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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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Recognizing and Healing from Manipulative Relationships: Art of Connection

Recognizing and Healing from Manipulative Relationships: Art of Connection

I recently sat down with Baya Voce, host of The Art of connection, to talk about narcissism, sociopathy, pathological lying, gaslighting and so much more. The biggest take-home message is that anyone can find themselves in a manipulative relationship, and you can heal. For therapy in Utah visit WasatchFamilyTherapy.com Learn more about Baya Voce.

Have you experienced manipulation in a relationship? What were the signs? How did you recover?

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How to Connect Using Gottman’s Love Maps

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John Gottman is a world renowned therapist that specializes in marriage therapy. I use several of his ideas and techniques when working with couples. Today I want to share the idea of Love Maps with you.
Gottman talks about a marriage like a house. It is built from the foundation up. When the foundation is shaky it creates instability in many other areas of the relationship. One way to strengthen your marriage foundation is to create a shared meaning, and have good emotional intimacy. Love maps are a great place to start in creating this emotional intimacy. Down below I have listed the questions to create a love map. The challenge is to sit down with your spouse, and see how many questions they can answer. If they get the answer wrong it creates a time that you can share thoughts and feelings in a safe way. Try it with your spouse! It will create a wonderful time of connection.
-Name my two closest friends.
-What was I wearing when we first met?
-Name one of my hobbies.
-What stresses am I facing right now?
-Describe in detail what I did today, or yesterday.
-What is my fondest unrealized dream?
-What is one of my greatest fears?
-What is my favorite way to spend an evening?
-What is my favorite way to be soothed?
-What is my favorite get away place?
-What are some of the important events coming up in my life? How do I feel
about them?
-What are some of my favorite ways to work out?
-What medical problems do I worry about?
-What was my most embarrassing moment?
-Name one of my favorite movies.
-What is my favorite restaurant?
Rachel is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. She loves working with couples in distress, and those looking to make their relationship better.
Call 801-944-4555 and make an appointment to find new ways to strengthen your relationship.
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My Own Assertiveness Journey: Inside Shift Podcast

My Own Assertiveness Journey: Inside Shift Podcast

I was pleased to have the recent opportunity to speak with Emma Bell of “The Inside Shift” podcast about my latest book, “The Assertiveness Guide For Women: How To Communicate Your Needs, Set Healthy Boundaries, and Transform Your Relationships.” Although we talked about many different facets of and ideas found within the book, I was especially excited to share my personal experience with developing and practicing assertiveness, which has largely guided my career, my relationships, and of course, my journey in crafting this creative work. Here are some highlights from my discussion with Emma:

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How To Be Heard Without Being Harsh

How To Be Heard Without Being Harsh

Healthy communication is the key to long-lasting relationships. It can be bliss to have warm feelings toward our children, our friends, and our spouses, but what happens when a problem arises that necessitates communicating about difficult things? Some individuals may brush their feelings aside in the hopes of avoiding “stirring the pot,” while others may become so overwhelmed with frustration, anger, or sadness that they lose control and have an emotional outburst. The truth is that neither of these approaches are effective in addressing or solving concerns in relationships.

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