Silver Linings Counseling

Helping you find your silver lining


What do you have to feel depressed about?

Posted on May 24, 2019 at 1:05 PM Comments comments (0)

A common misperception about depression is that it only happens to an individual who is struggling with difficulties in their current environment/situation. It is very possible that individuals will suffer from depression because of current difficulties, but depression tends to be much more complicated than that. A large majority of my clients come into my office stating “I don’t know why I am depressed. I have a good life. I SHOULD be happy.” Hearing “what do you have to feel depressed about?” from a friend or family member magnifies feelings of guilt and questions whether the individual has a valid reason to be depressed.

Instead of saying “what do you have to feel depressed about?” Try saying: “tell me more about your depression” or “do you understand the root of your depression?” or “how can I help? I am here for you.” These statements show interest in knowing more about the individuals depression without questioning it’s validity.

Stay tuned for my blog next week titled "Get it together". 


Erin Touchette MA, LLP

5 Minute Trauma Healer

Posted on May 17, 2019 at 12:10 AM Comments comments (1)

Trauma not only disrupts the connections between the neurons in the brain, it also causes us to lose touch with our bodies. If the trauma is a physical one, that makes sense! We can understand the way pain changes physical function. But we don’t often recognize how much psychological pain impacts the body. Research shows a link between childhood emotional, physical, and sexual abuse and chronic physical pain and health problems later in life.

So let’s get back in touch with the body by practicing a short muscle relaxation activity every day to increase muscle awareness, and decrease and prevent anxiety, panic, flashbacks, and anger. As always, be kind to yourself! If any of the following moves are physically or emotionally painful, just skip it and move on to the next one. No one’s giving a grade, and you benefit just as much from 4½ minutes of practice!

For each step, hold the tightened position for a count of 5, then release and focus on the feeling of warmth, tingling, and relaxation in that space. At the end, tighten your whole body for a good count of 10, then sit a little longer in the full-body relaxation. Notice how your brain feels when your body lets go of all that tension!

1. Curl your toes

2. Next, point the toes to the sky, tightening your calf muscles

3. Pull your upper thighs together

4. Tighten that tushie!

5. Suck in those abs

6. Show off your bisceps

7. Raise your shoulders to your ears

8. Smile as wide as you can

9. Squeeze your eyes shut tight

10. All together now!

This progressive muscle relaxation exercise can increase awareness of where you carry your physical tension, as well as the ability to relax those areas on-command. That ability to relax your body when you are under stress, can reduce the intensity and duration of panic, flashbacks, and anger. BONUS: If you do this in bed at night, it can help you calm down for more restful sleep.

Written by Jamie Overbaugh, LMSW

"I know how you feel."

Posted on May 9, 2019 at 10:55 AM Comments comments (0)

People often state “I know how you feel” in an effort to help someone feel like they are not alone. This can be helpful at times but it can be a risky statement. Stating “I know how you feel” makes some unsafe assumptions. The first assumption is; “I have felt the same as you feel right now and I understand.” The problem with this assumption is that it is impossible to know for sure that you have felt this way. Even if you truly have felt this way before, it minimizes the person's experience in that moment. The second assumption is that you know the entire story. Often, parts of the story are left out due to privacy reasons or embarrassment. Believe me, you probably don’t know the whole story. Even as a therapist I try not to assume that I know the entire story. I have had many client come into my office and state in frustration “everyone keeps saying ‘I know how you feel’ but they don’t. They have NO idea how I feel.” Instead of saying “I know how you feel” try saying “that must be very difficult”, -or- “I can’t even imagine how you must feel right now” -or- “wow, you really have had a difficult day” -or- “I am sorry your day has been so horrible.” These statements show understanding without saying “I understand”. They validate and show acceptance of the individual’s emotion. Lastly, these statements leave room for the individual to elaborate and open up more.

Erin Touchette MA, LLP

Coming up next week: "What do you have to feel depressed about?"

"Say this, not that." Supporting someone with depression.

Posted on May 3, 2019 at 7:20 AM Comments comments (0)

“You shouldn’t feel that way.”

When we are grasping to support our friends or family members who are suffering from depression, in desperation, we often fall into the trap of telling them “you shouldn’t feel that way.” We mean this as a way to comfort, but instead we are likely causing more pain. The statement “you shouldn’t feel that way” is actually being received as: “it isn’t OK to feel that way” or “you are not justified in the way you feel” or “your feelings are wrong.” Instead of creating an atmosphere of support, this statement creates an atmosphere of judgement. Ultimately, if an individual experiencing depression hears “you shouldn’t feel that way” frequently enough he or she will stop reaching out for help. Instead, try statements such as “I am sorry that you feel sad.” -or- “It’s ok to feel sad.” -or- “is there anything that I can do to help you feel better?” These statements are validating statements that will provide a safe environment and will build trust. 

Erin Touchette MA, LLP

This is the first of a series of posts. Stay tuned for tip #2 “I know how you feel.”

Healing the painful past: Am I ready to tackle the past?

Posted on April 17, 2019 at 4:20 PM Comments comments (0)

Are you ready to talk about trauma?

When it comes to the painful past, my clients often say the same things the first time we meet:

1. Let the past stay in the past, it’s over and I don’t want to dwell on it,

2. I know other people have it “worse” than I do, so I should just get over it, and

3. I’m scared to talk about it because I don’t know if I can handle those feelings

As a trauma survivor, I can appreciate those thoughts and fears, and recognize them as symptoms of post-traumatic stress. As a trauma therapist, I’m also fascinated by the science of the human brain, and how it is capable of healing.

Our brains physically change through a process called neuroplasticity. Trauma trains the brain to avoid triggers which cause pain by creating new neuropathways. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) develops out of this properly functioning mechanism in the brain which helps us avoid pain. For people who experience post-traumatic symptoms, that mechanism becomes over-active, and needs a little re-training to improve function and wellness.

Many people believe that talking about the details of their trauma is the only way to heal. There is no pill that can fix the past, and research shows that talk therapy is the leading treatment for PTSD. However, this does not mean you need to talk about the details of your trauma the first time we meet. Or the second. Or ever! There are coping strategies which can help you to feel better quickly without ever disclosing any information about what happened. I recommend seeing a therapist who uses trauma-informed techniques to maximize your outcomes.

Once you have a toolbox of coping skills to work with, you may find you feel more comfortable beginning to share your experience. Again, talking about it is not essential for healing, though many people find it to be helpful. It can be hard, but freeing.

Still not sure?

If the idea of opening up to a stranger is a bit overwhelming, I still appreciate that fear, and also encourage you to challenge the urge to avoid!

There is wonderful literature about trauma treatment if you want to start your work at home. I highly recommend starting with something that focuses on the physical body and how we carry our stress. Some of my favorites are The Body Keeps the Score by Dr. Bessel Van der Kolk, Overcoming Trauma Through Yoga by David Emerson and Dr. Elizabeth Hopper, and The Art of Healing from Sexual Trauma: Tending Body and Soul through Creativity, Nature, and Intuition by Naomi Ardea.

If you worry that learning about trauma will trigger flashbacks or panic, I hope you will consider reaching out to a trauma specialist to guide you through some basic coping strategies to avoid re-traumatization. Take good care of yourself on your healing journey. If you are ready to get started, contact me at Silver Linings Counseling to schedule an individual consultation.

Jamie Overbaugh, LMSW, CCPT

A Therapeutic Review of the Movie "Bad Moms"

Posted on August 5, 2016 at 12:25 AM Comments comments (0)

Last night, myself and a group of moms went out to watch the movie “Bad Moms.” Wow, what a movie! The movie was very funny, very inappropriate, and very touching. I could relate to this movie in two ways: as a mom and as a therapist.


What I found interesting was the different “mom” personalities that we witnessed in the movie. There was “the stay at home mom” that was so lost in being a mom she did not know herself. “The absent mom” that was uninvolved and disconnected from her child’s life. “The career mom” who was trying to maintain a career and be a good mom to her children. Lastly, “the PTA mom” who showed up to all the events and took everything to the next level.


The movie takes the personalities and magnifies them in such a way that makes the plot highly unlikely yet hilarious and enjoyable to watch. The touching part of the movie is that as the mom personalities are battling it out they begin to recognize that they are all the same. They all love their children and are working very hard to protect their children while making ends meet.


The moms begin to join together and as they do this they begin to make positive changes. As the moms are developing and learning about themselves, they begin to recognize changes in their children, husbands, and bosses.


Interestingly, this movie essentially outlines how people can develop by investing time in therapy. It is an important development - instead of running around like a lunatic in the grocery store because you have pushed yourself beyond your breaking point (a very dramatic and hilarious part of the movie). For those frequently finding themselves in these breaking point situations, it may be beneficial to look into individual therapy as a way to learn more about yourself.


Part of the therapeutic process is to help you identify your personality traits. The next step is to identify how you can use these traits to strengthen certain areas of your life. The last step is to recognize how these personality traits may hinder you in your personal development as well as your relationships with other people. You can use this knowledge to help with reducing depression, reducing anxiety, raising self-esteem, developing anger management skills, and developing healthy relationships. As you learn more about yourself, your life will change in ways you did not even know was possible.


So should you watch the movie “Bad Moms?” Yes! There is a lot to be learned from this movie! Just keep the kids at home.


Erin Touchette, MA, LLP


Change isn't Easy: Trust the Process

Posted on July 19, 2016 at 12:00 AM Comments comments (0)

Each person brings a set of hopes and dreams to the first therapy session. He or she is asked to take a chance and share what a better life would look like. For some, that means worrying less, sleeping better, and laughing more. For others, it means finding a place to learn about themselves and trying out new ways of relating to others. What I have come to notice is that despite having a goal for seeking therapy, few people know just what to expect from therapy or understand how the therapy process works.


The therapy process takes place within a relationship between the client and the therapist. For me, that means that my clients get to learn something about me, but mostly, they get to feel what it is like to have someone really wanting to understand them and work beside them as they figure out the next steps to reaching their goals. Through the relationship I create with each client, each client is able to sort through ideas, gain insights, learn skills to manage problems or symptoms, and become empowered to direct their own path to wellness.


Sometimes I sit with clients and see them struggling with feelings of inadequacy or self-blame because they feel they “haven’t done enough to get better.” Sometimes I sit with clients who feel that I have not done enough to “solve the problem” or have not told them what to do. For clients struggling to make progress, it is important to remember that change is a process.


The process of change takes time. Therapy is hard work. Being vulnerable and taking chances to act in new ways is scary…but, the process of therapy can lead to lasting change and personal growth. The process of therapy takes time and sometimes takes unexpected turns as goals are revised, as life transitions take place, and as people experience new events. Learning more about ourselves, recognizing our strengths and weaknesses, and working to improve our lives is a courageous endeavor and requires us, therapists and those seeking therapy alike, to trust the process.


Dustin Shepler, PhD, LP, HSP


How do I know I need therapy? My life is so good but I feel unhappy.

Posted on July 11, 2016 at 5:15 PM Comments comments (0)

As a therapist, I often hear the statement, “I don’t even know why I am here, I feel like I am wasting your time. Do you think I need to be here?” Generally, my response to this question is “yes.” Therapy is not just for people with a diagnosable mental illness. Therapy is helpful for a whole host of reasons. If someone feels the need to seek out a therapist, then there is a reason and a purpose for therapy in that person's life.


In my experience I have found that the people who question whether or not they need therapy are the people who benefit the most from it. These clients tend to be the clients that are very high functioning in all areas of their lives, however, for some reason they are struggling with anxiety, depression, or relationship problems. These people often ask me, “why am I so unhappy? I feel like my life is so good. I have everything I want and need.” Through therapy, we are able to find the answer to this question. Simply understanding the underlying cause for the onset of symptoms often relieves the symptoms. If the symptoms are not relieved, then we are able to identify positive coping mechanisms to reduce the severity.


If you find you are struggling with depression, anxiety, or relationship problems, then it may be time for you to invest the time in therapy. I have found that weekly therapy for six months to one year, depending on the severity of symptoms, can help to reduce, if not eradicate, the symptoms completely.


Erin Touchette, MA, LLP


Therapy & the Golden Years

Posted on July 7, 2016 at 2:40 PM Comments comments (0)

Most people look forward to the Golden Years, especially after raising families or retiring from the workforce. It can be a very positive time in our lives with a shift from former responsibilities and routines to a positive focus on personal goals which can include discovering new hobbies/interests or enhancing creativity, self-exploration, and developing social networks. As the Golden Years expand and longevity becomes our “new norm,” there will be more time to enjoy these fulfilling activities. As a result, our lives can be filled with new meaning and purpose, hope, and positive mental health and well-being.


Most people face some sort of challenge when transitioning and adjusting to the Golden Years. There can be an increase in grief or loss as we age (loss of a spouse, family members, or peers). Retirement could also be seen as a loss. Other challenges that may arise include: the questioning of our own mortality as well as our sense of purpose, an increase in health issues, changes in cognitive abilities, feelings of loneliness, new financial difficulties, and the role of caregiver to a loved one. As a result, many of us could feel overwhelmed, anxious, depressed or develop other mental health concerns.


Therapy can help older adults cope with the adjustment and transition to the Golden Years. It has become less stigmatized with an increase in acceptance as life expectancy expands. Many people at this stage of life tend to take therapy more seriously with the realization that time is limited, and they are able to obtain results more quickly than younger people do. It can help ease the transition to the Golden Years by facilitating the development of coping skills to help manage emotions more effectively. Therapy can also help improve communication skills, provide a support system, help to discover new areas of meaning and purpose or creativity, establish personal goals, facilitate healing from trauma and loss, work on self-discovery, and help to process fears that may be associated with facing one’s own mortality.


At Silver Linings Counseling, we have caring and compassionate therapists who strive to assist you, or a loved one, transition and adjust to this next step in your life. If you need some assistance, please, let us help you find your “Silver Lining” in the Golden Years!


Megan Atkinson, MA, LLP