If you’re like most people, you brought in the new year with a list of resolutions. And if you’re like most people, all of those resolutions have one goal: to better your life in some way. This blog explores 4 Reasons to Start Therapy in 2023 so that you’ll be able to decide if therapy is right for you.
Whether that is through eating right, working out, learning a new language or decluttering your home office, resolutions are made to help us live our best lives.
However, fourty-four percent of people have abandoned them only 3 months into the new year. Working with a therapist can help you stay accountable in working towards these goals, identify roadblocks to success and learn new skills that will make you more able to reach your goals.
4 Reasons to Start Therapy
1) Therapy Can Boost Physical Health
Learning new skills for stress regulation can help decrease the level of stress you are experiencing and help your body to use cortisol more effectively. Decreasing stress has also shown to improve different physical symptoms associated with stress such as a reduction in migraines, digestive upset, better appetite and improved sleep. Therapy can improve your physical and mental health.
2) Builds Self-Awareness
Many of us think we are running our lives when really we are often making decisions and reacting based on our emotions in the moment. We also develop patterns of behaviour and coping in our early childhood which, if left unaddressed can cause us to have poor boundaries, chronically people please or distance ourselves from others without consciously being aware of these patterns. Therapy helps clients understand where feelings, beliefs and behaviours really come from and to find new, more adaptive ways to cope.
3) Reconnect With Your Values
Of course, self-awareness also means becoming aware of your values and the behaviour that would help you to feel like you are living in a more aligned way. Many people spend a majority of their life doing what others want or aimlessly going about their days. Getting a more clear sense of your values and there person you want to be will help you create a clearer plan for your life and relationships.
4) Therapy Helps You Reach Goals
It’s the new year and we all have new goals that we are hoping to reach. However, fourty-four percent of people have abandoned them only 3 months into the new year. Working with a therapist can help you stay accountable in working towards these goals, identify roadblocks to success and learn new skills that will make you more able to reach your goals.
A trained therapist can also act as coach and cheerleader, supporting your efforts to reach your goals.
Yes, therapy is something that you can turn to for depression, addiction, and help with your crumbling relationships. But therapy can help with so much more. If you’d like to explore treatment options in the new year, please get in touch with me.
When you first fell in love, you could never imagine that someday the sound of your partner chewing could make you want to scream. It’s inevitable that once we are out of our honeymoon phase and reality sets in, we realize that all relationships take work and compromise. But while some couples may hit bumps in the road every so often, other couples find themselves in bigger trouble, with neither party knowing exactly how to fix things.
If you are in a relationship that is no longer feeling healthy, here are 5 warning signs that it may be time to try couples counseling:
1. There is No Longer Healthy Communication
Once you have a communication breakdown, you are unable to rationally share thoughts, feelings, and concerns with each other. Beyond this, unhealthy communication tends to leave one or both partners feeling depressed, angry and hopeless.
2. Trust Has Been Broken
When there has been infidelity, it is very difficult for the couple to rebuild trust and repair the damage. While there is no magic pill to recover from an affair, a therapist can offer tools and strategies to rebuild trust.
3. You’re More Like Roommates
If you and your partner act more like roommates than romantic partners, this indicates a lack of intimacy and a potential need for professional help.
4. One or Both of You Has Begun Acting Out
You try to mask your real feelings for as long as possible, but then you start to act out the hurt and resentment you may be feeling. For instance, if your partner has been unfaithful and you have agreed to stay in the relationship and work things out. But over time you find yourself lashing out, acting rude and trying to make them believe you are having an affair so they will feel the same kind of hurt. This acting out is unhealthy for both people and is a BIG indicator you need to seek some help.
5. When the Only “Solution” Seems to be Separation/Divorce
A break from negative energy can be very helpful to the relationship. But among couples who have filed for divorce, as many as 40 percent are “mixed agenda” meaning one partner still hoping to save the marriage.
Additionally, up to 40 percent of divorced people have regrets about deciding on divorce, often because they feel they (and their partner) didn’t try hard enough to make the marriage work.
Thankfully, couples counselling can help you and your partner look at all of your options for your marriage or relationship before you commit to a path forward. I have taken specialized training from the Doherty Relationship Institute to help couples in this situation.
If after reading this you feel that you’d benefit from some additional support with your relationship, reach out. Even though we cannot meet face to face right now, online couples counselling is easy to access and effective. I offer free 15 minute consultation appointments so we can make sure we’ll be a good fit. All of my appointments are being done online through a secure video platform or by phone for people who live anywhere in Nova Scotia.
Relationships can only be healthy when both people have the space to be themselves and maintain their personal integrity. Sadly, many people find themselves in relationships, romantic and otherwise, with people who do not respect boundaries and feel entitled to have their needs met regardless of the other person’s. These people most likely grew up in households that were unsafe and unstable, and where there was a constant invasion of personal boundaries.
If you can relate, chances are you have a hard time creating healthy boundaries to create the life experience you wish to have. Here are some ways you can begin to do so:
Identify Your Limits
You can’t set boundaries unless you discover where it is you personally stand. You’ll need to take a bit of time to recognize what you can and cannot tolerate. What makes you happy and what makes you feel uncomfortable and stressed? Only until you have made these discoveries can you move on to the next steps.
Don’t Be Shy
People who have similar communication styles are easy to engage with. These people will quickly understand what your new barriers are. But people who have a different cultural background or personality may not easily understand your boundaries. With these people, it’s important to be very clear and direct.
Pay Attention to Your Feelings
People who have a hard time setting boundaries don’t often allow themselves to acknowledge their own feelings because they’re usually too busy worrying about everyone else’s.
You’ll need to start recognizing how people make you feel in order to know whether your new boundaries are being crossed or not. When you’re with someone, make mental notes, or even jot down in a journal how that interaction made you feel.
If, after spending time with someone, you feel anger or resentment, this is a sign that the person may be overstepping your boundaries. Reiterate to this person what your boundaries are. If they continue to disrespect you and them, you will want to cut yourself away from further interactions.
Make Self-Care a Priority
Put yourself and your needs first. This may feel strange and even somehow wrong if you’ve spent your entire life taking care of others. Give yourself permission to feel your feelings and get what you need to feel happy and well.
Speak with Someone
If you’ve spent an entire life with a sense of low self-worth, you may find setting boundaries quite difficult. In this case, it’s important to speak with a therapist that can help you discover where these feelings are coming from and how to change your thought patterns and behavior.
If you’d like to explore therapy, please get in touch with me. I would be happy to help you on your journey toward self-care.
No one ever wants to be on the receiving end of romantic betrayal. The emotional pain of discovering that someone you love and trust has been cheating and lying to you can be overwhelming.
When you are the victim of massive deception and betrayal, it can leave you feeling sadness, confusion, resentment, and anger. Many victims also feel an increase in their anxiety and a decrease in their self-esteem. But infidelity doesn’t just affect our emotional health, it also affects our mental health.
In fact, many victims of infidelity experience the same symptoms that are linked to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), becoming totally disoriented and confused as to what has happened to them.
Some of the classic symptoms of PTSD often experienced by those whose partners have cheated on them are:
- Looping intrusive thoughts
- Inability to regulate emotions
- Out of body experiences
- Oscillating between feeling numb and rageful
- Hyper alert (looking for new potential threats)
- Feeling helpless and vulnerable
- Confusion and disorientation
- Problems with memory and cognition
- Lack of trust
If you have been the victim of infidelity, then know that you, like a soldier returning from war, have been psychologically injured and you require tender care to set you on the path back to you.
Healing from Infidelity
As devastating as it can be to learn that your significant other has betrayed you in such an intimate way, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. You can pick up the pieces of your life and find joy and comfort once again.
Here are some ways you can begin to heal after infidelity:
Be Gentle on Yourself
Don’t fall into the “I should have known…” trap. This is not your fault. Now is the time to be on your own side.
Your emotions will be overwhelming for a little while. You will feel lost, anxious and panicky. When these feelings start to rise, STOP, take a slow deep breath and let it out. Take another one and another one. It is amazing how deep breathing can completely calm us almost instantly. Your breath will become your new best friend.
Remember, you’re not just healing from infidelity, you are healing from the PTSD that the infidelity caused. You will need some professional guidance to help you cope with the symptoms you are currently experiencing.
If you would like to explore treatment options, please be in touch with me. I would be happy to help you on your journey to becoming whole and happy once again.
Most of us from a young age are taught how to be kind, considerate and compassionate toward others. But rarely are we told to show the same consideration to ourselves. This becomes even more true for individuals brought up in abusive or unloving homes.
What is Self-Compassion?
Self-compassion is taken from Buddhist psychology and refers to how we can relate to the self with kindness. Self-compassion or self-love is NOT to be confused with arrogance or selfishness. In actuality, arrogance and selfishness stem from the absence of self-love.
But what does it really mean to be kind with ourselves? It means that on a day-to-day basis we are mindful of being courteous, supportive and compassionate with ourselves. Too many individuals treat themselves with harsh judgement instead of compassion.
Why is this important? Because self-compassion helps us recognize our unconditional worth and value. It allows us to recognize though we my sometimes make bad decisions, we’re not bad people.
Research, over the past decade, has shown the parallel between self care and psychological wellbeing. Those who recognize self-compassion also tend to have better connections with others, are reportedly happier with their own lives, and have a higher satisfaction with life overall. Self-compassion also correlates with less shame, anxiety and depression.
Now that you know the what and why of self-compassion, let’s look at the how.
How to Practice Self-Compassion
Treat Yourself as You Would a Small Child
You would never harshly judge or belittle a small child the way you do yourself. You would only want to help and love that child. When you begin to treat yourself as you would a small child, you begin to show yourself the same love, gentleness and kindness.
Every minute your mind is handling millions of bits of information, though you consciously are only aware of a few of them. This is to say we all have scripts or programs running in our minds 24/7. These scripts and programs are running our lives, insisting we have certain behaviors and make certain decisions.
Some of these scripts are the ones that tell us how “bad” or “unlovable” we are. They’ve been running since we were kids. The way to quiet these scripts is to become more mindful of your own mind.
When you begin to have a feeling or reaction to something, stop and ask yourself WHO is feeling that? Is it the compassionate self or the program running? If it’s the program, thank the program for what it has done and release it.
Good Will vs Good Feelings
Self-compassion is a conscious act of kindness we show ourselves; it’s not a way to alleviate emotional pain. Life happens, and we can’t always avoid negative or sad feelings. Never mistake self-compassion as a tool to ignore your deep and rich emotional life.
These are just a few ways you can begin to cultivate self-compassion. If you’d like to explore more options or talk to someone about your feelings of self-rejection and judgement, please get in touch with me. I’d be happy to discuss how cognitive therapy may help.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders affect roughly 40 million people over the age of 18 in the United States. Though these disorders are highly treatable, only 36.9% of those with anxiety seek treatment. Perhaps this is because of busy schedules or a lack of insurance that causes so many people with anxiety to suffer in silence.
But there are proven strategies you can do that don’t cost a penny and take little time. In fact, you could do any of the following strategies on your lunch or coffee break. Here are some ways to reduce your anxiety:
According to a study published by the Journal of Emergency Medicine, 30% of people who go to the ER with complaints of chest pain and no evidence of coronary artery disease are actually suffering from a panic attack. Why is this so common?
When we are stressed or anxious, we tend to over-breathe or under-breathe. This can cause dizziness and hyperventilation. Deep breathing is a powerful way to gain control over your breath and reaction to a panic attack. Studies show taking slow, deep, breaths soothes our nervous system and increases brain activity. And you almost immediately feel a calm settle over you. Try it for yourself.
Try Listening Meditation
One way to get your mind to settle down is to meditate. And one of the easiest ways to meditate is to practice listening meditation. This is exactly what is sounds like. Sit quietly, eyes closed, and begin to listen to the ambient sounds in the room. What do you hear? Buzzing lights? A fan? Someone cough? Birds outside? A lawnmower? Just be aware of all the sounds and try and expand that awareness to hear as much as possible. This form of meditation is fun and effective, because you cannot possibly listen, truly listen, and think at the same time.
Take a Walk
Nervous energy needs to go somewhere – it has to be burned. Taking a 15- minute walk around the block can be a great way to get rid of this energy while breathing deeply. As a bonus, your body releases feel-good chemicals like endorphins when you exercise.
Don’t Drink Coffee
Yes, I am asking you on your coffee break to not drink coffee. Or soda. Caffeine and sugar can exacerbate anxiety by making us feel jittery and nervous. You are far better off sticking with water.
I hope you will give these anxiety-busting strategies a try. If you feel they are not helping as much as you need and you would like to speak with someone, please get in touch with me. I’d be happy to speak a bout treatment options with you.