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I’ve Had It! What Should I Do?

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We’ve all been there before. Stress can build until you feel out of control. I often have clients come in so defeated because of a myriad of different reasons. In session, I always ask a few questions to see if we can find a pattern to what lead them to this difficult place. If you are are feeling overwhelmed and unable to figure out what to do next ask yourself the following questions.
  1. Have you eaten recently? If your car was out of gas would you still expect it to run smoothly on a road trip? Of course not! You would make sure your tank was full so you had plenty of gas to take you where you wanted to go. Our bodies need the same fuel. You cannot manage your stress, anxiety, depression, or life without properly fueling your body with healthy food. Want to have more energy to fight through difficult times? Make sure you’re eating!
  2. Are you  properly hydrated? My family laughed at our aunt growing up that always gave the advice to go have a glass of water. Having a bad day? Go grab a glass of water. Stressed out? Water. Feeling sad? Water. Can’t focus? You guessed it…water. However simple it may sound drinking a proper amount of water each day helps keep energy up and will make you feel healthy. Instead of grabbing a caffeine filled drink when you’re out of energy, slow down and grab a nice glass of water. Being properly hydrated will help more than you know. 
  3. When was the last time you showered and got ready for the day? People often skip over this important daily ritual when life gets busy. Slowing down and taking time for yourself will make a big difference in how you feel about yourself and the day ahead of you. 
  4. When was the last time your heart rate was up? Walking briskly for even five minutes can get your heart rate up, and provide your body with much needed chemicals that will help you feel healthy and focused. 
  5. Are you sleeping too much or too little? Make sure you are getting a healthy amount of sleep. It can be a tricky balance. Too much sleep can result in feeling lazy, lethargic, and depressed. Too little sleep can leave you feeling tightly wound, exhausted, and stressed. Make sure you are balancing sleep correctly so you can have enough energy and motivation to get through your day. 
  6. When was the last time you got out of your house and connected with someone? Go out and connect with someone face to face. Technological connections are great, but actual face to face connections will do much more for your mental health. 
While these questions may seem like a “no brainer” you may be surprised to find how many of these small things get neglected when you are stressed or having a difficult time. Try asking yourself these questions next time you find yourself frustrated and stressed out to see if they help.
If you need further help managing your anxiety or depression call Wasatch Family Therapy at 801-944-4555.  You can learn further tips and tools to help  you through your difficult time.
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A Therapist’s Secret to Mental Health

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Many of us have a goal to lose weight, work out more, become more organized, earn more money, etc. But, have you ever considered setting a mental health goal? This was something I started doing for myself several years ago, and as I’ve shared the idea with clients, they have also found it to be beneficial and meaningful. It has been a way that I’ve been able to keep myself more balanced and focused on the types of things I truly care about improving in my life. I recently had the opportunity to discuss this concept in a recent Psych Central article. If you’d like to learn more about how to set this type of goal for yourself in a way that can be more easily accomplished, click the link!

https://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2017/07/09/how-one-therapist-sets-meaningful-compassionate-goals/

To make an appointment with Wasatch Family Therapy, call 801.944.4555

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What Every Parent Should Know About “Happily Ever After”

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On any given day kids and teens may feel joy, wonder, disappointment, rage, jealousy, and endless other feelings. Yet, many kids will inevitably learn from parents or peers that “happy” is the only emotion acceptable to express or even experience. “Happiness” in our culture tends to reign supreme as the highest aspiration – the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. It is what we are taught to aim for – what we all deserve.

I commonly hear parents say to their kids:

  1. I just want you to be happy.
  1. “How can you be so down? Just look at all you have to be happy about.”
  1. Just focus on the positive. You’re dragging everyone down.”

Though these parents have good intentions, their statements might imply that if kids are not contented, they are somehow failing, or that happiness is the only feeling others are comfortable with. Children may respond to these messages by feigning a cheerful disposition and generally suppressing negative feelings to please parents. Unfortunately, suppressing feelings can compromise a child’s psychological well-being and fuel unhealthy behaviors.

Pain is a critical part of the human experience and in most cases, it is healthiest to confront it head on. Encourage children to acknowledge and accept emotions such as anger or hurt by using mindfulness meditation strategies. If your child seems overwhelmed by her emotions, encourage her to find a way to express them: talk to someone she trusts, write in a journal, create a work of art, or see a mental health therapist. Let us teach children that no one’s life is solely full of sunshine and that to live fully, we must stand in the occasional rainstorm.

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Attuning To Our Partners In Small Moments

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According to John Gottman, in every interaction in our significant relationships, there is an opportunity to attune or turn away. We have many experiences where we notice our partner, and we make a choice: “Do I ATTUNE myself to what is going on, “ or “Do I Turn Away?” Pay attention to what happens when you turn away. What are your thoughts? What happens to the other person? What does your body feel like? What do you choose instead?

A-T-T-U-N-E is an acronym for just how to turn toward our partners in a supportive and empathetic way. Our job with each other is to create emotional safety, and it is through small moments, like attuning, that create stability and ongoing romance. When we feel acknowledged, we feel secure and safe.

A- Acknowledge

T- Turn Toward

T- Tolerance

U- Understanding

N- Non-Defensive

E- Empathy

Here are some fun ways to practice attuning opportunities:

  • Go for a walk with a spouse or child.
  • Plan a picnic.
  • Cook dinner together.
  • Call each other during the workday.
  • Volunteer in the community.
  • Plan an outing together: hike, bike, or drive.
  • Visit the beach.
  • Go dancing together.
  • Plan to attend brunch.
  • Get away to a secret location.

What ever you decide, remember the importance of attuned engagement and the strengthening power it has.

For extra support, or repair, in your relationship make an appointment with Wasatch Family Therapy at 801.944.4555.

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Couples Say The Darndest Things

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Couples therapy is extremely rewarding and challenging for all who participate.  In therapy, there is nothing more powerful than seeing a couple re-kindle their trust and affection.  On the flip side, there is nothing more vicious than a couple’s diabolical pattern of criticism and contempt.
Here is an article I wrote about some of the poignant things couples have said in couples counseling:
https://understandingtherapy.com/2017/05/04/couples-say-the-darndest-things/#more-1079
To schedule a session with Michael Morgan, call Wasatch Family Therapy at 801.944.4555

 

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How to Face Your Fears

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Fear is a common emotion that everyone experiences. We generally spend a lot of time trying to avoid or get rid of it, but the reality is, it won’t ever disappear completely from our lives. So, how do we deal with it? Ashley Thorn LMFT recently had the opportunity to contribute to a 2-part article series about facing fear and using it to our advantage. The following links to these 2 articles should provide you with some helpful insight into managing your fears more effectively, and in a way the benefits rather than hinders you:
https://psychcentral.com/lib/therapists-spill-what-ive-learned-about-fear/
https://psychcentral.com/lib/therapists-spill-how-i-faced-my-fears/
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Are You Even Listening to a Word I Say?

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Have you ever been talking to someone and you are absolutely convinced that they aren’t hearing a word you are saying? Chances are you are right! Research has shown that the average person listens for 3 seconds before they start thinking about what they want to say next. Researchers Miller, Sherod, and Phyllis developed a powerful communication tool called the Awareness Wheel, which includes a listening cycle. They outline very effective research based skills for listening.

  1. Attend: How can I tell from nonverbal cues that someone is listening to me? Usually, they are making eye contact, facing my direction, and not doing other tasks at the time they are listening. This is called attending.
  2. Acknowledge the other’s experience: This includes some validation on the listener’s part. It may sound like, “Wow this sounds really important to you.” or, “That sounds painful. I am sorry that happened to you.” Acknowledging the other’s experience ensures that they can’t just see you are listening, but they feel like you are listening and that you care.
  3. Summarize: This is vital to make sure that you as a listener truly understand the person trying to share with you. When summarizing, make sure not to interrupt, but find a natural break to summarize. It may sound like this, “What I hear you saying is that you……. Did I get that right?” I assure you that the talker will correct you if you missed something or added any of your own opinions or assumptions in the summary. Summarizing is essential for understanding.
  4. Invite: If you feel the talker has been brief and you would like to hear more about what they are talking about you can invite for more information. It may sound like this, “Can you say more about that?” or, “Could you expand? I would like to know more.” This step allows you, as the summary step, to understand better. Sometimes, that requires more information.
  5. Ask: As a listener, if you are genuinely confused about something the talker is trying to share, you politely ask a question. It may sound like this, “Do you mind if I ask a question? Are you referring to the incident that happened yesterday, or the one that happened last week?” This step not only helps you clear any confusion, but allows the talker to know when you aren’t understanding. Beware not to use the question step to jump in as a talker. Allow the talker to fully express themself and be sure you understand, before switching roles.

For other helpful tips like these, schedule an appointment today!

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Catch and Don’t Release: That Gratitude Attitude!

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It’s been twenty years now since a caring neighbor and friend challenged me to change my ATTITUDE.  It was a difficult time for me as suddenly my life became filled with darkness, doubt and pain.  My Spouse of almost 20 years had recently been diagnosed as having a brain tumor and given only a few months to live.  While he was fighting a battle to survive for as long as possible by receiving daily treatments of both Chemo and Radiation, I was trying to continue to raise five children and eventually became a caregiver of a man who couldn’t even remember how to brush his teeth.
My friend encouraged me to read and study a book that contained wise advice, “Simple Abundance  A Daybook of Comfort and Joy,”  She provided me with a beautiful Journal and instructed me to take a few minutes each day to write down 5 things that I was grateful for.  Although at the time I doubted that such a simple task could improve my mood and change my ATTITIUDE  I took on the challenge.  As I began to focus on what I HAD rather than what I lacked my burdens became lighter and my soul was filled with joy and hope.  Now 20 years later this small and simple task has become not only a habit but a ritual I look forward to performing.
Remember there is no right or wrong way to keep a gratitude journal.  While doing so you will discover what works best for you, but here are some tips:
1-  Keep a physical record.  Write things down.  Just don’t think about these things in your head.
2-  Look for the small things that may seem trivial,small or unimportant.
3-  Include a narrative as to WHY you are grateful.
4-  Focus on people as well as things you are grateful for.
5-  Record unexpected events or surprises.
6-  Write regularly.  Commit to a certain day and or time and be consistent.  New evidence has shown that writing 1-3 times a week can be more effective than writing daily,
7-  Set a goal to write for at least 15 minutes each time.
8- Try it!  You’ll  like it!
It’s easy to take the people who we love and the good things in our lives for granted.  Keeping a gratitude journal will improve your relationships with others, improve your sense of well being, and enable you to enjoy greater happiness and better health.
So… Catch but DON’T release that “GRATITUDE ATTITUDE!”  Doing so has made an incredible difference in my life and it can in yours too.
Sue Hodges  LCSW Wasatch Family Therapy

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How to Stop Video Game Addiction

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Does your teen spend hours locked in a video game?

World of Warcraft, Xbox – they really do spend hours just glued to the TV or phone.

Click on the link above to see what Clair Mellenthin, LCSW – Child & Family therapist, has to say about how to get your teen out of virtual reality, and to enjoy actual reality.

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Summertime Rituals and Filling Our Family Buckets

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In the musical Fiddler on the Roof, the main character Tevye poses the question: “How do we keep our balance?” He replies to his own question with, “Tradition!” After bursting into song with the entire town he then explains, “Without tradition, we are no safer than a fiddler on the roof!” Tevye was a smart man! He’s right, tradition is important to family development and a sense of personal well-being!

Tradition, however, does not necessarily need to be related to big family celebrations, holidays, or life events. Routine rituals have quite a bit of power in creating “balance” within the family.

Summertime is a great time to begin new family rituals! These may include everyday things that involve roles, chores, rules, and family living.

Why do rituals hold so much weight in family life? Because of the feelings they create! Children who participate in family rituals experience buckets of benefits!

  • A sense of belonging
  • Increased self-esteem
  • Social competence
  • Improved health
  • Better academic success
  • Decreased anxiety
  • Understanding of Roles
  • Feelings of family identity
  • Memories
  • Family cohesion
  • Better sleep
  • Adolescent well-being
  • Predictability

With the school year wrapping up, why not start some new family rituals today?

  1. Dinnertime: Dinnertime is one of the best ways to form new memories, integrate family values and social rules, add a chore, and create connectedness. Allow each member to have a job in the meal prep. Setting the table, filling the drink glasses, clean up, or choosing a dessert (my personal favorite). This is a time for parents to get tabs on the kid’s day. Play the game: “A Rose and a Thorn” by having each member share one good thing that happened, and one negative thing, opens up opportunities for gratitude, listening and feedback, and validation.
  1. Child Date Nights: Choose one night a week to do something special with your child. This can be a fun way to get to know what your child enjoys, or would like to try! While filling their bucket with one-on-one time. Fun activities like put-put, painting parlors, splash pads, a trip to the zoo, a bike ride, or a concert. Remember, put the distractions away, pay attention, and let your child take the lead!
  1. Library Lolligag: Take a stroll through your local library on a regular basis. Plan on spending time reading together, talking about topics, and slowing down. Even big kids have topics and books they enjoy! Try checking out the same book your teen does! You may find you have something in common!
  1. Game Night: Frequent game nights teach children competence in disappointment, competition, and winning. Some games offer critical thinking, planning ahead, keeping a “good” secret-to win, and seeing what comes next. Playing together teaches appropriate modeling when the game doesn’t go as planned.
  1. Saying “Goodbye” and “Hello”: Little routines of saying “goodbye” and “hello” opens doorways to connection, disconnection, and re-connection. Think of something that is special to you and your child that is a signature sediment. A hug, a kiss on the forehead, a fist pump (for the tough guys), or even “See you Later Alligator.”
  1. Coming of Age Celebration: Growing up can be tough! A Coming of Age celebration gives permission for change. Allows an embrace of growth. Perhaps, even some discussion of family values, expectations, and personal precautions. A small trip with Mom and/or Dad, can be defining in developing a life-map, of sorts. Where the focus is not on physical maturation, but life goals. Considering dating, college, careers, and even hopes of marriage and partnerships.
  1. Saturday Morning Breakfast: A happy morning wake up call to breakfast in bed and watching a favorite kid show, may not be so bad. Perhaps, that’s not your style, but a bowl of a favorite cereal in PJ’s and a morning bike ride, might feel more like it. Or maybe choosing a favorite breakfast spot, where everyone can pick what they like and then get on with weekend commitments.

No matter what summer ritual you decide to pick up–Remember, it’s about dropping the distractions and filling our Summer buckets with memories and connection.

For more insights into creating family cohesion and decreasing family stressors, visit our website at www.wasatchfamilytherapy.com/blog.

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