Talking about our prejudices is a very sensitive topic.  Whether we realize on a fully conscious level that we have prejudices, or we just have fleeting thoughts and feelings, we all have prejudices.  Let’s examine the word prejudice.  It literally means to pre-judge someone.  We do this a number of ways; based on our own past experiences, the experiences of people we know, and accounts in the media, from news stories to reality TV to blockbuster movies.  It is a sort of mental shortcut that we use all the time and in many ways can be helpful.  If you travel across the country and you are looking for a restaurant to eat at you can decide where might be good, and not so good, based on your previous experience with restaurants of the same name.  You might have heard a friend rave about this wonderful restaurant, and they said “if you ever make it out to Seattle you just HAVE to try it!”  Here you’ve prejudged based on information from your own past experience in the first instance and information you got from someone else in the latter example.  When it comes to picking a restaurant, having a prejudice is an innocent enough thing.  When it comes to interacting with a person you’ve never meet prejudices can have an impact on how you relate to the person, either positively or negatively.  I say all that say to say, yes we all have prejudices, and when it comes to prejudices about groups of people we can feel ashamed of those thoughts and feelings.  Being able to admit those thoughts and feelings as the brave caller did in this video is the first step in making a deeper examination of our prejudices.

What does this have to do with therapy?  Therapy is a safe place where we can be vulnerable.  It is a place for examination and exploring our “true” thoughts and feelings.  Yes, even the ugly ones like our prejudices.  I believe that when you have an honest, forthright conversation about a prejudice and examine it in the context of therapy, where you feel safe to expose the fears behind the prejudice, you find that the basis of most prejudice is built on a shaky foundation.  Many of our prejudices come from what we are taught growing up by people who we love and respect.  Perhaps in some ways admitting that a prejudice is unfounded or wrong feels like we are disrespecting those loved ones.  I know because my own personal journey includes growing up with prejudices.  However, in learning that my relatives were just people, prone to all the mistakes and follies that entails, I came to see that not everything that they taught me is necessarily “true”.  Having the courage to admit that we are prejudiced is certainly not easy, and talking about prejudice is complicated and can be unpleasant.  Even so, the end result can be to free yourself from the fears and anxieties that come with prejudice.  Your therapist is someone who will listen to these thoughts and feelings without judging you and can help you work through them.  Doing so hopefully you can adopt a healthier way of relating to others.  Today’s society is continually a more connected one so being able to peel back the layers of prejudice and look at people as individuals can only benefit us all.

Do you struggle with thoughts and feelings that are uncomfortable?  Contact me today at (706) 534-8558 or e-mail and setup an appointment to work through some of these issues.

Aaron D Kirkwood

Active listening sounds like a pretty simple and easy thing to do yet when I work with couples it’s one of the skills that we spend a lot of time on.  I often have each partner roleplay what I call the two roles in any productive conversation.  One partner is the Speaker and the other is the Listener.  Your role as the Listener, and this is the most crucial role I believe, is to make sure that you have really “heard” what your partner is saying.  I don’t just mean that you can parrot their actual words back at them.  Anyone can do that if they are half-listening.  The role of the Listener is about making sure that what the Speaker intended is what the Listener understood them to be saying.  As the Listener you have to give the Speaker your undivided attention, that means no only turning off the TV and putting away the cellphone, it also means blocking out your own mental distractions.  You cannot simultaneously be listening and formulating your response at the same time.

Active listening doesn’t just help with intimate relationships.  You will find that if you practice the skills in this blog it will help you get along better with co-workers and friends and maybe, if you’re lucky, your listening

Check out this post from the Gottman blog about active listening and read their tips for improving your communication, which will likely improve your relationship.

Their tips include:

Focus on being interested, not interesting. – Don’t sit the entire time the other person is speaking in anticipation of telling your own story.  Absorb what they are saying and know that you will get a chance to express yourself as well.

Ask questions – Don’t just leave it up to the Speaker.  Instead actively engage them by asking questions.  Ask about their thoughts and feelings so that you can clarify what they are trying to get across to you.  If you want to build your relationship, ask about their desires and future plans.

Respond with an occasional brief nod or sound / From time to time, paraphrase what the speaker says – This lets the Speaker know that you actively engaged in the conversation and helps them feel they are being “heard”.  It also helps the Listener stay with the conversation when the Speaker has a lot that they need to convey.

Let go of your own agenda – Again, you cannot simultaneously be listening and formulating your response at the same time.  You will have a chance to express your own thoughts and feelings and when you do you will appreciate the same level of attention that you are showing to the Speaker.

Do you need help with active listening skills?  I’m glad to work with couples as well as individuals in developing this essential skill for improving your relationship with almost everyone from a romantic partner to a business partner.  Please contact me today and let’s set up an appointment to get started building this essential skill.  I can be reached at (706) 534 – 8558 or by e-mail at  I look forward to working with you!

Aaron D Kirkwood


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 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.


Counseling Associates for Well-Being is excited to be hosting a professional training CEU workshop at our office on January 24th, 2014 in our Athens office.
The Family Divorce/ Self Care Series from Transitions Resource.
Check here for more information: & Carey Wellness

Present the Athens Family Divorce and Self-Care Workshop Series

Friday, January 24, 2014

7 CEU Core Credit Hours Approved LPCA GA and NASW GA Chapter, GAMFT related

Registration Fee: $125 per person-Registration limited to 12 Attendees first come/first serve

Location: Counseling Associates for Well-Being, 1 Huntington Rd, Suite 703, Athens GA 30606

Hosts: Claire Nichols Zimmerman, LCSW, CIRT and Suzanne McLean, LCSW, CIRT

Training Schedule and Titles:

10:00-11:00 a.m.-Divorce Prep Tools and Resources to Minimize Costly Pitfalls (1 CEU)

11:00-12 noon lunch (lunch will be provided by our generous hosts: Claire Zimmerman/Suzanne McLean

12 noon-2:00 p.m.-Recognizing Abusive Tactics in Divorcing Couples/How to Minimize (2 CEU’s)

2:00-2:15 p.m.-Break

2:15-3:15 p.m.-Intro to Divorce Support Group Program (1 CEU)

3:15-3:30 p.m.-Break

3:30-6:30 p.m.-Self Care-Intro to Meditation + 2 Thirty minute Guided Sessions (2 CEU’s)

Registration pre-payment required (limited to 12 attendees) email to register.

Space is limited. Offering 7 CEU core credits for LPC’s and LCSW’s. Please join us!!