "Forgiveness has the reputation that the perpetrator has to be sorry. The biggest misconception is that forgiveness is for the perpetrator. It's strictly a gift of freedom I give myself. It's free! You don't need an HMO. There are no side effects, and it works. It's like a miracle drug. Instead of changing the world—that's too big of a job—we have to repair it one place at a time...." A huge thing to discover is that forgiveness and reconciliation are two different processes.
For those who may get past the first hurdle of misunderstanding, the second hurdle, misdiagnosing the condition of heart, often trips them up. For most people, hatred is a well-disguised deceptive tumor. At least in some degree, hatred is alive in every breathing human being. Although most do not consider themselves a "hateful person," condemning and judgmental tendencies exist in every human heart. These elements grow and create cancer-like emotional conditions that often go undetected. Just as every individual is unique in how they develop and treat bodily cancer, each is unique in how emotional cancer is developed and treated.
Anger will turn to the cancer of hatred if not properly treated. Hatred is anger saturated with bitterness. Unrecognized and unacknowledged hatred (confusing or excusing it as mere anger) is a common ailment of the human heart. Hurt combined with hatred does not heal on its own. Hurt turned to hatred requires intentional healing balm. The process of forgiveness is the most effective treatment.


Guard Your Heart

One of the most satisfying fruits of forgiveness is better physical and mental health. Is it worth finding out more about forgiveness and making the necessary changes to practice forgiveness? Absolutely! Good health has no price tag. The ancient Proverb says, "Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it" (proverbs 4:23). Healthy individuals build healthy families, and healthy families can build a healthy society. Understanding and practicing forgiveness goes a long way to facilitate health.
Forgiveness may not be the complete answer to all life's problems. It is surely a door to access the treasures of healing. For a Christian, that Door is Jesus Christ (see John 10) who accomplishes forgiveness and provides access to the very heart of Father God. Believing in Jesus surrenders the heart to the Almighty’s power to save. Refuge is found for the eternal healing of the soul.
I hope you are able to receive, and be blessed by, the healing power of forgiveness today.

Note: The book Escaping the Pain of Offense: Empowered to Forgive from the Heart discusses themes of dealing with disappointments, offense and finding freedom in forgiveness. This book is designed to help people (especially in the Christian faith) to discover and dislodge things in life that lead to defeat. Don't miss out on your chance to use this book as a helpful tool in discovering Refuge in Christ. It can be purchased by clicking here: https://www.amazon.com/~/e/B0952DP1MX

Thursday, May 26, 2022

What is Christian Counselling?

Thursday, May 26, 2022 @ 11:59 PM

What is Christian Counselling?


You may have a faith background and are interested in understanding what Christian counselling is. This article introduces what Christian Counselling is and how it may be different from other aspects of your faith journey.


What is Christian Counselling?

Christian counselling, or faith-based counselling, supports you, the client, to better understand who you are, focusing more intently on the emotional/psychological part of your Christian transformation.

Typically, Christian counselling supports the client in working though some form of mental health struggle with a focus: 25 Signs You May Benefit From a ‘Mental Health Checkup’
It’s centred around Christ’s love for us
Christian counselling is Christ-focused. The counsellor looks to support you through the lens of Jesus’s love. Jesus was one of the greatest demonstrators of unconditional love and that is how our Christian Counsellors look to model their sessions and the discussions.

Christian Counselling focuses on the psychological/emotional aspects of who we are
Many times, our traditional Christian experience focuses solely on theological understanding and/or spiritual and faith development. This can, at times, leave us undeveloped in the area of psychological/ emotional maturity.

Imagine a body builder who only works out one arm or one leg and how lopsided they would look; That is a great analogy for those of us that overly prioritize theological/spiritual development over our psychological maturing. This can also lead to bad habits such as legalism and hyper-spiritualization.

Christian Counsellors/ Psychologists are professionally trained:

Just like how a doctor is trained to recognize concerns, then diagnose and then support; counsellors/psychologists are professionally trained and accredited to support your mental health journey in a similar fashion.

One of the greatest ways this is evident is how counsellors are trained to look past their own personal bias and feelings so they can have clear insight into a client’s situation. Additionally, they are trained in many proven psychological treatment systems to support psychological growth and healing.

It’s safe, loving and accepting:

Christian counselling is safe, loving and accepting! Christian counselling is a non-judgemental space where the individual can dig into deep, and sensitive topics that the individual, would otherwise not feel comfortable talking about.

It is not a bible study or church service:

Christian counselling is dynamically different from our typical Christian experience (bible studies, life groups, church services, bible school, summer camps, etc.):

The key difference, is that you, the client, are not a spectator, you are an active participant in the conversation. In fact, the person who will be chatting the most and expressing feelings is you, not the counsellor. The counsellor is there to help you explore your emotions and feelings, and support your journey to psychological wellness.

It’s Confidential:

Legally, ethically and practically, the counsellor is required to keep the contents of the conversation completely confidential*. This supports building safety and trust to know that, not only are you valued and supported, but your comments are kept safe and private.

*Legally, there are certain topics that will require the counsellor to notify some levels of local authorities. Please feel free to discuss this with your counsellor.

Take Action: Connect with a Christian Counsellor

Are you interested in connecting with a counsellor now? Check out our counsellors’ page to watch videos and read their bios.

Friday, May 6, 2022

The Thought

Friday, May 6, 2022 @ 12:37 PM

Dr Corey Boren

Have you ever said or heard the expression “Stop and think before you think” or tell your children who was in time out to “think” about what they did? Every day all day long. At some point in our busy day, we are thinking of something. Thinking of what we want to eat, what is for dinner, did you turn the coffee pot off when you left, so on and so forth. But what is a thought? A thought is developed from feelings. How we feel about someone, or something will govern how we think. Feelings are just that. Feeling, they are neither right nor wrong, they are personal. They can make us happy. sad, fearful, excited. Upset or even angry at someone or a situation that has happened. What ever or how ever we are feeling governs our thoughts. Our thoughts can be positive or negative, depending on how we are feeling in that moment. If we sit with our feelings just for a brief moment, we can recognize how we feel therefore we can change how we are thinking. We can change a negative thought into a positive thought. In doing so, when we change our thought, we can change our decisions and choices we make there for we can change our actions. We can turn something that is potentially negative and make it a positive action. All by simply being still for a brief moment to sit with how we feel so we can change our thoughts.

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Understanding vs Excusing Behaviors in Relationships and Conflicts

Wednesday, April 20, 2022 @ 2:00 PM

I've worked in the field of Mental Health Counseling for over eleven years and here is some of what I've learned regarding how we handle conflicts: How well or appropriately we are able to respond to the behaviors of others, draw boundaries and practice self care says a lot about our Emotional Intelligence (EQ), self esteem, self worth, personal identity and overall interpersonal effectiveness.

All too often when interacting with others we may be quick to judge a behavior, or on the other end of the extreme, we may be quick to excuse it away. Both can be equally destructive responses to those with whom we come in contact with. We often land on either of these extremes based on our own emotional overload, unresolved issues, negative thinking, or cognitive distortions. This is why its dangerous to react to another's behavior before examining our own emotions, thoughts and potential biases about what's happening.

Admittedly, there are exceptions to this rule. One determining factor that I like to use is, Safety. Safety includes protecting oneself or others from life threatening circumstances. In these instances, we would be remised not to take swift actions, quickly judging a behavior, in order to react in a way that keeps us safe.

Of course in this day and age we must be careful when using safety to make this distinction. There are currently to many cases where this determiner has been used as well as misused by powerful external forces to exact broad over reaching control on, and over, large masses and populations of people. This has been done with the claims to be in the best interest of public health and safety while stealing and ridding individuals of their inalienable rights. The former would be referring to a macro misuse of how such forces have dealt with and approached what has been deemed as life threatening, dangerous or risky behaviors. For the sake of this article, I am referring to individuals who are affected on a micro level as in interpersonal relationships.

For us as individuals, (outside of safety concerns) before we can either judge or excuse a behavior we must seek to understand it. Once we have done an thorough assessment (both long-term self work as well as briefly in the moment) of our own internal world, we then will stand in a powerful position to seek to understand another's corresponding behavior.

Before we can understand their behavior we must first acknowledge it, describing it in an objective, calm. rational, balanced way. We may only embark on this endeavor once we have properly addressed our own emotions, thoughts and biases using our EQ Skills. By unemotionally observing, accurately describing and properly labeling what actions we see, we help defuse the emotional charge that is often misappropriated towards said behaviors.

Ultimately, its not about their behavior but our reaction to them that prevents this required, needed process. Unfortunately, we may miss our chance to objectively observe and describe, when we overcloud and over look their behaviors with our own gross over reactions which prevent it. When we aren't Emotionally Intelligent we deny the other party, as well as ourselves, the opportunity to learn and grow from these experiences.

It's also important and worth noting that we need to clearly decipher and differentiate between thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Seems simple enough, but try explaining the difference between concepts such as "anger" and "aggression," "crying" vs "sadness" or "happiness" vs "laughter." If you ever have or requested others too, you would understand the dilemma. However in order to proceed there can be no ambiguity in the matter. We must be clear that one category represents actions and the other feelings.

Once we accurately describe and label the observable behavior, we then have a few choices. We can either examine it on our own to better understand it. This may involve a type of grope in the dark of the "why's." We also on the other hand could examine it in a way that helps us determine our next steps. Our next steps may be to accept, overlook, ignore it or confront it with the party involved addressing it head on.

It should be noted that "overlooking," is often seen in many of those with "Self Sacrificing Schemas" described in the Other Directness category found in my Schema Therapy Course. It can also be identified in what's known as the Subjugation Schema. Either Schemas may result in deep seated anger, resentment and even health issues. No doubt the result of not confronting, identifying, expressing or addressing personal wants, needs, desires or feelings in emotionally healthy ways.

On the other hand we may choose to present (where safe to do so) our observations to the other party. Here, our decision would be to confront it, giving the other party the chance and opportunity to help us make sense of it. In this step of the process we may want to share (using "I" statements) how the behavior has affected us.

We could then decide if we need to draw a boundary around that behavior in order to stay safe or hold the person accountable. Drawing boundaries however isn't about controlling others. Boundaries are about loving, respecting, and honoring ourselves. Boundaries are about controlling ourselves, our own actions, our movements, and our willingness to receive or ingest what is being offered or submitted towards us, (including our emotions, mental cognitions/processes, energy, time, personal space, bodies, dwelling space, money, possessions or belongings). In fact, we must avoid all attempts at controlling the behaviors of others. We must understand that we only control ourselves. We must hold others accountable to control themselves.

In some instances (where its safe to do so), we can help and assist others in controlling their own behaviors by having open honest effective communications and dialogue as well as putting proper boundaries (in some instances consequences) in place. When doing so we must be absolutely sure to follow through on them.

However, because so many of us avoid, hate confrontation, or worse, its not safe, we often rob others and ourselves of the potential growth and development opportunities that could happen within us supportively challenging their negative behaviors. We also rob ourselves of potential valuable relationship strengthening, building and connection experiences when we work together to resolve impasses. At the very least or even best we may miss an opportunity to untangle and free ourselves, while escaping toxic situations.

Long story short, EQ and the related skills presented in my Emotional Intelligence Course will help and acts as a starting place to accomplish our Interpersonal Relationship Goals. If you are interested in learning more about how to successfully learn and practice these skills go to https://linktr.ee/epiphanytanya and click on courses.

Thank you for reading. Send me a message to share your thoughts. I look forward to hearing of and seeing your work in this area.

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

How Is Social Anxiety and Depression Related?

Tuesday, April 19, 2022 @ 9:49 PM

SOCIAL ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION

Social anxiety and depression are two of the most diagnosed mental health conditions in the United States. This disorder affects approximately 15 million American adults and is the second most diagnosed anxiety disorder following a specific phobia. The average age this disorder is diagnosed is during the teen years. Many confuse shyness with social anxiety disorder. However, this is not always the case for those diagnosed.

Depression is characterized by persistent sadness, whereas social anxiety presents an intense fear of social interactions. If you have social anxiety, you may have trouble making friends and maintaining close relationships.

Fear of social interaction can even result in missed opportunities. Without treatment, your symptoms of social anxiety can lead to

· Frustration

· Feelings of hopelessness

· Isolation

· Depression

· Impairment of social functioning

· Impairment of occupational functioning

· Risk of suicide

Many with a social anxiety disorder also experience strong physical symptoms such as rapid heart rate, nausea, sweating, or a full-blown panic attack when confronting a feared situation.

Some people with social phobia also have a history of being bullied, rejected, or ignored. These experiences can affect your self-esteem which can trigger depression.

THE CONNECTION BETWEEN SOCIAL ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION

While these are separate conditions, they can occur at the same time, creating a unique challenge. In fact, according to a 2014 review of studies, for nearly 70% of people diagnosed with both disorders, social anxiety comes first, then depression. In many instances, social anxiety can be a trigger for depression. Studies show that social anxiety disorder can also show a relationship between major depressive disorder, panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and alcohol disorders among others.

Not everyone who has been diagnosed with a social anxiety disorder experiences the above-listed symptoms. Both social anxiety disorder and depression may involve social withdrawal. The causes of withdrawal can be different for those who struggle with this disorder. People with social anxiety disorder expect that they could enjoy themselves if they could somehow interact appropriately with others, whereas those with depression don’t ever expect to enjoy themselves.

Depression is often what leads people to seek help, even though social anxiety disorder may be the overlying problem. Usually, people who have social anxiety disorder will not speak to anyone about the problems that they face and often do not realize that they have a treatable illness. As a result, most people with social anxiety disorders do not usually receive treatment unless the disorder occurs alongside another condition.

THERE’S HOPE

Proverbs 12:25 says, “Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, but a good word makes it glad.” Talking with someone who understands and can offer proper support can assist you with being comfortable with being among groups of people and moving from a place of sadness to joy.

Although many of the treatments recommended for depression are also effective in treating social anxiety disorder, treatment must still be tailored to the specific disorder. With proper counseling treatment, you can get help and feel better.

Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) With a Christian counselor, you can work with someone who not only is familiar with treatment to help you get to a better place, but you will also work with someone who will support you in your relationship with Christ. Since He is your hope, you will continue to be encouraged to turn to Him while learning how to deal with the pressures that you are facing.

Call 443-860-6870 to schedule an appointment today.

Friday, April 8, 2022

Upcoming weekly podcasts

Friday, April 8, 2022 @ 7:44 AM

Stay tuned for upcoming podcasts concerning topics ranging from Mental Health to Parenting tips. Guest speakers will include therapists, Psychologists, Psychiatrists, and Pastors. Podcasts will be available on Facebook, Youtube, and http://RejuvenationHouse.com

Monday, April 4, 2022

The Troubled Leader: Seven Keys To Leadership Renewal

Monday, April 4, 2022 @ 9:45 PM

You're burned out, mad, tired and thinking about becoming a short-order cook. Is this your life as a leader? Parents, pastors, and all leaders get frazzled at some point. Here's a way to find renewal. (Based on The Seven Keys To Spiritual Renewal)

The Troubled Leader: Seven Keys To Leadership Renewal
1. Surrender. Seek out God and safe others and surrender to them by being vulnerable about what you're struggling with as a leader.
2. Acceptance. See the truth about who you are and your difficulties as a leader and a person. Asking for honest feedback is an important part of this process.
3. Confession. Speaking the truth about what you're struggling with to trusted others and going to God and asking him to help make a fearless inventory is a key to finding healing and growth.
4. Ownership. Taking responsibility for your part in whatever trouble you're having is a leader is another key to turning things around. Not that you're responsible for people but you are responsible to people no matter what type of stakeholder they are.
5. Forgiveness. Forgiving others, forgiving yourself, grieving and letting go are important steps again for moving forward. Forgiving is merely cancelling debt and it does not mean trusting and it comes before the feeling of forgiveness.
6. Transformation. This is where we really start to work on ourselves and our character as a leader. Here we go to God and others and begin to look at how we can make real changes.
7. Preservation. Staying at it or persistence is key to this step. Preserving the new changes you've made by consistently practicing the other steps will keep you on the road to recovery. Remember that recovery is not a destination: it's a journey.

Friday, April 1, 2022

New Beginnings: Biblical Framework considerations for coping with Bipolar Disorder

Friday, April 1, 2022 @ 12:27 PM

MedCentre PLLC

Bipolar Disorder is the term for a set mental health conditions as defined in the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition).

Common bipolar symptoms, of which 3 or more are present representing a significant change from usual behavior in frequency and/or intensity, and impacting activities of daily living or relationships:
• Inflated self-esteem or grandiosity
• Decreased need for sleep
• Increased talkativeness
• Racing thoughts
• Distracted easily
• Increase in goal-directed activity or psychomotor agitation
• Engaging in activities that can result in detrimental outcomes (eg. shopping spree, promiscuity)


From a Biblical Framework standpoint, common bipolar symptoms as described by DSM-5 would be categorized as follows:
• Lack of Love (LOL) towards God and others (e.g. unloving attitudes, words and behaviors such as unforgiveness, irritability, hostile comments, anger, aggression or assaultiveness, unnecessary risk taking, recklessness, sexual immorality, unethical practices, etc.)
• Guilt (eg. insomnia or decreased need for sleep, fear of judgment, lack of peace, etc.)
• Apparently Uncaused (AU) Fear (e.g. anxiety, insomnia, racing thoughts, pressured speech, increased talkativeness, flight of ideas, lack of peace, psychomotor agitation, restlessness, etc.)
• AU Fleeing (e.g. inflated self-esteem or grandiose thoughts, reckless or excessive involvement in pleasurable activities, behaviors, substance use, extravagant purchases, distractibility, etc.)


Examples of Treatment options for Bipolar Disorder include:
• Lifestyle Interventions: Adequate Exercise, Nutrition (e.g. Mediterranean diet), Sleep, Stress Reduction
• Psychotherapy/Psycho-Educational Programs: (e.g. Individual or Group therapy, Counseling, etc.)
• Pharmacotherapy (Medications): Help to alleviate the bad feelings, provide symptom management. Some examples are Lithium, Valproate, Aripiprazole, Risperidone, Olanzapine, Ziprasidone, Olanzapine-Fluoxetine combination, Quetiapine, Lurasidone, etc… depending on whether one is treating an acute episode or follow-up maintenance, if the most recent episode being treated is described as acute manic, depressive, or mixed, as per expert consensus guidelines and health provider findings and impressions, among other considerations (e.g. additional symptom features, comorbid conditions, seasonal onset, pregnancy/immediate post-delivery onset, etc…).
• BFC (Biblical Framework Coaching/Counseling): Help to mature in Christ, grow in His Word, bathe the mind with the truth of the forgiveness one has in Jesus Christ, be continually filled with God’s spirit, become a channel of His love back to God and to others (Thomson, 2012).
• Bright-light Therapy
• ECT (Electroconvulsive Therapy)
• Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS)


For more in-depth discussions on this topic, please schedule to join one of our:

“Beh-Best” Ladies Mental Health Peer Group 2-Day-2-Session “Deep Chat” groups of 10-12 ladies for an in-depth 90-minute chat session on each day. There is a modest cost that will reap great benefits if you or your loved ones have ever grappled with bipolar disorder, divorce, domestic abuse, or similar kinds of mood disorders and/or life traumas.

Contact me at medgal8@gmail.com or DM me at medgal, check out our FB group at bit.ly/behbest

Thursday, March 31, 2022

Conflict and Repair for Couples According to Star Trek

Thursday, March 31, 2022 @ 12:07 PM

All relationships, even the best ones, have conflict. Couples can be encouraged that it is not the absence of conflict which predicts a healthy relationship, but how that conflict is consistently managed that can indicate relationship longevity and mastery. When it comes to couples counselling, conflict provides helpful opportunities for growth and evaluation as you and your partner learn to manage conflict in a healthy way. If you feel like your relationship stumbles into problematic conflict on regular basis, this article will help you identify four unhelpful patterns of conflict and their cure utilizing imagery that will stick in your memory banks for when it matters most.

Dr. John Gottman coined four predictors of relational unhealth and poor relationship conflict as the Four Horsemen: criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling (Lisitsa, 2013). The presence of one or more of these horsemen within conflict serve to gradually erode relationships that could be made stronger through meaningful conflict resolution and repair. So, how do we watch for these predictors and, more importantly, manage them when they arise? Think of Star Trek. Yes, Start Trek – it may provide a fun adaptation to these predictors and their solutions to help you move forward in successful conflict repair.

Deactivate Weapons:

Criticism is emotional weaponry and it signals that you are ready for a fight, and couples need to disarm to manage conflict. Coming into a difficult or emotionally charged conversation with an aggressive tone or statement is like locking your missiles on the target and being surprised when your partner fires back. Instead, by utilizing a soft start up and gentle tone invites your partner to match your tone when engaging in difficult conversations.

Peaceful Exploration ("I come in peace"):

Okay, this one is a bit of stretch, but consider the mission of the Starfleet exhibited in nearly every episode - exploration and discovery (“to boldly go where no man has gone before”). Admittedly, if you prefer lots of explosions and action sequences, Star Trek may not have been the show for you. However, having contempt (or a sense that your partner has nothing valuable to bring to the table) is among the highest predictors for divorce. Contempt shuts things down through mockery and a demeaning attitude towards one’s partner.

Contempt assumes the worst of one’s partner and tears down little by little, but an attitude of peaceful exploration helps promote respect and provide opportunities to express appreciation. Begin looking for the many and little ways you can express gratitude and appreciation to amass a bank account of respect for one-another instead of running into emotional overdraft brought about by contempt.

Shields Down:

In conflict, we can be quick to put our shields up. Any action of defensiveness means that we anticipate an attack and demonstrates an inability to take responsibility for one’s actions and conveys blame. Shields deflect and treat our partner’s well-meaning attempts of repair as unwelcome.

This posture, however, is understanding if one’s partner is being overly critical or attacking but, ultimately, supports a cycle of unhealthy conflict. In keeping with our analogy, it is understandable to have shields up when our partner enters a conflict with weapons locked and firing, but when this is not the case it is necessary to acknowledge there is no benefit to this posture in trying to promote healthy conflict. In keeping shields down, one is invited to accept responsibility for their words and behaviours and receive their partner’s perspective in a conflict.

Hailing frequencies open:

This refers to the open lines of communication between two groups – it serves as Star Trek’s equivalent of answering your phone. Stonewalling refers to an unwillingness to receive a partner’s influence. This is when someone shuts someone else out. It may mean that person is emotionally overwhelmed and needs to take a break. That’s okay but, eventually, lines of healthy communication need to reopen. When hailing frequencies are down, no messages are being received or responded to whatsoever.

This sort of behaviour conveys avoidance and may escalate conflict as well. We avoid when we want to escape an uncomfortable situation. So what do we do? The remedy is to engage in self-soothing, calming, exercises individually and re-open hailing frequencies for communication when you are ready. Take a break. Read a book or go for a walk. Breathe. Re-engage when you are calm and ready to implement the tools listed above.

Summary:

Conflict is an unavoidable part of relationships that provides opportunity for couples to grow closer together and promote understanding. If you are feeling stuck in some of these patterns of conflict in your relationship, it may be beneficial to meet with a counsellor Calgary to practice and enhance the skills needed to promote healthy conflict resolution in your relationship.

Lisistsa, E. (2013). The Four Horsemen: Criticism, Contempt, Defensiveness, and Stonewalling. The Gottman Institute. https://www.gottman.com/blog/the-four-horsemen-recognizing-criticism-contempt-defensiveness-and-stonewalling/

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Coping with Grief Through Christian Counseling

Wednesday, March 23, 2022 @ 2:15 PM

Anne Hedelius LCPC

Life often showers us with wonderful blessings in the form of family, good friends, and joyous fun! But at some point in our lives, most of us will also be affected by loss and grief. During these times, it can be immensely helpful to receive help and guidance from a trained and trusted therapist.

But there are many Christians who wonder and worry if working with a therapist will somehow go against their religious beliefs, or if the therapist will eschew those beliefs. This is never a concern when working with a Christian counselor.

Christian counselors understand firsthand that when dealing with the loss of a loved one, a job loss, divorce, or a health crisis, a strong and resilient faith is the VERY THING that can get you through the darkness and back into the light.

What is Christian Counseling Exactly?

Christian counseling combines an individual’s faith with the traditional principles of psychology, with the ultimate goal of improving the individual’s mental health and interpersonal relationships. Christian counselors often use scripture and biblical teachings to help their clients deal with the challenges they are facing.

What are the Main Differences Between Christian Counseling and Secular Counseling?

Perhaps one of the biggest differences between the two types of counseling is that Christian counselors, in addition to mainstream cognitive behavioral therapy techniques, use a wide variety of tools and resources such as prayer, bible study, and affirmations to help their clients deal with grief.

Christian counselors also take more of a holistic approach to mental health, understanding that your spiritual health is directly linked to your mental health and emotional well-being.

And, while secular therapy may focus on the “problem” you are facing, Christian counseling focuses on your relationship with God.

If you or someone you know is suffering from grief and would like to work with a Christian counselor, please be in touch with me.

SOURCES:

https://www.ccu.edu/blogs/cags/2010/11/christian-counseling-vs-secular-counseling/
https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/in-therapy/201111/the-varieties-religious-therapy-christian-psychology

Sunday, March 6, 2022

How Does Anxiety Affect Brain Fog?

Sunday, March 6, 2022 @ 9:19 PM

Are you forgetting tasks that you must complete?

Is it taking longer than usual for you to complete simple tasks?

Are you frequently distracted?

Are you feeling more tired than usual when working?

What Is Brain Fog?
Brain fog or mental fatigue is a term used when you may not be as mentally sharp as usual. Your thoughts and emotions may feel numb and everyday activities may seem to require more effort. Your thinking is slowed down and how you process information is not the same. You feel like you are not as sharp as you used to be or feel like you are off your game. You’re not sure how to correct it.

Brain fog happens when a person feels anxious and has difficulty concentrating or thinking clearly. It is normal to experience occasional brain fog and anxiety, especially during high times of stress.
The maze of various symptoms you may be experiencing can be different for someone else. This term can be used to describe a range of symptoms. Your symptoms of the brain can include:

• Feeling spacy or confused
• Low energy
• Thinking slower than usual
• Headaches
• You are having difficulty organizing your thoughts or activities
• Losing your train of thought
• Forgetting daily tasks
• Having difficulty finding the right words to put together in a sentence
• Difficulty concentrating
• Insomnia
• Emotional detachment

As a result of experiencing these various symptoms, you may feel like the circumstances and situations you are dealing with make you powerless, irritable, and downcast. These challenges can affect daily life.

What Conditions Causes Anxiety and Brain Fog?

Many conditions cause anxiety and brain fog. The effect of anxiety on various tasks and brain fog may depend on the specific task a person is doing. Anxiety may undermine a person’s thought process, intensifying brain fog. The tasks a person must perform may trigger further anxious thoughts. This can lead to depression, anxiety disorders such as generalized anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Without an outlet, wrestling with anxiety can be mentally exhausting and brain fog can accompany cognitive fatigue.
Stress can exhaust the brain, especially if it is prolonged stress. When your mind is tired, thinking, reasoning, and focusing becomes difficult. Chronic stress can increase blood pressure, weaken your immune system, encourage low-grade inflammation, and trigger depression.

Even the perception of having symptoms of mental fatigue can trigger symptoms of brain fog. Thus, making the struggle with anxiety and stress even more difficult. While there can be serious medical conditions that underlie brain fog, the effects of stress and sleeplessness can bring it on as well. If not reigned in, anxiety can take over the brain, bathing it in stress hormones and exhausting it.

How Can I Overcome This?

Get enough sleep. When we rest, the brain and body clear out the unhealthy toxins that can contribute to brain fog. When we don’t get enough sleep, a certain amount of toxins is left in the brain increasing our risk of brain fog.

Avoid multitasking. Trying to do more than one task at a time drains energy and decreases productivity.

Find the source of your anxiety. Identify and gain clarity as to what is causing the anxiety. Create a plan of what you can control and focus on those issues.

Have fun. Brain fog is a result of mental exhaustion. Doing something that you enjoy creates a mental result and can replenish you when feeling tired.

Talk to a counselor. Talking with a professional can help to give coping skills as well as strategies to assist you in living a calmer lifestyle.

Get help today. Call 443-860-6870 to schedule an appointment.

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

10 Tips to Become a Great Active Listener

Tuesday, May 10, 2022 @ 8:45 AM

Have you ever been deeply engaged in conversation with someone, but fully lost the moment when the phone rang? Has an incoming text message pulled away your attention? Even worse, you remain undistracted, but manage to not hear, or even totally miss, what your spouse, boss, coworker, or friend said? We call that “passive” listening. Your ears may have registered the sounds and your mind processed the words as intelligible and distinguishable English words, but it barely impacted you.

Full participation in conversation requires patience and perseverance – not only to say what is right, but also to carefully listen, actively participate, and truly hear, and clearly understand what is being said. Whether a professional counselling situation, a business meeting, a job interview, or simply paying attention to your neighbor describing his weekend adventure, each requires careful, active listening. I practice the techniques of active listening daily in my professional life, my relationships, my work teams, or any context that benefits from better communication.

For those not familiar with active listening, let me offer a quick overview. Active listening is a core skill from the skill set of counsellors, psychologists, social workers, and others in the “helping” profession. The following insights provide a great resource for individuals wanting to carefully listen and understand others. It includes the following skills:

Tip 1: Mirroring
Do not just listen. Repeat back what has been said so you are sure you understood clearly. “Did I understand you to say...”

Tip 2: Summarizing
Repeat back the major points you just heard. “So, I think you just said these four points...”

Tip 3: Agreement
Offer back prompts that show you are listening. “Uh-huh... yeah...and then what happened next?” These comments are doubly effective when accompanied by nodding.

Tip 4: Interactive Feedback
Share your responses and evaluations. “Was that shocking for you when that happened?” “I don’t think that seems fair...”

Tip 5: Emotional Reflection
Help them communicate with you by putting feeling labels on what they are saying. “Did that make you feel happy? Energized? Fulfilled? It sounds like maybe that was offensive, hurtful, or bothersome to you? Did that anger you?”

Tip 6: Affirmation
Let the one communicating feel safe and validated in sharing their heart. “Thanks for sharing that with me. That was courageous of you to discuss that openly.”

Tip 7: Non-comparative Comments
Rather than rushing into your story by way of contrast or comparison, just keep listening and asking more questions. “Wow. Tell me more. Is there anything else about this?”

Tip 8: No Pat Answers
Your friends and family are not looking for a brush off or “quick fix” answer.

Avoid saying, “It’ll be alright, it’s all gonna work out, why stress? Don’t worry.” Cliché answers will not help.

Tip 9: Non-interruptive Dialogue
Your long pause tells the other person that you are interested, caring, and willing to hear more.

Tip 10: Non-verbal Listening Techniques
ƒ- Turn off, silence, or put away your phone
ƒ- Turn off the TV and minimize other background noise or distraction
- Literally, lean towards the one who is talking.
- ƒMake eye contact
ƒ- Let your face mirror what the person is saying (disgust, joy, disappointment)
- Nod in agreement when appropriate
- ƒAppropriate touching with family or dear friends can be thoughtful. For example, taking and holding their hand, patting, or holding the forearm, or shoulder shows tenderness for someone who is upset

Once you have actively listened, you will hear “highlighted” words or phrases that can be very significant to the conversation. Such words are emphasized, repeated, or they just stand out. When your friends and family members feel safe in talking to you because you genuinely listen and care, it is astounding what will come up to the surface – whether they are trying to share deep thoughts and ideas, or not. As you dig into the highlighted words, communication moves from shallow, passive interaction to deeper, more meaningful discussion.

(This excerpt is taken from "Could Questions Be the Answer?" - by Dr. Randy Johnson)

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

How to welcome God into your counselling experience

Tuesday, March 1, 2022 @ 5:08 PM

As faith individuals, we believe that God wants to play a key and tangible role in our counselling experience and emotional wellness journey Why? Because He loves us and wants to see us thrive and become all that he has destined for our us.

So understanding this, what are ways that we can intentionally involve God in our counselling experience?

#1: Create space for God

Many of us run at 1,000 miles an hour, not leaving anytime for our own thoughts, let alone giving space for the Lord to speak. It’s not in God’s nature to be abrupt, loud and competitve for our attention; he communicates typically in the still and quiet, when we create space for him (see 1 Kings 19:11-13).

So how can we do this?

Firstly, set aside time independent of distraction, noise and other sensory stimuli to reflect on what God has to say. This may take patience and require practice in hearing the voice of God. Ask God questions that may have been developed out of a recent counselling session:
* “In the last counselling session when we talked about a speicifc experience, what beliefs (or lies) did I believe about myself?”
* “God, what is the truth of the situation?”
* “God, where do I need to adjust my thinking? or where do I need to allow you to work in my heart”

Don’t be afraid if you don’t hear anything right away. Even simply just the act of giving space and asking these questions is going to help you become more self-aware of your thoughts and how you respond to these questions. This may lead to further discussion topics in future counselling sessions.

#2: Prayer

Prayer is a powerful tool for welcoming God into your counselling experience. Depending on your style of prayer, you may find that it stimulates and supports you identifying areas that you are stuggling with. Additionally, meditative, self-reflective styled prayer can create space for God to speak to you (as discussed in point #1).

Prayer is a powerful tool in breaking down mental barriers or blocks (sometimes referred to as strongholds). Try not to under-estimate the power of prayer, and consistent prayer for that matter.

#3: Review (or meditation) of scripture

Many times we are receiving counselling support because of belief systems or identities that we have accepted over ourselves (e.g. “I have no value”, and “as such I am depressed which is why I am in counselling”). Meditating on the Word of the Lord can help us to understand who we are in Christ and the true value that we hold. Doing this in parrallel to counselling is like a double-whammy to negative beliefs.

Summary

God wants to meet you where you are at and support your counselling experience to make it as effective and life-giving as possible. He wants you to live an abundant lifestyle set free from negative thinking and unhealthy emotional states.

So as you either look to start, or continue, counselling find ways to start practicing letting God into your circumstance and be prepared for the potential for incredible breakthroughs as a result.

Monday, February 28, 2022

Love & Leadership in the Month Of Love

Monday, February 28, 2022 @ 7:28 PM

In this month of love I thought it might be helpful to talk a little bit about leadership and love. Turning to Scripture, I thought a good trick would be to substitute the word "love" in 1 Corinthians 13 with the word "leadership". Love here is an act of the will or committment. This sort of compassion is needed in romantic relationships, relationships with your children and of course your relationships with your staff. Sit back and see if this makes a difference in how you view leadership.


" Leadership is patient, Leadership is kind, It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud, it does not dishonor others, it is not self seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs, leadership does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth, it always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."


When you read this what do you get? It seems to me at first glance this makes leadership very vulnerable and too trusting. But if we take the whole counsel of God's Word we know that things like truth, integrity, and congruency as well as boundaries are very important parts of God's ways, these balance out love and vulnerability. Read my version again and see how this compares to your leadership.

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Restoration for Therapists and ALL Compassionate Care Providers

Tuesday, February 15, 2022 @ 1:18 PM

The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest awhile.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves (Mark 6:30-32).

After the apostles had been ministering, caregiving, discipling, teaching, praying, and healing, Jesus encourages them to come away and rest. Those of us who have been called into helping, teaching, caregiving roles often have no leisure. Yes, some take vacations and set aside one day of rest each week. Yet, our minds and hearts fight, without success, to surrender thoughts of the responsibilities we harbor.

I'd imagine the apostles struggled with the same inability to surrender. Picture Peter trying to rest on the Sabbath. He’s drifting near the shore in his boat. Peter leans back with his head resting on a rolled-up pile of net. In the distance he sees a blind man, begging on the shore. A burly, bully of a fisherman pushes the blind beggar around and calls him names. He takes the blind man’s walking stick and tosses it in the water. Peter groans and says to himself, “On the Sabbath? I’m not even supposed to row!” He looks toward shore and sees the man stomping on the beggar’s stomach. “HEY!” He calls out. “Leave that man alone!” The bully sneers and walks away. Peter leans toward shore and his boat obeys. He fishes the blind man’s walking stick out of the water and brings it to him. His touch on the man’s arm revives the man’s spirit. Peter helps the man stand and hands him his walking stick. He knows if he doesn’t heal the man, thoughts will plague him all day. “Lord, which more distracts me from devoting my day to you – the time it will take me to trust in you to heal this man through me, or the hours I will spend wondering and concerning myself over his fate?” After receiving his answer, Peter placed his thumbs on the man’s eyes, pressed gently, told him, “In Jesus’ name you now see.” The man praised Jesus and followed the apostles, learning about Jesus and serving others.

Rest for a Christian leader, caregiver, counselor, or minister proves difficult even today. We set aside a day, fully intending to surrender our burdens, and connect with the Lord. Our quiet place puts us to sleep due to mental and emotional exhaustion from failing to surrender the burdens of others. If we don’t find, don’t have, or avoid a quiet place, distractions pummel us until that day of rest becomes another day of work.

We can instead unburden or recharge by spending time with a trusted friend or friends to share our troubles by talking it out. This sounds nice, but most caregivers, counselors, and Christian leaders are talented listeners. We have very few balanced friendships where we are able to successfully unencumber ourselves by sharing our burdens without instead becoming dedicated listeners.

Jesus told the apostles to come away to a desolate place. I invite you to come away every other Tuesday evening at 6:30 p.m. for a Mountainside Restoration Experience via Zoom. Meet with other listeners -- Christian counselors, caregivers, ministers, and those called to compassionate caring. We will come alongside each other to listen, pray, share a Word, and be Restored through the Lord.
For more information or to sign up for the first meeting, follow this link:

Monday, February 14, 2022

Love is All We Need

Monday, February 14, 2022 @ 11:34 AM

As we approach Valentine’s day, it’s important for us to acknowledge the love in our lives, as well as self-love. “Belonging” is innate, or something that we’re born wanting and needing. Relationships and connections define us from the time we’re born until we take our last breath. It forms us as children and marks the path to who we are when we take our first steps toward independence from family and friends. The wrong connections can forever change our lives and this is why it’s so important to choose our interpersonal relationships wisely.

It's important to recognize that we teach people how to treat us. When you allow small acts of disrespect, it should come as no surprise that larger ones will follow. This can be a problem when a person comes from a dysfunctional or abusive childhood because this kind of environment can teach us that disrespect is normal. Often, my point in therapy is to realize that if this kind of emotional pain hurts as a child, it’s going to create the same harm as an adult. Such pain doesn’t change just because you’ve become an adult. This is why therapy is important.

A person once told me that if you want to change the people around you, you have to change the people around you. She was essentially saying that if you want change, start with who you have around you. However, this change starts with ‘self’. You have to be willing let people walk away and be okay with it. Think of it as choosing fruit in the grocery store. You don’t want the ones that are bruised, rotten, or wormy because you see signs that it may not be good for you. Well... This is easy in the grocery store because you don’t have an emotional connection to a piece of fruit.

Part of developing a good relationship is that it’s up to you to decide whether that person will be a part of your future. It’s emotional connections that cause a lot of people to stay in dysfunction. Some people think that a person won’t like them if they set interpersonal boundaries but finding that out is the whole point of respecting yourself and the person you’re in the relationship with. Boundaries and those tough discussions will provide signs as to whether you can both work through the tough moments life will present. These discussions contribute to the emotional foundation that form the rest of the relationship. Working through those moments will also show you “who” you’re going to have during tough times. That also goes both ways.

I say all of this to say that love is important. Love that’s good for you can make the sun seem brighter. It can make a headache go away. Good love can heal the body and the mind. Bad “love” can make nights seem deadly. It can contribute to bad physical health. It is the stress in the stroke just like it’s the worm in the apple. It’s not good for you and we shouldn’t ignore the warning signs.

I’m not saying don’t give people a chance but it’s like that Maya Angelou quote, “When people show you who they are, believe them the first time.” Once a person has gotten comfortable in a relationship, you really begin to see them for who they are and you get to decide how or if you move forward. That goes both ways.

So, for this upcoming Valentine’s Day, it may be time to start some heart-to-heart discussions, or it may be time to take a look at who’s in your network and work on setting up a good support system for yourself. Good change takes time and perhaps it’s time to address some of our physical health concerns with some therapeutic conversations.

Proverbs 19:8 says is whoever is sensible loves his own soul and in that understanding we will discover good. Lastly, in that good, let’s define the love we want and the love we give by 1 Corinthians (1 Corinthians 13:4-8), which leads such understanding to a good and perfect love for everyone involved.

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Anxiety is the roller-coaster ride you want to avoid

Tuesday, February 8, 2022 @ 12:58 PM

When The Roller Coaster Never Stops

There’s an old adage, “Worrying is like sitting in a rocking chair; you’re moving, but you’re not getting anywhere.” Comforting, maybe, but not very helpful when the sense of worry won’t go away, when you can’t get out of the chair. Even worse, anxiety is less like a rocking chair, and more like a Roller Coaster, terrifying and stressful, and to those that suffer from it, it never seems to stop.

Now, imagine trying to write a letter on a roller coaster. Or cook a meal. Or sleep.

Anxiety is much more common than you might think.

We all have stress, especially after the past couple of years living through a worldwide pandemic. Whenever we’re faced with stress, a challenge or a threat, our brains release the hormone cortisol, what we used to call adrenaline, which floods the nervous system with the chemical message “you’d better get ready to fight or run away.”

Read more by clicking on link below to learn how anxiety impacts your health, your mental health, and what the Bible says about ways to address anxiety.