We at Counseling Associates for Well-Being are happy to announce that Anna Headdon, LAMFT, will be joining us at our Athens office. She is available to start serving clients throughout the area. She enjoys working with couples who are struggling with conflcit and tension, working with eating and body image problems, treating those with anxiety and trauma, and is a passionate advocate for those who identify as LGBTQ+.
Anna Headden, LAMFT— Bachelor of Science – Psychology minor in Child & Family Studies, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, 2015, Master of Art – Marriage & Family Therapy, Lipscomb University, 2019, Certified SYMBIS Facilitator, 2019 (Premarital Assessment)
From Anna: ” It takes a lot of courage to begin therapy and I understand how difficult it can be to find a therapist that is the right fit. I want to help make that process easier for you. I believe change begins when previous behaviors or relationships no longer serve us and I believe that lasting transformation happens in the context of relationships when people feel heard, understood, and respected. I aim to meet clients where they are in a space that is safe, non-judgmental and allows for true healing and change by honestly confronting painful and uncomfortable issues.
In my work as a therapist and as a human I value authenticity, respect, strength, and empowerment of others. These values govern my life, and are at the root of my integrative approach to therapy. This is why I use multiple modalities including Emotion Focused Therapy, Internal Family Systems, and Solution Focused Therapy. I also believe that our physical and emotional well-being are directly connected so I incorporate a variety of body exploration and movement techniques to further the change process when appropriate. I have found that in using a variety of frameworks I am able to tailor my approach for each individual client’s specific needs.
I enjoy working with a variety of populations including: young adults & adults dealing with anxiety, life transitions, trauma, and depression; couples dealing with anything from high-conflict to sexual difficulties to pre-marital counseling; and women dealing with self esteem, eating disorders, confidence, and societal pressures. Also, as a member of the LGBTQ+ community I aim to provide empowerment and better the quality of life of fellow LGBTQ+ persons through my work as a clinician and as an advocate. My pronouns are she/her.
When I am not working you can find me going on hikes with my partner, spending time with our dogs, playing pickleball, trying out a new restaurant, testing out a new recipe or spending time with loved ones. I find joy and connection through each of these activities and view them as an opportunity to learn a life lesson or find greater meaning that I can share with others. I would be honored to help you heal and reach your most fulfilled life. I am ready whenever you are.”
Anna sees clients in our Athens office. Email Anna at Anna@ca4wellbeing.com Call Anna at 706-425-8900
Aaron D. Kirkwood, LAMFT, will be starting a group for couples entitled Collaborative Relationship Enhancement Group and is seeking feedback from couples in committed relationship. If you are in a committed relationship and would like to respond please follow the link below to take this very brief survey. Your feedback will help to shape the group so that it is useful for couples looking to improve their relationships. This is an informal information gathering survey for the purpose of ensuring that the group is useful for couples who might attend. If you have questions or comments please fill free to reach out to Aaron at (706) 534 – 8558 or Aaron@ca4wellbeing.com
The survey can be found at this link.
Aaron Kirkwood, LAMFT, discusses what couples have found helpful about coming to couples counseling.
If you would like to learn more about making an appointment for couples counseling Aaron can be reached at:
I would like to invite you to consider the difference between discussions and arguments in the latest video on our YouTube channel. You can watch it here.
Phone: (706) 534 – 8558
I wanted to follow up my video on using Gottman Method in couple therapy by talking about Gottman Method’s Four Horsemen (criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling). I discuss how to recognize if these are happening in your relationship, as well as some ideas for how to respond in a more productive way to your partner. Please watch the video here.
(706) 534 – 8558
Aaron D. Kirkwood, LAMFT
I have posted a new video discussing my use of Gottman Method in session when working with couples. You can view it here.
I see clients on Tuesday and Wednesday from 11 am until 7 pm and on Saturday from 9 am until 1 pm. I gladly offer reduced fee services if financial circumstances are prohibitive for potential clients.
(706) 534 – 8558
Aaron D. Kirkwood, LAMFT
The Magic Five Hours is not a brand new concept from Dr. John Gottman. After reading about it, I was surprised that I hadn’t heard about it sooner. Just like so much else that has been developed by the Gottman Institute over the years the idea behind the Magic Five Hours is quite simple. Yet it is immediately impactful to almost any relationship. This was not surprising as I have come to expect nothing less from the Gottman Institute and their research-informed strategies for improving relationships. At its core, the Magic Five Hours is about enhancing, or re-establishing, the emotional connection in our most intimate relationships.
How many of us have felt time slipping past while our best intentions for ourselves and our relationships seem to be neglected and put off until tomorrow? Guilty as charged. The Magic Five Hours is a way to illustrate that you don’t need to spend a lot of time to make a big impact on your relationship. Just five hours a week can help you feel more connected to your partner. The Magic Five Hours are actually broken up into blocks of minutes so that it becomes much easier for even the busiest couple to understand how they can incorporate these connection enhancing techniques.
|The five magic hours||Small investments in time, big relationship return|
|1.) Partings||2 mins/work day X 5 days/week = 10 mins- Find out one thing about your partner’s plans for the day|
|2.) Reunioins||20 mins/work day X 5 days/week = 1 hour 40 mins- Find out how your partner’s day went|
|3.) Admiration/appreciation||5 mins/day X 7 days/week = 35 mins-Find one thing to admire/appreciate about your partner|
|4.) Affection||5 mins/day X 7 days/week = 35 mins- Find time to kiss, hug, touch, laugh with your partner|
|5.) Date||2 hours/week = 2 hours- Find time to spend alone with your partner|
|Small daily investments||Add up to Five Magic Hours!|
Check out this video for a discussion of The Five Magic Hours.
If you follow this simple formula you should feel more connected with your spouse. You will each be more aware of what the other is experiencing on a daily basis. The Five Magic Hours can also be a great stress reducer because it makes time in your schedule to share with your partner what might have bothered you about work. The reunions act as a buffer between work stress and time at home with your partner allowing you each an equal opportunity to get things off your chest as you transition out of “work mode” and into “home mode”. The 2 hours of alone time can be particularly important for couples with children. It’s not always easy to make arrangements to have that alone time but it is a clear signal, a way of saying to your partner and yourself, that I value our relationship and I am willing to invest time into “us”.
I prefer to think of the Five Magic Hours as a general outline that can be tweaked to suit your relationship needs so long as the spirit of enhancing your connection is maintained. As an example, if you are a couple who does not have children it may be less necessary to find two hours a week to spend alone. If you feel that your “love life” is suffering, you might put more emphasis on the affection component. One of the suggestions from Gottman is to try a six second kiss. Six seconds does not sound like a lot of time but if you close your eyes and count out six seconds while imaging that you’re kissing your partner you will see that six seconds is pretty substantial for a kiss.
Do you feel your relationship could use a tune up? Please call me at (706) 534-8558 or e-mail me at Aaron@ca4wellbeing.com and let’s set up an appointment to help improve your connection using the Five Magic Hours.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
I often hear from people who are in relationships and feeling disconnected or dissatisfied, who ask me if they need to get their partners to come in for relationship therapy and counseling—or should they just come in alone? Sometimes people want to know if they can come in and explain to me what is wrong with their mate, so that I can offer advice about how to change him or her. Or they think that once they present their case to me, I will proclaim that they are clearly the saner of the two and therefore they can go armed back to the spouse with an expert recommendation that he or she must rush in for an appointment to be fixed. Occasionally someone may just also want to come in to process how they are feeling about a relationship. They don’t feel comfortable being open or honest enough yet with the partner to say what they need to say. Or they aren’t clear about how to proceed. This is often the case when people have become so distant or disconnected that there is little emotional intimacy or when things have been so charged, and tense that there is no emotional safety.
Of course, to make the relationship better, it is generally better to bring in the other person if you can. It is easier to change the dynamics of a relationship by working with both people who participate in and are a part of that relationship.
In many instances, coming in alone is truly the only option when partners are reluctant to participate. No, you can’t change anyone except yourself. You can certainly affect and influence people to be sure. And you can change a relationship by changing the way you are in that relationship.
To be really clear again, this does not mean that if come alone, you will be able to learn some tricks to make your partner change into a new person. Simply that you can learn in individual work how to change what you contribute and therefore things might change between you.
So along those lines, there is this saying that goes something like this: “In order to love someone else, you first must love yourself.” I have been contemplating this a bit. I think the essence of this idea is perhaps not so much about loving yourself in the “I think I am the most awesome person ever” way, but more in the” I know myself and accept myself and am therefore able to recognize my needs – and therefore will be able to articulate those needs to someone else” way. This is one of the most important elements in being able to connect with someone else. In order to be close to someone and truly be connected in an intimate way, you have to be able to access who you are. You have to be able to show up.
There is a safety and security that comes from being comfortable with and accepting of yourself. It allows you to be more open to learning about and “visiting with” someone else’s experience and perspective, without being unsettled by it. For example if you discover that the person you are relating to has a different value or perspective than you do, you can be curious and empathic rather than defensive, or guarded, or challenged, or scared. You can connect, show up, and be “ok.”
So, in summary, if your relationship isn’t working well for you, invite your partner to work on it with you. If you can’t invite them because you aren’t sure how they will respond and it unsettles you to do so, come on in alone. Or if you ask, and the answer is a definite no, come on in alone. Or if you aren’t sure yet if you want to work on it or let it go, come on in alone. We can work on your growth and self-love and acceptance, and help you to love better as a result. Claire Zimmerman, LCSW