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Kessler Psychological, LLC

Psychotherapy and Evaluation Services

Virginia Beach, VA

Archived Weekly Tips

Week of 10/18/2021

KP's Weekly Tips brought to you by Jaslynn Giles, Resident in Counseling

*pssst* Hey, Cozy season, also known as fall or autumn is now in full force. As the season changes, so will you. Change doesn’t have to be scary. For many of us, this time of year can be a bit difficult with the days seemingly ending earlier and the weather begging us to stay indoors. Here are a few things that you may find useful as a buffer against the change. This is just a small list of things to try. Check out our Facebook Page (link below) and drop some more suggestions in the comments!

Click here to see our Facebook Page!

Week of 10/11/2021

KP's Weekly Tips brought to you by Breanne Fenning, LPC

Self-betrayal is denying parts of who you are and your needs, healing allows you to love yourself and embrace who you truly are :)


Today, try to focus on one way you can show yourself the love and respect you deserve, and maybe haven’t always received.


Try to:

     -Speak kindly to yourself (no name calling!)

     -Tell yourself that you love you!

     -Reward yourself

     -Set boundaries and stick to them

     -Keep one small promise to yourself (e.g, reading that book you’ve been interested in, taking a short walk, disconnecting for 10      minutes a day, etc)

Week of 10/04/2021

KP's Weekly Tips brought to you by Amanda Bartolome, Resident in Counseling


What is Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction? This approach combines meditation, yoga and traditional talk therapy to help address unconscious thoughts, feelings and behaviors that may increase stress. It is a non-religious approach to mind-body mental health practice. When using this approach, we strive to cultivate a greater awareness of the present movement.


Mindfulness-Based Stress reduction has been proven to benefit individuals dealing with any of the following:

     • Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

     • Anxiety

     • Depression

     • Stress

     • Anger, and

     • Problems with sleep


This practice involves focusing attention on a particular object, such as breathing, and returning to this even after becoming distracted. By continuing to do this, individuals’ ability to control their attention can vastly improve. Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction can help to cultivate self-awareness and an overall attitude of openness and acceptance. Doing this can help individuals calm their mind and body, improve their emotional reactivity and behavioral regulation, and increase the ability to cope with various stressful situations.


Try this introductory activity!


Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR): This is an exercise that reduces stress and anxiety in your body by having you slowly tense and then relax each muscle. With experience and practice, you will become more aware of when you are experiencing tension and will have the skills to help you relax.


Therapist Aid PMR: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1nZEdqcGVzo&t=306s

Week of 09/27/2021 

KP's Weekly Tips brought to you by Alex Bice, Social Work Supervisee


Tools for Anxiety Management

When you are suffering from anxiety, professional help is always recommended. But what can you do in between visits with your therapist or counselor? What can you do if the anxiety becomes overwhelming? There are ways that you can bring the anxiety back under control. These tips and tools might help.


KEEP YOURSELF BUSY.

One of the best ways to ease anxiety is to not think about it. How do you do that? By staying as busy as you can. The more you are moving and doing things, the less likely you will have time to dwell on what is bothering you.


TURN TO NATURAL REMEDIES.

Natural remedies, such as lavender aromatherapy or chamomile tea, have been proven to help relieve stress and anxiety. These natural remedies should always be used properly – ask your doctor if they will be okay to take along with any medications you might be on.


GET PHYSICAL.

Working out anxiety with a lot of sweat works for some. Hit the gym and hit it hard – the more you work out, the more good hormones are released. You might also sleep better, have better digestion, and feel better overall.


TALK IT OUT.

When you can’t take one more minute of what is going on inside your head, it’s time to talk to someone else. Discuss what is bothering you. If you don’t want to talk to someone at that moment, write it all down on a piece of paper.


WALK AWAY FROM THINGS THAT BOTHER YOU.

Does watching the news make you anxious? Turn off the television. Does talking to a particular person make you feel nervous? Avoid them. Does your chest get tight when you think about that big test? Do what it takes to move your mind to something else.


Derived from learnpsychology.org

Week of 09/20/2021

KP's Weekly Tips brought to you by Adam Hanson, LPC

Week of 09/13/2021

KP Weekly Tips brought to you by Michael Wilkinson, Resident in Counseling

You already know that exercise is good for your body. But did you know it can also boost your mood, increase your energy throughout the day, improve your sleep, and sharpen your memory?


People who exercise regularly feel more relaxed and positive about themselves and their lives, making it a powerful tool against depression. It promotes all kinds of changes in the brain, including neural growth, reduced inflammation, and new activity patterns that promote feelings of calm and well-being.


Exercise is also a natural and effective anti-anxiety treatment. It relieves tension and stress, boosts physical and mental energy, and enhances well-being through the release of endorphins. Since the body and mind are so closely linked, when your body feels better, so too will your mind.


The key is to commit to some moderate physical activity—however little—on most days. As exercising becomes a habit, you can slowly add extra minutes or try different types of activities. If you keep at it, the benefits of exercise will begin to pay off.

Week of 09/06/2021

KP's Weekly Tips brought to you by Lindsey Wright, LPC

You may have been told to work on your SLEEP HYGIENE…This is similar to physical hygiene which includes regular maintenance activities for your body. Sleep hygiene is the same general principal, just applied to our general habits and routine around sleeping.


Lack of quality sleep may lead us to feel physically ill, have difficulty concentrating, and be more reactionary to minor stressors. Not surprisingly many mental illnesses have different types of sleep struggles as symptoms. Many people who struggle with sleep feel like no matter what they do they are unable to get the restful night’s sleep that their body and mind desperately needs. Here are some tips for improving your quality of sleep:


• Avoid stimulants (such as caffeine and nicotine) especially within several hours of going to sleep. No amount of caffeine can make up for missed sleep and can exacerbate your difficulty in falling asleep.

• Avoid bright lights, in particular blue light, especially surrounding bed time. Sometimes our phones call to us when we cannot sleep; however, the continued stimulation from the light in our phones further disrupt our sleep-wake cycles.

• Avoid long naps. This is so hard when we are sleep deprived, but this disrupts sleep-wake cycles. One hour of sleep during the day is not worth an entire night of sleeplessness. If you must get some shut eye, set a timer for no more than 20 minutes.

• Set a routine! Set a bed time and stick to it. Set a wake time and stick to it. These things can be difficult on our days off, but the more consistent we are in these cycles, the easier we can get to sleep. Train your body when to be asleep and when to be awake.

• Stay out of your bed when you aren’t sleeping. Our brains associate beds and bedrooms with our sleep cycles, which causes the production of sleep chemicals in our brains. This means your bed needs to be an environment that is only for sleep. Sorry.

• Relaxation strategies. Do things that help you feel tired. If you are trying to stick to your bedtime, but you are not sleepy whatsoever, simply lying there is unlikely to help. Get up and do something to get you in the sleepy state of mind.

• There are a number of over-the-counter sleep aids such as melatonin, valerian root, diphenhydramine (Benadryl), and doxylamine succinct (Unisom) that can give you just the help you need. Always consult with your physician before beginning an OTC sleep aid, and keep in mind that sleep aids are helpful in treating short-term sleep issues and should not be mixed with alcohol or other medications.

• Seek medical advice. When all of the above have not resulted in improvements to your sleep quality, it may necessary to seek out a medical professional. Not sleeping may be a sign of a bigger issue and is a big enough issue in itself to require help if you cannot fix it on your own.


Keep in mind that a single strategy may not work initially. The most important part is to train our bodies to be in a consistent sleep-wake pattern, which means this could take time. Give yourself adequate time to try out a strategy before going on to another.

Week of 08/30/2021

KP's Weekly Tips brought to you by Lena Kessler, Ph.D.

How about entering a Judgment-Free zone?!


Self-reflection and corrective action are important tools for growth.

While many believe that self-judgment is a necessary component, as well as motivating or inevitable, this is untrue.

Judgment and its cousin, criticism, are learned (and therefore can be unlearned), often demotivating, and often associated with a lot of uncomfortable emotional experiences like anxiety, depression, and anger. Consider the below acronym as a way to work on this:


Become aware of ways that you judge yourself when you make a mistake or things don’t go as planned. Check in on the words you use in your head or the emotions that come about.

Evaluate your actions, outcomes, and the usefulness of your judgmental response. It is useful to evaluate how well you did or how things could have been done better, as well as how your response to yourself helps or hurts you.

Notice situations that bring out the judgment. Observe yourself without commentary. Learn about yourself. Be curious.

Integrate new ways of learning and correcting, constructive criticism (recognizing strengths and weaknesses and planning for and implementing improvements).

Clarify your goals. Clarify who and how you want to be. Clarify your motivation for being how you are. Clarify your vision for how you want to respond to yourself, what you think would be most useful.

Empathize. Understand yourself; give yourself grace and compassion. Recognize that change is difficult and can take time. Stay connected with yourself and Be Nice.

Week of 08/23/2021

KP's Weekly Tips brought to you by Jaslynn Giles, Resident in Counseling

Feeling the Monday blues, or any other day-of-the-week blues for that matter? Feeling frustrated with your productivity? Here's a gentle reminder for you: it's okay :)


Giving yourself rest counts as productivity too! You can't pour from an empty cup so take a moment to replenish yourself. Instead of focusing on what still needs to be done, reflect on the things you've already done a great job at accomplishing..Need more tips on how to best do so? Check out last week's tip on self-compassion if you haven't already!

Week of 08/16/2021

KP's Weekly Tips brought to you by Breanne Fenning, LPC

Here are 3 ways to practice self-compassion:


1. Ask yourself, “Would I talk this way to a friend or child who is suffering?” The answer is very likely no, and that means you do not need to talk to yourself that way either.


2. Challenge your inner voice by using a friendly tone and reframing your thoughts to be more rational - Instead of speaking as if you are alone in your struggles, remind yourself with words like “It’s okay to feel upset right now, other people also feel this way sometimes”


3. Forgive yourself. We all make mistakes, fall short, and go through difficult times. Recognize that it is part of the human condition to be imperfect - so give yourself permission to be human.


How can you practice self-compassion this week?


Self-compassion is a practice of goodwill, not good feelings… With self-compassion we mindfully accept that the moment is painful, and embrace ourselves with kindness and care in response, remembering that imperfection is part of the shared human experience. — Kristin Neff

See Related Video: https://self-compas​sion.org


Week of 08/09/2021

KP's Weekly Tips brought to you by Alex Bice, Social Work Supervisee

Back-to-School Anxiety during COVID:

Children who are heading back to the classroom this fall are facing unusual challenges, and one of them is anxiety about being separated from their families after months of togetherness. For some kids it will trigger separation anxiety.

So how can parents accomplish the complicated task of dealing with all this anxiety and uncertainty? Of reassuring children that it’s safe to be away from them, while also encouraging them to be careful and preparing them to be flexible in case the situation changes?


Validate their feelings:

Stay calm and stay positive. If your child is telling you that they’re worried or having those negative feelings, validate that and let them have some space to express it, without feeding it too much. You want to help them think of something they can do about it.


Set the tone:

It’s parents who lead the charge. If you lead with your own anxiety, you’re only going to fuel anxiety. Say what you know, answer questions, and act calm even when you are not. Try not to ask leading questions which can indicate to your child that there really is something to worry about.

If children have questions you can’t answer, you can say, “That’s a really good question. I am not sure, but I can find out the answer to that question. Let’s start a list with questions we have.” Kids appreciate knowing what you’re doing to manage the situation and also what they can do, so working together to ask and answer questions can help them stay calm.


Help them think positive:

For younger kids worried about separation, it helps to know what you’re doing while they’re away, and how you’re staying safe; help them imagine this. Another way to help kids focus on positive things is to try to get them to talk about the good things about school. What are they looking forward to? What did they enjoy the previous day?

Transitional objects can be really helpful for younger kids to feel connected to home. A transitional object can be anything that helps your child feel connected to you when you’re apart — a stone, a button, a handkerchief.


Practice separating:

Practicing separation could be helpful, starting in small ways and building tolerance for more and more independence.

Things like playing in your room by yourself, while Mom is in the kitchen cooking dinner. Or staying with another caregiver while Mom or Dad goes out can build comfort about the “big" separation.


Have a routine:

Making sure that your child has a predictable routine leading up to school can help kids, especially younger ones, feel more secure.


Emphasize safety measures:

We can’t promise our kids that we won’t get sick, but we can express confidence that the schools have done months of planning to minimize risk and keep everyone safe — that’s why all the new rules are in place.


Encourage flexibility:

Let your child know that the whole family is going to have to be flexible. You can say, ‘My guess is that things might change between now and the end of the year. And you know what? I promise that I’m going to give you information as I have it, but I would love for you to also make a promise. If you have a question you should always come to me first so I can make sure you 

have all the information.’


When should you get help?

Kids who have trouble separating often just need time, and support from parents and teachers, to adjust. But if your child is having severe meltdowns at drop-off time for more than two or three weeks, and is unable to recover or to even stay at school, for more than three or four weeks, then seeking help can make a big difference.


Adapted from Caroline Miller of The Child Mind Institute

Week of 08/02/2021

KP's Weekly Tips brought to you by Antoine Nichols, LPC

Change. It is one of the few things we can count on in life, but it still can catch us unaware and lead to a high level of anxiety. The fear associated with change will even make us hesitant to leave negative situations because the thought of the unknown can be overwhelming. However, change can be necessary for our continued growth as an individual. Here are some ways to manage the anxiety and stress around change.

• Awareness: If you know a change is on the horizon, don’t fight it. Acknowledging that change is imminent can lead to a reduction in overall stress and have you more prepared to deal with what comes.

• Reframe your thinking: Our minds often think of negative things when we approach change. Instead, ask yourself how you might benefit from the change. Remember all the times you handled change well, no matter how small it might be.

• Control what you can: Change can sometimes be unexpected and unwanted. However, a change in one aspect of your life does not have to affect others. Strive to keep routine where possible. That sense of normalcy can be a much needed respite.

Change can be difficult, but it does not have to feel insurmountable.

Week of 07/26/2021

KP's Weekly Tips brought to you by Adam Hanson, LPC

As wonderful as you are, it’s important to take a step back sometimes and recognize that there are probably a lot of things going on in others’ lives that have nothing to do with you. That thought can be relieving. Most likely, everyone isn’t out to hurt you, to deliberately leave you out of things, or to talk about you. Here are a few thoughts to help remind yourself that you’re not the center of everyone’s universe.

- People can’t read your mind. Unless you express yourself clearly, others can’t possibly know when and how you want to be included in their lives.

- Most of the time when someone is rude or dismissive, their actions are reflecting their own feelings. People get wrapped up in their own feelings a lot, and when they do, they’re not always great at recognizing when they’ve hurt someone else.

- People in your life are allowed to have a good time without you. Yes, that wedding reception would have been that much better if you’d been invited, but it’s not just you who’s missing out, it’s them too! Maybe next time you’ll have your chance to wow everyone with your Electric Slide.

Being the center of everyone else’s world is a big responsibility - who needs it!?

Week of 07/19/2021

KP's Weekly Tips brought to you by Sydney Beasley, Resident in Counseling

Emotions and memories are not just located in your thoughts but also in your body. Actions such as pursing lips, tensing muscles, or clenching jaws can mean that your body is holding those emotions and memories. Using the signals in your body to help bring awareness to your feelings can increase your capacity for healing.


Trauma-related depression can feel like a "collapse" in your body, in response to feelings of shame, helplessness or immobilization. The following practice can help re-connect you to your body.


- Find a safe place to explore this practice. Sit in a chair


- Allow yourself to collapse. Allow your shoulders to go forward and your gaze downward. Exaggerate the collapse a little at a time until you are slumped forward over your legs.


- Take time and notice how you feel in in your body. What emotions or thoughts arise?


- Slowly, lengthen your spine back up. Life your torso and your head until you are sitting tall with your head balanced at the top of your spine. Lift your gaze to look straight ahead. Feel the sensations in your chest. Do you notice any openness or expansion? What are the emotions or thoughts that arise now?


-If you feel the impulse to collapse again, then repeat these steps several more times until you feel that staying upright does not require so much effort.


Remember, " Every bad feeling is potential energy toward a more right way of being if you give it space to move toward its rightness." Dr. Eugene Gendlin


Adapted from Arielle Schwartz, Ph.D.

The Complex PTSD Workbook

Week of 07/12/2021

KP's Weekly Tips brought to you by Michael Wilkinson, Resident in Counseling

Your mental health plays a huge role in your general well-being. Being in a good mental state can help keep you healthy and help prevent serious health conditions such as heart attacks or strokes. Conversely, poor mental health can lead to poor physical health or harmful behaviors. One thing you can do to help keep yourself mentally healthy is: Do Things for Others.


When we are dealing with stress and anxiety, sometimes the best thing we can do is shift the focus away from ourselves, and our own troubling thoughts, and place that focus on the needs of others. Helping others isn't just good for the people you're helping; it's good for you too. Helping someone can improve your self-esteem and make you feel good about your place in the world. Feeling as though you're part of a community is a really important part of your mental health. You could try volunteering for a local charity (animal shelters and rescues are my personal favorite), being the one to listen when a friend needs a shoulder to lean on, giving up your seat on a bus to someone who might need it more, offering to make a cup of coffee for someone at work, or just being neighborly (like bringing in their trashcans from the curb).


"Great opportunities to help others seldom come, but small ones surround us every day."-Sally Koch

Week of 07/05/2021

KP's Weekly Tips brought to you by Lindsey Wright, LPC

Emotions are often difficult things that sometimes appear seemingly out of nowhere at inconvenient times, so why do we have them? What is the purpose of emotions?


• Emotions are communicative

o Emotions allow us to communicate our experience to others.

o Emotions help others know how to help us.

o Emotions allow us to express our needs. There is a difference between what we need when we are disappointed versus when we are depressed.

o Emotions help us to connect to the experiences of others.


• Emotions are informative

o Sometimes it is difficult to identify where our emotions come from, but they do always come from somewhere.

o Thoughts and perception inform our resulting emotions.

o If emotions are out of proportion to the event, it helps us to increase insight and further explore what things are causing the severity of the emotion. (Example: If I were to be screaming at others and honking my horn in traffic, it may be that there were other angry feelings that I chose to ignore that are now coming out because of a minor event.)


• Emotions are motivating

o Anxiety can motivate us to be cautious in situations that may be dangerous.

o Anger can motivate us to advocate for ourselves and our needs.

o Sadness can motivate us to process difficult life events.

o Guilt can help to motivate us to change harmful behaviors.


Obviously, our emotions are not factual and may at times be out of proportion to the event, but it’s important to remember that our emotions serve an important purpose. Exploring the sources of our emotions, expressing our emotions, and validating our emotions are an important part of being a person and working towards mental wellness. If we can acknowledge and appreciate that our emotions are here to help us achieve a goal, they might not seem as difficult to manage. At the end of the day, we will have emotions regardless of if we deny their presence or not. 

Week of 06/21/2021​

KP's Weekly Tips brought to you by Jaslynn Giles, Resident in Counseling

Pause for a moment. I invite you to take this moment to take a few deep breaths in and a few deep breaths out. Let’s assess what you might need right now. Is it?

Sunshine

Movement

Grace

Play

Quiet

Reflection

Strength

A Release

Compassion

Forgiveness

With things returning back to a new normal, and the summer months and their activities coming in full swing, it can be easy to get caught up in the natural flow of "the grind." I’d just like to bring your awareness to a simple yet powerful action and that is the breath; don’t forget to breathe. What are some self-care activities that you’ve been putting on hold? What is one thing that you can do this week or this weekend that will leave you feeling refreshed and ready for next week?

Week of 06/14/2021

KP's Weekly Tips brought to you by Breanne Fenning, LPC

Beware of toxic positivity!


At times it seems it is embedded in us to “stay positive” and "always look on the bright side”…and while it’s important to be grateful and optimistic, it’s also important not to downplay or deny yourself or someone else of the feelings they are experiencing.


Going through difficult times, losing someone, missing out on an event you really wanted to go to.. these are all examples of experiences where people can

end up feeling invalidated or shameful when they can’t see the positive aspects in those moments.


Some quick tips to help yourself or someone else reframe without just focusing on the positive:


*** Accept reality for what it is! It’s okay to be sad or stressed, and even more, to sit with those uncomfortable emotions


** Emotions come and go, thoughts and feelings come up, but you can get yourself unstuck if you allow yourself to experience them. Also, you can feel both

sad and hopeful.. it doesn’t have to be one or the other.


@findyoursunshinetherapy (on Instagram) provided some alternatives to try saying to others to truly validate one’s feelings. Check out the slide for some great reframing ideas.


Remember, listening and validating one’s feelings can help them to see all sides of an experience, and it’s okay if that means not feeling good all the time.

Week of 06/07/2021

KP's Weekly Tips brought to you by Antoine Nichols, LPC

Living through the Covid-19 pandemic has exposed us to many intense changes. We adapted to staying at home and now might need to adapt to returning to social gathering. Any of this may cause anxiety. If you feel that way, know that you’re not alone. Here are some things you can do to aid in this transition.

• Identify your fears: Think about what makes you nervous. Are you worried about crowds? Worried about getting sick? Feel things are moving too fast? Identifying what worries you helps make the issue more specific and less overwhelming

• Be patient with yourself: There is no timetable or right way. Don’t throw yourself into a stressful situation if you’re not ready. Take small steps at first to get yourself used to being around others. Maybe meet with family or a small group of friends.

• Communicate your boundaries: Know and understand your boundaries. If a friend or family member wants to meet and you’re not ready, let them know. Communicate what you need to feel less anxious. Also, respect the boundaries of others around you.

As always, if you feel your anxiety is very high or out of the norm for you, don’t hesitate to reach out for help from a qualified mental health professional. 

Week of 05/31/2021

KP's Weekly Tips brought to you by Alex Bice, Social Work Supervisee

Helping children regulate emotion


In their early years, kids experience emotions that are too big to manage alone in their bodies, which is why the feelings often come catapulting out of their bodies as difficult behaviors – hitting, throwing, flailing, etc.


We can help change that behavior through building emotion regulation. That means establishing safety and “goodness."


We must establish safety first. When we remove a child throwing blocks from a block area, it is not to punish or give a “natural consequence” – we remove this child for their and everyone else’s safety. We can say “My number one job is to keep you safe. Right now safety means you and I together in a separate room.” We don’t need a child’s permission or approval to keep them safe, and we should anticipate pushback and screaming. It’s critical to follow through to allow for the feelings of safety.


Next, regulate yourself, and find your “goodness" (“I am a good parent, my child’s behavior is not a measure of my parenting!”), and then show this goodness to your child.


Children respond to the versions of themselves we reflect back. If you want your kid to act like a good kid, treat them like one. Separate their behavior on the outside from who you see on the inside. Our kids feel good inside when we differentiate behavior and identity. For example, we might sat “I won’t let you throw blocks. I know that you were having a hard time. I care about that and I care about you.” Sit with your child when they’re upset. Breathe. Stay.


Later, or the next day, after you’ve established safety and goodness, work on the skills your child is missing. Create a situation where you can “play around” with frustration using toys. Practice breathing, self-talk, and taking breaks.


Adapted from Dr. Rebecca Kennedy

https://goodinside.com/

Instagram: @drbeckyatgoodinside

Week of 05/24/2021

KP's Weekly Tips brought to you by Adam Hanson, LPC

June is LGBT Pride Month, so in addition to recognizing and celebrating the rich history of LGBTQ+ leaders and the community, here are some ways that you can help support the mental health of your LGBTQ+ friends and family.

1. Question your biases - We all have implicit biases, and those can be harmful when we don’t examine them. Learn about LGBTQ +identities, the LGBTQ+ movement, and the issues facing the LGBTQ+ community. Question your own assumptions about love, sex, and what it means to be part of a relationship or a family. It’s okay to have questions or make mistakes as part of the learning process. By educating yourself first, you can acknowledge these mistakes and grow from them to better support your loved ones.

2. Respect their identity - respect the identity of LGBTQ+ people in your life by affirming how they choose to live, love, and identify. Use their correct gender pronouns, respect how they choose to dress and present themselves physically, accept the gender of their partners, and don’t pressure them to conform to your or society’s idea of self-expression, family, or love.

3. Don’t “out” them without their permission - While there’s nothing shameful or secret about being LGBTQ+, everyone has the right to make choices to facilitate their own comfort and safety. Follow the lead of your LGBTQ loved one in terms of how open they wish to be about their identity, and make sure they know you support them however they choose to express themselves.

4. Have their back - If your relative is queer, you can educate other family members on LGBTQ+ identity, and support them if they’re faced with discrimination from family members. In the workplace or educational space, you can advocate for diversity trainings and gender neutral bathrooms. And anywhere you go, you can call out anti-LGBTQ+ words and actions when you see them.

5. Support them in accessing mental health resources - Supporting the mental health of your LGBTQ+ loved ones requires all the conventional skills of being a good friend: be present, make sure they know you are there for them, and don’t hesitate to reach out if you notice they’re going through a hard time. There are also extra ways you can support your LGBTQ+ loved ones. You can help them find LGBTQ-affirming therapists, whether brick and mortar, or online, connect them with LGBTQ+ support groups or mentors, and let them know they can always call you or any of the LGBTQ-friendly mental health hotlines if they need help.

6. Donate to supportive organizations - you can support the LGBTQ+ community by donating to LGBTQ-friendly mental health and anti-discrimination organizations.

Thanks for reading - Happy LGBT Pride Month!

Reference: https://www.talkspace.com/blog/ways-to-support-mental-health-lgbt-loved-ones/

Week of 05/17/2021

KP's Weekly Tip brought to you by Sydney Beasley, Resident in Counseling

Emotional neglect is often insidious (silent and severe) and overlooked during childhood, as it is a failure to act and a lack of attunement and connection. Because emotional neglect is a non-event (not acting), our brains are not generally able to recognize it, which makes the neglect difficult to recall or even recognize in the moment. Children who grow up with parents who have difficulty recognizing and responding to their children’s emotions, or with helping their children understand their emotional landscape, often struggle with connecting as adults.

Some signs that you experienced emotional neglect as a child include:

• Experiencing frequent feelings of guilt or shame

• Difficulty with trusting others

• Being judgmental of others or yourself

• Difficulty with identifying emotions

• Imposter syndrome or feeling as if you’re 'hiding behind a mask'

• Perfectionism

• Difficulty with experiencing gratitude

• People-pleasing

• Difficulty with accepting help or support

• Excessive fears and rumination (over and over thinking)

• Sensitivity to rejections

Here are some tips to aid in recovery from emotional neglect:

• Redirect your attention inwards to identify your needs and take action to meet them.

   o You can google lists of basic needs to begin and recognize ones that you struggle to meet.

• Challenge the belief that you do not deserve to have your needs met, or that others' needs supersede your own.

   o Create a mantra to put on your mirror/fridge/desk. It can say something simple like, “ I am enough,” or it can be a favorite quote, etc.

• Pause when experiencing an emotion and attempt to identify the differences.

   o Start by identifying whether the emotions feels uncomfortable or comfortable.

• Self-care

   o Be kind as you learn how to care for yourself. This includes times where you say ‘no.'

• Consider Therapy

   o The relationship between you and your therapist can model what healthy empathy feels like. Your therapist should validate your emotions and experiences, help reduce self-criticism, and decrease overall feelings of shame.

You deserve attention, care and compassion. You cannot control others' actions; however, you can start by giving those things to yourself and respecting your worth. If you are struggling, reach out to a counselor so they can help by providing structure and modeling kind accountability. You and your inner child are lovable and deserve healing and consideration. 

Week of 05/10/2021

KP's Weekly Tip brought to you by Michael Wilkinson, Resident in Counseling

Mindfulness, a type of meditation, is a valuable skill that has been taught for thousands of years in many of the world's religions, including Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, and Islam. Beginning in the 1980's, Jon Kabat-Zinn began using nonreligious mindfulness skills in order to help hospital patients cope with chronic pain problems. More recently, similar mindfulness techniques were also integrated into other forms of psychotherapy. Studies have shown mindfulness skills to be effective at reducing the frequency of major depressive episodes, with reducing the symptoms of anxiety, with reducing chronic pain, and with increasing skills to cope with difficult situations.

One effective mindfulness skill is Thought Defusion. It can be useful in helping you recognize and focus on thoughts, emotions and physical sensations while lowering emotional distress. When distressing thoughts keep repeating, it is often easy to get hooked on them. In contrast, thought defusion will help you observe your thoughts without getting stuck on them. The object is to view your thoughts as either pictures or words, harmlessly floating away from you without obsessing or analyzing them.

Here are some suggestions that others have found helpful:

1. Imagine sitting in a field watching your thoughts float away on clouds.

2. Picture yourself sitting near a stream watching your thoughts float past on leaves.

3. See your thoughts written in the sand and then watch the waves wash them away.

4. Envision yourself driving in a car and see your thoughts pass by on billboards.

5. See your thoughts leave your head and watch them sizzle in the flame of a candle.

6. Picture yourself standing in a room with two doors; then watch your thoughts enter through one door and leave through the other door.

If one of these ideas works for you, that's great. If not, feel free to create your own. Let your thoughts be whatever they are and don't get distracted fighting them or criticizing yourself for having them. Just let thoughts come and go.

Sourced from The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Workbook (McKay, Wood, Brantley, 2007).

"Be positive. Your mind is more powerful than you think. What is down in the well comes up with the bucket. Fill yourself with positive things."-Tony Dungy

Week of 05/03/2021

KP Weekly Tip brought to you by Lindsey Wright, LPC

Here is another tip that comes from Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. Practicing taking a nonjudgmental stance:

First, let’s identify what judgments are.:

• Describing things in rigid and inflexible categories, such as good/bad, right/wrong, valuable/worthless, smart/stupid, etc.

• Describing by comparing or contrasting, such as “I got a B on my test, but I usually get As, so I didn’t do well.”

• Describing with the words “should” or “shouldn’t.”


Why do we use judgments?

• Because they can be helpful when trying to make quick decisions.

• Sometimes our labels/judgments are correct! Example: If I drive 100mph on a dark and winding road, then labeling the situation as dangerous may be warranted and helpful.

• Judgments allow us to foresee possible consequences.


How are judgments harmful?

• Often times, we treat judgments as factual. Judgments are opinions. Opinions are not facts.

• When people judge emotional states, they tend to work towards avoidance or minimization of these emotions.

• Positive judgments can be fragile, as something that can be judged as ‘good' can just as easily be judged as ‘bad.'


What do I do about judgments?

• Practice making note of judgments. Keep a journal and note what feelings come along with these judgments.

• Ask yourself if your judgments are helpful for that moment. (Hint: sometimes they are)

• Try being as objective as possible in the present moment. It can be helpful to acknowledge your perception versus the facts of a situation.

• Practice accepting what *is*. Particularly if this is a feeling, because no matter how intense a feeling may be, it will never last forever. When we stop fighting what we cannot control, feelings seem lighter and easier to manage.

• Lastly, DON’T JUDGE YOUR JUDGING! 

Week of 04/26/2021

KP Weekly Tip brought to you by Jaslynn Giles, Resident in Counseling

Hey there, when is the last time you unplugged and took a break? Social media can be both a gift and a curse. Studies are now showing that social media use can lead to depression, low self-esteem, body image issues, anxiety, and social isolation; It can even perpetuate eating disorders and self-harm behaviors. On a more positive note, social media can bring individuals and communities together and can be an engaging platform to meet new friends, especially in times like this! However, the balance between the two can be easily skewed. Now is the perfect time to check in with yourself and determine if you could benefit from unplugging. Check out the visuals below for tips and suggestions on how you can get the most out of your time away and fully benefit from a good rest.

Tips and Visuals sourced from @SelfcareIsForEveryone and @ButWhatTheyDontTellYou on Instagram.

Week of 04/19/2021

KP Weekly Tip brought to you by Edith Mercurio, Resident in Counseling:

Self-Care is any intentional activity focused on improving one’s own physical, mental, and emotional well-being. It does not necessarily have to involve seeking professional help, but it may. Additionally, it does not have to involve a pricey trip to the spa, but it occasionally may.

Taking time for self is something many people struggle with. Deadlines, timelines, grocery store lines, appointments, work schedules, social engagements, social media, …the list of daily activities and responsibilities in our lives can be overwhelming, especially if you are a person who puts all those tasks and responsibilities before caring for yourself. It is easy to get wrapped up in life’s everyday tasks and to-do lists and allow self-care to be that tiny little last line on the list that can wait until tomorrow.

With the presence of Covid-19 and all the limitations/stressors involved in alleviating the current pandemic, it is so important to take care of yourself. Not taking time for self-care can result in stress, anxiety, depression, and a vast array of other physical and mental health issues.

Make a decision to move yourself to the top of the list of priorities!

Some self-care tips

1. Take time to check in with yourself in the loving caring way you may check in with a friend or loved one. Listen to what your body and mind are telling you about your own needs.

2. Let others help. Delegate tasks or ask for help when you need it.

3. Create healthy boundaries. It is ok, even vital to say no when you are already feeling overwhelmed by demands on your time. No is a complete sentence.

4. The Basics - water, rest, exercise, sunshine, and fresh air.

5. Laughter - lots of it!

6. Limit caffeine, alcohol, and sugar intake. While great in moderation, these can be detrimental to physical and mental health when used to excess.

7. Monitor your physical health and schedule annual physical exams. Follow the recommendations of your health care provider or get a second opinion.

8. Engage in activities that bring you joy, or peace, or that feel pleasant – make a list for those!!

Repeat often!!

Week of 04/12/2021

KP Weekly Tip brought to you by Brea Fenning, LPC:

Let’s talk gratitude (because it’s more than something we just make note of during the holidays!). Gratitude can be practiced daily, and doing so can help us feel healthier, happier, and cultivate better relationships! Gratitude is about affirming there is some goodness in our lives, and also making note of who and what has played a role in that goodness - not just yourself, but other people and things too 🙂

According to Robert Emmons (a psychologist and expert on gratitude), doing this regularly can be impactful for a few important reasons:

1. Gratitude allows us to celebrate the present by magnifying positive emotions, and by encouraging us to be more active in our own lives.

2. Gratitude blocks toxic, negative emotions, such as envy, resentment, and regret—emotions that can destroy our happiness.

3. Grateful people are more stress-resistant.

4. Grateful people have a higher sense of self-worth.

***So what are some ways you can start practicing gratitude?

—-Keep a gratitude journal - Try writing down 1 thing each day, or a few things at the end of each week, that you are grateful for.

—-Make a mental note - Practice asking yourself each morning or night, “What am I grateful for today? What went well for me today?”

—-Write a thank-you note to someone (or thank someone verbally, or even mentally!) - Letting someone know you appreciate them can benefit them, but also you too! Maybe even try writing a note to yourself occasionally!

—Pray and/or meditate - You can use prayer or try focused meditation for just a few minutes each day, and reflect on what you are grateful for (a friend, your pet, a tasty treat - there’s no judgment here on the things that make you happy or feel good!).

Remember - Practicing gratitude does not mean that life does not have stressors, burdens, and serious challenges. But, it can help to balance out the negative with positive, and this is a big benefit to our well-being.

Week of 4/06/2021

KP Weekly Tip brought to you by Antoine Nichols, LPC:

Grief is the feeling of deep sorrow and emotional pain. Most people associate grief with death of a loved one, but grief can come with any type of loss. The loss of a pet, a career, a friendship, an identity or belief, or even selling the home in which you grew up or raised a family. Grief is something that each of us will experience at one point in our lives. Here are some tips for dealing with grief.

Don't ignore your feelings

Grief will bring forth intense emotions and it may be tempting to ignore them, either hoping they go away or out of fear of being consumed by them. However, facing these fears will help you in the long term.

There is no "right" emotion

Allow yourself to feel whatever emotion you are feeling in that moment. Whether its sadness, fear, anger, doubt, helplessness, etc. Your emotions will change and they will differ from someone who might be experiencing the same situation. There is no one way to grieve.

There is no timetable

2 months? 6 months? 1 year? I am often asked how long someone should grieve. There is no timetable. Every person and every situation is different. It is okay to think about a loss from 10 years ago and feel an emotion. The goal is to accept the loss and work through your emotions in an effort to reduce the intensity of the feelings, not to forget the loss or have no feelings.

Most people are aware of the "5 Stages of Grief" by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. Those stages include denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. These feelings are common with grief but remember, this was never meant to be a one-size-fits-all roadmap for grief. People might experience all of these feelings or only a few. They might go through them in order, jump back and forth, or start at the end. There is no right way to experience grief.

If you are experiencing grief, facing your emotions can feel daunting. Don't be afraid to reach out for help from friends, family, or a mental health professional. You can work through this tough time.

Week of 03/29/2021

KP Weekly Tip brought to you by Adam Hanson, LPC:

Many people who were already struggling with substance abuse have seen their struggles increase over this past year due to stress, isolation, job insecurity, anxiety/fear, loss of loved ones, and numerous other factors. Last week was National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week, so I’d like to give some brief tips on how to recognize if you or someone you care about may be struggling with substance abuse, and what you can do about it:

Substance abuse occurs when someone uses alcohol, prescription medicine, or other legal or illegal substances too much or in the wrong way.

If you or someone you know exhibits 2 or more of the following signs, there may be a diagnosable substance use disorder present:

1. Taking the substance in larger amounts or for longer than you're meant to.

2. Wanting to cut down or stop using the substance but not managing to.

3. Spending a lot of time getting, using, or recovering from use of the substance.

4. Cravings and urges to use the substance.

5. Not managing to do what you should at work, home, or school because of substance use.

6. Continuing to use, even when it causes problems in relationships.

7. Giving up important social, occupational, or recreational activities because of substance use.

8. Using substances again and again, even when it puts you in danger.

9. Continuing to use, even when you know you have a physical or psychological problem that could have been caused or made worse by the substance.

10. Needing more of the substance to get the effect you want (tolerance).

11. Development of withdrawal symptoms, which can be relieved by taking more of the substance.

What you can do for friends or family:

1. Reach out to support them, and be honest about your concerns.

2. Encourage them to speak with a physician about physical effects of substance abuse, and to get a full check-up.

3. Encourage them to seek therapy from a qualified mental health provider.

4. Encourage them to join a local in-person or virtual support group.

5. Seek support for yourself, though organizations such as NAMI, AL-ANON, NAR-ANON, or another reputable organization for family members of individuals with substance abuse issues.

What you can do for yourself:

1. Get in touch with a close friend or family member for support, if possible.

2. Speak with a physician about physical effects of substance abuse, and get a full check-up.

3. Seek therapy from a qualified mental health provider.

4. Join a local in-person or virtual support group.

5. Most importantly, be honest with yourself and with people you care about.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has a free phone counseling hotline, through which anyone can call to discuss concerns related to substance abuse: (800) 950-6264. https://www.nami.org/Home

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) offers many valuable resources, including referrals and information on substance abuse.

https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/atod

Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Al-Anon, Alateen, and Nar-Anon each hold both in-person and virtual support groups numerous times daily.

https://www.aa.org/

https://na.org/

https://al-anon.org/

https://www.nar-anon.org/

Week of 03/22/2021

KP Weekly Tip brought to you by Sydney Beasley, Resident in Counseling:

The way a couple communicates is a strong predictor of the success of the relationship. Communication is particularly important when approaching difficult conversations. Something that can be helpful to minimize feelings of defensiveness is to implement soft/hard/soft communication. This is used to speak kindly and say hard truths in a way that can be more easily heard by your partner.

When you have something difficult to communicate start with something, “soft,” such as:

--Recognizing something you enjoy about your partner.

“I love how patient you are with our children..”

--Give your partner the benefit of the doubt.

“ I know you had a really busy day today so this maybe slipped your mind..”

--Verbalize your confidence in the relationship

“ I know that we can figure this out together.”

2. Next say the “hard,” thing with the same soft energy, like:

--Make a request instead of criticism.

“Can we work together to limit our spending over the next several months?” instead of, “You spend money without thinking.”

--Start with “I” statements instead of “You.”

“I’m having a hard time with our lack of physical intimacy” instead of, “ You don’t care that we aren’t physically intimate.”

--Stick to descriptions about the problem and not labels.

“There are dirty clothes on the floor" instead of, “ You are a slob.”

3.Then add another “soft” statement.

Discussing difficult topics doesn’t have to result in feelings of isolation. Try the soft/hard/soft method to sustain connection and build trust and intimacy in the relationship! You’ve got this!

Week of 03/17/2021

KP Weekly Tip brought to you by Lindsey Wright, LPC:

Virginia recently passed legislation that will make recreational cannabis legal. Legalization of substances can help to decrease incarceration for substance use disorders and increase treatment as the primary focus for problems. At the same time, it is important to remember a few things about cannabis, health impacts, and abuse concerns:

--According to studies, cannabis has been shown to have negative impacts on learning and memory, particularly in individuals below the age of 25.

--While cannabis use does not cause physical dependence, psychological dependence is common, which does make the substance addictive. Psychological dependence can cause symptoms of withdrawal (emotionally and mentally) that are unpleasant and make stopping more difficult.

--Smoking cannabis does increase the chances of developing lung cancer.

--Using both cannabis and alcohol increases the odds of developing binge drinking behaviors as well as alcohol use and major depressive disorders.

--Be cautious of casual claims of what THC can treat medically. Due to only recent law changes, medical testing of THC and therefore the medicinal properties are not entirely known.

--Be wary of the tendency to self-medicate with cannabis, as research shows specific physician-supervised therapeutic dosing. Much like other prescription drugs, there is misuse and abuse potential, even if the intention is to treat symptoms or illnesses.

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