I’ve been thinking about the opportunity that the winter holidays bring for us to focus on our wellness. Sometimes the season brings extra time with our family and friends, which allows us to focus on our relational and social wellbeing. However, sometimes the holidays bring extra stress that comes from pressure we put on ourselves to travel, meet the needs of different family members and attend lots of extra fun, but sometimes taxing events. This year, why not take a moment or two to focus on just one area of wellness that you would like to pay attention to. Do you need some spiritual refreshment? What has brought you spiritual wellness in the past? What about your physical wellness? Does that mean trying that yoga class you’ve been meaning to check out or just getting some extra rest? Wellness means different things to different people. I invite you to think for a few moments about your views of physical, spiritual, relational, intellectual and emotional wellness. Reflect on your best hopes for each area this holiday season and then pick one or two areas to engage with more deeply. Try and envision the small steps you could take toward achieving optimal wellness in those particular areas. See if this opportunity to make incremental changes toward growth in those areas leads to a better sense of overall wellness this holiday season. Wishing you well this holiday season!
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.”
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 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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org Beth Jackson, LCSW Alpharetta, Georgia
We’ve all seen those “click bait” links on the side of an article, or as we’re scrolling through social media. There really is a “weird trick” that you can try if you want to improve the frequency of love making. This applies if you’re married or in a long-term relationship, if you’re a heterosexual couple or a same-sex couple. I will say, because of social scripts that tell us how a man and woman are to behave in a heterosexual marriage, this may be more of an issue for those types of relationships. Hopefully you’ll understand once I reveal the “weird trick”.
So, what turns men and women in long term relationships off in the United States? Per a 2013 study “Both women (49 percent) and men (37 percent) say stress causes them to lose their desire for sex more than anything else. Other top distractors include exhaustion for women (46 percent) and having an argument with their spouse for men (29 percent). A third of women and a fifth of men say lack of romance is a factor, too.” Put a pin in that because we’re going to come back to it.
I have some GREAT news for you. Guys, do I have your attention? Ladies, you listen up too. Throw away that bottle of cologne with pheromones, you don’t need to buy two dozen roses, and don’t even think about that “aphrodisiac” you saw in the bathroom vending machine of the service station. You likely already have all the ingredients you need to brew up a homemade aphrodisiac. It can be sort of messy so guys you should probably put on some gloves, safety goggles could come in handy, and an apron wouldn’t hurt. Ladies, change into your most comfortable around the house clothes, maybe pour a glass of wine.
Now listen up because here’s the “one weird trick”. Guys, I want you to go into the kitchen and run a sinkful of HOT, soapy water. Pay attention because this next step is key! You have a sinkful of hot, soapy water? Grab a sponge, a brush, or some similar cleaning implement and I want you to wash the dishes. Bonus points for drying them and putting them away. See, that wasn’t so bad, was it? The next step is important too. I want you to grab a broom or a vacuum cleaner and clean the floor. If you’re up for a challenge and you really want to seal the deal throw some laundry on before you start the dishes. Are you getting turned on yet guys? No? That’s okay, you’re not supposed to be aroused by cleaning the house. But your partner? Well she might want to rip that apron right off you.
According to numerous studies cited by AARP.ORG, the more housework men do the more sex they have. And that’s the “one weird trick”. Remember earlier we learned that stress and exhaustion are major turn offs for women. By pitching in and taking on some of those household chores you are allowing your partner to relax. If you have children and you help with the kids she may have time to switch from mom mode to sexy wife mode (as opposed to bathing the kids, putting them to bed, and then being expected to immediately feel like having sex). Further, it shows her that you respect her and appreciate her.
We’re asking men to pitch in and do some of the household chores. What about women, what role can you play in this? Speak up and let your partner know what you need help with. There is a video on social media about the “magic table” that takes care of things whenever this husband leaves his things there. He leaves dirty dishes and they “magically” take themselves into the kitchen and get washed. The basket of laundry he left on the table? It “magically” folded itself and puts itself away. The video is jesting about it but I suspect many men take for granted what the women in their lives do for them and the whole household. Women, don’t let them take you for granted.
Of course, all of this centers around good communication, whether that means letting your spouse know that you would like to have sex more often, or you would like to come home and prop your feet up while someone else cooks dinner. Then, if your request is met, show appreciation and gratitude so that your partner is encouraged to keep doing it.
Want to know how your sex life is going? Fill out this quiz and ask your partner to fill it out separately. Then call me to set up an appointment if you have some issues you’d like to work on.
Aaron Kirkwood, LAMFT
(706) 534 – 8558
I would love to say that couples couseling is always successful. The question of whether it will work or not is determined by a number of factors including whether the couple is willing to put in work towards repairing and improving their relationship. There is no easy answer to such a complicated question and each couple may experience a slightly different result.
The truth is we don’t often “solve” a couple’s problems in couples counseling sessions. Instead what we do is give them the tools to address their problems and deal with them in a more productive way. According to findings from the Gottman Institute who run the “Love Lab” in Seattle, Washington only about 31% of a couple’s problems are “solvable”. What couple’s counseling is really about it is developing skills for effective communication so that a couple can learn to live with these problems by acknowledging their partner’s thoughts and feelings and in turn feeling that their own thoughts and feelings are being validated.
Imagine a scenario where you have gotten your way when a conflict has arisen in your relationship and your partner throws their hands up in exasperation and exclaims “Fine we’ll do it your way but I still think I’m right!” You’ve gotten your way, sure, but how satisfied do you feel? Now imagine a scenario where your partner says “I hear what you’re saying and I know why you would like to do it this way but I really think it’s better if we do it this other way and here’s why…” Now you may not get your way in this second scenario but you’re likely to feel much more positive about the situation because your partner has truly heard and understood your point of view. Through the use of roleplaying and modeling these strategies couples counseling can help you learn how to be a better partner and what you should expect in return from your partner.
My own work with couples is heavily influenced by the work of the Gottman Institute. They have spent decades researching what makes for happy, lasting relationships and what leads to the inevitable demise of other relationships. Using this research, I help couples develop the skills (The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work) that bolster healthy, loving relationships while avoiding the pitfalls (The Four Horsemen) that mire couples in patterns of conflict and ill communication.
Are you willing to work to change the unhealthy patterns that have developed over time? Are you open to constructive feedback about what you already do well and what you can do to improve? Do you desire to get back on track and live a long and fulfilling life with your current partner? If so, then couples counseling may work for you.
If you would like a better idea about the kinds of communication and conflict resolution skills that I assist couples in working on you may want to watch this excellent video of a presentation given by Laura Heck, who is a Master Trainer for the Gottman Seven Principles Program.
Please contact me today and let’s setup an appointment for couples counseling to help get your relationship back on track. I can be reached by telephone at (706) 534-8558 or by e-mail at Aaron@ca4wellbeing.com.
Real Reasons You Are Going to Couples Counseling
Most couples I see state that the reason they are coming to counseling is “to improve communication.” Usually, there IS difficulty with communication, but if people were completely honest, they would give the following many, different, real reasons for seeking couples counseling.
- I want to have more sex with my partner
- I want my partner to listen to me
- I want my partner prioritize me over his/her family of origin/children/work/friends
- I want my partner to be less emotionally reactive
- I want my partner to be able to have a calm, rational discussion with me
- I want my partner to be more passionate about me
- I want my partner to do more household chores
- I want my partner to do more childcare
- I want my partner to stop spending money on…
- I want my partner to stop telling me to stop spending money on…
- I want my partner to lose weight
- I want my partner to stop lying
- I want my partner to validate my feelings
- I want my partner to think more logically
- I want my partner to share his/her feelings
- I want my partner to calm down when we have conflict
- I want my partner to stop leaving when we have conflict
- I want my partner to stop shutting down when we have conflict
- I want my partner to be more fun loving, like he/she was when we first met, before we got married and had children
- I want my partner to stop having a physical affair
- I want my partner to stop having an emotional affair
- I want my partner to get over my affair
- I want my partner to stop drinking/smoking/doing drugs
- I want my partner to love me in a way that heals all of my wounds
- I want my partner to love me in a way that makes up for my childhood
- I want my partner to stop yelling at me
- I want my partner to stop ignoring me
- I want my partner to finally, fully understand me
- I want my partner to parent our children the way I do
- I want to leave my partner but I am worried about him/her and I want him/her to be in the care of a mental health professional
- I want a therapist to tell us that we need to divorce
- I want my partner to say that he/she will do anything to save our relationship
- I want to discuss our conflicts in front of a professional, so I am not so scared
- I want to discuss our conflicts in front of a professional, so my partner will control him/herself
- I want the therapist to fix my partner
Do any of these resonate with you? The more honest you can be with yourself about your reasons for seeking couples counseling, the more effective it can be. Need some help in your relationship? Give me a call and let’s get real about what you need.
Susanna Rains Moriarty, LPC, CRC
706-425-8900 ext 709
Most parents are aware how important attachment is for our children and we may go to great lengths to ensure we develop secure bonds with our babies so that they grow up with a sense of security in the world. We now know from current research with couples that secure attachment is also crucial to an adult’s well-being. Dr. Sue Johnson, who was called the best couple therapist in the world by John Gottman, arguably our most prolific relationship researcher, has been studying how attachment affects our romantic relationships for decades. In this video, she decribes how one partner’s sense of physical pain can be changed by secure support and is even visible on MRI : http://youtu.be/2J6B00d-8lw , and further that attachment bonds can be strengthened.
John Bowlby, a British psychiatrist, first made the psychological world understand the necessity of secure attachment with parent figures as vital for the well-being of children. He and others noted some children’s “failure to thrive” in hospital and orphanage settings without consistent and loving caregivers. Although we accept these more nurturing attitudes today toward children and none of us would leave a little one alone in a hospital overnight to tough out such a stressful situation, we often overlook the healthy aspects of interdependence in our adult relationships. Our culture is one of rugged independence, self-sufficiency and fears about losing our individuality. These are valid concerns as we want to maintain our voices, boundaries, and our identities in relationship, however we may sometimes overcorrect and not allow ourselves the vulnerability and openness that healthy intimacy require. Bowlby coined the phrase “effective dependence” to describe secure adult bonds which allow us to reach for others when we need help and support. Dr. Sue Johnson and others working on Adult Attachment research are validating this healthy dependence is as vital for adults as it is for children.
I recently had the opportunity to complete a 4 day externship in Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy. For years I have read Dr. Johnson’s books and was excited to learn more. I am certified as an Imago Couples Therapist and value my training and years of experience, but I am always interested in learning more about the enigma that is modern romantic love and committed relationship. I find the newest brain and attachment research to be fascinating as it confirms what Couple therapists have seen for years about the value of a secure bond. We are healthier, happier and more successful when our most significant relationships are nurturing and work well.
What does a secure adult relationship look like? Dr. Johnson has an acronym to describe the goal we are aiming for: A.R.E. Accessibility asks can I reach for you, Responsiveness asks can I rely on you to respond to me when I need you emotionally, and Engagement asks will you stay close to me and value me? Essentially, a securely attached adult relationship is one of emotional responsiveness and safety, one where partners meet each other halfway and honor each other’s needs.
Luckily, there is a lot we can learn as an adult about our own attachment style individually and with our partners. We can look at our attachment history, our interactive dances and patterns, and our emotions that are triggered when we are in conflict and feel our relationship security is threatened. Conscious partners can be part of each other’s healing of earlier attachment wounds, our present emotional safety and ultimately our overall well-being. And when we feel we are solidly on that path, that is when Love makes sense.
If you would like to learn more about your own relationship patterns individually or as a couple and work toward improving them, please contact me at 706-425-8900 or email me at email@example.com.
We have a new Career counselor in Athens! We at Counseling Associates for Well- Being are very happy to welcome our newest associate this week. Marian Higgins, PhD., LPC is joining us. She is an experienced Career Counselor who specializes in helping people with all things work related. This includes making choices about career paths, dealing with work stress, workplace diversity issues, work or career transitions, and workplace relationship challenges. Dr. Higgins is an experienced speaker and educator as well. She presents on topics related to leadership, inclusion, and strategies for college success . Check here for information about her speaking: http://www.marianhiggins.com/#!speaking/cv53
She can help if you are feeling stuck in your career and looking for direction. If you are struggling with a difficult job change, having problems with co-worker relationships, or managing things related to your work-life balance, consider seeing Marian. These are all great reasons to see a great career counselor. She has a great deal of experience with helping young adults with navigating educational choices as well. We are thrilled to have her join us!
Please call her for all your work and career related needs at 706-425-8900