How to be Kind to Yourself

  1. Make sure that you have a hobby that you can do everyday When I say hobby, it can mean anything from exercise to playing a video game. Everyone needs to be able to relax and take their minds off of their problems. When you feel stressed at work, what do you do to calm down and get back on track? This is something that everyone should think about. This is essential to mental wellness.
  1. Start Journaling
    A lot of clients tell me that they have a hard time writing in a journal. A journal can be a great tool for your mental health. When things are going great, write down what happened that day. When you are feeling depressed, go back over your journal and look at what was working for you during that time. The journal helps to track your mood and can provide some insights into what is going right and wrong. Bring your journal into individual counseling. The therapist can use the journal to help provide you with some insights.
  1. Use mental health apps to help you stay on track
    The ones I recommended are Calm, Buddhify, Pacifica, PE Coach, PTSD Coach, and CBT-I Coach. These mental health apps are like having a therapist in your pocket that is available 24 hours a day. They are based on proven techniques that work long term for people.
  1. Begin to exercise everyday
    I know that most people have heard this before, but even walking for 30 minutes per day is beneficial to your mental health. By walking outside everyday, this can help with depression and sleep. Getting sun helps to increase the melatonin in your brain which assists with sleep at night.
  1. Spend time with friends
    Make sure that you have two friends that you can call and lean on when you need someone to listen. By scheduling time with friends twice per month can help with your mood. Go to the movies, out to dinner or just hang out with your friends at the beach.

How to Have a Better Marriage

People often come to couples counseling because they don’t know how to communicate with their partner anymore. There is a great book by Dr. John Gottman called the 7 Principles of Making Marriage Work. It is a great book to read if you are looking to start couples counseling. In that book Dr. Gottman goes over The 4 Horseman. Criticism, Contempt, Defensiveness and Stonewalling. The 4 Horseman are a predictor of divorce. If you are doing any of the 4 Horseman, don’t lose hope, with the help of a counselor, you can get your marriage back on track.

  1. Criticism

Everyone has experienced criticism at one time or another. When criticism comes from your partner or loved one, it can be especially harsh. By using words such as “you always, you never,” is a sure way to have your partner shut down and not listen to what you are saying. It would be better to use a compliant then to criticize.

The following is an example.

complaint example- I noticed that the grass has gotten really long. You agreed to mow the lawn as one of your chores and it bothers me that it hasn’t been getting done regularly. Do you think you ca get it done before dinner?

Criticism example- You agreed to mow the lawn when we divided up the chores

and you having been doing it. You always let me down. You’re so lazy.

  1. Contempt

Not listening to your partner, calling them names, rolling your eyes, mocking your partner, looking at them with disgust, are ways you are showing contempt in your relationship. Contempt may also by disguised as humor that is condescending and insulting towards the other person. This one is the most dangerous. If you are showing contempt in your relationship, you could be on the road to a breakup. In couples counseling there are ways to reduce and eliminate contemptuous exchanges.

  1. Defensiveness

When you argue with your partner, and attempt to defend yourself from a verbal attack, that is being defensive. Being defensive can quickly escalate an argument where no one is listening. People become defensive because they think it make the situation better. Start taking responsibly for the problems in your relationship.

  1. Stonewalling

Stonewalling happens when your partner does not listen to what you are saying. They may walk away, or withdraw and not pay attention to what is being said. This makes your partner even angrier. A solution is to agree to talk when both of you are ready is listen. Start talking about your complaints as soon as they happen instead of holding it all in until you explode in anger.

How to pay for Counseling

Have you thought to yourself, “I really need to start counseling.” The only thing that has been holding you back is, “How am I going to pay for it? ” I have listed some strategies below that may help you discover that counseling is in your budget.

  1. Using your insurance

If you have medical insurance, then chances are you have mental health benefits. There are two things that you can do to get started with a therapist who takes your insurance. You can go to the insurance web site and look to see who is an in network provider. Or you can call the phone number on the back of your card and contact customer service. They can provide you with a list of therapists in your area who take your insurance. By using an in network therapist, you will be responsible for a co-pay. If you have a deductible, you may have to meet that before your insurance will cover your therapy sessions. If you decide to use an out of network therapist, the therapist can provide you with a “superbill.” A superbill is a receipt that shows how much you paid for your therapy session. You can submit the superbill to your insurance company for reimbursement. You can check with your insurance to make sure you have out of network benefits and how much of your money the insurance company with reimburse you for.

  1. Find a therapist and pay their full fee

Maybe a friend has recommended a therapist and you find that they don’t take any insurance. Or you are looking for the best therapist that specializes in your particular problem. A seasoned therapist typically charges between $100-200 per hour. The upside of seeing a seasoned therapist is you may need fewer sessions to solve your issues and get better faster. lists all the therapists in your area. You can search by zip code, problem or method of therapy.

  1. Use your Health Savings Account/Flex Spending Card

Most employers now offer a HSA account that you can use pre-tax dollars to pay for medical expenses. Counseling is a covered service that you can use your HSA card for.

  1. Go to your local mental health clinic

Most areas have a mental health clinic designed to assist the local area with their mental health needs. They provide sliding scale and low fee counseling. This counseling is often provided by new therapists out of school looking to get experience.

How Friends Can Help with Depression

If you have noticed lately that you are feeling depressed, you may be wondering what you can do about it. I wanted to provide you with some tips, that if you try them and use them on a regular basis, you would find that your depression is improved and you are back on your way to wellness.

  1. If you are invited to a holiday party, go to that party. You will find that once you go, you would not be so caught up in negative thinking.
  2. Invite a friend that you have not talked to for lunch or dinner. You may have let some friendships go because of depression. This is a chance to get your friendship back on track.
  3. Do you have a hobby that involves other people? Do you play sports or participate in group exercise? This is a good way to get involved with other people and make friends.
  4. Have you ever thought about joining a book club? Book clubs provide a way for people to meet and socialize and form friendships.
  5. Have you ever looked at the events in your area? There is a web site called that lists hobbies and events going on in your area. They list trivia nights hosted at local restaurants and bars, groups training for a 5k run, book clubs, and any interests that you might have. Check it out and connect.



EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing

EMDR can help to reduce or eliminate symptoms such as: Depression, Anxiety, Trauma, Phobias, Guilt, Shame, Anger, and Nightmares.

The benefits are permanent. Studies show that EMDR can alleviate distressing symptoms more rapidly than traditional talk therapy. PTSD was eliminated for 100% of patients with a single traumatic event.

If you have tried other therapies and found that you are still experiencing symptoms, then EMDR might be for you.

EMDR allows a client to process an emotional experience that may be difficult to even talk about. Discussing the details of a traumatic event is not required in EMDR sessions. The upsetting feelings with reveling the details may be alleviated. EMDR can reduce and eliminate stress surrounding traumatic memories. The result is disturbing feelings are replaced with more peaceful resolved feelings.

EMDR can be used to process and eliminate symptoms of:

  • PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)
  • Nightmares
  • Trauma from a Car Accident
  • Anxiety
  • Negative beliefs about self and problems with self esteem.
  • Feelings of Guilt
  • Sexual assault
  • Physical and emotional abuse from childhood.

The EMDR process can vary from person to person. Some people are able to resolve their problems in a few sessions while others may need more. During treatment, the client is given tools to be able to handle emotional distress between sessions.

EMDR is accepted as an effective form of treatment by the World Health Organization, The American Psychiatric Association and the Department of Defense.







Can Psychotherapy Help With Insomnia?

Many people are taking sleeping pills and thinking that this is the only way for them to get to sleep. A type of treatment called CBT-I (CBT for Insomnia) is a more effective way of eliminating insomnia. CBT-I has been shown to be more effective in the long term in treating insomnia. Long term use of sleeping pills can create a tolerance with side effects and you are back to where you started. The insomnia has returned.
The Pros of using CBT-I to treat Insomnia
  1. CBT-I treats the causes of insomnia and produces long-term improvements in sleep
  2. CBT-I has no side effects
  3. CBT-I is less expensive in the long term.
  4. CBT-I teaches you how to change the negative thoughts you have about sleep.
  5. CBT-I teaches you how to change your negative sleep behaviors.
  6. CBT -I teaches you how to improve your relaxation skills.
  7. CBT-I teaches practices that can affect sleep.
  8. CBT-I is now the recommended 1st line of treatment for chronic insomnia by the National Institutes of Health.
  9. CBT-I teaches you to become a normal sleeper.
  10. CBT-I is more effective than sleeping pills.

I encourage you to make the call today to learn the skills you need to reduce your insomnia.

Tips for a Better Night Sleep

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The time comes in everyones life when you just can’t fall asleep. Maybe you suffer from insomnia on a regular basis. The sleep tips below should help you get a better night’s sleep.

1. Get out of bed the same time everyday including the weekends. Get up even if you
have not slept well the night before.

2. Use your bedroom for sleep. Don’t exercise, watch tv or work on the computer in
your bedroom. Your bedroom should be for sleep.

3. Practice relaxation techniques at bedtime. Meditation, focused breathing, and
progressive muscle relaxation can help you to fall asleep.

4. Do not take naps if you have trouble sleeping.

5. Exercise 3-6 hours before bedtime. This will improve your sleep by causing a rise
and fall in your body temperature.

6. Increase your exposure to sunlight. This has been shown to assist with your sleep

7. See a therapist and learn to use CBT to help you to reduce your negative thoughts
about sleep loss. If you wake up and think “This day is going to be terrible, I did not sleep.” This thought process puts you in a negative mood and sets the stage that
negatively affects your daytime functioning.

8. Short term insomnia develops into long term insomnia when worrying about your
lack of sleep, spending a lot of time in bed, and waking up at different times.

9. Wind down before bedtime. Create a regular routine that tells your mind that you are getting ready for bed. Listen to light music or read a physical book. The light on tablets can cause wakefulness.

10. Listen to your body and seek out professionals when needed if insomnia becomes a regular habit for you

Reducing Anxiety with Mindful Breathing

Screenshot 2015-11-23 13.21.50Perhaps you have heard about the practice of mindfulness. Mindfulness is the practice
of being aware from moment to moment. You want to be aware of the thoughts in your head. Most people go from one task to another while thinking about what they have to do next week or even next month. You are not focused on what you are doing in the moment. If you can develop an awareness and focus on the task you are doing, studies show that you can reduce depression, anxiety and stress.

The goal is to let your thoughts come and go and not get too attached to any thoughts. Find a comfortable place to sit and relax.


Close your eyes and sit with your back straight while you focus on your breathing.

Take a deep breath and imagine that your chest is filling up with air like a balloon.

Breathe in and focus on filling up your chest with air. Breathe out and imagine that the

balloon is deflating. Repeat this several times (5 or 6 times).

Thoughts will come into your mind. You can notice these thoughts and return your focus
to your breath. Don’t analyze these thoughts, focus on your breath. When your attention drifts off, keep bringing your attention back to your breath and focus on your breathing.

Instead of using a balloon you can use different images. Imagine taking a deep breath and blowing out a candle. Listen to your environment around you. Maybe you can hear the birds singing or the wind blowing.

When is it Time to See a Therapist?

You might be saying to yourself, should I go see a therapist? When someone comes in for their initial appointment, I often hear that they have been depressed for years and have been trying to handle it on their own. I have started to ask myself, if you can get relief from counseling, why would you wait years before seeking help? If you broke a bone or have a chronic condition, would you wait that long to seek out help from a professional? A type of therapy called Cognitive Behavior therapy can help you change the way you think about things. CBT can give you the skills to make permanent changes, so when difficult times come around again you will be ready to handle it.

Another thing that I often hear from people is, “I am not crazy, why should I see a therapist?” Maybe you have a lot of stress and anxiety or are having problems in your relationship. All of these issues and more can be helped by going to see a therapist. Anxiety is often one of the most common problems that a therapist treats. In my practice, I help people learn how to deal with anxiety and reduce their symptoms to a manageable level. There is nothing more rewarding than to see someone that has been struggling with anxiety since childhood being able to say, I am feeling better! My anxiety is gone.

The top reasons to make the call to your therapist today. 

  1. Everything that you have tried to feel better has not helped.
  2. Your friends or family are pulling away or they might suggest it is time to get help.
  3. You are drinking or using drugs to suppress difficult feelings and emotions.
  4. You are having problems at work and your supervisor and co-workers notice that something has been going on with you.
  5. Your are having problems such as headaches and upset stomach, and the doctor can’t find anything wrong.

Going to therapy is one of the best things that you can do for yourself. Self care is very important. If you are not at your best, how can you be effective for you friends, family and loved ones?

Coping with Trauma using Prolonged Exposure Therapy

Prolonged exposure therapy is a type of therapy used to treat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder other wise known as PTSD. I have found that it is also helpful in treating anxiety.  In order to reduce the trauma associated with a past traumatizing event, you engage the trauma through remembering it with visualization.

Most people try to forget traumatic events or avoid what makes then anxious. So by confronting the trauma through visualization and facing what makes you anxious, over time you notice that you start to feel better. Visualization allows you to confront the trauma in a safe environment such as your therapist’s office. Prolonged exposure therapy is not new. It has been around for the last twenty years. 80% of patients that go through Prolonged exposure therapy treatment report improvement.

The goal of treatment is to promote processing of the trauma through the retelling of the trauma or visualizing anxiety triggers to your therapist. By the retelling of the trauma,  your brain starts the emotional processing needed to reduce traumatic memories and reduce the avoidance behaviors that you might be doing.

Some things you can do to get started is to start a journal.  A journal helps you to track your moods and writing can help you to process difficult emotions that often come up in therapy. If you are a technology minded person, there are several mental health apps that can assist you in tracking your mood. There is also a app that teaches prolonged exposure therapy. Apps are a good tool to use with your therapist. They do not replace counseling which is needed to help reduce your symptoms.