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Emotional “Weight Lifting”

There’s a new gym near where I live. I’m feeling inspired by watching the very fit people walking in and out. Lately, I’ve considered hiring a personal trainer to help me out. I want to sleep better, have more energy, and be a little stronger. These seem like reasonable goals, right? A very astute person said to me recently that therapy is like personal training: its something you do to be more fit and well, not something you do because you are unwell or somehow lacking. I think this is a great comparison. It’s perfectly wise to hire a professional to help with your physical fitness. It’s similarly prudent to hire a professional to improve your emotional and interpersonal well being. Yes, there is some hard work involved, but with support and encouragement improvement is very attainable. Fall is a     . . . read more

Validation in Action

Many people seek counseling when there’s a rift in one of their major relationships. Whether the relationship has been deteriorating for decades or just suddenly came apart- there is one ingredient I always recommend as a first start to repairing things: validation. Validation is the act of acknowledging that you can see how someone is thinking and feeling and why they might think and feel that way. It’s not agreeing or backing down. It’s really putting yourself in their shoes for a moment and being aware of what’s going on for that other person. It’s simple and it’s powerful. Almost everyone responds well to feeling validated. It usually opens them up to being able to validate you in return. However, it does require practice, patience, trial and error, and then even more practice. So, I’ll give you the quick-start version:     . . . read more

It’s Spring. Time to Lighten Up!

Now that we’ve all survived the winter and likely tackled some seriously boring adult responsibilities like spring cleaning and preparing taxes, its time for a shift in mentality. The warmer weather is not just for lightening up your wardrobe, its also time to lighten up your spirit. Spring is a great time to rediscover fun, joy and humor. My belief is that good mental health is achieved by making light-heartedness part of everyday life. It seems to me that most of us have lost touch with good old-fashioned fun. What is that exactly? I think its about appreciating what we have. Its about taking a step back and looking at things in a more humorous, warmer, and wonder-filled way. Above all, its about doing things that bring us joy. Maybe the sunshine is bringing out the Polly Anna in me,     . . . read more

10 Ways to Stay Connected to Your Teen

I have about three months of parenting experience so far. At first a child’s needs are fairly straight forward. She needs to eat, sleep, be cuddled, and have her diaper changed. I’m just now getting the hang of it the majority of the time. However, my experience working with many families suggests that just when you get these basics down, the needs change. Being a parent means keeping up with changes faster than you ever expected. By the time they are teenagers it means trying to keep up with their complicated lives, relationships, technology, and activities. Frankly, its never been harder. My observation, which researchers confirm, is that the parent/child relationship is one of the most crucial factors in how teens fare through their adolescent years. So while life is faster and more complex than ever before, parents can help.     . . . read more

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