Counselor's Corner

FOCUS ON THE PROCESS

FOCUS ON THE PROCESS

No one gets divorced because of the issue – whether it be parenting, finances, or an affair.  They get divorced because of the way they handle (or don’t handle) the issue.

The two partners heading toward divorce, might think that it is the issues they are facing that are driving them toward divorce.  In reality, it is not the issues that matter all that much, it is whether or not they are properly communicating, making necessary changes, and finding the healing necessary to move forward in a healthy relationship – in the midst of their issues and problems.

A couple dealing with those very same issues, and handling them with the proper process (communication, willingness to change, and finding healing) can strengthen their marriage and produce a closer bond after the conflict than before.

It’s not the issue that counts, it’s the process that counts.

Focus on the process.  Learn healthy conflict resolutions skills and your marriage will be “fireproof”.  You’ll be able to make it through the toughest of circumstances with the right skills.  Or stay in your old, unhealthy patterns and the lightest of breezes will blow you off course.  The choice is up to you.

 

What process in your life do you need to amend?

What relationship could benefit from a healthier process?

Why not start now?

Corina Helgestad imageCorina Helgestad is a professional counselor who especially likes working with teen girls in such areas as self-esteem, cutting, suicide, depression, and anxiety. She says this about her work as a counselor, “One of the best aspects of my life is helping others succeed in theirs.” To learn more about Corina, or to set up an appointment click here.

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Whatever

Whatever

I recently read a verse in the bible and reflected on both the simplicity of it and the enormity of it.  The verse is found in 1 Corinthians 10:31, and reads, “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”  The challenge is to do ALL to the glory of God.  The word “ALL” encompasses everything – short three letter word with big implications.  I smiled when I read the simple example the text gives – eating and drinking.  Now we all (there’s that word again!) can identify with that.  We all need to eat and drink to survive.  In this country most of us eat and drink on a daily basis, and often without any thought…we’re hungry we eat…we’re thirsty and we grab a glass of water, easy right?  Certainly for many of us this is easy, but unfortunately for others, this isn’t so easy.  Yet the text challenges us to eat or drink to the glory of God.  I wonder how many of us take that to heart.  How often do I ask myself if what I’m consuming is to the glory of God, how often do you?  Finally, there’s that phrase I skipped until now, “…or whatever you do…” I guess that covers ALL things; your thoughts, your feelings, your words, your actions, everything

Life is a gift God has given us, one that is to be lived in every aspect, both the simple and the complex, to the glory of God!  Maybe when you wake up in the morning you can reflect on this verse and challenge yourself in how you think, feel, and act – to do it to the glory of God.  Maybe the next time a driver cuts you off you can “whatever” him, and send up a prayer on his behalf.

I hope this gives you a deeper perspective on life; everything we do has significance – big things, little things, “whatever” things we do, do all to the glory of God.  Now that’s not just a New Year’s resolution, it’s a life resolution!!

 

Erin MorganErin Morgan is a licensed professional counselor at the Center with over 20 years of counseling experience.  Erin says this about her work as a therapist, “I enjoy working with individuals in a wide variety of areas including depression, anxiety, parenting, and communication skills. Of particular interest to me is supporting individuals who struggle with a hurtful or abusive past and helping them with the pain that can negatively impact the present”.  She sees clients in our Wausau location. To learn more about Erin, or to set up an appointment click here.

 

 

 

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Effective Communication for Dealing with Conflict

Effective Communication for Dealing with Conflict

Before you begin, ask yourself why you feel upset – Are you truly angry because the ketchup was left on the counter? Or are you upset because you feel like you’re doing an uneven share of the housework and this is just one more piece of evidence? Take time to think about your own feelings before starting an argument.

 Discuss one issue at a time – “You shouldn’t be spending so much money without talking to me” can quickly turn into “You don’t care about our family.” Now you need to resolve two problems instead of one. Plus, when an argument starts to get off topic, it can easily become about everything a person has ever done wrong. We’ve all done a lot wrong, so this can be especially cumbersome.

Use “I” statements – When sharing a concern, begin your sentence with an “I” statement.  This technique will help you share your true feelings about the situation instead of spewing blame which will often cause defensiveness.

“I feel ____________ when you ____________ because ____________.”

Use reflective listening – Oftentimes we focus on getting our own point across rather than listening.  When reflecting, you will repeat back what someone has said to you, but in your own words.  This shows that you didn’t just hear the other person, but you are trying to understand them.  For example, you can say, “I think this is what you’re telling me, but correct me if I’m wrong.”

“I hear you saying that…”     

“It sounds like you feel…”    breakup-908714_1280

“You’re telling me that…”

Focus on the problem, not the person – When a disagreement turns to personal insults, raised voices, or mocking tones, the conversation is no longer productive. Be careful to focus on the problem without placing blame on the other person.  No put-downs, swearing, or name-calling.  Degrading language is an attempt to make your partner feel bad.

 Know when to take a time-out – When the conversation is becoming argumentative, insulting, aggressive, or is a repetitive pattern, it’s a clue for a time-out.  The person who called for the time-out is the person who will call for a time-in when he or she feels calm and relaxed enough to continue the conversation.  Spend some time doing something alone that you find relaxing.  Focus on how you can make this a more productive conversation.

Work toward a resolution – Disagreement is a normal part of a relationship. If it becomes clear that you and your partner will not agree, focus on a resolution instead. Attempt to find a compromise that benefits both individuals. Ask yourself if this disagreement really matters to your relationship and let yourself move on, if not.

IMG_0072_DawnDawn Schroeder is a professional counselor who enjoys helping people of all ages overcome life’s struggles.  She also has a special place in her heart for working with children and teenagers.  To learn more about Dawn, or to set up an appointment click here.

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Responding to Difficult Events

Responding to Difficult Events

Traumatic experiences are in the headlines almost daily.  It’s hard to not see it.  Unfortunately, our kids see it too, and they don’t have the same reasoning abilities that adults do to understand, or not be overly scared about the things that happen.  How do we strike a balance between letting our kids know and shielding them from the realities of our country and the world? How do we do that for ourselves?  We have many skills in managing anxiety that may help.  They are in categories of distraction, management of physical symptoms and thinking properly about the situation.

aware-1207670_1920Distraction – this is more than just turning our eyes away from something and not thinking about it.  It helps us have a manageable “bite” of what is going on.  This might come in the form of putting down your phone or turning off the TV, it might be taking a few deep breaths, or it might just be focusing your thoughts on something else for a while.  We can still think and do something about upsetting events even if we don’t constantly get the news, or are constantly talking about it.

Managing Physical Symptoms– when you feel your heart starting to pick up speed, or your breaths get more shallow, it’s time for some management.  You will need to consciously take deeper breaths and exhale deeply, as well.  This will help both your heart and your breathing.  The idea is this:  in order for your brain to function well, it needs oxygen.  It needs other things too, but it needs the oxygen that we take in to be able to clearly think.  The more oxygen you give it, the better it can perform for you.  The more deeply you breathe, the better opportunity you give your brain to think of other options, be able to access things you know and commit them to memory.

beautiful-day-1374424_1920Thinking Properly About the Situation – There are awful things that have happened all over the world, and we seem to get instant and constant information about it.  If you are a “news junkie” you might consider how long you have been watching/reading and see if you have learned anything new in the last few minutes.  If not, it’s time to give it a rest.  Repetition is only going to cement it into your memory.  Take a break, remember that you are safe in your own home and in your own location.  Take some time to think about what you have seen and maybe pray about the situation.

sadness-1325507_960_720Our kids need the same kind of help.  Each parent needs to manage the amount of content their children see, the things they are thinking about them and if there are any negative symptoms after having seen or heard about terrible things.  If your child develops nightmares or fears based on hearing about an event, then maybe they need to talk about it more with you.  They might not be ready to hear about these kinds of news events.  Remind your children that they are safe, remind them that you will always protect them, and remind them what we learned from Mr. Rogers – to always look for the helpers and see the good things that people are doing to make the situation better.

You will need to be available for your kids to answer other questions they may have.  Teenagers usually have some understanding based on what they are learning about the event from school, but may need some guidance in how to proceed or integrate what they know.  Elementary kids may need to do something to feel like they helped; like write a note, or draw a picture for one of the helpers.  Middle school students probably need a mix of both.  Again, it depends on your children, their maturity and the amount of exposure they have had to the event.  Families can use these kinds of situations as a time to come together and discuss what happened. Talk about the issues that the situation brings up that relate to what they are learning.  Is it about obeying the law?  Is it about accepting someone that is different? Is it about different beliefs that people have?  Use the events to start talking to your kids about important character development and behavioral implications of the tragedy around them.  Who knows, maybe your child is the next first responder or news anchor who will be the helpers in future situations.

 

Stephanie HamannStephanie Hamann, BS, MA, NCC, LPC – is a seasoned therapist with a particular passion for working with children and adolescents.  She has been an anchor for the Center for Human Development staff since 2004.  She reflects that “What I enjoy most about being a therapist is to see people gain new skills or understanding and move forward in life in a positive direction.”  Read more about Stephanie on her bio page, click here. 

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Newlyweds Pay Attention–Ten Steps to Insure Marital Satisfaction!

Newlyweds Pay Attention–Ten Steps to Insure Marital Satisfaction!

Our oldest granddaughter is getting married this summer which gave me cause to consider giving advice to her and other newlyweds from my years of providing marriage counseling.  The decision to marry is one of the most important ones that you will ever make.  Be prepared for the journey of a lifetime which can be incredibly rewarding, neutral, or devastating.   Hopefully you entered into this event with the firm decision committed to the age old vows, “…to have and to hold, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health until death do us part.”  As with all good intentions, there is also a need for preparation, coaching and action.  No couple is fully prepared for marriage, but there are things that you can do to insure a positive couple relationship and to provide a strong example for your children.wedding-626020_1280

  • GET MARRIED–You have already committed to the first step. Research shows that the very act of sharing your marriage vows is predictive of success as a couple. 1 Couples who live together without that commitment are much more likely to separate.
  • BE COMMITTED—the commitment to your marriage needs to be more than a commitment to stay in the marriage, it must be a commitment to support one another and grow in the relationship. Gary Thomas, author of Sacred Marriage, suggests that growth when he asks the question “What if God designed Marriage to make us holy, not to make us happy”. 2 It’s easy to be committed when things are going well but in times of difficulty cling to one another and see them as times of growth. Those incidents and disagreements always point to areas where you and your marriage can grow.
  • BE PREPARED—Good pre-marriage coaching is an important aspect of marriage preparation. It is an opportunity to “read the manual before exploring the repair.” This should be more than simply wedding planning and is a wonderful preventive measure.  This is an opportunity provided by many good counselors and should include written pre-marriage assessment such as Prepare/Enrich* or the more recent offering from Les and Leslie Parrott, SYMBIS.  Research also shows that marital satisfaction and success are correlated with pre-marriage coaching. 3
  • TAKE TIME-OUTS—every couple develops a script, a pattern that they follow during disagreements. When tempers rise and you feel hurt these patterns are predictable. Once started, it has a life of its own regardless of the issue or issues that triggered it.  Agree in advance that when either of you recognize you are in that script, that you will call time out.  As with any time out, take time to sort out what is happening, figure out what your partner may need at that time and what is going on in your thoughts and emotions.  Praying for direction can be helpful, “it is like going to the coach”. THEN call time in to talk about what you have discovered and LISTEN to your partner before talking.
  • COMMUNCATE, COMMUNICATE, COMMUICATE—don’t ignore issues but learn to problem solve them. Start by renewing your commitment to growth in your marriage and to your partner. Then, LISTEN closely being sensitive to the needs, emotions and thoughts being expressed. The areas of finances and sexual expression are often particularly sensitive.  The temptation is to avoid difficult subjects, but that only results in the buildup of frustration or distancing which is harmful to the relationship.  On the other hand, working through issues builds intimacy.
  • COOPERATE, DON’T COMPETE— Competition in sports requires a winner and a loser. Two become one in marriage” and you can’t win a fight against yourself. Men and women are very different in many ways including the ways they think and communicate (our brains are actually quite different). In addition, we all have real personality differences.  These provide for the opportunity to succeed, or can become barriers in the relationship.  Strive to understand these differences and celebrate the contribution each of you can make as you grow together.  After all, that is what attracted you to your spouse in the first place.
  • DATE YOUR PARTNER—during the courtship the relationship is usually based on sharing and having fun together. The responsibilities that take over and pressures of married life often result in couples forgetting romance in their relationship. This is especially true with the responsibility of raising children and all the pressures put on parents.  It is easy to grow apart, so set regular date times (I suggest weekly and a regular get away together at least twice a year).
  • DEVELOP POSITIVE RITUALS—Take time to do the little things that tell your spouse you love them. Regular kisses and hugs, little notes, asking how their day went, taking time for meals together, pray together. Little things are the things that cement a relationship together and are often the things that will be cherished memories for your children.  My wife and I like to take time to read a novel to each other, a few pages on a regular basis.  And don’t forget a good long hug when leaving one another!
  • wedding-1149219_1920MAKE FAITH THE CENTER OF YOUR RELATIONSHIP—Values are supported and relationships encouraged in a good faith community. There are few institutions left in our culture today that support marriage and the Church is one of the few remaining. In addition, it provides a wonderful place to transmit your values to your children.  Don’t forget to pray regularly for your spouse and your relationship.
  • SEEK HELP—In every relationship there are times when problems don’t seem to get resolved. Recognize when you are in “over your head” and commit in advance to seek professional guidance. Too often, divorces take place after people have “stuffed their feelings” and avoided dealing with issues for weeks, months, or even years.  As with most problems “a stitch in time saves nine.”  Perhaps the person or agency who provided your pre-marriage coaching is a good place to start.

We wish you and our granddaughter a long, happy and prosperous marriage as you embark on this journey called marriage.  May your bond of love and your relationship become stronger each day.

1 Waite, Linda J., The Negative Effects of Cohabitation, George Washington University, Institute for Communitarian and Policy Studies, Volume 10, Issue 1, Winter 1999/2000,

2Thomas, Gary Thomas, Sacred Marriage, 2000

3Saleh, Alexandra D., Premarital Counseling & Marital Satisfaction Alexandra D. Saleh, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Lee_and_Barb_637x425Lee Webster is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has over 40 years of counseling experience. He is also the founder and clinical director of the Center for Human Development.  To learn more about Lee click here.

Barb Webster is a Licensed Clinical Social worker with over 30 years of counseling experience.  She enjoys working with clients of all ages, individuals, and couples. To learn more about Barb click here.

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Why People Procrastinate

Why People Procrastinate

Everyone procrastinates sometimes and for different reasons.  Here are some of the common ones with suggestions as to how to get those tasks done that have been haunting you!

work-management-907669_640

1 – Overwhelming –

The task is so overwhelming that you don’t know how to start.  It will help you to break down the big task into smaller tasks on paper.  Than only focus on task at a time.

2 – Unenjoyable

You avoid something that was previously unenjoyable.  Your thoughts made you unhappy while doing the task.  Identify what thoughts are making you suffer, the thoughts that are not true.  It will be bad if ______________.  It is not the activity that’s bad, it’s the story you tell yourself about the activity or that you are not good or smart enough to complete the activity.  Let yourself know it is possible and that you are capable to complete the activity to the best of your ability.

3 – Comparison

You compare the job at hand to a fantasytemporal-distance-1138191_1280 world.  You have a task to accomplish but your mind visualizes doing something fun.  Your mind starts complaining that this job has no purpose or meaning, it’s boring and unsatisfying.   Ask yourself what you want most in life.  Purpose and meaning attainable only having fun or are you really looking for peace in your life.  Thoughts that compare you to others do not give you peace.  Don’t give attention to these thoughts, they are a waste of your time. Look at how you feel in the moment.  What is the story you are telling yourself.  Focus on now.  Get rid of the fantasy thoughts and get to the business at hand so you can finish the task and attain peace.

4 – Distractions

You distract yourself to avoid thoughts and suffering.  Your mind naturally goes to what makes you happy (shopping, eating, internet).  These things are stored in your memory and have offered you a temporary high in the past so you run to them to take away the suffering you are experiencing in the moment.  Don’t try to force these thoughts to stop with distraction.  Instead, look at how you are feeling in the moment.  Ask yourself what you are trying to escape from (not good enough, won’t do it perfect, boredom, too stressful).  What is the story you are telling yourself?

5 – Not the Right Fit

You feel the task is not the right fit for you.  You may love interacting with people but you have an accounting job which may not be a good fit for you.  You may have to pursue a different job but don’t avoid your current job. Focus on your current job while seeking a better fit for you but don’t let your thoughts make you procrastinate the tasks at your current job.

The cure for procrastination is ACTION.  Examine your thoughts and correct your story.

Stop procrastinating, focus on the task at hand, and attain peace.


IMG_0072_DawnDawn Schroeder
 is a professional counselor who enjoys helping people of all ages overcome life’s struggles.  She also has a special place in her heart for working with children and teenagers.  To learn more about Dawn, or to set up an appointment click here.

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Psst! Hey, Mom and Dad! I’m about to tell you why I act up sometimes

Psst! Hey, Mom and Dad! I’m about to tell you why I act up sometimes

I know I look small, but I need A LOT of interaction with other people just like you do. And the most important interaction? Interaction with my parents – you. And, well, the truth of it is… negative attention is way easier to get and lasts a lot longer than positive attention does. Positive attention is usually shorter and less predictable. So, I try to get the positive every now and then but it’s hard work and it usually doesn’t pay off, so I just go for what I know I can get.

How do I interact, you ask? Good question! Through eye contact, physical touch, and talking.

If I’m desiring eye contact, physical touch, and an exchange of words…

I know I can probably get all three by acting up.

I know that I can get them for as long as I want by continuing the bad behavior.

I know that, even if you are ignoring me, I can keep getting worse and worse until eventually you have to look at me, touch me, and talk to me.

However……

If I’m desiring eye contact, physical touch, and an exchange of words…

I’m not sure if you’ll notice me quietly occupying myself over here or working hard on this project.

It almost seems like the quieter I am and the better my behavior is, the more I get ignored. I’ve heard you say, “Finally, some peace and quiet around here.” Then you look at your phone for a long time. I hate that!

Even if you say, “Good job on drawing that picture” the positive attention is over in less than 10 seconds and then I’m left trying to figure out how I’m going to get the other 29 min 50 sec of interaction that I need right now.

Mom, Dad, the good news for you is…

You are my favorite person.

I want you to teach me how you do all that cool adult stuff.

We don’t have to do anything super huge. I’d love to do almost anything with you if I can count on my Positive Interaction Bank getting filled in the process.

You can just hold my hand or rub my back for no reason. I love it when you do that.

I love your compliments more than anyone else’s.

I love your hugs and kisses more than anyone else’s.

I need you!

I adore you!

 

Love,

Your Little One

 

Corina Helgestad imageCorina Helgestad is a professional counselor who especially likes working with teen girls in such areas as self-esteem, cutting, suicide, depression, and anxiety. To learn more about Corina, or to set up an appointment click here.

 

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Every Yes is a No!

Every Yes is a No!

I am currently reading The Best Yes by Lysa TerKeurst – a very good book so far.  The night before I read chapter nine, I happened to read a blog about how to have a decluttered kitchen.  The next day while reading chapter nine of The Best Yes, I realized that they were both saying the same thing.  We are always saying yes to something and no to something.

I had heard this concept before when it came to time management – we only have 24 hours in each day and everything you say yes to inevitably means that you are saying no to some other thing that you could have done with that time.   I had always understood it in that context.  It even made perfect sense to me in regards to how we spend our money – a yes to the brand new car might mean a no to the freedom to go on that spur-of-the-moment trip.

This concepYEs NOt was very easy to understand in regards to the physical and concrete things in our lives like money and time.  However, after reading that blog and chapter nine, I began to considered just how much this principal impacts our lives in EVERY area, including the less tangible ones like the emotional and spiritual areas of our lives.

Consider this, if I say no to a conversation that could potentially cause conflict, I may be saying yes to misunderstanding and resentment.  If I say yes to procrastination on that project, I am saying no to peace of mind.  If I say no to God’s prompting to take a leap of faith, I am saying yes to the disappointment of not knowing how God had planned to miraculously provide.  If I say yes to hanging on to every item of clothing I ever buy because I might need it someday, I am saying no to the tranquility of a well-organized closet that I will use every day.  There are so many, possibly millions, of applications of this principle in each day of our lives.  When that realization set it, I knew that I could no longer live my life without considering it at every opportunity I could.

When I am real with myself about what each yes means and what, out of necessity, I am saying no to, I believe my life will experience a new-found level of clarity.  It’s time for me to step out of the denial that I can have my cake and eat it too and own the fact that every no is also a yes.  What an exciting thing to learn!  I can’t wait to see how it changes me.  How will it change you?

Corina Helgestad imageCorina Helgestad is a professional counselor who especially likes working with teen girls in such areas as self-esteem, cutting, suicide, depression, and anxiety. To learn more about Corina, or to set up an appointment click here.

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New Year’s Resolutions and Its Beginnings

New Year’s Resolutions and Its Beginnings

It is believed that the Babylonians in Mesopotamia were the first to celebrate New Year’s in 2000 B.C. At that time, New Year’s occurred in mid-March. The Babylonians would make promises to their gods that they would return borrowed objects and repay their debts. They believed if they kept their promises, the gods would bestow good things for them throughout the year.

Julius Caesar’s reign over ancient Rome made a change in the months of the year. Caesar added the month of January and named the month for the Roman god, Janus.  Resolutions were repeated annually and renewed the bond between the citizens, the state and the gods. Ancient Roman citizens would reflect on their past and look toward the coming year. The people would trade sweet fruits and honey with each other.

The early Christians believed the start of the New Year should be a time to reflect on past mistakes and work on self-improvement. At that time, the resolutions were more about treating other people kindly and seeking forgiveness from their enemies. By the end of the 18th century, many resolutions involved being more helpful, more diligent and to be a better person.

Isidor Thorner, an American Theologist, did a survey in 1951 to determine the relationship between Protestant values and New Year resolutions. The New Year resolutions according to Thorner helped Protestants manage their emotions. Over time, New Year’s resolutions lost their religious meaning and became a tradition with the general population. Listed below is a comparison of resolutions between 1947 and 2014.Resolution Man

Resolutions for 1947 – Gallup Poll

  1. Improve disposition, be more understanding, control temper
  2. Improve my character, live a better life
  3. Stop smoking, smoke less
  4. Save more money
  5. Stop drinking, drink less
  6. Be more religious, go to church more often
  7. Be more efficient, do a better job
  8. Take better care of my health
  9. Contribute more in home life
  10. Lose (or gain) weight

Resolutions for 2014 Resolution Woman

  1. Lose weight
  2. Get organized
  3. Spend less, save more
  4. Enjoy life to the fullest
  5. Stay fit and healthy
  6. Learn something exciting
  7. Quit smoking
  8. Help others in their dreams
  9. Fall in love

10. Spend more time with family

According to a study done in 2007 by Richard Wiseman, approximately 88% of people who make New Year’s resolutions fail. The study showed 52% of the 3,000 participants were confident they would succeed in fulfilling their resolution.

So, what about a New Year’s resolution for 2016? Is your resolution going to focus on:

Returning borrowed objects and repaying debts?

Keeping promises to others?

Renewing a bond between yourself and the state?

Reflecting on past mistakes and working on self-improvement?

Whichever New Year’s resolution you choose, make sure that it is obtainable and realistic. Lastly, make sure the resolution is accountable by sharing it with someone else.  Make it known to this accountability person that you want them to ask you how you are doing with keeping the resolution.

Dave Tice is a licensed professional counselor at the Center with over 6 years of counseling experience.  To learn more about Dave, or to set up an appointment, click here.

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