|Posted on February 7, 2017 at 2:55 PM||comments (1)|
It is everywhere! Walk into any store and you are hit with an explosion of magnificent hues of reds; whether it be heart shaped boxes of chocolates, a sea of roses and balloons, or Hallmark cards with loving sentiments. The jewelry stores entice us with advertisements for brilliant diamond rings and marriage proposals, while the restaurants are full of delectable delights for romantic dinners. Valentine’s Day symbolizes the celebration of our love for that special someone in our life.
It can; however, be a completely different experience for some people who are single. Walking into the “sea of red” in a store could be a reminder that they are alone, or trigger such feelings as grief over the loss of a spouse or partner, sadness and anger over a divorce or relationship that did not work out, or even hopelessness that one has not found their soul mate yet.
How could Valentine’s Day be positive or beneficial for single people? One way could be shifting the focus to the relationship that we have with our self. This is called the aspect of self-love and it is a sacred journey of appreciation for oneself. It grows from actions that support our psychological, physical and spiritual growth. Self-love is dynamic and enables us to have: compassion for ourselves, acceptance of our weaknesses, confidence with our strengths, definition of personal meaning and purpose, value in our core beliefs and the ability to live intentionally. Whether we have contemplated self-love or are already in the process of discovering it, this is one of the most important relationships you will ever have! Valentine’s Day is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate our love for others, but it is also a beautiful reminder to love ourselves first! Self-love can be a gift that lasts a lifetime.
The following includes several ways to practice self-love in our lives:
• Practice Mindfulness
• Create Purpose & Meaning
• Assertiveness for Needs & Wants
• Respect & Express your Feelings
• Set Healthy Boundaries
• Honor & Practice Spirituality
• Increase Awareness & Insight
• Practice Self-Respect
• Practice Self-Forgiveness & Learn from the Past
• Practice Self-Acceptance
• Self-Care (nutrition, exercise, sleep hygiene, intimacy, social interactions, etc.)
• Take Responsibility for Your Actions
• Live Intentionally
Single people could also celebrate Valentine’s Day by sharing their love with those in need. There are plenty of volunteer opportunities available in our communities such as homeless shelters, foodbanks, Boys and Girls Club, etc. There are also a lot of animal shelters that would benefit from a Valentine’s Day visit. Volunteering connects us with the community and makes it a better place. Even the smallest tasks done in love can make the biggest differences in the lives of people, animals, and organizations in need. Volunteers are said to have better health (lower mortality rates, greater functional ability, and lower rates of depression later in life), more empathy, meaning and purpose, stronger social bonds and an overall increase in feelings of happiness and love. Volunteering on Valentine’s Day is an act of love that not only benefits the receiver, but also the giver.
Being single on Valentine’s day can be a great opportunity to celebrate the love of self and others. Consider the benefits of self-love or collective love through community involvement. The power of love is amazing, and transforms every life that it touches!
Megan Atkinson, MA LLP
|Posted on August 29, 2016 at 11:45 AM||comments (0)|
Silver Linings Counseling is proud to announce that Ron Shier, MA, LPC and Andrea
Gross, LMSW have recently joined our practice.
Ron has worked in the mental health field for over 2 years. He has experience working with
adolescents, adults, and couples. He works with a wide variety of issues from
codependency and relationship issues to depression and anxiety. Ron takes a proactive
approach with treatment, and helps his clients identify concrete goals, while providing the
necessary support to help them make positive changes in their lives. He fosters a
therapeutic relationship that includes trust and support, and creates a safe environment for
his clients to develop an action plan and learn new coping skills.
Ron specializes in the following:
• Christian Counseling
• Codependent Relationships
• Couples Counseling
• Drug and Other Addictions
• Trauma Resolution
Andrea has worked in the mental health field for over 18 years and has extensive
experience working with clients of all ages in various settings (foster care, community
mental health, and outpatient facilities). She also managed an out-patient therapy and
psychiatry program, behavioral program, and supports coordination program for individuals
with developmental disabilities. Andrea has also been trained in Trauma Focused
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy during a year-long training initiative through the State of
Michigan in Lansing.
Her specialties include, but are not limited to, the following:
• Life Transitions
• Peer Problems/Social Skills
• Relationship Counseling
• Trauma Resolution
|Posted on August 5, 2016 at 12:25 AM||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.
|Posted on July 25, 2016 at 2:20 PM||comments (0)|
Parenting school-aged children over the summer can be a challenge for any parent. For nearly ten months out of the year, we have a routine and a strict schedule where we are typically very busy managing our own personal and professional lives. It is difficult to switch gears mid-June as all the busy-ness seems to come to a screeching halt. There are so many concerns that plague the minds of many parents over the summer. How much studying or learning should my kids be doing so they do not “fall behind?” How much play time and free time should I give my kids so they can learn to entertain themselves and get all the value from the experience of play? How do I keep them from being bored, being rambunctious, and making me lose my mind?
These worries alone can put a good deal of unnecessary stress on you and your family during a time that is supposed to be fun and relaxing. These worries may cause you to begin counting the days until your kids can go back to school and wanting to pull out your hair more than ever. Let us consider three tips on how to make parenting over the summer more enjoyable and less stressful and worrisome.
1. Seek out balance.
Despite all the concern in our society about our kids falling behind academically, we have to remember that they spent all year getting a lot of new information crammed into their brains. The summer can be the time to let that information sink in more and be applied in ways they did not have time for during the school year. If given enough and a variety of opportunities, our kids will naturally apply those skills and capitalize on what they learned. We can, perhaps, expect a small amount of time dedicated each day to reading, writing, spelling and/or math, but it does not need to be an all-day activity. Summer is great for being casual about learning through an array of opportunities and experiences. Finding balance in work and play is key to having a successful summer with your kids.
2. Consider what works for YOU as well as what works for your children.
When it comes to how much time to dedicate to different types of activities, summer gives us the freedom to decide not only what our kids need but also what works and does not work for us as parents. The summer can be a time to take a break from the frustration and arguments that often revolve around homework, so do not force your child to do more sit-down work than they can tolerate as it will cause stress for them and you. Let them do the hard work of figuring out how to entertain themselves. In the summer, as parents we have the ability to accommodate ourselves better than we do during the school year. Take the opportunity not to force yourself into a stressed-out state, if it does not work for you….let it go!
3. Have fun.
The summer is a great time for families to be together, to have fun, and to learn and grow together. There are so many places to go, and there are options for every family with every level of income. Find the things your kids like to do and engage with them, ask them questions, get their brains thinking while having fun and bonding. Let them have fun on their own and with you. Remember that children develop differently, and different traits develop at different rates. What you worry about in the winter, your child may catch up on over the summer (but probably not if you and s/he is stressed out).
Overall, let summer be what we all want it to be - fun and relaxing for the family. You will see the information your children learned over the school year pour out of their little minds, and you will feel relieved. There is so much more to life and learning than academics and so much can be done together as a family and with fun.
If it turns out that you continue to have serious concerns about your child’s development and learning capabilities, there are resources to address this. Consider psychological and neurological testing, therapy, community and educational resources. There is no reason to suffer and struggle. My colleagues and I are here to support you and your families with all of those needs.
|Posted on July 21, 2016 at 11:50 AM||comments (0)|
Prayer is one healthy way to help reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and grief. There is a saying that says, “let go and let God.” Letting go of worries and handing them over to God and trusting that he will take care of you can help.
As a Christian, we hear over and over that we can find strength and healing through prayer. However, we struggle to find time to focus our attention on God instead of the normal hustle and bustle of our lives. It is not that we do not want to spend time in prayer – it is that we simply feel we do not have time.
Believe me, I understand this struggle. Being a mother of three small children, keeping up with my chores at home, and carrying a full caseload as a therapist is like having three full time jobs! So how do I make sure I am giving God the time that he deserves? I have been able to spend more time in prayer by taking these three steps.
The first step is listening to Christian music. God has blessed some amazing musicians to help lead us in prayer. I love Christian music, and the most awesome part is that there are all different genres of Christian music. So, it should not be hard to find some that you like. Listen to it in the car, in your home while you are cooking or cleaning, or even at work (if you can). Just listen to Christian music whenever possible. You will find that this simple step can change your mind set for the entire day. It will also help to reset a negative or depressed mood.
The second step is reading the bible. I have found that if I read the bible before bed, I end my day in a positive mood and I sleep like a baby. I also recommend using the bible as a tool to help you make decisions or understand difficult life circumstances. Simply do an internet search for “bible verse about _________.” You will find that the bible has hundreds of verses to help you. You can also find a list of verses that are helpful in the index section of most bibles.
The third step is talking to God all day long. Throughout the day, thank God for little victories in your life. Ask God for help, strength, or understanding. My little prayers are, “Thank you, God, for keeping me safe during my drive to work. Thank you, God, for giving me patience while dealing with my tantruming 2-year-old. Thank you, God, for giving me the right words to help my client in our therapy session today. Lord, please help me to understand why you made me sick today and please give me the strength to make it through the day. Lord, please help me to speak your truth in all my sessions.” Speaking to God does not need to be formal. Talking to God can be like talking to a friend.
Am I perfect at following my three steps? Absolutely not! However, I have found that when these steps are a part of my life I feel better. God is amazing. Philippians 4:13 states “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” God is here for you. Reach out to him and he will answer.
|Posted on July 19, 2016 at 12:00 AM||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.
|Posted on July 11, 2016 at 5:15 PM||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.
|Posted on July 7, 2016 at 2:40 PM||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!
|Posted on June 16, 2016 at 12:15 AM||comments (0)|
By this time, it’s well-known that several people lost their lives during a recent act of violence directed at the LGBTQ community in Orlando. While the hate-fueled attack has impacted each of us in some way, there is no singular “right way” to mourn or process feelings after such a heart breaking event. As part of our community, we at Silver Linings Counseling are here to help those who need support or a safe place to work through their feelings.
For some people, it is easy to distance themselves from the continuous coverage of this tragedy, many of us, however, find ourselves compulsively checking and re-checking Facebook and news outlets for updates on those who survived the attack and to learn more about the lives of those who did not. It is normal to want to understand and to try to make sense of what seems so senseless. We hope that by figuring out what caused the attack, we can prevent future attacks and ensure the safety of ourselves and of those we love. It can be hard to accept the lack of certainty in life and this can cause feelings of nervousness and anxiety.
Some people have noticed a drop in energy, and struggled with feelings of sadness and anger, and maybe have even had difficulty focusing at work or in school. Feelings of isolation or loneliness can creep in and we may not fully understand our reactions or how to process or manage our feelings. Many in our community may find advice from the American Psychological Association helpful in coping http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/mass-shooting.aspx.
For those who have children, family, or close friends who identify as a member of the LGBTQ community, for those who recently came out, and for those who have yet to come out as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or questioning, this event can be especially isolating. It can be hard to know where to turn for support or where to go to find someone who can help you work through your thoughts and feelings. Please know that I and my colleagues are here to support you, your families, and our allies as we all process our reactions to this senseless attack.
In Community & Solidarity,