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Sunday, October 14, 2018

Premarital Counseling: Before You Say I do

Sunday, October 14, 2018 @ 11:09 PM

Pre-Marital Counseling: “Before You Say I Do”

The most important investment for a couple who are planning to get married is premarital counseling. I am a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT). I specialize in couples counseling. Many of the couples I have counseled had perpetual issue beginning before they said, "I do." I do not know how many times people thought that things would be different after the ceremony. When I am counseling couples who are looking to go to the next step in their relationship, marriage, I highly recommend they complete pre-marital counseling.

What Is the Cost?

If you are planning on staying married until death does us part, invest in your marriage by getting professional pre-marital counseling. More is spent on the wedding and divorce, then many are willing to spend on the marriage. A posting on WeddingWire 2018, stated it was too much to pay $950 for six sessions of pre-marital counseling. This person said they would be looking for other counselors whose price is much lower. Many couple’s belief one to two sessions are enough for pre-marital counseling.
According to WeddingWire.com 2018, so far this year the average cost of a wedding is $30,000. This is not including the honeymoon or ring. According to WomanDivoce.com 2018, the cost of a divorce is from $1,500 to $15,000. One would think $30,000 is a lot of money to invest in a wedding. $15,00 for a divorce is half of the cost of an average wedding. According to HRT 2018, the price of premarital counseling is one to two percent of the cost to get married.
As I look at these figures, I am so surprised at the amount and number of people who actually invest in the marriage. HRT 2018 states about forty-four percent of couples who get married consider premarital counseling, and one percent of couples who get remarried consider premarital counseling.

There Are Only Benefits to Premarital Counseling:

1. Enlightens each person on what they are getting. Remember there is no perfect person. As you uncover the different areas listed before, with a clear and informed conscious you can say I          have enough to work with: (please note this is not a complete list)
     a. Marital readiness
     b. Yourself
     c. Stability
     d. How they deal with stress
     e. The in-law/out-law Relationship
     f. Sex
     g. Conflict management
2. Answers question about the relationship and each other, you didn't know to ask
3. You learn the tools for effective communication
4. When there is an area of disagreement, you learn to come to a win-win outcome.
5. It is always a good thing to learn before you say I do, “Is this the right person for you.”

The Investment:

Please note there is no guarantee that your marriage will succeed for a lifetime. However, the percentages of marriages that lasted have invested in premarital counseling are substantial. Start your life together learning what it will take to safeguard your marriage before it starts.
Begin with Premarital Counseling.

Friday, September 21, 2018

How to be "Married" and Loving it!

Friday, September 21, 2018 @ 1:37 PM

In some circles, the very word, Marriage; may cause one's skin to crawl. Why marry? There are free sex, chat rooms, porn, clubs, social groups of most every interest-and besides-50% divorce. Couples are older as they consider marriage; now averaging 28-35 before they marry the first time. They think that with age-then they are ready for this relationship. After all, they have had many relationships and encounters/connections and have certainly played the field. It may be time to settle down. Some think, I need to marry since it is expected of me-or to start a family. Some marry due to loneliness and the need to have someone. These are not good ideas for a responsible and completely committed relationship if one is only trying to fit in or be as expected. Although one may have cohabitated with someone-it is in no way a reflection of a life long commitment of LOVING another through all of the good, the bad, the ugly, and the hard issues.

Marriage takes courage and it takes the heart of one who is all in. This union type is not in any other relationship and it is ordained by God; as the most important relationship with another human; second to the relationship between Him and you-which is foremost important. Any who attempt to treat marriage as cohabitation; with the decision that should things go sour, then we can just cut ties and go our separate ways-will find themselves at a loss from the very beginning. Marriage is not for the weak, the spoiled, the selfish, those who need to control others, the needy, or to fit in. It is not suitable for just climbing the economic ladder or for social gains. It is not only to have children; although it is best to be married prior to procreation due to many factors: emotionally, socially, spiritually, economically, and relationally with each other as support systems for these children.

Scary stuff, absolutely. Adults who are emotionally mature, with good social skills such as the ability to resolve conflicts amicably and ample communications skills that protect boundaries as these honor the recipient is vital. Also, adults who are assured of their worth and are able to seek to build their mate is also a crucial piece of the puzzle. Marriage is a union that is focused upon service to the mate and for the mate. It is not self focused and those who are in this union must be able to forgive many times than they could ever imagine-and not hold on to the past. This union seeks to nurture and to build each other with positive affirmation and yet given permission to also be held to accountability. Instead of focusing on what the other does not do, or their weakness: Couples see the beauty, the strength; and lift each other with respect and honor; desire and caring. The old adage that if you cannot say anything nice then you say nothing at all; is part of this relationship-yet not only do we say nothing critical, we say kind words daily.

In marriage, we also seek to discover what our mate likes, desires, and what says to him or her, "I love you" and then we implement many words and behaviors that speak their language and fulfill their needs. Asking him or her such questions will often spawn their want to also learn more about you. When the investment of work, money, kindness, words, quality time, and other signs of priority are demonstrated regularly- while being able to be vulnerable with complete trust; then be aware of how this will flourish and grow in strength of the emotional connection with your mate.

Danger Signs

Often we date with the intent of growing our mate; seeking excitement for him/her-caring for their needs-and making sure we watch ourselves-while placing our best foot forward for up to one year usually, then we marry...and little by little-we lose sight of this needed effort. We get lazy and complacent-after all-they are ours now, and so I now can concentrate fully on career, children, and life's busy schedule. Losing touch leads to resentment, self focus, and getting lost in less important activities or goals. We can actually be in the same room with our mate; but not have a conversation-and feel alone. Touching, talking, and other forms of communing fall away. Before we know it; nit-pick slurs and attacks become more prevalent, voices and words become aggressive or are filled with apathy; and we find ourselves leaving for cover of the job, or with the children-trying to escape so as to lick our wounds. One day we look over and see this person that we find unappealing and we think man, I have fallen out of love with him/her. Often by this time-we are in trouble with a capital T! We have no clue how to get "us" back. One thing that we have not understood is: We chose to not love that person to whom we betrothed our love and commitment too-and if we want to turn this around-we will need to focus once again on our promise and our love for that person.

Sometimes, this may mean that we need a relational counselor such as a marriage and family therapist-or licensed professional counselor-to help us reroute our hearts; gain focus, and stop destructive behaviors and words. A life time commitment is worth that effort which starts with the choice to love him or her again

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.

Discover Your Parenting Style

Friday, August 31, 2018 @ 12:52 PM

God implores the parent to teach, guide, discipline, and to be the example that is appropriate for their children-consistently; without exacerbating or creating intolerance/rebellion. God speaks of teaching the children morning, noon, night without ceasing of His principals and of His love and justice. The "hows" were not exactly provided other than the above instruction.

Parenting is an awesome role and responsibility given to those blessed with children. As with most all situations when one deals with life, the parents must adjust as the baby begins to have mobility, and again adjust with teaching the child life skills that will create the character and integrity suitable to negotiate healthy relationships, vocations, lifestyle, and sense of self; as the child grows into the adult who is a contributing person to the family, community, and nation, and then called upon to be able to lovingly and effectively guide their own children through the developmental process.

RESEARCH AND COUNSELING

Often as I work with children/adolescents-and when addressing negative behaviors I will simply pose a question, Why? Many times the answer appears to solely rest on three factors: One or more parent has stated that this child will not be any good, has stated the child is stupid and does not know how to think or act, or that the child will never achieve anything of great merit, and/or will be like Uncle ? who in fact is the family's addicted member, or incarcerated member; therefore the parent is providing mixed messages and little confirmation, praise, guidance, affirmation, or validation in the perception of the child. OR the child is using their parent or significant other's example of poor decision making, poor self control, and bad judgment, or substance use, as well as; the child is perceiving their world from a viewpoint of entitlement and is oppositional of authority figures; possibly due to overly submissive parenting of one who may be overcompensating and/or who may be overly protective, and smothering; and/or the absent parent giving mixed messages, or absent in attention, as they focus on self or work, or other. Or; the parent operates from an approach of an authoritarian parent who rules with a dictator type of approach, dismissing any input of the child, with strict and a large list of rules, and hard consequences, often condescending, often blaming, often ridiculing, pushing, and attempting to hold the child to an extreme standard of perfection.


Children often will shoot for the standard given them and modeled for them. Parents who then focus on encouragement, praise, and solutions, as they teach the child how to utilize knowledge and discernment, how to be flexible when plans changes, how to prioritize, how to budget and how to raise funds for their goals, how to choose friends, how to respect each other, how to set boundaries and speak effectively with assertive and mindful communication to maintain their boundaries, how to maintain their self control and know when to pursue and when to wait, how to be truthful, and the importance of doing what is right regardless of if others are watching while encouraging their children that this is reachable for them- will often have children who will try. Is important to do our best in every thing that we pursue or am responsible to do-but we are not perfect, and regardless of that fact-we are most loved. Asking questions to aid the child to think of options and the consequences vs the benefits is helpful as the parent guides the child in this process; and allowing the child natural consequences of decision made. Reviewing choices made with the child and helping the child to see better options is also a better approach.

During counseling then-the parents are aided with better coaching and parenting strategies while also learning about how their own background of parenting may not be the best solution. The children are provided tools to identify their thought distortions, increase their self image, increase their social skills, increase their communication skills, and the importance of each choice that they make. As the parents and children progress then we blend them and use role play so as to grow their skills and to tweak their approach with each other. Often if behaviors are also being experienced at school or work, then we are in contact with those entities to provide resources and tools for them as well so as to work with the parents and children on a successful intervention to effect change.

Parents can be warm and attentive or they can be distant and/or self absorbed. In addition, there are four basic parenting styles of which parents adopt while rearing their children, (Baumrind, 1975, 1991). These will be described and then will be related to how a ten year old might behave or develop under each style of parenting. 

Authoritarian Parenting Style

This style is demanding, and punitive, exhibiting little warmth. Parents assume more of a dictatorship holding their children to difficult, high standards. Punishments do not match the crime, parents do not explain themselves or why rules are in effect, and are not concerned with being role models . Parents are rigid and so are their rules and expectations. Children who are brought up with these parents experience extreme control issues, do not develop a sense of discipline or an inner morality, are not very verbal, and are often unhappy, fearful, anxious, fail to initiate activity, and have weak communication skills. Should they need to ask for guidance during a sensitive experience, they would not feel comfortable consulting with their parents.


Authoritative parents set high goals and they are active role models. It is a nurturing and warm style of parenting. Children who are reared with these parents are blessed and become cheerful, self-controlled and self-reliant, and achievement-oriented. They maintain friendships with peers, cooperate with adults, and cope well with stress. Their social skills are often keen. They normally have close bonds with their parents.


Indulgent Parenting Style

These parents are focused on their children and are heavily invested, purchasing lots of gifts and possessions. However, they offer little direction (Goodner, Robert, 2001). Parents are responsive but undemanding and more like a friend. They are affirmative but do not hold their child to take responsibility for their conduct. In fact, the parent excuses their child’s impulses, aggressions, and sexual conduct. This is due to their inability to say the word no. There are vague boundaries or guidelines set for the child to adhere too. The child then rules the roost. Children often lack self-control, have behavior problems, do substandard work in school or on the job, do not take responsibility for their mistakes, are immature, insecure, demanding, and are selfish. In addition, they are not dependable, have little motivation, and have external moral codes according to (Egeland & Farber, 1984). They are however highly social and usually have good self-esteems.


Uninvolved Parent

Parents who are these types are uninvolved, neglectful, selfish, and do not communicate with their children. In extreme cases they reject and may even abuse their young. Normally however, the basic essential needs are met. The child is fed and clothed. However, the parent is concerned more about their own conveniences and comfort, entertainment, and concerns. Children occupy themselves. They are demanding since they learn they must be to get their parent’s attention. They have low social skills, expect to get their way, and are aggressive, non-compliant.

Which parent type are you?
Therefore, children are reared with differing parenting styles that contribute to specific behaviors and development. The authoritarian and the permissive parents will teach children to not be disciplined internally. They will also possess external moral standards that basically means they would obey so as to not be caught. The neglected child will do whatever is necessary to get one’s way regardless of any consequences, blaming others for their poor decisions. However, the child who lives in a home with authoritative parent will be the most rounded, happier, reliable, and more content child.
It is important to know how parenting styles effect children. With this understanding then counselors might be able to recognize behavior cues and better understand the reasons behind a child’s behavior. Parents should have a balance of discipline and love. Children need role models and nurturing; however, they also need boundaries and to be held responsible. In so doing then the parent is more likely to be an authoritative parent. The authoritative parent tends to be the most effective as they guide their child and teach their child life skills. Parents only have 18 years to teach through modeling and through direct instruction, as well as; by utilizing positive reinforcements and also when needed, negative reinforces. Consistency in how one parents, is often a huge factor as to the child's reception of the intended lessons and constructs.


Other issues rise when parenting styles differ between parents, When one parents with one style and the other with their own, this becomes an environment where children are confused and can also employ manipulative measures as they use each against the other. Heal and Hope works to gain unity between parents and to help teach parents how to better engage and to train their children in life skills. When parents learn how, what, and why, then they can achieve respect and feel more confident as they parent.


Not only are these important but nutrition is often mismanaged. The central nervous system should have the best nutritional foods from which to draw from and to build from. It appears that some parents may believe that as long as they feed their children three times daily, then this is nutritious; but this is not the case. People can be obese, eating more than recommended, yet still be nutritionally starving. In addition, research is showing more correlation with gluten and sugar; and their influence with Autism and ADHD; and when one truly researches natural and organic foods and mental health; one can easily see many disorders that are exacerbated with certain foods. Avoiding such often lowers the symptom-logy at times to where the client is no longer meeting the clinical criteria for diagnoses.
Therefore, while children's brains are developing, parents need to prepare a wholesome and healthy variety of vegetables and also provide fresh fruits, baked, broiled, steamed foods; that are not providing high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated fats, dyes, preservatives, hormones, or other such harmful ingredients since parents are building the very foundation of the central nervous system and all organs with a blend of healthy eating, exercise, moderate sun, and fresh air. Food can help with impulse control and also with seizures. Food is far more important that it is given credit for, and it is important as to what we put into our mouths. Some mental health illnesses may be the result of what we eat. Please let that resonate a while.


In addition, we are seeing more harm from the excessive hours of the phone, gaming, and internet connections-in how our brains are being wired. Is this a skill worth the hours of investment? Or would not something more creative and stimulating use of our brains be advised? Parents today have more concerns than those two decades ago. Children have access to many harmful unknowns as they click into the internet. This inclusion is creating a new addiction since the brain is altered by excessive use and by the exposure to criteria which is not appropriate for children.


Another issue: Parents are now busier than ever before as they are over booked with trying to get their children in every imaginable sport or activity-as if this shows that they are good parents. This actually leaves little time for real teaching, as the coaches and the schools seem to take our children into their forums-for extended periods of time; and instead model and teach our children cultural and personal beliefs along with the subject matter. Children are less able to resolve conflicts and/or unable to use discernment-leaving them vulnerable for unplanned for life experiences. Children are often unable to be flexible or to have self management. Inflexibility is common amongst dysfunctional homes and behavior.


Parents need time to model how to be flexible and how to discern. When children witness and receive consistent messages then often they will own the discipline, making it theirs. It is therefore most wise for our children to learn the construct that are good and healthy for them. The best people to instruct them would be their parents when the parents are operating and are providing the healthy examples for their children-yet this takes time. Busy is not always best. Parents need time with their children. They must grow independence, integrity, dependability, conflict resolution skills, communication skills, self management skills; while teaching a multitude of life skills during the short 18 years of childhood.


Children who do cultivate integrity and dependability then can be awarded more freedoms with each passing challenge that tested the child's character and self control, as they demonstrate that they are able to resolve conflicts and negotiate their walk while being true to god, others, self and to their life skills learned.
Words that encourage, lift, instruct, build, challenge, and guide are far more effective as parents steer their child; and parents must allow the child to earn their benefits and consequences without condemnation, and without lowering standards. A child often will strive or themselves settle depending upon what their parent believes is probable or possible for that child. It is far better to cheer, "you can do it!" than to forecast, "you will never be_________." In addition, comparing children negatively tends to divide children and instill a lower sense of self.
Will all children who are parented appropriately come aboard and own this discipline? Most will but some will not. God is our heavenly father. He parents all the same with standards as he demonstrates how and why. He models for us yet some of us owns his teaching and others of us do not. We see families who are parented well, yet one of the children turns from the core beliefs and risks negative behaviors. Somehow that child felt unloved or less loved. Somehow that child did not want to control their impulses.
Often we as parents want to believe in that child and will sometimes cater to or lower the standards for that child as we hope that they will come on board. We plead and we beg, yet our child resists as he/she demands freedom un-earned; or things unearned; which places parents in places that are most difficult as they may sometimes placate to the child. This reinforces the negative behaviors and makes it more difficult for the parent to rise above this standard without real drama and problems.


Often, the fear of losing their child drives a parent to give in when the parent needs to stand strong, and firm, upon the convictions- as they uphold the rules in the home. Once this pattern is produced then the parent faces a strong hold of distorted thoughts and behaviors that will resist change; but change is a must if the child will rise above their self will and dysfunctional mindset. Parents then must stand true, model truth, and trust God as they reset boundaries and enforce those boundaries; even at the risk that the child will "hate" them.
Parents instead are to place the child's well-being foremost as they provide tough love in those cases. In many cases, the child will learn and will turn around, and in time-will appreciate their parent for their love and guidance, their perseverance and their decision to not give in. A few children do not turn. In these cases we support the parent and the work with the children as long as we are allowed, to attempt to instill the life skills that were not instilled in the home. In the end, it is the child that determines their fate at this point. When children turn from their parents we may need to see if the child is engaging with substance abuse, or has become addicted to something which has taken control of that child. These brains are developing. What they are exposed to, are fed with, and have modeled to-will effect the very functionality and health of them. Parents need to be present and to be the examples that their children need to become the most that they can become.

Children are very confused, are very self centered, and are not naturally sharing or thoughtful in most cases. They are bombarded with negative influences in this culture. Often children follow their peers without considering the consequences. The parents need to be of one voice with one plan. They need to work together to create time with their children and to model healthy and positive behaviors consistently. They need to know where, with whom, what, how, and what are their children into. Although they must relax their protective parenting by age 10-11 to allow the child some flexibility to experience their world, they still need to be involved and watchful and to be open to talk with their children. This will be an age where the child will push parents away and is discovering who they are. For protective parents-then this will be a difficult yet important aspect of their growth and development.

Discipline and Rewards are important. When the children are young, then discipline is often time out, the removal of a toy, and like. As middle aged children; then the discipline is often a restriction of time on games or the screen, restriction of company or their ability to go to a friend's house or an event. When an adolescent then much the same continues. Discipline is more effective when certain aspects are in play:
1. Respect of the role of parent must be in place.
2. Respect of the authority to implement the discipline must be in place.
3. The child must be willing to submit to that authority and adhere to the punishment.
4. Consistency to follow through as promised is a must.
5. Enough time for the change to occur.
6. The absence of hypocrisy in that is expected and what is modeled.

Without the above criteria then the child can easily laugh and walk from the parent while pursuing whatever they wish. Children need to respect those in authority and their roles since they will meet with forums filled with the same or like rules with consequences that govern each of those forums. If the child is to achieve and be successful-they must comprehend this construct and be willing to perceive the importance for these to be in place. Only then will they navigate their world more wisely.

We help our families to develop better tools and better perceptions of life. If you find yourself grappling and frustrated, then contact us at Heal and Hope Counseling Services.

Dealing with Strong Willed Children

Friday, August 31, 2018 @ 12:47 PM

Parents who have strong willed children find parenting stressful. Power struggles occur and neither parent or child are successful. Children question parameters and respect, and parents question respect and obedience-with neither winning the battle. This article helps to provide parents with a few of the needed changes of their approach. More coping tools and like information can be procured with entering into parenting class or individual sessions offered by Glyndora Condon MS MFT LPC: Enjoy the article.

Strong. Willed. Children. Immediately what comes to mind is; defiance, rebellion, and other negative traits: yet some notable strong willed people to tribute are Peter and Ester of scriptures, along with many other scriptural individuals; Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, and like contributors or much positive discoveries. Strong willed children can be channeled by parents and this is a powerful and empowering construct!

How do we know that we have strong willed children? Let's take a stroll and please mark those issues that apply to yourself, your mate, or your children, Ready?
1. This person does not think anything is impossible and this person will attempt to conquer against all odds.
2. This person pushes at a pace as if a streak of lightening to get it done, one way or other.
3. Will argue to argue to see where all of it goes.
4. Easily bored and therefore will create a crisis.
5. Rules are thought of as guidelines and often too picky and unreasonable.
6. Creative and resourceful people.
7. Grand crusades from issues.
8. Will milk the situation when challenged, taking it as a dare; of which they accept the challenge.
9. Will take a simple request to a major issue in a millisecond.
10. Gifted with sarcasm.
11. If not given choice and threatened with a consequence; the person will accept the consequence to prove that one cannot make one do anything.
12. They want authority figures that will not allow them to bend the rules without consequence, the ability to follow through with quick resolve consistently which builds security and trust in the word of that authority person IF THE COMMUNICATION IS DELIVERED WITH RESPECT AND CALM RESOLVE-BUILDING RESPECT.
13. Lessons are often learned the hard way as repeated non compliance is chosen even when consequences are in place.

So how did you do with the above questions or statements? If you marked 8-10 then you have a potential trouble maker, lol; but 11-12 is a definite assessment of a strong willed person and often trouble maker due to the insatiable need to challenge and see where the limits really are. These strong people can be persuaded but not pushed.

Dictator commands and threats will drive the negative reactions since these are seen as challenges and disrespectful of them, They have no boss and cannot be forced to do anything. They will choose to die if needed to prove their point of their free will. They know you can't make them love you, obey you, or even make them eat good food. Spending time pleading and reasoning falls on deaf ears.

How do we then get things done, teach responsibility, life skills, and receive respect from these people?
Give choices. Be concise about what they are expected to do and what the consequences would be but with a positive twist.
An example of the delivery of a slight tweak of how to parent are as follows.

WRONG: I told you to clean your room. Clean it or you can depend upon losing your PHONE! Got it? (child rolls eyes and continues phone or screen; or laying around) Then the power match is on...with no winners.
RIGHT: Let's clean it up please.
WRONG: You can hate me and be angry all you want but you will do what I say! (Child thinks or says, nope; or make me)
RIGHT: Oh, I am sorry that you are angry at me; I guess that means you don't want cuddling time? (meaning-anger or not, I expect the work or request to be done promptly or there will be the consequence).
WRONG: Cut that tv (or other screen) off and do your homework! (Child-no, later, got to finish this first, or this is not fair!) Power struggle incurs.
RIGHT: Feel free to watch your favorite show on tv when the homework is done. (Child understands that there is a process expected and knows the consequence of no favorite show if they choose to procrastinate).
WRONG: Buckle your seat belt! (Child-NO, Buckle your seat belt NOW or else. Child NO), (Where does the parent go now with this? pleading? Threats, pull over and buckle it for them? Spanking? Either way, you could not make them do what they did not want to do).
RIGHT: Please put on your seat belt. (Child-no) Parent (Why?) Child (because it is too tight and I don't like it on). Parent- Okay so let's loosen it a little bit to help it to be more comfortable and put it on, okay? Okay, (The parent then has made a small compromise yet kept the resolve that the belt will be worn).

Wonder if the child still will not put their seat belt on? The law that the parent is subjected to is-All passengers and self must be seat belted or there will be a ticket. Parents can relay that message and show their resolve that they will comply with the law; then proceed to unload from the car. (If this is a situation where the family is planning to go to an activity the child wants to go to). This works like a charm. If to somewhere the child does not want to go-then the parent will need to give a consequence that fits this issue exchanging their next activity for this one with a resolve to not attend. Either way the auto does not leave the drive way. Perhaps all but the child and a parent leaves but the consequence of losing the privilege of going to their event is implemented.


A parent's job is to teach, hold their child accountable, and apply consequence; using modeling (example), specific rules and consequences to expect, while following through quickly if wrong choices are made. parents must teach life skills but more importantly character traits. A parent cannot make the child do anything and to have leverage then they need a relationship with their child. That relationship is vital and must be one with trust and respect. With prompt follow through and consistency while applying the consequence if the child chooses it-the child learns the limits earlier and will more likely choose the better choice. A parent who pleads and threatens their child repeatedly teaches procrastination and disrespect as the child begins feeling as if there are not limits and therefore is at higher risk to make negative choices as they face challenges that are likely to not be followed through-remaining dependent and deluded as to their invisibility.

I did some security work at one time, and was advised that if I wrote a ticket or contacted the police; then I did not need to give a warning since they had to pay the consequence of parking in a handicap area or stealing merchandise; but if I gave a warning and chose not to apply the consequence then the person's acceptance of that warning and following through with better conduct was expected and if that person violated the warning and grace the 1st time then they needed the consequence instead.

Teaching the child to be prompt in good choices, to discern, to be responsible for their choices is vital. The approach of this teaching is also most important. Consistency and clear expectations are absolutely necessary. Warnings are to include the expected behavior and the intended consequence should a wrong choice occur with encouragement to choose compliance but yet the choice is theirs. This warning needs to be brief, firm, without insulting or disrespectful remarks or attitude. It needs to be clear that we know we cannot make them choose the right choice and that they might choose the negative consequences of their choice to not comply but; we hope and pray that this will not occur-and yet we know that they may have to learn the hard way. It may take them a few attempts of noncompliance and suffering the consequence (fitting for the crime) before they choose that maybe they need to comply...and parents lovingly and greatfully receive their choice without "I told you so" or other igniting and challenging remarks. Avoiding power struggles are a must especially with older children who could very well walk out the door. Expect them to test your parameters.

Parents can simply say, "I know you have a choice and that you can choose the consequence. I hope you don't since it hurts me to see you hurting yourself-but I also love you enough to try to guide and teach you-the best that I know how-to be the best that you can be so that your future is awesome." This message implies and speaks love yet also speaks a resounding resolve to remain firmly planted upon one's boundary. The parent's love needs to be in their face, body, tone, and words.

Parents need their children to know that they love them so much that they will do anything to keep them safe and to teach them how to be successful with people and with responsibilities-no matter how hard this is-no matter how long it takes- even if it means that their children choose not to love them because parents are focused upon what is best for their children. It is never ever too late to love. Calmly apply the consequence.

There are many coping tools and strategies that aid parents with strong willed children. We can teach you. It is possible that nutrition issues are playing into this issue, or another strategy that involves more goals and point system is better for a child-which we can assist. What we know is this; there are too many warnings and not enough tickets today and this enables our youth and creates power struggles where all parties lose if continued.

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.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Questions You Can Ask to Get Your Life Unstuck

Monday, August 20, 2018 @ 3:56 PM

Questions You Can Ask to Get your Life Unstuck
As part of a client’s therapy, I always ask him/her, “What do you hope to accomplish with our time together?” Kudos to the recent client who answered, “I want to stop feeling so afraid all the time,” Wouldn’t we all? We may couch it in softer terms and say we’re worried, anxious, restless, or stressed, but at the core it says the same thing: “We’re afraid.”

When my 20-year marriage fell apart, I felt overwhelmed with anxiety. Where would I live? How would I support myself? What else could go wrong? I was sure that if I found answers to my questions I’d stop fearing that any minute the sky would fall.

· Why did this happen to me?

· Who is to blame?

· What went wrong?

· When will I feel better again?

We try to fix our pain with certainty, as if relief is just one right answer away. We think, if we only knew the answers, then we could get our life together and move on. Like a song stuck on auto-repeat our minds go over and over the never never-ending loop.

· People who binge eat want to know: “Why is it I can succeed in every area of my life but still not be able to control my weight?”

· Clients getting divorced ask: “Why do I have to go through this when it seems so unfair?”

· New retirees, wonder in disgust: “Why haven’t I figured this out by now?”

What we really want is to stop feeling afraid of life’s difficulties. We want to feel comforted when we’re sad and hopeful about good things to come. We want to enjoy the company of those who embrace us and to live the purpose God designed us for. We want to love and be loved. And we want to get unstuck so we can experience this!

Underneath our demand to know why our life is the way it is, lurks the faulty belief: We should be better than this. Life should be better than this. The problem is: It's not. We're not. So we stay stuck. Until we start there, we might as well chase the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. Once we accept: It is what it is; I am who I am, we begin to ask the questions that can lead us forward.

In John chapter 14, after telling his disciples about his upcoming death, Jesus anticipates their fears and says: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” Control is not the answer. What we need is Peace. Shalom: The absence of fear and anxiety. Peace changes everything. By trusting that God is good and still in control, no matter what life brings, we can ask completely different questions.

· What if I didn’t have to figure this out but only had to trust and obey?

What if I only had to do the next right thing?
· What if everything really IS working together for my good?

How does that change my interpretation?
· What if God wants to use me for a new purpose?

How can I step out in faith to find out?
Do you feel the difference? Seeking answers to these questions starts us on a new adventure to a bigger, more spacious life than the one we’d been living. The questions that get us unstuck are the ones that lead us to letting go of our fearful grasping for control and direct us to discover what God may be inviting us to.

I don’t know any other way to get there apart from trusting God. I know that doesn’t sound very “counselorish”, but it’s the only therapy that works. When we trust, allow, even delight in, the loving presence of God in our lives, anxieties cease. The inner storm is calmed. We can finally relax enough to move forward.

It begins by trusting that God’s plan is better than our own. Our lives are in his hands. He cannot fail us. We progress by LIVING THE NEW QUESTIONS in anticipation of what God can do with a life surrendered to him. We step out in faith not because we know the answers, but because we hear God's prompt: "Go ahead. I've got this covered."

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, August 12, 2018

COMMUNICATION AND BOUNDARIES

Sunday, August 12, 2018 @ 3:53 PM

Communication is one of the biggest contributors to relational issues. If one is speaking to marriage problems, anger management issues, parental problems, career issues, and/or like then one finds that poor communication is often a major factor in why clients are experiencing frustration. To learn as to how to communicate, then each construct can be better addressed as clients can better speak with respect and mindfulness. Since distortions of thoughts lead to faulty perceptions then- seeking a counselor to help with relational issues is advised. The article will however open the door of communication and may resolve some distortions with their use.

The Lord states that we are to edify, admonish, and exhort each other in a spirit of love. Counselors focus on the what, why, when, and how as they implement empirically based tools into their practice. With each tool-then counselors are able to help people increase their communication and social skills. First, we must be mindful of three basic boundaries: Emotional (to safeguard the safety, security, and acceptance), Physical (to be aware of proximity, tangible belongings, and the physical bodies), and social (the rules and manners considered correct for the forum within).

Our approach is to be mindful of all three as we seek to not violate or cause harm-yet speak to matters of importance with each other. Alert: Society may state that things are right although it would violate physical and emotional boundaries and therefore, one would need to prioritize the emotional and physical boundaries so as to do what is right instead of focusing on our right to do something that may cause harm. As clients begin this journey then they learn what is each construct and when each is used. This aids them to be more mindful of the dynamics, aware of the triggers, and able to self reflect their motives prior to making a decision.

As clients learn about dysfunctional and distorted thoughts that have to be challenged and reframed- and how to be mindful of boundaries when interacting in their social arenas; then it is often asked, "So what am I to do when I need to say something about how I feel or what is bothering me?" Good question, let us answer this.

How can we speak while being mindful of the boundaries?

There are several different communication styles common in our culture yet most are conflictive and harmful as these include defense mechanisms, distortions of thinking, and poor listening skills, and abusive manipulation; which creates offense and a closed spirit.
Personalities are also factors that play into how one perceives information. In addition, a person's core belief system, self-esteem, ability to be flexible or not, and if they possess a variety or coping tools to implement will also factor into how one speaks (utilizing their words, tone, body language) as well as; how one hears and/or understands what was said.
We first must question our motive, the issue, the fact that people interpret differently-and allow for such without reacting negatively, and also we must subdue all aggressive tones and body language. Keeping calm, with direct eye contact, listening well, and respecting each other's feelings, thoughts, and space; and this is where we start. Listening without interruption, or negative facial/body language is encouraged. Then-utilizing "I statement" patterns helps one to own their own feelings; while addressing the issue, lowering violation of the other person. This pattern works well in all relational situations.

EXAMPLE: "I feel (emotion) when (perceived problem)...,_because__(history or how the issue triggers negative feelings). and therefore, I would appreciate it if __(solution)__".

Addendums would include: " If I have done or said anything that has also hurt you like this then please accept my apology" or "A solution that I thought of was, _______________but, I would welcome any suggestions that you have that we can think upon so as to find a solution that would work for us both. Would you have anything to suggest for us?"

In this disclosure some vital items to be mindful of are: Keep calm, show kindness and compassion, have an open frame, have a welcoming and distracting-free environment, have direct eye contact, and do not use the words, YOU or their NAME; which would appear as you are blaming them for your feelings and therefore would lead to their defenses to increase.

It is good to practice these skills while with safe people such as your counselor, the group, or in healthy familial networks. We do encourage that these discussions are not placed within social media or in public view.

Therefore, one can speak to teach, admonish, and/or edify and nurture another person without violating either boundary with practice and a right heart. 

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Is Monday Really the Best Day to Take Off?

Tuesday, August 07, 2018 @ 1:34 PM

In one of the counselling residency courses that I took in my training, I recall one of the instructors commenting how in Canada, the highest suicide rate is during a sunny Monday. It’s one of those little details that I never forgot, and have had much time to reflect on it. I have observed over the years that I receive many more counselling enquirers on a sunny Monday, compared to a cloudy Monday.

I also heard it said that more heart attacks happen between 8 and 9 am on Mondays than any other time of the week. The stress of the new week and individuals rushing to get to work can exacerbate the numbers. This latter fact tends to make a lot of sense when one considers rush hour stress. Yet, I’ve always wondered about what it was about sunny Mondays that would cause people to attempt suicide?

It would seem that a person feeling depressed on a cloudy day would find the weather to be agreeable with their “gloomy mood” (Gloomy is an interpretation and it would seem that cloud and rain has been given a bad rap by many people, yet it’s only an interpretation from their own head. Liquid sunshine and the ability to see the silver lining in every cloud is maybe a better approach to weather. But I digress.) One can take a certain comfort from the weather reflecting their “feeling blue”.

On the other hand, a sunny day is seen as being contrary to the depressed person feeling down and can possibly make someone feel like~ “…what’s the problem? It’s a bright, sunny day! Why is it that you feeling so blue?!” That thought can make a depressed person feel even worse. Therefore they may attempt suicide. Let’s face it, Mondays are hard!

In light of the above information, I would like to challenge the members of the Clergy (Jewish, Christian and Muslim) all across Canada: Why do many of you choose Monday as your day off? As we’ve observed, Monday is the day that you are needed the most! It’s true that some of the hardest work is done on a Friday, Saturday and/or Sunday and so Monday would seem to be the most natural for one recharging their batteries. Yet it seems that we are letting our faith communities down if we don’t pay attention to these societal realities: our services are desperately needed on Monday.

Therefore, taking Tuesdays as a day off might make better overall sense. It’s something worth considering.

Yvon Malenfant 778–862–5240 www.harpo.ca

Yvon is an Inter-faith Spiritual Counsellor in Coquitlam, BC.

https://medium.com/@kalhoun/is-monday-really-the-best-day-to-take-off-5845a41a6861

Friday, August 03, 2018

CONTRACTS WITH ADULT CHILDREN

Friday, August 03, 2018 @ 9:57 AM

In connection with the parenting of adult children, the need to build character and their willingness to accept responsibility is paramount as a life skill for older children, which should start when the children are young; as children earn items of interests and/or suffer the consequence when the child does a mediocre job or is defiant. These lessons are difficult for parents since parents do not want their children to suffer, but understand that life's decisions will result in the benefits and/or the consequences of those choices; and therefore; it is prudent to enact tough love-when their children needs disciplining and training. The lessons for adult children often involve higher end items such as cars, motorcycles, possibly rent, purchasing a house, and like items; and therefore the understanding of "Contracts" is vital.


Definition of contract:
1. an agreement between two or more parties for the doing or not doing of something specified.
2. an agreement enforceable by law.
3. the written form of such an agreement.
4. the division of law dealing with contracts.
7. the formal agreement of marriage; betrothal.
14. to incur, as a liability or obligation:to contract a debt.
15. to settle or establish by agreement:to contract an alliance.
16. to assign (a job, work, project, etc.) by contract:The publisher contracted the artwork.
17. to enter into an agreement with:to contract a free-lancer to do the work.
18. to enter into (friendship, acquaintance, etc.).
Origin of contract
1275–1325; (noun) Middle English (< Anglo-French) < Latin contractus undertaking a transaction, agreement,equivalent to contrac-, variant stem of contrahere to draw in, bring together, enter into an agreement (con-con- + trahere to drag, pull; cf. traction) + -tus suffix of v. action; (v.) < Latin contractus, past participle of contrahere
Related forms con•tract•ee, nouncon•tract•i•ble, adjectivecon•tract•i•bil•i•ty, con•tract•i•ble•ness, noun con•tract•i•bly, adverbnon•con•tract, adjectiveo•ver•con•tract, verb (used with object)post•con•tract, nounre•con•tract, verb (used with object)

Young adults, without fully developed brains and highly distorted thought processes, often feel entitled and that the parent owes them their free ride even when they are chronologically adult age. Therefore their acceptance of contracts is viewed as mere formality and that regardless of their choice to keep their half of the agreement or not; they will still get their item listed in the contract without consequences; other than the usual and expected parent's voice of concern or anger when the parent is saddled with the payments.

Parents must make it clear that should default occur on the child's end; then the consequences and losses that are strictly and clearly stipulated in the contract will prevail- due to the bad choice of the child. It also must be clear that-in case of purchase; then this is a business transaction and will be considered as such (as if this was not a child and parent relationship)-so that the child learns to be responsible for their signing of any contract.

Children are then responsible to read the contract and to acknowledge that they comprehend such consequences prior to agreeing to sign. Once signed, then both parties are subject to the terms of the contract. If the adult child defaults then the parent is liable to following through with the terms that result in loss of the item within the contract so that the child learns the important lesson that they are responsible for their choices; the good choices would have earned them their item-and the bad choices would earn them their consequences. If the parent fails in standing firm; then the parent reinforces irresponsible and dependency character of their adult child. If however the parent actually parents correctly-the parent must understand that the child is most likely to rebel and blame the parent for whatever the consequences that they experience due to their lack of character, distortions of thought, and defense mechanisms of denial. projection, misattribution of blame.

Parents must be aware that their child can be most vengeful, angry, and hurtful-and can use the only thing that they can control to hurt their parent-at this juncture-and be willing to accept that consequence while they stand firmly on trying to teach their child to be responsible adults. This may mean that the parent is disowned; that the child will trash their parent to others; that the child who may have children can withhold their children from their grandparents; and also the child can become aggressive towards the parent and other family members who may not agree with the adult child's false interpretation of their consequence of their wrongful choice to default. If parents back down and enable their child at this point of time-then the parent has reinforced their child's rebellion and irresponsible behavior. Therefore many parents chose not to enter into such an agreement due to the risks-and refuse to bail their children out of the consequences that they incur when they default with others instead (which still may lead to such rebellious aftermath if the child is of an entitled mindset and believes that the parent's role is to bail them out regardless of their behavior).


As I grew up and was provided a loan by my parents or grandparents; I knew one thing-that if I did not honor this contract or loan and repay it with interest as I promised-then I would no longer have this door of opportunity open again should I find myself in need of it. It was a time for me to prove myself as responsible and to find favor. My family were wise in how they rendered such lessons for me to grow. It first began with small amounts of money (300-500) and as I proved to be responsible-then they were willing to risk larger investments for me. With each success-my parents learned that they had nothing to fear since no matter the hardships that I was confronted with; even things that I had not accounted for; then I would make sure that my contract with them was taken care of-even if it meant I worked more hours or a second job.

Therefore, the benefits were plenty for us both who were in the contract. They received constant payments with interest for their family home and an apartment complex and the pride that their child was honorable-and I received self respect, competence, wisdom, and the products purchased. This disclosure only confirms that parents and children can enter into such contracts when both are understanding the terms and are willing to honor the contract. My parents had seen responsible behavior with less duties and agreements prior with each of their children and treated each transaction as a business; and we knew that they would hold each of us accountable prior to deciding to enter into any agreement with them. If we fail, then we would have the just consequences to endure. I believe that this is key.

Even with this absolute knowledge however; a child who believes that they are entitled and who is unable to take responsibility due to emotional immaturity and their cognitive immaturity-may still hear the warnings, read the conditions, enter into the agreement-then default and blame the parents for their consequence and the price of that can be most hurtful to both child and parent-as the child hurts with their delusional beliefs and the parent suffers the vengeful retaliation and loss of their family.

If or when the child or parent find themselves in pain over this or a like issue-and if either cannot forgive the other's perceived unfair behavior-then it is most advised to seek counseling with a professional to help both to come to a less distorted perception and a state of forgiveness. Only then can the family be restored. At this time, the less people who have been pulled into the conflict with possible false beliefs as to who is at fault-then the easier the transition. Fault is not the issue at this juncture since now we have a fractured and hurting family to heal. Others may then become a hindrance with healing if they are there with blame and harsh judgment towards the other; and it will need to be resolved with appropriate boundaries so that the outsiders will accept the decision of the need to forgive and to heal.

I am here to assist any family who is suffering with this issue. Call and make an appointment: 423-790-4906-speaking with our Office Manager, Steve.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Effective Ways to Pray for Your Marriage

Sunday, July 15, 2018 @ 3:18 PM

You already know you should pray for your marriage on a consistent basis. But sometimes it seems like nothing is changing. Perhaps that's because God's waiting for you to pray for the right things. I know this from personal experience.The unraveling of my own marriage was not something that announced itself with the formality or grandeur of a symphony orchestra.It was more of a quiet, consistent, side note. And an off-key on at that. Slowly over time, other things took priority.

For me, it was becoming a mom, while also trying to build a new business. My days and effort were dedicated to my two babies (one live, one birthed through my mind, computer and Facebook live streams), which left little energy or time for my husband and I. But he didn’t complain, and we were “good” so that pattern and way of living became our norm.

We got used to living parallel lives that would sometimes intersect when it was necessary and convenient for us to do so. In the space that used to be our own we soon found an uncomfortable distance, growing disagreement, and unspoken discontent. Soon, small disagreements turned into bigger arguments which meant days of uncomfortable silent treatment. In the silence, the enemy filled my mind with negative thoughts about my husband and I began to stew in resentment.

Praying for My Marriage?

Let me be honest here. I knew I should be praying for my marriage. But many, many times, I just didn't want to, or if I did it was not as sincere as it should have been. Being angry and being in the "right" felt better than going to God for any correction or pointing out of what I needed to be doing differently myself. Slowly God worked on that area of my thinking and I positioned myself to let Him lead me and give me a desire to pray for my marriage in the way I truly needed to.

It wasn’t until I truly humbled myself before God and humbled myself before my husband that I experienced the transformation that I needed. And to be completely transparent, that transformation is an ongoing process. I’m not 100% there yet, but with what has already happened through my renewed prayers and through the actions I take as a result of those prayers, my marriage is on incredibly solid and happy ground.

And while I can't say exactly what has happened from my husband's perspective, I can share what happened for me as a wife. It started with reading the The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian. What I love about that book is that the first chapter is focused on praying for yourself and the ways God needs to change your heart and attitude about your marriage.

But this, I already knew. These things, I was already praying. And perhaps it was this way of thinking, “that I already knew” that prevented me from uncovering what I needed to uncover. As I started reading, I expected to read what I had heard before. About how to be more loving, kind, compassionate and forgiving. And I was already working on those things. But there came a moment where it was if God, Stormie, and my husband were all in cahoots to get a very critical and very urgent message delivered to me.

Happy Homemaker?

First, she talked about our role as wives and how it’s our responsibility to make sure our home is a “source of contentment, acceptance, rejuvenation, nurturing, rest, and love for your family.” That our home should be a “safe place that builds up your family.” She specifically mentioned asking God to help you keep the house clean, the laundry done, the kitchen in order, the pantry and refrigerator full, and the beds made.

On any other day, these words would have been rejected by me. I’m a modern woman, who expects my husband to be a partner, not my patriarch. I’ve got things to do too, and we should be sharing those duties equally. But it was if God himself breathed on those words and let me inhale them in the true spirit with which they were intended. And I knew I had not been making my home. I had been making my business and neglected the one area that I was designed to rule over.

Husband as the Head?

Next, she talked about how we are to allow our husband to be the head. Oh, my goodness, not the submissive wife thing! Again, I’m a modern woman, who will not let anyone TELL me what to do. But that message, in the way it was intended for me was more about the ways I had been seeking my husband’s guidance and advice, and when it didn’t align with what I really wanted to do, I just did things my own way.

He is not the type of person to really ever TELL me what do to. He just gives his perspective and opinion, and often ends with “but you do what you want to do.” I often misinterpreted those statements because I wasn’t listening to the undertones.

And so, as I did “what I wanted to do” I subtly disrespected the authority and covering provided by my husband’s wisdom. And I ended the year in a difficult place financially in my business because I did not heed his advice.

United as One?

And lastly (at least for me on this day) she talked about unity in marriage. I had been going faster, harder, stronger in my business, when my husband really wanted me to slow down, pause and rest. And in the spirit of being a determined entrepreneur, I chalked it up the enemy trying to prevent me from stepping into all that God had called me to do. I told myself my husband was just the voice of doubt and negativity, and that I had to literally shut out his voice from my mind as I continued to move forward.Good Lord, I’m so grateful God convicted me in that moment and showed me a scripture I’d likely not have come across. It’s 1 Corinthians 11:11. And can I tell you I read this at exactly 1:11 in the afternoon. God will send you signs!

It reads: “Neither is man independent of woman, nor woman independent of man, in the Lord.” Which then somehow led me to find, 1 Corinthians 1:10: "I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought."

Oh. My. God.

I had a major epiphany which immediately took me back to January 2015 when I left my job to pursue my business full time and the year my husband and I launched our first couple’s event. We STARTED this business united, on one accord. And slowly over the years as my impatience, ambition, and need for external validation, I allowed the business to create a wedge between us. Roadblock after roadblock, obstacle, after obstacle, I had not really considered that the key to taking my work to the next level, rested in the unity within my own marriage.

What happened for me in the reading of The Power of a Praying Wife is only one part of the puzzle of putting my marriage back in place. I could talk about how on a simple drive from dropping my children off at daycare, God showed me snapshots of all the ways I was in the wrong in my interactions with my husband, or a 2 hour conversation with my dear friend Ndidi who, as a newlywed, schooled me in ways I would have never expected. Or how reading my very own book, Voices in Your Ear, has made me become a more humble student of my own teachings. I think this experience illustrates that in order to see God move in your marriage in a new way, you have to pray for new things in new ways.

How is God Speaking to You?

This process of restoring my marriage is an ongoing one, where God continues to reveal to me the things I need to know and see. And all I need to do is remain an open vessel for Him to pour into me the very things I need to keep taking the right steps.

Whenever I read a book that helps me through a difficult time, or whenever I speak to someone who has the exact piece of encouragement I need to hear, I’m grateful to God for their obedience. They could have easily not bothered to write, or not bothered to call. But it’s in their act of obedience, that I get the breakthrough I need. And perhaps in my own obedience to the nudge of God to tell my truth here to you in all it’s messy honesty, you might have your own breakthrough and ah-ha moment.

Maybe it’s happened for you already in reading this blog post. Perhaps it’s waiting for you in some future communication. What I do know is that in writing to you now, my intention is to inspire you to turn yourself over to God in prayer for your marriage in a way that you may not had done previously. Because before I could ever receive what Stormie had for me in her book, I had to open my heart to be receptive to receive. And sometimes, that’s really hard to do. Sometimes you don’t want to forgive, or let it go, or find a way to work it out. Sometimes you just want to be right, to have it be your way, and to blame your husband for all his shortcomings. It’s enticing and satisfying to the ego that way.But it grieves God’s spirit. And it makes you fall prey to the real enemy in your marriage, which is never, never your husband.

An Invitation to Prayer

I want to invite you to prayer with me. I want to share some of the specific prayers I've had for my own marriage, and how to pray in a way that truly enables God to transform you from the inside out. Sometimes we pray for our marriage, but nothing happens because we’re not quite right ourselves. We harbor resentment, we are unwilling to forgive, and we think there is only one solution to the issues we face.

But in order for God to do something new in your marriage, you’ve got to give him something new to work with. And that starts with you. You’ve got to give him a spirit that’s willing to be obedient and a mind that’s open to seeing things a different way. You’ve got to give him effort to do your part and to discipline to do what’s right even when you don’t feel like it. You’ve got to give him a willingness to be vulnerable, and a heart that wants to forgive.

If you want to get to that place, and would like to receive strategic and specific prayers to guide you to getting there, you may want to sign up to receive my 5 -Day Marriage Prayer Challenge. Each day you’ll receive a new prayer recording to stretch you, challenge you, and nudge you to grow in mindset, attitude and behavior so that you open the right doors for God to work in your marriage. These are the very prayers I often pray for myself, and I can attest to the move of God within my own heart and mind. I’d love to have you experience the same.

I know that you found this post for a reason. That there's something God wants to show you. One of the ways he speaks to us is through our prayer time with Him. And not just those little cute, quick 2-minute prayers we recite as we're already half asleep in bed.

Maybe you need to go deeper into prayer for yourself. Maybe your mind first needs to be renewed before you ever see any change in your marriage. Maybe you just need a new perspective on what it will take to restore you marriage to a stronger and happier place.

What are you taking away from this time right now?

Post in the comments what's stuck with you the most. And if you found this helpful in any way, please consider sharing it with someone who's marriage you want to see succeed.

Yours in constant prayer,
Dr. Chavonne

Sunday, June 17, 2018

What's on your face?!

Sunday, June 17, 2018 @ 8:12 PM

“Just as water mirrors your face, so your face mirrors your heart.” (Proverbs 27:19 The Message)

Now that is a sobering thought! If I am not at peace with God, myself, and others, my face will reflect my struggle. When I spend time with Jesus, my face reflects Him. When others look at my face what do they see? If I studied your face, what would I see?

If you are sad, I might see liquid pools of pain. In every culture tears are the language of the soul. God placed tear ducts in our eyes because hurt is meant to be shared. When hidden from others, bitterness tends to creep in. Although anger may cover sorrow the face will become lined with hardness.

On the other hand, tears touched by God’s love are mingled with a sweetness that is emitted only from a surrendered heart. For you see, the sweetest perfumes are extracted though tremendous pressure. Myrrh is costly because it takes time for the tree that has been cut to yield its fragrance. Has sorrow softened your heart so that your face reflects Jesus the Man of Sorrows?

Jesus, please transform my heart so that my face bears a strong family likeness of You. Where bitterness has hardened my heart like a rock, please strike it so that water will flow out from my eyes. I am willing for the river of God that brings life to all things to flow through me. I want my expression to be softened by Your comfort. When I am sad or scared, may Your comfort soften my expression. When I am angry, may Your spirit of forgiveness relieve the tightness of holding onto offense. Transform my countenance so that people are drawn to You in me. Amen.

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.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Christian Women's Weekend Inner Healing Retreat

Friday, June 15, 2018 @ 1:29 AM

"WHAT'S IN YOU" Inner Healing Retreat
Eagle Isle Bed and Breakfast
Fremont, Ohio

You are invited to attend a Christian Women's Retreat. "Healed" - Your journey toward emotional wellness. Linette Graddic, M.Ed., LPC, Retreat Host and Speaker; Deb Greves, LPCC, Seminar Presenter; Martina Moore, PhD, Workshop Presenter. Registration and information - MercyCenterGlobal.com or call 216-459-7222. Limited seating.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

The Greatest of All - Love for Self

Wednesday, June 13, 2018 @ 10:48 PM

For many years I lived a life defined by other’s expectations of me. From a very early age I was told I was smart and I spoke well, so instead of engaging in activates that I longed for in my heart like dance and sports I conformed. I read books, participated in plays and basically said and did all the things that were expected of me. It all looked great on the outside and looking back it was not all bad.

It wasn’t until my junior year of high school when I heard the lyrics to Whitney Houston’s song Greatest Love of All that I paused to think, “what if”. Now mind you, it was only a pause – a momentary interruption in the normal ebb and flow of my teenage life. But that brief pause planted the seed of “what if” that allowed me to begin to think a little differently.

Later as a young adult, I can recall sitting in my bedroom miles away from everything familiar on a cold, rainy and just plain dreary day again listening, a little deeper this time, to the lyrics of Greatest Love of All. I was 21-years old and had made the very grown up decision to relocate 1,025.7 miles (15 hours and 21 minutes) awawy from everything I held dear. And again, living a good life but just not fully the life I wanted. This time however, a second song immediately followed. It was Stephanie Mills’ “Home”. Now I know what you’re thinking, “God does not speak through R&B music”. Well, I am here to tell you that on that faithful morning God used the morning DJ on a Milwaukee radio station to play just the right songs at just the right time and in just the right order to get this girl’s attention!

The lyrics that struck a chord in me where:

I decided long ago, never to walk in anyone's shadows
If I fail, if I succeed
At least I'll live as I believe
No matter what they take from me
They can't take away my dignity……
Learning to love yourself
It is the greatest love of all
(Whitney Houston, Greatest Love of All)

AND

Maybe there's a chance for me to go back
Now that I have some direction
(Maybe there's a chance I'll get home)
It sure would be nice to be back at home
Where there's love and affection
And just maybe I can convince time to slow up
Givin me enough time, ooh, in my life to grow up
Time be my friend
And let me start again
(Stephanie Mills, Home)

I won’t say that everything changed overnight, and I immediately began to make decisions without giving a second thought to what others believed. I will say that this revelation started me on a journey of self-discovery. One that has had it’s ups and downs and wins and losses, but a journey that I will never regret, because it has led me to discover the fearfully and wonderfully made woman God designed me to be!

What I have learned and strive every day to pass along to those I encounter and engage with, is that living authentically begins with accepting ourselves as we are, flaws and all. It is living a life where our daily actions align with our beliefs and values. It is being true to ourselves and boldly embracing the amazing person that God has designed us to be!

The Hidden Problem of Cops and Alcohol

Wednesday, June 13, 2018 @ 1:02 PM

Cops. You either love or hate them.

We love them when they rescue Miss Kitty from the storm drain, but not so when they write us a ticket for doing 50 in a 35.Whatever your perspective on cops, consider this: cops have significantly higher rates of alcoholism, along with suicide and divorce, than the general public. Which means that along with the power comes a measure of pain.

Alcohol abuse among cops is both serious and widespread. Some studies estimate that between one-quarter to one-third of all police officers in the U.S. have drinking problems. And it's no coincidence that law enforcement is considered one of the top most stressful occupations in the country.

What makes it so stressful? Interestingly, physical danger doesn't top the list. Among the top stressors are: poor supervision too lenient or too tough); no reward system for a job well done; ambiguous policies and procedures; and a public that doesn't truly understand and often views them harshly.

Well, hey, we all have problems, right? Why don't these cops just take up yoga or see a therapist?

Problem is, it's not how they roll.

Police culture is like...John Wayne! Be strong. Don't let 'em see ya sweat. Never apologize, it's a sign of weakness.

You get the idea, pilgrim.

Booze has been part of cop culture since the first NYPD officers began pounding the beat in 1845. In the days before "patrol" meant riding around in a climate controlled SUV, a nip or two of brandy was essential to spending eight hours on foot post on a cold winter's night.

Drinking also was—and still is—the preferred method of dealing with the stress of the job. See, cops don’t generally like to tell their families about the nasty stuff they deal with. They can try to talk to their civilian friends, but frankly if you haven’t ever walked the walk then you’ll never really understand.

Cynicism and distrust of others is very common given the nature of police work. It’s hard to just walk into some strange therapist’s office and begin spilling your guts.

So they drink alone. And when they get together after work. Because sometimes the only person a cop will talk to, is another cop.

As a former EMT and reserve police officer, I'm blessed to serve members of law enforcement as well as other First Responders in my practice, Milestone Group. This work has included helping these men and women identify their inner strengths and the resources--family, friends, faith--that they have. If you're a cop looking for help, or you know someone who is and you live in Monmouth County, NJ, please give me a call. I'll be happy to help. My number's 732.291.1993.

There's also a wonderful hotline, Cop2Cop, manned by retired law enforcement men and women. If you’re on the job and you think you might like to talk to someone who’s been there, done that, here’s their number: 1.866.Cop.2Cop (1.866.267-2267) and website: http://ubhc.umdnj.edu/cop2cop/main.htm

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Things Are Not Always As They Seem

Tuesday, June 12, 2018 @ 11:28 AM

As a young child I enjoyed dressing up in my moms high heeled shoes, jewelry and any piece of fancy clothing that I could get my hands on. It was like being transported to a magical land of make believe. I would spend hours pretending to be a fairy princess or a celebrity! It was great, but at some point, the make believe would end, the clothes, shoes and jewelry would go back in their proper places and I would once again go back to being Crystal. The little girl that lived on West 6th Street.

Even as a teenager and young adult I would spend hours getting lost between the pages of a romance novel. I would spend hours reading about and dreaming about love everlasting, moonlight kisses and magical romances. Again, this was enjoyable, but there would yet again come a time when I had to return to reality and embrace my life for what is was. Sometimes good, sometimes bad, but most of all tangible and real!

Today as a wife, mother and mental health clinician I still find myself getting lost from time to time in a great day dream. The key word however is dream and the reality that it is just that a series of thoughts, images and sensations that are occurring in my mind, not in my reality.

So often, however, it is hard for many to accept the everyday realities of life. This leads them to hide behind their titles, careers, money, marital status and so on. Many of us on the outside looking in buy into the mask, engage in the superficial conversation and walk away with the belief that because everything looks good it is good. This is so far from the truth!

With the tragic deaths this week of Fashion Designer, Kate Spade and Celebrity Chef and TV Personality, Anthony Bourdain, it has become all to clear that we must pause as a society and take the time to look behind the façade that so many put forth. We must begin today to ask the uncomfortable questions of those we love and often of those we have chance encounters with.

Questions like:
• How are you doing spiritually?
• How is your marriage really going?
• How are you doing with your finances?
• How are you doing with your purity? In both thought and action.
• How are your private thoughts about yourself?
• What do you need most right now?

We can no longer accept the standard polite “I am good” or “things are fine” responses. If we claim to love someone we must be OK with maintaining eye contact during those few moments of awkward silence that often come when we ask the tough stuff.

We must begin to look past materialism and titles when we feel in our gut that something is just not right. Feelings of hopelessness are real. People are hurting. People are dying because of the stigma associated with Mental Illness. We no longer have the luxury of keeping it safely tucked away in the shadows only to be discussed in secret discreet whispers during family gatherings.

According to a 2016 Center for Disease Control Report, suicide claimed the lives of nearly 45,000 people and was listed as the tenth leading cause of death overall in the United States. However, suicide was the second leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 10 and 34 and the fourth leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 35 and 54. In 2016 there were twice as many suicides (44,965) in the United States as there were homicides (19, 362).

When you feel something is not right 9 times out of 10 something is not right. Below are a few warning signs that someone may be having suicidal thoughts:

•Unusual Focus on death – talking openly, dwelling on the topic or researching ways to kill themselves

•Making plans for death – updating their will, giving stuff away, saying goodbye, writing a suicide note

•Becoming withdrawn – avoiding close friends and family, losing interest in activities & social events, becoming isolated

•Showing signs of despair – talking openly about unbearable pain or feeling like a burden to others

•Changes in mood or sleep patterns – depressed, anxious, sad, or angry. They may also be very irritable, moody, or aggressive. They can also suddenly become calm once they have decided to go through with it. They may also sleep a lot more or a lot less

Proverbs 20:5 says “The purpose in a man’s heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out”. We must start today to be that man/woman that will take the time draw out what is really going on within a person.

If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (800-273-8255). It’s always open, and you can speak to a trained counselor.

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.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Five Things You Can Do to Improve Your Relationships Now

Thursday, May 31, 2018 @ 1:49 PM

When individuals seek counseling their relationships are often directly or indirectly affected by the issues they are facing. Counseling can help by providing an objective point of view and tools to help build communication and understanding between people, but you don't have to wait to make some immediate changes that will begin to improve your relationships now. Here are some tips that can help:


1. Learn to listen non-judgmentally. You cannot force another person to change but many people try to. The more you push the more they resist. You might even be able to compel the other person to change, for you, for someone else, or for a secondary gain (such avoiding a breakup) but the truth is, lasting change will only come from an internal transformation.

The renowned psychologist Carl Rogers founder of the "person centered approach" to understanding personality, proposed that all individuals have a concept of the person they should be, what he called the “ideal self”. Given the right environment they will grow toward that “ideal self”. In the wrong environment, that "ideal" is something that they see as continually out of reach.

When a individual doesn't feel valued by others they tend to devalue themselves as well. They can become defensive and resistant to change. That does not suggest that they need others to approve of their behavior, but rather that others listen and try to understand their perspective.

Rogers believed that most people know what they need to change, but the truth often hurts, which is why they tend to push back when pressured. When someone feels valued as a person they are more likely to accept the possibility of change without being pressured.


2. Don’t spend the time another person is speaking formulating your response: Just try listening. If you’re thinking of what you’re going to say next, you’re not really listening. Sometimes, especially during a heated conversation, there is a tendency to ignore what others are saying and focus on why they are saying it, even going after their motivation (“why are you bringing this up now?).

Reacting this way is essentially ignoring the message and attacking the messenger. Thus, healthy communication ends and a conversation becomes a battle of words, with each party defending themselves and attacking the other. At this point the whole point of the conversation may be lost. “What were we talking about actually?”

Show that you are listening by “reflecting”, restating what the other person said in your own words: “What you are saying then is that you feel unappreciated?”.


3. Not every statement requires a response. Don’t “one up” others with your similar or more terrible experience. Learn to be comfortable with silence. Silence gives power to a person’s words. It can encourage the other person to continue talking or go deeper. It can also give power to hurtful words when they are directed toward you. Silence can be more effective at demonstrating that word hurt than than a verbal retort that hits back.


4. Speak using “I” statements. Statements prefaced by "You" tend to be confrontational and critical. For example, “You don't care about me” is more confrontational than “It feels to me as if you don't care". The first assumes the other person is uncaring. The second is a personal statement. There is a difference. You statements tend to be attacks and cause defensiveness. I statements are more effective at keeping communication open and resolving issues.


5. Share power. This doesn’t require much explanation. A healthy relationship involves sharing power. People who continually demand their way usually end up in frequent unsuccessful relationships.

What do your boundaries convey to those around you? {Part 1 - Physical Boundaries}

Thursday, May 31, 2018 @ 12:25 PM

"Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others." - Brene Brown

What do your boundaries convey to those around you? {Part 1}Boundaries have been coming up a lot in sessions these past few weeks, so I felt they were a relevant topic to discuss. I will focus this email on physical boundaries and the next email on emotional boundaries.

I encourage you to take a look at your own boundaries while reading through this and identify where you can build them up. I will guide you through the process of identifying what your boundaries look like, how they make you feel, and how you can strengthen them.

What ARE boundaries anyway?
Many people have not been introduced to the idea of boundaries or what they look like. Boundaries are established by you, based on what helps you feel comfortable and safe with another person in which you are in relationship with. They are totally subjective to each individual person.

What purpose do boundaries serve?
Boundaries are important for all relationships - not just romantic relationships (which many people think of when you mention boundaries). They allow you to acknowledge what you feel and provide safety in relationships.

How do I know what I need?
Most people actually allow more than they are comfortable with, but don't take the time to be mindful of themselves in a safe situation to figure out what their boundary would ACTUALLY look like. Instead they trudge through life being triggered, feeling anxious, and often not being able to enjoy the relationships in their life. What do I mean by this? Well, when I help my clients establish their boundaries, I first ask them to establish a physical boundary - whether this be with items in the room or through a line that they draw on the ground. After they establish their boundary, I ask them to notice their body and see if this physical boundary indeed feels safe for them (our body is our best resource, and often provides great biofeedback). Often times it is discovered that the client in fact ISN'T comfortable with this physical boundary and there is a deeper emotional reason for this.

Whether this be that they are afraid of taking up too much space, so they tend to make their boundary smaller than they are comfortable with.

They never knew that they were allowed to set a boundary or didn't know what that looked like and therefore were experiencing major anxiety whenever someone would come closer than desired.

Maybe they thought that they were setting boundaries by not welcoming the person and being somewhat off-ish, but the person moved toward them anyway.

However, until they took the time to be aware of themselves and establish that their boundaries were often being crossed, they would not have had the opportunity to identify what had been causing the discomfort and anxiety that often occurred in social situations. This exercise empowered each of my clients to recognize that:

1. They have the right to set boundaries with others in their life.
2. This gets to look however they need it to look.
3. Having boundaries is healthy, and they had clarity around why so many situations in their life felt uncomfortable.

They were no longer in the dark and had answers to questions that were lingering, and this was so relieving.

How do I set boundaries?
If through reading this, you wonder if your boundaries need further building and strengthening, I would love to help you do this. However, I don't want you to do it all at once. I will send 2 follow up emails this week to encourage you through this process.

The Importance of Emotional Boundaries

Thursday, May 31, 2018 @ 12:24 PM

When we fail to set boundaries and hold people accountable, we feel used and mistreated. - Brene Brown

A few days ago, we talked about physical boundaries and the importance of taking the time to be aware of what your body is telling you about the physical boundaries that you have set. Today, I want to focus on emotional boundaries.

What are Emotional Boundaries?
One of my favorite sayings is, "you teach people how to treat you". Many people respond to this with, "I can't control how others treat me". You are right, you cannot control others, however, you can control how you respond to the way that others treat you.

Emotional boundaries focus on two things:

1. They focus on what you are willing to accept from another person's behavior.

2. They focus on only taking responsibility for your feelings and emotions and not the other person's emotions. Emotional boundaries can get sticky when we start to take on other's emotions. What do I mean by this?

Do you have relationships in which the other person has no regard for how their comments will affect you? I want to take a moment to empower and encourage you that YOU HAVE A CHOICE! You can choose to stand there and let them treat you that way, to let them call you names, to let them yell at you, but you do not have to. You can demand higher respect for yourself.

Do you have a boundary in place to protect you and your emotions? What does it look like?

Are there things in your relationships that are destructive to you?

A lack of emotional boundaries are:
1. Not being able to say no to someone and sacrificing your own emotions.
2. You are giving, giving, giving, and not receiving anything in return from the relationship.
3. You are being abused - the other person gets to do and say whatever they want and you allow it.
4. You feel emotionally exhausted after engaging in conversation or time with this person.

Do any of these feel relevant in your life?

"Lack of boundaries invites lack of respect." ― Anonymous

Demand Respect for Yourself by Putting Physical Boundaries in Place!

Thursday, May 31, 2018 @ 12:23 PM

Setting boundaries is a way of caring for myself. It doesn’t make me mean, selfish, or uncaring (just) because I don’t do things your way. I care about me, too. - Christine Morgan

You have taken the time to do some self-reflection. How has it been going?


So far, you have taken the following steps:


1. You identified what your physical boundary looks like. I would encourage you to give it as much character as you need to be able to envision it. Red, prickly, a bubble, soft, glass, etc.


2. You decided how far your boundary would span. Was there anything that created discomfort in deciding this? Were you afraid that you might get pushback from someone when setting this boundary?


3. You then practiced putting this boundary in place. While you were practicing, did you verbally express this boundary to those around you?


Ask for What You Need.
The #1 thing to remember when setting a boundary. You are NOT responsible for the other person's reaction/response to your boundary. You are only responsible for doing what is best for you by asking for what you need.


Setting Physical Boundaries
Physical boundaries can encompass any of the following:
1. Your body
2. Personal Space
3. Privacy


Personal Space
You explored one area of setting a physical boundary when you examined how much space you needed to feel comfortable. Now, lets take this a step further. What would it look like if you made others aware of your personal space by setting a boundary? The following are some examples of ways to enforce your boundary:


1. If someone comes into your personal space, you can move away. This shows them through body language that they have come too close.
2. You can say to them, "I am uncomfortable with this amount of space, I am going to take a step back."
3. If they continue to move closer, you can put your hand up, tell them to stop, and move back yourself.
4. If they continue not to respect your boundary, you can walk away.


Boundaries do not have to be rude. You are asking for what you need. Most people will respect that.


Privacy
We all need and deserve privacy. The level of privacy each person needs though is individual. Maybe this means that you are in the bathroom or your bedroom and need privacy. Maybe this means that you have a journal or place in your phone that you keep notes that are personal. The following are some examples of ways to enforce your boundary:
1. Express what you want and need.
(ex. You can say, " I need privacy in my bathroom or bedroom, and I ask that you not come in unless you knock, out of respect for me and my privacy.")


2. You discover that your boundary isn't enough and you need more.
(ex. The person respected your boundary and knocked, but didn't wait until you responded and came in. You can then say, "I appreciate you respecting what I asked for with knocking, would you also wait until I respond, as I also need that time to prepare for you to open the door.")


3. Can I say no to someone after they respected my boundaries?
Yes. You can ALWAYS say no. If someone respects what you have asked for thus far and you still feel like you need further privacy, you can always ask for that. (ex. "Thank you for respecting my boundaries. Now is not a good time, can you come back please?")


The same goes for a journal or private notes in your phone. If someone asks you to read them and you do not want someone to read them. (ex. You can say, "No. Those are my private notes and I do not feel comfortable with you reading them.")


Your Body
Your body is sacred and you get to treat it as so. You get to determine what you are comfortable with and who you are comfortable with.


If you have experienced a boundary violation in this area, I would encourage you to spend extra time around figuring out what feels safe for you.


YOU get to determine what feels safe. Do you feel comfortable letting anyone hug you at any point? Does it matter whether they hug you from the front or come from behind you? Do you need to be in a good spot mentally to accept touch/hugs? What do you need around feeling safe with touch?


You can set boundaries around your body by saying:
"I am not comfortable with you touching me without my permission."
"Please ask my permission or let me know before you come up to hug me."
"I will let you know what I am and am not okay with. I am not okay with you touching me however and wherever you want."
If they are touching you without your permission or aggressively, you can tell them to, "Stop!", push them away, then walk or run away to a place that you feel safe.


In all of three of these areas, there can be different comfort levels. It can change our comfort level if we are the ones initiating touch, the proximity, or level of privacy, in comparison to someone else initiating it. We can feel more comfortable if we initiate and less comfortable with others. When others initiate, it can be unpredictable, which can raise the levels of discomfort. ​

Demand Respect for Yourself by Putting Emotional Boundaries in Place!

Thursday, May 31, 2018 @ 12:21 PM

Whatever you are willing to put up with, is exactly what you will have. ―Anonymous

Let's Review.

So far, you have taken the following steps:

1. You identified times that you feel angry, sad, or guilty in a relationship.

2. You identified situations or people that you may need to set emotional boundaries with.

3. You noticed how you feel after someone crosses your emotional boundary.


Setting Emotional Boundaries
Most people have never been exposed to or taught what healthy boundaries look like. Therefore, this tends to be a foreign concept for many, so If you have felt that during this process, you are most definitely NOT ALONE!

Notice Warning Signs
Are there relationships or situations that you consistently find yourself feeling guilty, angry, or sad? Do you find that you feel disrespected and drained? Do you have a sensation in your body, your gut telling you that something isn't right?These may be warning signs or red flags signifying that a boundary needs to be set. What are the red flags in your relationships?

Notice the Obstacles
It can be easy to neglect and ignore red flags that pop up in hopes that things will get better. It can also feel overwhelming to think about setting a boundary, especially if you have never put one in place. Setting a boundary can also feel unpredictable with not knowing how the other person will respond.

Take some time to acknowledge the feelings that you experience when you think about setting a boundary. Fear and guilt are two common feelings that are experienced when one thinks about enforcing their boundary. What will that person think of me? Will they still want to be around me if I am direct with them?

Stay present with these obstacles that come up for you. If you ignore these red flags and let these obstacles get in the way, they keep you from setting a boundary, leaving you feeling stuck and drained from this relationship.

Give Yourself Permission.
This step is absolutely one of the most important. You have to be willing to acknowledge how you feel and allow those feelings to take priority. Once you have allowed your feelings to be a priority, you can then give yourself permission to set boundaries around your needs. This allows for you to be empowered and stand up for yourself.

Everyone is Responsible for their own happiness
It is not your job to make sure that everyone around you is happy. Bad boundaries exist when you are focused on taking care of others and neglect your own needs. This leaves you feeling exhausted and unfulfilled.

Healthy boundaries allow you to take a step back and remember that you can only control how you feel. You cannot fix or change anyone else. Therefore, you have to let them be responsible for their own happiness.

Own Your Feelings.
Your feelings deserve room in the relationship. However, no one else can decide this or fight for this, except for you. If you are not okay with something, trust your gut. Trust that you know what you need. Be willing to only own your feelings and don't worry about protecting everyone else's. When you start allowing your feelings to be acknowledged, you are doing what is best for you. The weight of the world comes down on you when you carry your and everyone else's feelings. Own your own happiness.

Saying No.
​"I encourage people to remember that “No” is a complete sentence."
― Gavin de Becker
You get to say no if someone is asking you to do something that does not align with your morals or you are simply not okay with. Saying no allows you to stand up and protect what is best for you and doesn't sacrifice your needs. Saying no, protects you from giving and giving and not receiving anything in return.


Also, if someone makes you uncomfortable with how they are treating you, you do not have to stay and take it. You get to say, "I feel disrespected and I will not stand here and let you treat me this way. If you continue to do so, I will walk away, or I will leave."


What are the biggest obstacles standing in your way of setting a boundary?
Are you fearful that the other person won’t respect it?
Do you fear that you will lose the relationship?
Do you fear being an inconvenience to others?
Do you fear that you will feel guilt in setting an emotional boundary?

You best teach others about healthy boundaries by enforcing yours. ― Bryant McGill

What your body is telling you {Sensorimotor Therapy}

Thursday, May 31, 2018 @ 12:19 PM

Do you desire a more present and enjoyable life?
What about the ability to live for each moment and not feel so numb?

I have mentioned to you that I am training for Sensorimotor Psychotherapy currently and will continue to do so throughout the next few months. This therapy is AMAZING and is blowing my mind with how well it works. When we are willing to connect and be open without judgement to what our body needs to communicate, it is able to release in the way that it needs to. We tend to get stuck thinking about how we feel and therefore neglect our body. Often, when you ask someone what they are feeling, they give you a thought. We are a very cognitive society, however, this doesn't give our body the space and acknowledgement it deserves. It has it's own experience with whatever trauma or stress you endured.

When we give our bodies permission to FEEL, we allow for any energy that is pent up to be released, whether that be through movement, emotion, or simply through mindfulness (being present with our body in the moment without judgment). Often times, it can be uncomfortable to allow ourselves to connect with our bodies. Maybe you feel sensations that you would rather ignore, maybe you have pain, or maybe emotions arise that are too overwhelming.

Our bodies are not meant to be sedentary after trauma or stress. Trauma is meant to be released, not held in and suppressed within our bodies. Emotions and sensations are there, whether we want to acknowledge them or not.

If you are a current client, you have maybe heard me tell the story of how a Gazelle handles trauma. When a Gazelle is being chased by it's predator, it is in flight (fight, flight, or freeze). To survive, it's frontal cortex (reasoning part of the brain) has to shut off and it has to flee as fast as it can to survive! While this fleeing is taking place, it's nervous system is pumping cortisol (stress hormone), and adrenaline through it's body. It's heart is racing and the body is working in full force. When the Gazelle is able to escape it's predator, it's body goes into repair mode by shivering it's entire body to "shake off" the trauma that it just experienced. It's life was in danger and it survived. But just because it survived does not mean that the trauma does not still exist within the body.

​The same is true for a Dog. Have you ever sat with a dog shaking through a thunderstorm? Their way of dealing with stress and anxiety is by "shaking it off".
These responses for both the Gazelle and the Dog are instinctual. They don't think about the fact that they need to shake, but rather their body takes care of it for them by doing what it needs to do to get back to a place of calm.

We as humans love to suppress any effects that we have from traumatic experiences, because it is too uncomfortable to allow ourselves to feel what comes after this kind of experience. Some common things that people face after a traumatic experience are: anxiety attacks, they feel like they could crawl out of their skin, they are hyper aware of their surroundings, and they have difficulty falling asleep. Their body is ON, full force, all of the time. This state is EXHAUSTING, it gets old, and it doesn't allow for the person to live their normal life. This is frustrating and people want the quickest possible way to get it to stop, so they can feel normal again. Suppressing these emotions and not acknowledging what our body just experienced does nothing, but trap the trauma. The trauma gets stuck and doesn't have the ability to move, until we give it the opportunity to do so.

So, what can we learn from these other creatures? Well, that we may need to give ourselves time, space, and the ability to check in with our bodies and acknowledge how they have faced trauma or stress. Once we have given ourselves the time and space to do so, we can allow for any releasing that needs to happen whether it be through movement, releasing of emotion, or simply acknowledging sensations that may feel stuck.

Therapy is tough, especially when confronting emotions and sensations that we would rather ignore. But the freedom that comes from allowing our body to not be held captive anymore, is refreshing. It allows you to live again. The more we are able to be mindful, the more we can check into the moment and enjoy our experiences to the fullest extent.

​Are you feeling stuck? Do you find yourself in thought and unwilling to get connected with your body? Are you ready to break free and allow yourself permission to not feel trapped anymore?

Mindfulness is a way of befriending ourselves and our experience.
- Jon Kabat-Zinn

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Escaping the Pain of Offense: Empowered to Forgive from the Heart

Sunday, May 20, 2018 @ 7:59 PM

My wife had a toothache that developed into unbearable pain the day before the recent holiday. Her dentist’s office was closed for an extended time and she decided to make an appointment with another dentist who handles emergency situations. The x-rays from the visit revealed a likelihood of an infection that was treated with a medicine. Thankfully not a root canal needed, but the pain drove her to seek relief even though the timing was not good.

Emotional pain can be similar to a physical pain in many ways. Disappointment, worry, anxiety, depression, or feelings like abandonment, shame, fear, powerlessness, damaged, invalidation, and hopelessness are common and come in varying degrees for different people. The pain can be intense. It pops up unexpectedly. It can pop up with bad timing. If you try to ignore it, it will only get worse. Sometimes the source is hard to identify. The only lasting solution is not a quick fix, but takes time to heal. For true healing to occur, the root cause must be identified and dealt with properly.

Root causes of emotional pain are often not easy to determine. It may take the help of a “soul doctor” (counselor) to get better. The root cause of emotional pain almost always involves some sort of offense. At the very least, it takes the form of a perceived threat to a person’s comfort, pleasure, or power. At worst, an offense is a gross injustice or disregard for truth. In my experience as a counselor, I have found that when a person is willing to do the hard work of identifying and rooting out offense, it transforms their inner life for lasting results. In the previous few articles I have written a lot about offense, but this article deals with the best solution; that is forgiveness.

The things I learned about forgiveness during the 3 year research project to culminate my seminary degree, changed my life forever. I still consider myself a learner on the topic. One only learns about forgiveness if he practices forgiveness. Since offense creates the need for forgiveness, and since offense is part of an inescapable human condition, the only way to learn about forgiveness is to practice it. How does one practice forgiveness? As an answer to this question I authored the book called Escaping the Pain of Offense: Empowered to Forgive from the Heart.

Below is an overview of the book. The goal is to help people in three aspects of life: understanding what true forgiveness is (and isn’t), applying this understanding to inner life change, and applying it to relationships with people. I divided the content into three sections of three chapters each.

The first section, Part One, is called Foundations. The chapters in Part One are called The Cycle of Offense, Misunderstandings, and Divinely Initiated (the basic theology of forgiveness with many biblical references).

Part Two of the book is called Transformational Healing: Between God and Man. This section is the heart of the matter, distinguishing forgiveness from reconciliation. The simplest definition I have discovered for forgiveness is “surrendering to God the right to judge.” Forgiveness is a matter of getting your heart in the right place before God, and nothing (or at least very little) to do with how the offender responds (or doesn’t respond). The three chapters of Part Two are called Receiving God’s Gift, Surrendering to God, and Trusting God for Change.

Part Three, applying forgiveness to relationships, is called Conflict Resolution: Between God, Man, and Fellowman. Whereas forgiveness is for the offended person restoring right relationship with God, reconcilation adds the offender to the mix. The Bible is clear about the necessity for brothers and sisters in Christ to relate to one another in love, peace, and harmony as much as possible. When God’s Gift of forgiveness is truly received in our hearts, we are genuinely prepared for the reconciliation to be pursued. Reconciliation requires two hearts surrendered to a higher judgment, not just one. In some cases complete reconciliation is not possible (eg. Death, imprisonment, lack of safety), but again, the freedom of forgiveness (escape from the pain of offense) is still possible. The three chapters in Part Three are called Forgiveness and Reconciliation, Reconciliation in Relationships, and Conclusions. I refer to marriage, church, and community relationships for practical application.

At the end of each of the three sections I include a few pages of material to encourage looking into more detail on the topic. These sections are called Follow-up and Practice. I include End Notes that correspond to numbered references throughout the text. These references are included in an eight page Bibliography at the end of the book. These are great resources for further study of the topic. At the end of the book, I also include a Study Guide. This study guide presents questions for further exploration and deeper reflection. The questions can be used for self study or group study.

Finally, the book includes three Appendices. Appendix A includes a number additional resources (sample prayers included) that have been meaningful in my own journey and have helped others in our counseling ministry. Appendix B is about my personal healing journey including forgiveness. Appendix C is the content of a pamphlet entitled Overcoming an Abortion that has been distributed by the thousands and helped many find Christ Jesus as a Refuge for their pain. It highlights the truth of Jesus being our pain bearer and our escape for the debt of our offenses and payment for the debt of offenses against us. No matter how much guilt or shame we carry, Jesus is our Refuge, and best solution to the pain.

You may have heard of the three typical responses to emotional pain; flight, fight, or freeze. Escaping the Pain of Offense is not a book about escaping in the sense of a flight (nor fight, nor freeze) response to pain. The above details about the book show that substance and sufficient effort is necessary to become a victor and not a victim. The book is different from other books on the topic of forgiveness in that it emphasizes the inner life transformational growth journey. Personal growth occurs by embracing forgiveness as an ongoing process of changing our inner person.

Forgivenss does not solve all the problems a person may have, but it prepares the heart for answers to be implemented. I recommend John C. Maxwell’s book called The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth. Maxwell’s book contains a chapter called “The Law of Pain.” He shares how to turn pain into a growth experience. Maxwell elaborates on 5 specific ways to grow through struggle. I would add (perhaps as a per-requisite) “Seek Corrective Understanding and Consistent Practice of Forgiveness” to his list below.

You grow best when you::

1. Choose a Positive Life Stance

2. Embrace and Develop Your Creativity

3. Embrace the Value of Bad Experiences

4. Make Good Changes after Learning from Bad Experiences

5. Take Responsibility for Your Life

Maxwell’s book will help you with many aspects of personal growth. But all the growth expertise in the world will not help a heart that is unwilling (or lacks the emotional capacity) to change. And it’s not all or nothing. Any part of your heart that resists positive change will hold back the entire growth process. The human heart changes bit by bit, incident by incident, offense by offense, forgiven offender by forgiven offender, etc. For the Christian, fully surrendering judgments to God is the path to growth. A mere decision does not qualify as full surrender. Thoughts and beliefs must be accompanied by surrender of the soul (mind, will, and emotions). Growth is only as current as the last time you allowed God to take his rightful place as Judge in life circumstances.

Is there an area of your life in which you know growth needs to happen? Maxwell’s book is filled with very insightful practical application to help. But is there a part of your heart that feels pain, stress, or negative feelings mentioned at the beginning? I wrote the book Escaping the Pain of Ofense: Empowered to Forgive from the Heart to help people find freedom through forgiveness. The book has helped many people already. For those who think their level of understanding and practice of forgiveness is adequate, I encourage you to rethink whether your beliefs are holding you back from God’s best for your life. I am not saying this to sell more books. I am sold on the idea that greater measures of truth about forgiveness are essential for positive change. My book is available online or by contacting me. I am so convinced of the message that if you cannot afford to buy a copy, I will make it available at cost. Write me and remind me of this offer. Check out more about the book at http://book.bluerockbnb.com .

Also write me with your feedback or requests for more input on the topic. May this not only be the beginning of a successful New Year, but also a new beginning for a brighter future of real, healthy, and new growth in your life!

This article is published at:
http://authoredhersh.blogspot.com/2018/01/escaping-pain-of-offense.html

More on simpliar topics is on the blog site.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

The LGBTQ Need Stronger Family Support

Thursday, April 19, 2018 @ 9:38 AM

Sitting on the couch, you are stunned. The news isn't exactly surprising, but your heart doesn't know that. Fear, nervousness, the concern over how someone in your Sunday School will react... all these emotions and thoughts flood your mind. Then you think, will I ever see grandkids? Who can I talk to about what to do about all this?

For many families, revealing issues with an LGBTQ family member can stress their support networks and challenge beliefs. Things that used to be outside the family or theory get up close and personal. For a christian family, situations like this can challenge their religious beliefs, and cause conflict within the family and in figuring out how to put feet to their beliefs. Finding support at church can be challenging or at least uncertain in how the family will be supported or not. What happens when struggling families don't find the support they need?

LGBTQ children comprise 46% of the homeless population*. The Durso/Gates study published in 2012 showed that service providers for these homeless children indicated 7 in 10 clients had experienced rejection by their family and 54% experienced abuse in their family. The National Alliance on Mental Health states “LGBTQ youth are 4 times more likely and questioning youth are 3 times more likely to attempt suicide, experience suicidal thoughts or engage in self-harm than straight people. Between 38-65% of transgender individuals experience suicidal ideation.”** Regardless of worldview, these children are important to our families and to our communities at large. And our society watches us to see how we care for our children. Strengthening and maintaining connections within the family provide these children with the protection, guidance and support they need.

I understand these issues in a very intimate way. My father was a pastor in a denomination that moved to ordaining openly gay pastors. He left gracefully not wanting to cause division or conflict. He lost a lot, personally and professionally for his personal beliefs. A few years later, my brother came out as being in a longterm gay relationship. Throughout the next few years, my family worked to maintain our relationships while still openly communicating about our beliefs. This process was not easy but boy is it worth it! My brother and his husband come to family gatherings, have joined a church, and he continued to see a relationship with Christ as possible and positive. He even shares his faith with their children. He has always been one of my favorite people.

Sharing my story and feelings about maintaining a relationship with a family member whose beliefs are not mine feels powerful. Helping other Christians to maintain these critical relationships by sharing the comfort I've received is a calling I can't ignore.

If you would like to learn more, go to our website. The group is for anyone over 18 who is looking for support in a situation like this. We will talk about our struggles openly and share stories that will help give you hope. And we will relate to the intense feelings you may be having about this topic. Meetings will start when 3 members join.


*Durso, L.E., & Gates, G.J. (2012). Serving Our Youth: Findings from a National Survey of Service Providers Working with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Youth who are Homeless or At Risk of Becoming Homeless. LosAngeles: The Williams Institute with True Colors Fund and The Palette Fund.
**https://www.nami.org/find-support/lgbtq