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Boundaries: What Does It Mean?

BBeing honest and

Oopen. Having

Uunderstanding conversations that

Nnurture positive feelings and thoughts.

Ddetermining your wants and values and

Aassertively helping others become aware of these.

Rrespecting yourself and others by making

I –  intentional efforts to improve your relationships.

Eempathetic and effective communication so all involved feel

Ssafe and secure.

For many couples after separation or a break up, or even those underneath consistent conflict, deciding to reconcile can be difficult to visualize. Sometimes reconciliation does not mean re-establishing a romantic relationship. Some couples choose, after separation, to establish a new relationship for cooperative and positive parenting to take place.

Without a doubt, it is quite difficult for most couples to reach an amicable closure of the romantic part of their relationship. This, however, is an essential step toward effectively developing a positive co-parenting relationship. For some, this may indeed seem almost impossible; moving from a couple once in love to negotiating and implementing a mutually respectful cooperative parenting agreement. Parents interested in the healthiest environment for raising children can benefit from professional coaching to reach this goal as soon as possible after their separation.

Feelings of grief, betrayal, hurt, confusion and disappointment can cloud perceptions, potential for forgiveness and severely limit healthy and clear communication. The identification and development of healthy communication and negotiation processes are central to building an effective co-parenting relationship. This is where boundaries come in to play. While emotions are high, and pools of uncertainty exist, boundaries establish clarity and safe measures to begin the process; deconstructing one part of the relationship while reconstructing another.

Examples of cooperative parenting agreements include guidelines for how and when to talk, what to discuss and with who (e.g. with children, family, friends), when to have flexibility and how to negotiate or renegotiate changes. Additional topics to be worked out include ways to stay child focussed, shared parenting time, drop offs and pick ups, extracurricular activities, holidays and the pre-planned calendar of events.  Boundaries that are firm, with modest flexibility, greatly reduce the chance for disagreements, enhancing the likelihood parents and families will have caring, calm and relaxed “post-separation” relationships. 

For experienced, professional guidance in this area, book your appointment today.

 

Ice Coated Trees – Dec. 2013


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Many of the resources available for Autism and other developmental disabilities focus on children to the age of eighteen. Very few social service programs are geared to support people over the age of eighteen. So what about these young adults?

What career development assistance is available? What are the goals of formal career or vocational development planning? When should career planning begin? What are the life choices that an individual with Autism should explore?

Person-centered planning  (PCP) can help answer these questions.  PCP “takes a longer-term perspective, exploring how the individual, family, community, and funded supports can work together to achieve the individual’s goals,” (Northeast Alberta Community Board for Persons with Development Disabilities, 2006).

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This sets a plan of action in place. It is very important to plan ahead and be prepared for the transition into early adulthood to foster the best chance of a satisfying and productive life for young adults with autism.

Here are some strategies that may be set in place to prepare your young adult for his/her future (Autism Calgary Association, 2009):

  • A personal inventory/profile clarifies the strengths, challenges, and necessary supports that the individual requires. It also provides the individual’s unique characteristics and attributes.
  • A career profile lists the individual’s personal strengths, skills, abilities, and interests. It may also include: evaluation reports (IEPs), cognitive testing results, additional assessments (e.g. neuropsychological), functional vocational assessments, and resume and work samples.
  • A psycho-educational assessment is a standardized test (like an I.Q. test), of the individual’s cognitive ability. It provides further information of the person’s intellectual strengths and areas of weakness.

The key to remember is to plan ahead and to use available resources and people to develop the best plan possible. When this is done, possibilities and opportunities are increased for the young adult.


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“My brother stays home Sunday to Wednesday, and parties the remaining days of the week. Sounds like fun, right? Sometimes he’s attending multiple parties per night. He stumbles into the house. On occasions, I find him passed out in the car in our driveway. He came to me once, the morning after a night out, shaking his head saying, ‘My tolerance has gone waaay down.’ ‘Really, bro? How much did you drink last night?’ Six shots, four beers, and five cocktails later, he doesn’t come to the realization that that amount is not normal drinking behavior. ‘Face it brother, you’re a binge drinker!’”

Like this person’s brother, many of us may justify the alcohol intake because it evens out the days that we don’t drink. Nonetheless, binge drinking is a serious problem and has become a socially obsessed phenomenon. The death toll in the UK has been rising due to a growing culture of self-filming binge-drinking activities (Misstear, 2014, walesonline.co.uk). Several deaths have been linked to drinkers binging on large quantities of alcohol while filming themselves and daring others to do the same. This social media game “encourages people to accept dares from friends to drink alcohol before nominating someone else to follow suit,” (Misstear, 2014). The term peer pressure has now gone to new heights via social media. As well, a strong culture of alcohol over-use has developed. People may now feel a huge sense of urgency to play out these activities because their name has gone viral or perhaps they would like it to. The repercussions of not abiding to the dare are unknown.

According to Statistics Canada:

  • Males were about 2.5 times more likely than females to report having engaged in heavy drinking (5 or more drinks on one occasion).

  • Including both sexes, people aged 18 to 34 were more likely to engage in heavy drinking.

Dealing with the pressure from friends, family, and social media can cause stress and difficulty to cope. The risks and costs involved with heavy drinking may seem obvious, yet rarely appear to deter habitual substance misuse. Financial, interpersonal, social, cognitive and physical impact my develop quite slowly, over time, initially being denied as “not a big deal”. At first this is probably true, however, as the body requires more and more alcohol, and becomes addicted, the costs rise. Social connections begin to decline, bills pile up, family becomes increasingly concerned and the person’s ability to change themselves deteriorates. Defensiveness toward those who request change is common. Resources with local hospitals, Alcoholics Anonymous groups and addictions counselors are essential components, along with family, to support recovery. Our professional counsellors in Durham Region are trained to assist family and loved ones find and utilize effective resources to support the person struggling with binge-drinking and other types of substance misuse. In addition, the person can discover ways to effectively change and regain control and efficacy in their lives. To have an objective assessment of current substance misuse levels and to determine next steps toward health Call us today .


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When a mother holds her daughter for the first time, a number of overwhelming thoughts and feelings accumulate. We love our daughter so deeply and unconditionally.

As our princesses grow, we watch our daughters blossom. We observe them in their playgroups, we watch them play pretend housewives or have tea parties with their stuffed animals. Then they grow out of pretend play and school hours and then peers occupy the majority of their time. We may feel a sense of loss. We now learn more from our daughters and begin to realize that many other sources now influence their lives and choices.

As mothers, we might struggle with how to protect our daughters, concerned with exactly how to help them make it in this world. Becoming too lenient or too strict is easy and can quite quickly negatively impact parenting. Increased confrontations between mothers and daughters can stem from having fewer and fewer open, calm and honest conversations.

Common assumptions made by both can include:

  • Mom: “She doesn’t know what she’s doing!”
  • Daughter: “She doesn’t understand me!”
  • Mom: “I just don’t want her to make the same mistakes that I made.”
  • Daughter: “When is she going to realize that I can take care of myself?”
  • Daughter: “She should stay out of my business.”
  • Mom: “Maybe I should just leave her alone?”

With these assumptions, many miscommunications can form. This can lead to increased confusion, uncertainty and even hostility toward one another. Hurtful things can be said and done making it more difficult to mend an already tenuous relationship.

Relationship coaching for mothers and daughters who are having difficulty communicating can be very helpful. Boundaries may be adjusted, roles clarified and relationships reconciled in the counselling process. Counselling helps family members voice concerns, relate to one another differently, resolve problems effectively and listen to each other’s needs in the relationship.

Book an appointment with us today to improve your relationships.


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Why Does This Keep Happening?

“I took two years before stepping into another relationship. The previous lasted four years. At the four-year mark, my world was turned upside down. I could honestly say that I cried every day for the first year (although the episodes did decrease in length). I was sad and vowed that I would do things differently the next time.

When the next time came, I remembered to do things differently; however, I never really decided what ‘different’ things I would do. And thinking back, I didn’t think I committed to any behavior changes. I thought I would put a wall up to protect myself from hurt (just in case this relationship also wouldn’t work out).

And to my surprise (really, it was a surprise), this relationship has ended and I feel almost the same as when the previous one ended. I feel like I was stabbed in the back. I feel confused. And worst of all, I feel rejected. I ask myself over and over why I don’t seem to be good enough.”

After the first breakup, perhaps this individual did not consider her feelings of rejection in depth.

“Everyone around me was surprised by the breakup. And questioned how it could be. So yes, I did feel rejected but tried not to dwell in it. With this past relationship, I feel like the ending was so much similar to my previous that rejection is the forefront of my feelings now.”

It’s easy to blame the person doing the “dumping” for the breakup. Many of those in our support system will also want to put blame the one who initiated the breakup, however, the “blame game” is ineffective and, if prolonged, destructive to healthy growth and development.

Introspection (looking inward and examining our own intrapersonal and interpersonal dynamics) can change the way we relate to ourselves and to other people. Following improved self-awareness often comes the realization that just because a relationship ends, does not imply that we are inadequate or inferior. 

Most of the time, space between relationships is a good thing; however, we have to be able to use that time for self-reflection, growth and personal development. Efforts to improve ourselves helps us develop better relationship skills, thus, more satisfying relationships. There are many great resources; self-help books, group work, videos and online training you can use to augment your work with a professional counsellor. For assistance Call us today .

Keep Your Eye On The Job

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Here are just a few reasons why hiring external counselling support for your business can be a great investment:

  • Objective assessment of human resource, personal strengths and areas for growth
  • Increase productivity and profit through improved working relationships
  • Improve corporate morale and job performance
  • Team building through training
  • Improve group cohesiveness and thus, improve performance
  • Assess job satisfaction, on an individual and group basis, and potential adjustments
  • Coach/conduct a variety of workshops (e.g., how to cope with work-related stress)
  • Address work conflict appropriately, effectively and in a timely fashion
  • Decrease biases when restructuring work roles & responsibilities

Counsellors in the workplace have shown to reduce overall costs, while still being able to improve employees’ well being (allaboutcounselling.com).

An additional benefit for a company to hire professional, registered counsellors on their team is to effectively coach how to provide candid and constructive feedback to each other (cross-training culture). The thought of giving feedback constructively is often seen as a daunting task. Many employees may fear losing their jobs, being scrutinized or treated differently as a result of providing feedback and may simply just fear any form of confrontation altogether.

As a result, management may end up with numerous unresolved or poorly resolved issues with their staff. Employees can then bottle up their concerns, which can lead to:

  • Increased work-related stress
  • Inhibition to concentrate or remain focused with job responsibilities
  • Decreased overall well being
  • Increased health-related concerns (e.g., hypertension, insomnia)
  • Increased conflict at home (displacement of the stress at work is very common).
  • Emotional outbursts

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The apprehension about providing feedback to others is often because people are concerned about communicating clearly and constructively without damaging the relationship. A workplace counsellor providing a non-judgmental and confidential forum can coach both management and front-line workers on how to provide constructive and candid feedback helping to create a workplace culture of openness and mutual respect.

Here are two starter tips when giving feedback: (1) offer a few words of encouragement and then describe what concerns you are observing, (2) communicate the impact of what you are observing, and 3) comment on the behavioural concerns and not about the person. To learn more, give us a call today!

 

Addiction Recovery: Hope May Be A Bit Blurry At First

Entering an inpatient addiction recovery program can be seen as the most difficult step and a very challenging experience in the life of those struggling with addictive behaviour. The full exposure of the person’s history is to be revealed and, depending on the specific program, exposure can be up to fifteen hours daily (most programs average 20 to 45 days). One requires an acknowledgment of and a “breaking down” of the old negative patterns in order to make room for new strengths and healthier behaviours.

Once deconstruction of the old ways occurs, the person recovering now has room to develop a new perspective, receive new tools for coping and to develop realistic and achievable goals. As the more positive outlook develops and an optimistic narrative unfolds, people in rehabilitation can begin the process of rebuilding relationship patterns with loved ones. Life changes need to be made, both during and after recovery, with the person in treatment co-writing the “how to” and positive choices ahead.

Following the short-term treatment program, however, it is a whole new ball game. While residential rehab may be quite intense, “aftercare” can prove to be even more taxing than the relatively brief inpatient process. One explanation is the significant decrease in support outside of the treatment facility. Twenty-four hour support is not possible like it was in recovery. In times of need and temptation, it is easier to feel alone and uncertain. It is very important to put an aftercare support system in place, prior to exiting, with many programs encouraging this to be developed from the very day of admission.

Here are some tips that can help people successfully transition back into the community:

  • Get a sponsor / accountability person
  • Seek a professional, experienced addictions counsellor.
  • Reach out to support groups (AA or SA have meetings every day of the week).
  • Take care of yourself and attend to your feelings and practical needs (food, sleep, work etc.)
  • Rediscover your inner child. You’ll be surprised by the peace and joy that can be experienced by simple, basic playful activities.
  • Work on your relationships.
  • Include  one or two loved ones in your recovery process
  • Have personal conversations about your addiction (e.g. mutually share each other’s thoughts, feelings, the impact of your addiction and hopes and goals)

Life after recovery programs can be quite challenging; Prepare for it in advance. Seek out and rely on the resources available to bolster the effectiveness of your success. Call us today so we can help you with this life transition.