“How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You”

Sound too good to be true, impossible or unlikley? I’m here as a witness that the “Truly, Madly Deeply” lyrics can come true. Is that just too many trues in one paragraph already? In a world where we hear of so many tragic endings in relationships, sooooo much drama and innumerable breakups, what can be so wrong about hearing about a relationship soooooo right?

I finally regained the courage to go out again after a few years of not really bothering; just going to work, seeing family and maybe having the odd “not-amounting-to-much” date or two. I set a goal to meet “Miss Right” only to realize a short while later, I required much renovation and repair to become the “Mr Right” that might have a chance of attracting such a young lady. One wonderful night I, along with the neighbour guy (didn’t really know him), went off to the Warehouse; a local bar.

Within minutes, as the Beatles say, I saw her standing there. From a glance to the request to dance took only a moment. She and I set out to dance the night away (Van Halen), exchanging humourous quips, flirtatious eyes and stimulating conversation… yes conversation. Three splendid hours later, having barely stood in the presence of the friends we arrived with, we danced out to “New York, New York”.1383267644h2fym

As she “left the building“, not unlike Elvis, I revealed puppy dog eyes politely requesting her number. She, ever so apprehensively, called it out from across the room and I immediately began repeating it over and over (no cell phones back then eh!). As I sit here on the eve of what will be our thirtieth Valentines Day, I shudder to think a few “what ifs”. You know, those negative thoughts we sometimes call the “shoulda, coulda, woulda” or “Stinkin Thinkin”.

No… I’d rather dwell on the positives. True romance is possible! It begins with a spark that you carefully build into a flame. It can then, with regular tending, develop into an all-encompassing bonfire. A magnificent romantic relationship truly does require consistent care, work and a great deal of support and learning (kind of like adding new logs to the fire). Romance, like a great bonfire, requires tending so it neither burns out nor burns so out of control that it burns those involved. Happy Valentine’s Day!Flames

 

Perhaps This Is Normal

In life we are faced with many challenges and obstacles to overcome. At these difficult times and during trying situations, it is imperative to have people to assist us, to provide support and guidance and to encourage our efforts to improve. In our families, at least ideally, we hope that we can come together and support each other through the tough times. This is not always the case, however, as our family members may also be struggling and, thus, are less able or unable to help. Of course, the stress we carry can be brought into the family and our loved ones can certainly add stress to our lives.

Family members may become more negative;

  • “We can’t cope as a family.”
  • “No one respects anyone else.”
  • “If I don’t raise my voice no one will listen.”
  • “We are a failure.”
  • “My parents could not possibly understand what I’m going through.”
  • “I have no power as a parent.”

Stress is a normal part of living and of any family experience. Life is hard on this planet and families constantly face a multitude of difficulties or stressors. How we handle stressful moments is the key to healthier and happier outcomes and relationships. When a family is in crisis, it is very difficult to get to a positive resolution without getting professional help.

Reading materials, joining community or on-line training courses and using counselling can provide the guidance and support families require. Registered, professional family therapists (“coaches”) can help identify areas for change together with the family and incorporate a wide variety of strategies to help families achieve their goals.

“Family counselling can be done in a lighthearted way, with an accepting and encouraging style that helps all family members feel accepted and valued.”

Additionally, drawing upon family members’ current strengths and resources, the counsellor can fairly quickly help the family improve teamwork, re-negotiate roles, expectations and boundaries, making it easier to resolve issues and function well.  Knowledge bases used include cognitive-behavioural, developmental, attachment, family structure, narrative, and family systems theory. Bringing these tools into the family arena allows for better clarity, communication and compassion through a more understanding and accepting view.

New strategies are introduced, in these “coaching” sessions, to overcome some of the negativity or “Stinkin Thinkin” that has developed and recover from past hurt. Through the therapeutic process, families can grow closer and develop more satisfying relations with each other. They redefine goals, assess and clarify shared values and beliefs and develop new ways to love, support and care for each other.

For more information on family “coaching”, call us today!

 

Who Knew?

Are you expecting your first child? At first you can’t wait to share the news with your family and loved ones. You get to hear such sweet and sincere congratulations and best wishes. Then a couple of weeks pass by and the advice starts creeping in from all avenues.

It’s so nice that people want to share their self-proclaimed words of wisdom with you but when do you get to press a pause button? When do you get to say that you already know that you can’t have sushi?

Daily articles begin to fill your inbox about pregnancy, flu shots or the latest report on a child possibly killed due to a vaccination. Sometimes you just want to scream, “Can I have my child first!”

Amidst the barrage of uninvited advice, we may dare to share some of our thoughts about how we will be raising our child (e.g. cloth diapers, not using formula, and planning a natural childbirth). Instead of words of encouragement, we often receive looks or comments that obviously imply we probably won’t be, shouldn’t be or certainly wouldn’t be carrying these ideas out.

Your body is changing, hormones may be racing, and you can’t get away from friendly advice or simple reminders. The best option is not to hide that you are having a baby (although it may seem tempting), but instead take care of yourself. Find, improve and develop coping strategies to relax and ease your mind, eat healthy, and do yoga!

Think positive thoughts, breathe deeply and remember, you are about to be part of a miracle… child birth.

Obsessive Thoughts Can Float Away

For more than ten years, all I’ve known or been accustomed to is my routine of counting everything in sight. It has impacted my life greatly. I’m usually late for appointments or dates with friends because my routine had become so extensive. My relationships with my parents became difficult to cope with as I tested their patience daily with my obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours. Needless to say, counting became a priority in my life and it was so hurtful.

When my parents suggested I attend counselling, I was very hesitant. All of my reservations about a therapist made me more paranoid and wanting to count even more often. “He’ll think I’m crazy!” “I can’t share my thoughts with a stranger!” “He’ll turn my parents against me!” These thoughts created a lot of anxiety; however, to please my parents, I thought I’d attend at least one session.

To my pleasant surprise, none of my fears about therapy and my counsellor came to be.  I now had someone who would listen to me, help me uncover and recognize the thoughts contributing to the repeated counting behaviour and then help me change my life for the better. My burden became lighter, with my effort, gradually floating away like a balloon.

I am finally on track to having the life I want and I am rebuilding relationships in my life. By learning to creatively shift my thoughts, I am able to replace my counting with activities that allow me to grow and develop into the person I want to be. I’m also now better able to embrace experiences with my families and friends.

If there’s anything that I can share with others who suffer with obsessive thoughts or compulsive behaviours, it is this: YOU can control your life with help. Cognitive-behaviour therapy helps shift thoughts, feelings and then also the behavior!

Get Help!  For further information and resources to overcome OCD, call us today!

 

 

They know the latest Apple application to download. Their profiles on Instagram and Facebook are always up to date. They score really high on games like COD (Call of Duty), Mindcraft and FIFA. Schools even have online computer applications for students who have “misplaced their agendas.” So why is my pre-teen and teenager still waiting the last minute to complete projects? Why do I have to repeatedly ask them to complete chores when I get home from work? When are they just going to “get it!”

Some may even believe that technology impedes the development of children. Studies show adults and children are spending an average of seven to nine hours per day screen time (includes phone, gaming devices, TV and computers). For us “old school” parents, who were not privileged with smart phones, laptops and social media, we may find it challenging to discipline effectively.

Many parents rely too heavily on taking their technology stuff away as a consequence. Taking things away and removal of privileges, especially after about age 10, is actually a fairly ineffective and frustrating method of discipline. Disciplining effectively is less about the “toys” available to our children, taking stuff away or grounding and more about teaching and time.

For those of us who knew how to obey, to respect and to do our chores (without being asked too much) regularly, we quite likely had positive guidance, good role models and a valued relationship with those caring for us. That’s how we learned responsibility. There are parenting manuals out there for parents… “I’m too busy”… “I shouldn’t have to read”… “They should just listen”… “Parenting comes naturally”………… ALL Stinkin Thinkin!

We want our kids to read and learn then… it is equally important to find ways to learn creative, effective, efficient and loving disciplinary strategies. Many families are opting to remove tech from the dinner table, preferring to enjoy meal time with talking and sharing the important events in their day.

Parent-focused counseling can help parents vent their concerning experiences, identify strengths both they and their child(ren) have as well as increase positive parenting strategies. One such example is to learn the skills of negotiating, developing, adjusting and maintaining healthy expectations or boundaries for all family members.  To learn more, call us today!

or… Post-Traumatic Stress “Reaction” (PTSR)

“The anger, the rage, the hurt, and the cold loneliness that separates you from your family, friends, and society’s normal daily routine are so powerful that the option of destroying yourself is both real and attractive….It appears, it grows, it invades and it overpowers you….You cannot put these things behind you…And the more people advise you to do so, the more you get mad because you know these things will not disappear. Time does not help,” (from Lt-Gen. Dallaire; Davison, Neale, Blankstein & Flett, 2002, p. 197).

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is commonly known to be experienced by those who have fought in wars and experienced combat stress; however, it may also occur to individuals exposed to prolonged abuse, trauma, and victimization at home, school, work and in other social situations. Personal tragedy, natural disasters, or overwhelming life experiences also contribute to suffering and potentially being diagnosed with PTSD. The term “reaction” has been used increasingly over more recent years with symptoms following after trauma.

When we are exposed to difficult situations, it can sometimes feel unbearable to cope with. Excessive memory loss, increased doubt and insecurity, thoughts that bad things are inevitable, trouble sleeping and eating are just a few symptoms of excessive stress. At times, our family and friends may develop unrealistic expectations that we are “strong enough” to overcome life’s challenges. This may inhibit sufferers of PTSD from seeking help and being able to move forward. Living with untreated or under-treated PTSD, people may subsequently, over time, “experience problems with anxiety, depression, anger, guilt, substance abuse (as a means of self-medicating), marital problems, poor physical health, and occupational impairment” (Blankstein, et al.).

Feeling stuck in this dark place, as Lt-Gen. Dallaire describes above, can make us feel like there is no way out. We may be reliving traumatic experiences on a daily basis and not realize that there are ways to overcome the situation differently—ways to cope, ways to feel loved and supported (not shameful or guilty).

One-to-one therapy can help address the specific needs of an individual with PTSD. Group therapy may create a space of support for those also suffering with PTSD; being in the “same boat” with others who are able to relate to similar symptoms and experiences. Together, both individual counselling and support groups can help individuals overcome the symptoms and impact of severe trauma and regain a positive perspective on life. Call us today for an appointment and additional resources to assist you.

“I Hate to Admit It”

They tease each other, pick on one another, make fun, wrestle, and yell. Their confrontations always end up with one crying, or bleeding, or slamming doors.

Will they ever get along? Can we ever achieve serenity in our home? I’ve heard of sibling rivalry; but this is a bit much. How do I know when I need to get more help for my kids?

These are questions that many parents may ask as their children display increased conflict. Some may not know this, but conflict is actually a normal and healthy part of relationships. When the emotions and behaviours to express and resolve conflicts are carried out appropriately, both parties achieve closure. Conflict can teach us many things:

It can teach us how to appropriately present our perspectives.
We may learn how to confidently rebut other viewpoints.
When done correctly, we refrain from inflicting emotional and physical harm on one another. (both verbal and physical harm inhibits communication and learning and can fuel a variety of mental health issues).

So when is the right time to get help? Teaching children the appropriate ways to resolve conflict can become very overwhelming in the heat of an argument. When parties have had time to separate, breathe and calm down, examining their experience (Time-out), it can then be helpful to bring them back together to sort through the argument and develop solutions (Time-in).

Of course it is easier said than done, especially when habits have developed and conflicts are occurring frequently. Family counselling may allow all members to express their concerns in a respectful manner and learn new ways of resolving disputes.

In family counseling, families can establish goals for themselves as a family and individually. Together they learn to cope with stressful events that occur in their lives (relationships, school, work, etc.). In a safe, professional, therapeutic environment, families have the opportunity to enhance their relationships and create a strong support system for one another. Call us today … we can help.