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How to Rock Valentine’s Day… When Your Relationship is on the Rocks

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With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, many people are excitedly stocking up on chocolates and bears, making reservations, and trying on endless sexy ensembles for that perfect February 14th date. However, what if you’re not one of those people? What if you’re not single, but your relationship is currently not in a great place, and you can’t stomach the thought of trying to fake it through an awkward dinner with your spouse? Don’t panic! Here are a few ways that you and your partner can still make it through enjoy Valentine’s Day without a major dose of anxiety and tension.

Plan ahead

Whatever you do, don’t let the day sneak up on you. If you wait until the night before to start thinking about it, you’ll definitely find yourself stressing. Take control of the situation now, and start planning out what you would like the day to be like. Do you and your partner want to try and do something together that maybe doesn’t include romantic pressure, but that could be fun, relaxing, and enjoyable? Would the two of you rather plan an evening at home with your kids and make it a family affair? Do you want to do absolutely nothing but watch movies in your pajamas? The point is, prepare ahead of time so that you and your partner both know what to expect.

Seek connection

Although Valentine’s Day is marketed as the romance-seeped, blissful, sex-filled holiday of the year, let’s try to remember what it’s really about…LOVE. What is love? Well, that’s a loaded question! Love is many things besides romance and sex-it’s friendship, caring, empathy, respect…the list goes on and on. Maybe this Valentine’s Day, you and your partner seek to connect with each other on a different level. For example, you could agree to give each other the gift of respect for the whole day, and agree to practice talking kindly to each other. Or, perhaps you feel like roommates, and maybe you could do an activity together that allows you to try and be friends for the evening. If even any of that is just too much, consider seeking connection with the other people you and your partner love and care about. Maybe you take cookies to a neighbor, or have some trusted friends over for dinner. Whatever you do, seek connection-don’t spend the day soaking yourself in feelings of loneliness.

Love yourself

Again, while Valentine’s Day is promoted as a day to think solely about your partner, it might be a good idea to do something nice for yourself too! Especially if the day is going to be hard for you this year, make sure you and your partner encourage each other to practice some self-care. Go get a massage, spend the morning reading a good book, or go for a walk. Self-care can be done together or separately, but either way it can feel soothing and comforting on a day that may otherwise be filled with painful reminders.

Best of luck to you! I hope no matter what your current relationship situation is, that you are able to find peace, connection, and happiness this Valentine’s Day. And remember…it’s just 1 day. :0)

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How to Break Into an Adult Clique: Dr. Julie Hanks on KSL’s Studio 5

The word “clique” often has a negative connotation and may bring up feelings of exclusive peers in Junior High, but adult cliques exist as well. It may not be a pleasant word, but the truth is that like-minded individuals often form social groups to discuss shared values, lifestyles, and interests. These groups can be intimidating, especially if you are looking from the outside in and would like to be a part of them. Here are some strategies to break into an adult clique:

1.  Don’t Take It Personally

If you feel like you’re not in the loop with a certain group or you haven’t been invited to participate, try not to take it personally (though this is easier said than done). Remember that people often organize themselves based on commonalities (working at the same company, playing tennis, homeschooling their children, etc.), and if you don’t feel involved, it’s likely not that someone is trying to intentionally exclude you. And perhaps members of a certain clique don’t necessarily feel like they need to expand their circle, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t.

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How to Help When a Friend is Unhappy: Julie Hanks on KSL’s Studio 5

How to Help When a Friend is Unhappy: Julie Hanks on KSL’s Studio 5

True friends often go through a lot together. They experience the joys and good times, and sometimes they seeeach other through harder seasons of life as well. But it can be difficult to know exactly how to react when a friend is weathering a particularly difficult storm or is in some way unfulfilled. Here are 5 strategies to employ when a friend is unhappy

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What To Do When You Don’t Like Your Child’s Friends: Julie Hanks interview LDS Living


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Have you ever gotten bad vibes from one of your children’s friends? Maybe you felt like he/she was a negative influence or was causing your son or daughter to be unhappy.  It can be hard to know when you as a parent should get involved and when it’s better to just let things be.

Julie Hanks recently offered her views to LDS Living Magazine on how to best handle these situations. Here are a few strategies for what to do when you don’t like your kids’ friends:

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Supporting a Friend Through Miscarriage: Julie Hanks interview with Woman’s Day

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Chances are that you know a woman who has had a miscarriage.  It can be difficult to know how to respond when a friend experiences such a tragedy.

LCSW Julie Hanks recently offered her professional insight on the topic to a Woman’s Day article entitled “9 Things Never to Say to a Woman Who’s Had a Miscarriage.”  Here’s a quick review of what not to say in this situation:

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KUTV Segment: How to Handle the Back-to-School Blues


 
It’s that time of year- time for the kids to head back to school. It can be exciting for kids to see their friends and get back into the school routine again, but it can difficult, too. Some children may even experience “the back-to-school blues.”

Clair Mellenthin, LSCW, recently sat down for a KUTV segment to talk about how parents can help their kids make this transition. Here are a few ideas from her discussion:

Nightly check-ins are a great way to understand how your child feels about going back to school. Every night, ask about he/she feels about the change. If your child is excited, then celebrate! If not, you can help address some of his/her concerns. Make sure to keep the lines of communication open, especially for children who are prone to worry.

Another strategy Clair suggested is to ease your kids into school mode. Parents can have their kids start to go to bed earlier and read a little more every day in the weeks leading up to the first day back. Getting ready for school little by little will help manage the transition.

Once school does begin, parents should check in to see how things are going. If a child still seems to be experiencing the blues, work to identify and solve problems he/she may be having with friends, the teacher, or understanding the school work.

How are YOU helping your kids with the back-to-school blues?

Watch the full video to hear more of Clair’s suggestions.

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How To Survive Friendship Breakups: Julie Hanks on Studio 5

Finding friends as adults can be challenging. We may even find ourselves feeling left out when those friendships don’t hold up. Julie offers her advice for handling friendship break-ups.

Get more information about our Women’s Therapy Group

Watch more of Julie Hanks, LCSW’s Studio 5 interviews

Purchase Julie’s new book The Burnout Cure: An Emotional Survival Guide for Overwhelmed Women

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Ask A Therapist: Talk Of Parents’ Divorce Causing Depression

Q: My life was fine until I was in seventh grade, my parents were alright and I had amazing friends, until one night my parents told me and my siblings that my mom was thinking about divorce and how they were constantly fighting that single night brought everything down since then my parents were fighting all the time, my father would get drunk and start talking without knowing he was hurting my feelings, one night he almost hit my sister and my mom that marked my whole life, I almost didn’t make it through eight grade because I would just think about my parents and how their marriage is gonna end. Is not very pleasant to see your mom and dad sad 🙁 Now in my freshman year everything got worse I started to get sad, cry without a reason, I get stress more easy and stuff like that.

Also I’ve been distancing from my friends and I know many people but I’m just used to them being my friends, two of them have boyfriends and they just stick to them like glue and its kind of annoying because we made a promise that no boy will interfere with our friendship but I guess isn’t validate anymore, for them I don’t exist anymore because they also have new friends and they leave in a corner alone. I guess that is also part of my sadness I guess and I also lost interest in things I used to like for example writing, photography, fashion and reading plus I’ve been thing about self-harming but I know that isn’t gonna help. So please answer me. take care 🙂

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Ask A Therapist: How Do I Help My Suicidal Best Friend?

A few months ago me and my best friends ex boyfriend (who still cares a lot about her) went to our school guidance councilors and told them how my best friend was suicidal. they told her parents and she had to get an evaluation from a therapist. they cleared her and she was allowed back in school. however now school isn’t in session and she’s suicidal again. I know this because she told me that I’m the only thing keeping her alive. a few years ago she was raped by a close friend and then a few days after the rape walked in on him killing himself. she never dealt with this traumatic event and I think it’s one of the reasons she’s suicidal now. we talked a little about it and she told me she feels like she messes everything up and all she does is make things worse. I tried to show her how that’s not true and how a lot of people care about her but she doesn’t believe me. I don’t want to go to her parents again because I dont think they’d believe me a second time. I want her to get help and talk to someone but I don’t know how to do it. please help me.

A: Thank you for your email. I can feel your concern for your friend through this letter. Even though you might be putting your friendship at risk, I suggest you go talk to her parents. They need to know about the rape and that she walked in on the person who raped her committing suicide. Those are horrific traumas for a teenager to witness and she is in serious danger.  Please watch the video response for more tools to handle this painful situation.

Take good care of yourself
Julie Hanks, LCSW

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Supporting Loved Ones In Coming Out: KSL News

Holly Willard was featured on KSL about the importance of unconditional love and understanding when a family member comes out of the closet. The issue is very emotional and difficult so here are some tips when a family member discloses their homosexuality to you:

1. Let them know that you love them.  They need your acceptance and unconditional love.  They have felt alone and rejected for a long time.  Saying you love them defuses the fear and provides healing.

2. Tell them they belong and will always be a part of your family.   The decision to come out of the closet takes a lot of courage because of the many horror stories of families who disown their children.  They need to know that they are yours and will always be.  They need to know they belong.

3.  Don’t Lecture.  They are probably aware of your religious beliefs/values.  Most likely they have done a lot of research on the topic because they are trying to reconcile their beliefs and feelings.

4. Recognize that they have come out to you because they care about your relationship.  When someone comes out of the closet, they are asking, ” Can you see me for who I am and accept that.”  They are being open and honest. The emotional message that they are trying to convey is that they want to be closer to you.

5.  Find a safe and supportive place to explore your feelings.  Acceptance is a process, be patient with yourself.  Find someone you can talk to i.e. support group, friend, or therapist.  The process can be especially difficult when your child discloses.  Most parents grieve who they thought their child was or what they wanted for their future. Parents want to protect their child and they  might be scared of the societal challenges their child may face. It is usually not helpful to talk through these issues with the person because they may see it as rejection or you wanting to change them.

6. Have an open dialogue about what they want for their future.  Keep the door open to continue the conversation so you can discuss their goals and how you can support them.

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