Counseling4hope

Author's details

Name: Aimee Thompson
Date registered: August 15, 2014
URL: http://www.counseling4hope.com

Biography

I am an LPC-Intern working for Christian Counseling Associates under the supervision of Steve Hunter, Ed.D., D.Min, LPC-S, NC. I see clients in both McKinney and Plano Texas. I am passionate pursuer of help, healing, and hope for fellow strugglers! Life is messy. Hope is real. A good listener is powerful. Your story matters.

Latest posts

  1. Emotions Don’t Define Us: Reconsider Your View of Them — June 13, 2017
  2. Video Blog: Anxiety and Philippians 4, Reading it Differently — April 3, 2017
  3. Ladies, Trying to Control Everything Might Actually be Hurting You — March 21, 2017
  4. How to Get the Most Out of Counseling — March 1, 2017
  5. Wanting an Instant Fix: How Our Instant-Upload Culture has Distorted Our Perspective on Change — February 7, 2017

Author's posts listings

Jun 13

Emotions Don’t Define Us: Reconsider Your View of Them

Emotions Don't Define Us
I’ve written quite a bit about emotions and their purpose for us. They give us information and they are wise friends who speak truth into us. Yet this morning I am reflecting on the idea that often we allow our emotions to define us. Emotions were never meant to define….that is a distortion we create when we misunderstand their purpose.
Emotions were never meant to define us. Click To Tweet
They are information givers. I love this quote I heard on Anne with an E (an awesome show on Netflix): “Emotion is rarely convenient and often intolerable but I find in the moment that I don’t mind it. Grief is the price you pay for love.”
Grief is the price you pay for love. Click To Tweet
Emotion is rarely convenient and often intolerable but I find in the moment that I don’t mind… Click To Tweet
She gets it. We don’t have to feel good to be okay. We can be okay no matter how we feel because emotions are not definitions. They indicate something has happened in our past or present that needs attending to.
Emotions indicate something has happened in our past or present that needs attending to Click To Tweet
Maybe it’s grief that is being processed to incorporate loss into life. Maybe it’s shame from abuse in the past that needs to be challenged. Maybe it’s fear telling us something is wrong and we need to look at it. These are valuable tools for growth and change. Listening to them and seeing the problem helps us grow, mature, and change.
Listening to emotions and seeing the problem helps us grow, mature, and change. Click To Tweet
I’ve walked in my own story of grief over the last two months and I am sure it will continue. I find sadness and grief come at unexpected times, indicating to me it’s time to stop and honor my memories, my sadness, and acknowledge my loss. I sit with many people whose emotions give them clues to healing and change that needs to happen.
Please don’t dismiss your emotions as invaluable or unimportant. Please don’t let them define who you are but allow them to be what they are…beautiful signals communicating to us information that we would be wise to consider. Need help understanding what your emotions are saying, a counselor can help.

Permanent link to this article: http://counseling4hope.com/emotions-dont-define/

Apr 03

Video Blog: Anxiety and Philippians 4, Reading it Differently

This week I am trying something new…a video blog….and now apparently a YouTube channel. Yikes! Not sure about this. It feels super vulnerable but I’m hoping it is a new way to share helpful content with you guys.

Anxiety is something we all face and I am sure you’ve heard Philippians 4:6 and maybe you even get irritated with that verse because it is asking you to do something that seems impossible. How can I really be anxious for nothing?? I want to challenge us to look at this scripture with new eyes as we start in verse 4 to get the full context.

What stood out to me the most as I was talking was how God does this work in us of reducing our anxiety….it’s not from us…it’s from Him. Now that is good news.

Things I have learned already about video blogging: landscape mode is best!! Oh well, one take and here it is. Please feel free to leave comments or direct message me on topics you would like to see covered.

I’ve attached the scripture (with my notes) below!!

Anxiety and Philippians 4

Permanent link to this article: http://counseling4hope.com/philippians4/

Mar 21

Ladies, Trying to Control Everything Might Actually be Hurting You

Trying to Control Everything May Actually be Hurting You

Calling all busy moms and wives trying to do it all. Do you find yourself exhausted? Worn out? If your answer is yes, let me say. Stop, sit down, take a deep long slow breath in, hold it, then let it out. Take a few minutes to just be fully present in this moment. I have been where you are and I am hoping to bring you good news!! Get comfortable and take five minutes to yourself, to keep reading.

Back to how tired you are. I have a few more questions. Is your fatigue because of all you have to do OR is it because of a very busy mind. Caring for others comes with worry. Worry leads to control because if we are in control then we don’t have to worry. This brings chaos.

What? That makes no sense. Control keeps things in order, in place and helps me protect my family.

Yes, it appears to be a good thing that seems protective. I know you’re thinking if I’m in charge of what goes on in my life, then I can rest. That’s true if you actually have power over something. But worrying and the mental exhaustion that comes from predicting every possible outcome so you can be prepared, actually creates inner chaos. This is anything but rest.

You see there are certain things in life that you have no power over. I think they fall in 3 broad categories.

Forces of Nature: We have no power over the weather, natural disasters, or laws of the universe.

Emotions: Emotions happen and bypass our prefrontal cortex. They are a felt experience that gives us information like our senses. (For more on emotions, click here).

Other People: This encompasses the largest part of life that is really outside of our control. We have no power to actually change another person or chose what they do (or don’t do). Yes, that even includes your kids and your husbands. You can make requests, have influence, and even rules with consequences…but another person’s actions and choices belong only to them.

Controllers (and we all wear this label at times if we are honest) actually create for themselves inner chaos. Why? Because controllers are focused on where they are powerless. To do this they travel many exhausting mental loops trying to figure out a problem that has no solution that is actually within their power. Chaos results.

The answer? Accept what you can’t control and embrace what you can. You see focusing too much on the things we can’t control drains us of our personal power to act. When we focus on we have power we can harness that power into action. So what can you control? Oh, so much.

Your response, actions, reactions, choices, decisions, thoughts, beliefs, values, boundaries, who you chose to be in relationship with, and so much more. Shifting our focus is empowering and freeing.

Focusing too much on the things we can't control drains us of our power to act. Click To Tweet

When we focus on what we can control then we harness that power into action. Click To Tweet

If you are a Christian, accepting what you can control allows you to surrender to the sovereignty of God….the one who really does have power over all. The one who loves your kids and husband more than you do. When we as believers try to control everything, we are stepping into God’s domain, violating God’s boundary. There are certain areas that are only His to control, this is what can truly bring rest.So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.  Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”  Matthew 6:31-34

So beloved, rest in what you can control and let go of what you can’t. Only then will you find true peace. It’s not a perfect process, we all will over-control things at times. Recognizing it, giving ourselves grace, and shifting our focus again; we move on. If this is a huge struggle for you? Consider working with a counselor who can help you make this shift.

“We cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails.” Dolly Parton

We cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails. Dolly Parton Click To Tweet

Permanent link to this article: http://counseling4hope.com/control/

Mar 01

How to Get the Most Out of Counseling

How to Get The Most Out of CounselingCounseling is an investment. It’s an investment in you. An investment in the healing of present and past pain so it doesn’t continue to impact you in the same way.

Counseling is an investment. It's an investment in you. Click To Tweet

Counseling isn’t just another person to talk to but sitting with a highly trained person who is skilled to be fully present with you, fully attuned to what you say (verbally and non-verbally), and trained to see connections and patterns that you can’t see. This just scratches the surface of what a counselor does and doesn’t cover the hours of research or prep that they do for each client they see.

Counseling isn't just a person to talk to but a person trained to be fully present with you Click To Tweet

Since counseling is a big investment, you want to get the most out of the time (and money) you spend in therapy. Here are some suggestions about making the most out of counseling.

Since counseling is a big investment, you want to get the most out of the time (and money). Click To Tweet

Take the time to choose the right therapist.  The research suggests that one of the greatest factors that contribute to therapeutic success is the relationship or rapport between the counselor and the client. Now that’s a fancy way of saying, you need to click with your therapist and feel safe and comfortable with them. This means that if you take the time to call and speak with different counselors on the phone, ask them questions about their approach, tell them what you are looking for, and see who you feel most comfortable with….you will improve your chances of success in therapy!!! Who you choose as a counselor matters

Who you choose as a counselor matters. Click To Tweet

Know what you are looking to gain. Know what you are looking for. Are you looking to reduce anxiety, heal a past hurt, mend a relationship? Whatever it is, have some idea. This gives both you and your counselor a goal to work towards. Now you very well may find other goals along the journey. This happens frequently. Having an initial idea of what you are looking for, makes it easier to measure progress.

Be ready. Most of us want change but not all of us are ready for it. We may be scared of change or doubt it is even possible. I know it is scary to consider a change. But if you are looking for life to be different, what do you have to lose? Readiness to change is a combination of both openness and willingness. Open to go down whatever road the healing journey takes you and willing to do the work necessary to create change.

Readiness to change is a combination of both openness and willingness. Click To Tweet

Be honest with your counselor, what do you have to lose? Counselors are an interesting breed of people. They aren’t shocked or surprised by hurt, trauma, and pain. They don’t judge. They want you to feel safe to share your deepest pain and secrets. They are bound by confidentiality and won’t share it with anyone. Why not be completely open and honest with them about what is really going on? If you aren’t, you will delay your healing and lengthen the amount of time you are in therapy.

Be open to try what the counselor suggests both in session and out of session. Counselors spend a lot of time researching interventions that will help their clients on their healing journey. Interventions may be homework, letter writing, breathing skills, calming skills, journaling, art therapy, education, or experiential in session interventionsThey may ask you to talk with an empty chair or close your eyes and visualize something. Whatever it is they ask you to do, I promise you, it is to benefit your healing journey. So be all in.

Don’t try to rush the process. Counseling isn’t a quick, instant fix. It takes time to build the relationship, time for patterns to emerge and time for interventions to done and processed. Gaining insight and healing wounds takes time and isn’t a linear process but more of an up and down journey. So, don’t be in such a hurry that you don’t allow yourself the time to really sit with new insights and let them deepen.

Build momentum. Counseling works by the momentum of meeting weekly. Insights are processed over the course of a week and built upon during the next session. If you don’t meet weekly with your therapist then the momentum slows down and the process takes longer. Sometimes the process loses it’s effectiveness because of the loss of momentum. My goal with my clients is to meet weekly, build momentum and the relationship, until it becomes therapeutically beneficial to take more time between sessions. Meaning, I want to work myself out of a job and am constantly assessing where I am with each client. Weekly momentum makes a huge impact on the time it takes to reach counseling goals.

Be open to talking about the counseling relationship with your counselor. If you are uncomfortable or have any concerns about the relationship with your counselor bring it into session. You will notice that a lot of counselors automatically do this and are attuned to your shifts. Discussing the  relationship in session is a big part of the counseling process. If you are reacting to a counselor in a certain way, you’re  probably  reacting to someone in your life that way as well. Process it with your counselor so you can better understand you. Not sure that you are making progress or clicking with your counselor? Ask, talk about it. We’re trained to talk about the relationship and are completely okay with it!!

Take note of insights you gain during the process. Counseling generates a lot of insight.Therefore,  I would encourage you to write your insights down. You could take note of them in session, right after session, during the week as you reflect on the session, or all of the above. Insights are powerful and help us mentally shift and change. Taking note of them will help solidify the insights.

Counseling is a valuable investment anytime you find yourself stuck and struggling in life, especially if you’ve had a complicated and painful life story. You may spend a season of time in counseling that changes your quality of life for the present and the future. Just take a minute to really think about that!!  If you decide counseling would benefit you and live in the McKinney, Texas area, reach out and schedule a free phone consultation. If you don’t live close, I hope these tips help you make the most of your counseling journey. God doesn’t want you to live broken, ashamed, and stuck.

God doesn't want you to live broken, ashamed, and stuck. Click To Tweet

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10

Still not sure if the counseling investment is one you are ready to make? Click the image below to read a great article by my friend and colleague Allison Hutson, LPC-Intern supervised by David Dickerson, LPC-S.

Why Do Therapist Charge So Much

 

Permanent link to this article: http://counseling4hope.com/get-the-most-out-of-counseling/

Feb 07

Wanting an Instant Fix: How Our Instant-Upload Culture has Distorted Our Perspective on Change

Instant FixInstant fix. Sounds nice doesn’t it? Isn’t that what we’ve come to expect….a instant quick fix. I wonder if we have the right view of change? That may sound like a silly question. But seriously, how long do you think real life change takes?

You see I’m wondering if we have unrealistic expectations when it comes to a lot of things, especially change. It’s not our fault. The rapidly changing world of technology has lulled us into this mindset.

Today we can quickly take a picture and immediately edit it and share it with all our friends. There’s an actor’s name we can’t remember or some information we need…no problem, just grab your phone and search for it. Need to know how to get somewhere, just type it in the maps app and bam, up come directions. Want to see a movie? Check for times quickly on your phone and even get tickets.

The rapidly changing world of technology has lulled us into a instant fix mindset. Click To Tweet

I know I’m about to sound really old…but I remember a time when we had to WAIT for all of those things. We had to drop film off (praying and hoping we took one good picture) and wait a week to pick it up. We had to drive to the library to research anything. We had to find a map, figure out the route ourselves, and figure out how to fold the darn thing back up. We had to call the movie theater and hope it didn’t have a busy signal (that’s the beeping sound when the line was busy…man I’m feeling old) so we could sit through the list of times recorded by the theatre….or better yet and simpler, we would just drive to the theatre and pick a movie that was showing.

I’m not even scratching the surface of how life has changed over the last 30 years.

Now I am a HUGE fan of this advancement in technology. Cell phones and apps have revolutionized everything and I am grateful. So much has been simplified and streamlined. Yet, we’ve lost a few things along the way.

 

So much comes easy now that we’ve forgotten life's not that simple. Click To Tweet

So many things come so quickly and easily now that we’ve forgotten that not everything in life happens that way. Sometimes things happen in life and there isn’t an instant fix. In fact, an instant fix would not really even solve the problem. Some things in life are meant to take time.

Some things in life are meant to take time. Click To Tweet

Now we are willing to wait for pleasant things (aka…standing in line for concert tickets, roller coasters, meeting someone famous, really good food, etc.) But, are we willing to wait for things that aren’t as easy but take time? Things like:

Healing from Betrayal

 

Healing Relationship Problems

 

Healing from Anxiety

 

Healing from Depression

 

Healing from Trauma

 

Healing from Abuse

 

Changing Distorted Thinking

 

Healing from Perfectionism

 

Walking through Grief

No one wants to walk through those hard things. No one. But we all will face one if not several in our lifetime. So many come into counseling and want to rush the process. They don’t like the emotions they feel, it takes too long, it’s not easy, or simple. So they avoid, numb, deny, or distract themselves with more technology, another relationship, or some other dysfunctional coping strategy. This delays real healing.

So many come into counseling and want to rush the process delaying healing. Click To Tweet

Healing the body, the mind, the soul, or relationships takes time. It’s not a quick insta-change process. Yet real healing and real change is worth the wait and perseverance it takes to get there. Don’t be afraid of a slower process. It’s normal, good and necessary for lasting change.

Yet real healing and real change is worth the wait and perseverance it takes to get there. Click To Tweet

 

Permanent link to this article: http://counseling4hope.com/instant-fix/

Jan 09

The Troubled Journey: A Parable of Life, Obstacles, and Hope

This week I am excited to share a parable written by my son.  It’s an amazing picture of what I’ve observed personally in my own life and as a counselor who sits with many people on a troubled journey.

Troubled Journey

There was once a person, who sat, troubled. For this person had been on a journey, and had come to a cliff blocking their path. They saw no bridge to cross it, and saw no way around it for the air was too dark. So they sat, wondering if their journey had come to an end. After what seemed like a very long time of sitting and staring, they began to question if they need only walk off the cliff. And up they stood, with rash, to walk off. 

But then they saw something approaching them in the darkness. A spirit had come to them. The spirit seemed to have a familiar face and they greeted the spirit as one does. Then the spirit turned them around. And all of a sudden, they felt comforted by a presence that had always been with them but they had never noticed. They saw that the path behind them was light, and they saw many faces all smiling towards them. Many faces of which they knew as old friends, and many faces of which were unknown to them.

Guided by the comforting presence they walked to the smiling people and told them their problem. Then all of the smiling people walked to the edge and began to form a bridge. All together the smiling people formed a bridge and for the first time the person, once troubled, could see the other side of the cliff. So they walked across the bridge with the comforting presence. While walking across, they almost fell many times, but whenever they did the comforting presence carried them back to balance.

Eventually, they crossed the bridge and stood at the other side that once did not exist to them. The smiling people stood together with them and they began to walk the new path they saw. And through the time walking this path they crossed many cliffs where the smiling people made bridges for them, and they helped make many bridges for others of the smiling people who then frowned. But they could always tell that the comforting presence was with them, either guiding or carrying.

Written by Nathan Thompson

Everyone sees something a little bit different in this parable. Please comment below with your thoughts and reflections. Like it? Please share it on social media. There is always hope!

Permanent link to this article: http://counseling4hope.com/troubled-journey/

Dec 06

Peace, Rest, and Joy are the Gifts You Really Want

rest peace and joyI’ve written several Christmas blog posts over the last few years. All have been geared to help us (women in particular) eliminate stress this time of year by letting go of the idea of a perfect Christmas. To read them click here (The Not Perfect Christmas and  Hope for the Holidays)

This year, I’ve been thinking more about what I really want for Christmas:

Peace.

Rest.

Joy.

These words jump off the page and fill us with longing. No matter how life is going for you right now, whether mostly good or horribly difficult….my guess is you still long for peace, rest, and joy. You get glimpses of each throughout each day yet we all go to bed weary longing for more. 

Our experience of peace is directly connected to our ability to surrender and abide in the true vine, Jesus. John 14-17 is full of a mixture of Jesus talking to his disciples about peace but also worldly sorrow and struggle. Its interesting because struggle and peace don’t coexist in our minds very well. I wonder if we believe on some level that peace means the absence of trouble? Yet scripture doesn’t teach that at all. Here Jesus tells his disciples that they will definitely have trouble in the world. He had trouble and his biggest trouble was about to happen when he is arrested in John 18. To expect a trouble free life when our Savior’s life was full of trouble doesn’t make a lot of sense. Yet we do….deep down we long for things to go well. Maybe that’s the part of us that knows the world is broken and longs for real peace. Our mistake is seeking it apart from Jesus or seeing the pain in this world as something God has inflicted upon us..

Our experience of peace is directly connected to our ability to really surrender. Click To Tweet

True rest, peace, and joy only come from Jesus. Click To Tweet

True rest, peace, and joy only come from Jesus.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27

Every other place and thing we expect to bring us true rest, peace, and joy doesn’t last. They are only a taste of what’s available when we abide in Jesus and a taste of what is to come when all things are made new.

To experience true rest, peace, and joy we must abide, remain, or dwell with Jesus. Click To Tweet

To experience true rest, peace, and joy we must abide, remain, or dwell with Jesus.

“Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. ” John 15:4-5

This idea is a continual connectedness. Clearly Jesus is talking to believers in this passage because he says they “are already clean” (John 15:3). So it seems that we can be saved and chose not to abide in Christ. I think stress, busyness, pain, difficulty, struggle, and selfishness are all things that distract us and contribute to a lack of abiding. Abiding is a moment by moment choice to surrender to God and not a one time thing. Salvation (justification) is a one time thing.

Abiding is a moment by moment choice to surrender to God. Click To Tweet

To experience true rest, peace, and joy we must let God's love flow in and out of us. Click To Tweet

To experience true rest, peace, and joy we must let God’s love flow in and out of us.

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other. John 15:9-17

There are two parts to this: accepting how much God loves you and loving others. For many, accepting how much God loves you is really hard. We all know how broken we are and how much we’ve done that we know violates God’s law. It’s the story written throughout scripture, starting in Genesis. God loving a people that can’t obey his law. There was no one that earned God’s love. In fact, God loved us all so much that he sent Jesus to fulfill the law on our behalf. It’s a pure, sacrificial love of a unlovable, unfaithful people. That’s the love God has for you, not based on what you’ve done or not done or what’s been done to you…but a love based on the gracious, mercy of the Giver. As I reflect on how amazing God’s love is, I’m in awe. It’s this love that we pour out to others…not because they’ve earned it but because we’ve been on the receiving end of undeserved love….now we get to give it…not in our own strength but through the power of the Holy Spirit.

God loves you, not based on what you've done or not done or what's been done to you. Click To Tweet

To experience real rest, peace, and joy we must expect hard times and find our anchor in Jesus. Click To Tweet

To experience real rest, peace, and joy we must expect hard times and find our anchor in Jesus.

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.”  John 15:18

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

I’m not sure why we are always so surprised by stress and struggle but we are. Somewhere we have an expectation that life should be easier than it is. Jesus never promised an easy life…but he did promise to provide us with peace in our difficult life (Romans 8) and hope for the future (Revelation 21). As we walk into a very busy, stressful season of the year, one that is meant to point us to the amazing time where God gave us the gracious gift of Jesus, let us remember rest, peace, joy, and hope. Rest that you don’t have to do anything to earn your salvation…Jesus did it all for you. Celebrate the peace you have with God because of Jesus and pursue the internal peace that comes from abiding in Jesus. Allow joy to overflow because of the love God pours into you. And, claim hope because one day all things will be made new and we won’t have to any longer choose to abide with God because he will physically be with us.

“Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children.” Revelation 21:1-7

This Christmas, I want to give the greatest Giver of all my moment by moment surrender. Let’s not just give lip service to the idea of surrender but think about what it means to really lay down all to Jesus. The amazing thing is that as I give this gift to Jesus, he gives me what I really need….peace, rest, joy, and hope. Is it easy? No. Will I fail? Yes. Beloved, God knows our weaknesses. He doesn’t expect perfection. He is our perfection. He just wants a surrendered relationship with his beloved.

This Christmas, I want to give the greatest Giver of all my moment by moment surrender. Click To Tweet

Permanent link to this article: http://counseling4hope.com/peace-rest-joy/

Nov 02

Parenting Struggles? Master the Art of Understanding

understandingWe all want be heard, seen, valued, and understood for who we really are. We desire unconditional love and acceptance. This isn’t debatable. We all recognize this desire, right? Isn’t this behind all the fairy tale romance stories and the cry for tolerance? See me, know me, love me, warts and all.
Maybe we focus so much on being understood that we forget to really understand those we love. Enter our children. Did you know they have that drive too? Kids need to be fully known, loved and accepted first by their parents. I’ve sat with people who did not experience this in their childhood and are dealing with the impacts this has left on them. The opposite of being understood is rejection. If a child doesn’t feel fully understood and accepted first at home, they may be sensitive to rejection in the future.
Now, I know we are put on this earth to guide, teach, train, and discipline our kids. Yet, I think sometimes we focus only on the externals and we miss what is going on in their heads and hearts. We miss their insecurities or their fears. Our kids are more than grades, athletic accomplishments, or artistic performances. They are more than their behavior.
We all want be heard, seen, valued, and understood for who we really are. Click To Tweet
Maybe we focus so much on being understood that we forget to really understand those we love. Click To Tweet
If their behavior is rebellious, ugly, or emotional, they may be struggling in a way that they don’t feel safe to share with you.
If their behavior is always good, they may be attaching their identity to never making a mistake and this is a recipe for anxiety.
Behavior is just one component of personality. We are physical, mental, emotional, relational, and spiritual beings. Behavior is the physical domain. It seems to me that as parents we focus a lot on that aspect of our children and less on the mental, emotional, or spiritual domains. Why is that? Well it’s much easier, right? But I know you want to raise a child who is confident in all areas of who they are, not just that demonstrates good behavior. And what if, by seeking to understand them in all areas you have an impact on their behavior.
I have witnessed many kids who have great behavior but are stressed and overwhelmed trying to maintain the “perfect” life. Just looking at their achievements and grades, you wouldn’t know how much they are struggling. But there are moments that it comes out. You see, the danger of focusing only on behavior, good or bad, is raising kids who focus on the external things they do or ahieve for their sense of value. Now I am not anti-discipline, this is needed  (ask my kiddos we have rules and limits in our home). However, relationship and understanding your kids comes first. How do you know what discipline will work if there is no understanding?
Let’s face it, feeling understood is extremely powerful.
Let's face it, feeling understood is extremely powerful. Click To Tweet
Pause and think of a time you felt completely seen, loved, and accepted for who you really are? Visualize the moment. Who gave you that feeling? How did they do it? What would you have done for that person? How did you feel toward them? It’s an incredible feeling right? Did you know you have the ability, the superpower, to give this experience to your kid? Can you see how it might change everything?
So how do you learn understanding and give your child the experience of being understood?
  • Get to know them. Use the phrase “tell me more”. Tell me more about  (what’s behind the tears, the emotional outburst, the difficult situation, etc.).
  • Validate their feelings. This sounds fancy but it is simply letting their feelings be valid and real, no matter what they are. Regardless of how you would react in the situation, their perspective and feelings are what they are. Let them be that. Tell them you see it and remember a time you felt that way. “You really seem happy about something, tell me about it” (see how I combined them both) OR “Wow, you are really upset about this, tell me more about how that hurt you”. “That’s so sad, I’ve been sad to and it’s hard”. Let it be okay for them to feel what they feel. Be a safe place for their feelings. This helps them learn to validate their own feelings as they grow.
  • Learn what matters to them and how they are struggling. Listen to understand and not fix things.
  • No matter what, start and end things with how much you love them.
  • Compliment effort not results. “Wow I saw your grades, it took a lot of hard work and I admire how much time you invest in your studies”.
  • Be real about your own struggles.
  • Spend time with them. Have fun. Be silly. Take a genuine interest in what interests them. (don’t ask me how much I know about all kinds of things that I wouldn’t know if it weren’t for my kids….star wars, star trek, magic the gathering, pokemon, legos, marvel comics, etc etc etc.)
  • When in doubt, ask them for guidance. Just be real
I challenge you to look at your kids differently this week, whatever their age. Seek understanding. What are their passions, who are their friends, what’s the latest thing they are interested in, what are their fears, or current struggles? Warning: don’t ask all that in one sitting. LOL. It doesn’t work. Understanding comes over time as you deliberately seek to take the time and opportunities that present themselves. I think learning about my teens and watching them grow into who God designed them to be rocks! I have to set aside my agenda sometimes but that’s okay…my stuff will be here long after they are grown. Let’s seize the moment when it comes.
Seize the moment when it comes to really understand your kids. It's your parenting superpower. Click To Tweet

Permanent link to this article: http://counseling4hope.com/understanding-parent/

Oct 30

Seeing a Counselor/Therapist? What’s Wrong with You?

counselor/therapist investment in youYou’re seeing a counselor/therapist? What’s wrong with you? I think this is the automatic thought most people have when we find out someone is seeing a counselor/therapist. Frequently this thought is accompanied by judgment. For those who decide to seek counseling, the shame and fear that comes with that predominant thought may contribute to many choosing to avoid or delay getting help. This breaks my heart because I spend time with really good counselors and the help available out there is amazing. So in this blog, I want to spend some time challenging the counseling/therapy stigma.
Let me ask you a question. If you have something wrong with your car and you can’t fix it yourself would you feel shame and guilt for needing to take it in to the repair shop?
Of course not. You have limited knowledge about cars (and a lot of other things) so you go to someone with more knowledge about that subject and pay them help you solve your car problem.
Now let’s say you are struggling with overwhelming stress and fear. So much so that it is beginning to impact your ability to function in life or maybe even leave your home. Telling yourself to get over it hasn’t worked and you really aren’t sure what to do next. You’ve talked to your friends and family but they don’t know how to help you either.
What if I told you that is one of the areas I specialize in. I help people understand how anxiety impacts the body, learn coping tools to calm the body, look for what is underneath the anxiety and deal with that.
A counselor/therapist is trained to do the following:
  1. Normalize: Everyone that comes in struggles with very normal life issues
  2. Educate: Knowing what and why things are happening
  3. Listen and ask the right questions: There is great power in being really listened to and understood
  4. Teach new coping skills: Learning new tools to deal with life’s challenges
  5. Look at root causes: Figuring out what went wrong and healing, growing, or changing.
  6. Facilitate a safe place to heal and grow. This is the ultimate safe relationship to explore who you are and who you want to be.
Not Crazy but Normal
People seek counseling/therapy not because they are crazy but because they are dealing with hard life circumstances, thoughts, emotions, and relationships. They recognize they need more knowledge and insight to solve whatever problem they are experiencing. The good news is there is so much hope for those who do seek help. It’s not a weak person that seeks therapy but someone who is:
Brave
Strong
Growth Minded
A Hope Seeker
Wise
 It’s not a weak person that seeks therapy but the brave. Click To Tweet
Now, I want to speak to the Christian crowd for a minute. There is a group of believers that do not believe in counseling/therapy. They feel that only prayer and scripture can solve life’s problems. I strongly value prayer and studying God’s word. Yet we don’t apply that line of thinking to any other profession. We wouldn’t refuse to go to a doctor and just pray. No, when a loved one is sick we go to professionally trained person to find healing. Why would we discourage others from finding help with the brokenness that we as believers know is a part of this world? We, as believers, know that the world is broken and people are impacted by that brokenness. Brokenness and sin’s impact is everywhere and sometimes its effects are so impactful that it’s normal to need support and help to deal with it.
I felt a specific call by God to counsel. I pray over my counseling room before I see clients and invite God into the session. I am a theology nerd and spend a lot of time learning and studying, theology and psychology. I believe that since God designed the world and humans, that true and honest scientific/psychological/sociological studies will validate and give us insight into what God has designed and laid out in scripture.
I am honored to do what I do. It is a gift to sit and walk with those struggling. It is exciting to see people grow, change, and heal. It’s amazing to be a part of God’s work of pushing back darkness and lies. I pray that if you are considering counseling, you will reach out, talk to a counselor on the phone, ask questions, and find someone you feel comfortable working with. 
“True wisdom is knowing what you don’t know.” Confucius
“True wisdom is knowing what you don’t know.” Confucius Click To Tweet
“The unexamined life is not worth living.” Socrates
“The unexamined life is not worth living.” Socrates Click To Tweet
“How much better to get wisdom than gold, to get insight than silver.” Proverbs 16:16
“How much better to get wisdom than gold, to get insight than silver.” Proverbs 16:16 Click To Tweet
“A person’s thoughts are like water in a deep well, but someone with insight can draw them out.” Proverbs 19:5
“A person’s thoughts are like deep water but someone with insight can draw them out.” Prov. 19:5 Click To Tweet

Permanent link to this article: http://counseling4hope.com/counselor-therapist-stigma/

Oct 25

Broken is NOT Worthless

 

broken is not worthlessSuper excited this week to share with you a blog written by my sweet friend and fellow CCA counselor, Allison Hutson. It’s a tremendous blog!! Allison is joining me out at our McKinney location and is currently scheduling clients. She is the counselor, I send all my friends to. Her blogs and social media accounts rock! Find her online at http://www.stewartsgift.com or on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram @StewartsGift.
When you hear the word “broken” what comes to your mind? Close your eyes and visualize “broken.” What do you see? Sit here, mindful of the image of brokenness… what feelings are you experiencing? … Sit deeper into that feeling and image… where do your thoughts travel to? Being aware of all your senses right now, what stands out to you as you are focusing on brokenness? How would you put into words what this exercise has been like? Be descriptive… use colors, verbs, details… now open your eyes and shift your focus away from the brokenness.
As you open your eyes and shift your focus, you are probably finding it difficult to move away from this experience. You are probably feeling a bit dazed. You are probably noticing a weight that has come over you. You are probably feeling stuck in the images, emotions, and thoughts even though I have asked you to shift your focus. This is because brokenness does not go away just because we will it to vanish. Brokenness is a total body experience that lingers long past its welcome. Broken likes to fragment… Broken is many pieces. Broken is complex. When life is broken it too is complicated and fragmented. Brokenness in life is not relieved by a simple resolution or merely willed away.
When life leaves us broken, we feel worthless. Click To Tweet
When life leaves us broken, as it so often does, we tend to equate broken with worthless. If we break a material object we consider it trash and throw it away, right? We have learned that broken is trash, it has no value, it has no purpose, it no longer functions properly, its worth is no more. Scripture says, “I have been forgotten like one who is dead; I have become like a broken vessel” Psalm 31:12. This is not a new feeling or experience, it is how people CHOOSE to conceptualize brokenness. But what if brokenness was not worthless or trash? What if broken was not lacking in purpose or value?
Scripture says:
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3
“Well, that’s great and all…but I am still broken…” I know, scripture is not magical and does not take away all of our pain. But my prayer is that you begin to see brokenness from a new perspective. I want to share some pictures of artwork created by artists from broken materials.
Broken Glass:
‘Glory Window,’ Chapel of Thanksgiving, Dallas, Texas
Shattered Glass Sculpture by Daniel Arsham
 “Echo” by Caleb Nichols
 Broken Ceramic:
Broken Dishes by  Li Xiaofeng  
“Broken Things” by Chilean artist Livia Marin
Sandra Shashou ceramic art sculptures
Broken Pottery:
 Restored Vase
 Re-purposed Flower Pot
These are materials that most people would have thrown into the trash. The flower pot breaks and no longer pots plants so we throw it in the trash. The dishes shatter so we quickly label it useless and sweep it into a trash bag. But the images above portray a new possibility. The images above declare trash, in the hands of an artist, can be a new creation full of value, purpose, and beauty. No one would call any of the artwork above worthless, trash, without value… people are drawn to this art! In fact the original form of the dishes are significantly less in value than the re-purposed art piece!
 Ephesians 2:10 states, “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Isaiah 64:8 reiterates, “But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.”
You are the artistic masterpiece of God Click To Tweet
YOU are the artistic masterpiece of God…he has created YOU and has the ability to take YOUR broken pieces and re-purpose you with intent for you to be purposeful, valuable, beautiful, and to function fully! The reason why we are broken is not fully important… it matters, but there is no reason too great that would prevent the Master Creator of the entire Universe from making YOU a masterpiece!
 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths” Proverbs 3:5-6. I love this verse because it implies that the paths we travel in life are broken. They are crooked. They lead to dead-ends, hurt, pain, and grief. The further we attempt to fix our broken pieces alone the more broken our path becomes. We take the path that allows us to be numb (alcohol, drugs, etc.). We take the path that attempts to experience life or feeling of sensations again (self-mutilation or self-harm). We take the path that will possibly end life and the broken worthlessness we live with (suicide). We take the path that paralyzes us (anxiety). But here in Proverbs we are told not to trust our own understanding of what creates life; we are encouraged to trust in our Creator (the ultimate artist) to put the pieces of our broken life together so we can travel a straight path that is appealing and satisfactory!
An artist sees opportunity where others see no potential. When God looks at you he sees your brokenness and whispers, “You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you” (Song of Solomon 4:7).
Life breaks us taking the fabric of life and shredding it into many pieces leaving us tattered. What makes us feel like worthless scraps, God can knit and sew into a beautiful tapestry perfect, valuable, and adored.
 Quilt Made From Scraps of Fabric
Broken is increased worth and value. Broken is untapped potential. Broken is a testimony to new beginnings. Broken is opportunity for restoration. Broken is a beautiful masterpiece.
Are you broken? Is life complicated? Do you feel fragmented and worthless? There is hope! You are the masterpiece of the greatest artist…God of the Most High…who is desperate to restore you, re-purpose you, and let you experience your full potential. Let God work in your life to double your value!
“Instead of your shame there shall be a double portion; instead of dishonor they shall rejoice in their lot; therefore in their land they shall possess a double portion; they shall have everlasting joy.” Isaiah 61:7
This blog was originally posted at StewartsGift.com

Permanent link to this article: http://counseling4hope.com/not-worthless/

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