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You and your significant other have decided you are ready to take your relationship to another level by getting married. Congratulations on making this decision! With all the excitement in the air about getting married and planning for a wedding, you may have given little thought to some serious topics that will impact you long after you have celebrated your union.

Through my conversations with newlyweds and couples in general, I have found these ten topics to be important to discuss prior to marriage. I encourage you to dive deep and spend some time with your significant other discussing what you want life to look like after you say I do. Focusing on these topics now can help you build a great foundation as a couple.

1. Communication – Effective communication is the lifeline of a relationship. There are so many things you will need to communicate as a couple. To begin, consider each of your communication styles. How are they different? How are they similar? Issues will arise and disagreements will come. Think about how you might want to work through these things. How have you previously handled disagreements? Did it work? If not, learn communication techniques or conflict resolution strategies to help you get through these moments. Your discussion of the remainder of the topics is a great opportunity to practice your communication skills.

2. Family Background– Whether you have met your significant other’s family members or not, your upbringing is worth discussing. Discuss your family dynamics. What was it like to live in your family growing up and what is like to be a part of the family now? What are your family traditions? Do you plan to continue with any of them?

3. Expectations of Your Spouse/Partner – Each person has ideas of how they imagine their marriage will be and what they expect from each other. Instead of leaving it to chance that your spouse/partner will read your mind and know what you expect, clearly communicate your expectations of each other.

4. Relationship with in-laws –. While starting your own family can be exciting, it may also present some challenges with staying connected to your individual families. Discuss how you want to remain connected to your families. How do you want to spend time with them? How will you all celebrate holidays (with or without family and with whose family)? Don’t let these moments creep up on you before you decide.

5. Managing finances – Finances is often an issue for many couples, especially if you haven’t discussed your financial expectations and plans. To get a better understanding of your significant other’s views on finances, discuss your upbringing as it relates to financial management (i.e. how was it managed in your home?) and how you are currently managing finances. How do you plan to manage your money (i.e. budget, separate or joint checking accounts)? What are your short-term and long-term financial goals as a couple?

6. Sex – Whether you have had sex or you are waiting until marriage, you will want to talk with your significant other about sex. Discuss your sexual health, your concerns as well as your expectations. Also acknowledge that your desires and needs may be different and can change. Be open to talking about that. It may be hard for you to start this conversation, however, you will be glad you did. If you find it difficult to address this topic, consider seeking professional assistance. A therapist can offer you the safe space you need to openly talk through this topic.

7. Career Plans – Along with money and sex, career plans is another top concern for couples. Prior to marriage, spend some time with your significant other discussing your individual career plans. Consider how your current jobs and future career plans will impact your relationship or the expansion of your family.  If you travel a lot, work long hours, or have different work hours, how will this affect your relationship? If one of you will have to relocate to join the other person, what impact will relocation have on your relationship or the other person’s career plans?

8. Addressing Unresolved Issues – Marriage can be viewed as a way to escape issues from your past that have not been resolved. However, these issues will follow you into marriage. Before you say I do, consider how past hurts, disappointments, resentment, and failed relationships have affected you. Discuss these with your significant other and determine how to best address them. Seek professional assistance if need be.

9. Expanding Your Family – It is important for you and your significant other to have an open conversation about whether you would like to expand your family beyond the two of you (and your fur babies). Decide if you want to have children. How many children would you like to have? When would you want to have them? Are you open to adoption or foster care? Are you willing to care for family members (i.e. nieces, nephews, cousins, etc.)?

10. Religion & Spirituality – Whether you have no beliefs, the same beliefs, or different beliefs, it is important to discuss this topic together. Even if you have similar religious or spiritual backgrounds, there may be some differences in your practices or beliefs. If you have different backgrounds, you may want to decide how you plan to continue your practices separately or together.

Hopefully, this list will help you start an insightful conversation that could lead to a much better future for you and your significant other. As you discuss each of these topics, you may realize that there are additional topics that are relevant for you all to consider. If you feel that you need assistance in addressing any of these areas, schedule an appointment with me. As a Prepare Enrich facilitator,  I like working with engaged and newlywed couples. I can help you explore various areas of your relationship while also providing you with skills and tools to help strengthen your relationship. To schedule an appointment contact me at 706-425-8900 ext. 704 or marian@ca4wellbeing.com.

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You have graduated from high school, spent the summer making memories with family and friends, and now it’s time to start college.  You may experience mixed emotions given this new journey in your life.  You might be excited to have a new independence – living on your own, deciding when and what to eat, hanging out late with friends.  Perhaps, sharing a room with a complete stranger makes you a little nervous or maybe you are enthusiastic about having a new friend to study with or to join you for social events.  You may have concerns about your courses- will I like them?  Will they be too hard?  Will I meet the professor’s expectations?  All these emotional responses and thoughts are normal when adjusting to college.  It will take some time for you to acclimate to this new environment and to become comfortable with this new chapter in your life.  So don’t think that everything will fall into place the first day of school.  Here are a few tips to help you make a smooth college transition and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

  1. Get to know the campus.  Take a tour with an upper-class student.  Learn the buildings where you will have classes, meetings, and social events.  Becoming aware of your surroundings will make you feel more comfortable with the new environment.
  1. Give attention to food choices.  The endless amount of food at the dining halls and late night food runs makes it easy to develop unhealthy eating habits.  Be mindful of the foods you are eating and make food choices that you feel are best for you.
  1. Make time to move.  You may refer to this as exercise but moving your body can help you with managing stress, anxiety, and depression.  You don’t have to go to the gym in order to reap the benefits.  Simply walk to or around campus instead of riding the bus or driving your car, play an intramural sport, or enroll in a dance class.
  1. Get some zzzzz!  Late night studying or hanging out late may result in poor sleeping habits.  It’s important that you are getting proper sleep in order to be alert and productive.  Lack of sleep can impact your memory, mood, ability to learn and retain information, increase stress, and may result in injuries or long-term health issues.
  1. Ask for help.  Avoid waiting until mid-semester or the end of the semester to seek help with your academic work.  Take advantage of tutoring services, the writing center, study sessions, and professors’ office hours.  If you have a disability, register with the Disability Resource Center in order to arrange for accommodations.  Planning ahead can help you be successful in your classes.
  1. Have a healthy relationship with your roommate(s).  Having a roommate can be a big adjustment for all parties.   It is important for you and your roommate to meet and communicate expectations.  Develop an agreement about how you all will share your space.         
  1. Meet your professors.  You might think your professors are only interested in lecturing but faculty like to get to know their students as well.  Visit them during their office hours and introduce yourself.  If you have questions about the class, class preparation, or ideas discussed in class, talk with the professors about them.  Don’t wait until you need a recommendation letter to introduce yourself to your professors.  Meet with them now!
  1. Make new friends.  College is a time to meet new people and make great connections.  You will encounter people from different backgrounds and even from different parts of the world.  You may find it easy to make new friends or it may take time for you to establish relationships.  Regardless, take the opportunity to meet someone new.  You may just gain a lifelong friend.

With these tips in hand, you should be well on your way to having a successful first year of college.  If you find that you are having a difficult time with this transition, you are welcome to meet with me.  I have over 14 years of experience working with college students.  I’d be glad to help you on your new journey.  I can be reached at Marian@ca4wellbeing.com or 706-425-8900 ext. 704.

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It’s Monday morning. Time for you to wake-up and head to your job. You know the one that you dislike going to everyday. The job where you feel like your skills are not being used. The job that does not match with your interest. You know that job where you sit and daydream about the future and wonder if you will find a career that is suitable for you. If this sounds like you, then you need a new career.

There is nothing more miserable than working a job that leaves you feeling empty, frustrated, and longing for more. If you are tired of feeling this way, today is the day for you to start planning for your career change. In order to make this change, you must first look within yourself and then decide on the career that will be best for you. Here’s a few areas for you to assess before moving into your next career.

What Do You Do Naturally?
Before you can move forward in your new career, spend some time getting to know yourself. Self-awareness is important to securing the job you want in the career field that’s best for you. You can start by thinking about your natural abilities and skill set. Your natural abilities are simply your innate strengths. You may often hear your family or friends marvel about something that you always seem to do so well. “Wow, you really are good with organizing and decorating your home, office, or any space you are in.” What are your abilities that always lead to compliments from others? Make a list of them and use them to determine what type of career would allow you to use them.

Skills are competencies developed from learning or practice. Some skill sets include helping, management, teaching, leadership, design, financial, problem solving, and mechanical. Although you may have skills in several areas, you should decide whether you like using all the skills that you possess. For example, you may possess supervisory skills but do you enjoy being a supervisor? If not, this is a skill set that you may not want to continue using. Take a moment to think about the skills you use in your job on a daily basis. Identify the ones you like to use and the ones you do not like to use. Also, identify the skills that you have and do not currently use but would like to use. If you are unsure of the skills that you possess, a skills survey can help you determine the ones you have and like to use.

What Does Your Personality Say About You?
Believe it or not, your personality is a good indicator of the type of career you may want to consider. I recommend taking the Myers Briggs-Type Indicator, the most widely used personality tool, to assess this area. The MBTI will assess how you focus your attention (inward or outward), how you gather information (basic information or adding interpretation and meaning), how you make decisions (by using logic or considering people and circumstances), and how you structure your world (decided or flexibility). Upon completion of the MBTI, you will be assigned a personality type which further identifies your strengths and how you best work. Using your type information, you can identify careers that are most suitable for your personality. While there are many online versions of this assessment, I am qualified to administer and interpret the official version of the MBTI which gives you a more accurate picture of your type.

What Are Your Main Interests?
Your interests can cover several different areas. Some interests may be more suitable for a career while others may be well suited for hobbies. The Strong Interest Inventory can be beneficial in understanding your interests and the careers associated with your interests. The assessment is based on the concept that people are more satisfied when they work in careers that are of interest to them and when they work with people who have similar interests. This assessment categorizes interests into six different areas. Once you have completed the assessment, your interest areas are identified and further explained in a personalized report. The report also includes a list of careers related to your interests along with information about your work style, learning style, and risk-taking orientation. I find the Strong Interest Inventory to be a great complement to the MBTI.

What Do You Value?
Your values are a reflection of what you consider important and a priority in your life. You need to know what you value in your work space in order to have a satisfying and rewarding career. Some career values include salary, work location, benefits, stable employment, challenging work responsibilities, opportunities for advancement/promotion, and recognition. While career values are important, you also have to consider your life values and factor them into your new career plans. Some life values include education, family, freedom, health, honesty, independence, integrity, and loyalty. Take a moment to note your values and think about how important they are for your next career.

Once you have gathered information about yourself in these areas, begin to look for common themes. Do you see commonalities between the skills you prefer to use and your interests? Do your values align with your interests? From each of these areas, you can start putting the pieces together to determine what you will want in your new career. The next step is to determine careers where you can be yourself – natural abilities, skills, personality, interests, and values. The assessments that I previously mentioned (Myers Briggs Type Indicator and the Strong Interest Inventory) can offer a great start with a list of careers associated with your personality and interests. If you have some careers in mind that you want to consider, research them and decide whether they are suitable given your abilities, skills, personality, interests, and values.

If you would like assistance with making your career change, contact me at marian@ca4wellbeing.com or 706-425-8900 ext. 704 to schedule an appointment.

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Courtesy of PhotoDune

Love the One You’re With: Understanding Personality Differences and Communication Styles in Your Marriage

March 21st, 10am-12pm, Cornerstone Church, Athens, GA

Facilitated by Marian Higgins, LPC

Do you ever find yourself wondering why you and your spouse communicate differently?  You are not alone.  Many couples struggle in this area.   Our personality differences can challenge our relationships but they can also be one of the greatest parts of our marriages.

During this interactive workshop, you and your spouse will:

  • gain a better understanding of your personalities and how to best communicate given your personality type.
  • take the Myers Briggs Type Indicator, a personality assessment that can help couples with communication in their relationship.
  • and engage in a series of activities and learn techniques that you can use in your marriage.

Whether you are engaged, newly married, or have been married for years, you will benefit from this workshop.

REGISTRATION

Registration is $60 and includes two assessments and a book.  Space is limited.  Sign-up today by contacting Marian Higgins at marian@ca4wellbeing.com or 706-425-8900 ext. 704.  The deadline to register is Thursday, March 19th.

 

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Premarital counseling can offer couples the insight they need to prepare for marriage.  It is designed to provide marriage education while also helping couples to develop the skills needed for a successful marriage.  Participating in premarital counseling does not mean something is wrong with your relationship.  In fact, it means that you are ready to establish a solid foundation for your marriage and want to prevent future problems from occurring in your marriage.

Some Benefits to Premarital Counseling include:

  • Increasing commitment to your relationship and marriage
  • Developing and enhancing your communication skills as a couple
  • Learning effective techniques for handling conflict
  • Reducing your risk for divorce
  • Giving more attention to a healthy marriage

As a counselor, I utilize the Prepare Enrich couples counseling program.   Prepare Enrich offers a customized online couples’ assessment that identifies a couple’s strength and growth areas.  It is one of the most widely used programs for premarital counseling and premarital education.  Over 3 million couples have completed this program.  It is also used for marriage counseling, marriage enrichment, and dating couples considering engagement.  Based on a couple’s assessment results, we will schedule 6-8 feedback sessions in which I will use various exercises to help couples discuss and understand their results as they are taught proven relationship skills.

The major goals of the PREPARE/ENRICH program is to help couples:

  • Explore strength and growth areas
  • Strengthen communication skills
  • Identify and manage major stressors
  • Resolve conflict using the Ten Step Model
  • Develop a more balanced relationship
  • Explore family of origin issues
  • Discuss financial planning and budgeting
  • Establish personal, couple and family goals
  • Understand and appreciate personality differences

Couples who sign-up for premarital counseling will receive 2 Prepare/Enrich workbooks, 2 copies of customized comprehensive couple reports, and a certificate of completion.  The certificate of completion can be used to save on your marriage license in Georgia.  Other states may offer this incentive as well.

To schedule your initial session or to inquire about rates and packages, contact Marian Higgins, Ph.D., marian@ca4wellbeing.com or 706-425-8900 ext. 704.

15 Dec 2014
December 15, 2014

New Career Workshop

Education, News, Programs

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DISCOVER & LIVE YOUR CALLING: A FAITH BASED CAREER WORKSHOP

Beginning January 10, 2015- February 28, 2015

8 weekly sessions, Saturdays, 10AM-11:30AM

Are you thinking about a new career?  Feeling stuck in your current job?  Unsure of what type of career will be a fit for you?  Join us for an 8 week faith based workshop that will help you find your calling as it relates to your career.  As a participant, you will have an opportunity to take the Strong Interest Inventory and the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) assessments.  Together, we will develop an action plan for pursuing a rewarding career.

Benefits of Participating

  • Identify your interests, personality, skills, values, and how they relate to discovering your calling and career;
  • Address the barriers keeping you from pursuing your calling;
  • Learn effective strategies for securing the right career for you;
  • Develop a vision for moving into a new career in the new year;
  • Build relationships with people who desire similar outcomes as you;
  • Explore how to live your faith more fully during this process;
  • Experience the life for which God created you.

Facilitated By: Dr. Marian Higgins, Career Counselor and Licensed Professional Counselor

Investment: $360 per person includes book, assessments, and interpretations

To Register: Contact Marian Higgins, marian@ca4wellbeing.com or 706-425-8900 ext. 704.  The workshop is limited to 8 participants.  Registration deadline is January 7th.

Location: Counseling Associates for Wellbeing, 1 Huntington Rd., Suite 703, Athens, GA

Special offer display

In honor of National Career Development month, I’m offering a special on my career packages.  Get 20% off a package from November 24, 2014-December 1, 2014. These packages make great gifts for high school students, recent or soon-to-be college graduates, or for professionals looking for career advancement or career change.  To take advantage of this special, contact me at marian@ca4wellbeing.com or 706-425-8900.

Career Assessment Package$450 $360

This package is designed to help you gain awareness of how your personality, skills, values, and interests play a role in choosing a career, and to explore these aspects of you for use in career planning. This package includes 4 sessions and the completion of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and the Strong Interest Inventory.

Interview Coaching Package$350$280

Need help getting ready for your next big interview? Interview coaching will help you feel confident about your ability to communicate effectively during an interview. During three sessions, you will learn how to make a lasting impression with your interviewer. We will discuss appropriate attire, the importance of researching the company/institution, responding to interview questions, asking appropriate questions, and how to follow-up. You will receive honest feedback on how to improve your chances of getting the job you want or on getting into the college of your choice. This package also includes a critique of resume and cover letter.

Package for Recent Graduates$550 $440

(For high school, college, and graduate/professional school recent graduates)

Still not sure what you want to do now that you have graduated? Meet with me to explore your future plans. Package includes initial intake, assessment of your interests, skills, personality, and values, identifying your educational and career options, and developing an action plan for achieving your career goal. This package includes 5 sessions, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator assessment, the Strong Interest Inventory assessment, a skills and values assessment.

 

You have graduated from high school, spent the summer making memories with family and friends, and now it’s time to start college.  You may experience mixed emotions given this new journey in your life.  You might be excited to have a new independence – living on your own, deciding when and what to eat, hanging out late with friends.  Perhaps, sharing a room with a complete stranger makes you a little nervous or maybe you are enthusiastic about having a new friend to study with or to join you for social events.  You may have concerns about your courses- will I like them?  Will they be too hard?  Will I meet the professor’s expectations?  All these emotional responses and thoughts are normal when adjusting to college.  It will take some time for you to acclimate to this new environment and to become comfortable with this new chapter in your life.  So don’t think that everything will fall into place the first day of school.  Here are a few tips to help you make a smooth college transition and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

  1. Get to know the campus.  Take a tour with an upper-class student.  Learn the buildings where you will have classes, meetings, and social events.  Becoming aware of your surroundings will make you feel more comfortable with the new environment.
  1. Give attention to food choices.  The endless amount of food at the dining halls and late night food runs makes it easy to develop unhealthy eating habits.  Be mindful of the foods you are eating and make food choices that you feel are best for you.
  1. Make time to move.  You may refer to this as exercise but moving your body can help you with managing stress, anxiety, and depression.  You don’t have to go to the gym in order to reap the benefits.  Simply walk to or around campus instead of riding the bus or driving your car, play an intramural sport, or enroll in a dance class.
  1. Get some zzzzz!  Late night studying or hanging out late may result in poor sleeping habits.  It’s important that you are getting proper sleep in order to be alert and productive.  Lack of sleep can impact your memory, mood, ability to learn and retain information, increase stress, and may result in injuries or long-term health issues.
  1. Ask for help.  Avoid waiting until mid-semester or the end of the semester to seek help with your academic work.  Take advantage of tutoring services, the writing center, study sessions, and professors’ office hours.  If you have a disability, register with the Disability Resource Center in order to arrange for accommodations.  Planning ahead can help you be successful in your classes.
  1. Have a healthy relationship with your roommate(s).  Having a roommate can be a big adjustment for all parties.   It is important for you and your roommate to meet and communicate expectations.  Develop an agreement about how you all will share your space.         
  1. Meet your professors.  You might think your professors are only interested in lecturing but faculty like to get to know their students as well.  Visit them during their office hours and introduce yourself.  If you have questions about the class, class preparation, or ideas discussed in class, talk with the professors about them.  Don’t wait until you need a recommendation letter to introduce yourself to your professors.  Meet with them now!
  1. Make new friends.  College is a time to meet new people and make great connections.  You will encounter people from different backgrounds and even from different parts of the world.  You may find it easy to make new friends or it may take time for you to establish relationships.  Regardless, take the opportunity to meet someone new.  You may just gain a lifelong friend.

With these tips in hand, you should be well on your way to having a successful first year of college.  If you find that you are having a difficult time with this transition, you are welcome to meet with me.  I have over 14 years of experience working with college students.  I’d be glad to help you on your new journey.  I can be reached at Marian@ca4wellbeing.com or 706-425-8900 ext. 704.

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Have you ever felt stuck in your career? Perhaps, you know what you want to do but you’re unsure of how to get started. Career counseling can provide you with the steps you need to get unstuck or to pursue your dream career. Career counseling is a specialized area of counseling that focuses on assisting individuals with their career, work, and life planning. It is a process of discovering the career that may be best for you given your interests, skills, abilities, personality, values, and experiences. It also involves career preparation. Whether you need to learn job search strategies, how to put together a resume, cover letter, or prepare for an interview, career counseling can provide you with the steps you need to land your next career.

A career counselor is a professional who has the training and experience to effectively facilitate the career counseling process. She can assist you with exploring your career options while also helping you understand job requirements, responsibilities, and the type of training needed. A career counselor can teach you appropriate strategies for pursuing a career and help you develop a plan of action.

Career counseling services are not limited to helping you find a career but you can also discuss workplace issues. Perhaps, you may feel stressed at work or you want to advance in your career. A career counselor can assist you with these issues as well.

If you are interested in career counseling, schedule an appointment with career counselor, Marian Higgins. She can be reached at marian@ca4wellbeing.com or 706-425-8900 ext. 704.

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