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Monday, June 10, 2019

Should I Use My Medical Insurance For Counseling?

Monday, June 10, 2019 @ 7:12 PM

One of the questions I’m often asked by potential clients is, “Do you take insurance?” I mean, you pay for health insurance for a reason and you want to use it when you can, right? While I don’t participate in direct billing with insurance companies, there are many insurance policies that will reimburse for treatment you’ve received. These are generally known as Preferred Provider Organizations (PPO) or Point of Service (POS).

The Seven Myths of Christian Counseling

Monday, June 10, 2019 @ 6:53 PM

There are a lot of myths in regards to Christian counseling. Probably the biggest myth is that Christian counseling is about telling people what God wants them to do! Today’s Christian counseling is not about telling you what to do our believe, but rather it’s about exploring how ones faith (Regardless of what that is) impacts their own identity and ultimately their life story.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

PTSD: Community Awareness

Wednesday, May 29, 2019 @ 6:14 PM

Alpha Counseling

The public is invited to a free workshop on PTSD. The workshop will be on Thursday June 27, 2019 from 6:00 pm until 8:00pm. Learn from multiple professionals on the warning signs and symptoms of PTSD, learn treatment options for PTSD, and learn how you can help. Stand with us and be part of the solution to PTSD!

Alpha Counseling is a safe place in which we encourage our clients to bring their faith into treatment. We treat all mental health and dual diagnosis disorders. We offer an environment of healing, growth, and support. Our highly trained and experienced state licensed counselors are here to help you, and walk with you in discovering solutions in a compassionate and faith driven atmosphere. We are dedicated to helping you achieve your individual, marital, and/or family needs for healing, strength and growth.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Depression Group

Tuesday, May 28, 2019 @ 6:06 PM

Weekly Depression Support Group
Helping build Godly motivation to overcome emotional challenges.

Monday, May 13, 2019

LOVE NEEDS: Discovering Your Top 10 Languages of Loving

Monday, May 13, 2019 @ 1:07 PM

"Love Needs: Discover Your Top 10 Languages of Loving" will help you and your partner take the guesswork out of what "better" really looks like. This book is based on and includes the 30 item "Love Needs Assessment" developed by two skilled therapists, Dr. Mike and Rhonda Garrett. Over 2000 couples were assessed over a six year period to bring this evidence-based questionnaire and guidebook into existence. Every short chapter (30 total) helps the reader learn more about how to give and receive love practically and specifically. Every page is packed with fabulous ideas and tools to help breathe new life into hurting couples and develop a workable plan for maximizing healthy couples. “Love Needs will strengthen the best of marriages . . . Congratulations! You’ve written a winner!”Dr. Henry Oursler, Founder, Bringing Truth to Life, President, LeaderShape“. . . an excellent guide to marital enrichment . . . I would highly commend it to couples and counselors.”Sam R. Williams, PhD, Professor of Counseling,Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, NC“. . . a resource to share that can breathe new life into hurting couples.” Tim and Joy Downs, Family Life Speaker Team, authors of Fight Fair and One of Us Must Be Crazy“. . . a workable path to a maximum marriage.” Dick Purnell, Cru Staff, author of sixteen Christian books“. . . Well written, easy to read, full of helpful steps.” Sharon May, PhD, Founder of Safe Haven Relationship Center, author of How To Argue so Your Spouse Will Listen“The church and the professional counseling community owe you a big “Thank you”. What a great resource!” Anthony Thomas, LCSW, Executive Director Marriage Menders & Family Counseling, “. . . a spectacular set of tools, wisely applied, that will help any husband and wife.”Paula Rinehart, LCSW, therapist, teacher, author of Strong Women, Soft Hearts and Sex and the Soul of a Woman

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

3 Steps to Protect Your CoParenting Relationship

Wednesday, April 24, 2019 @ 2:11 PM

3 Steps To Protect Your CoParenting Relationship

I know, you just walked out the door and never want to see this person again. But you will. Your shared family, the kids you love, will make sure of that. So let’s protect the one aspect of your relationship that will remain: Your CoParenting Relationship.
Step 1 Choose the method of divorce that gives you the greatest control and the least conflict.

Many newly separated people don’t realize how many options they have for getting a divorce. Each situation presents its own issues, so consult a well trained lawyer to find the right one for you. In my experience, there are 3 basic ways to get a divorce:

Litigation-the one where a judge sets the timeline, and makes the final decisions and the process is very public. This one includes something called discovery, where everyone competes to be the best and to show the other person as the worst.
Mediation-the parties sit down with a third person [and most of the time their lawyers] and hammer out an agreement. This typically has a time pressure of trying to get it done quickly and can be done at any time during a litigated divorce. Discovery may be a part of this option as well.
Collaborative Divorce-the parties each have a lawyer, and some neutrals like a mental health professional and a financial professional, who work in an interest based negotiation to find the best future for the family. This process gives the parties more control over the final product, their schedule, and their privacy. Discovery is not a part of this option.

As a mental health profession who has worked with divorcing families for 15 years, discovery damages the CoParenting relationship in nearly every case. Avoiding that process can increase your chances of a good CoParenting relationship and a stable agreement.
Step 2 Communicate well.

Divorce includes a lot of change and stress. During this time, lots of emails, texts and phone calls can become extremely emotional and counterproductive. Read books on communication [I recommend Bill Eddy’s BIFF: Quick Responses to High-Conflict People, Their Personal Attacks, Hostile Email and Social Media Meltdowns.] Then apply what you learned. Be brief, informative, friendly, and firm when you communicate. Make sure you put dates on the times when you need replies. When you get a communication from your CoParent, don’t just hit reply. Take a bit to breathe and think about the best way to communicate.
Step 3 Maintain a business relationship with your CoParent.

By far, this advice has helped my client’s parents the most. Reminding yourself that you are no longer managing the other parent’s life and emotions changes how you respond to them. Remembering that most communications will be limited to business arrangements of finances, coordinating schedules, and communicating events can help you not become emotional.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Be Angry and Sin Not

Saturday, April 20, 2019 @ 12:51 PM

The Pastor's Place

I once asked God you said "Be angry and sin not." How can I be angry and not sin? Today He answered. Psalm 42 says that you can pour out your heart to Him and He hears us. Whether it's joy or suffering and pain and in particular, anger. So what's in our hearts that God would actually want to hear about it? He already knows we're angry, and why, but there comes a release of it's power when we take it to God and God can help us and teach us His way. Mercy triumphs over.

It's okay to tell God that you're angry and why. This is the pouring out of your soul as David did. If we can learn to trust God with our feelings, knowing He won't get mad at us that breaks the power of the sin of anger. We often don't think about when we're angry but blurt it out like fire. We may have been angry as a child but didn't know how to process it and a parent may not have taught a child how to handle because they didn't know either. But if we take it to God, it's a whole new world.

We can shout, scream, cry through the situation. This brings the release that quenches the bitterness, the unforgiveness. No root of bitterness can spring up if we avoid it by pouring out our heart to God.

The human heart may hold love, but the heart of man is filled with evil of every kind. God isn't surprised by our negative feelings. Expressing our anger at the wrong we endured or are enduring produces character that maybe God thought it the best way to teach us. Suffering brings an anger, or rage. God is above it all and in it all and He never gets tired of our tears. He never grows weary of us coming to Him. It's in our reaching to Him, drawing near to Him that He can extend His mercy and graciousness. Mercy triumphs over judgment. Mercy is forgiveness. We judge when we are angry. If we learn to forgive the offender, we release them from what we feel towards them, in this case, anger. Thanks be to God for His unspeakable gift. It goes beyond words.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Sexual Violence Awareness Month Workshop

Tuesday, April 16, 2019 @ 6:20 PM

Alpha Counseling

April is Sexual Violence Awareness Month

You are invited to join Alpha Counseling for a discussion regarding taking your first steps to healing from sexual violence. If you or anyone you know has experienced sexual violence, or if you want to take a stand against sexual violence, please attend.

Speakers to include representatives from North Idaho Crisis Center, Post Falls Police Department Victim's Advocate, as well as Dr. Debbie Nunez and John Huffer, LMHC from Alpha Counseling. Participants will be able to write words of inspiration on the healing wall.

There is no charge for the event and it is open to the public.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Freedom In Forgiveness

Saturday, March 30, 2019 @ 7:18 PM

As we near Palm Sunday and Resurrection Sunday, many of us begin to focus more on forgiveness; forgiveness for self and for others. This can oftentimes be a difficult and confusing action to take.

Many people think that when we forgive we are saying that what someone did to us is OK. We believe that forgiveness is a way of letting someone off the hook for a wrongful act. However, let us not confuse forgiveness with permission. When Christ said in John 8:11, “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more,” He did not give permission for sin, but forgiveness. He was differentiating between forgiveness and permission.

You see, forgiveness is not for the person who wronged us, it's for ourselves. When we hold on to resentment, bitterness brews within us. Bitterness is a root that grows in our hearts and can negatively affect other areas of our lives. Bitterness takes us down and steals our joy, which can lead to depression and anxiety. Unforgiveness is like carrying around a backpack filled with rotten potatoes, which weighs us down and prevents us from moving on.

Forgiveness does NOT:
...excuse the one who hurt you or did you wrong.
...mean you re-engage in a relationship with the one who hurt you.
...equal trust. Forgiveness is given. Trust is earned.

Forgiveness IS:
...saying goodbye to bitterness and resentment.
...gaining freedom from pain.
...releasing the beauty of peace and happiness.
...letting go in order to move on.

Forgiveness Is Freedom!

Forgiveness is hard, but is it also possible. If you need help forgiving someone, including yourself, I’m here to help. Living with bitterness and shame is not God’s plan for you. Working with a professional therapist can help you process the wrong that was done to you, help you discover the strength to forgive, let go of shame and guilt, and recapture your joy.

Why should you forgive? Because YOU deserve it!

Gretchen is currently accepting new clients and may be contacted by email at gretchen@anxietytraumatherapy.com or by phone at 619-272-6858 x713

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Powerful Play Parenting Group

Wednesday, February 13, 2019 @ 12:06 PM

Powerful Play Parenting Group will start on Monday, March 18th at 7:00 PM. This group will meet every Monday from 7:00 PM to 8:00 PM. For more information on group, please feel free to go to my website www.CompassionateCounselingLLC.org where you will find a flyer for the group. Please let me know if you have any questions. Thank you!

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Broken Fences

Thursday, December 27, 2018 @ 9:06 PM

The Pastor's Place

This scene always reminds me of broken fences and the brokenness of life. We often put up fences to keep people out but in that attempt, we often keep ourselves in. We don't express ourselves in an appropriate moment but let it build up and then take it out on someone who really doesn't deserve it, although they may just trigger it.

Broken fences, broken pieces, broken lives. Jesus fed 5,000 people and it is told that they always had broken pieces left over and they picked them all up. I often wonder what they did with them. But it tells me that even though brokenness is a part of life, Jesus will pick up those broken pieces and do something with them. And you can be sure He does all things well.

The Loneliness of Sin

Thursday, December 27, 2018 @ 8:53 PM

The Pastor's Place

Genesis 4: 3-15

Cain and Abel were the first brothers. Both went to the altar to offer a sacrifice to the Lord. God accepted Abel’s offering, a firstling of his flock. The Bible says God respected Abel and his offering. But Cain did what he shouldn't have done; mainly, he offered something from the ground. God didn't accept the offering or respect Cain. Have you ever wondered why? I believe it was because in just a few short chapters prior to this encounter, God had cursed the ground. Able recognized the significance of giving the first and best. Cain became very angry. Notice that even after The Fall, God still talked with man. He asked Cain why he was so upset. Now, that’s a caring God if you ask me!
God told Cain that sin was waiting at the door and desired to take over in him. Wow! God was trying to teach Cain a lesson but he wasn't listening. He wanted to be resentful, bitter and angry to the point that it led to murder.

Verse 7 shows us that sin will pursue us and run us down if we allow it. We are to conquer the sin in our lives by mastering it. That tells me that sin will keep coming at me until I either give in to it or overcome it.

I often wondered why God asked Cain where his brother, Abel was. Doesn’t God know everything? It reveals that Cain felt no remorse, no guilt for what he’d done by killing Abel. By telling God his punishment was more than he could bear, he shows he wasn’t really convicted about his sin, but only concerned about the consequences of getting caught. It would have told a different story if he had said, “I have sinned against you, God. Please forgive me of this terrible thing I’ve done. Things could have possibly gone much better for Cain.

This passage shows that God still talked with man even after they had sinned and fallen in the Garden. Cain had no sense of guilt because the Law had not yet been given. He had no fear of God. (Romans 5: 12, 13) God still desired to commune with man. It wasn’t until after the Law (the 10 Commandments) was given that sin became evident. God talked with man up until Exodus 20: 18-21 and it was not God’s choice. God NEVER left man. Man chose to leave God.

As a result, Cain was destined to be a vagrant and a wanderer. A vagrant is defined as one who wanders from place to place without a permanent home or livelihood; a person who constitutes a public nuisance. No root, no plans, no future. A fugitive looking for some destination, some quiet haven, a place of safety and satisfaction.

Gen 5: 16 As a result of his conversation with God--and notice, God was trying to help Cain with his anger and sadness, but Cain walked away. He left God’s presence. The loneliest people do not know God’s presence. Those who choose to walk away from God’s help are truly lonely. Separated from God with no hope of their own.

Here are some reasons for Cain’s actions:
1. Unbelief/Disrespect
God had taught Adam and Eve the meaning of a blood sacrifice. They taught it to their children. Cain and Abel both knew the truth. Cain chose to not believe and offer whatever he wanted to offer instead of what God required. In his indifference, he gave an offering of the ground, the ground God had cursed.
2. Hatred
Cain closed the door of communication and killed Abel out of his hatred. He chose not to master his anger and by killing his brother, he let sin master him. It can be so easy to be like Cain.
3. Jealousy
Many of us look at our siblings and feel cheated, rejected, the less favored. This has an effect of children that can last a lifetime. We grow up feeling like everyone else has it better.

The Stages of Sin:

1. Anger. Cain became angry at the rejection of his sacrifice. This led him to start thinking. His countenance fell. He probably felt sorry for himself, too, which fed his anger. Not mastering his anger, he let it lead to murderous proportions and it overcame him. Sin crouched at the door and Cain let it in. Sin will usually crouch or try to hide until you are taken by it. Satan roams the earth looking for someone to devoir.
2. He lied to God
Cain went to talk to his brother, but his true intent was different. Not only did he have unbelief and hatred, but when God asked him “Where’s your brother?” Cain was dishonest and said he didn’t know; he wasn’t his babysitter. Like satan, Cain became a liar and a murderer.
3. He despaired and was lonely. He reacted to feelings. He closed the door on the
Life God wanted for him. (Genesis 4: 13) I believe the anger and the rejection he felt caused Cain to leave the sin unconfessed. Surely he knew God’s grace. Why didn’t he trust God to forgive him? Instead, he blamed God, accusing Him of giving him a sentence greater than the sin.
4. Cain proclaimed his destiny: “I am a wanderer and a fugitive.” Cain became a
farmer. Now he built a city to be rid of loneliness. He introduced manufacturing of tools and weapons of bronze and iron. He introduced human culture and civilization based on human effort. His civilization had broken-down standards. In verses 18 and 19, Cain’s descendant Lamech had two wives. God’s standard is one.
Sin starts with a thought and turns into an action if the thought is entertained.

He settled in a place called Nod, which means wandering. The generational curse of murder began with Cain. In verse 23 Lamech killed two people. Cain built a city, a civilization and a culture without God. He had things and activities but no salvation. Cain was ultimately lonely looking for satisfaction. Sin was at the root of his loneliness. Not all loneliness is from sin. That’s why examining yourself is so important.

Cain built a civilization where people had opportunity and culture, science, even a certain amount of technology, but Cain was still a fugitive and a wanderer because he was unrepentant and without God. Life without God is no life at all here or in eternity. John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life and have it more abundantly.

Job also faced loneliness, but this was a different kind of loneliness. (Job 19: 13-15) God will sometimes isolate you to get you to call out to Him. He will remove every distraction in order to become your best friend and it’s only through this separation that people will see change.

Loneliness is a malnourished soul that results from living on substitutes.

Monday, December 10, 2018

4 Reasons Your Child Misbehaves

Monday, December 10, 2018 @ 2:53 PM

Your child misbehaves severely at their childcare-something is terribly wrong!

Buzz, buzz. You check your phone and realize its happening again. ‘They just called yesterday! Can’t they take care of one 3 year old?’ you think to yourself. But you know, he misbehaves a lot, even for you. Mama Bear is about to take over, but you are still unsure if that is the right tact. You know something isn’t right, and you are ready for it to be fixed-you just don’t know what to do. Swallowing tears of frustration, shame, sorrow, guilt, you wonder if he will be going back tomorrow. Wondering what you are going to do, you square your shoulders, prepare yourself and walk into the building.
What do you do when your child misbehaves?

What could be happening?

1. HALT — Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired

This is an acronym that helps to remind me that we all get cranky when our bodies aren’t working right. Talk to those around your child and find out if there is a pattern. Do they have difficulty right before nap? Mid-morning? Right before pick up? Look at their eating habits. It is important to not jump to the next idea until you have really looked at your child’s pattern. Knowing when and how predictably your child misbehaves will let you explore how changes to the environment could help them behave better.
2. Physical Issues

There is good evidence that some behavior issues can be related to how a child experiences the world. Vision and hearing problems, certain allergies, illness, and sensory processing issues can all cause misbehavior. To learn more about sensory processing issues, check out the checklist on sensory-processing-disorder-checklist.com. This is a great site to help you understand these issues. If you prefer a book, find the Out of Sync Child by Carol Stock Kranowitz.
3. Conflict Or Change At Home

Your child’s emotional, physical, and psychological world is based on the foundation of your home. If there is a lot of conflict, chaos, and inconsistency, your child will react to that. Can they count on spending connecting time with a parent? Has there been a big change recently? Involved grandparents become ill, parents separate, siblings are born, dogs die. Even good things can disrupt a child’s world such as a new home, new bedroom, and even a new pet.
4. Abuse/Neglect

As parents, we jump to this often and want to switch childcare or school the minute our child begins to act up. Not all childcare/schools are equal and there is clear evidence that predators target young children. However, most of the time the difficulties with your child do not arise from abuse or neglect. Most of the time, your child simply needs different skills than the teacher already knows or the difference between home and childcare confuses your child. Hurt feelings on the part of a child are difficult to handle. Think about workplaces that were not comfortable but didn’t actually break any rules. Be sensitive to your child’s make-up and carefully evaluate how you feel your childcare or school is handling daily activities. A change in teachers or schedules may be difficult for your child.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

What it Takes to Have a Good Relationship

Saturday, September 15, 2018 @ 10:01 AM

In this fast pace digital mindset, many are deluded as to relationships. The need for satisfaction and excitement now as the "I wants" and the run-away impulses seek a quick fix for loneliness and the distorted thought of, "I am worthless if I do not have a babe, partner, date, or mate" prevails. Today one can click on a chat for singles-or click to hook up site; and be in a whirlwind-intimate-experience with a stranger. If cute, or funny, or the right words were said; or the person agreed with some dramatic problem we are stressed over (showing them to me of like-minds) within that chat-then suddenly they are not alone and that rush of adrenalin that is accustomed to via the screens, internet, gaming, and apps; has reinforced the behavior. In these "RELATIONSHIPS" one or both reveal extreme inappropriate and sensitive information to the other; are exposing and allowing themselves to be photographed or touched; may engage in multiple like connections with others with additional quick fixes with all; or suddenly relate to each other as the most wonderful lover and/or mate-with the possessiveness and need to control that a sexual union often provokes as the dynamics of the relationship drastically changes when the vulnerability and intimacy is experienced. One day all is great and the next one or both is smearing the other on social media, blowing up their phones, violating boundaries that were at risk; and threatening violence or suicidal behaviors; with many who are not allowing time and tests to truly know each other, to trust each other, and to be sure the emotions and a healthy dose of discernment are in unity.

Real Relationships Require the Below Levels of friendship with each level taking at least 2-6 months minimum.


1. Acquaintance: Conversations and conduct are appropriate; and no risk to either party. Engaged in public forums (sports, shopping, pool, social media) learning name and general themes, safe information     only. No vulnerability exposed.
2. Familiarity: Conversations and conduct are appropriate; no to low risk; general themes (hobbies, likes/dislikes, music, sports); public meeting. Little vulnerability allowed. May ask for phone number.
3. Friends: People of like interests, trustworthiness of word and deed, kind and compassionate, enjoyment of company, more personal sharing of safe information (family members, pets) and more sensitive information that one would feel safe if exposed-as a test for confidentiality and trust. People are visiting with each other in more private forums and also public-yet are not intimate. They are beginning to see how each reacts to conflicts, sadness, anger, disappointments, the handling of money, if dependable, if responsible for their behaviors and decisions.
4. Best friends: People have shown that they are with higher character of integrity, honesty, dependability, trustworthiness, responsible, are of a good work ethic, are able to discern and advise seeking the wellbeing of each other with the flexibility of allowing the other to be alone to choose their paths. These are mindful of emotional and physical boundaries with empathy. These are not controlling or dependent; and stable emotionally. When with these-one feels safe, secure, and validated-looking forward to each meeting. Conversations are of higher vulnerability and risk to both who are sharing due to the tested trust that is earned. Both see the strengths and weakness of the other yet accepts these. Both seeks growth for each other and gives freely; not seeking their own needs.
5. Only now would two people know each other enough to make a decision as to if they would like to accept the responsibilities that come with an intimate relationship where each is fully vulnerable with the agreement of marriage.

Through this process, a relationship has a foundation on which to stand strongly, and could weather the storms that befall all relationships. Without-the people are two strangers who have no foundation-yet are trying to weather the storms. Time and tests saves one's heart from many hurts.


Friday, August 31, 2018

Trusting Him with Your Children

Friday, August 31, 2018 @ 6:48 PM

For those who have persevered in reading the many articles that I have submitted; it did not take long before you most likely saw how vested that I am in teaching parents how to cultivate life skills, character, and to grow self image. In addition, I pointed out several factors that strongly play against the family (our nucleus which has been eroding at alarming rates). For some, you may be tiring of ongoing exhortation, education, and admonishment as I reach out. Family is a major focus of mine. Children's best gift that any parent can provide is a healthy marriage foremost. With both working as one to nurture and to grow each other and their children; then the family thrives-and times of turmoil are better navigated through. Without that strong relationship and support system then a single parent is less supported and often feels overwhelmed as all of the parenting seems to be on their single pair of shoulders as they juggle providing a livelihood.

I wanted to take a moment to share with you my story of single parenting; and even when attempting to provide my children a step parent- who later seemed to not be on the same page as I was; which basically resulted in me returning more to a single parent role. Complicating this with conflicts between the other biological parent that I had to keep to myself while supporting my children's relationship with their dad-also added more stress. As an overachiever who was most concerned about being the best possible mom and realizing that I had only one chance to do this (since parenting is not a dress rehearsal) then this responsibility was embraced with constant prayers on my lips and the will to sacrifice whatever it took to ensure that these blessings (my children) would know their Lord and would dedicate themselves to Him. Further, these children would grow into wise, loving, mindful young women of success in every possible sense.

When they were helpless, the sleepless nights continued without complaint as I held them and rocked them-singing lullabies...although I was exhausted. That was my job and I loved it. Each developmental stage was an exciting experience...as I worked diligently to help them through it. Their success was my desire and the slightest efforts were praised and cheered. I am sure if someone had been watching me with them; they would have chuckled and the delight that it gave me just to see them smile or overcome...It was absolutely the most humbling and wonderful experience a human being could ever experience!! No job had ever been as difficult as it taxed every aspect of my being-yet at the same time-as rewarding. I did not feel as if I was missing out on anything as I remained home for years and often did without yet made sure that my girls received my attention and care. I wish that my job was done when they were approximately 9 or 10 (and that everything that I had taught them and prayed for them or hoped for was realized from there forward) ; and that I could say that they and I had a beautiful, fulfilling, relationship throughout those pre-teens and teen years. Because, I was a great mom until then-but despite my efforts or good will or intentions; I feared letting go and therefore smothered them and over protected them.

For this reason I have spent many articles regarding the need to allow children their choices and be willing to apply the consequences. I wish that I had my degrees and knowledge that I now have when I was rearing them. I wish that I had the faith that God would be with them when I could not be-and that they needed natural consequences that would grow their strength and help them with their discernment. If only I could have known and trusted that my strong willed child needed to learn the hard way and that my more compliant child may had been stuffing her true feelings. I feared if I let go-if I backed off a little, then they would fall and get hurt. The more they pushed the more I pushed back trying to save them and to keep them safe...while making them resentful and dependent.

I was so afraid of losing them that I held them too tightly and did lose them for a while, which tore my very heart from my breast. How could they leave me? Why did they choose what they chose? Look at the sacrifices I made and it appears they were totally ungrateful....I was confused, angry, yet also in much pain as I also struggled with replaying every thought, the intent, the desires, the work to find out where I messed up my girls...finally-I accepted their choices and I backed off while giving both to my Lord. I prayed that He bring my babies to Him, His way. I chose to trust them with Him and praised Him for teaching me that I had to trust Him with them.

Since, I now see how children grow into mature adults. Parents have to let them go so that they can grow. They must allow choices-following with consequences-but they cannot shield their children the same as they did when their children were helpless. As I have let go of control and trusted in God and them to make the right choices; to walk through the fire of their wrong choices, and as I observe-I am watching my children become stronger and wiser which warms my soul. They are deserving of respect and have overcome hardships. God has been able to work in their hearts and He continues His way.

When I study scripture I notice that He has done this throughout, from the beginning. He allowed choice. He applied consequences. People then learned lessons and changed....I am sure he as our parent is disappointed with our choices, and when he has to deliver the consequences due to our choices. Yet His love never failed us even when we hurled angry words and cried bitter tears. It took these lessons to grow us and to return us to where God wants us to be. He allows us to fall into desperation due to our choices and he also gives us situations that will simply grow us so that we can be strong and fruitful. When I think of how God fathers us-I see the wisdom and the need of allowing our children to also be able to make choices. With God, He has provided us warning and consequence should we not comply, and as He-parents must provide a warning and the consequence when our beloved children stray.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Three Steps to Help Develop Your Private Practice

Thursday, August 30, 2018 @ 3:18 PM

Step One

Decide what type of business you want. Writing a mission statement is a good place to start. It defines who you serve [client population], where [county or city], and how [what services you provide]. The mission statement becomes a rubric to determine the scope of your business and its boundaries. Does it fit the mission? It’s important to investigate and meet the needs of your community, but also to look into yourself and consider what you feel called to do. What drives you to have to have your own place? In the example above, you are motivated by the need to provide high quality care to children and families with appropriate facilities. You see the value in being branded as specializing in families, knowing that most families receiving support have multiple needs throughout their life.

Step Two

Implement your mission with the assistance of professionals. Seek CEUs, but mostly, seek relationships and implementable advice. There are multiple professionals who provide free or inexpensive advice on HIPAA compliance, marketing, networking, etc. But do NOT skimp on really important things like your website, your insurance, and your legal structure. Sure, you can copy other people’s contracts. They will work, but they won’t reflect your business and your needs. Hire a lawyer and get it done right. Laying a good foundation at the beginning will save you a lot of headaches in the future.

We easily suggest mentoring to our clients, but do we seek it out when we need it? When I decided to set up as a business owner and not simply a clinician with an office, I found a lawyer, a marketer, and an expert in ethics. We quickly set up some goals: incorporate the business, create a marketing plan, and write a procedure manual. These extra resources cost money, but doing things the right way always does.

Step 3

Reevaluate often. Business is exciting and creating your own can be quite a lot like a roller coaster. Be ready to re-evaluate and make changes on the fly – at least to minor things. As long as it fits with your mission, do it! Throw the spaghetti at the wall and see what sticks. But always come back to your central calling and mission statement so that you don’t water down your business or get lost in the weeds.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Change

Friday, August 24, 2018 @ 1:58 PM

The Pastor's Place

Change
I read a book once entitled “Renewal of the Mind” by John Sanford. In it he discusses the transformation of being a lost sinner to a saved sinner or a Christian. We are taught to believe that once we become a Christian, all is well and we are saved from hell. Being saved is much more than just getting out of hell. It’s about transformation. Jesus said He makes all things new. Wow! Think of it. All our negative thoughts, emotions and actions will be made new. We think that when we become Christian that all that goes away and we live happily ever after. Not! God never intended for us to be evil in nature, but He didn’t stop it from happening. And all that evil nature is just what He wants to make new or get rid of. We can’t change one iota of ourselves without God. Everything about us needs to be surrendered to His will, not ours. Our will takes us where we really don’t want to be, makes us who we don’t really want to be and God will put people into our lives or arrange circumstances that irritate or anger us—on purpose. His purpose in doing this is to gently (although it doesn’t feel gentle at the time) bring us to him in complete repentance and surrender. Psalm 37:5 says to “commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him.” You can read over that and shrug it off, but think about it: your way of doing things, right or wrong; your way of handling anger, resentment and other such negative emotions. God wants these things in order to change them in us. He knows we sin and struggle with these things, but He waits for us to acknowledge that we are lost and hopeless without Him. How we deal with our ways will determine our future.
Letting go is one of the hardest things to do in life. From the day we’re born we start to form the idea of who we are. This is influenced mostly by what we see and hear every day, seven days a week, mainly from family, to start, other family members, teachers, etc. We form beliefs about ourselves based on all this information. A lot of times it’s negative stuff we tend to hold on to and feel “this is me”. We become what our childhood tells us and we carry that throughout our lives and some are never aware that most of it is a lie. We aren’t who are parents say we are when they accuse us, belittle us, humiliate us and abuse us verbally or otherwise. This identity causes us to shut up or shut out the real “me” of me. If we continue to believe who we think we are, we live a lie. This is what we have to be willing to let go of and allow God to remove those things in us that don’t belong. This is the “old self” that is really dead to sin if we are truly a Christian. This is a struggle and if we keep believing this, we will never see change at all. We get set in a behavioral pattern that we stay in because it is familiar, comforting.
Jesus came to give us life. He wants to give us His new life, but that’s what we struggle with the most. Habits are easy to form and hold on to, but letting go seems impossible some times. What you believe is what you will live. This is what He wants to change; to get rid of the old and bring the new life. The patterns of behavior we create will follow us unless we learn to think differently, get out of the rut we feel we are in or have created for ourselves. Our past has been the factor that formed our “now” and will become our future if we continue that same behavioral pattern. Change the pattern, change your life.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

The Blessing Champion

Thursday, August 23, 2018 @ 10:50 AM

I am passionate with an understanding of what it means to both give and receive a blessing.

People of every age long for the gift of "the blessing"--the unconditional love and approval that comes from a healthy relationship with their parent and significant relationships. This life-changing gift, essential for instilling a deep sense of self-worth and unshakable emotional well being contains five essential elements: meaningful touch, a spoken message, attaching high value, picturing a special future, and an active commitment.

I am to be a full description of creating a foundation of "the blessing" or give "the blessing" to those I love. The five elements of the blessing will be fully explained and illustrated in my seminars and workshops. An understanding of some of the barriers that can prevent us from blessing others as well as understanding our own style of self-protection will also be covered.

"Create your experience of your best life to better living!

Contact me for the next upcoming workshop near you.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Engulfed in a Storm of Domestic Violence

Saturday, August 18, 2018 @ 2:06 PM

Those who have never been in a domestic violence situation are often perplexed as to how intelligent people become trapped and why they remain with someone who is abusive. In an effort to help provide clarity let us consider the dynamics of the following story:

Imagine as if you are one who is a fairly good in sailing and of at least average intelligence decides to purchase a boat due to a love for water sports and activities. He or she locates a vessel that appears to meet their every need. This vessel is absolutely awesome. It has every perk that a person would want in a boat, good to look at, power and appears in complete control when it is taken out on the water. Others see it and are envious as it appears to be perfect. Perhaps it has built by influential builders with a good reputation and has been in multiple events where it was successful with several trophies due to its performance in the public's eye, contests, and views. Why-who wouldn't want this prize?

As new buyer takes this boat onto the water to become more accustomed to its handling, one begins seeing aspects of the boat in a slow procession that warns that there may be a serious issue that needs to be addressed, beginning with a small infraction or imperfection perhaps as a scratch or a dent..then possibly the radio to transmit directions or SOS goes on the blink and stops...then when others climb aboard, the boat seems to be in stress and does not operate well-maybe the seating is unwelcoming-or maybe the motor seems to labor and therefore the others are no longer invited to ride with the buyer. Without the others the motor purrs along as long as the new owner takes it only to its familiar waters, and the captain of the boat feels safe again that his or her boat is fine as they ignore the oddities and the isolation that the boat brings to the owner...

Time passes and a succession of more and more issues arise, costly issues; issues that cause concerns-but how could this be? The owner takes the vessel to get it fixes as he or she complains of the issue (if the owner can get it to go) but when at the mechanic's the boat purrs and looks wonderful. The owner is billed but told that they have a wonderful vessel, as the complaints are ignored and unconfirmed due to the boat's performance when in the public's eye.... and the owner feels embarrassed and possibly to doubt their own senses or intelligence. After all others confirm the boat is as it should be or that maybe the owner did something wrong...

Time and time again-when alone with the boat; the boat seems resistant to any needs of the owner and now is a danger to be within; so the owner seeks to sell or to give up years of investment of this vessel. Due to the isolation of the owner and the boat-this means that the owner will need to travel to where he/she can dock the boat and to proceed with trying to keep from losing anymore money or heartache. By this time-the boat has regressed from being a nuisance and minor irritation to major issues that caused pain and costly repairs. Some of the damages were unbearable. He or she cannot go anywhere without major issues yet others refuse to believe any issues are present except that the owner is crazy. The former mechanics and builder blames the owner and subjects the owner to unethical and harmful treatment but they appear untouchable, after all-he or she took the boat as is, and have no recourse. The expense of this vessel is beyond reason and drains all resources. By now the owner is exhausted, confused and knows of all of the dangers all too well.

At this point-(with a boat that seems to have a mind of its own when with the owner alone: to be dangerous to be within-as the radio for distress doesn't work, the cabin collects water that threatens to flood it, the motor stops and cannot be restarted, and the anchor does not hold the vessel when in the storms-that tosses violently back and forth as the winds blow, the lightening flashes, and the thunder rolls...with the darkest of skies and thick fog surrounding the vessel, and no compass to provide direction; since now the owner doubts their own mind or ability; and has not been able to keep up with the warning signs and issues-while also without any support system to verify and confirm the vessel's problems)-then the owner feels totally helpless and at the mercy of this vessel that threatens his or her very life. The darkness (secrecy) and isolation (absence of healthy support systems) keeps him/her from accessing help- especially during the thick fog (of deception and illusion). The stormy unceasing weather (violence and aggression, threats and dominion) increases helplessness of the owner as they are unable to start the engine (due to generations of domestic violent members and friends who work with the vessel-the abuser to keep the target under subjection and control) to propel the vessel to safety. The victim cowers to a fetal position, willing to do whatever he or she must to feel safe again and ride the storm on that vessel since the thought of jumping into the raging seas (leaving the abuser, supporting oneself, facing the perceived shame, starting a new life) is too frightening.

Many victims of this storm fall prey and are imprisoned due to the above, as they are programmed that they are the reason for their punishment that they deserved; as would be an unsuspecting owner of a vessel that was sold as is; and depicted as a prize. The need for control is extreme for the abuser who rationalizes that he or she is justified and this need is relentlessly demonstrated with more and more harsh lessons-to "program" and to "train" their target. These controllers confuse love with obedience and will keep their victims off balanced as they are very kind and loving on occasion-which then confuses the victim to believe that things will be wonderful again-like they were when that person fell in love with the abuser who SEEMED to be so perfect. Shame and guilt are also components that keeps the abused in line. Low self respect and low self image is driven into the victim so as to believe that they are not worthy of better and that they deserve their consequence. Most believe that no one else could love them due to the abuser's emotional abuse.

Some victims however, when in the storm-are like the soldier who is in an impossible situation and believes that life is over one way or other, and with one last attempt to break free-will shift from fear and victimization to one of courage and will to face whatever it takes to get away and to survive. That soldier jumps out of their protective site with his/her guns blazing and a shout of anguish and determination-running into the fire of the enemy; almost as if to challenge their fate and to take out as many of the enemy as possible even if it cost them their life. These people (who choose to against all odds) will abandon the vessel and choose the raging waters to at least try to swim to a shore.

The aftermath of their choice to abandon ship (the domestic violent relationship) comes with high risks. Many victims not only fear their own abuser but also the abuser's support system of family and friends. Their lives are at risk. If they are pregnant or with a small child, then they are at higher risk. In addition, many ask them why did they not just leave. Many judge them, They do not know that their families were threatened if they left. They do not know that they were threatened of losing their children forever. They do not know that the threats were very real for the victim and that their belief was due to many hard lessons that caused real fear and pain. Often these survivors face legal and medical consequences for their attempt to get free. In addition, they have been so isolated (moving from a home state, not allowed to work, without a vehicle or phone, and no money) to control them and to make it most difficult from them to leave.

Regardless of the risks and the costs, a person who seeks to break from this control-with counseling and support, can process their past and find a fulfilling future once again. It is a process of gaining trust and of destroying the distortion of thoughts; but with perseverance then that person can be not only whole-but stronger in their new self. We want to give you hope if you have endured abuse or if you are enduring abuse. Contact us today if you are ready to take back your life.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Your Past Doesn't Have to be Your Future

Sunday, June 17, 2018 @ 6:39 PM

The Pastor's Place

I sat one day thinking back over my life, wondering where did the “I” of me go? Somehow I felt I got buried alive emotionally at a very early age. I wasn’t raised in a physically violent home but the emotional neglect of bonding, the verbal abuse and the brokenness of spirit took a toll on me that caused me to believe a lie that I’ve carried—until now.
     I know my dad loved my mom. I’d see him hug and kiss her cheek and say “I just love this woman” and sweet, endearing words of that nature. I observed my mother’s response every time. I saw her react in hatred, bitterness and disgust. That look, and the body language told me, “I don’t love this man” and “This is how you treat a man; this is how you are to behave; this is you.” It sounds strange but that’s how a lot of us grow up—into the image of our parents. Year after year, we carve out an identity that was never ours to have. We reflect their image and most may not even be aware of it.
     The second Commandant from God says we are not to make a graven image, don’t bow down to it or serve it. This is a serious command, not an option. There are things we worship other than God Himself. We tend to worship statues, external objects, sports heros, etc. But my understanding of this is quite serious in my opinion. A child seeking to find their own identity is very often stripped or even raped internally of their identity under the duress of family settings. Watching the same thing repeatedly for years brands that idea or image in your psyche causing you to identify with the image you created or carved in your mind with the underlying thought, “This is how I’m supposed to be; this is how I should behave.” And there you have carved a graven image, a false image, bowing your identity to it and serving it as “me.”
How you see your life becomes cloudy in the window of your mind. How you see yourself is how you react emotionally to circumstances in the home. The many influences of childhood will determine whether you make for yourself a graven image or the real “you.”
      The Bible shows us plainly in Ephesians 4:22 that we are to “lay aside your former manner of life, the old self, which is corrupted with the lusts of deceit and be renewed in the spirit of your mind which, in the likeness of God, is created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.” We don’t have to keep living with a false identity that was created with lies. Once you see the truth, it becomes easier to see what lies were told to shape your being. Things like, “Can’t you do anything right?” Or, “Why don’t you ever listen?” “You’re just a no good, do nothing.” These and other accusations deeply harm a child’ self-esteem.
     We can let God recreate us in the truth of who we really are, who He intended us to be before we were ever born, in His holiness and truth. This tells me I don’t have to keep on living with my parents’ attitudes and behaviors that I learned day after day. God wants to tear down the idol I built on a lie. What a freedom comes as we are delivered from evil. We become corrupted inside by lies of what we see daily, constantly. When we give this up to God, asking for forgiveness, He brings His righteousness into the circumstance of our heart and creates a renewed identity because He breaks the power of the lies by telling us the holy truth and we become free.
     Dagon, as pictured here, was a foreign idol that was set up next to the Ark of God. When the people awoke in the morning, Dagon was face-down. The next day they found Dagon broken into pieces, his head and hands were broken off. (1 Samuel 5: 1-7) It takes time to change the dagons of our lives. As a side note, next time you're in Starbucks, look at their icon. Idol worship still exists.

Saturday, June 02, 2018

Distractions

Saturday, June 02, 2018 @ 2:17 PM

“And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.” Acts 2:2

If a sound came from heaven, would you hear it? Sometimes, I wonder if I would! I can get so caught up in distractions that I may not be listening. There is a price to pay for too many distractions, but for me, not hearing God would be the biggest cost.

So why do I allow them? In part, distractions effectively keep me disconnected from feelings of confusion, fear, and uncertainty. Not being in control feels threatening. And I can’t control the sound from heaven; the voice of God. The uncertainty of not knowing when or what He may say can be uncomfortable. The next assignment I am given may be difficult. Sometimes I doubt my ability, or fear the focus and energy it will require.

I think we have trained our minds to run from being in the present moment. It is a symptom of the Distraction Syndrome so prevalent in our culture. Yet God says “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalms 46:10). Gratefully, I think He understands our fleshly resistance to His command. Perhaps that is why He told the disciples to wait in the Upper Room and pray. They were positioned to hear!

Perhaps, like me, you need to practice not acting on the urge to distract. Just stay with the feelings that arise when you are still. Times of quiet meditation will make hearing the sound from heaven easier. Sometimes God speaks softly. At other times, He sounds like a mighty rushing wind. Either way, rest assured that what He says is coming from Perfect Love. And His love is exactly what we need to meet us in our hearts, to replace the fear that has driven us to distraction.

Lord, we confess that our ceaseless activity is a manifestation of mistrust. Without the knowledge that You are working on our behalf, we do not cease from activity. Please help us to notice when our mind tries to run. We need your grace to develop an ‘Upper Room’ posture that does not give in to the distractions that are around us. Open our eyes to recognize that this is a critical season; we need to put our hearts in a position to hear what Your Spirit is saying. May the Upper Room Transformation be the result.
In Jesus Name, Amen.

Monday, April 09, 2018

Standing Upright After The Storm

Monday, April 09, 2018 @ 5:35 AM

For many people, extraordinary hardships, difficult relationships or traumatic childhood sorrows have felt as if hurricane force winds have battered and bent them into a deep weariness. Often, there are those who rudely condemn or dismiss the pain that others might be either going through or are working their way out of. NOTE: Their day of sorrow will come and perhaps they will have pause to reconsider their cruelty of words.

Storms test not only our "staying power" but also the depth of our friendships and family relationships. Oh how hard the heart can quickly become when we see others in a season of “weary bent down struggle”!
However, Pain that is hidden, is still pain! The anguish of traumatic past events can filter and twist our perceptions about life, the Love of God, and our most intimate of relationships.

God created your heart, and when it’s weary, there is inevitable devastating pain.
If that pain is not dealt with, serious consequences can occur emotionally, spiritually, and physically. Heartbreak is very real, and it’s very serious.

If you’re in a season of refining or harsh storms, “lean” in. Trust the loving shelter of your precious Savior’s hand and know that He will lead you to the other side of the raging storm. Refuse a sense of entitlement and don’t demand to be understood! ( For instance-“I have a right to be less than I can normally be! I’m WEEEEEEARY!”)

Instead, intentionally humble yourself and look, discern, so you can understand what the Lord is doing around and in you.

He will faithfully lead you and...
...you will be strengthened as you go.
On the other side of this refining time is a fresh perspective and new mercies.

You WILL stand upright again, and you’ll be all the wiser about life and how to navigate storms...
Humble yourself under the mighty hand of God and at the EXACT right time, you will be lifted up, stood upright again, and will be honored (and vindicated) before a watching world.

Here’s my question for you:
Do you have a sense of how God is using your current circumstances to prepare you for a great calling? 

Jesus himself, spoke these words to us addressing the core issue.
"Everything I’ve taught you is so that the peace which is in me, will be in you and will give you great confidence as you rest in me.
For in this unbelieving world you will experience trouble and sorrows, but you must be courageous,
for I have conquered the world!”
John 16:33

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Three Little Known Ways to Make Resolutions Stick

Sunday, December 31, 2017 @ 12:00 AM

Do people really expect New Years Resolutions to stick anymore?  Most of us probably have given up on the whole idea because it has fizzled so many times in the past.  Do you think that real change is just too difficult to attempt?

Maybe the reason most resolutions fail is because we have been given wrong information on how change happens.

Coaching people for 15 years, I have seen these tips actually helped my clients keep their resolutions.

These are surprising, because they are counter intuitive.  They can also be applied to any changes you would like to make.

1.)  COMMIT TO A DIRECTION AND NOT A SPECIFIC THING.

Most advice tells you to be very specific and detailed writing your resolutions. The reason for a direction is that unless you are clairvoyant, you don’t actually have any idea whats going to happen in the future.

Try this experiment:

Think of a time you expected your future to look exactly like ______________? Go ahead and fill in the blank. So I ask you, “Did it turn out like you pictured it?”

So with a direction you allow for the creative wisdom of the universe to bring you amazing, wonderful events, people and situations that you could not even imagine in your wildest dreams.

 

2). CREATE YOUR EMOTIONAL STATE BEFORE YOU DO ANYTHING.

 Create your emotional state before you do anything. I am a firm believer in the principles of NLP (Neurolinguistic Programming). One of the main concepts of NLP is that “Everything comes from state” (feeling  states). What that means is that whatever state you are in determines how you are going to do whatever you do.

This means that if you get yourself in a state of abundance and gratitude for your abundance(whatever that is at the moment) you will pull situations to you that contain all kinds of abundance, when you least expect it.

We all have so many blessings and focusing on them will bring more of the same.

More recent research in the field of science, especially epigenetics has validated further how important our emotional states are on our health and behavior.

We now know from the  new field of epigenetics  that our feeling states actually influence how our cells behave.  Dr Bruce Lipton, a cellular biologist who taught at  the University of Michigan Medical School  and conducted pioneering studies with stem cells  at Stanford University wrote  The Biology of Belief.   In this book and in his videos in he explains the science of Epigenetics.  Epigenetics  explains how our thoughts, feelings and beliefs  and our very environment control our biology. This  affects  both our emotional and physical well being.

Dr Lipton explains epigenetics in this 4 minute video.

Because your state is so vitally important to your level of manifestation and success and happiness I suggest to my coaching clients that they spend the first 6 minutes that they are awake doing specific things to get themselves in a resourceful state. ( This is the most powerful time of the day because the veil between the conscious and unconscious mind is very thin at this time).

And you may be wondering how anything significant can happen that fast. Believe me if you know how to do it, it does happen that fast.

And don’t take my word for it- try it yourself. I promise you that if you commit to doing this for 2 weeks, with the understanding that you will evaluate it in 2 weeks to see whether you want to keep it or not, you will be pleasantly surprised at the new things that come into your life.

The best part of doing this is that it brings surprising things into your life. This gives you a new sense of vitality! Try it and you’ll see…

3) TAP DAILY TO CREATE YOUR MOST RESOURCEFUL EMOTIONAL STATE AND REMOVE FEAR.

As you have probably surmised by now, I believe in the law of attraction. So my last tip is to tap every time you are overcome with the harmful emotions of fear, shame, humiliation, anger, worry and resentment.

These feelings will just bring you more of the same unwanted emotions so lets get rid of them as soon aw we are aware of them.

There’s a process to tap which releases emotions that are unwanted . The process is called EFT tapping or Emotional Freedom Techniques.

I teach this to all my clients because it is so helpful. And I use it myself every day.

In the EFT community we call it creating good feelings for no reason, because there are always good feelings lying just underneath these painful ones. Most people don’t realize that or they would tap more often!

If you would like to know more about this, contact me on this page of my website: https://www.susanquinn.net/free-coaching-session/

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Does Your Relationship Needs Urgent Repair?

Wednesday, July 26, 2017 @ 10:25 AM

Relationships can be messy. Many couples get in a negative spiral that has taken them so deeply down that they have lost hope. If you are one of these people, keep reading. This post is especially for you.

I've surveyed hundreds of couples and their most common causes for crisis include difficulties with communication, lack of time, fighting, and loss of connection and affectionate in their relationship. On top of these, many couples are afraid of their partner having an affair or have already been impacted by infidelity. In order to move forward you need to be able to get out of crisis mode, heal from pain and, learn better ways of relating.

One of the things that happen when you are full of negativity and in crisis mode is that your brain gets flooded with chemicals that make it impossible to think clearly and to problem solve. It becomes a defeating circle that gets you into depression, anger, and despair.

The first thing you need to learn is how to take responsibility for your own feelings and be able to calm yourself enough for recovering clarity of mind. That's why you need the guidance of someone that know how to guide you out of crisis so that you can plan your next steps.

Over more than 30 years helping couples, I have helped many relationships get out of crisis and back into a happy heart-connected relationship. Because I get many calls from couples in crisis I decided to create a very special intensive half day program I have called: Urgent Relationship Repair Challenge. You can learn all about my program by clicking the button asking for more information.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Five Steps to Heal and Recover from Sexual Abuse

Tuesday, June 06, 2017 @ 3:52 PM

Healing from Childhood Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse can profoundly damage a child’s sense of value, mainly by the perpetrator of the abuse, and secondarily by the non-abusive parent who either doesn’t believe the child, or somehow is oblivious to the abuse happening right in their own household. . So often child sexual abuse occurs in families, and in social contexts in which the family knows and trusts the perpetrators. Sometimes children are sexually abused within families in which the non-abusive parent resides mentally in a world of make-believe where no problem exists.

If you have been victimized by emotional incest, physical touch, rape, voyeurism, frotteurism, fondling, inappropriate conversations or non-verbal communication of a sexual nature or in any other way used by a person of more power than you as an object, then these steps will help you overcome the impact of your objectification and emotional hurt. There is no greater injury than being a small child who is used for the sexual gratification of an adult.

Following is a list of healthy steps to take in order to heal and recover from sexual abuse:

  1. Break your silence. The saying, “you’re as sick as your secrets” definitely applies to childhood sexual abuse. Children and adults who have been subjected to the dishonorable experience of having an adult use them for their sexual gratification, have no desire, ever, to tell anyone of their secret, because of their deep seated feelings of shame and humiliation. However, the only way to heal from this horrendous crime is for the victim to “find her voice.”
  2. Journal often about how you have been personally affected by the abuse. List how you were betrayed by those who were supposed to protect you and nurture you. List and describe the different ways you suffered and what you lost because of the abuse. It is important to assess and face the damage in order to heal. 
  3. Face the Shame. There is great healing to be found in facing the shame your perpetrator put on you; talk about it, and place it off yourself and back on the shoulders of the person responsible for abusing you. Facing your shame and giving it back to your abuser (figuratively) helps you embrace your vulnerability and see yourself in a new light.
  4. Grieve your losses. In order to recover from abuse, it is necessary to fully discover and complete the pain caused by your losses. You may feel many losses from being abused, such as, a loss of safety, comfort, innocence, trust, a childhood; a loss of being seen, known, and valued, etc. Think specifically about how your life has been impacted by abuse and write each loss, fully allowing yourself to grieve. Write about how you’ve been betrayed. Share your experience with a safe listening partner.
  5. Be Compassionate with yourself. Do not abuse or neglect your value and needs as others have. Learn to talk to yourself with kindness and acceptance. Do not condemn yourself for the past or in the present. Recovery is a lifelong process and developing a constant “inner compassionate companion” will help the rest of your life be a satisfying experience. No longer do you have to be victim to others and to the negative dialogue within your own head. Remind yourself that being abused is not the fault of the victim, for any reason, ever.

Remember that sexual abuse is a form of trauma, and that those who have been affected, suffer with post-traumatic stress. Healing requires patience, understanding, safety, and validation. Therapists helping victims of abuse should offer clients a safe space and presence for facing difficult emotions, and should allow clients to work at their own pace. If a child was abused prior to age six, his memories may be repressed. Never imply that abuse occurred by putting ideas into your client’s mind, just listen to him as he remembers feelings, sensations, hurts, and allow him to talk about events when he’s ready.

When individuals are in therapy, learning to talk about their experiences and feelings, they will most likely have dreams, which are in effect, the mind’s effort at working through the deep feelings. Encourage your client to discuss his dreams, noting that dreams are metaphors. Have him personalize what each object in the dream signifies metaphorically.

Help clients realize that their healing is not dependent on confronting their abusers, but that healing, really is a matter of coming to terms with the abuse internally. Many times, confronting abusers can be very invalidating and counterproductive for victims of abuse. Remind clients that all abusers (especially sexual predators) are master manipulators, and when confronted will tend to do some strategy to minimize, project, deny, or otherwise invalidate the victim’s position. It is better for the victim to just adopt a policy of “no contact” with their abuser and if a confrontation is needed, then have it done merely on paper and read to a therapist.

The more all of the feelings with the abuse are processed by the victim, the more thoroughly the trauma is worked through and felt to completion. There will come a day when the victim will no longer need to process her feelings and she will realize she has been set free. Over time, the negative feelings and thoughts of abuse will dissipate, and not due to repression, but rather due to facing them and feeling their impact in the safe presence of a good therapist or other listening partner.

Saturday, May 06, 2017

My Personal Journey with OCD

Saturday, May 06, 2017 @ 11:56 AM

My personal journey with OCD, in the form of intrusive thoughts, began when I was only 11 years old. These thoughts would get “stuck” in my head and would play over and over again. This became increasingly stressful. My temporary solution was to go through my own personal ritual which made things better for awhile. This was not a permanent solution and the thoughts always resurfaced. At this age, I had no idea how to verbalize the mental pain I was in and I didn’t want people to think I was “crazy”, so I suffered in silence. I noticed that these thoughts would occur more often during times of stress or when I was fatigued.

I was told one time by a well-meaning therapist that I should just avoid getting under stress. Really? What universe was she from? As everyone knows, that’s easier said than done if not impossible. Now I know that advice like “live a healthy lifestyle” didn’t work, as I was a committed bodybuilder who practiced very healthy eating, exercise and other healthy principles. Additionally, advice such as trying to “control” unwanted thoughts only ended up backfiring. In fact, popular “coping strategies” I was so eagerly given did little to help me. The truth is that coping skills stop working even though helpful at first. I tried many other recommended solutions, but in time, these too failed to control the unwanted thoughts adequately.

Fast-forward many years, I now have a somewhat symptom free life. And now when these unwanted thoughts raise their ugly head, I am well prepared for what to do. I feel my suffering has made me more uniquely qualified to help my own clients with this disorder. I start by helping them understand that intrusive thoughts are quite common among people. Often times they immediately begin to feel better when they learn that these “sticky thoughts” are through no fault, personality detect or mental illness of their own.

Now you know why as a therapist I have taken a personal interest in helping people find the solutions that I wish I had found at a young age. The right customized solution that really helps in changing the way the brain works can make all the difference in how one feels. The therapies that I have found work best with my clients are EMDR, exposure therapy and a customizable plan based on their particular symptom set. Finding a therapist that uses the latest evidence based treatment is paramount in getting on the road to recovery. How do I know? Because I truly get it!

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Three Reasons People Lose Their Way in Life

Tuesday, April 04, 2017 @ 4:42 PM

I often hear my clients say they feel "stuck". This, of course, can mean a number of things, some of which may include, feeling afraid, sad, angry, lonely or lost. Like being lost in the forest, with no sense of direction, no clear path to follow, and no exit signs, it can feel overwhelming and very scary. Feeling this way over a period of time is exhausting and so you freeze or get "stuck".

There are many ways we can lose our way or get stuck in life:

  1. Sometimes we lose our way because we stopped paying attention to our own inner warning signs to either "slow down", "turn around" or "walk away".
  2. Sometimes we find ourselves lost in another person's overgrown and chaotic life, and by focusing so much on how to help them find their way though their mess we never realize how far we wondered off our own path.
  3. Sometimes our focus gets blurred by the hurts from the past, the pressures of the present and worries about tomorrow. We lose our way because we are not watching where we are going. We are distracted.

I have found that offering my clients a way to see themselves from an outside perspective can be most helpful. It is like stepping out of the painting of your life and looking back at it from outside the frame. This way, together the client and I can better pinpoint where they may have left their path and then determine the best ways to slowly and carefully make their way back. As a fellow sojourner, I too have wandered and lost my way. I have come to realize that having a trusted fellow traveler as a companion can be the greatest comfort of all. This is one of the reasons I love being a professional counselor. To be able to walk alongside someone and encourage or support their transformation is a gift many have given me. What a privileged to share this sacred journey. Make the choice to call and ask for help today. Your path to new life is waiting!

Saturday, March 18, 2017

5 Tips to Enhance Your Marriage

Saturday, March 18, 2017 @ 8:27 PM
  1. Speak to each other as if your pastor is over for dinner.
  2. Avoid addressing your spouse by his/her first name, especially during heated discussions or when you are about to make a request. Use pet names whenever possible. Most husbands (and some wives) hear their proper names as the beginning of some sort of disrespectful interaction (reminds them of when mom was addressing them as kids). Pet names never inspire that feeling
  3. Make it each day’s goal to make your spouse’s life better in some way. (Dr. Laura agrees with this one).
  4. Remember how you acted with your spouse when you were courting. It’s likely very different than what you do now.
  5. When there's conflict always ask yourself: Do I want to be right or do I want to be loved?

The question is: "Why wouldn't couples utilize these very simple and practical concepts to reduce conflict and increase love in their marriages"?

The answer I'm given almost every time in counseling is that IT ISN'T FAIR. Husbands and wives feel it just isn't fair that they are expected to act in this way while they feel mistreated by their spouse. In fact, it is this relentless quest for fairness that often derails a relationship that was once very treasured.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Stay Healthy through the Holidays

Tuesday, November 22, 2016 @ 12:03 PM

For many of us staying healthy through the holidays may be challenging. There may be extra stress of many types and more temptation to eat unhealthy foods and to over-eat. What can we do?
Here's some suggestions:

  1. Get plenty of fluids, especially pure water: at least 40 oz/day. Consider keeping a thermos of healthy soup with you.
  2. Get plenty of rest. 
  3. For those with difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep: daily healthy eating, stress management including moderate exercise such as walking, and prayer will reduce problems with these. Psalms, Proverbs in the Bible may provide guidance.
  4. Some suggestions for dealing with stress: #1. make a list of all the things that feel like stressors and how you feel about each one, share your feelings with the Lord in prayer. #2. Make a list of at least 3 things you are thankful for each day. #3. Consider joining a small group at church. #4. If you have a Christian counselor reach out to them as needed.
  5. Healthiest foods: most vegetables, especially natural sweet potatoes or yams. Most fruits, especially berries, cranberries. At least 60-90 grams of protein/day. Start with a 20-30 gram breakfast smoothie.
  6. the Dr. Oz show website has suggestions including a Holiday Breakfast Smoothie and suggestions for eating before going to the holiday gathering.