Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, MFT 43464
16 Years of Creative Solutions
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Being a mother is a tremendous privilege and a tremendous challenge. It can feel like being a butterfly pinned on the crucible of competing priorities of finances, being a wife, responsibilities to our extended family, to a dizzying array of details, quality time with the children, and having a life of one’s own. Our internal values for order may give way to a certain amount of chaos. Many personal preferences go under the bus to give way to the needs of everybody and everything else.
How to salvage what matters most to you and incorporate that into the family schedule? What unique and personal solutions can be found to reintegrate the woman within the mother?
You may also need practical solutions to manage ongoing problems that arise as children pass through different ages and stages.
I do not advocate one particular parenting philosophy although I am well-versed in many. You will know when you have found the balance that is right for you when in the midst of your day you are able to take a deep breath, to laugh spontaneously, and to see yourself in the mirror and like what you see.
Decisions /Life Events/ Transitions
Many people come to me when they are at a crossroads; either not knowing whether to stay in a relationship, or which direction to take in their career or both.
Priorities shift and change as you go through various life stages; being in the twenties and getting started with career and being secure in your identity, getting married or having children, moves, losses and unreached goals, divorce and separation, financial ups and downs, not to mention crises that life throws our way. At each uncomfortable transition you are challenged by uncertainty and loss to redefine your priorities and what is important to you. Counseling involves; gaining clarity about your needs, wants, and values, and sometimes how your difficulties echo struggles from the past. Without dwelling on the past, you can develop awareness about what limitations you are still putting on yourself today (and more importantly how you can overcome them) so that new goals and dreams come into focus and a new path begun.
Relationships can be so painful. We form deep attachments to other people, regardless of whether that person is capable of reciprocrating. It is often confusing to know whether things will get better and it is worth hanging in there or whether to separate.
Even if only one person in the relationship makes changes, the relationship can change. It is important to look at the investment you are making in your partner (of your time, energy, and love) and see clearly how that impacts you; whether it is likely to benefit you (and your family) by continuing to carry on as you are. It’s also necessary to have the support you’ll need to take the action and make changes without backing down or letting emotions confuse you. It can be liberating to learn that the choice often isn’t just “stay or go” but a whole range of choices and actions that you can take to focus on yourself and allow the relationship to take a smaller part of your personal energy. Sometimes when appropriate boundaries are set, a new kind of relationship can emerge based on enjoyment, and companionship instead of rescuing or being taken advantage of.
EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing)
One of the tools I use frequently in my practice is EMDR. I’ll admit I was skeptical when I heard about this technique because I’m generally skeptical of instant-fixes. I went to a workshop on a limb to learn more about it; and discovered that EMDR relieved me of morning sickness during my pregnancy in just one session. I was impressed. While EMDR cannot solve all problems in all people, I now integrate it into my practice as a very valuable tool. Response from clients has been overwhelmingly positive; especially from those who have experienced devastating trauma and abuse, to enable them to leave the charge of what happened in the past and come into present time with their self-image. EMDR goes beyond talk therapy to get at the mental pictures and memories that can remain charged, physically in the body, even when an issue has been “resolved” on the level of talking and gaining understanding. Symptoms such as nightmares, flashbacks, nausea, panic attack, anxiety, shame, a sense of doom, and self-loathing can resolve with this technique.
Recovery (Alcohol Other Drugs / Codependency)
Having worked for almost 5 years in long-term treatment of addiction, one thing that I became aware of was how difficult it can be after the first year of sobriety to know what to do with feelings; shame, sadness, loneliness, self-loathing, boredom and lack of purpose, even suicidal thoughts. This can be scary territory for you and having the support of a counselor who understands can make all the difference in your ability to grow and thrive.
People who thrive in their recovery not only abstain and subtract things from their lives (people, places, things) but then begin enriching and adding to their lives (again people, new places, and new things) and that requires taking “healthy” risks, being vulnerable, and inviting intimacy with others.
The other side of the coin is having a relationship with a person who is addicted; whether it be a lover, or even an adult child. Estimates are that about 1 in 6 people have compulsive, self-harming, or addicted behaviors meaning that many, many people are in intimate, primary relationships with them and are feeling confused, resentful, let down, worried and scared, and ashamed, alternating with hope and persistent efforts to heal or rehabilitate their loved one. This can take a toll on your own mental health! While there is advice and support out there for being in this kind of relationship, ultimately there are no rules. What you choose to do; what kind of boundaries you set, are entirely up to you. I will help you find clarity and validation for what your needs are; because one of your needs is to help; to contribute positively to the struggles of the people that you love, and also to live your own life path as well as you can.
Anxiety/ Panic/ Stress
One of my specialties is working with people with anxiety and panic. It is so damaging to feel as if you can’t participate in everyday activities other people seem to enjoy for fear of a panic attack or to find yourself up at night worrying, planning, and obsessing without being able to stop. I have found clients to have a complete reversal of their symptoms to where they decide they no longer need therapy. I generally use a combination of education about anxiety and panic, tools to deal with the panic attacks, and tools to confront upsetting thoughts and feelings. Breathing and relaxation are important and I do teach these things, but I feel you can’t be told to just “relax”; you have to want to do. If you are in fear, the least natural thing in the world is to “relax”. So an important part of this treatment is helping you make choices about how and when to slow up and let your guard down, and then how to get there.
Nobody wants to be defined by the past. If you have been the victim of abuse, rape, life and death situations, or trauma all you want to do is find a way to leave it behind you. It can be confusing when you can’t enjoy life, be present with others, or you are procrastinating on your goals. It can be especially confusing when problems occur and a sense of doom prevents you from confronting even simple things like filling out a form or making a phone call. One of the hardest things to realize when you are not making any progress on something; you are avoiding and procrastinating and down on yourself, or you are lashing out at other people and irritable or unreasonable without knowing it, is that that is a signal to reach out for support. I have helped many people move forward and re-engage in their lives with practical tools and a lot of care. PTSD does not get better on its own, but you can reconnect with your old self again!
Depression is a burdensome and exhausting experience that no person should have to face alone. Of course depression will tell you that nothing will work and nothing is worth doing, but I believe that the search itself for solutions is the way out of depression; sooner or later you will find the way out if you continue to search. It is hard to face the darker parts of the mind; it is easier to keep silent about them. Depression affects roughly 7 million adults in the U.S. annually; and as many as 1 million people in a year admit to having made, or come close to some kind of attempt to end their life. It is so important to open up to others and not allow the depressive or suicidal thoughts to build in the isolation of your own mind.
When I work with people who come to therapy for depression, I want them to experience some relief from their symptoms as soon as possible so I keep the sessions focused, and use creative ways to access the part of you that is wise and resilient. I have found that there are certain commonalities among people who are depressed; high personal standards, excessive self-criticism, and giving up too quickly on one’s own needs and wants.
It is an act of courage to choose to entrust someone with your authentic thoughts and feelings! Hang in there and do the next “right thing” step by step. Counseling can help and especially making a commitment to yourself to keep trying.
Losing a loved one to suicide can set off a crisis of abandonment, loneliness, confusion, anger, and deep emotional pain. Some people are not surprised when a loved one dies by suicide, because of a long history of depression and perhaps even hospitalizations, whereas others are blindsided. In either case, a death by suicide opens questions, inquiries, and soul-searching about why it happened and what if anything could have been done to prevent it that can be all-consuming.
Having a supportive person to guide you through the stages of grief, at your own pace, can be very comforting. It may feel as though you will never smile again and life is forever changed. This will change you; but how do you want it to change you?
Having sat with survivors of suicide loss over many years, I welcome you to come for support and understanding.
Mindfulness is an important tool for recovering sanity! Simply stated, mindfulness is the ability for a person to be a “watcher” or observer of themselves; body and mind. I have years of training in meditation, mindfulness, and intuition and offer clients guided meditations or visualizations if they’re interested as a vital tool for success in life, and particularly to conquer depression and anxiety.