Co-Parenting With an Infant

Every co-parenting situation is unique; from parents living in different states, to all of the various provisions that a parenting plan includes. In this, there are numerous variables to consider.

One of the most important variables is the age of the child. A 6 month old, 6 year old, and 16 year old need very different things from their co-parents.

3 Tips to Co-Parenting Children Under 18 Months Old

Here are a few things to consider while developing a parenting plan for your infant.

Small Doses Go Long Way

Any new parent knows that infants love to do a few things… a lot: eat, cry, fill up their diapers, and sleep. They aren’t taking in a lot of cognitive information into their newly forming brains. But they are taking in a ton of emotional and experiential information!

The cognitive and rational parts of an infant/toddler brain do not even begin to light up until around month 18! So, up until then, the learning is mainly emotional, behavioral, and experiential.

So, what does this mean for you? It means that each parent should see their child more frequently than would be needed for older children. While it might be OK to see a teen once every other week, an infant needs much more frequency than that.

Routines Rock

A teen’s life can be chaotic. And, as adults, we often never know what the next day will hold, even if we are proactive with our planning. However, with infants, it is so important to keep your day-to-day life as consistent as possible.

A newborn does not have the same sense of routine we do, which is why they wake up at all times of the night. Over time, they get used to whatever routines their parents follow. That means they get accustomed to sleeping at the same time every night, and eating at the same times through the day.

When both Mom and Dad are under the same roof, keeping these times consistent is relatively easy. But when co-parenting, following such a routine might take a little more effort. Regardless of how much extra effort it takes, it’s something that should not be overlooked.

Keep it Civil

No matter what the reason you and your child’s other parent have decided to not live together, when you are both with your child, set aside your relationship problems. Infants and toddlers are incredibly intuitive of their surroundings; they feel the energy and moods that are in the room.

They might be small and they don’t have the full range of emotions of older children and adults, but they can sense extremes such as happiness and anger. While you are with your child together, be friendly with each other, even if it’s not what you’re feeling on the inside. Honor each other as an important person in your child’s life.

Additionally, make sure you have a time and place set aside to discuss disagreements out of the visual and audio range of your child.

In Summary

Raising an infant is challenging whether you are living with a spouse or in a co-parenting arrangement. Co-parents have the extra challenge of trying to raise a healthy child under potentially less-than-ideal circumstances.

By giving your child frequent visits with each parent, ensuring a consistent schedule, and keeping shared time together friendly, you will be well on the way to having a successful first 18 months as co-parents.

     ~ Tim Backes

Choosing the Right Therapist: Part 4

Another aspect of finding the right therapist includes the search process itself; the actual navigation of sorting through the dozens of options available, and the avenues through which you might look for a person to meet with and team up with in your counseling experience.

Some of the most significant client experiences come through word of mouth referrals; especially from individuals who have seen a particular therapist for counseling. Clinicians who are recommended by a friend who was or is a client, or a person connected to the therapist through their professional network are likely to be good choices in counselors.

There are many other ways to find a therapist:

The Internet: Web searches and online profiles like Psychology Today and Theravive

Insurance: In-network providers. Ask your insurance company for a provider list

Personal Referral: Word of mouth

Professional Referral: Word of mouth or advertisement

Often, potential clients want to utilize their health insurance as a means for funding therapy. This makes sense. It is definitely the most cost-friendly option. However, it is important to know that you are not necessarily limited to (and should not limit yourself) to your insurance company’s provider list. While there are many wonderful professionals who take various insurance plans, make sure you explore your out-of-network benefits. Learning how to utilize these benefits can greatly help you in finding a great therapist. If you don’t have to limit yourself to in-network providers, you open the playing-field for yourself. In many cases, with insurance, you have to meet a deductible before any benefits or co-pays kick in. In these cases, you might unnecessarily limit yourself to finding an in-network provider. It might make sense, in some cases, to pay out-of-pocket for your therapy. You can choose the provider you want, and not really pay more than you would by going through your insurance provider. In other cases, however, going in-network definately make the most sense. At Foundations Family Counseling, we are happy to look through your provider list and make referrals. If we are familiar with any of the clinicians in your network, we will gladly refer you to them!

Another common avenue is through the internet. Web searches are widely becoming one of the most popular means of finding a therapist, yet it is also one of the most flooded means; there are so many people and so many organizations to sort through. Again, asking helpful questions of your therapist can really aid in your search.

Some ways to begin the process of online filtering:

  • Start with basic information: gender, age, ethnicity, location, price range, etc…

  • Reach out and talk to prospective therapists.

  • Read their profile and check out their website.

  • Spend time getting to know them; see if what they’re saying resonates with you.

If you are looking for a great therapist, we have them! And we don’t take that statement lightly. There are so many really great therapists out there. To suggest that we have the corner on the market on good counseling is ridiculous. But our clinicians are awesome; personable, knowledgeable, expert, and inviting. They truly love what they do and genuinely care for their clients. Reach out to us by calling 303-393-0085 or email us at foundationsfamilycounseling1@gmail.com. We want to support you in getting the best help available!

~ Mikey Brackett, LPC

~ Clinton J. Nunnally, LPC

Choosing the Right Therapist: Part 3

In Choosing the right therapist: part 1 we talked about self-oriented questions; the questions you want to be asking yourself as you are looking to begin counseling. Quite often, when we are asking clients what types of questions they might have for us, we hear clients respond with, “I don’t really know what to ask. I’ve never done this before!” One thing happening here is that many clients don’t ask the self-orienting questions first, which is fine. That is the reality for some people. Things are not going the way they would like in some area of life, they feel like they need some help, but don’t really know what that looks like or what they are really wanting or needing. They just know they want to feel better. This makes sense. This is why we are encouraging you to start with self-oriented questions.

Once you’ve considered those questions, the search for the right therapist begins and many find themselves wondering what types of questions they should be asking a potential counselor. So, let’s talk about some key questions to ask a potential therapist that could help you decide if they might be a good fit.

Try on some of these approaches and questions and see how they feel to you:

What are your areas of expertise or specialization?

Tell me about you as a therapist. What is your background and where were you trained?

What age range and demographic do you work with or prefer to work with?

Here’s what’s going on for me. Do you work with this sort of issue? What is your approach to working with this? How do you envision it working for me as a client?

Here’s what I’m wanting out of the process. How might you help me to get where I’m wanting to go?

What do you hope I would experience as a client? What things do you strive for in the process?

What is your style of therapy/counseling? What is your style of relating? I think I need someone who can/would _______. Could you offer this to me?

If you feel like you get really solid answers to these types of questions, then you know that you probably are talking to an effective, experienced counselor. This does not guarantee a perfect fit, but it’s a good start. Next step is to meet with the counselor and start telling them what’s going on for you and see how they work with you. Trust your gut. You will quickly know if it feels safe and hopeful. In your first session, you should get the sense that the therapist really hears you and is there for you, understands what’s going on for you, and that they can help you to get where you are wanting to go.

If you are looking for a great therapist, we have them! And we don’t take that statement lightly. There are so many really great therapists out there. To suggest that we have the corner on the market on good counseling is ridiculous. But our clinicians are awesome; personable, knowledgeable, expert, and inviting. They truly love what they do and genuinely care for their clients. Reach out to us by calling 303-393-0085 or email us at foundationsfamilycounseling1@gmail.com. We want to support you in getting the best help available!

~ Mikey Brackett, LPC

~ Clinton J. Nunnally, LPC

Choosing the Right Therapist: Part 2

The search for a therapist can be a daunting and cluttered experience, especially in Denver where there are thousands of providers in the therapeutic fields. Not only are there thousands of people out there available to help, but there are numerous divisions, qualifications, and classifications of those who work in the mental health field. Knowing the differences between these various types of providers can help you decide what type of provider you may want to seek for therapy or counseling.

The basic designations in the field of psychology and the helping professions are: psychologist, psychiatrist, counselor or psychotherapist, and social worker. While there are many more designations depending on context, these are the basic four.

Each of these designations delineates not only a person’s specifications and certifications, but also their education and area of expertise. It's helpful to know how each of these classifications informs a provider’s background and scope of practice so that, as you are seeking therapeutic support, you can decide which type of provider might best meet your needs.

Here's what each designation means and what you can expect from a person serving in one of these roles:

Psychiatrists - are medically trained PHd level providers that primarily work in the realm of medication management and diagnosis. Some psychiatrist are more 'therapeutic' or conversational in practice, and some even provide therapy/counseling, but for the most part, you see a psychiatrist when you need to receive medication and have that medication or medications monitored and supported through professional care.

Psychologists - are PHd level providers that primarily work in the realm of diagnosis and testing. Some psychologist are more 'therapeutic' or conversational in practice, and some even provide therapy/counseling, but for the most part you see a psychologist when you need to be tested and diagnosed.

Psychotherapists - are masters level (or higher) primary care mental health providers, most commonly known as counselors or therapists. For these providers, you will most commonly see the titles of Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT), or Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). Psychotherapists are trained specifically in the theory and practice of counseling and therapy. Working from an understanding of the nature of the human person, the factors that lead to human struggle, and how we grow, heal, develop, and learn new and more enjoyable ways of living, psychotherapists work with individuals, couples, and families over a course of months or years to help foster personal and relational health.

Social workers - are masters level (or higher) providers that provide more circumstantial-based services for those needing social and psychological help. Some social workers provide psychotherapy services (LCSWs mentioned above), but many work in the realm of case management, helping their clients gain access to the services they need.

Most likely if you are looking for a 'good therapist' you're going to be looking for a person who is a counselor, otherwise known as a psychotherapist.

From here, there are hundreds of extra certifications that psychotherapists can add to their professional credentials - these are all those confusing letters you may see after a person’s name. While these extra certifications don't automatically guarantee the skill or effectiveness of a therapist, they can be very helpful in your search for the right therapist. These certifications can provide important information about the therapists you are exploring; how they practice and what they may know about certain interventions and issues. Here are some common credentials you might see:

NCC - Nationally Certified Counselor (doesn’t require state licensure)

CCMHC - Certified Clinical Mental Health Counselor (doesn’t require state licensure)

EMDR - Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (a trauma recovery therapy)

RPT - Registered Play Therapist

CAC - Certified Addiction Counselor

LAC - Licensed Addiction Counselor

CST - Certified Sex Therapist

If you are looking for a great therapist, we have them! And we don’t take that statement lightly. There are so many really great therapists out there. To suggest that we have the corner on the market on good counseling is ridiculous. But our clinicians are awesome; personable, knowledgeable, expert, and inviting. They truly love what they do and genuinely care for their clients. Reach out to us by calling 303-393-0085 or email us at foundationsfamilycounseling1@gmail.com. We want to support you in getting the best help available!

~ Mikey Brackett, LPC

~ Clinton J. Nunnally, LPC

Choosing the Right Therapist: Part 1

Choosing the 'right' therapist can be a tricky endeavor. There are so many things to consider - location, specialties, insurance, out of pocket cost, the value you place on counseling, and how to find the best fit. And if you've searched for a therapist before or are searching for one now, you may know what I mean. So often, we don’t even feel like we are launched into the process of therapy by our own choosing; but rather by circumstance, crisis, desperation, and need. And so, knowing what we want or even need in a therapist can be difficult.

It is here, though, that the first questions that will help you choose the right therapist begin...

The process starts with asking a few questions of yourself; and, finding the right therapist begins with discovering some key things about yourself. The search for the 'right fit' starts with some common self-orienting questions:

What am I needing?

What am I wanting?

Why am I seeking counseling right now?

What do I want to accomplish or see happen through therapy?

Am I willing to learn (or be challenged and confronted)?

Am I willing to trust someone else with my pain?

However you answer these questions is fine. Hopefully these answers will provide you and your prospective counselor with some really workable and helpful information.

Sometimes we don't know what we want... that's good info.

Sometimes we aren't willing to learn... that's good info.

Don't worry about the so-called “quality” of your answers… but do be honest in answering them. Your “right fit” will come out of what you begin to see and learn about yourself; what you are truly wanting, needing, and hoping for.

From here, there are a few things you need to know about the field of psychology and how to navigate it. It is also helpful to know what to ask professionals once you are on the phone with them and trying to figure out if they are the right one. These will be discussed in future blogs.

Again, there are a dozen questions you could ask of a clinician from whom you are seeking services (and we will get to those), but the key is… you must first start with yourself.

If you are looking for a great therapist, we have them! And we don’t take that statement lightly. There are so many really great therapists out there. To suggest that we have the corner on the market on good counseling is ridiculous. But our clinicians are awesome; personable, knowledgeable, expert, and inviting. They truly love what they do and genuinely care for their clients. Reach out to us by calling 303-393-0085 or email us at foundationsfamilycounseling1@gmail.com. We want to support you in getting the best help available!

          ~ Mikey Brackett, LPC

Drink To Your Health 365 Days A Year

Most New Year's Resolutions have been abandonded by now... But it's not too late! Do some good things for your body and for your total wellbeing.

H2O: Your Lifesaver

We are almost made of water; at least 60%-70%! When we are properly hydrated that number can rise even further. Having clean water is very important to keep our cells hydrated, from the very inner core of our body systems to our outer skin, hair, and nails. When we are always on the go, and have so many quick and convenient options full of chemicals and flavors, why choose water? Drinking water is absolutely essential to survival. Three days without it, and you are lucky to be alive. Water doesn’t always taste great though, and some people struggle to drink even one 8oz glass per day. If you are one of the lucky ones who loves, no CRAVES, water, then congratulate yourself with another drink! If you struggle, please read on.

Tea Parties ARE For Adults

There are many, many plants that can be steeped in hot water and brewed into various tonics for health, vitality, and energy. This means that when you drink tea, you are also drinking...you guessed it...water! The good news is that this counts, and when you drink certain teas, you are adding even more benefits to your health. There are many varieties of tea, and different types of tea that come from harvesting the plant at different times of the growing season. Camellia Sinensis is one of the most popular, as well as Camellia Assamica, which is in the same Genus. Then, there are many healing herbs such as Slippery Elm for a sore throat, or Chamomile and Lemon Balm for relaxation and sleep.

Juice Is Too!

Juicing is another way to get hydration, directly from food sources. When choosing a juicer, make sure you invest in one of moderate to high quality. Through a series of pulverization chambers, vegetable and fruit are processed whole or cut into chunks. Through great pressure, all of the liquid is squeezed out of the fibers, and the pulp is expelled into another container. You can use a wide variety of foods in the juicer. Such as kale, lemons, apples, carrots, ginger, oranges, beets, mangoes, and many others. When you use mainly vegetables, you can then save the pulp and make it into veggie patties with a few extra ingredients. Here are some great recipes you can try at home!

What ARE Probiotics?

Probiotics have a very well known archnemesis, and that is the group of drugs known as antibiotics. It is true that antibiotics are a very important part of our healthcare system to help prevent the spread of disease, but they also kill off all of our “friendly” bacteria in the process. We must rehabilitate our intestinal flora if we hope to regain health after a round of antibiotics. This comes in the form of several different cultured and fermented drinks, including Kombucha, Jun, Kvass, and Kefir. Kombucha and Jun are made by fermenting teas and sugar or honey, and grows in the same way as a vinegar host. Kvass, a Russian health drink, is made by fermenting beet juice, and Kefir is made by culturing dairy, nut milks, or coconut milk with “grains” that bind to the milk proteins, creating a mucous layer in the gut that allows for the regrowth of beneficial bacteria. All of these are important additions to your routine.

Cleanse Your Body

This is one category that too few of us are utilizing to maintain a healthier system. Fasting has been used as a way to cleanse the body in religious and spiritual organizations for a great many years, and cleansing is just as important. Often we have sluggish digestion for a number of reasons, one being dehydration, another being lack of fiber. Whatever the cause, just like the pipes in your house, your digestive tract contains a winding series of tubes that need to be cleaned out on a regular basis for optimal digestive health. This is another reason to consider probiotic drinks, as they will help you to rehabilitate you digestive tract afterwards. One of the most popular cleanses out there is called The Master Cleanse. For 3-10 days a mixture of fresh lemon juice, cayenne pepper, and Grade B maple syrup is the only combination of fluids beyond water that is consumed. Here we are, full circle, back to water again. Raise a glass to your health today!

Cleanse Your Mind

We are holistic beings. Even though we all probably know this by now, we don’t tend to treat ourselves as though this is the deeper truth. It’s so easy to get caught up in how our bodies are functioning apart from our minds and how we are feeling in our emotional and psychological selves, apart from our bodies. BUT… our bodies and minds are so related… so tangled up in each other, that it is difficult to know what is affecting what. There are very real and practical ways to capitalize on the resources available in our minds and bodies. Our next post will address these approaches!

In the meantime… we want you to know that Foundations Family Counseling is truly interested in and committed to working with you in a holistic way. We want you to discover health at all levels. We can understand where you are coming from, what you are wanting, and we tend to know how to get you to where you are wanting to go. Call us at 303-393-0085 or visit us at www.foundationsfamilycounseling.com. We are ready to help you get to that next step.

And… of course... hitting the gym (or even your own home gym) is always one solid way to boost your mind and body at all levels!

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Falling into the Comparison Trap

Have you ever felt pressure to “keep up with the Joneses?”  Maybe your child’s best friend’s mother rolled up in the carpool line in yet another brand-new car.  Maybe your buddy’s work schedule allows him the flexibility to get to the golf course multiple times per week while you’re “stuck” in the office.  Maybe you glance over at the guy or gal on the treadmill next to you at the gym and think that your stomach has never been that flat.  As social beings, we do not live in isolation and are constantly interacting with others and making observations.  We tend to notice what others have that we do not.  Media and social media (Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.) only enhance our awareness of others’ situations and possessions. We are inundated with advertisements for the best-rated vehicles, images of beautiful people with beautiful bodies, articles about the most effective weight-loss plans and fitness programs, and coupons for the most effective, anti-aging beauty products…just to name a few.  Plus, on social media in particular, people tend to post about happiness, fun, and successes, which gives others a limited glimpse into their lives.  So, we find ourselves falling into the Comparison Trap.

Constantly comparing our lives, families, jobs, appearances, belongings, finances, etc. to others eventually takes a toll on our own contentment, self-image, and self-esteem.  Comparing how we think we measure up to our family members, friends, co-workers, neighbors, or even complete strangers is stressful, anxiety-provoking, discouraging, and sets us up for failure.  So, how do we combat falling in the Comparison Trap?  We must first realize that we, as humans, are prone to comparison. We naturally divide our field of vision. We want to know how we measure up, we want to know who’s on top and who’s on bottom, and we want to feel okay about ourselves… important, significant, and worthy.

This is a leftover survival instinct. We need to know who we are up against, and how we are going to meet the challenge of others’ power, success, and accomplishments. For most of us, though, we are not at the lower levels of life’s hierarcy of need. We aren’t in any real physical danger. So, we don’t need to operate out of a deficit model of thinking. What if we HAVE enough? What if we ARE enough? And what if the whole of our lives... the successes, the failures, the struggles, and the beauty, are all worth acknowledging, sharing, and appreciating?

We need to acknowledge that, on social media, we are only privy to select details of other people’s lives; the details that they want to share, which tend to be the good times. We want to be genuinely supportive of our friends and family, just as we hope that they will help us celebrate our successes and happiness, too.  So what can we do?

We need an abundance model! We need to know that we have enough, are enough, and can somehow give it away to others. We must turn our focus internal, and invest our energy in working toward our own goals, both personal and professional, instead of expending time and effort comparing ourselves to others.  And, we can assess if we truly want something that someone else has…Do you really want to go on that trip to Europe like a friend recently did?  Do you really want a Master’s Degree like a co-worker has?  What do YOU really want? Ask yourself this question. Not in response to other people’s paths… this is you, and you alone. What do YOU want? Then, pause and consider what steps you need to take to make that come to fruition and start taking those steps… one at a time. This is how you can be empowered in your life. This is how you can take your dreams and aspirations, and do something with them. And they must be YOUR dreams and aspirations, not someone else’s!

If you are looking for someone who can help you stop comparing yourself to others and support you in achieving what YOU really want to achieve, we can help. Our clinicians are awesome; personable, knowledgeable, and accessible. And they truly love what they do and genuinely care for their clients. Reach out to us by calling 303-393-0085 or email us at foundationsfamilycounseling1@gmail.com. We want to support you in going where YOU want to go!

~ Jennie Tuttle Baughn, LPC

~ Clinton J. Nunnally, LPC

5 Tips for Singles Who Want to Enjoy Valentine's Day

As much as we don’t want to admit it, it can be devastatingly difficult to spend Valentine’s Day alone. The fact that this “day for lovers” comes so quickly after the holidays and New Year’s doesn’t make it any easier; for some people, November through February is nothing more than a long span of feeling lonely. But not only is it possible for singles to enjoy Valentine’s day, it is possible for them to have the time of their lives. We hope our tips will inspire you to take control of your Valentine’s Day and make it one of the best days of the year.

1. Have a Plan

The best way to attack Valentine’s Day is to have a plan in place. If you don’t want to put up with seeing all your co-workers receiving flowers, chocolates, and stuffed animals all day, treat yourself to a day off. If you’re invited to a party, attend with your best single friend and make a conscious decision to enjoy yourself. No matter how you decide to spend the day, make a plan and stick to it so you can be in control of your day and your responses to it.

2. Celebrate Your Status as a Single Person

Being single is not the worst thing in the world... by any stretch of the imagination. Before you leave home in the morning, take some time to reflect on the benefits of being single. Brainstorm the reasons that being single is awesome, and write them down so you can refer to them if you start to feel lonely later in the day. Some people love that they can walk around their home in their underwear all day, some people love that they can drink milk out of the carton, and some people love that they can live on their own terms.

While you’re at it, you may want to think about your past relationships and list the reasons you’re glad those people are not in your life anymore. A good soul-searching will help you face the day full of confidence and power.

3. Organize a Secret Admirer Gift Exchange

Just because you don’t have a Valentine doesn’t mean that you can’t give valentines to others. Get your single friends together and organize a secret admirer gift exchange just like a secret Santa exchange. Draw names, pick a dollar amount, and have fun making one another smile with small trinkets, chocolates, flowers, movie tickets, coffee gift cards, and anything else that will make someone feel special. Making other people happy on Valentine’s Day can make you feel better than you do when you receive your gift from your secret admirer.

4. Do Something for Yourself

You can take this tip in any one of nearly a million different directions, but make sure the goal of doing something for yourself is at the center of your day. If you’ve been meaning to clean out your closet, do it. If you’ve been wanting a massage forever, get one. Give yourself permission to be indulgent and go a little overboard today because you deserve it.

5. Brighten Someone Else’s Day

If you want to spread love in a different way on Valentine’s Day, consider volunteering or taking treats to an assisted living facility. Many elderly residents are lonely every day, and Valentine’s Day isn’t any different. You may want to take a few houseplants to residents, deliver small cookies, or spend time talking with residents whose family members do not visit often. If you brighten someone else’s day, you’ll find that your Valentine’s Day gets a whole lot brighter too.

One thing you don’t want to do on Valentine’s Day is cope in unhealthy ways. Yes, you can eat a few extra pieces of chocolate or go out for a delicious dinner at a high-priced restaurant with a friend. But, you should not plan to drown your sorrows in alcohol or make destructive decisions if you struggle with depression and loneliness on Valentine’s Day. If you have a plan and keep yourself busy with a personal celebration, a secret admirer gift exchange, treats for yourself, or visits to others on Valentine’s Day, you’ll enjoy your day more than you thought possible.

If you are looking to find joy and fullfillment as a single person, or support in navigating the dating process, or guidance in creating the life and relationship you want, Foundations Family Counseling can help. We desparately need connection with others, but we don't have to be desperate for another person to make our lives meaningful and whole. Reach out to us by calling 303-393-0085 or email us at foundationsfamilycounseling1@gmail.com. We want to support you in getting the best help available!

Co-Parenting During a Trial Separation

Sometimes no matter how much two people try to work out their problems they need a little time off from one another. If the couple does not have any children, it’s a simple enough situation to plan out. But, when children are involved it can get more complicated.

Although you might be going through a trial separation and do not plan on making it permanent, you are still living in different locations. That means your children will most likely also be spending time in different locations.

Whenever something like this happens, it’s imperative to remember that whatever choice you and your partner make, it’s you that made it. Your child or children did not make the decision for their parents to separate or “take time off”. Your children need special care and attention during this time; consistency and structure.

Put it in writing!

In order to do what’s best for your children, you will want to create a very clear agreement with your spouse about their well-being. Divorcing spouses have to make a parenting plan that contains information such as but not limited to:

  • How much time each parent will spend with each child

  • Which days and which nights each parent will spend with each child

  • How exchanges of custody will be handled

  • Who is responsible for what financially

While in a trial separation, you don’t need to draft a permanent parenting plan, but any couple with children that plan to separate for any amount of time should draft a temporary parenting plan.

Like a permanent plan, the temporary plan covers all the basics so there won’t be any room for disagreements later on. By planning ahead properly, you limit your children’s stress by avoiding potential arguments and providing the consistency and structure they need.

The best-case scenario is that you and your spouse work together on creating the plan. If you can come to a mutual agreement, you leave out the need for the family court system to get involved (other than approving your plan). If you cannot come to an agreement, then you will need to set up and attend a temporary custody hearing with a judge.

As you can expect, once you get lawyers and the court involved in handling disputes, it can get costly. On top of that, emotions can heat up and what was planned to be a simple, easy break can turn into much more.

So, remember a temporary agreement is exactly what the name implies: temporary. Working with your spouse to come to a short-term agreement with as little friction as possible will save you time, stress, and money, and in the end, that is better for both parents and the children.

For parents that are planning on taking a break from one another after all else has failed in salvaging the relationship, before one packs an overnight bag and heads to a hotel, take a few minutes to work together to make a parenting plan. It is absolutely in the best interest of your children and that is something even the unhappiest of couples can agree is the most important factor to consider when making changes with your family structure.

If you are looking for a great therapist to help you and your family during a relationship separation, Foundations Family Counseling has them. Our clinicians are awesome; personable, knowledgeable, and accessible. And, along with a temporary parenting plan, they can help you create the emotional consistency and structure you are all needing, and support you in healing and creating the relationship you want. Reach out to us by calling 303-393-0085 or email us at foundationsfamilycounseling1@gmail.com. We want to support you in getting the best help available!

          ~ Tim Backes, senior editor for Custody X Change, a custody calendar software solution

The Logistics of Scheduling Your First Counseling Session: Discussing Fees

Fees are always the trickiest and most uncomfortable part of getting started with counseling. Assuming we are addressing private pay here (versus insurance), we need to be able to talk about money in a way that is comfortable, no-nonsense, and not off-putting. Good therapists value their work and know how hard they work emotionally and physically. Caring therapists also realize that people of all levels of financial resource need therapeutic support… and we value and want to serve all people in need of help.

Most therapists are willing to slide their fee for clients who have financially constraining circumstances. Many clinicians have a certain number of sliding scale slots. A clinician’s work is their livelihood and, so, they must run a good business while helping people work through the difficulties of life and living. I approach this with my clients by telling them what my full fee is. If this fee is out of reach for the client, I assess whether or not I have a sliding scale slot open. Then, if I do have a slot open, I simply tell them that I am very happy to slide, and that I want to make sure that it is an issue of need versus priority or value. I tell them that I do not know their financial situation, but that I trust that they know their situation. It is hard to have a client say they can’t afford your full fee, but then you hear throughout the course of your time together how they choose to spend their money. I have had a number of clients say they need a sliding scale, but then I hear how often they go to nice dinners and go on nice vacations, and I hear how much they spend at the bars... Now, this is not a judgment. I don't expect clients to forego all of life's pleasures in order to engage in therapy. I simply want my potential clients to prioritize and value their therapy at least as much as their recreational pleasures. And I say all of this to a potential client, and it is always well received. When I slide for clients, I simply ask that when and if their situation changes, that they will let me know that they can now come closer to my full fee. Several of my clients have done that over the years! That shows value and integrity!

In the end, a solid therapist is interested, first and foremost, in helping people. And, they want to make a living doing it. It is a strange relationship, isn’t it; the counselor-client relationship? We have such an intimate relationship, but there is a monetary transaction; strange, indeed. But the financial piece, believe it or not, is not the primary reason really wonderful therapists do what they do. They truly love it. They care for you deeply and honor you and your process, and genuinely want to help you. And you can often pick up on all of this in your initial consultation. Pay attention to your intuition, here.

Next time, we will tackle insurance and out-of-network service providers; helping you to navigate the ins and outs of the insurance/therapy world!

If you are looking for a great therapist, we have them! And we don’t take that statement lightly. There are so many really great therapists out there. To suggest that we have the corner on the market on good counseling is ridiculous. And we don’t need more obvious ridiculousness in our country right now! But our clinicians are awesome; personable, knowledgeable, and accessible. And they truly love what they do and genuinely care for their clients. Reach out to us by calling 303-393-0085 or email us at foundationsfamilycounseling1@gmail.com. We want to support you in getting the best help available!

          ~ Clinton J. Nunnally, LPC

The Process of Entering Counseling: How to Find the Right Therapist for You

The process of entering counseling can be overwhelming and intimidating. How do I find the right one? How do I know I’ll feel comfortable with them or like them? Who do I ask? Where do I look? What do I look for? We may also wonder what counseling is like, how it works, and whether or not it will really help. And then there’s the huge question of money! How much should therapy cost? Can I use insurance? How do I use insurance?

We won’t tackle all of these questions in this blog, but we will post a series of blogs to help answer these questions.

Let’s start with some helpful thoughts on finding the right therapist for you.

One of the first things you want to do when looking for a therapist is to ask friends and family if they have seen or know of any really good therapists. This, of course, exposes the fact that you are seeking therapy, which can be vulnerable in and of itself. These days, however, many people are proud to say that they have a therapist. I have many clients who love to share with others about their counseling process, the stuff we discuss in therapy, and how helpful it is for them! And, it is much more commonplace now than it has ever been in the history of psychotherapy. And it’s not only for the well-to-do, as it was in the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s. When you ask a family member, friend, or coworker for a counseling referral, ask them what it is about the therapist that they really liked. How did your therapist help you? Why do you think your therapist would be a good fit for me? How much do they charge? Where is their office located?

If you don’t want to go the route of getting a personal referral, then you might want to search the Web for therapists in your area. You can also search therapists that specialize in particular areas: anxiety, depression, spirituality & faith, trauma, grief & loss, identity and life stage adjustment, family relationships, couple relationships, parenting, children & play therapy, etc. Then, you should look at the websites for these therapists and group practices and see how it feels to you. Does the look and feel of the website feel good to you or resonate with you? Believe it or not, websites really do tend to represent the style and feel of an individual or group of therapists. Go with your gut, here. Then, read about the practicing clinician or clinicians and look at their profile pics and bios and see who you are drawn to. Again, go with your gut here. Did you know that your gut instinct is about 99% accurate? Now, learning to listen to your true gut is an awareness skill in and of itself! Next, contact the group practice or individual clinician and ask if you can have a brief phone consult. Some clinicians will do a free 30 minute face-to-face consultation. Others are happy to do a 10 or 15 minute phone consultation and then charge for an initial session. Please don’t be turned off by those who won’t do free face-to-face consultations. They are not cold individuals. They are very busy, and have plenty of clients, and don’t need the marketing edge that free consultations provide, which might mean that they have a thriving practice, which is a good sign that they are competent!

In the consultation, whether by phone or face-to-face, tell the therapist why you are seeking therapy at this time. Tell them what kind of therapy, counseling, guidance, and/or skills you are looking for. Ask them how they work with what you are struggling with or facing. A good therapist can tell you, initially and based on their experience, what they think you might be needing to get where you want to go and to get to a better place. Be honest with your potential counselor about what you are dealing with. Saying that you just have a few things to work through, when in actuality you have suffered pretty severe trauma, is not helpful to finding the right therapist for you. Saying that you have a few struggles in your relationship, when in fact you are on the brink of divorce, may not get you the therapy or counsel you are looking for. Also, it is good practice for a therapist to ask you questions during the consultation. A good therapist is not desperate for just any client. Good therapists know who and what they work best with, and know who they are most effective with. A competent therapist will not just see anybody. They will see people they think will be a good fit for them, too.

Lastly, you must address logistics; location, schedules, and fees, which we will cover in an upcoming blog post. This is a bigger topic than you might think! Stay tuned…

If you are looking for a great therapist, we have them! And we don’t take that statement lightly. There are so many really great therapists out there. To suggest that we have the corner on the market on good counseling is ridiculous. And we don’t need more obvious ridiculousness in our country right now! But our clinicians are awesome; personable, knowledgeable, and accessible. Reach out to us by calling 303-393-0085 or email us at foundationsfamilycounseling1@gmail.com. We want to support you in getting the best help available!

            ~ Clinton J. Nunnally, LPC

Asking For Help

Several weeks ago, I found myself around a table with close friends.  The topic of asking for help was mentioned.  “I hate asking for help,” a friend said.  “I completely understand,” another empathized, “I’ll do anything I can to prevent asking someone for something.”  As the conversation progressed, I listened as those around me applauded their self-sufficiency and lack of need for anyone or anything.

In all honesty, for me this conversation was a bit jolting, somewhat disorienting.  That’s not MY experience at all.  Life has taught me a very different lesson…  I was born with a condition called Arthrogryposis, a congenital disability which leaves the muscles in my arms weak and the joints in my legs stiff.  Simple daily tasks often prove to be difficult, and at times, impossible.  Independence was always the goal my parents had for me. Doing as many things as possible by myself remains a personal goal today and, ironically, has taught me a lot about depending on others; about asking for help.   

Before I tell you what I’ve learned, I want to acknowledge how hard it is to ask for help…  Maybe you’ve said to yourself, “If I ask for help, I’m being selfish” or “It’s not that important – I can go without.”  Have you ever caught yourself thinking, “I don’t want people to know how bad it is” or “Other people have it so much worse; I have it easy compared to them.”

I get it.  Asking for help is difficult – it requires us to come face to face with our fear, which is no easy task.

I offer this insight, from my own struggles, in hopes that you experience the same breakthrough.

1)      Asking for help is not the end of the world.  Often, it actually propels people toward each other; it deepens relationships; it increases empathy; and it encourages genuine connection, which we all crave.  I have more fulfilling relationships because I invite others to be on my team.

2)      The reality is, we all have needs and limitations.  Coming face to face with those needs and limitations can be difficult.  You might be required to acknowledge an area in your life where you feel inferior, weak, or like a burden…  Don’t shy away from those areas – use them as an opportunity to show up, dig deep, and challenge the false beliefs you’re living from.

3)      Healthy dependence is important in maintaining a grounded, centered sense of self, not in opposition to it.  Needing help keeps us humble, and it makes us more aware of the needs of those around us.  Needing help might actually open the door for YOU to help your neighbor, co-worker, or friend.  Connection invites connection.

4)      Learn how to ask for help well.  Your kindergarten teacher was right – say please and thank you!  Be confident, respectful, and open when asking someone for something you need.  DEMANDING rarely accomplishes anything; GRATITUDE accomplishes great things.

So… what does it mean if you need help?  It means you’re alive.  It means you’ve tried something and, perhaps, can succeed with the aid of another.  I encourage you to find a few people you’d like on your team, and experiment with letting them help you.  You can do this.

-- Nicole Sidebottom, LPC

Parenting Skills Part 2: Improving Cooperation

In my previous Parenting Skills Part 1 post, we covered relationship enhancement and P.R.I.D.E skills.  Now, I would like to share BE DIRECT tips that parents may use to give effective commands to improve cooperation with their children.  By being direct, parents help their children clearly understand how parents expect them to behave to ultimately set the children up for success (in complying with rules, completing tasks, etc.).

1.      Be specific with your commands: When parents are specific and clearly state what they want their children to do, parents are more likely to get the desired results.  If parents are vague, they leave requests up to their children’s interpretations.  Parents cannot expect their children to be mind-readers.  For example, instead telling children, “Behave!” try stating, “Please keep your hands to yourself.”

2.      Every command stated positively: Parents should avoid using “no,” “don’t,” and “stop.”  These words tend to elicit negative responses from children who feel criticized.  When parents tell children what not to do, they are not necessarily explaining what the expected/appropriate behavior actually is, which sets the children up to fail at complying.  When children learn what parents do not want them to do and what “pushes their buttons,” there may be the tendency to continue those behaviors to get a rise out of their parents.  For example, in place of “Don’t run,” try “Please use your walking feet.”

3.      Developmentally appropriate: Parents should make sure that their requests are age-appropriate for their children.  Parents’ expectations for a three-year-old will be different than their expectations for an eight-year-old. 

4.      Individual rather than compound: Parents should give one instruction/command at a time.  Younger children and children with attention difficulties may struggle to focus on multiple requests that are given at one time, which may result in the children only remembering the first and last commands.  When parents give multiple commands, it is too much at one time, which can be overwhelming for children.

5.      Respectful and polite: When parents start requests with “please,” they are modeling respect and polite manners. This is pretty self-explanatory.

6.      Essential commands only: When parents list a string of requests at once, children often become overwhelmed. When children feel overwhelmed and overloaded with commands, they are more likely to ignore their parents’ requests and not comply.  Parents should make sure that they give children commands when it is really important for children to comply.

7.      Choices when appropriate: When parents give their children choices, they are allowing children to develop independence, decision-making skills, and problem-solving skills.  Again, paying attention to the number of choices parents give their children is important as too many choices may be overwhelming for children and result in no decision being made.  Parents may limit the choices they give children to two or three.  For example, “It is time for breakfast. You may either have yogurt with fruit or oatmeal with fruit.”  Another example would be, “It is time to get dressed.  You may wear your blue jeans or your green pants.”

8.      Tone of voice is neutral: When parents raise their voice and/or use an angry or pleading tone with their children, both parents and children may become frustrated and irritated.  Using a neutral, firm tone of voice increases compliance.

9.      Predictable and consistent response: Parents should be consistent in their consequences and praise.  When parents are consistent, then children learn what behaviors are expected and can be more successful.  After parents give commands/requests, if children comply, parents should follow up with praise (verbal praise, high five, etc.).  If children do not comply, then consequences should be consistent and match the non-compliant behavior.  For example, if a three-year-old child refuses to help clean up their toys, parents should not sit the child in “time out” for twenty minutes or refuse to let their child have dinner. Rather, parents may explain the importance of cleaning up the toys and have child sit in “time out” for three minutes and inform child that “when you are ready to clean up your toys, then you may come out of time-out and I will help you.”  When child complies, parents should offer praise.

Parents, remember that implementing these skills is a learning process for you and your children.  This process will not happen overnight so be patient and kind with yourselves.  If you feel yourself becoming frustrated, put yourself in “time out” and take a deep breath before continuing.

For more parenting skills and tips, or if you are struggle with some aspects of parenting, we can help coach you through the challenges of parenting at any stage. Reach out to us by calling 303-393-0085 or email us at foundationsfamilycounseling1@gmail.com. We want to support you and your family in having the very best relationships possible.

            ~ Jennie Tuttle Baughn

*Adapted from UC Davis CAARE Center: http://pcit.ucdavis.edu/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/Section-6_PDI-Teaching.pdf

Parenting Skills Part 1: Relationship Enhancement

Parenthood can be overwhelming, frustrating, joyous, challenging, fulfilling…the list is endless. In my experience working with families, especially those with young children, parents want to build strong bonds and effective relationships with their children, but are not always quite sure how to go about doing so.  So, I would like to present parents with P.R.I.D.E, which provides basic skills to build attachment and engagement between them and their children.

1.      Praise: When parents offer their children praise, children learn what behaviors are appropriate and encouraged.  Praise may also help build children’s self-esteem.  Now, it is important to make the praise specific and not general.  For example, instead of “good job!”, try “you did a really good job cleaning your room!”  Praise does not need to be material.  Verbal praise is very impactful for children.

2.      Reflect: When parents repeat or mirror what their children say, they are allowing the children to direct the conversation.  To children, this indicates that their parents are engaged and accepting.  Reflecting also offers the opportunity for parents and children to increase their verbal communication.  For example, if the child says, “I love riding my bike,” the parent may reflect, “I can see that! You have so much fun on your bike!”

3.      Imitate: When parents imitate their children’s play, they are allowing the children to lead the play and teaching the children how to appropriately play with others.  Again, imitating children’s play demonstrates that parents are interested and attentive.

4.      Describe: When parents verbally describe their children’s appropriate behavior, they are again allowing the child to lead, which builds confidence.  By describing their children’s behavior, parents show children they are engaged and help children learn concepts.  For example, if a child is stacking blocks on top of each other, the parent may describe, “you’re building a tall tower.”

5.      Enthusiasm: When parents are enthusiastic about interacting with their children (and when using the P.R.I.D.E skills), they show interest and enjoyment in their children and model appropriate positive emotions.  It is important to note that enthusiasm is not simply in parents’ tone of voice, but also in their body language and facial expressions.

Now that we have covered what parents can do to enhance their relationship with their children, here are some behaviors to avoid.  If the children are engaging in safe behaviors, parents should avoid giving commands while playing, as commands impede children from leading and demonstrate parents’ lack of confidence in children.  Parents can use “selective attention” when children are engaging in inappropriate (not to be confused with unsafe/destructive) behaviors.  When using “selective attention,” parents focus on children’s appropriate behaviors while avoiding giving attention to the negative behaviors.  For example, if a child becomes sassy while getting dressed for school in the morning, the parent may ignore the sassiness and praise child getting dressed.  By consistently employing “selective attention,” children will learn that they are not receiving attention (good or bad) for their negative behaviors.  Parents should avoid criticizing their children’s behaviors as this may increase said behavior and decrease children’s self-esteem.  When engaging with their children, parents may ask a few questions to express interest.  If parents ask a bunch of questions, children may feel overwhelmed or think that parents are not listening to them.  When parents use these P.R.I.D.E skills with their young children, they are working to establish effective communication, confidence, and attachment with their children.

Parents, remember that implementing these skills is a learning process for you and your children.  This process will not happen overnight so be patient and kind with yourselves.  If you feel yourself becoming frustrated, put yourself in “time out” and take a deep breath before continuing.

For more parenting skills and tips, or if you are struggle with some aspects of parenting, we can help coach you through the challenges of parenting at any stage. Reach out to us by calling 303-393-0085 or email us at foundationsfamilycounseling1@gmail.com. We want to support you and your family in having the very best relationships possible.

            ~ Jennie Tuttle Baughn

*Adapted from http://www.impactparenting.com/storage/post-docs/PRIDE%20handout.pdf

A New View Of 2016

In the past few weeks I'm sure you've heard at least one person say, “2016 really sucked.” This is compounded by people like John Oliver who on his show Last Week Tonight did a five minute video of people repeatedly saying “F*&^ you 2016.” Hearing such negativity cycled over and over gets disheartening and casts a dark shadow on our psyche.

It is no doubt 2016 was a difficult year for many reasons. The crisis in Syria continued to worsen, the tragedy at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, and the election did not go as many wanted or expected. On a more personal note, many people lost loved ones, had children who were diagnosed with cancer, or were forced out of their jobs and homes. With all of that being said I wonder if there is there another way to look at the year?

In therapy there is a widely used term called cognitive reframing. It is an attempt to help a person see an event from an alternate perspective with the hope of finding something different and perhaps positive. To clarify this is NOT an attempt to take something awful and slap a shiny coat of paint on it but rather to help a person see that while things might be terrible, the world generally keeps moving forward.  There is maturity and depth when we are able to glean more than one perspective from a seemingly hopeless and dark situation.

Here's an example of how cognitive reframing has helped some of my clients. As I talk with my clients, we'll go over how 2016 held pain, sadness and overall difficulty. From there, I encourage them to start saying and eventually thinking “2016 was hard for me but despite it all there was still so much goodness.”  We'll then dig into the "goodness" of the year. What were the small wins? What were the things that caused joy? People got married, diseases were cured, babies were born, new businesses were created, and people shared gifts, laughter and love with one another. The list goes on and on. I venture to say that for every evil and difficult thing that occurred, at least one and more likely two good things occurred. That is the positive cycle of life. As clinicians we want to help people to feel and understand the pain that exists in their life and then continue to help them move forward.

With the curtain for 2016 having been drawn, I hope 2017 is a year where we learn to look beyond the cycle of negativity, darkness and hate and push forward towards light and love. It is said that darkness hates the light. Let’s all learn to lean towards the light in an attempt to suffocate the darkness.

If this blog resonates with you and you would like some help processing painful things in your life, call us at 303-393-0085 or visit us on the web at www.foundationsfamilycounseling.com and we will help you to get to a better place. We can help you learn to cope, let go, accept, forgive, heal, move forward, and discover peace and a little joy.

~~ Ashley Banister-Riley

Seeking Therapy When Life is "Smooth Sailing"

We often associate seeing a therapist when we have an issue to resolve or a problem to fix: you and your partner are on the brink of ending your relationship; your parent has passed away; your child was suspended from school for “behavior problems;” you lost your job and are facing financial struggles.  We may feel fearful, anxious, hopeless, and depressed.  At these times in our lives, as Clinton mentioned in his recent “How Do I Know When It’s Time to Get Professional Help?” blog, “we need an empathic and objective observer; someone who will tell us the truth and affirm us.” We seek guidance, support, and solutions from a professional perspective.  **Important note to acknowledge: making the decision and reaching out to a therapist may feel like the most intimidating, overwhelming step to take so props to you for doing so!

But, what if your life seems to be going well? Is it still acceptable to seek therapy if you are not experiencing a problem, break-up, loss, parenting struggles, financial crisis? Yes, of course! Sometimes when things seem to be “smooth sailing” in our lives, we can be more receptive to professional feedback, learning to be more mindful, exploring new coping skills for when we face new challenges and adventures, and practicing self-care.  The therapists at Foundations Family Counseling take a holistic approach to counseling: we focus on emotional, physical, spiritual, and mental health (as they all impact each other) so that we can approach life from a balanced perspective. One important component of this holistic approach is that if we practice mindfulness, self-care, and coping skills on a regular basis when life is “good,” those tools and strategies will be that much more accessible to us when we have issues or problems. And perhaps we will feel less like we are grasping at straws.

So, there really is no “wrong” time to seek therapy. We at Foundations Family Counseling are here for you in “good” times and “bad,” and will provide you with the space and tools you need for whatever is going on in your life right now. If anything in this blog resonates with you, take the first step. Call us at 303-393-0085 or visit us on the web at www.foundationsfamilycounseling.com and we will get you on the right track for getting where you want to go.

            --Jennie Tuttle Baughn, LPC

Navigating Grief & Loss

Life is a series of losses and gains. And these losses are real and many. Grief is the response to loss.  Loss takes many forms and is not just limited to the death of a family member, friend, or loved one.  Loss may also include a relationship breakup, loss of a job, a miscarriage, death of a pet, loss of a friendship, loss of safety after trauma, loss of physical ability, and loss of financial stability. 

How a person experiences grief is very unique to the individual and depends on several factors including the person’s culture, life experiences, faith, personality, coping style, and the nature of the loss.  Because grief is so individualized, there is no one “right” way to grieve and no “normal” amount of time that grief will last.  Common symptoms of grief and loss include shock and disbelief, sadness, guilt, anger, fear, physical symptoms (fatigue, insomnia, weight gain, and weight loss), difficulty concentrating, ambivalence, and anxiety.

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross and David Kessler identified Five Stages of Grief and Loss.  The first stage is Denial, which helps us survive the loss.  During Denial, life may not make sense and can seem meaningless.  Denial helps us pace our feelings of grief and get through each day.  During denial, we start to ask questions and we start the healing process.  The next stage is Anger during which we must be willing to feel our anger because the more we feel it, the more it will dissipate.  During Anger, other emotions will be present, but we are most used to managing the anger.  Under the anger is pain and feelings of abandonment are normal.  Anger can be a strength and provide structure.  The third stage is Bargaining, which can take the form of a temporary truce and often includes “if only…” and “what if…” statements.  During Bargaining, we want life returned to what it was before the loss.  Guilt often accompanies Bargaining and we start to find fault with ourselves and what we “think” we could have done differently.  During Bargaining, we remain in the past and try to negotiate our way out of the hurt.  The fourth stage is Depression during which our attention moves to the present.  Our empty feelings present themselves and grief enters our lives on a deeper level.  The Depression stage may feel like it will last forever.  During the depression stage, we can withdraw from life.  The fifth stage is Acceptance, which is not the notion of being “all right” or finding peace.  Acceptance is finding a way to “carry” the loss that is easier for us to bear.  During Acceptance, we find new norms and reorganize roles.  We do not deny our feelings, but we listen to our needs, we move, we change, we grow, and we evolve. Grief and loss and the process of healing are often fluid and non-linear.  We may move from stage to stage and back again.  We may spend longer in one stage than another.  Certain triggers may prompt us to move to a certain stage.

Part of being human is experiencing some sort of loss and the accompanying grief.  At some point, we’ll be in the grieving role and at some point, we’ll be in the supporting role.  Here are a couple of tips for coping with grief and loss.  Seek support because connecting with others will help you heal.  Support can come in a variety of forms such as family, friends, support groups, and counselors.  Take care of yourself both physically and emotionally.  Be patient with yourself. 

When you find yourself in the supporter role of a friend, family, partner, neighbor, etc. who is grieving, here are some tips for you.  Know that people who are grieving may want to be alone at times and may want to be with others at times.  Just sit with them and simply listen.  Ask about their feelings and their loss.  Acknowledge their feelings and do not minimize the grief.  Let them feel sad, angry, etc.  Be available for them when possible.  Share your feelings and experiences with loss.  Sometimes the most powerful support we can offer to those grieving is just to offer an ear to listen and a shoulder upon which to lean.

If you are struggling with a loss or the grief process, one of our therapists can help. Give us a call at 303-393-0085 or visit us on the web at www.foundationsfamilycounseling.com and we can help to support you and provide a compassionate space and roadmap for what you are going through.

            ~~ Jennie Tuttle, LPC

http://grief.com/the-five-stages-of-grief/

www.helpguide.org/mental/grief_loss.htm

www.cmhc.utexas.edu/griefloss.html

How Do I Know When It's Time To Get Professional Help?

The truth is, all of us could use some counseling or therapy at some point in our lives. It just feels so comforting to us to have the experience of someone really “getting it.” We need an empathic and objective observer; someone who will tell us the truth and affirm us. We want to know that we are not alone and not crazy. It is so easy to feel isolated in this culture of ours.

So, how do we know when the time has come to find a counselor/therapist?

There are so many signals and so many reasons. Maybe life feels out of control and you are overwhelmed by anxiety and worry. Perhaps you are not where you thought you would be at this stage of life. You don’t feel motivated to do all the things you should be doing. I feel lost and alone. I don’t know what I value. You can’t let go of control. You are avoiding stuff. How do I navigate life as a parent? My relationship is not working like I thought it would; we want different things and we fight a lot. You’ve lost someone. I’m so hurt. You’re afraid. Why do I feel so sad? You’re angry. You stuff your emotions and then explode. My emotions feel really big and powerful and I can’t seem to calm myself down and stay in charge of what I say and do. I don’t know who I am. I don’t know what I want in life. I know what I want, but I feel powerless to make it happen. You are self-critical; your own worst enemy. Shame overwhelms us. Life overwhelms us. We need to learn to cope, let go, accept, forgive, heal, move forward, and discover peace and maybe a little joy.

And there are many other reasons that people seek therapy.

Once upon a time, seeing a psychotherapist (then called an Analyst) was in vogue for the wealthy. Then, as the therapy world changed, counseling carried with it a lot of secrecy and shame - for the wealthy and for everyone else. I can do it on my own; solve my own problems. We don’t need a therapist butting into our lives! If others knew I was seeking help from a professional… well, what would they think? I’m so weak for having to pay for help; I should be able to do it on my own. In the last couple of decades, therapy and counseling have become much more acceptable and accessible. People, again, are happy to share that they are in therapy or have seen a counselor. This is good news!

There are so many good helping professionals in our city: Licensed Professional Counselors, Licensed Clinical Social Workers, Psychologists and Psychiatrists, along with any number of supporting professionals in the mental health community. And we are all here to support each other and the clients we serve.

Foundations Family Counseling is a truly gifted group of practicing professionals in the field of counseling and psychotherapy. We truly want what is best for our clients and we have clinicians on our team who are able to work with all of the issues listed above, and more. In the first session, you will get the sense that we really get you, we understand where you want to go, and we know how to help you get there. And if we are not the right fit for you, we happily refer to a number of other mental health professionals out there in the Denver counseling community. Because, the truth is, we are not the only good clinicians out there! And we want to help you find the best!

So, if anything in this blog resonates with you, take the first step. Call us at 303-393-0085 or visit us on the web at www.foundationsfamilycounseling.com and we will get you on the right track for getting where you want to go. We can help you learn to cope, let go, accept, forgive, heal, move forward, and discover peace and maybe a little joy.

            ~~ Clinton J. Nunnally, LPC

Holiday Stress Relief

The holiday season, which spans from November through early January, is a time of thanksgiving, celebrating with family and friends, renewing and re-committing to our values, and cultivating our sense of community.  If the holiday season is such a joyous time, how is it that we tend to become so stressed?

One major cause of stress during the holidays is doing too much, which can be draining. Consumer report polls after the holidays in 2010 revealed how much time Americans spent on the holidays.  Americans shopped for gifts for approximately 15 hours followed by an additional 3.5 hours waiting in check-out lines to purchase the gifts.  Americans dedicated about 3 hours to wrapping gifts and 1 hour returning/exchanging gifts.  Americans reported spending about 15 hours at holiday parties/gatherings and approximately 7.4 hours traveling to and from their holiday destinations.  

During the holidays, the line between spending quality time with family and having alone time is blurred.  Too much togetherness can be a source of stress.  On the other hand, for people who are not close with their families, loneliness and not enough togetherness may trigger stress. Overindulging by eating and drinking (alcohol) too much may lead to weight gain, which may cause stress during the holidays.  In 2011, Americans spent between $250 and $1,000 during the holiday season.  Spending too much money in a short span of time can be a large source of stress, especially during economically difficult times.

So, how do we handle the stress so that we can enjoy the holidays?  Here are some inexpensive and/or free self-care and stress relief ideas that will not hurt your wallet:

·        De-clutter a room.

·        Eat fruits and veggies.

·        Participate in service: volunteer or make something to donate.

·        Read a book for pleasure.

·        Pick a few upbeat songs and take a dance break.

·        Take a bubble bath (maybe light some candles too).

·        Rent a movie to watch.

·        Buy yourself flowers.

·        Do deep-breathing exercises or meditate (use a positive mantra).

·        Journal.

·        Sip something soothing like coffee or tea.

·        Do something creative: draw, paint, color, collage.

·        Write letters or cards to family/friends.

·        Give yourself a manicure and/or pedicure at home (use exfoliating scrub, lotion, and polish).

·        Turn your home into a spa with candles and relaxing music.  Give yourself a facial at home.

·        Make a gratitude list (what are you thankful for…no matter how big or small)

·        Enjoy fresh air and take a walk.

·        Forgive yourself.

·        Buy yourself balloons.

·        Snuggle with a pet or your partner.

·        Nap.

Happy Holidays!  Take gentle care.

If Holiday stress is overwhelming for you, or if you are having life challenges of any kind, one of our Denver, Boulder, or Littleton therapists can help. Give us a call at 303-393-0085 or visit us on the web at www.foundationsfamilycounseling.com and we can help you take the first step toward navigating the stress in your life.

            ~ Jennie Tuttle, LPC

Resources used to write this blog:

http://stress.about.com/od/understandingstress/a/holiday_stress.htm

http://pressroom.consumerreports.org/pressroom/2010/11/consumer-reports-poll-reveals-how-much-time-we-spend-on-the-holidays.html

http://www.consumercredit.com/talkingcents/2012/01/27/january-poll-results-are-in/

http://healingspaces.wordpress.com/2009/01/20/100-extreme-self-care-ideas/

 

The Problem With Pain

I will start by stating the obvious: addressing pain is usually scary, uncomfortable, and down right hard. Our culture glorifies the value in appearing well-put-together and seeming strong, confident, and ‘fine.’ Fine is the most given answer to the everyday social question “how are you doing?” It is easier to respond with ‘fine’ than anything else. Perhaps the ‘anything else’ feels too vulnerable to share. Do you remember seeing the 2003 film, “The Italian Job?” They describe F.I.N.E. with the following acronym:

Freaked out, Insecure, Neurotic, Emotional.

There may be truth to this hidden meaning behind our frequent use of the word. We have all been there, right?  It seems as though anything other than being ‘fine’ or ‘okay’ is not considered socially appropriate to discuss or share openly.

So what is the value in addressing our feelings that are difficult and deep? There is beauty in pain and it is actually of great worth. The “shadow self” that Jungian psychology is known for might be the key to living a more free and authentic life. It is the deep shadow self that contains and carries our deepest wounds, hurts, and insecurities. It is not unusual for us to be afraid of this part of ourselves and even more afraid to reveal it to others.

Who can go through this life unscathed? No one I know. Pain and darkness is part of the human experience. We are all in this together experiencing the good, the bad, and the ugly. To deny one’s pain is to build a wall of protection around ones self. There is a legitimate need for protection and shelter at times. I am not indicating we go around bleeding our life experiences to everyone we encounter. However exploring the darkest parts of our lives is essential to knowing and loving ones self fully and in turn being able to love others fully.

This is where counseling comes in. Skilled and experienced therapists are trained to process, experience, accept and share their shadow selves as well as able to walk with others through theirs. Our culture has great difficulty providing environments of safety in everyday relationships to explore these deepest darkest parts of self. As such, the therapeutic process is an opportunity to begin this journey.

The therapeutic journey can unlock the parts of you that are most afraid to be seen and at the same time desperate to be revealed and nurtured. It takes courage to do so. As a therapist, it is the greatest honor to walk with others as they come face to face with their pain and to go beyond feeling ‘fine.’

If you are struggling with wounds, hurts, or insecurities, one of our Denver, Boulder, or Littleton therapists can help. Give us a call at 303-393-0085 or visit us on the web at www.foundationsfamilycounseling.com and we can help you take the first step in moving through your pain.

            ~ Alison Cotter, LPC