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Sunday, December 4, 2022

How Nature Can Help Heal Trauma

Sunday, December 4, 2022 @ 9:24 PM

Those who get counseling support and are in the process of dealing with trauma realize that it is a process. It is quite often a marathon, not a sprint. Traumatic events can affect emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual well-being.

What Is Trauma?

Trauma can affect every area of your life including your spirit, soul, and body. Trauma is your response to a terrible event. A car accident, surviving a hurricane, sexual assault, domestic violence, or surviving abuse are examples of trauma. Shock and denial are common for those who have experienced trauma. When you feel mentally hurt by something, that is trauma. Trauma responses can be an unexpected outburst of emotion, withdrawal from others, estranged relationships, flashbacks, repressed memories, migraines, stomach aches, or nausea. Trauma response recovery can vary from days to years. It depends on the severity of the trauma.

Many who experience trauma feel unsafe, are in a state of consistent fear and feel a sense of helplessness. With counseling support, survivors of trauma can feel safe again and have a more transformed experience as they go through their healing journey.

How Does Nature Help?


Connection with nature can help with bringing a greater sense of peace and regaining focus when recovering from a traumatic event. Nature is not a stand-alone treatment for those in the process of overcoming trauma. However, studies show that there are benefits within nature that can assist those who have experienced trauma.

Studies also show that nature can alleviate ailments within the body that people who have suffered from trauma have endured. Trauma makes one have a heightened fight or flight response. Cortisol, which is known to be a stress chemical, is known to be an agent of increased weight or a reason for people who have cardiovascular issues which are common for survivors of trauma. Being outdoors can lower stress and decrease the stress chemical cortisol.

Grounding is a technique that can help survivors of trauma. The act of grounding is having a physical connection with the earth. Research shows that the electronically conductive conduct of the human body with a direct connection to the earth produces positive effects on a person’s health. Grounding can reduce inflammation, can improve autoimmune diseases, reduce sleep, improve sleeping patterns, and regulate cortisol levels. The practice of grounding can be as simple as walking barefoot outside or taking a swim.

Horticulture therapy is the simple act of planting. It is the intentional act of planting vegetation for the purpose of healing and restoration. Anyone can do this as plants respond to anyone who treats them well.

Animal-assisted therapy is also a way to experience healing when surviving a trauma. Animals can bring nurturing emotions in people to help them break down walls that have been put up as a trauma response. Trained animals can also sense when a person is having a difficult time and can get close to the survivor to help him or her process their emotions in a nurturing way.

Exercising outdoors is another way to connect with nature. It can improve movement and concentration as well as lower stress. Living through trauma affects the whole body. Our bodies hold on to trauma as if to prepare in case it happens again. Exercise can be an outlet to release the trauma that your body has experienced.

You Can Get Help Today

You don’t have to go through and experience your pain without help or support. Speaking with a counselor can help you with combining and implement nature within your trauma-focused counseling sessions. Call 443-860-6870 or make an appointment today.

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

How Stay At Home Moms Can Cope With Depression

Wednesday, November 30, 2022 @ 2:40 PM

Stay At Home Mom (SAHM) depression is taboo to talk about, but common. This depression shows up in moms who are doing continual parenting and household duties, experiencing isolation, and feeling as if they are closed in when it comes to having space to themselves. These moms also tend to feel as if things will fall apart if they are not “everything” to “everyone” in the family. Sticking to a schedule doesn’t help because anything unexpected can happen when you have little ones. It is exhausting. These moms often feel misunderstood and unseen. The false perception that they are playing with the kids all day or that life is easier because they aren’t working a 9-5 job feeds the desire to withdraw and not share the frustrations of the day. Experiencing mom guilt adds to these feelings of hopelessness as it feeds the lie that you are selfish if you are taking care of yourself.

These moms are more likely to report anger and sadness. They are more likely to be diagnosed with depression than mothers who are employed. Age is not a factor, it is the factors surrounding what the mother is experiencing that feed the depression. While being a mother is rewarding, it can also be the most difficult and life-changing role you have ever encountered. There is hope for you today.

Symptoms of Stay-at-Home Mom Depression

· Loss of energy and motivation can bring the lethargy of everything feeling hard. Do you feel like you are dragging to get through the day? Are you experiencing burnout?

· Change in appetite can look like an increase in emotional eating, particularly, the indulgence of sweet or salty snacks.

· Difficulty sleeping or needing more sleep is often hard to detect because moms are typically up with young children at night. This can refer to those moments where there are opportunities to rest but worry, sadness, or feeling overwhelmed intrude on your mind when trying to sleep.

· Feeling overwhelmed. Do you feel like it is difficult to cope? Are you feeling like anything you do is too much?

· Mom guilt creates a cycle where she feels guilty for taking care of herself even as her children are well taken care of. This can be further from the truth as studies show that moms who take care of themselves are more present and have more joy in caring for their children.

· Loss of identity. Before your children, you had a regular schedule and were pursuing dreams and goals. Now, you may be questioning how you will pursue those goals when you have young children.

These symptoms are not just about feeling sad for a moment. This is a sadness that lingers.

How Can a Mom Experiencing Depression Cope?

· Process what you are feeling. It is possible to love everything about being a mother while at the same time acknowledging the difficulties at the same time. Having these feelings don’t make you a bad mother. It makes you human.

· Have a regular morning routine. Your morning routine can be a flexible one, but still have one that requires brushing your teeth, getting dressed, and washing your face. Starting your day fresh can help you in having reset from the prior day.

· Build your tribe and discover other mom friends. Find mom friend groups in your community with similar interests as you. This will help to break down some of the isolation you may be feeling.

· Ask for help. Speaking with a counselor can help you to process what you are experiencing and better adjust to your new life of being a mom.

· Make yourself a priority. Finding and discovering balance is vital in your healing journey. Talking with someone can help with discovering how to get you back on your healing journey.

Taking the step to speak with a counselor can be life-changing. Call 443-860-6870 to schedule an appointment or use the calendar to set up a time to move forward in your healing journey today.

Friday, November 25, 2022

New Podcast Episode: Nature and Nurture

Friday, November 25, 2022 @ 8:38 AM

Stacey Smith, CEO, and Founder of Blossom and Grow has a conversation with Elisha's Space on the topic of plant therapy and how it can bring healing to survivors of trauma.

Thursday, November 24, 2022

3 concentric circles

Thursday, November 24, 2022 @ 11:33 PM

Michael Henson

You and I are a 3 in 1. Discover how each of these 3 parts are not fully conscientiously explained and evaluated to realize how we behave in REACTING VS. RESPONDING. CALL to schedule your sessions and I will show you how all of this makes sense in honoring the Lord’s pray and becoming a transformed Christian to walk in victory while living a hard life. God never promised it would be easy.

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Questions to Ask a Counselor

Wednesday, November 23, 2022 @ 2:18 PM

You need to get help as soon as possible. Thanksgiving is tomorrow and you’re dreading it; thinking there’s going to be a lot to process after getting together with your family. The way they talk to each other and all the drinking triggers all those crazy relationship patterns and addictions you’ve been stuck in. Your partner is in recovery and you are going into control and fear mode. You’ve put off getting a therapist because things have felt peaceful and you didn’t want to rock the boat. But now you realize that you both need help to make it through the holidays.

Denver is such a happening place, especially now, and there will be more triggers with all the parties coming back after Covid. So this morning you googled Christian Counselors in Denver and you’ve found a couple of individual therapists and a group practice that sounds good for dealing with addictions and relationships. They all offer free consultations but where do you start, what questions do you ask?

I get it, it’s taken a lot of falls in your journey to finally make the call. I am here to help you individually and as a couple. Let me give you some tips that may get you the counselor you need:

What do you mean by Christian Counseling?

What can I expect to get out of counseling?

Do I have to dredge up the past?

How will you keep me accountable so that I make the changes I need to make?

Where are you located?

How much will it cost?

Do you take insurance?

I hope this helps you in finding a good fit. If not, how can I help? Book a free 15-minute consultation or call 720-577-5985 and get some answers on what questions to ask when finding a Christian Counselor in Denver.

Finding a Christian Counselor

Wednesday, November 23, 2022 @ 1:17 PM

It’s the week before Thanksgiving and maybe you’re thinking, “I can’t do the holidays again with some of these get togethers I’ve already committed to.” You are feeling dread in your heart and stomach; the heartburn and stomach troubles you know so well. The people closest to you say, “it’s time to get some help with this, things can be different.”

You start googling for Christian counselors near me. Let’s talk about several things to consider when looking at each website.

· Does the content on the website resonate with your pain, story and struggles?

· Do you feel hope based on being understood, and realistic promises regarding positive changes?

· Are you able to chat with the counselor before the first meeting to see if this is the right therapist for you?

· For building trust, you may look at the About or Meet page and see what the person’s credentials are, where they were trained, the professional organizations they identify with.

· On the same page look for some personal information regarding their faith and life. Read a blog or two. Do your beliefs align?

· You may see if they are listed on a counseling directory.

· Do they have openings that work for you on a weekly basis?

I realize that is a lot of things to consider, in addition to “what exactly do I want out of therapy?” Please call 720-577-5985 if you have questions or simply want to schedule a free 15 minute consultation. I look forward to connecting with you.

Monday, November 21, 2022

TherapyCards, Tarjetas de Terrapin, and Cartes de Thérapie

Monday, November 21, 2022 @ 11:45 AM

Beautiful, colorful, and inspiring therapy cards have been put together to help you on your journey to growth. They are in English, French, and Spanish; you can buy them on Amazon using the links listed below.

Des cartes de thérapie belles, colorées et inspirantes ont été rassemblées pour vous aider dans votre voyage vers la croissance. Ils sont en anglais, en français et en espagnol; vous pouvez les acheter sur Amazon en utilisant les liens répertoriés ci-dessous.

Se han reunido tarjetas de terapia hermosas, coloridas e inspiradoras para ayudarlo en su viaje hacia el crecimiento. Están en inglés, francés y español; puede comprarlos en Amazon utilizando los enlaces que se enumeran a continuación.

English Cards Link:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09K4HFR5P?ref=myi_title_dp

French Cards Link:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09KQ9K1DC?ref=myi_title_dp

Spanish Card Link:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09KQ77JRG?ref=myi_title_dp

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Live From Elisha's Space: A Parent's Adoption Story

Wednesday, November 16, 2022 @ 11:09 PM

Robin Bartko is joining Elisha’s Space to discuss her story of how her family dynamics changed when her son was adopted. Hear her as she tells the joys as well as the challenges of international adoption. #RobinBartko #WellnessGirlfriendLLC

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

7 Ways Older Populations Can Manage Anxiety

Tuesday, November 15, 2022 @ 9:02 AM

Everyone has feelings of anxiousness or nervousness. However, when these feelings become overwhelming and affect your everyday life, it could be classified as an anxiety disorder. People of all ages may experience signs of anxiety, however, older adults may experience symptoms that look different from the general population. Studies show that anxiety disorders affect 10-20% of older adults. As you age, more anxiety increases. With that said, many of these anxiety disorders go undiagnosed.

With older adults, anxiety is found more often than cognitive disorders and depression. When diagnosed, Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is more commonly associated with this population. Following this diagnosis are phobias, panic disorders, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

Anxiety for older adults can look like

· Racing thoughts

· Constant worrying

· Feelings of hopelessness

· Sleep apnea

· Difficulty concentrating

· Nausea

· Hot flashes

· Shortness of breath

· Greater frequency in using the restroom

· Eye and vision problems

· Dizziness

· Chest pain

· Heart palpitations

· Forgetfulness

· Withdrawal

· Change in weight, appetite, or eating habits

How Can Older Adults Manage Their Anxiety?

1. Recognize triggers. Anxiety can come regardless of triggers. It can come because of environmental and situational factors. Since older adults typically deal with frequent change, it can cause more anxiety in their everyday life. Some triggers can include:

· Financial insecurity

· Health problems

· Dementia

· Loss of independence

· Feelings of isolation

· End of life planning

· Grief and loss

Recognition of triggers can help in processing how to move forward when helping your loved ones.

2. Educate yourself. Having an understanding of not only what the triggers are as well as how to cope with them helps to recognize when you feel out of control. Therapy is an avenue you can take to learn how to cope with your anxiety. Through therapy, you can also learn relaxation methods that you can utilize when handling other stressors. You can also learn to recognize how to respond to anxiety when you recognize that the symptoms are beginning.

3. Build your tribe. Family, friends, and connections geographically near you that you trust are helpful resources to turn to when you feel like you are losing control. These connections can also help identify stressful situations and note when you are going in the wrong direction. Your tribe can bring you from a place of feeling helpless to feeling hopeful.

4. Integrate including a healthy balanced lifestyle. Paying attention to how well you sleep as well as the length of time you are rested, eating a balanced meal, and exercising help manage stress levels. In addition, taking active steps to have social interactions and doing activities that you love can also reduce stress in your life. Finding ways to volunteer and giving back can also bring balance and help to lower the stress and anxiety that you may be experiencing. A walk in the neighborhood or in the park should suffice when integrating exercise into your life.

5. Rule out that the problem isn’t biological. If the anxiety issue becomes diagnosed, it can be effectively managed with the combination of counseling, medication, and relaxation techniques.

6. Develop a plan. Developing a plan and sticking to it can alter the feeling of being out of control to being in control. These skills are learned through therapy.

7. Spend time in prayer and other spiritual practices. Philippians 4:6 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Studying Scripture and having a consistent prayer life can help to alleviate stress and anxiety.

Get Help Today

Getting the proper help and counseling support needed can help you have a better quality of life. Call 443-860-6870 today to make an appointment.

Sunday, November 6, 2022

Hello, My Name is Phillip

Sunday, November 6, 2022 @ 12:44 AM

My wife, Karen and I, grew up in difficult home environments. Both of us had parents who remained married. And both of us were also abused by others. I’ll write of those experiences in other books. But this book emerged from those experiences because of a deep conviction that every kid deserves safe adults.

The abuse Karen experienced, fragmented her soul. Each soul fragment, a hidden aspect of her personality, had a name. As she walked through 20 plus years of recovery, I began to meet the “kids on the inside,” one after another. One of the first I met was Phillip, a 6-year-old little guy, on the spectrum, who rocked and said colors to calm himself.

I loved Phillip, this part of Karen. He was artistic, humorous, intelligent, and the holder of so much faith and joy.

He became for me a picture of a kid who had endured too much for his young years and who at last had found healing.

While in a class I was teaching a couple years ago, when I completed one of the assignments, I made a discovery I never expected. The assignment was to identify something I needed to proclaim, tell what it was and how I would share it. My deep desire to protect and rescue kids from tough environments emerged as a desire to tell a story and help kids in the process. I said to my group that I would write a story.

In that preparation, I saw this picture of a little boy in a dark closet. He sat there with his service animal. He was rocking, and rocking and saying his colors. And I heard the start of his story, as he said, “Hello, my name is Phillip.” I began to write.

Over the next year, I wrote about 15,000 words. A friend then encouraged me with the writing, so with lockdown, I began to get up at 5 am to write daily.

The thirty-chapter story flowed forth over the next nearly three months as this child described his world.
As I wrote, I realized the story went deep. It accessed deep healing in my own heart as character after character emerged in the story.

Sometimes, as I wrote, I wept. Other times, I laughed out loud, almost forgetting I had written what made me laugh. Still others, knowing what was yet to happen, I didn't want to write for I feared "writing about that!"

I want you to know, part of the little boy you'll meet in this book is me emerging from the dark closets of my own past finally finding his voice. And part of the little boy is the other “Phillip,” I first met in Karen. Both of these internal kids, alongside of the story which seemed to write itself about a child who is not either of us, but rather, himself.

Jesus figured into this story, for both my wife and I have experienced His immense mercy, power and grace in our own healings and so, it made sense when suddenly, He quietly, powerfully entered Phillip’s story. The Lion of the Tribe of Judah surprised me as He ushered in powerful forgiveness.

I know there are children out there growing up in tough environments who need to know there is hope. To them I say. “The scary adults around you are not the only adults out there. There are people, real people, who will see you for the wonderful human beings you are and will love you. May Phillip’s story bring you hope, for in Jesus there is always hope.”

And Phillip—I’m grateful to have known and loved you, and to know you still. You have changed my life for the better.

Tuesday, November 1, 2022

9 Tips for How to Find Motivation

Tuesday, November 1, 2022 @ 1:06 PM

While it can be difficult to get moving and start making tangible changes when you have no motivation, there’s a lot you can do to get going again.

Here are nine tips for how to be motivated:

1. Create a Routine
By breaking down your day and creating expectations for each day, you are training your body and mind to naturally fall into these behaviors—even if they are incremental.

2. Take Care of Yourself Physically
Good self-care includes proper hygiene, sleep, and nutrition. If it’s been awhile, you might want to schedule a visit with your doctor and get their personalized advice on the best ways to take care of your body.

3. Work Out
When you engage in exercise and other things that make you proud of yourself, your brain produces dopamine. This can make you feel happy, rewarded, and motivated.9

4. Break Large Goals Down Into Smaller Tasks
You may not feel as overwhelmed about completing each small task, and that will help you to change your perspective regarding the goal itself—while before it may have seemed insurmountable, you now have a game plan that you can follow.

5. Reward Yourself for Completing Tasks
Rewarding yourself works because you’re promoting dopamine output as well as motivating yourself to keep going. This could be anything from a nice coffee to a bubble bath to a kind word to yourself, or even a vacation after completing a larger goal.

6. Do Things You Used to Enjoy
For example, reading a fictional book, playing a game, sitting outside, and drawing are all great places to start. Even if you aren’t sure you still enjoy the activity, give it a try and see how you feel afterward.

7. Reach Out to Your Support System
Sometimes, a coffee date, phone call, or FaceTime interaction can help to increase motivation by getting a reminder from people who love you that you’re doing a good job.

8. Practice Gratitude & Mindfulness Skills
Both gratitude and mindfulness have been proven to deepen your appreciation for life and the simple things. They also help to increase your attention to the present and the control you do have.

9. Consider Going to Therapy
If you’ve tried several strategies to dispel your lack of motivation but you’re still struggling, it may be time to consider therapy. Even if you’re not sure what you would talk about in therapy, the therapist could ask the right questions to help you pinpoint the potential reasons for your lack of motivation and help you brainstorm solutions.

What is domestic violence and what can you do about it?

Tuesday, November 1, 2022 @ 1:02 PM

Domestic violence, also referred to as domestic abuse or intimate partner violence, is a global problem that affects both women and men.

Are you concerned that someone dear to you is living in an abusive home or is in an abusive relationship?

Consult shieldbearer.org for individual growth and development, marriage strengthening and family unity.

What Is Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence involves intimidation, threats, and using force to control a family member or partner.

Abusive behaviour includes all physical, emotional, psychological, and sexual actions that a person does or threatens to do against another. Perpetrators can attack another person by surprise or even while the other is sleeping.

A person does not need to be a blood relative to be considered a victim of domestic violence. Even violence among people who are dating or in a relationship is considered domestic abuse.

How to Help People Experiencing Domestic Abuse
If you are wondering if someone you know is in an abusive relationship or is experiencing domestic violence, do the following:

Check the following warning signs:
They make excuses for their physical injuries. They may wear long-sleeved clothes even during warm weather to hide bruises.
They are overly fearful about not pleasing their partner or family member.
They excuse themselves from school, work, or social gatherings without reason.
Their personalities suddenly shift. For instance, a confident person suddenly loses self-esteem.
They usually do not have money on hand.
Gather as much information as possible about domestic abuse.
Research about domestic violence and the available programs and services in your area, where you can refer your loved one for support and protection.

Listen without judgment.
If you suspect your friend or loved one is in an abusive relationship, do not force them to open up about the issue. Instead, wait for them to come and confide with you.

Avoid criticising these individuals for what they are experiencing, or do not downplay their fear of potential danger.

Their abuser may have repeatedly told their friends or loved ones that they are dumb, worthless, or defective. Remind your relative or friend of their strengths and skills.

Encourage your friend to get assistance.
Privately share the details you have gathered from support institutions and local community programs when your loved one or friend finally asks you for advice.

Develop a safety plan with your friend.
Help your relative or friend face the reality that they may endanger themselves and their children by choosing to stay with their abuser.

Talk to domestic violence program staff or legal professionals when thinking of a plan to suggest to your loved ones to help protect them and their children ahead of the abuser’s next “attack.”

Advise your loved one to contact the local domestic violence hotline or domestic violence shelter when they decide to leave their home. It is best to place the call when the abuser is not at home or from a safe location.

Suggest that your relative or friend list down names and contact numbers of people they can contact in an emergency. Your loved one should know exactly where to go and how to get there when they need to escape.

Also, recommend that your loved ones pack an emergency bag with their clothing, personal documents, personal items, and money.

Signs That a Family Member Is Abusive
In an abusive relationship, you are likely to fear the perpetrator or abuser due to the following tactics:

Psychological abuse:

Abusers embarrass you in front of other people.
They belittle or put down your accomplishments.
They make you feel incapable of making decisions.
They use threats or intimidation to gain compliance.
Abusers blame you for how they act or feel.
After a fight, they bar you from leaving the house or leaving you somewhere to “teach you a lesson.”
They accuse you of having an affair.
Physical and sexual abuse:

Abusers pressure you into sexual activity.
They physically mistreat you through hitting, pinching, and other physically hurtful actions, including throwing things at you.
They may check on you (through calls or physical appearance) to ensure your location is where you said you would be.
Financial abuse:

They steal your money or keep your cash and credit cards away from you.
They do not give money for your basic needs. If they put you on an allowance, you need to account for every cent you spend.
Social abuse:

Abusers stop you from spending time with family members or friends.
They threaten to hurt or kill you or someone close to you.
Abusive people usually go through a cycle of threatening violence, committing the action, apologising with a promise to change, and making violent threats again.

Factors Behind Abusive Behaviour
Individuals learn abusive behaviour. People who grew up in families where someone was abusive can exhibit the same behaviour in their adulthood.

Perpetrators of abuse also act the way they do due to the following beliefs:

They believe in their right to behave in whatever way they like while at home.
They believe that anger and violence are necessary to keep things in order within the family.
They believe that “real men” should be tough and in control of decision-making, such as household spending.
They blame you, alcohol, or stress for provoking them to anger or violence.
They believe in their entitlement to sex from their partner.
Effects of Domestic Violence in the Home
Children are most affected when they live in a home where domestic violence happens. Some of these emotional and social effects include:

A higher risk of depression, severe anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder in which children are prone to experience nightmares, sleeping, difficulties, and self-enactment of abuse incidents
Learning difficulties (including poor concentration)
Limited social skills
Displays of aggressive, risky, or delinquent behaviour
Moreover, children witnessing abuse can affect their physical health as the stress can cause headaches and stomach pains. Parenting plays an important role in both the mental and physical wellbeing of a child. It’s a must to know the fundamentals to provide safe space for children. Visit Motherhood Community for parenting advice.

Violent homes also make children vulnerable to peer pressure, unsafe sexual behaviour, and drug misuse as they seek an outlet to escape their stressful environments.

Thursday, October 13, 2022

Listen to the New Elisha's Space Podcast

Thursday, October 13, 2022 @ 4:07 PM

Tune in to our new podcast episode on self-care with life coach Dr. Stephanie Brown. It's all about nurturing yourself so you can flourish!

Monday, September 26, 2022

Brain Retraining or How-to Renew Your Mind

Monday, September 26, 2022 @ 8:01 PM

Anxiety, Depression, Chronic Illness, Traumatic Memories, Poverty, and Stubborn Weight are in complete opposition to God and His will for your life. “Beloved friend, I pray that you are prospering in every way and that you continually enjoy good health, just as your soul (your mind and emotions) is prospering. (3 John 1:2 TPT)

If you want to be transformed emotionally, spiritually, physically, and financially, you've got to do your part and renew your mind. How? By taking every thought, emotion, and belief captive, retraining them to obey Jesus Christ. This is how we renew our minds! (Romans 12:2; 2 Corinthians 10:5)

In this book, you will understand exactly:
How to dismantle your emotional and mental defenses against trusting God’s blessings are for you.
How to demolish every deceptive fantasy of thought and imagination that opposes God’s blessings for you.
How to get breakthrough from every arrogant attitude and false belief that defies the true knowledge of God’s love for you.
How-to capture every thought and retrain it so it obeys Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 10:4-5)

I want to teach you exactly how to get out of your own way. Consider how Jesus faced such intense opposition from sinners who opposed their own souls, who were their own stumbling blocks.” (Hebrews 12:3a)

Brain Retrain is for anyone who wants to experience the life of power, joy, abundance, and love that God intended for us through our relationship with Jesus Christ. This is for anyone willing to exchange their self-limiting patterns of thoughts, beliefs, and behavior for new responses that create, and allow you to receive abundance in every area of life. It’s for people like you and me who are excited about replacing negative and disempowering beliefs with those that are not only positive but rooted in Truth! It’s for those who want to experience every promise we’ve read in the Word of God. It’s for those who want to feel loved, valued, protected, blessed, and then inspired to act on that wisdom.

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

What are some benefits of seeing a counselor?

Tuesday, September 20, 2022 @ 12:38 PM

What happens during an Assessment Session.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yvon


https://harpo.ca/index.html


by Yvon Malenfant | Medium

Thursday, August 25, 2022

The Brain and the Bible: Requirements for Recovery

Thursday, August 25, 2022 @ 1:58 PM

Dr. Dave Stephens

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Enjoying the Journey

Tuesday, August 16, 2022 @ 1:25 PM

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

Saturday, August 13, 2022

Are You Trapped in Your Own Story?

Saturday, August 13, 2022 @ 10:19 AM

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

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

Wednesday, July 27, 2022 @ 8:34 PM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Write down the things that make your heart flutter.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HUMOR! (LEARNING TO LAUGH AT OURSELVES)

Wednesday, July 27, 2022 @ 7:57 PM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, July 21, 2022

Somebody Shoulda Told Me, Marriage Do We Really Know What It's About?

Thursday, July 21, 2022 @ 1:57 AM

We Will Win

After the “I do’s” and honeymoon, creating a new life with another person can become challenging.
When you get married you see what you want to see. Either you picture it exactly like you saw it growing up or the exact opposite. Then you make a conscious decision to bring it in or leave it out of your marriage.

Once you start hitting the bumps in the road, you will find yourself saying SOMEBODY SHOULDA TOLD ME (marriage would be like this). Follow our journey as we learned what no one told us— but now we will tell you—about issues experts say are the most common reasons for divorce, and how battling them made our marriage stronger than ever.

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

10 Tips For Prioritizing Your Mental Health

Wednesday, July 6, 2022 @ 8:50 PM

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

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

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

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

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

Tip 1: Awareness and appreciation of your mental health.

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

"Recognition is half the battle"

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

Tip 2: Set and enforce boundaries

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tip 3: Tap into things that bring you joy

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

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

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

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

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

Tip 4: Play

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

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

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

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

Tip 5: Connect with others

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tip 6: Get outside into fresh air and nature

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

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

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

Tip 7: Spend time with yourself alone

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tip 9: Limit multi-tasking

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

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

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

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

Tip 10: Eat good food

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

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

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

Summary: Do you need extra support?

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

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Souled Out Volume 2

Tuesday, July 5, 2022 @ 5:36 PM

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

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

Tuesday, July 5, 2022 @ 5:01 PM

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

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Getting Frank About Leadership With Frank

Wednesday, June 29, 2022 @ 11:24 PM

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

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

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

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

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

Frank stands behind his people.

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

He does not see people as all good or all bad

He tries to avoid nepotism and favorites.

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

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

He invites and listens to disagreement.

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

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

His faith gives him values and direction

He listens to problems without giving immediate solutions.

He has a low respect for image management.

The people he admires are good leaders themselves.

Only when needed will he do close-in leadership

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

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

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

Sunday, June 19, 2022

Father Wound, Father Blessing 1

Sunday, June 19, 2022 @ 3:02 AM

How does dad’s interaction with mom makes the difference?
We are born symbiotic with our mother. and at about two years old we learn the word no. This is our first attempt at individuation. Then around five years old dad is, hopefully, there to reach into our life and take us out of orbit around mom and bridge us into the world. He then puts the fire in our belly and or the lion in our heart. Dad also helps us learn to love two people at the same time. This process also helps us have boundaries, lead and not shrink back from challenges in the world. It helps us have appropriate aggression
Identity and self-esteem: how dad contributes to these important building blocks.
Our self-esteem comes from our opposite gender parent and our identity comes from our same gender parent. that self-esteem or identity is enhanced or shut down by what our parents say about each other and about themselves. this can happen either implicitly or explicitly.
Four Roles of fathers and how it relates to our developmental stages and can give us great blessings
Nurturer: This role is of primary importance to the child between birth and age five.
Law Giver: This role is of primary importance to the child between the ages of six and twelve.
Warrior/Protector: The role is of primary importance to the child between the ages of twelve and eighteen.
Spiritual Mentor: This role is of primary importance to the older child as he or she moves into adulthood.

See Making Peace With Your Father by David Stoop, Ph.D.



See Making Peace With Your Father by David Stoop, Ph.D.

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.