Archive of ‘Healthy Relationships’ category

What Does Therapy Look Like From the Client’s Perspective?

Therapy can often feel like a very mystical and unknown affair. Many of us know about therapy or know someone who has gone to therapy, but unless we have experienced therapy for ourselves, it can be hard to know what actually goes on during a therapy session or what starting therapy looks like. This can sometimes hinder us from going to therapy ourselves as it can feel very overwhelming. 

Where to Start…

The first step in going to therapy, which is deciding whether or not you feel that you are ready for it, is usually the biggest step. This can take a very small amount of time for some, or a much longer time for others. This journey is completely yours, so it can be good to check in with yourself about whether or not you feel ready to start your therapeutic journey. 

Okay…now what?

After that the next step in starting therapy is usually finding a therapist. There can be a lot of things to take into consideration when finding a therapist that might be a good fit for you. Things like whether or not they take insurance, their location, availability, or speciality are all good things to think about. You might also find comfort in reading a little about the different therapists you are considering. Most therapists have introductions about themselves on the internet so you can get a better understanding of what they are like. This can make a huge difference in your connection and relationship with your therapist. 

After you find a therapist that is a good fit for you, the next step is scheduling your first appointment! This is such an exciting, but also scary thing! It takes so much courage to start something new, especially something as vulnerable as therapy. In this time it can be helpful to take time to appreciate the steps you are taking to invest in the quality of your life.

What Will the First Appointment Look Like?

Once you have made your first appointment you will usually sign a variety of forms just like you would for a doctor’s appointment! The therapist will also let you know where their office is located, or in the current state of the world, what video streaming service they will be calling you from and you will be set to go. 

Each therapist has their own individual approach to counseling so no two sessions will be exactly alike. However, usually the first session is similar to a get to know you event. There is a lot of time spent on getting comfortable with each other and sharing basic information about yourself. There might be some talk about what you hope to achieve in counseling so that you have an idea of what counseling may look like. 

Something to Keep in Mind

From this point, everyone’s counseling journey is so diverse and beautiful! You will develop a place in counseling where you feel safe to be authentically yourself. Some sessions might include a lot of emotions and healing, others might be a time to decompress and process what is going on in your life right now. Therapy is a journey and it looks different for everyone, but through this journey you may feel more like yourself than you ever have before.

**note: the words “therapy” & “counseling” can be used interchangeably (and are done so above).

Discovering the truth about ourselves is a lifetime’s work, but it’s worth the effort.

Fred Rogers

Curious about what this experience is like as a therapist? Check out this blog here!

Written by: Danielle Peartree, Office Manager Extraordinaire


Tips for Quality Time During Quarantine

What is quality time? According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, it is: “time spent giving all of one’s attention to someone who is close” You may be thinking “um…but aren’t I spending all my time with people who are close right now?” Yes, but I want to encourage you to think about what that time looks like and how quality time might be different. As I write this, I’m wondering if spending quality time with the people we are in contact with may be even more important right now. With many of us working from home, there is sometimes little distinction between work time and play time.

Anyone else answering work emails while playing with their kid? In my experience, these moments are sometimes necessary but are often frustrating for everyone involved. Or maybe you aren’t writing emails, but your mind is thinking about what you’ll say in your 2:00 meeting. Again, you may need to be with your child and plan for your meeting at the same time, I get that (I really do!) However, it’s important that there are times when your child, your partner, and, even yourself get your undivided attention. While my toddler lets me know in no uncertain terms when I’m not paying enough attention to him, an older child or partner may be more subtle. Here are a few things to look out for and ideas for connecting.

With your Kids

Signs you child could benefit from some quality time with you:

  • They appear easily frustrated when you need to complete a task
  • They seem to need your help with everything, including tasks you know they can do themselves
  • They repeatedly do things that require you to stop what you are doing and attend to them, even if it’s to tell them to stop
  • You are feeling annoyed, irritated, worried or guilty 

Tips for quality time with kids

  • Turn off your phone and play with your kids…it doesn’t matter if they’re 2 and want to build towers and knock them down or 15 and want to play video games or do a craft project. 
  • Let your child choose an activity they want to share with you or brainstorm a list of activities together and take turns picking something off the list.
  • Be curious—ask open-ended questions like “what do you like most about this song?” “How do you feel about that?” “What are you most looking forward to?
  • For young children, plan for at least 10 minutes a day. For older children, try a minimum of 30 minutes once a week of focused “special time.” Teens may appreciate less frequent but longer stretches of time.
  • Check out this post for some fun activities to do with kids during quarantine.

With your Partner

Signs your relationship could use some attention:

  • You’re bickering often over “small stuff
  • You or your partner feels disconnected
  • You’re having frequent miscommunications
  • It’s been a while since you had a date night or spent one-on-one time together without distractions

Tips for quality time with your partner

  • If possible, find a time when you won’t be interrupted by kids or work (and turn your phone off!)
  • Schedule a date night. You may not be able to go to your favorite restaurant, but you can order take-out and watch a movie, go for a walk, play a game, or have a picnic in your backyard. 
  • Set aside 10 minutes before bed each night to check in about your day or cuddle.
  • Accomplish something together. This could be a house project, a puzzle, a new fitness routine, or whatever suits your interests.
  • Download one of these apps or read this blog post to learn more about each other and get ideas for strengthening your relationship.

With Yourself

Signs you could use some attention:

  • You’re easily frustrated or feel irritable and on edge
  • You notice you’re holding tension in your body 
  • You feel drained (physically, emotionally, mentally)
  • You feel anxious, worried, sad, agitated

Tips for quality time with yourself:

  • Find a space that feels good to you. If you don’t have one, try to create a cozy, calming atmosphere by lighting a candle, wrapping up in a blanket, or designating a corner of your room as your calming area. You can add cushions, a comfy chair, favorite pictures or an essential oil diffuser.
  • If you live with other people, tell them you need some to yourself and to not disturb you unless it’s an emergency (of course, if you’re alone with young children you may need to time this for their nap time or after they’re in bed).
  • Take a walk and just notice how your body feels, the thoughts you’re having, feelings that come up. Try to notice these things without judgement. Check out this post for some mindfulness tips and tricks.
  • Journal, paint, or do something else creative.
  • Read a book, listen to music, or watch a show that makes you feel good.
  • Avoid doing chores, answering emails, or working during this time!

It doesn’t so much matter what you do, but that you set aside time to be truly present, whether it’s with yourself, your children, your partner, or anyone else. Just enjoying each other can help deepen your connection and bring a greater sense of peace and belonging during this unpredictable time.

“Connection is why we’re here; it is what gives purpose and meaning to our lives.”

Brene Brown
By: Magdalen Marrone, LCSW


Back to School: Fall 2020 Edition

With summer quickly coming to an end, the back to school preparation looks a little different this year. In fact, this year has looked a lot different than any other year so far. Because of all the changes that are occurring I wanted to give my Back to School list of resources for families.

Talking, again, about COVID-19

COVID-19 has taken a toll on families in the shape of illness, job loss, life loss, staying at home with the whole family, the changing of school structure, and so much more. It is exhausting trying to keep a “normal” with so much chaos and change. It is SO important for families to focus on connection. Connection can be small moments of checking in or intentional moments, like a family dinner or meeting. By maintaining connection in the family, you are allowing natural moments of empathy and understanding to occur. These connection moments can let a family adapt through change by knowing where every family member is emotionally. Below are some resources to help families set up time to connect, how to connect, and what to connect about.

Families and Black Lives Matter

The Black Lives Matter movement has created a lot of conversations in families and communities. Talking through questions like:

  • What is racism?
  • Is reverse racism real?
  • What is white privilege?
  • What is systemic racism?
  • Am I part of the problem?
  • How can I be part of the change?
  • In what ways can I support Black Lives Matter?

These questions can feel overwhelming. Connection, again, is a key ingredient in creating conversation with your family in how to research, educate, and answer these many questions. Below are some resources to help families talk through how to educate themselves, their family, and support Black Lives Matter.

General Resources for Your Family

The below include general resources/suggestions for you and your family to practice self-care, in general. Remember–there is not a right or wrong way to practice self-care and to feel your feelings as long as you’re giving yourself the opportunity to do so!

The above resources are a collection of books, podcasts, words of encouragement, documents, and websites from myself and by my colleagues in the therapy field! Thank you to all of my friends and colleagues in the therapy world to help me create this back to school list. I also want to note that the resources are not exhaustive by any means; there are MANY tips, tricks, tools–this barely scratches the surface. However, it felt like a great place to start and a necessary tool to share with families. Feel free to reach out with any questions or concerns!

By: Julie Smith, LMFT


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