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20

Count Your Blessings

Posted by Collaborative Counseling

It is so easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life. All to often this causes us to become grumpy or irritable and we don’t take time to think about all of the things that make our lives good. So, how can we combat this negativity and remind ourselves of all the things that make our lives wonderful?

Take a Moment to Reflect

Every time something doesn’t go like we planned, or someone annoys us, or needs our time unexpectedly, let’s think of something that’s going right. Let’s think of all the good people in our lives. Moreover, how lucky we are to have things in our lives that sometimes need attention. How does that sound? I once counted my blessings for ten days straight, and have accumulated so many of them that they should last me a long time to come!

I admit, it does sound a bit more simple than it is. However, when negativity appears, it can help us to put things in perspective and neutralize them a bit. The next time you are feeling pessimistic, remember to take a time out and think about one thing that you are grateful for or that brings you happiness.

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13

Should I Get a Divorce?

Posted by Collaborative Counseling

Making the decision to divorce is often one of the most difficult choices to make for any person or couple considering separation. If you are questioning your decision or are trying to make a decision about whether or not to separate or divorce your spouse, it is important to think things through.

Of course there is no one question or set of questions to help you make this life decision, however there are some important things to consider that may help you sort through your thoughts and feelings related to your relationship.

Questions To Keep In Mind

  • What are the things that you would miss about this relationship?
  • What would ending this relationship lead you to give up? Think hard on this, there are always things you lose with the ending of a relationship.
  • Are there more things you can do to try to make this relationship work?
  • What is your role in this relationship not working? Are there things you could work on to improve this relationship?
  • Have you gotten all the help you could from counseling, your respected family members or others who may be able to support you in finding ways to work things out?
  • Is this a relationship you could see making improvements?
  • Is your spouse open to working on things?
  • Could you see yourself committing to try couples counseling or another form of relationship help to try to make changes?
  • Do you have children or other family members who will be impacted by this?
  • Can you imagine your life without your partner? If so, are there things you could learn to imagine having your partner also be a part of?
  • Is this relationship abusive in any way (emotionally, physically or verbally)? Is this something your or your partner needs to work on?
  • Are the issues you are having now a pattern you have had in other relationships?
  • Have you done everything you could to make things work? If not, what are your reasons for not trying?

Where Do We Go From Here?

Without working on issues you have and patterns from your current and past relationships, it is important to remember that you may just repeat this pattern in your next relationship. Furthermore, to prevent regrets or just avoidance of your own issues, it is important to consider if there is more you could do to save or repair this relationship.

Ultimately, you need to make this choice for what is best for both you and your family. It is a huge decision with lasting impacts.

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05

Be Conscious and Present

Posted by Collaborative Counseling

Multitasking vs. Presence

Often our attention is in too many places. When we try to do too many things at once, it increasingly distracts us from being present in any one thing. Our mind gets fractured into many pieces, decreasing our effectiveness. Think of the Dalai Lama, Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi and Mother Theresa. A lot goes right when people are conscious and present. All of these leaders showed up for hard decisions, courageous conversations, and to care for themselves and others. They showed up for the good, the bad and the ugly. It quickly becomes clear when we think of these leaders that being conscious and intentional makes a world of difference in how effective someone is when they are focused and present.

Choosing To Be Present

You might be wondering what does this have to do with me? We propose your presence or lack thereof has everything to do with how effective you are being in both your professional and personal life.

A French Proverb reminds us, “The one not ruled by the rudder, will be ruled by the rocks.”.  Those who keep the rudder in the water by staying focused on their intention, values and mission tend to reach their goals. If you don’t have a sense of these things it’s easy to get knocked off course by life’s everyday rocks.

Make The Change

Our challenge to you is to start being intentional and present in each interaction with others and as you work on each task throughout the day. Start noticing the difference in the outcomes of communication when you are present versus times when you are multi-tasking. Observe the difference in your energy when you are acting out of intention and presence.

It’s not always easy to be present and focused but the benefits are life changing. What difference do you notice in yourself when you are being present and in the moment versus distracted and fragmented?

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26

Develop Your Child’s Self-Efficacy

Posted by Collaborative Counseling

What Is Self-Efficacy?

Pretty much all parents aim to have confident and successful children. At the core of a confident person is the belief that “I am able”, “I can do this” or “I am good”. One of the keys to raising confident children is to help children to develop a sense of self-efficacy.

How To Encourage Self-Efficacy

In simple terms, you build self-efficacy through accomplishing things and doing things on your own. To help build this, never do for a child what they can do for themselves. Never is a strong word but if you err closer to never than always you are teaching your child that they can do for themselves, they are capable and they can figure their own problems out.

Children are always making decisions that shape their personality. Decisions become beliefs. Children are making decisions about:

  • Who they are (good or bad, capable or not capable)
  • What the world is like (safe or threatening)
  • What they need to do to survive or to thrive (based on decisions above)

My challenge to you: Try to draw out children’s own sense of resourcefulness. Encourage them to take risks and try things on their own so they can build up a reserve of confidence from all of their successes!

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08

Communicating With Your Teen

Posted by Collaborative Counseling

“I can’t take one more minute of this!”

“Don’t you dare think you can talk to me that way and get away with it!”

“Why don’t you ever listen to me? Do you think I’m talking to hear myself?”

“I don’t know why you have to make things so difficult!”

Even though we don’t like to admit it, many parents have either said, or heard someone say these things to an upset teenager. We try to tell ourselves that our teens are just making their problems into bigger issues, because things are no different than when we were teenagers.

News flash: things ARE different.

Then vs. Now

In our day, you didn’t find out that you missed out on a party until Monday when you got to school. Now, teens are posting pictures everywhere, and your child knows immediately that they’ve been left out.

In our day, magazines and movies served as our inspiration for our looks and fashion. Now, kids are inundated with images of supermodels, TV stars, reality TV, social media starlets, and the Instagram, Facebook, or Snapchat feed of kids they try to emulate.

In our day, being bullied meant that someone might knock your books out of your hand, or pass a note about you. Now, private messaging on social media allows for kids to be silently bullied while the whole world watches. And the result of this bullying is that suicide, teen violence and self harm have become more common.

In a world of in your face, up-to-the-minute moments, most of the conversations for many parents and their teens start with, “Could you put your phone down for a second?”. That ever familiar scroll-scroll-scroll of seeing what else is going on makes it hard to connect with your teens. Often, they don’t even know how to say what they’re thinking, because their thoughts don’t come out in 140 word phrases. Furthermore, they can’t edit, filter, or tag anyone, and they don’t like how messy and uncontrolled an open dialogue can be.

How to Approach Communicating With Your Teen

So where do you go? How do you help them? How do you draw them out, so they can share even the smallest things, like how their day was?

As a parent, it’s okay to not have all the answers, and to not get where they are coming from. However, offering to listen is the first step. So, if they don’t feel like they can talk to you, offer to find someone they can talk to. This is the best second step you can take. And a counselor can open those lines of communication. We can help them explore who they are, and how their feelings play into their role in the family. If you’re tired of the sadness of being frustrated, now is the time to ask for help.

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22

The Root of Conflict

Posted by Collaborative Counseling

Everyone has conflict in life. It is natural for us to have some conflict and arguments with others. Do you ever find yourself struggling to identify the root of a conflict?

What Causes Conflict?

Angeles Arrien, author of “The Four Fold Way” suggests 3 reasons for conflict:

  1. Not saying what we mean
  2. Not doing what we say
  3. Not saying what is so when it is so

Here are some ideas to consider when working to solve a conflict you may be having.

Not saying what we mean

  • Speak your truth! Get clear on your intention; ask yourself “what is my goal here?” Once you have that figured out work to speak your truth without blame or judgment.

Not doing what we say

  • If you commit to something, honor those commitments or communicate changes that may occur. When you don’t follow through on what you say you do, you damage the relationship. Trust or lack thereof can cause immeasurable damage to any relationship. Be a person of your word.

 Not saying what is so when it is so

  • Don’t hold back truths out of fear. Get clear on your goal/intenet and say what is so with love and care. When we communicate concerns or issues, we cast light on them and without light it can be hard to find the way out of any problem.

The next time you find yourself in a conflict, take the time to reflect on the situation and try to identify the cause of the issue. Then, you can work towards changing the dialogue. In addition, by using the ideas above, you may find yourself having more mindful and honest conversations when future conflicts arise.

For more information on “The Four Fold Way” check out our Relationship and Personal Growth page!

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11

Learning To Co-Parent

Posted by Collaborative Counseling

Essentials For Effective Co-Parenting

Developing healthy co-parenting practices can be very difficult between two parents where conflicts exist. Co-parenting is something all parents must do, which is learn to parent with someone who has different ideas for how to raise a child. In families of divorce learning to co-parent your child or children can become even more difficult.

It is important that parents work to be as consistent between their two homes as possible. There will of course be different levels of co-parenting in families of divorce. There are a few components to co-parenting that are very important. In the “Good Enough Co-Parenting Model” we work to teach about the four most important areas that parents must learn to be able to talk about. To raise a child between two people, parents must be able to discuss matters related to:

  1. Education
  2. Behaviors
  3. Health
  4. Schedule

Some parents are able to learn to discuss even more areas, but these are the most important areas that parents need to be able to plan and work through in order to raise a child together.

Getting Along

Working to decrease conflict is important in families of divorce. Decreasing conflict is important for many reasons including:

  • The more conflict between parents, the more stressful divorce can be for children.
  • The level of fighting between parents is an indicator of how well a child will adjust to divorce (e.g. less conflict leads to better adjustment for the child).
  • It helps to reduce the amount of “splitting” or “double-lives” children are forced to lead.

While you don’t need to be best friends with your ex, learning to get along and discuss matters related to your children is going to improve the health of your entire family.

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02

Moving Towards Change

Posted by Collaborative Counseling

Change Is Difficult

As almost all people know, it can be really hard to change! When we think about ways to move towards change, some ideas work well and others not so much. Here is a list of routes to change from least effective to most effective (according to Ann Betz, coach and poet).

Some Ways We Try to Make A Change

  • Ignore the problem – pretend everything is okay, push the feeling aside… This is NOT effective
  • Control the environment – make sure you don’t encounter stress. Helps a little but most stressors are unavoidable at some point
  • Name emotion – short venting. It’s great to name the emotion, however we still haven’t gotten to problem solving.

Effective Ways to Make A Change

  • Put attention on what’s important – explore what fulfills you. Here we get clear on our intent for ourselves and for our lives, this is important groundwork for the next steps!
  • Reframing – learn to look at things from a new angle. Now we are able to look at problems with a bit more objectivity and find new, healthier ways of thinking.
  • Mindfulness – learn to be in the here and now, get present. Often with depression, anxiety and other issues we are living in the past or the future. Learning to be mindful involves staying present to what’s going on right now. Until we learn to stay present, change can be hard to come by.

We are all guilty of trying to use the first few methods to make changes in our lives, even when we are aware that they are ineffective. Instead of utilizing these ineffective methods, think about the above routes to change and how you can move yourself towards the bottom few ideas. Using these tools will certainly move you closer to the change you desire

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26

How To Help Someone Struggling With Thoughts of Suicide

Posted by Collaborative Counseling

According to the CDC, more than 38,000 Americans commit suicide each year. While we often think of suicide in relation to teens or the younger population, middle-aged males make up the majority of suicides in the U.S.

Suicide can be the result of any number of issues that someone is facing. However, an estimated 90% of people who committed suicide were suffering from substance abuse issues or a mental illness such as depression, bipolar disorder or PTSD. Suicide can be the tragic answer that some turn to when they feel they have no other options.

Warning Signs

Suicide can be difficult to prevent. However, if you are aware of the warning signs you may be able to help a person who is struggling. Some warning signs of suicide are:

  • Talking about wanting to die
  • Talking about feeling trapped or being a burden to others
  • Increased alcohol or drug use
  • Isolating from family and friends
  • Depression
  • Loss of interest or withdrawing from activities

Keep in mind this is not a complete list of the warning signs of suicide. Therefore, if you suspect that someone you care about may be contemplating suicide, read on to find out what you can do to help them.

What to do if you suspect someone may be suicidal

  • Be open to talking with them and listening to what they have to say.
  • Try not to discredit their feelings or minimize their problems. Focus on validating them for how they feel.
  • Let someone else know.
  • If the person doesn’t seem to be in immediate danger: encourage them to seek help from a mental health professional or doctor.
  • If the person seems to be in immediate danger: stay with them and contact a suicide prevention resource or accompany them to the emergency room or to mental health services.

Furthermore, if you or someone you know think they may be suffering from a mental illness, it is key to begin treatment as soon as possible. As a result, this can help to prevent the symptoms from worsening and lessen the likelihood of them resorting to suicide.

Resources For Suicide

Some additional resources that may be helpful for someone who is thinking about suicide or someone looking to help are:

Those who are suicidal often times will not reach out for help. Sometimes the simplest things like letting someone know that you are there for them can give them the hope they need to open up to someone and potentially save their life.

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18

Teens and Self Harm

Posted by Collaborative Counseling
Teen Stress

Being A Teen Today

Teenage years are a very volatile and unpredictable time in a person’s life. They are too old to be considered children but still too young and immature to be considered adults. Frankly many parents are not fundamentally aware of the inherent distinction between the two stages, nor do they realise that the progression from child to adulthood is gradual. At this stage of life their hormones begin to go haywire as they prepare to cruise into adulthood. Often things such as peer pressure, bullying, disagreements, abuse and just plain ignorance can derail this delicate progression for teens.

At this stage of life teens require lots of understanding and patience. Teen counseling is very important to ensure that the chosen path into adulthood is navigated effectively. So many things can derail their progress that it’s a constant battle to make sure your words don’t fall on deaf ears. When teens find themselves in untenable situations sometimes they resort to self harm.

What Does Self Harm Look Like?

Self harm may include taking legal and illegal drugs, cutting themselves or engaging in high risk activities. Self harm can be a coping mechanism for dealing with pain, disappointment, neglect or abuse. When a teen is self harming it is very seldom that they will share this information with parents or guardians. This is when you know the situation has become indefensible and has pushed that teen to this extreme. Teens usually cut themselves in places that will not be easily visible like the arm and upper thighs that can be covered by long sleeves and pants.

How To Help Your Teen

It is paramount these at-risk teens get counseling before their actions lead to a more serious situation like them seriously or permanently hurting themselves or others. Listening is the most important step when counseling teens. Most often teens will continue to self harm when they feel that parents are judgemental and hypocritical towards them or lay blame squarely on their shoulders for any and all situations.

 

Reassuring your teen that help is available and things can improve is important. Some teens engaging in self harm feel a sense of hopelessness about things getting better and you want to reassure them that things can get better. Teens need to know someone is listening and that they have an outlet to air their frustrations and disappointment. They also need to know that there is always a different side, a better side to every situation.

 

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