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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.

New Year's isn't the only time to make resolutions or changes in your life!

Tuesday, February 8, 2022 @ 12:52 PM

Let’s talk about “New Year, New Day, New Change.”

We all know the drill by now…a New Year, New Resolutions.

If you’re older, especially, you may still feel the pressure to make a big, sweeping change in your life, to finally fix the ONE THING that’s been holding you back from success, or money, or love. Buuuuut, we’ve also done this before, where we set goals for ourselves and bail on them in a month or two. Too hard. Too painful. Too tiring. Too much rejection.

Now, there’s a whole philosophical debate about the cultural importance of the New Year, but we’re going to skip all of that today.

A New Year IS an opportunity, and we like to strike when the iron is hot! The New Year is as good a time as any to make a change in your life, and vice versa. We’ll have a little more on that later, but this is the important part; Don’t wait for an event to start changing; START NOW.

We are constantly making changes, whether we identify them as resolutions or not. Why not take today, this minute, this hour, to make positive changes intentionally that help you become a better person, have a happier life, and fulfill the purpose God has given to you?

Read more about tiny steps, done consistently, and how they are really the resolutions that make change!

Cabin Fever! (Dealing with isolation & big life structural changes)

Tuesday, February 8, 2022 @ 12:47 PM

How to hunker down and not lose your cool when the everyday routines in life change or are turned upside down!

It might be fun for a few days, almost like a mini-vacation, but when the isolation drags on and on, it quits being so much fun. When we are forced to spend time together, without our usual structure, or alone in isolation, it is easy to feel a little lost, become more irritable, and even feel overwhelmed.

Children accustomed to structured class time may have a hard time switching over to online learning or switching from being in school to being on summer break. It may even be taking the family on vacation, and even though it is fun and exciting, it can also be stressful.

We may want to ‘lay around’ and watch TV, play on our phones rather than interact with each other. Some have an extensive online social structure, while others are not really ‘connected’ in that manner.

The way we communicate with one another will be vital as we take on new roles.

During the pandemic, parents suddenly had to become teachers. Parents who are usually at work are now childcare providers, have unexpected interruptions (even while trying to do their former job from home), and may have little experience addressing daily issues unrelated to their work skillsets. They developed an appreciation for the skills teachers provide daily to students.

The power of Resilience! (It ain't over till it's over!)

Tuesday, February 8, 2022 @ 12:43 PM

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve certainly had to make adjustments. We lost our structures: We were suddenly forced to enter unfamiliar new roles, blend work and home in ways we couldn’t anticipate, find new methods to manage social interactions and friendships, fight boredom, and even change the context in which we spend time with those we love.

Most tragically, we suffered loss…the deaths of friends, family, coworkers, public figures we admired, and acquaintances. Over two years of isolation have stripped away the markers that we used to track the passage of time, the holidays, birthdays, and special events that we treasured. The hardest pill to swallow is that we’re not out of the woods yet. Another hard pill to swallow is the divisions this pandemic has caused in our nation, among fellow believers, neighbors, family, and friends. We have seen Satan's power in his lies, splitting efforts, and efforts to separate us from doing what is right and good, as Christ would have us to do.

I know you’re tired. We all are. We’ve been fighting the same struggle, missing our children's birthdays, celebrating Christmas over video calls, eating Thanksgiving alone. But we can do this.

This is the crucial part. There is good news, so listen up.

There is Hope! And even through difficult times, Christians can shine as 'lights to the world,' affirming that no matter what happens in this world, we can serve as His disciples by the good we do and show others, even during difficult times.

Read more by clicking on the link below...

Dealing with Grief (especially during the Holidays)

Tuesday, February 8, 2022 @ 12:34 PM

As the days shorten and the holidays draw to a close, we have the opportunity to take stock of our past and future, examine the events of the past year, and prepare for the new.

It is almost impossible not to collectively have the past few years right in our faces by the holidays.

During what is supposed to be a time of celebration, we feel pain and loss even more sharply, and the past year has had a lot of it. Old hurts compound with the new, and the heartache that we thought was behind us rises back to the surface. This is especially true as all the ‘norms’ suddenly are no longer norms...and even that unsettling realization increases our feelings of helplessness and grief.

But the Bible teaches us that there are ways, people, and beliefs that will help us address those griefs. No one has greater grief than another person, and we don't weigh the seriousness of grief felt, as each person feels their grief deeply.

Christ understood that, felt and suffered grief himself. God provides tools to help ourselves, and others, through the grief process.

Read more by clicking on the link below.

Saturday, February 5, 2022

Saving Your Marriage After Parenthood

Saturday, February 5, 2022 @ 3:39 PM

As beautiful as becoming a parent is, it can take a huge toll on the mental health of both mom and dad. That’s why it is so important to focus on how to support one another and build each other up through the perinatal period–the period of time beginning in pregnancy up until the baby is two years old, when both partners (but especially mom) are particularly vulnerable to mental health and mood disorders, such as postpartum depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress. So, what are some ways we can nurture our relationships after kids? Click link to read full blog

Monday, January 31, 2022

A New Mom's Journey

Monday, January 31, 2022 @ 3:12 PM

Meet Alyssa! She is a faith writer and is sharing with us her story of motherhood. She will be welcoming her 1st baby boy this month. Whether you identify as a woman of faith or not, her story has many common thoughts and feelings that many new moms don’t dare to share. This blog normalizes all of them and encourages new mothers to step fully into this journey! Analin F.

Read full blog here: https://www.florecerfamilycounseling.com/post/a-new-mom-s-journey

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Debriefing Retreat

Tuesday, January 18, 2022 @ 2:48 PM

Have you ever planned a trip for business or ministry and then said, “While I’m there, I may as well take a few extra days and visit some sites in the area?” Combining vacation time with business travel is common. But what about combining vacation time with reflection time and personal growth?
One solution might be a vacation for self care. Engaging in down-time activity to give your body rest is one thing, but evaluating and discovering new ways of improving your mental, emotional, and spiritual status can take vacation to a higher level. Especially if your job or ministry is in people helping business, the everyday wear and tear and built up stressors can be weighing much more heavily than you, or even people in closest relationship to you, can recognize.
A number of years ago I discovered a model of personal debriefing for Christian missionaries that has helped thousands find new vitality and meaning for their work. The Le Rucher model of debriefing is a guided 5 day rest, for personal reflection, sharing your story, and finding new perspectives from God. Not only for missionaries, this is a proven method for all leaders to assess events of life and ministry in a safe, confidential, and supportive environment. It is a structured progression through stressors, associated losses, adjustments, and recovery of hopes and dreams. The result is fresh vision and energy for re-engagement.
My wife and I benefited as participants in this model ourselves. I also trained and became a certified debriefer in the model. I now offer the debriefing as a package with a stay at our Blue Rock Bed and Breakfast. More is described at http://bluerockbnb.com/healing/debriefing.htm . I encourage all Christian pastors, missionaries, ministry or business leaders to consider this for making the most of your next vacation or rest time. These five days of debriefing is a perfect way to begin a several month sabbatical or scheduled down time.
Call us or email to schedule a time for debriefing in Lancaster County Pennsylvania.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Habits and Anxiety

Tuesday, December 28, 2021 @ 12:03 PM

Can the simple act of thinking about a new project coming up or preparing for a holiday dinner lead to shortness of breath, heart palpitations, or panic attacks? Habits, whether good or bad play a huge role in our mental and physical health, success, and quality of our relationships. Our habits affect every area of our lives. Acts of anxiety can be embedded in your habits. Avoiding or pretending that you aren’t having these experiences doesn’t help. In fact, it only makes things worse. Physical signs of anxiety in everyday life can look like you are sweating, shaking, experiencing nausea, having to use the restroom more frequently, exhaustion, muscle weakness, dizziness, or irregular body temperature. Is this you?

In our society, we have learned how to cope with adversity and uncertainty. We take on risks in an overly apprehensive manner instead of processing what is happening and dealing with the anxiety of what has come before us. After a while, these apprehensive feelings begin to feel natural and normal. Therefore, unhealthy coping mechanisms become a habit resulting in unconscious behaviors. These behaviors can be embedded in our personalities. These habits can look like nail-biting, skin picking, hair pulling, cleaning too much or too little, hand washing, or substance addiction. This shows insecurity within the anxiety you are experiencing. Is this you?

This can be overcome by learning to cope with risk, uncertainty, and adversity in healthy ways. Recovering involves identifying and exchanging coping behaviors with healthy coping behaviors. Anxiety exists inside your habits that make up your everyday life. Habits are sticky. They don’t just go away. Depression and anxiety can show in our habits within our interactions. Anxiety habits can be prevalent in smoking, eating disorders, financial mismanagement, and much more. Many find as they overcome these bad habits and replace them with good habits, their lives change. How can you make healthy changes?

BECOME SELF AWARE
Pay attention to how you are responding to different scenarios and recognize potential triggers. While also paying attention to different scenarios, also pay attention to how your body is responding to the situations where you are feeling anxiety. The following are some potential examples:

· Perhaps you are unmotivated to do a task, you review your social media, you feel more anxious

· Perhaps you have an upcoming assignment or deadline coming up at work, you grab a snack to eat to distract the anxiety you feel.

· When you experience anxiety, you become more worried about it, then you feel more anxious

Proverbs 14:8 says, “The wisdom of the prudent is to discern his way, but the folly of fools is deceiving. Keeping an account of triggers helps to recognize potential triggers and will help to enable you to live a more peaceful life.

PLAN
Learn about and create new coping mechanisms so that you have a catalog of additional coping behaviors to replace the unhealthy ones. Exercising mindfulness can be a healthy way to overcome the worry and anxiety you are feeling. Have patience with yourself and repeat the healthy behaviors until it becomes normal. Healthy habits can look like cooking, learning to cook healthy meals, spending time outside, reading, prayer, devotions, meditating, cleaning, and journaling. It may feel different but it will feel more normal over time.

REMOVE NEGATIVE SELF-TALK
Proverbs 23:7 says, “So as a man thinketh, so is he.” Life and death are in the power of the tongue. Therefore, while being organic about your situation, it is also important to speak life into what you desire to change. Affirmations are a powerful tool in assisting with changing the narrative.

REWARD MILESTONES
Don’t look at the end goal but reward the milestones that you make along the way. Reward yourself as you become more self-aware

COUNSELING SUPPORT CAN HELP
If you or someone you know needs a safe place to develop healthy habits and form strategies to remove bad anxiety-filled habits in your life and live a healthier lifestyle, counseling support is available. Call 443-860-6870 to schedule an appointment today.

Monday, October 11, 2021

Moving Forward Part 2 - Ways to Cope

Monday, October 11, 2021 @ 6:30 PM

In the previous article, we discussed the stages of grief and how we are all grieving losses from the pandemic. But once we have processed through our grief, how do we move forward? With summer now in full swing and Covid restrictions virtually gone, there are so many great opportunities to gather with the friends and family members we may not have been able to see this past year. Summer is a wonderful time to be outdoors and go on adventures with the people we love–and it doesn’t have to cost much (or anything) at all! Here are some ideas to bond with your people this summer:

Plan a Picnic
Why not enjoy a good old-fashioned picnic at the park or on the beach? This timeless and classic outdoor activity is perfect for the warm months and a great way to spend time (and enjoy delicious food!) together. Prepare a homemade meal and dessert beforehand, or run to the grocery store for some yummy deli sandwiches. Then invite your friends, pack the basket and blanket and be on your way! There are great spots to picnic pretty much everywhere, so find a convenient and quiet place near where you live and make the arrangements. Everyone will be glad you did!

Find a Walking/Jogging Buddy
Summer is a great time to be active, and what better way to stay consistent than finding a buddy to exercise with? Whatever you’re into–swimming, biking, jogging, or plain old walking–grab a friend or family member who also enjoys that activity and schedule a regular time to do it together! You will be so much more likely to stick with it if you have a partner (or a few!) to hold you accountable. It’s also so much more fun and can help distract you from the discomfort of burning those calories!

Host a Barbecue or Dinner Party
Whether or not you have a barbecue, having friends and family over for an evening meal is a wonderful summer pastime. Don’t be intimidated if you don’t know how to cook or don’t feel like you have the best hosting skills–enlist help! You can always do a potluck-style dinner and have everyone bring a dish so all you have to do is clean your house and prepare a table. The important thing is bringing people together around food and fellowship. Nobody will judge your decorum; rather they will appreciate the effort you went to to get everyone together. Sharing a meal together is one of the best ways to grow intimacy with others.

Join a Bible Study or New Serving Opportunity at Your Church
Most of us feel a little more adventurous during the summer months, so why not channel that energy into joining a new ministry at your church? It is likely that small groups and serving opportunities are back to meeting in person, so this may be a great time to get to know some new members of your congregation. Or, this may be the time to join a new church! Many people are trying to reconnect and connect with new people after being isolated for so long, so take advantage of this ripe time for new relationships. It can be scary to step out and try something new, but usually it is well worth it if the motivation is meaning and connection. You will find that most people are very receptive and welcoming to newcomers, especially in the church!

Just relax
It’s been a long year. Covid has taken a real toll on each of us, and self-care is crucial right now. Whether you find being with or without people relaxing, do what is most restorative to your soul at this time. Don’t feel pressure to be constantly social just because you can now, but rather ease into it. There will be plenty of time to gather together going forward, and your people will still love you and be there for you even if you don’t feel quite ready to jump back in full force. Take the time you need to readjust to everything opening back up and be kind to yourself in the process. None of us came out of this pandemic unscarred, and it’s unreasonable to expect things to go right back to “normal.” Have grace with yourself, and whenever you feel ready, go out into the world and enjoy being with your people again.

Moving Forward After Covid-19 - Part 1 - Grief and Stages of Grief

Monday, October 11, 2021 @ 6:28 PM

As we transition out of lockdown and into a new normal, many of us may feel bittersweet. We are grateful for the opportunity to gather once again together and do the things we have been restricted from doing for so long, but we also may carry with us deep grief over what has happened this past year and a half. Whether we personally know people who have died or gotten very sick from Covid or just felt the trauma of a year of loneliness, isolation, and anxiety, it seems wrong to move forward without acknowledging the different losses we have all experienced. But to acknowledge our grief, we first have to understand what it is.

Many may want to choose to skip the mourning and run from the pain or numb their feelings of this past year with work, substances, alcohol, food, shopping, or engage in risky or destructive behaviors. Grieving is necessary because it helps you validate, understand, and acknowledge what or who you lost, but you don’t need to do it alone. Seek the support of safe friends and family members now that is possible. Also, seek professional support if you notice you are struggling on addressing it. We’ve all experienced loss to some degree this past year, so we all need the tools to understand our grief so we can move forward.

What is Grief?

Grief is defined in the dictionary as “deep sorrow, especially that caused by someone's death.” There are different stages of grief, which we will discuss next, but it is essentially that heavy feeling of sadness due to a loss that doesn’t seem to lift over time unless you process through it. People typically think it only has to do with someone they love dying, but you can be grieved over many different types of losses.

Types of Losses

While many people are grieving the loss of loved ones due to Covid, some are grieving the loss of friendships due to a lack of in-person connection, a marriage due to stress, missing celebrating special occasions like weddings, a new baby, graduations that were not possible to celebrate with family and friends, the loss of the sense of safety, loss of jobs, financial stability, the loss of time and not be able to work on goals, the impact of online school on students and parents, the loss of their mental stability trying to cope with everything going on in the country and world.


Stages of Grief

There are five generally understood stages of grief. They are:
· Denial
· Anger
· Bargaining
· Depression
· Acceptance

Not everyone goes through the stages in the same order, or even all the stages, but this is the generally recognized pattern of grief. There is also no common pace at which people move through the stages–it is different for everyone.

Denial
It is our mind’s natural reaction to feeling so overwhelmed by a loss that it feels it has no choice but to deny it. It is a self-protective mechanism–if we were to feel the pain of a great loss right away we might be completely crushed by it, or so our minds think. It’s easier at first to pretend it didn’t happen than to acknowledge something so precious to us has been lost. At the beginning of the pandemic, many of us (myself included) denied the seriousness of it. We thought it would be over within weeks. None of us could have foreseen just how destructive and all-consuming it would become. It was easier to see it as a small threat or inconvenience than to anticipate the incredible havoc it would wreak on our world. Only as it became apparent that the rates were going up and things were looking more and more grim were we forced to move from denial to anger.

Anger
On this stage we realize we can no longer deny the problem or loss and have to confront its existence. Naturally, that makes us angry. It is the second line of defense, the only way our fragile psyches know how to take some kind of action against the pain. Wherever we direct that anger (to God, to our spouse, toward ourselves), it has to be directed somewhere. And unfortunately, that usually causes more harm than good. Nevertheless, it is a step most of us must work through before we can move to the next stage. We’ve seen so much anger and outrage this past year over various political and social issues that have seemed to come to a head during the pandemic, amplified due to the already grieved state of our country. Anger is a natural response to a deep loss, but we must not stay stuck in it or there can be dangerous consequences.

Bargaining
The third stage of grief, bargaining, is when we get desperate. It’s when we’ve moved out of anger and simply are begging for some kind of relief from the pain. It can take on many forms, perhaps most commonly as trying to make a deal with God to relieve the pain. We are searching for any kind of reprieve we can get for our heavy souls, no matter what it takes. It may also look like regret, chastising ourselves for what we could have done differently to avoid the loss. While anger often turns outward, bargaining can become more inward-focused.

Depression
The fourth and sometimes longest-lasting stage is depression. This is what many people equate to grief itself, but it is in fact only a stage of grief. Most people are familiar with depression in general, but this kind of depression is specifically related to your loss, which in some ways can make it easier to heal from than general depression that has no seeming “cause.” Please take into consideration that children and youth signs of depression may be demonstrated with anger.

Acceptance
Finally, if you are able to move through the previous four stages, you will eventually come to acceptance. Acceptance is not forgetting or being completely okay with what has happened, but rather acknowledging that the loss impacted you but you are able to move forward with hope. In this stage, emotions have been recognized, accepted, and expressed. In this stage, one can realize the magnitude of the experience and understand that he/she will be fine. As the pandemic seems to come to a close, I pray that we can collectively reach the stage of acceptance and allow the losses that we have experienced to shape us into more compassionate and loving people who don’t take health and community for granted.

Going through the five stages of grief is a painful but necessary process for true growth and healing. Wherever you find yourself in this cycle, know that you are not alone and so many people are in the same stage as you. Reach out for support from your community, family and friends. If you notice that this is not enough, seek the help of a professional counselor to help you work through the stages. There is no loss too small or too great to heal from!


https://www.healthline.com/health/stages-of-grief#order

Friday, September 24, 2021

Betrayal

Friday, September 24, 2021 @ 10:49 AM

How does a person heal from the betrayal of a friend, loved one, or a close relationship? I hear this question often in my office. I also have had to struggle with this in my personal life. I have had individuals and even churches talk about me to others instead of coming to me and finding out the truth. I can tell you it hurts. Even as I write this, it is in the middle of the night; I cannot sleep because of the betrayal of someone close to me. The first step of moving on from betrayal is searching yourself to see if the betrayal is because of something you did to the other person and if you need to apologize for something and seek forgiveness. Having a trusted advisor, your spouse, or a pastor work you through this process can be helpful. It is a good idea to have someone look at the situation from their point of view and see if you did anything that could have resulted in the other person betraying you. If you identify something you did, this is not betrayal, it could be retribution, but that is for another blog! If the answer is no, nothing you did was malicious or ill intent; then it is time to start your inside healing from betrayal.
First, we need to know that giving to others, providing our time, money, emotional support, wisdom will in itself open us up for betrayal. Psalms 41:1 King David says, "Oh, the joys of those who are kind to the poor! The LORD rescues them when they are in trouble." This entire chapter of Psalms talks about the person who gives to the poor. That person is rescued from the LORD when they are in trouble. The next verse states that God will provide them with prosperity and rescue them from their enemies. David understood that giving to those who are poorer than himself is a good thing, but he also knew that God would rescue him when it goes sideways (notice I said when it goes sideways, not if). Amid a betrayal, we must remember that the joy of giving to others does not come from the giving; it is directly from God. We gain supernatural joy from God, so we can still find joy and know that God will rescue us in times of trouble and betrayal!
Secondly, in verse 9 of chapter 41, David says, "Even my best friend, the one I trusted completely, the one who shared my food, has turned against me." You need to understand that it is those closest to us that can hurt us the most. They know the right words to say to cut us to the bone! This is so hard because we believe that those closest to us will never let us down, I am sorry to tell you this, but that is just downright false! Yes, you heard me correctly; those closest can hurt us the most, so what do we do? Do we stop letting others close to us? I would say NO! I have far more friends that have not betrayed me than those who do. So, what do we do? We accept it. We will be let down, but we also will be cared for by our true friends.
Third, remember your position. Verse 11-12, "I know you are pleased with me, for you have not let my enemies triumph over me." Being a follower of Jesus, we can know absolutely that God is pleased with us. We can go into his presence, and in God's eyes, we are innocent, even from the most significant betrayal our enemy can try to throw at us. They will not triumph over you, remember this, pray this and live your life knowing that whatever others say about you, God, the creator of everything, is pleased with you! “You have preserved my life because I am innocent; you have brought me into your presence forever."
If you are struggling with the pain of betrayal, pray this prayer, "God help me to see the joy that you give to me and to stop focusing on the pain this person has caused me. Father, open my eyes to the love I receive from you and my friends who genuinely care for me. Bless my enemies Father, and may they find joy and happiness in their life! Would you please help me to focus on you and not the betrayal? I know you are pleased in me, and you will make me prosper. I love you, God, Amen.

Monday, September 6, 2021

Paracletos Counseling Certification training -- October 14-16, 2021

Monday, September 6, 2021 @ 8:50 PM

Dr. Lehome' Bliss

Join us for a dynamic 3-day training leading to certification as a Paracletos Counseling Specialist. Help your clients achieve whole person wellness using our techniques to uncover root causes and identify hidden stressors.

Paracletos Counseling Mind Care can be customized to meet the needs of each client. Care for the mind God's way by combining Biblical prescriptions with evidence-based therapeutic techniques.

Find out more today. Visit our website: paracletosinstitute.org or call Dr. Bliss at 678-522-5361.

Monday, August 23, 2021

Let's peer into the beginning of Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy & CBT

Monday, August 23, 2021 @ 6:13 PM

Let's take. journey into the realm of The Lord's insight, wisdom, revelation and knowledge. I mean, after all, He is Alpha and Omega, beginning and The End, Author and Finisher of our Faith, Omnipotent, Omnipresent, and Omniscient...well, you get the point.

Genesis 4:3-10, we see Cain and Abel. We can read through this and see the pattern of THOUGHT, EMOTIONS, DECISION, BEHAVIOR. Abel brought his best, Cain did not, and The Lord respected it. See verse 5, Cain was VERY angry AND his countenance fell. The Lord in His mercy gave Cain time, alternative thoughts and a way out in verses 6-7 (DECISION), and Cain let the emotions ride....BEHAVIOR in verse 8.

A thought came, emotions from the thought(s) arose, decision(s) were then made and was at the crossroads of the decision, which gave birth to a maladaptive behavior.

What a privilege it is to administer the love of god, The Word of God and walk in the wisdom of God, with and through, the mind of Christ, to assist people in their journey to health and wholeness!