Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Perspectives in Counseling

What is it that you find most difficult about committing to the process of psychotherapy?  There’s usually some degree of fear – fear of the unknown, fear of what you’ll discover, fear of change.  But sometimes the most troublesome part of seeking therapy is the fear of being judged.

Where does this fear come from?  Fear of judgment comes from a core belief that was established early in life.  Our core belief system gives out many messages.  Some are positive and some are destructive to our well-being.  “I am safe” is one belief that helps us to take risks and to feel comfortable in the world.  Holding this belief does not mean that you are reckless and take unnecessary risks.  Rather it means that you can step out of your comfort zone and believe that everything will be ok, even if ok involves fear and discomfort
A belief system that creates fear and keeps us from seeking therapy might go something like this:  “I can’t trust”.  Because our beliefs are deeply etched into our brains, it is difficult to challenge this.  But a first step may be to find the courage to seek counseling – not an easy task.

Why would I do that when I don’t trust that my therapist will not judge me?  This is a good question and one that has a simple answer:  we are trained to accept and honor all beliefs.  Whether your core belief tells you that the world is safe; whether there is fear that you will be judged, my core belief is that there are many different ways of thinking/feeling/doing.  One size fits all doesn’t apply here.   Even if your therapist holds a belief system that is different from yours, you can rest assured that he/she is able to set aside any personal beliefs and respect you enough to listen, honor and accept you as a person.   Please consider this 12 minute TED Talk as you move toward healing.

Thursday, June 6, 2013


There are different points throughout life where we reflect on the path we've been on and the path we're headed.  Sometimes it's smooth sailing and sometimes it's so bumpy we wonder if  we're going to bounce right off!  At some point, we'll reach a fork in the road that is a decision point in our lives. 

Thich Nhat Hanh says "Happiness is feeling as if you're on the right path."  One translation is that there is a 'right' path and a 'wrong' path.  This puts pressure into making the 'right' decision and with it, a tendency to worry and/or procrastinate which leads to anxiety and more procrastination.  Not very productive and certainly does not provoke happiness. 

Another translation, the one I subscribe to is no matter which path you choose, if you believe it's the 'right' one than you'll find happiness.  I've recently been exploring two separate paths in my life.  I'll admit, I got stuck in the mindset that I had to make the 'right' choice.  I struggled with my decision for many months.  I had an 'aha' moment, right before I came across this quote, that allowed to me to make a decision on which path to take.  I can now see that either path would lead to happiness as long as I choose one and allowed myself to move forward.  I can honestly say that I feel a sense of happiness and freedom!

Take a look at your life.  Is there a fork in the road ahead of you?  If you can identify what it is and make a decision one way or another, you can commit to happiness.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Seasons Change....

As we transition into summer, I'm happy and energized.... I love what summer has to offer!  Warm weather, green landscape all around, flowers and BBQ's, pools and friends.  All wonderful reminders of life and growth. 

And so it goes with life.  Much like the changing of seasons, our life is made up of transitions.  Whether it's moving from youth into adulthood or celebrating your 50th birthday, we all go through change.  As this happens, a psychological shift takes place that creates a variety of emotions.  Sometimes these emotions are incredibly intense and distressing.  As we allow the grief and sadness of the past give way to the excitement and joy of the future, we make way for greater things in our lives.

So take a minute.  Consider your current life transition.  Are you experiencing a change in your life that is causing conflicting emotions?  Take the time to grieve and then embrace the next season of your life.    

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Would you rather.....

Would you rather... be healthy and vibrant or suffer from a chronic illness.  Well, THAT's a no-brainer!  Of course you want to be healthy and vibrant!  But the reality is that millions of people are diagnosed with heart disease, asthma, depression and/or cancer EVERY DAY.  And these are just a few of the most common illnesses.

More than ever, these are 3 areas of your life that you'll want to pay particular attention to:
  • physical
  • emotional
  • spiritual
Physically, you'll want to make sure to focus on BALANCE.  Make sure that you're eating as best as you can, exercise within reason and get the sleep that will help you to heal.  Make sure to check with your docs to ensure that you're doing everything that you can to boost your bodies natural healing ability.  More doctors are willing to look at a holistic health approach to healing.  All this means is that he/she will look at all your systems to help you find balance in your life and, many times, will approach your care more conservatively.

While you may feel like crawling in bed, pulling the covers over your head and ignoring the (physical and emotional) pain, this is the last thing you want to do.  OK, maybe it's all right for a day or two.  But hiding from your pain will not make it go away.  It may temporarily be eased but will come back full force at a later time.  Take this time to wade through the fear, the anger and the resentment and you'll find it easier to find acceptance.  By the way, acceptance does not mean agreement; it means that you have come to some semblance of peace about your new normal.

While spirituality is not the same as being religious, religion can be a very powerful spiritual experience.  Whatever your belief system, find something that can support you in this way.  Whether you worship God, meditate to Spirit or find your peace in nature, this can be a great time to find something greater than yourself to release your fears to.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Once again...

Boston marathon. These words used to bring images of health, vitality, excitement, achievement.  Once again, we are now met with words and images of the carnage and destruction that has rocked our world.  I can't believe that, once again, we are struggling to understand this senseless act of violence.  Once again, all that we are left with are questions. Who (has done this)? Why? How (can this happen)?  Once again, we feel scared, on guard, unsafe.  And yet, with each act of violence, we become less and less shocked that this can be happening, once again.

I read an article, written by a writer who was amongst those who were close to the explosion but not so close the they were (physically) affected.  She very skillfully detailed the situation from the perspective of one who has a unique view.  She outlined her path, from the explosion to safety.  I was not surprised by the fact that, in the midst of the suffering, there were many, many people who stepped up to care for and support the injured and the distraught.  From the first-responders to the doctors that triaged and mended, as best they could, those physically mangled bodies, humanity prevailed.

And those that were able were redirected  across a bridge where she described people helping people... a man overcome by emotion was comforted by the surrounding crowd.  Cell phones and coats being passed around with no hesitance.  Once again, the power of connection begins to create a path to healing, even in all of the pain.  The human spirit will return to find hope and healing.

Once again, WE WILL MOVE ON. 

(see her story

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Spring Snow...

What a treacherous ride home last night!  Here in the Metro Denver area of Colorado, we were hit with up to 10" of wet, messy snow.  Roads were slippery and traffic was slow and tedious.  As I finally reached my destination and breathed a sigh of relief, I had to admit to myself that there is a silver lining ~ the peaceful quality of the quietly falling snow that has landed on the tips of the still-barren trees has brought a sense of serenity and beauty.   

I'm reminded of those times in life when things are so rocky that you'd just love to pull off the road and hole up in a motel for the night.  You know, those minor inconveniences that leave you frazzled and wondering why you married/had kids/volunteered for something that you have little time for?  Or sometimes, it's a major loss or tragedy that creates a hole in your life that nothing can fill.  Regardless of the depth of the situation, navigating this mentally, emotionally and physically can take its toll.  Living through the experience can be painful, exasperating, frustrating and sometimes comedic.  But when you've plowed through the chaos and the mess, you're left with an opportunity to find some glimmer of peace and hope.

Don't get me wrong ~  I don't deny that there is pain and suffering along the way.  It is important to take the time and energy necessary to heal and find meaning in whatever situation life throws at you.  There is no clock that tells you when you 'should' move on.  When you're ready and you can begin to find the meaning that you derive from the situation, you can also find peace that will give you some measure of acceptance  

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

"Help!" he cried.

I was walking my dog today when I noticed there was a man lying on the sidewalk ahead of me.  "Help!" he cried.  He had slipped on ice and seriously broken his ankle.  He was in such pain that we had to call the paramedics to stabilize his ankle and take him to the hospital to get set.

April is Counseling Awareness Month.  What better time to reflect on what counseling is and when to ask for help.  It can be difficult, sometimes scary to reach out to ask for help - not only with counseling but with other aspects of life, as well.  Our my chatter goes something like this:  ' I must be weak if I can't handle this myself' or 'It won't make a difference anyway' or 'I can handle it'. 

I'm here to tell you, a therapist is much like a paramedic.  You can find healing in a therapeutic setting.  You can learn new skills that will allow you to get through difficult times, both in the present and in the future.  You can find a safe place to tell your story and find some stability in whatever your struggle may be. 

Now is the time to ask yourself, 'Is this the time to reach out'?  Whether it's a therapist, a family member or a supportive friend, take the step to reach out and tell your story to find resolution.