Posts Tagged With: counseling

Oh Those Pesky Emotions!

steep-mountainIn my line of work, I repeatedly help people identify their emotions. For some, a lifetime of shoving emotions away in an attempt to avoid pain creates the belief that they don’t have emotions. Then I come along and challenge that line of thinking and completely rattle their world. A person enters my office because something isn’t working. It’s possible a spouse, family member, co-worker or friend may have suggested they seek counseling but no matter the why, the person has voluntarily entered my office (I rarely work with court-ordered clients). They embark on a journey that has twists and turns, rocks and ravines, steep hills and eventually a place of inner peace and integration. Life doesn’t necessarily get easier, just more manageable. The person has healthy tools to navigate the challenges that will inevitably come.

Integration means the person will now feel the full experience of life rather than run away from or try to bury the emotions they don’t like. At first this is unsettling because it’s unfamiliar. After time, as feelings become more understood, they are easier to accept, acknowledge and process. Now the person experiences inner peace and the confidence to be fully present in life.

I know this journey! I learned to stuff my emotions because I thought only happiness was acceptable. I cut off so many emotions. When I was challenged to fully feel, I had no idea what I was doing. It took years of therapy, coaching and participating in safe groups to get to the integrated place I experience today. I am not saying I have it all together, just solidly committed to this journey of healing and relishing the freedom I experience today.

Do you want peace, confidence and freedom, too? Get help! We cannot do this on our own. Find a therapist, coach or group that will guide you toward understanding and integrating your emotions. Check out Psychology Today or Theravive to find a therapist/counselor near you. If you live in the Denver/Boulder area you can contact me 🙂 Journey Forward

Categories: Acceptance, Emotional Healing, Growth, Healing, Processing Thoughts and Emotions, Recovery, Relationships, Self-Help | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

3 Keys to Creating Change

There’s a voice in my head that sometimes tells me I’m not good enough.  Do you ever have that voice?  I’ve spent many years working on this piece.  Its many facets seem to show up in different areas of my life. I have been working on healing this negative voice facet by facet.  In my journey, I have found three keys that, when implemented, propel me toward success in my quest to heal, grow and move forward.

Anytime you want to create change in your life, a few ingredients must be present for you to succeed. This is not an exhaustive list, just the three I consider the most important.

Consistent – You must have consistency. If you are working on stopping an established habit or belief, you will need a plan that is carried out on a regular basis. Maybe one of your strategies for change includes starting each day reminding yourself of your goal, the reason you want to change the habit or belief, the good you will get out of it. It’s up to you to be consistent and look at your goals every day.

Transparent – You must be honest with yourself and others about what’s really going on for you. If you are trying to hide the very part of you that you want to change, you are not likely to have success. Get honest, get real and be transparent with trusted people, which leads to the next key:

Support – You will need people around you who are for you. These are not the people who you like to hang around because they tell you everything you want to hear. These are the kind of people who tell you the hard things, the truth. They also have your best interest in mind but not in a care taking, it-depends-on-them way; they care about you, they like you, they are willing to journey with you. Some of your support people might come in the form of a counselor, coach or mentor.

I can tell you from first hand experience, change is possible and it is incredibly rewarding!

I’m cheering you on!                                                                                                                                                                    Karen

Categories: Acceptance, Emotional Healing, Growth, Healing, Recovery, Relationships | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Failing at Perfection?

While watching the Seahawks/Green Bay game last Sunday, a thought hit me.  These guys are the best in their division.  They train nearly every day to be the best.  They eat, sleep and breathe their profession.  Wouldn’t dedicating themselves to football result in perfect or nearly perfect games?  The obvious answer if you watched that game, or any for that matter, is no.  So, why do we expect perfection of ourselves when the professionals in any given field are not perfect?

Perfection is actually an unattainable achievement and yet we get really down on ourselves when we miss the mark on any goal or expectation we have.  Does beating yourself up help you do better?  Generally the answer is no.  There are always exceptions but eventually the exceptions implode.

So what is the goal or expectation you have missed that you are now beating yourself up?  Evaluate the goal or expectation.  Is it realistically achievable?  If you’re not sure ask a few trusted people what they think.  It might help to get some outside perspective.  If it is achievable, what is keeping you from reaching your goal?  Is it a negative belief about yourself along the lines of “I’m not good enough,” “I don’t deserve to do well,” “I never reach my goals so why should I think it will happen now”?  Start by challenging the negative belief when you notice it.

Are you trying to reach a goal alone? It usually helps if we have others either joining us or encouraging us along the way.  Back to those trusted people in your life.  Invite them to be a part of your “team” cheering you along or maybe even joining you.  Don’t have trusted people in your life?  Find them!  We were not designed to live life in isolation.  Get involved in a group and find people you connect with and, over time, can trust.

Be gentle with yourself in this process.  We can be so hard on ourselves, expecting perfection, and when we miss the mark we berate ourselves.

If you are hitting walls in this area, meeting with a coach, counselor or support group could help.

Categories: Acceptance, Growth, Relationships | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Value and Worth for All

Sometimes we experience moments when we wonder if we matter. I was thinking about that as I gazed at a banana tree. I noticed freshly unfurled leaves, unscathed by the tropical rain and wind. As I looked closely I noticed a progression of sorts. Emerging leaves, full leaves, slightly frayed leaves and leaves that resemble palm tree fronds – tattered and torn giving in completely to the swaying breeze. Every leaf is important in the cycle of this tree. Then I thought about us. We are all valuable to humanity. It doesn’t matter if we are shiny and new or old and withered. Every single person has a purpose, value and worth!

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Categories: Self-Help | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Giving Myself Grace

When I started blogging my goal was to post at least once a week. I achieved my goal, until last week. It has now been two weeks since my last post. In my suffocated-by-perfectionism state I would have berated myself for my failure. I would have gone on a flogging tirade with comments like “What were you thinking starting a blog? You’re not going to stay with this. Besides, hardly anyone reads it, why bother. You aren’t good at writing. You should quit.” I “would have” said those things to myself but I didn’t, still haven’t.

I recognize that I didn’t make my goal but it is simply a realization of the truth, “Yup, I didn’t make the goal.”  I am aware of the reasons why. Two weeks ago I started taking a class, one semester of a master’s level Child Psychology course condensed into 6 weeks. To say that I’m overwhelmed is an understatement. I am under the pressure of textbook and journal reading as well as numerous research paper deadlines. I understand the reality of my situation. I know that I have not blogged because blogging has not been a priority for me lately. I work at my private practice and have a family. I found it difficult to make the time to blog without the class. These are not excuses. They are reality.  Looking at my life and understanding why things are the way they are right now gives me a realistic perspective. When I expect myself to run seamlessly through life, I am looking through a distorted lens. It’s the lens of perfectionism. Perfectionism, at least for me, does not embrace reality it sees “shoulds” with no room for my limited humanity.

I’m disappointed that I didn’t achieve my goal and I understand why. I’m giving myself grace to let go of the goal, at least for now. I have three more classes to take after Child Psychology so it might not be until after December that I get back to my weekly blogging goal. That’s OK with me, for now. I was given the opportunity by my alma mater to take four classes for free. They increased the degree requirements for the Master’s in Counseling program and I get to reap the benefits of more education. The cost is some sleep, free time, and blogging. I’m willing to pay that price, at least for now.

Categories: Self-Help | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

About Me

I’m a licensed counselor with a private practice in Lafayette, CO (near Boulder and Denver).  I believe in the therapeutic process.  I believe that change is possible.  My focus as a therapist is to uncover the underlying causes of ineffective behaviors and attitudes, empower my clients to heal, and equip them with healthier ways of relating to themselves and the world around them.  So much of who we are as adults is affected by what we had to do as children to get the love and acceptance we needed to survive.  In a healthy family unit, a child is provided with unconditional love and acceptance.  The environment is warm, truthful and encouraging.  The problem is that most of us didn’t get that.  Maybe bits and pieces, but our parents or caregivers were imperfect and couldn’t possibly give us everything we needed just as we needed it.  So we learned to hide parts of ourselves that we thought (most likely at the subconscious level) were unacceptable.  Maybe we heard the negative verdict about those parts directly or maybe we interpreted  the information that way with our young minds.  It doesn’t take a major event or abuse to cause a child to put a part of herself into hiding.

Many of us are walking around with unhealthy beliefs about ourselves and others.  Those unhealthy beliefs get in the way of living in freedom.  Do you ever feel stuck?  You just keep doing the same things in relationships and can’t figure out how to change?  That’s where therapy comes in.  Once we figure out the wound that you are dealing with, we work to create healing opportunities.  Believe it or not often all we really need is for someone to know everything about us and stay.  That’s what I do.  I stay.  I hear what you really think and feel and I don’t leave.  I encourage you to find safe people who can do the same:  know everything about you and stay.

We work on changing some of the false beliefs you have about yourself with the truth.  We are all created with purpose.  Not one of us is an accident.  Each of us brought joy to our Creator the moment we came into existence.  Before we did one thing we were loved.  The doing part of our life doesn’t change the amount of love God has for us, not any less and not any more.

Skill building is another facet to changing unwanted behaviors and attitudes.  We work on that, too.  Sometimes we have to rewire the way we handle certain situations or triggers.  It can take a lot of time and be quite frustrating, but in the end, it is worth it when you see yourself living life the way it was intended: in freedom.  No baggage, no shame, no burdens pulling you down.

I share my thoughts and views about life and counseling in this blog.  This blog is not intended to replace therapy.  Please find a good therapist if you need one, don’t rely on my written word to bring about the changes you seek.  A few places to start are PsychologyToday.com and Theravive.com.  They are sites that list thousands of therapists around the US.

Some information about my training:  I hold a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, a Master of Science in Counseling and I am a Licensed Professional Counselor.  I have received additional training in EMDR, DBT, The Hendricks Institute Foundations Seminar, Gottman Method Couples’ Therapy and Shadow Work Basic Facilitator Training.  In addition, I attended the Cloud and Townsend Ultimate Leadership Intensive and One Week Intensive for Counselors.  I am currently attending the Counselor Training Program, a one year training with John Townsend. ( www.cloudandtownsend.com)

Categories: Depression, Relationships, Self-Help | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Benefits of Assertiveness Part 1

I’m in a Counselor Training Program with Dr. John Townsend and Scott Makin.  One day out of every month I am in Indianapolis being challenged in my personal growth as well as learning all about the counseling approach of Drs. John Townsend and Henry Cloud.  The training involves teaching time and small group counseling also called process groups.  During one of the process groups I stumbled upon a realization that I have a crippling fear of being assertive.  It doesn’t usually show up in my office with clients, but anywhere else I shrink back or regret having opened my mouth.  I have thought that assertiveness is negative.  It’s not that I have never been assertive but when I am I feel like I am pushy and bossy.  Maybe those things are true because I am not very skilled at being assertive but I am gaining an understanding of the importance of being assertive.

At the end of each training day, the 21 of us who are participating take time to share our homework for the next month.  It has to be measurable and challenge us in some way to be stretched.  I came up with the assignment that I would write 10 things that happen when I am assertive.  John added that I write 10 things that happen when others are assertive.  As I pondered the positive results of my assertiveness it was a bit difficult.  I kept running into the negative piece.  When I wrote about the benefits of others being assertive it created a shift inside of me.  I saw how important assertiveness is in the health and growth of the world.  Our very existence depends on assertiveness. This shift opened up a new value for my own assertiveness and the ideas began flowing out of me.

Here they are:

Ten good things that happen when I am assertive

1. I’m not left wondering if I missed out by holding my tongue

2. I feel a sense of accomplishment even if things don’t turn out my way

3. I connect with people versus holding back and being closed

4. I finish things (I’ve spent most of my life dreaming things up but not doing anything with the ideas)

5. I experience forward momentum instead of just swirling in the same old place

6. My creativity is flowing

7. I use the gifts I’ve been given

8. I model self-respect and reap the benefit of respecting myself

9. I create an opportunity for others to find healing

10. My needs get met

When others are assertive

1. Lives are changed physically (like a Dr. helping someone or a person seeking care or health)

2. People’s eternities are altered

3. Dreams are accomplished

4. People are protected

5. Connection happens

6. Employment is secured

7. Babies are born

8. Marriages are saved

9. Truth is spoken

10. Change happens

So here’s my challened to you:  Write ten things that happen when others are assertive and your own list of ten things that happen when you are assertive.  Ponder that list and then get out there and go for it!  The focus isn’t so much on what you accomplish, just that you are actively, instead of passively, living the life that you have been given.  There’s a parable in the Bible that talks about using the talent we’ve been given.  The one who buries the talent is the one who loses out.  Those who go for it, knowing that there is a risk of screwing things up, are the ones who benefit.  So take one step today to move toward really living!

Categories: Self-Help | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Depression: No Simple Answers

The very first post on this blog was an article I did not write.  The woman setting up my social media outlets simply found an article that seemed informative to help me get things going.  No harm intended and I actually appreciate her help.  The article inspired one reader to share her critique of the article which got me to thinking:  I’ll write my own view of depression.  So here it goes.

Depression can be a bit of a slippery fish.  Its origins vary from life experiences to physiological to even a combination of both.  It can come and go without notice.  It can hang on for interminably long periods of time.  Sometimes it responds to medication and people report “getting their life back.”  Sometimes the quest for the most effective drug can seem worse than the depression itself. There are people who find that “the power of positive thinking” actually helps.  For others the mere thought of changing their perception of things catapults them into even deeper depression.  There are no simple answers when it comes to depression.

Some may disagree with me.  I have found in my life as a counselor that “always” and “never” have no place in the world of psychology.  It seems there are more theories and therapeutic strategies than one can master in a lifetime.  There are specialties that come just short of promising a cure.  In this field, therapists are advised not to offer a cure because, as we all know, every person is unique and the reasons for their particular issue complicated by that fact.  Not to mention that the brain, though far more understood now than in years past, posits a vast realm of mystery.

Therapists want to be able to free clients from the pain that cripples and paralyzes them.  Most of us are in this field because we genuinely care about people and want to present what limited knowledge we have to improve their quality of life.  In my experience, the one constant I can offer, is myself.  My presence, my heart, my compassion and understanding.  For my most profoundly depressed clients, that is the one thing that seems to help.  Not overnight.  There is talking and listening, and often there are tears.  Sometimes there are skills involved and sometimes not.  I encourage being gentle with yourself.  Allowing the depression to be there.  To understand it as a part of you but not necessarily as something that defines you.  I can’t promise that these will “cure” depression.  What I believe is that sometimes a portion of relief is found in someone sitting across from you confirming what you already know: there are no simple answers.

Categories: Depression, Self-Help | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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