I recently sent my first child off to college and my second will not be far behind. With the reality of becoming empty nesters looming, my husband and I have discussed moving from our home we have raised our children in for the past seventeen years. This has prompted me to begin the process of cleaning and purging clutter that has accumulated in our house over the past two decades. I am a sentimental person and have a hard time parting with items that feel special to me, but as I began emptying out closets and boxes I began to realize that I might actually be a bit of a hoarder! Books and papers from grad school, cards from my wedding [both of which took place over 20 years ago!], finally found their way to the dumpster. I carefully weighed the value of each item I came across as I asked myself… “do I really need to keep this”?? As I opened each box I felt like I was reliving a chapter in my life, it was like the story of my life was unfolding in front of me. I found items from first jobs, graduate school, mementos from dating my husband and our engagement, notes from planning my wedding, information from buying our first house, keepsakes from having my first then second child, reminders of my life as a stay at home mom, papers pertaining to reactivating my license once I made the decision to return to work years later, the list could go on and on.
I went through each box and cabinet revisiting the different phases of my life, carefully choosing the items that felt important enough to follow me to the next phase. I could not pitch everything. I did not throw away all of the priceless papers, mementos, or wrinkled drawings that my now grown children brought home from their early days of school. The numerous letters and stories from my children when they were young declaring how much they loved me, definite keepers! As anyone with teenagers knows, it is highly unlikely you will hear much of these sentiments as they enter middle and high school! I came across letters from my husband when we were dating, gentle reminders of the past and what brought us together so many years ago, things that are sometimes hard to recall when dealing with the struggles and changes that come with a marriage or long-term relationship. And I can’t forget the box of completely unnecessary random “stuff” from my own childhood, old stuffed animals, old clothes, pictures and keepsakes.
Life presents us with many twists and turns, and even some of the most joyous moments paradoxically come with stress, anxiety, sadness and grief. As I experience and adjust to a new major life change, I can’t help but reflect on my journey and the previous major transitions in my life, the joys, the struggles, and how I have experienced and gotten through each one. I look back on my relationship with my husband, who I have now been married to for over 20 years, and reflect on the ups and downs we have had, the good times, the bad, and the struggles we have experienced and overcome as we have lived through many life stages and changes together. It’s a joyous time to be celebrated when two people get married, but very few people tell you how hard this relationship is going to be, and how much work is involved on an ongoing basis to sustain the relationship and the changes you will go through.
Becoming a mom was without a doubt one of the happiest moments of my life, but along with this also came some of the biggest changes and challenges I have experienced. Deciding to become a stay at home mom, and not only reinventing my day to day life but reinventing myself in the process, was no easy task. Many people who have not experienced this role may assume the life of a stay at home mom is a life of leisure. While I loved being available to spend my time with my young children and am thankful I had the choice to do so, I will tell you it is definitely not a leisurely life! It is a role that also comes with learning to navigate many challenging dynamics of its own.
Flash forward years down the road I found myself contemplating how to get back into the workforce. Having not worked in my field in 10 years the thought of putting myself out there was scary, overwhelming and very anxiety provoking. But put myself out there I did, and while going back to work and setting the goal to get my LCSW seemed almost impossible, here I proudly sit today as an LCSW in private practice, exactly where I had hoped I could get to so many years ago.
And now, I begin to face and deal with one of the most difficult things I have had to do in a very long time, sending my children out into the world on their own. This is not only a huge change in my day to day life, but also a major identity shift for me as my role in their lives changes drastically. Once again, I find myself facing this new challenge with mixed emotions, while there is a lot of sadness over this shift in my life, there is also a sense of curiosity and interest to see what the future holds for me and what is yet to unfold.
I find great joy in working with people trying to find new avenues in life, people who may be struggling with a major life change and identity shift, and enjoy helping them create their vision for the future. If you are facing a major change in your life it can help to have an objective ear and some added support to get through the challenges that come with these transitions. My personal and professional experience provide me with a great deal of knowledge when dealing with some of life’s major transitions. If you are struggling in your relationship, are getting married or adjusting to being newly married, ending a long-term relationship, contemplating divorce or going through a divorce, starting a family, becoming a stay at home mom or returning to work after years of staying home with your kids, contemplating a career change, sending a child off to school or becoming an empty nester, give me a call or send me an email. I would love to help you navigate this challenging yet exciting time of your life that is filled with many possibilities. call: 706-425-8900 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Growing up I don’t think I ever fully appreciated all the things my mom had to do to fulfill all the roles that she played. She is a mother, a wife, a daughter, a sister, an aunt, and an employee among others. As a kid, and particularly as a male child, I took it for granted that she would take care of me, regardless of what she was going through. It never occurred to me that what was happening at work, or what was happening between my parents, could affect my mother deeply. All I ever really knew was that my dinner was going to be cooked, my clothes were going to be washed, my sheets clean, and the home I lived in well kept. Those things I never doubted.
It wasn’t until I became a therapist and saw a pattern among my clients that I realized how physically and emotionally draining it can be for one person to take on all those roles. I see women who always put others before themselves and it wears them out. When I ask questions like “What would you like to do for yourself?” they often just sit and shake their heads, unable to think of anything. These women literally have not thought of themselves as anything except a mother/employee/wife in years. I might then ask another way, “If you had some magical ability to make the world stand still and you could do ANYTHING, what would you do?”. Given the freedom of imagination that affords unlimited power and resources what would a mother choose? I’ve heard “I would love to just take a nap!”, and I’ve heard “I’d love to be able to spend time with my kids without worrying about _______ (my job, my father, my bills, etc.).” This simultaneously speaks to how dedicated mothers are, that they cannot even imagine a world where they don’t worry about their family first, and it also says a lot about our social structure, that we expect women to be so self-sacrificing that they can’t even imagine doing solely for themselves.
We have shifted culturally from the sort of 1950’s “ideal” American family in which the husband went off to work every day and the wife stayed home and took care of the house and the children. Despite expecting women to work a fulltime job to help support the family financially we still have the same cultural expectations about division of labor within the household. This creates role strain and role conflict, often in physically and emotionally damaging amounts, for many women. (Learn more about role strain and role conflict here). Nor is this a new phenomenon of the 21st century with our fast paced, technology based society. In 1966 the Rolling Stones wrote “Mother’s Little Helper” about housewives of the day taking (and often becoming addicted to and/or overdosing on) prescription sedatives. Today women still do the majority of housework while also working outside the home. A 2010 study showed that women spend about 25.9 hours a week taking care of home and children to men’s 16.8 hours. The women who I’ve spoken with feel driven and even if they could sit and try to relax after work most would feel too guilty. Is it any surprise then, that so many mothers feel anxious and/or depressed? What a tragedy that these women who take care of us all are, arguably, underappreciated.
Finally, I’d like to take a moment to share my appreciation for my own mother. I may not have fully appreciated everything that you did for me growing up and I certainly took for granted that you would always be there, but now I recognize that if not for you I would not be the compassionate and thoughtful person that I am today. These traits are essential to who I am as a therapist and as a person, and for that I cannot ever thank you enough. I love you, mom.
Do you experience role conflict and role strain? I’m happy to help you sort through these complex emotions and learn to let go of some of the anxiety and/or depression that comes as a result. Call (706) 534 – 8558 or e-mail me at Aaron@ca4wellbeing.com to setup a time to talk.
My daughter is a senior in high school. That means we have spent much of the past year focusing on ACT testing and scores, college applications, essays, etc., etc. On February tenth all of the hard work, anxiety and stress of this past year came to an end as she received her acceptance into her number one choice of schools, which also happens to be both of her parents’ alma mater, so to say we were all thrilled would be putting it mildly! But something else also happened once the dust settled, I realized that very soon my first born will be leaving for college, not only a huge life change for her but a major life transition for me. While the abstract idea has always been there, now it is staring me in the face and is something I can no longer ignore. What does that mean for me? The past 18 years my primary focus has been on parenting my kids, and in two short years they will both be in college. So part of my “job”, and a lot of my identity is going to change. While I will always be mom to my son and daughter my role in their lives will without a doubt soon be different. I am sad about my kids leaving home but I also realize once I have readjusted there will be many positive aspects of my new life, such as more time for me and my husband to do things on our own without worrying about 2 other people’s schedules, and time to begin focusing more on myself and consider other interests in my life I may not have had time for before. I joked as senior year started that I wasn’t quite ready for this but it was coming whether I was ready or not. Life moves on and changes are going to happen, whether we are ready or not! Getting married, starting a new job, moving into a new house, having a child, the list goes on and on, are all positive changes in life. But even the positive changes are stressful and can be hard to deal with. There may be mixed emotions, I can absolutely relate to feeling very happy and very sad at the same time as we approach graduation day. There might be feelings of loss, even about a much anticipated event, and there can also be an identity shift, all things I can currently relate to. Major life transitions cause stress, that is a fact. If you don’t take care of yourself the stress can lead to increased anxiety, health problems and even depression. During major life transitions it is important to pay attention to yourself and take care of yourself.
The following article by Dr. Shannon Kolakowski talks about ways to make the most of life transitions and has some good pointers on how to take care of yourself during major life changes.
I believe one of the most important things to do during any stressful time is to rely on your support system. It can be helpful to turn to supportive people in your life during these times. If you feel like you need some added support surrounding a major change or transition in your life give me a call or send me an email and we can set up an appointment, 706-425-8900 or email@example.com Beth Jackson, LCSW Alpharetta, Georgia
Having spent many years working in customer service before starting my career as a therapist, I have long been aware of the idea of turning complaints into requests, or as it was usually put, into opportunities to build relationships. Essentially, by responding to a customer’s complaint with understanding and actively seeking out a solution you turn that interaction around. They go from having a negative experience to having one that they will be glad to report to their friends and family while singing your praises.
What does this have to do with relationships? I would argue that just as a complaint from a customer is actually a request in disguise, the same holds true for relationships. Whether the parties involved are friends, relatives, or lovers when someone is complaining about YOU what they are really doing is making a request. Of course, when someone is complaining about you the likelihood that you will hear their complaint as a request is pretty minimal. Instead, you’re more likely to feel attacked and either counterattack that person or retreat (physically or emotionally) to avoid their “attack”.
But, I hear you saying, she ALWAYS leaves her toenail clippings on the bathroom counter and she knows I hate that. Don’t I have the right to complain?! Well, sure. It’s perfectly understandable that we become irritated with others from time to time because of things they do that annoy us. But ask yourself this, do you want the person to know that you’re annoyed or do you want them to behave differently? If you want them to become recalcitrant and you want them to remind you about the things that you do which annoy them, then by all means complain away. If you want them to listen to what you’re saying and entertain your point of view, then you will fare much better making a request.
Does that mean I can never complain about anything, you might wonder? There’s a song from the 1960’s by The Byrds called “Turn! Turn! Turn!” and it says that there is a time for everything. If your boss really got under your skin today and you would like to complain about it to your partner I think that is a wonderful idea. Relationships are supposed to be buffers from stress and one of the ways it works is your partner provides a safe place to share your frustration. However, if your partner does something that bothers you, instead of complaining, take a moment and rephrase the complaint in your mind as a request and then present the request to your partner. I think that you will find they are much more receptive to your request than they will be to a complaint. This doesn’t just apply to your partner however; this applies to anyone in your life that you have a relationship with.
What about on the other end of things? If your partner is complaining about something that you have done, can you pause and try to figure out what the request is behind their complaint? This can be a difficult task but doing so might stave off conflict and help build your relationship. First, you’ll need to ignore that gut reaction which tells you to point out what they have done that you don’t like, thereby launching your own complaint right back at them. Or maybe for you in that moment you just want to tune them out and get away from the situation. Either response does not address the underlying issue and leads your partner to feel that they have gone unheard. Instead, acknowledge what your partner has said by rephrasing and checking that you understand what they meant. Notice, you are not necessarily saying that you agree at this point, you are simply checking that you have understood. Next, ask your partner what they would like you to do differently. Again, repeat back to them what they have said and make sure that your understanding matches their intention. From here you can either agree to try and fill your partners request, or you can discuss your thoughts and feelings about the request if you do not fully agree. Whatever the outcome, I’m sure you can see how this will leave both people feeling much better than doing things the old way of complaining, having an argument, then not speaking about it until it comes up again as a complaint.
For more information about turning complaints into requests click here.
If you would like to work on improving your relationships give me a call at (706) 534-8558 or e-mail me at Aaron@ca4wellbeing.com to discuss setting up an initial appointment.
School will be out soon and now is the time to enroll your child in a brain enrichment program. A brain-training program called neurofeedback is available in the Athens area and is designed to rewire neural pathways into efficient, highly functioning pathways. Neurofeedback training can help your child with ADD/ADHD by increasing focus, attention, memory and organization. It can improve sleep and decrease anxiety and depression. Neurofeedback can train your child’s brain for flexibility and peak performance—it’s a great way to give your child an edge in their education and in their life.
It all begins with obtaining a qEEG brain map. An individual will wear something that looks like a swim cap. This cap has EEG sensors inside of it, which allows for brainwave activity to be measured and recorded. Once that data is obtained, a brain map is generated which pinpoints the areas of the brain where inefficient brainwave patterns are operating. Those patterns are retrained into efficient, higher functioning neural pathways.
Training the new neural pathway is quite simple with neurofeedback. It’s very similar to training a new muscle through repetitive movement at the gym, only it’s neural pathway training and it’s more fun! Neurofeedback training consists of watching a movie for 30 minutes on a movie screen while your brain trains and moves into the programmed zone. When the brain moves into the efficient brainwave pattern, the movie screen stays light and when the brainwave pattern defaults back to the old inefficient pathway, the movie screen will turn dark. The brain brilliantly seeks to stay in the new efficient pathway so that the movie may be viewed. This is a form of operant conditioning and will entrain/rewire a brain to stay within the efficient neural pathway.
The training is as enjoyable for an individual as watching a movie or a favorite television show. The brain is doing the work on it’s own as it is being guided by the neurofeedback software. Neurofeedback is non invasive and does not have negative side effects like so many of the prescription drugs used to manage similar issues in the brain.
Contact Pamela Key, Neurofeedback Practitioner, at Counseling Associates for Well-Being for brain training in the 2016 Summer Program. (706) 425-8900 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Maybe you’re the kind of person that has trouble focusing. One thought seamlessly leads to another and that thought takes you to something else and so on, making it difficult to complete the task at hand or listen to a speaker for more than a few minutes without your mind wandering.
Perhaps your mind races about with one exciting idea after another, inhibiting your ability to concentrate on one concept for any length of time. You could be coping with ADHD, depression or anxiety, any of which can cause you to lose focus or make it hard to find it in the first place.
For whatever reason, an inability to concentrate is more than frustrating. It impedes kids’ schoolwork and adults’ careers. It strains friendships, stresses family relationships and detracts from self-worth.
The good news is the mind can be directed to concentrate better through neurofeedback, a non-pharmaceutical method of retraining wayward electrical impulses in the brain.
Measuring brain waves
While it’s normal for brain waves to vary in rate according to what a person is doing, some people’s brains get stuck in a too-fast or too-slow pattern for extended intervals, making it hard for them to focus. For example, a prolonged period of a slower state, which is called theta, can cause people to drift and make it hard for them to return to full awareness. On the flip side, experiencing the fast beta state for too long can leave someone too anxious or too excited to concentrate. Neurofeedback works by assessing and retraining such electricity in the cortex, or top layer, of the brain.
To begin, a map of a person’s electric activity in the brain is created by having the individual sit in a chair and don a thin cap fitted with 19 sensors that detect and measure the activity in the brain’s cortex. The results are compared against a normative sample, bringing to light any areas where the electrical activity is too fast or too slow, either of which can impede concentration and focus.
Re-training electrical activity
To retrain electrical brain activity, the practitioner will place one to four sensors on the individual upon those spots where the activity reads as too fast or too slow. The sensors, which are connected to a computer that’s linked to a video monitor, read the person’s brain activity as the individual begins to watch a movie. When the person’s brain activity fires too quickly or too slowly, as determined by the sensors, the image on the monitor screen dims. As the brain’s electrical impulses go toward the norm, the picture brightens and a click sounds, thereby reinforcing the better brain activity on two levels.
Each session lasts about 30 minutes, with two sessions per week recommended. The number of sessions required varies with the type of problem experienced by the individual and his or her response to training. Some people get a “tune up” session after six months or a year, and many people have been able to modify or stop taking related medications after treatment.
Although the brain likes to stay on a set course, the positive reinforcement achieved by neurofeedback challenges it to shift accordingly and permanently, thereby calming overactive impulses or boosting ones that are too slow, helping improve a person’s ability to focus and concentrate.
Better and better
Neurofeedback also can help with anxiety, depression, sleep disorders, autism spectrum disorder, traumatic brain injury, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder as well as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It also can contribute to peak performance in athletics, music and dance. Members of the Italian soccer team underwent neurofeedback therapy before winning the World Cup in 2006.
The National Center for Biotechnology Information supports neurofeedback as a viable treatment for ADHD (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19715181). The treatment can be “efficacious and specific,” that is, equal to or better than the current accepted standard of care, as rated by the International Society for Neurofeedback & Research.
Typically, changes are seen gradually over time, with, perhaps, a child’s teacher noticing a student’s improved behavior first, followed by the child’s parent and then the child himself. Gradual shifts that can lead to desired change and increased well being.
Pamela Key provides neurofeedback services for children and adults at Counseling Associates for Well-Being. Contact Pamela at email@example.com or call (706) 425-8900.
School is officially out and summer has begun. While summer is filled with many fun activities such as family vacations, lazy days at the pool, and adventures at camp, it is also a great time to improve your brain through neurofeedback!
Neurofeedback is a process of self-regulation of the brain that retrains neural pathways into effective, efficient, functioning brainwave patterns. It’s a high tech way to retrain your brain to work in a way that allows greater ease in dealing with life’s challenges – whether it’s work, school, relationships, sleep, or the ability to relax. Neurofeedback training can help you or your student in a variety of ways including:
- Improve attention, focus, and motivation
- Ease anxiety during pivotal transitions between elementary school, middle school, high school, and college
- Retain academic knowledge in order to counteract summer learning loss
- Give your high achieving student an edge for next academic year
- Decrease irritability, mood swings, and depression
Take this summer to do something BIG for your brain. Neurofeedback is the pathway to a better brain – and a happier life!
To start your journey to improve your brain, please contact Pamela Key at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (706) 425-8900.
Have you ever been taken by surprise by how angry you become by an interaction with your child? Have you felt feelings of shame and regret by how harshly you spoke to him or her? Have you promised that you won’t get angry like that anymore only to find yourself lashing out at your child, yet again?
Shefali Tsabury, PhD explains in her book, “Out of Control,” the mechanism behind these flashes of anger. “Each time our subconscious agenda doesn’t get met, we enter the space of a hurt child. Because our hurt self wasn’t healed when we were children, if someone reawakens this hurt within us, we erupt. This is why our children can trigger such fury in us.”
Daniel Seigel, M.D., and Mary Hartzell, M.Ed., authors of “Parenting from the Inside Out,” discuss rearing children as a chance for parental development. “When parents don’t take responsibility for their own unfinished business, they miss an opportunity not only to become better parents but also to continue their own development. People who remain in the dark about the origins of their behaviors and intense emotional responses are unaware of their unresolved issues and the parental ambivalence they create.”
Dr. Tsabury explains in her book, “The Conscious Parent,” why we experience such intense emotions while parenting. “Through our children, we get orchestra seats to the complex theatrics of our immaturity, as they evoke powerful emotions in us that can cause us to feel as though we aren’t in control–with all the frustration, insecurity, and angst that accompanies this sensation. Of course, our children don’t “make” us feel this way. They merely awaken our unresolved emotional issues from our childhood. Nevertheless, because our children are vulnerable and mostly powerless, we feel free to blame them for our reactivity. Only by facing up to the fact that it isn’t our children who are the problem, but our own unconsciousness, can transformation come about.”
If you would like to address unresolved emotional issues, I would love the opportunity to work with you. Together, we will find ways to heal your childhood wounds. You will learn how to give compassion to yourself, your children, and your parents. Becoming a conscious parent will allow you to be the peaceful, loving, patient mother or father you have always dreamed of being.
Come on in. Let’s talk about it.
email@example.com 706-425-8900 ext. 709
Are you looking for help with ADD or ADHD? Is homework for your child always a struggle? Concerned about the use of medication for control of ADD/ADHD? These concerns can be overwhelming at times and fortunately QEEG Brain Mapping and Neurofeedback Training can help! Neurofeedback can provide effective solutions for Attention Deficit Attention and Attention Hyperactivity Disorder.
A QEEG Brain map can be obtained which can identify the inefficient neural pathways that are seen with ADD/ADHD. Neurofeedback can then be utilized as a process of self-regulation of the brain that retrains neural pathways into effective, efficient, functioning brainwave patterns; thus eliminating or reducing the need for medication intervention.
Check out this video of the Dr. Phil show discussing ADD/ADHD and neurofeedback.
For additional information about QEEG Brain Mapping and how Neurofeedback works, please contact Pamela Key @ Pamela@ca4wellbeing.com or call (706) 425-8900.
Carol S. Dweck of Stanford University has identified mindset as a determining factor in success in her studies of motivation. Specifically, she has identified that a growth mindset leads to success as opposed to a fixed mindset that often leads to wasted potential. A fixed mindset believes that talent and intelligence are fixed traits within a person that lead to success or failure, while a growth mindset attributes success to hard work and effort. You can imagine that failure or difficulties really challenge a person with a fixed mindset, especially if they see themselves as needing to be perfect. One in that instance is always looking for evidence (or absence of evidence) of the existence of positive traits and failure really creates a situation that is worst case scenario. However, if one is focused on growth and efforts as key, one might have more curiosity and creativity to offer to a situation and less hopelessness and helplessness.
This is important news for parents in terms of the praise we offer our children. Research is mounting that praising children as “smart” does not lead to success in school. It actually can lead to a lack of effort being applied when learning and work is challenging. When challenges come, even very intelligent children with a fixed mindset will avoid or not make efforts because they believe if they are smart, then they should know the information already or the work should come easy. Children that have been praised for efforts, on the other hand, tend to stick with challenging work because this work does not test their view of themselves as smart. It simply means they are having to make efforts in order to learn and succeed and that is okay. It does not say anything negative about their abilities. Check out this video that illustrates the concept with children: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NWv1VdDeoRY.
We can see this same dynamic play out in our view on romantic love. I recently posted about the Unity versus the Journey view of love and how that determines whether we judge our relationships as positive or negative: https://ca4wellbeing.com/imagorelationshiptherapy/. I see this as a congruent finding that builds on the idea that, if we are to be successful in life and in relationships, we need a perspective that allows for growth and learning. A less fixed mindset allows for the possibility that challenges, problems, and failures are part of the path and do not signal doom or something inherently flawed in the person or the relationship. Challenges are a given and curiosity, creativity, open-mindedness as well as effort are required to navigate academics, career choices, or love relationships in a way that feels positive and is sustainable for the long haul. If you are interested in exploring your mindset and how it affects your parenting, relationships or how you see your world, give me a call at 706-425-8900 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.