Southlake Counseling’s Kid’s Craft Camp

What is Play Therapy? 

Play Therapy is a theoretical model of therapy that helps children, with the aid of a trained play therapist, prevent problems, resolve behavioral difficulties and achieve optimal growth and development.  It’s a form of psychotherapy, and it uses play based materials, such as toys, crafts, and games to help children achieve optimal mental health.  It’s a great way for a therapist to observe where the child is at developmentally and see what the child is communicating with their play.  Are they communicating life experiences, are they expressing their emotions? Most children are not able to explain their feelings through words, so how they play is their language.  Play is the most natural way for children to communicate.  They don’t need to struggle with words; they can show the therapist through the toys, crafts and activities.
At Southlake Counseling we are so proud to have our amazing Play Therapist, Julie Callahan.  Before Julie was a Therapist, she was an educator and certified school counselor.  She knew how children learned about life, try on adult roles and play out their feelings through their play. When she became a Therapist, she knew she wanted to work with children because she understood them through a developmental perspective.  She knew that Play Therapy was a perfect treatment approach for children.  It was a natural transition to go from teaching and counseling children to providing therapy services for children, and also working closely with their parents and caregivers. 
This summer at Southlake Counseling we are offering a Kid’s Craft & Emotional Regulation Camp!  Using the best parts of Play Therapy, kids will use crafts, toys and activities to learn new skills in conversation, learn how to get along better with friends and peers, and emotional regulation.
Kid’s Craft Camp is Friday’s in July and August.  Contact Southlake Counseling for more info at 704-896-7776. And check out Julie’s Bio here!

 

Southlake Counseling’s DBT Skills Summer Camp

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a research-backed group to help your middle schooler develop effective coping skills, manage self-criticism and improve interpersonal relationships while increasing overall focus, resilience and emotional well-being.

Does your tween:
• Sometimes feel “bad” or “upset” without knowing exactly why?
• Judge him or herself critically or make statements about disliking themselves?
• Feel misunderstood or alone?
• Ignore their own needs, but focus on wanting others to be
   happy?
• Feel hopeless or like they have nothing to look forward to in
   life?
• Have a hard time standing up for themselves?
• Get into unhealthy relationships with people who don’t
   treat them fairly?
• Switch friend groups often or cut others off easily?
• Avoid feelings by shutting down or self-harming?
• Tend to dwell on the negative parts of life?
Before heading back to school in the fall, many tweens can use a little help improving their social skills. Southlake Counseling is offering a DBT Skills Based Summer Camp to help rising 6th-9th graders learn the skills to cope with emotions in a healthy and productive manner.  This six week camp offers a unique blend of activities where kids will learn the skills, practice them with the guidance of our therapists, and review at the end of the session.  Sessions will be held on Fridays, from July 7th-August 11th from 9:00-12:00. Contact Southlake Counseling for more information – 704-896-7776. Space is limited.

A Moment for Vets

This Memorial Day, let’s take a moment to honor our fallen service members.  Many have died in battle to protect us and provide us our freedoms, but sadly, too many have also died here at home.  May is Mental Health Awareness Month and it is the perfect time to shine a light on how many Veterans return home from service and require so much more than they are given. Nearly 1 in 4 active duty members showed signs of a mental health condition, according to a 2014 study in JAMA Psychiatry.

Between Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Traumatic Brain Injuries and Depression, many of our veterans face a fiercer battle when they attempt to fit back in to civilian life.  According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, in 2014 an average of 20 veterans committed suicide each day.  The United States has two holiday’s to honor those that have served, but there’s so much more that we can do every day:  http://bit.ly/2qtdqL7

We thank you for your service,

The Staff at Southlake Counseling

 

Love, Trust and Snooping

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Love, Trust, and Snooping

Technology may have changed the way we snoop, but the underlying reasons remain the same. How do you balance love and trust with your hunger for more information about the people close to you?

Learn how to deal with snooping in your relationships with your children, romantic partners, and employers.

General Tips for Dealing With Snooping

  1. Understand your motives. Some people meddle out of mere curiosity and others because of anxiety. Often, they’re trying to discover any hidden conflicts so they can fix them.
  1. Communicate openly. Whatever your reason, asking for information is more constructive than snooping. It takes courage to discuss sensitive subjects, but the rewards are profound. You’ll develop greater trust, intimacy, and wisdom.
  1. Recognize the impact of technology. Social media and smart phones make it easier to access personal information. Think twice before you look. Ask yourself how you’d feel if someone did the same thing to you.
  1. Create privacy zones. It’s a personal decision when it comes to what details to share. The important thing is that you and your loved ones are comfortable with the boundaries.
  1. Brace yourself for dramatic news. You may be surprised by what you find out when you snoop. Plan ahead for how you’ll respond if you discover that your child is being a bully.
  1. Apologize when needed. Nosing around can seriously damage relationships. A sincere apology may help to repair the violation of trust. Of course, you’ll also need to change your ways.
  1. Forgive others. If you’re on the receiving end, forgive the intrusion. Even if you decide not to continue the relationship, letting go of resentments is good for your own peace of mind.
  1. Deal with underlying issues. Most of all, examine your relationships when you feel the urge to snoop. Figure out why it’s difficult to approach the person directly and why your trust is shaky.

Tips for Dealing with Snooping Between Adults and Children

  1. Put safety first. Common sense and the law recognize that parenting is a special situation where your actions may be necessary. If a child’s wellbeing is in danger, snooping may be justified.
  1. Give advance notice. It helps to let your kids know that you may check their text messages or enter their rooms. Making them aware may even discourage the behavior you want them to avoid.
  1. Consider the evidence. Ideally, your children will come to you when they’re looking for support. If direct questioning fails to work, you may need to take further action. Watch for signs like changes in behavior, falling grades, and troubling friendships.
  1. Be a positive role model. Children tend to copy their parents. If you communicate directly and respect people’s privacy, your kids are more likely to do the same.

Tips for Dealing With Snooping Between Adults

  1. Understand workplace policies. Privacy rights are very limited in the workplace. Use your own devices for personal communications.
  1. Follow the law. Outside of the workplace, adults enjoy a greater expectation of privacy. At a minimum, check your state laws before doing anything questionable, like recording a phone call.
  1. Discuss expectations. Setting up boundaries and expectations early in a romantic relationship will likely build trust and make for a strong, long-term relationship. Try talking about your values at the start of a relationship. See if you agree on the meaning of fidelity. Check if you’re compatible when it comes to sharing passwords.
  1. Be more transparent. Consider the difference between being private and being secretive. It may be okay to guard your passwords if you have nothing to hide.

The temptation to snoop is natural, but giving in to those impulses can undermine your relationships. Protect yourself by communicating directly and treating others with love and respect.

The Make Up Miracle for Couples Who Argue

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The Make Up Miracle for Couples Who Argue

Conflict is a natural part of every relationship. As much as you love each other, you sometimes find yourself at odds over how to raise your children, pay off your mortgage, or do the laundry. Try these tips for resolving and preventing arguments so you can weather the rocky times and enjoy more harmony.

Steps to Take After an Argument

1) Cool off. If tempers are flaring, you may be better off stepping away until you calm down. Take a walk or clean out a closet. Let your partner know that you’re willing to talk later when you’re less likely to say something that you’ll regret.

2) Look at the big picture. Remind yourself about your partner’s good qualities. List the positive aspects of your relationship. It will help you to keep things in perspective.

3) Apologize when appropriate. Hold yourself accountable for your contribution to the conflict. Ask for forgiveness when you’ve made a mistake.

4) Respect each other’s feelings. You and your partner will be happier if you consider how your actions affect each other. Be willing to spend Valentine’s Day at an overcrowded restaurant if it makes your partner feel special.

5) Reach out. A little reassurance can keep tensions from interfering with intimacy. Offer a hug or a friendly smile.

6) Follow up. Some differences require more than one conversation. Congratulate yourselves for agreeing to cut back on spending on cable TV and new shoes. Agree to weekly sessions for tackling the rest of your household budget.

Steps to Take Before an Argument Begins

1) Communicate openly. Being direct and transparent will help prevent misunderstandings from piling up. Share your inner thoughts and emotions. Ask your partner what they’re thinking instead of making assumptions.

2) Work together as a team. Pull your weight around the house. Divide responsibilities fairly. Take turns leading major projects, such as supervising home renovations or planning family vacations. This is even more important if they’re becoming a burden for one person.

3) Spend time apart. Give each other some space. Your relationship will be more stable if you build a support network rather than counting on your partner for everything.

4) Establish priorities. Distinguish between deal breakers and minor irritations. There’s a big difference between losing an entire paycheck at the racetrack and buying a few too many boxes of Girl Scout cookies.

5) Acknowledge your weaknesses. It’s easier to accept imperfections in your loved ones when you realize that you can be difficult to live with too. Maybe you snore or have trouble remembering anniversaries.

6) Laugh together. Humor is good for relationships. You’ll enjoy each other’s company and feel more connected. That closeness can help prepare you for dealing with serious challenges.

7) Socialize with other couples. Role models come in handy for relationship skills that you may have missed growing up. Spend time with your next door neighbors if they seem to have a strong marriage. Observe how they interact.

8) Seek expert help. Self-help materials and therapists can provide valuable advice. Encourage your partner to join you. Let them know that you want to build a more meaningful life for both of you.

9) Assess your relationship. In some cases, you may discover that it’s time to move on. That can be true if a relationship is undermining your self-esteem or you have different goals. If you need to go your separate ways, an amicable break up will minimize resentments and speed up healing.

Loving relationships require work. Remember how much you care about your partner and let them know it, especially when you disagree with each other.

Are You Holding Yourself Back by Judging Others?

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Are You Holding Yourself Back by Judging Others?

To judge others is to form a critical opinion about them. For example, you may decide that your neighbor down the street is an ineffective parent because she’s known to indulge her children or chooses to avoid disciplining them.

If you notice that you’re spending more time having strong opinions about others than you are thinking about your own life, you may be “copping out” and not confronting your own resolvable issues.

Consider these points:

  1. Avoid focusing on the negative. Focusing on the negative impacts your emotional self in undesirable ways. Negative thoughts make you feel more pessimistic about life. In short, judging others negatively affects you!
  1. Think about how satisfied you are with your own life. When you’re floundering, you might project those feelings onto others by judging them.
  1. Maybe you lack faith in yourself. If you struggle to believe in yourself, maybe you’re reflecting those doubts onto others to avoid confronting your own issues.
  1. Judging others may mean that you want to control the situation. Do you believe that others ought to behave just like you, react to situations like you would, and feel like you do? If so, why do you think that?
  1. Assess how much time and effort you spend focusing on your own character defects. We all have something about ourselves that could stand some alteration. Looking carefully within yourself promotes self-understanding. It also helps you identify what things you’d like to change.
  1. Determine how you can best use your energy. Does judging others or looking within yourself deserve your attention?

• If you target something you dislike in others, what are the chances you can do anything about it?

• If you discover something about yourself you dislike, you can more likely use your energies to change it.

  1. Decide if you’re happy with who you are. Evaluating yourself in an honest way is important. Locating the source of unhappiness within you can lead to a brighter pathway, and decrease your yearning to judge others.
  1. Realize that nobody’s perfect. Being critical of others seems to be a common element of the human condition. Whether we can ever completely obliterate our compelling urges to judge remains to be seen.

• Oprah once said, “When you know better, you do better.” If you recognize that some of your comments spring from a part of you that wants to judge, it can serve as a deterrent to your future judging behavior.

  1. Ask yourself, “How can I live the life I deserve if I’m too focused on others?” Creating your dream existence takes considerable consistency, focus, and time. 
  1. Recognize when it’s okay to acknowledge bothersome traits in others. It’s important to be reminded that there are situations when it’s wise to identify things in others that trouble you.

• Maybe you’re thinking about becoming friends with someone. But then, you observe them engaging in behaviors that make you feel uncomfortable. Your judgment may be telling you to avoid pursuing the friendship.

• Listen to that internal judge at times like these. Just avoid getting carried away with being too judgmental or critical of others.

You can become a vital, positive individual who focuses your efforts on constructing the life you desire. Letting go of the urge to judge others will provide you with the time and energy necessary to enhance your own life’s journey. Tune back in to your own psyche and enjoy a rich life.

4 Easy Ways to Develop Kindness

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4 Easy Ways to Develop Kindness

In a world filled with misery, war, and anger, being kind to your neighbor can sometimes seem like a foreign concept. Whether that neighbor lives directly next to you or in a bus shed two miles away, it’s easy to overlook brotherhood.

However, it’s improbable that you’ll achieve true happiness without taking the happiness of others into consideration.

If you’re struggling with showing kindness, take a step back. It’s important to show love and kindness to others. They’ll live a better quality life, and you’ll receive kindness in return.

Adopt these approaches and see how easily you can develop greater kindness:

1) Walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. Avoiding someone’s need is a form of unkindness. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. What are they feeling? How are they coping?

Would you be able to manage under those same circumstances? Consider how you’d want to be treated by others if you were in a similar situation. This is the best way to understand and appreciate the struggles of others and the value of kindness.

• Even when someone offends you, try to take the high road. Their reaction to you may be fueled by something unknown to you. Give them the benefit of the doubt when you can.

2) Count your blessings. Spend time at the end of each day counting your blessings. Take a look at all the positive things you’ve accomplished. Blessings develop from acts of kindness.

Avoid taking your blessings for granted! Perhaps the source of the kindness is unknown to you. It could simply come from the universe. But know that it’s given to you with your best interest at heart.

• For every act of kindness you’ve been blessed with, try to pay it forward. If you count twenty blessings today, be kind to others twenty times. After a while, you’ll automatically be kind to others.

3) Choose a sharing partner. Ask a friend or family member to become your sharing partner. Commit to sharing every tangible gift or blessing with that person.

Develop the spirit of wanting others to experience the same kindness that you do.

If you buy yourself a slice of cake, split it with your sharing partner. The first few times might be rough, especially if it’s your favorite cake! But keep at it!

• Spend time sharing stories of kindness received from others. Reflecting on these situations can help you feel grateful for everything good in your life. It also encourages you to share with those in need.

4) Smile at everyone you meet. As strange as it sounds, there’s a special power in a smile. Try it out and see for yourself!

Just like every other positive trait, developing consistent kindness takes work. This is especially true if it’s a new concept to you! So take it one day at a time. Conquer your desire to turn a blind eye. Avoid the urge to say something mean. Take the high road, listen to your conscience, and follow your heart!

The Art of Decision Making: Tips on Making Decisions You Can Live With

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The Art of Decision Making: Tips on Making Decisions You Can Live With

Making decisions in our lives–whether it’s what to eat for lunch or where to find your next job– can seem overwhelming. Each decision carries with it a result and a chain of events that may dictate the course of our lives.

For those of us who consider every decision as life or death, day-to-day decisionscan seem impossible!

To help you discover the finer points of decision-making, here are some valuable tips on how you can make decisions that you can live with every day:

  1. Map out your decision. Start by evaluating the decision to be made. What are the details? By mapping out exactly what your decision will entail as far as consequencesand results, you’ll be on your way to making an informed decision that you can live with.
  1. Weigh pros and cons. This process is tried and true. Make a list and evaluate the pros in one column against the cons in another. Include short and long term consequences as well as positives and negatives.

Seeing the pros and cons before you on paper will make the matter at hand seem all the more evident as far as how you should make your decision. In your evaluation, give more weight to the pros and cons that carry more weight in your life.

  • The quantity of pros or cons does not equal the quality.

For example, if one of your main priorities in life is to make more money, listing “make more money” on your pros column should count for more than one of the cons in the other column.

  1. Become informed. Find out all of the related information you need to make your decision. Being better informed through research or talking to others will help you make a decision you can live with.
  1. Consider your motives. While evaluating your list of pros and cons, consider what motives may be contributing to the points you added in both columns. Revise or weigh accordingly. For example, can the con on your list be attributed to your lifelong fear or is it merely situational?
  • In the case offears, perhaps facing your fears should be part of the decision.Facing the fear may be a pro as opposed to the fear being a con.
  1. Give yourself a deadline.When faced with an important decision, we tend to delay making the ultimate choice. By giving yourself a deadline, you will have no other choice than to decide one way or another.
  1. Look at the decision as part of the bigger picture. Is this a small or large decision in the course of your life? Decide which and evaluate accordingly. If it’s small, perhaps you’re spending too much time and consideration on it. If it’s larger, how will it fit in with the rest of your life goals?
  • By examining the decision for what it is in the short and long-term, youwill better understand how the decision affects the bigger picture.
  1. Recognize the relativity. Many tough decisions can carry with them irrevocable consequences, but more often than not, there is always more time and more opportunity to make the decision again. Worrying needlessly about one decision is futile.
  • Most decisions only determine your short-term circumstances in the relative present. In most cases your decision can be altered in the future when circumstances are different or you’re in a different stage of your life.

Following these tips can transform decision-making from a stressful process into a process that gives you more confidence and control in your life.

Embrace decisions as the good thing that it is, and the result will be a happier, more confident you!

Eight Ways to Give Your Self-Confidence a Boost

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Eight Ways to Give Your Self-Confidence a Boost

Are you suffering from low self-esteem? Do you feel powerless to change yourself into the confident person you deserve to be?

If you answered “yes” to these questions, the good news is that strengthening your self-confidence is atask you really can accomplish with a little know-how and some easy strategies to show you the way. As you’ll soon find out, some of these strategies are even fun!

Although your metamorphosis may not happen overnight, if you apply these strategies consistently, you’ll be able to build up your self-confidence a little more each day. Make it a point to implement at least one confidence-boosting techniqueevery day.

Soon, these techniques will become habits, and your spirits will soar as your self-confidence rises to new heights.

Use these effective strategies to give your self-confidence a boost:

  1. Have realistic expectations. Even though it’s important to aim high in life, if your expectations are totally unrealistic, you’ll never know what it feels like to reach your goals. However, when you routinely succeed with realistic goals, it brings you great confidence.
  • Tweak your expectations until you find a sweet spot where you’re still pushing yourself, but you’re also able to achieve. Once you know what it feels like to accomplish your goals, you’ll feel more confident that you can achieve whatever you set out to do.
  1. Surround yourself with positive people. They have a contagious, positive energy that lifts you up and encourages you, while negative people tend to bring you down and destroy your confidence. Build up your confidence by hanging around with positive people who make you feel good!
  1. Develop your skills and talents. Perhaps your self-confidence suffers because you feel unsure about your abilities. Everyone, including you, has certain skills and talents that showcase the things they do well. Keep developing these talents and you’ll find that your self-confidence will grow as you excel in these areas.
  1. Stick up for yourself. When others speak out against you, remember that those words are simply their opinion. Your opinion is just as important. When you do what you know is right for you, feel confident that you’ve made the right decision, regardless of how others may feel.
  1. Exercise or engage in physical games. Physical activities and exercise can calm you down and provide many benefits to your mind and body. When you engage in regular exercise, you feel more upbeat, which in turn makes you feel better about yourself as well.
  1. Reward yourself when you achieve. When you’ve accomplished something in your life, whether big or small, it’s important to pause and reward yourself. If you go out of your way to make yourself happy, you’ll feed your drive to persevere and succeed.
  1. Use positive affirmations. Positive affirmations are a great way to boost self-confidence. They allow you to communicate with your subconscious mind, strengthening your confidence one thought at a time. Check out your local bookstore or online for some effective confidence-building affirmations.
  1. Avoid dwelling on the past. If you keep your past self-confidence issues in mind, it will be more difficult for you to get over them. Your past certainly doesn’t have to be your future. Focus on the present moment, with pleasant thoughts about your future. Picture everything going well.

You’ll soon find that there are endless ways to boost your self-confidence. And remember: If there’s something you want to pursue in life, go after it with all your heart and feel confident that success will be yours!

Keeping Healthy Boundaries in Relationships

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Keeping Healthy Boundaries in Relationships

It’s important to implement and maintain healthy boundaries in your relationships. Think of boundaries as invisible lines you draw around your feelings, wants, and needs in a relationship. Those limits delineate where your feelings and emotions end and your friend’s or partner’s feelings begin.

Healthy boundaries ensure that each of you are equally entitled to experience and express your own feelings in the relationship. When good boundaries exist, there’s no fear of reprisal in openly and honestly expressing genuine feelings to the other. Regardless of the nature of the relationship-friendship or love-keeping healthy boundaries can only deepen the connection between people.

Case Scenario: An Illustration of How Boundaries Develop in a New Relationship

Tina is newly single and had a date last week with Chris. She enjoyed his company. Chris said he’d call Tina in a week. The week went by with no call.

A few days later, there’s a knock at Tina’s door. It’s Chris. He wants to come in. Tina detects a light odor of alcohol, which only multiplies the discomfort she feels about his surprise visit.

Tina doesn’t know Chrisvery well and would prefer he not come in. What does Tina do? What would you do?

A. She lets him in.

B. She hesitates at first, but he convinces her to let him come in.

C. Tina tells him a “story” about how herparents are expecting her any minute and she has to leave now. Therefore, he can’t come in, so he leaves abruptly.

D. She informs him that she’s uncomfortable with his unannounced visit and isn’t going to let him in. Tina uses a non-threatening tone and tells him she hopes he understands. He’s disappointed but agrees to leave and says he’ll call Tina tomorrow.

Choice Discussion

Choice A doesn’t demonstrate healthy boundaries. Why? Because Tina felt uncomfortable and her preference was that Chris not come in. However, Tina ignored her feelings and accepted what Chris wanted instead.

Choice B alsoillustrates less-than-healthy boundaries. With B, Tina’s in about the same situation as A. In essence, Tinanoticedher own feelings (represented by her brief hesitance). Ultimately, she didn’t make her decision based on them. Instead, she allowed another person – Chris- to “step on” her boundary and convince her to behave as he wanted.

Choosing C showsTina was at least able to respect her own feelings of not wanting Chris to enter her home. Tina’s boundaries could be stronger but at least, she ultimately didn’t let him in.

Choice D demonstrates firm and healthy boundaries.Tina was open and honest about how she felt and confident about her feelings and decision not to invite Chris inside.

Case Analysis

This example illustrates what can happen at the beginning of a relationship if poor boundaries exist. Choices A or B early on set an unclear boundary and thus adversely affect the life of the relationship if not addressed. In essence, how you demonstrate (or don’t demonstrate) your emotional boundaries will determine if and how a relationship progresses.

On the other hand, responding with Choices C or D shows healthier boundaries. Those choices show you acknowledge and act on your own feelings, even though doing so could make the other person a little uncomfortable or even angry. When you validate your own feelings and the other’s as well, you can experience an honest, respectful relationship.

Examine Boundaries in Your Relationships

Take a moment to think about boundaries you have in your relationships. Do you tend to ignore your own feelings and go along with whatever the other person wants? Can you speak up about your feelings? Do you appropriately state when something will not “work” for you? Do you ask for what you need in a relationship and obey your own internal limits?

Keeping healthy boundaries in relationships is a positive step toward discovering the fulfilling relationships you want.Focus on making choices in relationships based on your genuine feelings. Doing so will bring you the passionate, sharing and caring relationships you seek.