Young Love

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Remember when you were 5, and you had your first crush?  I think back to all the things I did to gain the attention of my first love interest and wondered – what if we used some of these tactics now?  I’m sure we could easily come up with the con list, or lessons learned, but what was the good stuff?  What were the things we did, said, and experienced that could help us now?

Be yourself 

Usually you paired up with someone because you had the same interests.  You started the conversation with comparing your Star Wars lunch box, big rimmed glasses, or artwork. Take notice of people in your circles of interest that you may have overlooked. What’s stopping you from talking to them and comparing your smart phones, Twitter pages or blogs?  Putting yourself out there can be a little unnerving at first, but the reward of being who you genuinely are and having others accept you supersedes the anxiety.  P.S. If they don’t accept you for your true self, then they probably would not add value to your life anyways.

Play

When we were kids we had fun!  We chased each other around, we created high-imagination games, we could play a card game for hours if he was playing.  We shared and laughed and built forts together! A friend of mine joined a softball team after moving to the area. This turned out to be a great way to connect with new friends and crushes. Even on days when he wasn’t 100% in the mood to play softball, the camaraderie and fun of being with others who shared his interests made the activity worthwhile and there was the added bonus of meeting new, interesting women.

Pay attention and make an effort

I remember when my first boyfriend got me a gift for my birthday.  It was a plastic bracelet, but it had a puppy charm on it, and I loved puppies!  I talked about them all the time.  That is the kind of thing that makes a girl feel special; whether you are 5 or 50.  When someone pays attention, and makes an effort to do something nice or thoughtful it goes a long way!

Feel your feelings

What about the feelings that we had?  Remember the hot cheeks, the butterflies, the awkwardness, and shy moments?  Over time we can get desensitized to these feelings because of previous unsuccessful relationships.  After years and years of dating and one break up or heart break after another, you may force yourself to overlook those feelings and cues.  It is important to reconnect your body and emotions so you can keep your mind open to a person who may be a potentially good fit for you.  Those feelings tell us we are into that person, that something about them makes us want to know more.

Hone your inner child and have a little fun with your partner, your crush and yourself!  Hopefully your partner is your crush or your crush becomes your partner.  When we were young we wished we could quickly grow up, but now that we have, we understand the fallible logic of that thinking.  Cherish the fun, spontaneous moments you have with your loved ones that bring back the feelings of childhood.

Would love to hear your love stories and ways you keep love young.  Please share!

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Terminating the client-counselor relationship

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What is the best way to end the counseling relationship?  A counselor’s hope is with the client in a better place and with a higher level of awareness.  Of course we want to know that we made a difference, but that’s the tricky part of working with humans.  We are all unique and results are measured differently.  With one client a certain level of progress may not seem very significant, but with others that same type of progress may be just enough to leave a lasting effect.  No matter how significant the results, terminating the counseling relationship is just as important as beginning it.

When meeting with a client, I like to be as proactive as possible.  The more information my clients have the better, that way there are no surprises.  Counseling is a very intimate relationship.  People don’t generally put their whole selves along with their secrets on the table for all to see, so developing the counseling relationship is instrumental.  Part of gaining trust comes with informed consent, making sure they know what to expect from you, and ending treatment in a respectful way.  Carl Rogers theory, person-centered approach, is drilled into your counseling education for a reason.  The three aspects Rogers believed are critical to the counseling relationship are unconditional positive regard, empathy, and genuineness.  If your clients feel that you are present-engaged- participating- and you care, they are much more inclined to do the work.  Get them started with an understanding that there will be an end within a timeline. This gives them a metaphorical carrot to chase; an outcome to look forward to.  One caution – you can be a part of the journey without getting on the bus.  Meaning, maintain your differentiation to prevent transference and countertransference.  It takes practice, patience, and diligence to confront your own emotions after a difficult session.  Be sure to take the time to meet with a supervisor or peer to process the session, your feelings and move through it.  We must constantly take care of ourselves, spend too much time giving all you have to everyone else, and there is little left to work with.  This work helps you and ultimately makes you a better counselor.   

The interesting part of counseling is when your clients surprise you.  Sometimes we can make termination such a big deal in our heads, and admittedly feel a bit disappointed when they are not nearly as bummed as we are to end the counseling relationship.  Bottom line…Inform them, Rogers them, and give them a loose outline so they can take you on an incredible journey!

Transformation is an experience that few of us have a front row ticket to, get in that mosh pit, get engaged, and take it all in. It will change your life as well.

Ying or yang? Finding balance through your inner dialogue.

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I found a poem about balance that I wrote many years ago.  It is a great lead into the topic of finding balance and appreciation in all aspects of life.

sometimes the sun shines on my life, it makes my whole world glow. 
i love to feel the warmth on my skin, on my soul.
other days the rain pours on my heart and overflows into areas that are saturated.
every part of life needs this balance.
without sunshine, my flowers will not grow.
without rain, my garden would dry out and die.
i am grateful for both the good and the bad. 
those opposite forces bring balance, contentment, appreciation.
~Melissa Cooper

 It may be hard sometimes to find anything positive when unfortunate events occur, but this way of thinking Continue reading

Burnout

5amIt’s 5am, the alarm goes off and I realize another day awaits, but it’s hard to get out of bed. My body doesn’t feel rested, my eyes burn and my head aches. My jaw feels sore, probably from the clenching or grinding in my sleep. Coffee may not be enough to activate me this morning. When I get to work, Continue reading

Adjusting to Disabilities

Adjusting to disabilities is different for those born with disabilities and those with an acquired disability.  Also, whether or not the disability is visible makes a difference in how they perceive themselves and how others view them.  People will avoid people with disabilities (PWD) or treat them as if they are not an equal.  If you have a mental illness, people may not understand why you cannot perform certain activities or tasks, or interact with the community.  For those with a physical disability, they may be seen as being unable to do certain things, or limited because they are a wheelchair user or blind.  In both these examples other people’s perceptions are what limits the individual before they even begin to deal with their own understanding of their disability.  People with a high level self-esteem, good support system, more economic resources and social supports have a better experience and are less likely to face the same barriers as those who do not.   The focus of community is about the PWD’s right to engage in and maintain gainful employment and access to resources.  This creates barriers in different communities that feel if a person with a disability has to work, then the family is not performing their duty in the family to take care of them.  Working can have such a positive impact on a PWD.  It allows for social interaction, the ability to learn new skills, build self-esteem, make their own money, and be independent.  Understanding how culture plays a part in disability will go a long way in helping the client and their family members support their loved one. Continue reading

Externalizing the Problem

This is a great activity I learned from one of my amazing professors at University of South Florida, Dr. Ryan Henry.  You can use it with a client or even with yourselves to better understand Continue reading

Managing Stress

Whats the old adage about moderation?  “Everything in moderation, including moderation.”  That applies to stress as well. Stress can be a good thing, it can motivate you to get things done, to push harder, to go past limits you thought possible – which leads to growth.  It also helps you avoid danger and keeps you alert.  Then there are the times when stress isn’t such a good thing. There may be times it feels like you have no control over the stressors in your life. This may be true to a point.  You may have no control over what comes your way, but you do have control over the most powerful determinant of how stress manifests in your life – how you respond. Continue reading