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Starting Therapy Without Getting Spooked

Starting something new is almost universally scary, at least a little. Therapy is no exception. In fact, everyday I come to appreciate more and more how truly brave it is to make the decision to meet with a stranger for the first time to potentially discuss the most personal of matters. There just aren’t many forums for this type of talk in our society.  Frankly, there is not much encouragement to talk about deep and potentially unflattering emotional material in the “real world.” And yet, what I (and hopefully my clients too) have come to realize is that it is an absolute necessity to talk about hard stuff in a constructive way. Letting it circle our brains over and over again is generally what a lot of us do. That’s less than effective. All that spinning leaves us awake at     . . . read more

Easy Stress Relievers

Stress is a very normal part of our everyday lives. Probably everyone except especially pampered pets are subjected to some amount of stress. So becoming skilled at finding ways to knock it down a notch or two is incredibly important. We all know that chronic stress is terrible for our physical and emotional health. In the interest of your health, I’ve brainstormed some fun and easy ways to cope more effectively. Please share your ideas as well! Notice topics of interest and allow yourself some time to nurture these interests. It could be reading crime mysteries, watching documentaries on ancient cultures, or bird-watching. Having something that’s just for you because you like it is healthy! Laugh. I don’t care if you have to YouTube a funny video of a talking dog. Find something to laugh at and you’ll feel better     . . . read more

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