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Be Present: Enjoy the Silence

The world is full of noise and escaping that noise in important. Whether that is getting out running, hiking, walking, or enjoying any of your favorite activities. What is important in taking in the silences is that we are present. Taking the time to enjoy the silence is an act of mindfulness. Mindfulness has been shown to benefit us by:

·         Physical benefits including lowered blood pressure and improved sleep. 

·         Gaining more control of our thoughts.

·         Reduction of stress.

Remember yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That is why it is called present. – Mastery Oogway Kung Fu Panda 

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What To Know Before Marriage

You’ve decided you want to be together forever. Now what?

Whether our relationships are old or new, there a few important topics that I believe should be discussed before long term commitment or marriage. At times, we think we know our partner inside and out. I have outlined four important topics that can be a starting point of conversation to set our relationships up for success.

How do we feel about kids?

Each partner needs to discuss what they are expecting in terms of wanting kids, not wanting kids, or how many kids each partner envisions. Does one partner only one or maybe two children while the other wants four or five? Once you have an understanding what each partner wants, you can discuss whether there is any flexibility in their wants. This should be an ongoing conversation with your partner as road bumps happen along the road, including infertility or that one partner no longer wants more children. What if one partner wants to change directions in their career and be a stay at home parent? These are all important things to not only talk about, but truly understand our partner’s wants and desires.

Conflict and Communication

SPOILER ALERT: Conflict will happen in your marriage! It is not whether you have conflict or not that determines if your relationship will last; it is how you handle conflict. It can be easy to develop poor communication habits with your partner. These bad habits can include stonewalling, holding onto resentments, or not giving your partner space when needed to calm down. If you’re developing any bad habits during your arguments, or are curious about your communication style, then it might be helpful to explore some resources.  The books Hold Me Tight by Sue Johnson or Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by John Gottman are a great starting place. You can also seek out a great couple’s therapist!

Time together and alone

When you are in the dating stage you often are inseparable and spend a majority of your time together. While this stage you are learning about each other it is also important to understand what time together and alone will look like once you get married. If our partner had weekly outings with friends to the club, outlets, rock climbing, or a weekend trip will this still be ok once we’re married? Is our partner used to going to the gym alone and has been doing this for years?  These various activities can be very important for our partner. If we think that after marriage we want them to change or adjust their habits and the way they spend their time then we need to communicate that now. We cannot expect them to just change while we stay at home and harbor resentment. While time together with our partner fosters a healthy relationship, we also need to foster relationships with friends and family. At times, we may need quality time with close friends or other family members too, or even just alone time to be with our self. It is okay for us to want these things as long as it is something communicated to our partner.

How is our partner allowed to talk with coworkers, friend etc.

When our partner is not with us they will be among other people at work, the gym, and friends. While this time spent with others is needed there are some important questions to discuss with your partner. 

  • What are intimate details of our relationship how or should be shared with others? How do we talk to others about our relationship? 
  • What constitutes an emotional affair for your or your partner? 

While every situation varies for each couple. It is important to understand what ours or our partner’s behaviors might be. The more we understand them and have conversations about what our relationship boundaries should be then the healthier our relationship is in the long run. If you would be hurt if your partner went to lunch with female co-workers then let them know. If it causes hurt when your partner comments on an ex’s post, let them know! Do not let these things fester and build until serious relationship difficulties come up. 

Conclusion

Communication with our partner is essential to building a healthy, lasting relationship.  When we have a conversation with our partner about the four topics discussed above and many more, we can then avoid resentment, future conflict, and have healthy boundaries in our relationship. If you would like more information about the topics above, a better understanding of your current relationship, or just want to have a safe place to discuss future and/or current relationship goals reach out to me at (801)-944-4555.

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On Going Kids Social Skills Group

Wasatch Family Therapy is excited to announce this school year’s social skills group. This group is opened ended allowing kids to come into the group throughout the school year. There is a six session commitment, but children can stay longer, if needed. Groups are $50 per session, due at the time of the group. Please contact us at 801-944-4555 to register for the group.

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Mad Science Social Skills Group June 2019

Hey everyone!

We are excited to announce that Wasatch Family Therapy is starting up our Mad Science and social skills group this summer! The group is starting June 11th and goes through July 30th for a total of seven groups. These groups are two hours long and will run every Tuesday skipping the week of the 24th of July.  The group consist of an hour science experiment with the Mad Science group leader and the therapists. Followed by the last hour with the therapist working with the children on various social skills involving play and our science experiment. Some of you may be wondering is this group worth it for my child? The answer to that question is yes! Below are some of the benefits that kids can receive from our social skills group.

  • Social skills group builds self-confidence in the group setting which then goes to all areas of your child’s life.
  • Allows them to make new friends and learn how to maintain healthy friendships going forward.
  • Develop new problem solving skills for school and home settings.
  • Ability to cope with changes that may occur in their day-to-day life.
  • A better understanding of their own emotions and then how to connect with peers through empathy.
  • Play is a child’s primary language which means we will be doing a lot of it during the group!
  • Group play can support emotional healing and growth.
  • Improves independence and creative thinking.
  • Allows a safe place to make decisions and learn to accept and understand their responsibility for these.

We look forward to this group every year as we see each of the children make great leaps forward in their abilities. If you or anyone you know is interested in our social skills group reach out to us at 801-944-4555 to sign up now!

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Boundaries, Who Needs Them Anyways?

Boundaries help to keep us stay connected with someone while keeping the relationship in a healthy place. Often time’s boundaries are perceived in negative ways and only to push others away, but this is not true. “Some people will try to tell you otherwise, but boundaries have nothing to do with whether you love someone or not. They are not punishments, judgments or betrayals. They’re a purely peaceable thing. The basic principles you identify for yourself that define the behaviors you will tolerate from others, as well as the responses you will have to those behaviors. Boundaries teach people how to treat you and they teach you how to respect yourself.” – Cheryl Strayed (Author of Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail) 

With this in mind I would like to invite to listen to one of my favorite podcasts that does a great job of discussing boundaries and a technique I find extremely beneficial called “Jello Wall”. A Link is provided below, but you may find them wherever you find your other podcast by searching Therapist Uncensored and listening to episode 81 “How Good Boundaries bring us Closer Together”.

https://www.therapistuncensored.com/81-2/

 

Nate Watkins, AMFT

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Kids Social Skills Group

This 8 week group is designed to help school-aged children navigate the challenges of social situations and understand what it means to be a friend. Focusing on understanding their role and impact on those in their world.

  • Making and keeping friends
  • Increase self-esteem
  • Discover skills for coping with anxiety
  • Strengthen Social Skills
  • How to manage emotions such as anger
  • Dealing with Bullies

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How to “Ground” Your Child

I know most of you started reading this in hopes of finding the magic bullet for dealing with your child’s misbehavior. You should know, that’s not the type of grounding we are talking about. While you won’t be getting any discipline tips, the mindfulness grounding techniqu

es presented here pose many benefits for you and your child, including allowing your child to be more present especially when becoming behaviorally or emotionally dysregulated.

The goal of grounding is to calm the emotional and irrational part of our brain so that we can begin to think more logically about what is going on. Grounding exercises allow individuals to:

  • Remain calm and present when we become over stimulated or experience a flashback from a negative past experience
  • Begin to feel and express big emotions such as anxiety or anger
  • Catch our self in a whirlwind of worrying thoughts.

One helpful grounding exercise is bring our mind to what we are sensing in the present moment by carefully observe our surroundings and noticing what we are seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, or touching. This draws the mind away from worries, concerns, or large emotions and grounds us to the current space we are in.

One specific grounding technique I use with families and their children involves Lego mini-figures. Using a Lego mini-figure for this technique is not required; however, it is nice as it can have unique details and is easy to bring along anywhere you go. When the child gets upset they begin to describe the details they see on the mini-figure and what it reminds them of. Often children will describe the figures facial expression, specific cloths they are wearing, and discuss memories of playing with the figure. After the child has done this, I will have them take a deep breath before checking in with their parent or going back to play. While most children can do this on their own, I recommend the parent to participate and do this with the child in the beginning. By doing this with them, the child will become more comfortable at using this technique when they are upset.

It is important to note that while this specific technique is geared towards our children, it can also apply to us as adults. We as adults can look at our surroundings and describe what we see, hear, smell, taste, or touch. If we apply this, and other mindfulness techniques, alongside with our children, we will feel less anxiety and stress and will find that escalated situations will deescalate more quickly.

If you, or your child,would like to learn more about other helpful grounding techniques and strategies to positively manage your child’s emotional or behavior challenges, please contact us at Wasatch Family Therapy at 801-944-4555. We can provide a more specific approach to meet your individual or family needs.

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What in the world is EMDR?

We all experience forms of trauma at some point in our life. Some trauma is obvious and very serious. While other trauma can stem from minor events which we may not always classify as traumatic; such as, feelings of embarrassment during a presentation or public event. Both large and small traumatic experiences can resurface and manifest themselves in our lives as increased stress or anxiety. Sometimes individuals do not realize that the stress or anxiety actually stems from some form of trauma. So, how do we rewrite the traumatic events of our life? EMDR, or Eye Movement Desensitization Therapy, is one form of therapy that has been proven to be extremely effective in helping individuals overcome the negative effects of stress, anxiety, and trauma.

Eye Movement Desensitization Therapy may sound like a strange and scary form of therapy. You may have questions, like “What do eye movements have to do with therapy?” or, “I like my senses, what exactly does it mean to be desensitized?” While, I do have experience and expertise in facilitating EMDR therapy, I am not a scientist, or a doctor so I’ll leave it up to an expert to answer some of the more detailed questions. The following article provides an excellent overview of what EMDR is, and some of the more intricate details about how it works. This is a great starting place for individuals interested in EMDR or learning a little more about this form of therapy.

Click here to read more about EMDR

A while back, my garage was burglarized and my new mountain bike was stolen. I left that morning disgruntled, frustrated and very upset having had my garage broken into. It was fortuitous that I was going to EMDR training the day my bike was stolen. My colleague was able to use EMDR for my experience with my bike. Upon coming to training that day I was livid, so livid I had a difficult time being present. That afternoon during my brief EMDR treatment I started out resentful and angry. Funny enough, I left the session frustrated that I was not frustrated that my bike being stolen. EMDR had worked and I had been able to process through the event and overcome the negative emotions I likely would have felt.

If you, or someone you know, is interested in beginning EMDR therapy please contact me at 801-944-4555 to schedule an appointment to learn more.

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Wasatch Family Therapy Tween Group

Parents, starting next week we have a Tween group for kids ages 11 – 13. This group will promote healthy relationships and communication between adults and peers as they prepare to enter Jr. High and Middle School. The group will use expressive arts and group activities that help the children to engaged in skills that they will use for the rest of their life.

Nathan Watkins, AMFT

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Something You Should Know: Forgive and Remember – Said no one ever

A Therapy Blog Miniseries:

How are we to just forgive and forget when someone has done us wrong? How am I to trust or let them back into my life after they have caused so much harm? We often find ourselves asking these questions and unsure how to answer them. Forgiveness can be a difficult subject to discuss and we have many different thoughts and feelings about it.

Dr. Fred Luskin, an expert on forgiveness, defines forgiveness as the experience of being in peace right now no matter what story drama has occurred 5 min or 5 years ago and no matter what has happened in any of our lives; at this moment we can be at peace.

Often when we hold a grudge, it creates a lack of peace in our life. Dr. Luskin states that the reason for this lack of peace, is that instead of letting go of an experience, we hold on to it because it went against our expectation of how the situation should have turned out. Yes, life happened, but rather than letting go we are left with emotional turmoil due to an inability to let go of our expectations. One crucial part of forgiveness is letting go and resetting these expectations of those that we feel have wronged us.

Often times I am asked, “Why is it that we must remember?” and “How am I ever supposed to let them in my life again?” Often we remember the situation that occurred so that we do not repeat the same mistakes again. Dr. Luskin explains this concept well, he explains that forgiveness is “actually remembering differently. While the lack of forgiveness is remembering something with an edge or a grudge or a sense of injustice, forgiveness means remembering it more benignly, with compassion. It involves some purpose of moving ahead, rather than just being stuck in the past”. When we forgive someone that does not mean that we automatically trust them or let them back in fully. Forgiveness is something we do for ourselves not for the other person.

Luskin notes that in order to move forward and forgive we must first:

  1. Take a hurt less personally
  2. Take responsibility for how you feel
  3. Then become a hero instead of a victim in the story we tell

Luskin notes that we must change from a victim story to a hero in our story. True forgiveness does not put the other person “in charge” but rather it places you in control of the situation. Luskin states, that “while you did not cause these things to happen, you are responsible for how you think, behave, and feel since those experiences occurred. It is your life, and they are your reactions and emotions to manage.”

Every day we have the choice on how we react to situations that we can take offense to. We can choose to react and fall into that default setting of harboring anger or we can take a step back, look at our emotions, and let go.

We have the choice day in and day out to forgive and move forward in our lives. Holding onto these grudges prevent us from our happiness. Letting go and forgiving provides us with the following:

  • Reduced anger
  • Greater feelings of hope
  • More peace in your life
  • Compassion
  • Self-confidence
  • Healthier relationships
  • Improved physical and mental health
  • More positive attitude and outlook

If you are having a difficult time forgiving and letting go please reach out and schedule an appointment with Nate at the Cottonwood Heights office 801-944-4555.

References

Luskin, F. (2003). Forgive for good: A proven prescription for health and happiness. San Francisco: HarperOne.

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