4 Things to Expect When Starting Counseling

4 Things to Expect When Starting Counseling

What is counseling all about?

Written by: Laura Kotlowski, MA, LPC, LCDC, NCC, CCTP, EMDR Trained

Counseling is a journey of healing, gaining insights, and learning healthy ways to get along with life in general. We understand that starting counseling is a major decision, but remember you deserve to feel connected to your self-worth, to make sense of unhealthy patterns, and to learn positive coping skills.

Lots of people don’t know what to expect when starting counseling so here’s an article that can help with that. Let’s just say, it’s worth checking out. YOU are worth checking it out.

Here are 4 things to expect when starting the counseling process:

  1. Counseling is a gift to yourself that keeps on giving.

Counseling is one of the best investments you can make with self-care and your growth. It’s a “gift that keeps on giving” where you notice positive changes in your reactions to tough situations and emotions become easier to navigate.  Counseling doesn’t CHANGE YOU, however, it can help you learn your strengths and live in the world as your best self.

  1. You are the “expert” and the counselor is a supportive guide.

Good counselors know the client is the expert of their life experience and their counseling goals. You may be surprised to learn that all you need to be the happiest and most peaceful version of yourself already lies within you.  A counselor’s job is to help you navigate the unclear road that leads there…and sometimes to help you dig around until you find your deepest truths. Ultimately, you’re the one steering it all.

  1. Starting AND continuing the journey of counseling can feel overwhelming.

Counseling is a lot like exercising.  Often times, starting a healthy physical journey requires you to think about it, research it, talk about it, and talk sometimes yourself out of it – loads of times before actually starting. We all know the benefits of exercising and would love those benefits – though a lot of times the idea of starting the journey can feel daunting and anxiety-provoking. If you’re anything like us, we’ve wished many times to have the benefits of working out or going to counseling without actually having to do it. We’re even writing a blog about it- read more about “Why Counseling Kinda Sucks.”

The only way to achieve goals is to take the first step towards them… and then another step… each step is less scary and overwhelming because you will start to see you are stronger and more resilient than you realized.

Back to the exercising analogy: if your goal is to run a marathon, bench-press 300 lbs, or knock out a 5-minute plank with ease – the first step would be to show up at the gym, walk a ½ mile, start with smaller weight, or shoot for a 15 second plank.  In the world of counseling, we need to give ourselves that same grace.  It takes time to increase our insight and awareness, learn new coping skills or choose healthier behaviors.  We don’t have to know how to do it all right away and that’s ok! You can start by making an appointment with a counselor and share where you are today, even if you aren’t sure what your end goal is.

  1. You might surprise yourself and actually enjoy counseling!

Counseling is fun!  Not EVERY minute, but lots of them can be!  Sometimes we don’t love exercising but if we stick with it, we begin to feel the positive benefits. If we stay consistent, we actually start to look forward to the tasks that help us grow and ultimately make us stronger and healthier.

Sometimes people may avoid counseling because they envision lots of uncomfortable and tense emotions.  While this may be true, you can also experience many preferred “positive” emotions.  There is no better feeling than laughing your way to a solution, having the “ah-ha” moment where you almost see a light bulb turn on in your head, or unexpectedly feeling “lighter/at ease/peaceful” after sharing your feelings.

You have all that is needed within you to find peace.  Our purpose, as counselors, is to witness this moment in your life story – as you bravely step out of fear into faith and begin this journey into healing and transformation.  Our intent is to support and encourage your growth, and when needed, offer a compass of guidance towards truth and hope.

You’ve got this!  Even so, counselors would be honored to walk along side you on this leg of your journey. We hope to see some of you out there on the path and wish ALL of you the absolute best.

Why Counseling Kinda Sucks. Pt 1

Written by: Rebecca Flores

 If you’re asking yourself, “Do I really need counseling?”, “Why can’t I get it together without counseling?” or “Why does everyone else look so happy and they’re not in counseling?” This article is for you. We get it. Counseling kinda sucks.

This is why counseling could suck: 

  1. We don’t even know where to start.
  2. We sometimes think some random stranger will give us advice.
  3. We wonder if the therapist will give us a blank stare and ask us how we feel.
  4. We worry about wasting money.
  5. We worry about having to talk about ALL that stuff in the past.
  6. We wonder if it’s going to take us years.
  7. We think it’s going to be a cure or the answer to it all and if it’s not, THEN WHAT

 Counseling doesn’t have to suck and here’s why:

  1. You don’t have to know where to start.  We will help you with that part.  You just have to come as you are, where you are in your life at this moment.
  2. As therapists, we don’t just dole out advice, we work WITH you and FOR you, so you can get where you need to be to feel better.
  3. Therapists know the dreaded question “How does that make you feel?”  Will we ask this SOMETIMES? Sure- but it will be natural in sessions.
  4. If you don’t feel it in your gut that the therapist across from you is right for you, then you don’t have to continue.  It’s about you, not the therapist!  We want you to feel like you can do your best work with us, and if you don’t feel that way, we won’t take it personally.  Ok, our feelings get just a little bit hurt because we are human.  But we really do just want you to be with the person who you feel a connection to. We will always, at a minimum, point you in the direction of someone else who may be a better fit for you!
  5. It’s true that sometimes the past is creeping up on our present, but there are other ways to work with what’s going on without having to dig up your past if you don’t feel ready.
  6. There have been so many advances in care, so counseling doesn’t have to take years.
  7. Counseling isn’t a cure or the ANSWER to it all.  Through counseling, you will be able to figure out what needs to be worked through and we help you figure out HOW to get to where you need to be to start feeling better again.

Ultimately, we want your glass to be half full again. So if you’re considering starting counseling, take a look at this blog for some extra tips before you get started.

5 love languages and Healthier Communication

5 love languages and Healthier Communication

By guest blogger: Lisa Arce, LPC

Have you found yourselves arguing more lately? Are you feeling disconnected, neglected or resentful?

Unfortunately for a lot of us, when we become angry at our spouse or partner we tend to shove it down, ignore it or not deal with it. Maybe we were taught to “pick your battles” or “it’s not worth getting angry about.” I call major BS on that. We need to tune into those emotions because that’s where growth lies. The 5 love languages allows us to understand what our spouse/partner needs from us. When we understand why we are fighting, we are in a better position to come up with a solution.

Here’s a look at what the 5 languages are:

  • Words of Affirmation: If this is your love language, words speak louder than actions. Hearing, “I love you,” is important—hearing the reasons behind that love is even more powerful.
  • Quality Time: To people with this love language, nothing says, “I love you,” like full, undivided attention. Being there for this type of person is critical. Distractions or the failure to listen can be especially hurtful.
  • Receiving Gifts: The receiver of gifts thrives on the love, thoughtfulness, and effort behind the gift. If you speak this language, the perfect gift or gesture shows that you are known and that you are cared for. It’s all about the thought behind the gift.
  • Acts of Service: Anything you do to ease the burden of responsibilities weighing on an “Act of Service” person will speak wonders to them. The words he or she most wants to hear: “Let me do that for you.”
  • Physical Touch: A person whose primary language is physical touch is, not surprisingly, very touchy. Hugs, pats on the back, holding hands, and thoughtful touches on the arm, shoulder, or face—they can all be ways to show excitement, concern, care, and love.

Beyond fighting less (or at least more productively), the concept of love languages is great for maintaining the relationship, too. Sometimes when we’ve been in a relationship for a long time, it’s easy to get complacent. When we know our partner’s love language, it’s incredibly easy to tune into what they may or may not need from us or heck ask for it ourselves! It’s like a cheat code for your relationship.

Meeting your partner’s needs for love is a choice we make each day. If we know each other’s primary love language then we can choose to speak it and help each other feel secure and happy in our relationship. But what if our partner’s love language does not come naturally to us?Well, so?? When an action doesn’t come naturally to us and we choose to intentionally do it then that is an even greater expression of intimacy. When we talk about connecting to our partner, we are speaking about choosing to lean into connection.

Overall, it all comes down to knowing what’s important to people so that you can understand, empathize, and work with them a little better. Everyone is different. We all have different life experiences; we come from different backgrounds. It makes sense that we communicate differently, too. Now don’t get me wrong, the 5 love languages can’t fix everything. They’re not going to magically make problems go away. But the concept does go a long way in communicating and connecting better, and we all know how much that matters in a relationship.

Relationships need to be maintained and healthy relationships take work. If you need help with communicating and connecting better, send me an email at: nlisaarce89@gmail.com! I am ready to help you have healthier and more fulfilling relationships.

P.S. Did you know this love language business works with kids too? Try it out and let us know how it goes!

Foods that Affect Your Child’s Behavior By Eva Nestor, RDN, LD

Foods that Affect Your Child’s Behavior By Eva Nestor, RDN, LD

Food and nutrition play a vital role in your child’s development and growth. In a nutshell, childhood eating habits can affect brain development, mood and behavior.

Many parents find themselves struggling with their child’s challenging behavior, and wonder is there something in their diet causing their behavior to be out of control? One option you may try is the elimination of offending foods like red dye 40. It has been linked to attention and memory difficulties, impulsivity, hyperactivity, and temper tantrums.

Nutrient absorption through digestion of energy from carbs, protein, and fats support the growth and development of a child.  Micro- nutrients linked to brain function include proper amounts of choline, folic acid, zinc, B6, B12, and vitamin C. In my professional practice, I have experienced observational results in cognitive development utilizing adequate amounts of omega 3’s in the diet.

It is well known that some chemical components can cause allergic reactions or have significant effects on a child’s health and behavior. Therapeutic diets are prescribed for children with food sensitivities. There are also children who have allergic reactions to specific food components. These foods include peanuts, dairy, tree nuts, soy, eggs, and shellfish allergies. Children with celiac disease or wheat sensitivities are placed on a gluten free diet. Children with Autism may also try a GAPS diet to help with behavior.

The strategy most commonly used to eliminate or decrease challenging behaviors that may be caused from a food component, is finding what food item may be triggering your child’s behavior.  Suggestions include, offer the food item as tolerated into your child’s diet for a period of time, then monitor their reaction if any, to evaluate if this item is a food trigger in their behavior. Then re- introduce the suspecting food trigger to seek similar resulting behavior.

  • Children should eat less than 25grams of added sugar daily. Children ages 2-18 should eat less than 6 teaspoons of added sugar daily.
  • Offer whole grains, daily fiber and prebiotics. Gluten free breads: Rice millet Bread by Food for Life or Schar Products.
  • Include needed protein sources, dairy products, lean meat, fish, and legumes.
  • Encourage foods with natural probiotics: fermented pickles, Yakult, sourdough bread.
  • Ensure adequate daily intake of Omega 3 –fatty acids to promote brain development.
  • Apply dairy substitutes: Flax seed milk, (Good Karma), hemp, coconut, rice, almond or soy milk.
  • Alternative dairy: goat milk, a2Milk, (without- A1 protein) or lactose fee milk.
  • Increase intake of healthy whole foods that are unprocessed, like cooked or fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Avoid foods that have artificial colors, as they tend to be high in fat and sugar: exclude excess juice based sweetened beverages and nutrient poor snacks.
  • Offer adequate hydration and decrease high sugar drinks. Substitute water for flavored water, infuse water -fresh fruit mixed with water: non- artificial sweetened Capri Sun Roaring Waters, Sweetleaf water drops or True Citrus products.

What we feed our children and the eating habits they become familiar with can certainly affect their mood and behavior. Look into finding what may trigger your child’s behavior if you suspect a food item may be a factor. To help you become a food investigator for your child, work closely with a trained professional who specializes in identifying the triggers or chemicals that may clinical be affecting their behavior.