Archive of ‘Adults’ category

EMDR 101

Maybe you have heard about EMDR and you are curious about what it is or if it may be a good fit for you? EMDR stands for eye movement desensitization and reprocessing. It essentially mimics the processing that occurs during REM sleep to help your brain reorganize and heal difficult memories and “unstick” negative beliefs. This is done by administering bi-lateral stimulation through eye movements or tappers – helping both hemispheres of your brain to “turn on” at the same time while processing a memory.

Now, if you are like me, this may sound too easy or maybe just too woo-hooey for you. I felt this way also when I first heard about EMDR… and I am a trained professional in this field! But let me bring you some support as to why this works. For the ease of understanding, let’s think of your memory network like a filing cabinet and the information your brain gathers as pieces of paper. In “normal” daily situations, our brains take in mass amounts of information and filter it through a process to collect necessary data, file it where it needs to be accessed appropriately, and gets rid of what we do not need to keep. However, when we are under threat or a high stress event occurs, the processing gets interrupted and information gets stored incorrectly. When this happens, it causes distress, flashbacks, dysfunctional beliefs, and triggers.

In a controlled manner, EMDR allows you to bring up the triggering pieces of paper, encourages the brain to look and re-identify it, and then correctly files it where it needs to go. By reprogramming the traumatic memory, you remove the upsetting emotions that come with it and it will become neutral or even positive!

Please understand that this does NOT take away experiences or make lessons learned from the event non-existent. It simply removes the real-time distress and anxious responses from it. This is still part of your story and part of what has shaped the positive aspects of who you are- but the negative effects no longer need to follow you.

EMDR is a gentle option to treatment. It is most known for working with traumatic memories, but it is also great for when you feel “stuck” and can not seem to get around harmful patterns or negative beliefs. If this is you, EMDR might be perfect to refile those papers and get you back on track!

By: Grace Shook, LPC


Instead of New Year’s Resolutions, Try Intentions.

We made it! The year is wrapping up and we are looking onward to the clean slate and potential of a brand new year! No matter what the past year held, many are ready for a fresh start. We are in a season of optimism, hope, and commitment to change.

With the new year comes the New Year’s resolutions. I’m not a fan of the New Year’s resolution and I’ll tell you why in a moment. But first, a small disclaimer: I believe we mean well when we set resolutions. Looking at life with a fresh lens and committing to making changes we want to make is healthy. When we set resolutions, we mean to commit to ourselves that this is the year that things will be different. This is the year that we will do the thing, take the leap, start new, and close the gap between who we are and who we want to be. Believing in our highest potential is a gift to ourselves.

But here is the problem with resolutions: They set us up to fail. They are outcome-dependent, often designed to be pass or fail, black or white, all or nothing. We either did the thing, or we didn’t. Sure, it is good in the beginning. The first three weeks of January go smoothly. These new habits are hard, but we are adapting. But what happens when life gets messy or we get busy? We start to slip. Regression is a natural and expected part of the change cycle, but it sure doesn’t feel that way when the commitment we made to ourselves was do or do not. There was no try.

For some, resolutions work. I have heard a few stories about people who stuck with their resolution for the full year, reached their potential, and didn’t look back. But by and large, the experience with resolutions is this:

  • At their best, resolutions become something we feel that we “should” do, a pesky little reminder that we are not living up to the dreams we had for ourselves.
  • At their worst, resolutions can make us feel downright horrible. What messages do you send yourself when you are letting yourself down? I doubt any of us are hoping to highlight or strengthen our feelings of inferiority in the new year. Who wants that?

How do we preserve the part of resolution setting that is helpful while ditching the part that can create anxiety, feelings of failure, and inadequacy? I propose we set intentions instead. Intentions are a mental state that provide a framework for the future. An intention is not what we want to accomplish, but rather how we want to accomplish it. Setting an intention is like setting a reminder to yourself of how you want to live your life.

Intentions are different from resolutions because they are disconnected from any specific outcome. When we focus on how we want to live and the traits we want to embody, the decisions we make will align with our intentions. We will grow to choose what is best for us because we are rooted in honoring our ideal selves. Naturally, we will progress toward our goals.

In three steps, here is how you can get started on setting your New Year’s Intentions:

  1. Brainstorm. The answers to these questions will help you generate ideas and clarity for your New Year’s Intentions:
  • What type of a person do I want to be?
  • What words do I wish people would use when they describe me?
  • How do I want to move through life, work, and my relationships?
  • What do I want more of in my life?
  1. Refine. Now that you have a few ideas percolating, try plugging your intention into this sentence: “When given the choice, I will ____________.

Examples of intentions may sound something like this:

  • When given the choice, I will choose peace.
  • When given the choice, I will choose kindness.
  • When given the choice, I will love myself.
  • When given the choice, I will honor my body.
  • When given the choice, I will celebrate my progress.
  • When given the choice, I will be gentle with myself and others.
  • When given the choice, I will be patient.
  • When given the choice, I will listen to my intuition.
  • When given the choice, I will trust the process.
  • When given the choice, I will move with grace.
  • When given the choice, I will follow through on my commitments.
  • When given the choice, I will be present.
  • When given the choice, I will balance ease and effort.

Here are a few tips that may help:

  • Play around with the language. The language I suggest may seem foreign, and that is okay. Modify it it something that fits you.
  • Seek clarity and specificity. There is power is precision.
  • You can have more than one intention, but there is also value in hitting the nail on the head. It will be easier to remember and honor over time if you have one sentence to go back to.
  1. Remind. How will you remember your intention? I suggest writing it down in multiple places. A few ideas could be a note in your phone, in your planner, on your bathroom mirror, a post it note on the refrigerator, taped to your computer monitor at work or under your keyboard if you would like privacy. Writing it down where you will naturally see it will position you to gently guide yourself back throughout the year.

How does your New Year’s Intention compare to the resolutions you have set in past? I would love to hear! Connect with me at [email protected] or on instagram @counselingandyoga.

About the author: Katy practices at Austin Family Counseling where she provides relationship and couples counseling, and counseling to individual adults and teens navigating life’s many challenges.
Katy Manganella, M.A., LPC-Intern is supervised by Susan Gonzales, LPC-S, LMFT-S.


Counseling 101: Questions You Want Answered…But May Be Afraid to Ask

What Is Counseling?

Counseling (which is synonymous with therapy) literally means “to help” and/or “provide guidance” to someone. Generally, when people seek counseling, they are seeking professional help with something in their or a loved one’s life. Counseling can be done individually, with a family member(s), with a significant other, and/or in group settings and may occur in person, on the phone or over the computer. It will be tailored to what the client’s needs are when they seek help. When in counseling, people have the opportunity to be vulnerable and share personal information (which we understand can be scary!) in an effort to start the journey to becoming a healthier version of themselves and begin living their best life possible.

Julie Burke

By: Julie Burke, LPC-Intern
Supervised by Susan Gonzales, LPC-S

Counselors offer a safe place to discuss various life events (whether they’re in the past, current or upcoming) and will never pass judgment. In short, counseling (or therapy) is a process of meeting with a trained professional to resolve various life happenings. People have a stereotypical view of counseling that involves someone laying on a couch and repeatedly hearing, “How does that make you feel?”.  While there is generally comfortable furniture in the therapy room and that question may be asked to help process statements, counseling is MUCH more than just talking to a therapist and talking about your feelings.

Why Do People Go To Counseling?

People go to counseling for a multitude of problems. Some people may start going to therapy to address major life transitions e.g, having children, getting married, going through a divorce; when in need of managing mental health conditions e.g., depression, anxiety; everyday stressors, and/or with the intention of improving their relationships with themselves and others. Counseling can address someone’s drug use, sexuality, communication concerns, identity issues, etc. There is no wrong reason to go to therapy. Whether you perceive your problem as big or small, there is someone who can help you navigate the uncertainties of your life and process these things with you.

Can I Go Even If I Don’t Have A Problem?

ABSOLUTELY! There is a huge misconception that in order for people to go to counseling, they must be “crazy”; that is absolutely not true. In fact, the majority of people who go to counseling are ordinary people who are struggling with common, everyday issues. Because of the stigma that exists with going to counseling, people often think that if they begin therapy, there is something wrong with them. For example, if someone is seeking couples counseling, they may believe it must be because they are failing as a couple or if people need parenting support. Then in their mind, clearly it is because they are not good parents. Know that is entirely false and it is completely okay (and normal) to seek help.

How Long Does Counseling Take?

This question is arguably impossible to answer, but it’s definitely best for clients to go to therapy on a weekly basis for at least 6-8 weeks to build rapport and have a good relationship with their counselor.  This allows the therapist and client to get in a regular routine of meeting and getting to know one another and working through various problems. At that point in time, clients and their counselors can evaluate the relationship that has been built so far and the progress that has been made and determine what therapeutic goals have not been met.

In many cases, in therapy, more issues will be explored than the ones that initially brought the client to therapy. It is important to acknowledge that going to therapy takes courage and dedication. Counseling does not offer a quick-fix to things. Progress happens gradually, but it gives people necessary life skills and coping mechanisms to use for the long-run.

What Are The Benefits Of Going To Counseling?

Where do I begin? Different benefits of going to counseling include, but are not limited to: greater self-awareness and confidence, improved relationships, stress alleviation, less anxiety, better communication, enhanced relationships, peace of mind, life satisfaction, etc. If you put in the work to improve yourself, with the right counselor, you can empower self-growth and ultimately lead a happier, healthier life.

“But the most exciting, challenging and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself.”  -Carrie Bradshaw


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