Keeping the Love You Have

The pathway to love seemed so hard when I was single, and to be honest…even when I first met my husband. Keeping the love you have requires just as much work, if not more than the hunt. The difference is your investment and your perspective on how this person fits into your life long-term.

Relationships are like plants. They are all a little different, and require a specific type of care, but the basic principles are the same. You water it, fertilize it, give it the right amount of sun and attention, and it grows stronger each day.

For some the difficult task may seem to be finding your partner in life, your person, or as I like to call them – your lobster. The reality is that its harder to keep the love you have, than find it. Some may believe once I have netted that delectable lobster, I am all set and get to enjoy the fruits of my sea voyage. The truth is, your real journey begins. It takes work to meld two lives together. Two hearts, two minds, two belief systems, two sets of values, financial understandings, parenting beliefs, behaviors, etc. It only took your whole life to become who you are, is it realistic to think you can change another person overnight to do everything you want – or think is “right”? Of course not! A marriage/relationship is about coming together with a common set of beliefs and making it work for both people, then creating a new reality that honors the life you want to live – together.

Over the past few years in my marriage I have learned Five Principles that have helped us build a happy life together.
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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

Fear…a dirty four letter word!

A few blogs ago we talked a bit about finding love that lasts and how that dirty four letter word – fear – impacts love, decisions, motivation and life in general, so I thought I would share a recent fear of my own. Continue reading

Multicultural Counseling

Becoming a multiculturally competent counselor requires research, understanding the basics about the different populations you serve,  diligence, and the ability to know your limits.  Meet your clients where they are and understand that counseling a multicultural population is not a one size fits all strategy.  It is about being aware of your own biases and prejudices and doing the work to overcome them so that you can be an effective professional.  As much as we want to help everyone, we cannot possibly be a specialist in everything.  When we meet with clients from different cultures, we must consider other aspects of their diversity as an individual that include more than what you see; such as disability, age, sexual orientation and gender, spirituality and mental illness.  The term diversity has seemed over the ages to be viewed as a black or white issue, but to me understanding diversity is about being open to the experience of others that are different from you, and seeing and appreciating them for who they are.  When we are able to meet a client in a place that shows no judgment, that offers unconditional positive regard, genuineness and respect, the opportunity to help them make progress can be limitless. Continue reading

Counseling Theories

What did I learned in my last Counseling class before my field experience?  I thought I knew something about Counseling Theorists, but then Dr. D had this way of showing you the theories in such a way that they really stick.

The class structure was a great format to dissect and dig into theories.  The process of presentation followed by professor overview, then movement into a live role play, and finally into an activity created an environment of learning that leaves room for participation, learning and feedback.  I got the most from the role plays, as these helped me see how different theories can impact individuals and problems.  These experiences have helped me choose the theories that I believe in and trust will work for my style and my view of human nature and development.  I have learned that theory is the second most important part of working with clients. Continue reading

Finding love that lasts

Love.  It is the one thing in life that we all need, search for, hope for, ache for, and even sometimes in our fear – run from.  John Lennon said it best, “All You Need Is Love.”  Martin Luther King said, “Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.”  From a spiritual perspective, “God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16 NIV).  The Dali Lama notes that, “Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries.  Without them humanity cannot survive.”

If love is essential to all aspects of life, why is it so hard to see it when it arrives before you?  I recall a time when I thought all I wanted was a relationship with a man who truly loved me, yet I did many things to get in my own way, and prevent love from flourishing in my life.  Continue reading

How to establish goals with a vague client in a collaborative manner.

Establishing goals with a client can sometimes be one of the most difficult parts of the relationship.  When working at my internship site last year, I worked with folks who were working towards self-sufficiency.  Even if we explained to them that counseling is part of the program during their intake process, they quickly forgot that they “signed up” for it.  When we meet an individual for the first time, they may not understand the purpose of counseling, they may think we are doing something to them.  We would hear statements such as:  “I just need a job” or “I just need a little support until I can get back on my feet.”  The troubling fact is that a large percentage of the individuals we served had been chronically homeless or close to homelessness for a significant portion of their lives.  So, the purpose of counseling for that population is to help them create healthier patterns in many aspects of their lives so they can live in a new and better way. They don’t normally come to see us with open arms, so identifying goals in a collaborative fashion could, at times, be difficult.  Continue reading