Archive of ‘General’ category

How to Find a Good Fit with a Counselor

The journey to finding a counselor can feel very overwhelming. There are internet search, phone calls, and insurance questions…it’s already hard enough, but then when you add in the personal connection counseling requires, it makes it feel like an even harder to-do. Sometimes people are pretty lucky and they find a counselor that checks all the boxes:

  • They have a license. CHECK! (That is pretty important after all AND is a requirement when seeing anyone in a professional capacity).
  • They are in your budget. CHECK!
  • They have your specific need listed in their specialties. CHECK!

They even have a great smile…AWESOME! But what about your feelings when you are actually with them?

The relationship & rapport you have with your therapist is imperative. So here are some additional qualities to think about in your search for a counselor to help find the best fit for you. 

Ask yourself what you are missing from other loved ones in your life.

Think about who you have in your life: friendships, family, relationships, work colleagues, etc. What do these people have in common in the way they connect with you and what might be missing? Do you need more accountability? More warmth? More validation? Your counselor’s nature and approach might need to meet a type of connection that is lacking elsewhere.

How do you feel when you think about being vulnerable? 

Vulnerability is challenging in any situation with almost any person (just ask Brene Brown), but does it feel do-able with this individual? Do they feel trustworthy, dependable, or safe to you? Being clear about what you want to work on will help you filter if this therapist will be able to meet your counseling goals early on. Notice their reaction and response when you are open. If you do not feel comfortable, they are not the right one.

Can you ask for what you need from your counselor? 

Maybe you REALLY like this counselor but they sometimes talk too much or too long. Maybe they don’t talk enough, and it feels like you are talking to a brick wall. Tell your counselor what you are or are not needing. They should be able to hear this and make a correction. After all, this is YOUR time, not theirs.

How is your counselor’s nature?

Are they motherly? More serious? Do they act like your old BFF? Whatever you are needing, look for a vibe that feels comforting to you. You need to be at ease for the hard work you are about to do.

In the quest for looking for a counselor, I generally recommend asking for a 15-20 min consultation call. (Note that not all counselors offer consultation calls–and that’s also okay). This helps give you a feeling for these things to filter out the easy no’s. Schedule with someone you feel most confident about. Go to the session. Trust yourself. If it is an easy no – don’t reschedule. If you are not sure – I recommend going at least 3 times before making a decision. This allows time for you to become more comfortable and for the therapist to show what most sessions will likely look like. 

Written by: Grace Shook, LPC

How to Talk to Your Children About the News

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” – Mr. Rogers

The news is everywhere, and children are becoming consumers of the news at younger and younger ages. Not all information is factual, and children might have a difficult time distinguishing between what is real and what is false. Children might also be frightened by things they hear from peers or news outlets. By age level, here are the things parents should focus on when discussing the news with their children.

Children Under 7
  • Keep the news off – children in the age group developmentally do not need to be seeing the news. Wait until children are in bed to get your nightly fix. Keep any pictures that might be violent or distressing out of sight of children, that includes things on the internet! Make sure your computers and tablets have child protections in place that include news channels. 
  • Emphasize that your family is safe – If your child does hear about a tragedy in the news, highlight to your child that your family is safe. Clear up any misconceptions that your child may have about what happened. Although we as adults know that chances are low, your child only needs to know that this won’t happen to them. Children are very black and white at this stage, and might be fearful if they think there’s even a tiny chance of something bad happening to them. 
  • Teach basic safety skills – 
    • Beginning at age 4, knowing how to call 911. Children should know how to call from a parent’s cell phone, and know to answer questions as best they can, without hanging up. 
    • Know address and phone numbers at age 3. Children can best learn this through a made up song. 
    • Know names of parents. 
Children 8-12
  • Ask what they know – they’re getting a lot of information and misinformation at school at this age, so ask first what they know, and correct any misconceptions. 
  • Allow them to ask questions – and answer in an age appropriate way. Take into account your child’s sensitivity. What is right for one child is not for another child.
  • Talk about the news, but filter coverage – Children of this age do not need to see the grisly photographs, but they can know about what is going on in the world in a discussion. 
  • Talk about what you can do to help – they can send politicians post cards or attend an event with you. Encouraging them to help will let them feel as though they are making a difference in the world. 
  • Have a plan – making a disaster or safety plan with your child will give them a sense of control. 
  • Acknowledge feelings – Big feelings during tragedies are a normal and valid reaction. Allow your child to mourn and question when bad things happen. Be comforting but also accepting.
  • Be open – check in with them and allow them to express their opinions. It’s ok to state yours, as long as you’re not shutting down your teen’s ideas.
  • Let them develop – Teenagers are creating their own morality at this stage, and it’s important for them to question and challenge ideas. Within this questioning is growth, and identifying who they are as a person.
  • Encourage activism – Teens can participate in their world even more than younger children. They can attend meetings and events, and raise awareness about issues that are important to them.
  • Do the same things you would do with younger children, but at their developmental level. Some teenagers might need reassurance from their parents. Some might need an action plan. Be open and aware of your teen’s feelings so that you can do what’s best for them.

No matter what the age of your child, watch for significant and lasting behavioral change from your child when they’ve heard about a tragedy. If these steps are not working to reassure and help your child feel safe, it might be time to seek some professional help. 

Questions? Contact Michelle at [email protected]

By: Michelle Beyer, LPC-Intern
Supervised by Karen Burke, LPC-S, RPT-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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