Counseling Associates for Well-Being is pleased to welcome our newest associate, Chris Williams, LCSW, He will be based in our Athens location and begin seeing people via telehealth.  Chris has a broad range of experience and treats couples and individuals. His areas of specialty are working with those with anxiety and trauma, and those with spiritual/ faith challenges or trauma . He enjoys doing premarital counseling, and  helping couples with infidelity recovery and  improving communication and connection. Chris is currently in-network with Cigna and Medicare, can see those not using insurance,  or will  happily file with your insurance for any out of network coverage.     Please reach out to him at Chris@ca4wellbeing.com if you’d like to set up an appointment.  .

Chris Williams, LCSW

10 Apr 2020
April 10, 2020

Bust your boredom

Wellness

Aaron Kirkwood, LAMFT, with Counseling Associates for Well-Being in Athens, GA talks about what you might do to fill some time as you shelter in place.  Check out the video here.

Check out our website at www.ca4wellbeing.com. If you would like to schedule an appointment call (706) 534 – 8558 or e-mail: Aaron@ca4wellbeing.com

Virtual museum tours – https://virtualmuseums.io/
Help out with research – Zooniverse – https://www.zooniverse.org/
Meditation – apps Calm, Headspace, Aura, 10% Happier, Insight Timer (free), search Youtube for meditation or guided meditations
Read a book – Athens-Clarke County Library online – http://www.athenslibrary.org/online-library
Learn a new skill – Udemy (includes filter for free courses) – https://www.udemy.com/, Skillshare – https://www.skillshare.com/
Pick up an old hobby or begin a new one – https://www.lifehack.org/articles/money/this-list-50-low-cost-hobbies-will-excite-you-2.html
Take an online course – Khan Academy – https://www.khanacademy.org/, edX – https://www.edx.org/, The Great Courses https://www.thegreatcourses.com/
Play Games -Free Rice – https://www.wfpusa.org/get-involved/freerice/, https://armorgames.com/, https://games.aarp.org/, https://www.kongregate.com/, https://store.steampowered.com/ (requires an install to your computer)
Write a letter to a friend or loved one –
Teach your pet a new trick – Zak George’s Dog Training Revolution – https://www.youtube.com/user/zakgeorge21, Simpawtico Dog Training – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCMgKNPC0O91FgvS94YMgIag/featured, Cat School – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCAKdgYzfrpEZ-1tQZHPOHZw
Make up your own games/challenges –

https://www.servga.gov/

“Why would I make excuses for myself?” is a common response I get from clients when I talk about self-compassion. My response is normally something along the lines of “would it be OK if you COULD excuse yourself?”.  Or, “What if in order to find the change you’re looking for you first have to learn to unconditionally love all parts of your self–including your “flaws” non-judgmentally with kindness and patience?”.  

So much of our pain is derived from the critical voices in our heads. That critical voice may remind you of a certain time in your life when some terrible thing happened to you, or maybe it convinces us that things have always been this way and there’s no change in sight. We may feel ashamed, isolated, or sad because we have failed to live up to our own, our parents, or society’s expectations and believe that we won’t be lovable or acceptable until we do. 

Self-Compassion is the recognition that no matter what is happening in our lives, we are lovable. When things are going well, we give ourselves permission to experience that joy–instead of anxiously waiting for the next bad thing to tell us that we should not be experiencing joy. Or, when we are suffering, self compassion becomes a kind of supportive voice from within that helps us find beauty and meaning. It is a reminder that we are all universally connected in this world through our experience of suffering — we are not alone!

Self compassion is NOT self-indulgence, self-pity, or passivity. Self compassion includes an understanding that learning, growth, and failure are fundamental parts of life; it is the desire to relieve suffering and that in order to do so a concrete change may need to be made in our lives. It provides us with an internal source of emotional regulation and resilience. It is the belief that we are inherently worthy of love and respect. 

If you or someone else you know in the Atlanta area could benefit from cultivating self-compassion please contact Isom E White, LCSW of Counseling Associates for Well-Being – Smyrna/Vinings for an appointment today!

Isom E White, LCSW

3050 Atlanta Rd Smyrna, GA 30080

P:706- 389-1708

E: Isom@ca4wellbeing.com

Aaron Kirkwood, LAMFT, with Counseling Associates for Well-Being in Athens, GA talks about the importance of checking in with your stress level throughout the holiday season and why you might not want to skip self-care.

Aaron D KirkwoodIf you would like to set up an appointment do discuss how to manage stress, deal with family, or other relationships during the holiday season please reach out today.

(706) 534 – 8558

Aaron@ca4wellbeing.com

We are so excited to welcome Isom E. White, LCSW to Counseling Associates for Well-Being here in our Athens office!  He is a  very thoughtful, skilled, and warm clinician who enjoys working with older adolescents, young adults, and adults through the lifespan.  He has some rich experience working with  people to help them  heal from trauma as well as  helping them navigate life transitions. He enjoys helping people with relationship struggles, anxiety and depression.  He is available to schedule new clients in our Athens location. Isom is offering a limited number of reduced fee openings for those that cannot pay regular fees.  Please contact him at 706.425.8900 ext 719 or by email at Isom@ca4wellbeing.com to set up a time to get started.

From Isom about himself:

“My passion centers around guiding clients throughout the journey of life while assisting them in the cultivation of their dreams, ambitions, and goals. My approach to treatment begins through a compassionate lens of the “person-in-environment”, the idea that an individual, couple, or family cannot be understood fully without respect for the various aspects of their social, familial, temporal, spiritual, economic, and physical environments.

I enjoy working with a variety of populations: late-adolescents, college students, adults, LGBTQIA, couples, and families dealing with anxiety, depression, anger, grief and loss, trauma, and life-transitional issues. I also embrace working with men’s issues and athletes with performance issues. As an African-American therapist I hold a strong commitment to enhancing the quality of life and empowering people of African ancestry through advocacy, human services delivery, and research.

In  both my personal and professional life, I am cultivating a mindfulness practice. Practicing mindfulness has allowed me to intimately connect with the present moment thereby enhancing my relationship between mind-body, with loved ones, and with nature. I find incorporating mindfulness-based Cognitive behavioral interventions including Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) and Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT) enhance the therapeutic process by cultivating non-judgemental awareness, compassion, and purpose. I apply these principles to the therapeutic relationship by cultivating a warm, non-judgmental environment, allowing clients to feel safe in connecting with the most intimate parts of themselves so that they may begin the healing process.

My therapeutic philosophy incorporates trauma-informed approaches to therapy. Often times out of necessity, survivors of trauma need to disconnect from themselves (mind & body) to survive the most difficult and horrific experiences of their lives. Using a trauma-informed lens, my hope is to assist clients in healing the fractures of trauma by re-establishing the connection between their mind and bodies. I find the use of the evidence-based trauma treatment “Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing” (EMDR) assists individuals in the healing process by making links between unhelpful aspects of traumatic memories and present day problems.In my personal life I am a husband, brother, and devoted dog-parent to my, pitbull-boxer mix, Maple. Georgia has been my home for over 15 years now but I still consider myself a native Chicagoan. During my spare time, hobbies I enjoy include: coaching & playing lacrosse, video games, weightlifting, and caring for my Bonsai tree collection.”

 

 

Please enjoy this informative video where I discuss ways you might improve your communication with relatives, and hopefully reduce some stress and anxiety during the holiday season.

If you are interested in working on family or other relationships contact me today about setting up an appointment.

Aaron D KirkwoodAaron Kirkwood, LAMFT

(706) 534 – 8558

Aaron@ca4wellbeing.com

  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: beth@ca4wellbeing.com

 

 

16 Aug 2017
August 16, 2017

College adjustment

News

It’s that time of year again.  The stores are packed with parents and students shopping for all the necessary college accoutrements.  Some are back again, having already been through this process a time or two.  Others are wide eyed with anticipation and trepidation.  College is a time of growth and joy for many students but for others it can be incredibly stressful and can trigger new psychological problems or exacerbate already existing issues.  It is not uncommon for students to experience overwhelming anxiety and/or depression.  I recently spoke with someone who talked about coming to UGA for the first time as a student and during the first day of their first class they realized that there were more people in that one class than had been in their entire high school graduating class.  That can be pretty daunting, and rightfully so.  Even at smaller schools the issues of trying to learn to live out from under parents’ roofs, navigating a new social scene, and feeling exposed to larger issues of life can seem overwhelming.

Students aren’t the only ones who experience stress, anxiety, and depression during this time of year.  Parents also experience these same issues.  This can affect parents individually but also impact their marriage or other relationships.  Some parents want to “let go” but can’t seem to quite figure out how.  Other parents have managed to let go at the cost of considerable worry and anxiety.

Whether you’re a first-time student, a returning student, or a parent the beginning of the college school year can be difficult.  Here is some helpful information about college adjustment.  Read more about one students experience when first going away to college here.

Aaron D KirkwoodIf you’re feeling overwhelmed by anxiety or depression, or just want to act preventatively to avoid these pitfalls, give me a call today and set up an appointment to talk about these issues.
Phone: 706 –425-8900 ext 712
E-mail: Aaron @ca4wellbeing.com

I thought I would conduct an interview with a Marriage and Family Therapist to get a small peek inside the mind of someone who spends all their time “inside” the minds of others.  It just so happens that I know a Marriage and Family Therapist rather intimately, and that is who I decided to interview.

Have you ever seen the movie Interview with a Vampire?  Well, I can almost promise you this interview will not be as interesting, sexy, or scary as that.  Read on to see if you agree.

Me: So, what made you decide to become a therapist?

Also me:  Well, I remember having friends in high school whose parents were divorced and seeing how that experience really affected them, mostly in negative ways.  I decided, rather foolishly, that I would grow up and find a “cure” for divorce.  I also recall reading a book somewhere around 10th grade on the history of psychology in the library and finding it incredibly fascinating.  As I began to express interest in psychology my 10th grade biology professor, Mrs. Taylor, encouraged me to look into Marriage and Family Therapy.  Plus, I’m really bad at math so I knew I couldn’t be an accountant or an engineer.

Me: What is your favorite thing about being a Marriage and Family Therapist?

Also me: At the risk of sounding cliché, I really love helping people.  When the end of a work day rolls around and I have had at least one client who seemed to benefit from our session I feel an immense sense of satisfaction.  I can honestly say that this is the most fulfilling thing I have done for work.  It feels even more powerful somehow when I am working with a couple or a family and there is a shift in the relationship.  Suddenly, where the clients had been experiencing only sadness, hopelessness, or remorse a renewed hope blossoms.  There are few feelings as awesome as experiencing this first-hand!

Me: So, can therapists like, read your mind?

Also me: Nope!  Not even a little bit.  A good therapist is attuned to their client’s body language, however, and this helps us read a client’s emotions when he or she might not be consciously aware of them.  For instance, a client may begin to tap or shake their foot rapidly as a stress-inducing conversation gets underway.  I might ask that client “Are you feeling any anxiety just now?”  The client may reply “No, I’m okay.”  “Because I noticed you were shaking your foot quite a bit there.”  “Oh, was I?  Hmmm.  Well, now that I think of it I might have been feeling some stress when we started talking about …”  I don’t have any superpowers and supernatural abilities unfortunately, just what Sherlock Holmes might call a keen sense of observation and deduction.

Me:  What inspires you?

Also me: Well, besides seeing a person feeling better because of some new insight or perspective, I would have to say music is a big inspiration to me.  I get flashes of song lyrics in my head all the time, even during therapy sessions.  When it is feels appropriate I sometimes share these with clients, particularly if they might offer a unique perspective or confirm a client’s newly discovered perspective.  Music can be a beautiful metaphor for relationships.  Individuals (notes) come together to form relationships (chords) in different configurations (chord changes) across time (a song).

Me: Who are your favorite clients to work with?
Also me: Gosh, that’s a hard question!  I think if there is a common thread to my work when I’m feeling the most satisfaction, it comes from working with individuals who feel, for whatever reason, disempowered.  Working together with them to develop a unique voice, and learn to resist the forces who might have made them feel unworthy or uncared for is uniquely rewarding.  I focus often on relationships, especially couples, as a Marriage and Family Therapist, but I also really enjoy working with individuals.  The work can be very different when I’m talking with a client one-on-one versus working with a couple or a family.  I love being able to switch it up throughout the day because it keeps the work interesting and stimulating.

Me: What advice would you give someone seeking therapy for the first time?

Also me:  Don’t be afraid to ask questions and find a therapist who you feel comfortable with.  Just don’t be afraid in general of seeing a therapist.  I personally try to make it as painless as possible, even though sometimes painful things arise.  We deal with those things in a comforting and safe environment.  Try not to get hung up on buzzwords and psycho-jargon.  Studies tell us that almost all therapies are roughly equally effective.  If your friend had luck with cognitive-behavioral therapy but it doesn’t feel right for you then don’t do it.  Find someone with an approach and a personality who feel like a good fit for you.

Aaron D KirkwoodIf you’re interested in beginning therapy please contact me

via e-mail at Aaron@ca4wellbeing.com

or call me at (706) 296-0455

and I’ll be happy to answer any questions you have.

Mother silhouette with baby

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.

Aaron D KirkwoodDo 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.