3 Benefits of Group Therapy for Teens Struggling with Anxiety or Depression

By |May 8th, 2024|Anxiety, Christian Counseling For Teens, Depression, Featured, Group Counseling|

If you or someone you love is struggling with anxiety or depression, a treatment plan that includes group therapy for teens can significantly help. While it can be scary to attend your first group therapy session, there are some benefits to be gained in group therapy that are more difficult to achieve in individual counseling. Group therapy for teens can provide a broader context for individuals who struggle with depression or anxiety. What is depression or anxiety? Depression in teens occurs when a teen’s emotional state makes everyday life overwhelming. Teens may lose interest in hobbies they once enjoyed, may feel sad or lonely much of the time, and may have difficulty engaging with others because of feeling isolated. It is not your fault, nor is it something you can overcome by your decision-making or strong will. Depression is a mental illness for which the cause is unknown, but some of the possible contributors include brain chemistry, genetics, learned thought patterns, hormonal shifts, trauma, or a combination of these. The good news is that targeted treatment can help you or your loved one feel better. Depression can be a comorbidity of anxiety disorders, too, but it doesn’t have to be. Anxiety disorders range in both spectrum and sensitivity. Social anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, generalized anxiety, and panic disorder are all types of anxiety. Anxiety prohibits individuals from functioning well in everyday activities, such as school, social situations, friendships, or other relationships. They may feel afraid, worried, unusually fixated on something specific, or have a sense of dread that something bad is going to happen to them or someone they love. Anxiety must be diagnosed by a trained psychologist and can make life difficult for you and your loved ones if there isn’t an active diagnosis and treatment plan to follow. [...]

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Important Signs of Gaslighting to Look Out For

By |April 30th, 2024|Featured, Individual Counseling, Relationship Issues, Trauma|

Our world is full of spin. It’s often hard to tell if someone is being truthful with you, or if there’s some unseen angle in their actions. Being able to find secure relationships, rooted in love and truthfulness becomes more valuable because it’s rare. When gaslighting occurs in a relationship, it undermines reality and the flourishing of that relationship. What is gaslighting? The term “gaslighting” comes from a 1938 play called “Gaslight,” which was later adapted twice into a movie in the 1940s. In the play and the movies, the husband of a young woman slowly and deliberately manipulates her into believing that she’s becoming insane. She doubts her reality, questions her memory of things, and begins distrusting herself. Gaslighting is a form of manipulation and psychological abuse in which one person causes another to question their memories, sanity, or perception of reality. It is a form of control that breaks down the other person and their ability to trust their intuitions while making them increasingly dependent on their abuser. Gaslighting often occurs over time and might be absent at the beginning of the relationship. It can occur in romantic relationships, but it can also be present in work situations, in the parent-child relationship, in interactions with political figures and institutions, and the doctor-patient relationship as well. How gaslighting affects a person Gaslighting sows self-doubt and confusion in another person. That is how the abuser is able to gain control of the other person. When a person is told consistently that they are crazy, imagining things, confused, oversensitive, or wrong, that can result in many negative mental health effects. Gaslighting results in a person questioning their beliefs and reality, low self-esteem, confusion, isolation, as well as feeling powerless. Additionally, being gaslighted results in feeling anxious, struggling to trust yourself [...]

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Help for Sexual Side Effects of Antidepressants

By |April 26th, 2024|Depression, Featured, Individual Counseling, Men’s Issues, Women’s Issues|

You may have heard about or experienced unwanted side effects of antidepressants. It is always helpful to talk to your doctor or counselor about any side effects. One type of side effect that is particularly difficult for some people to talk about, however, is any type of sexual side effect. It can be challenging and awkward to talk to someone about your sex life. This is particularly true when something doesn’t feel like it is going well or when you experience a change. Unfortunately, some antidepressant medications can have sexual side effects. This is not because of anything you have done. It is simply an unwanted result of taking the medication. How to Alleviate Sexual Side Effects of Antidepressants If you experience any unwanted side effects, you don’t have to suffer. Here are some things you can do to help alleviate any sexual side effects of taking an antidepressant. Remember, it is important to discuss changes with your doctor before making them to ensure your health and safety. Consider a lower dose Sometimes it is not the medication that is the problem, it is the dosage. Instead of giving up on a helpful medication, you can talk to your doctor about trying a lower dose. The goal of this is to alleviate the side effects while maintaining the efficacy of the medication in treating your depression. This is a process that must be done with your doctor. Do not change your medication dose on your own. If you are unsure of how to bring it up with your doctor, a counselor can help you develop a plan. Ask about other medication options If the medication is proving problematic, you can talk to your doctor about other antidepressants you could take. Not all medicines have the same side effects, and [...]

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Helpful Steps for Getting Out of Debt

By |April 23rd, 2024|Coaching, Featured, Individual Counseling, Personal Development|

Money is tied intrinsically into every facet of our lives. We need it to feed, clothe, and entertain ourselves and our loved ones, and we can use it to support the causes closest to our hearts. Of the many things Jesus spoke about, money is one of the areas where we need to get our priorities right, as Jesus said these words, No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money – Matthew 6:24, NIV Money can become so all-consuming and god-like precisely because of how it can seemingly meet all of our needs. Loving money can end up leading you away from the faith and piercing your soul with many griefs (1 Timothy 6:10). When it comes to the topic of debt, it is helpful to understand the practicalities of handling money well, and it is also helpful to adjust our attitudes and mindset toward money that can often contribute to issues. Understanding debt Debt is when you owe a sum of money that you may have borrowed and need to pay back later. Usually, when a debt is paid back, you pay back the amount you owe, and an extra amount called interest on top of that. Debt is usually how people make large purchases that they couldn’t otherwise because most of us do not have large amounts of cash lying around to use. Thus, we use debt to buy a house, fund our education, buy a car, etc. Not all debt is the same, as some debt can help you meet significant needs. Few people could outright make purchases such as a home or a car, and to some extent, it [...]

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Talk Isn’t Cheap: Counting the High Cost of Communication in Relationships

By |April 15th, 2024|Coaching, Featured, Individual Counseling, Personal Development, Relationship Issues|

Communication in relationships is more than words that we speak and hear. A trite saying suggests that “talk is cheap.” Although the phrase has more to do with the importance of following up on one’s word with verifiable actions, our words are costly. Words retain the ability to shift realities. We can respect the power that our words usher into atmospheres by committing to speak God’s Truth, yet always in love and with wisdom. We don’t need to say everything that we think or feel, but we can learn when and where it is appropriate to share. The pattern of our society permits speech that harms when we disagree with others and want to unburden ourselves of an unsolicited opinion. In doing so, we desensitize ourselves to the impact of harsh words. When we prevent the Holy Spirit from tempering our tongues, we demonstrate our preference for impulsivity over integrity, allowing the flesh to control our actions instead of esteeming our brother or sister. The Lord is inviting us to let love rule, and that includes governing the unruly tongue that wants to have its say (James 3:5-12). Unlearn Beginning with the Holy Spirit helps us to take inventory of our hearts. Before we can bring change, we have to embrace and embody it by partnering with the Holy Spirit to reshape our communication practices. We can unlearn destructive patterns and practice healthy communication that honors God and those made in His Image. Active listening, the practice where we not only hear messages but also engage with others, through reflecting and paraphrasing, ensures that we understand them. In a society that is divided along deep fault lines, we must recognize the weight our words embody. They carry more than the consequence of forming factions or friendships but rather leverage [...]

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5 Symptoms of OCD in Children

By |December 30th, 2023|Christian Counseling for Children, Christian Counseling For Teens, Family Counseling, Featured, OCD|

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is debilitating and causes great distress to those suffering from it. It is one of the most common mental disorders. Essentially, it involves repetitive thoughts (obsessions) that must be satiated with repeated rituals (compulsions). This is especially true of OCD in children. While the exact cause of the disorder is unknown, research studies on pediatric OCD highlight factors like inflammatory damage due to certain childhood infections, prescription drug-induced structural changes in the brain, and environment or parenting styles, among others. Symptoms of OCD also develop along with other psychiatric or neurodevelopmental conditions. Symptoms of OCD in children. While it can be extremely frustrating for a parent to see their child exhibit symptoms of OCD, it is important to remember that the disorder feels beyond the child’s control, so it is of little use to tell them to stop doing it. If you are not sure whether your child is showing signs of OCD, consider these five common symptoms: Excessive cleaning routines. If you notice your child develops a habit of excessively washing their hands or cleaning, take note of this common symptom of OCD. Their hands may even show signs of being over washed. This compulsive activity will start to impair their everyday functioning. Counting, checking, touching. Rituals such as excessive counting, checking and rechecking, and repeatedly touching certain objects are compulsions that OCD sufferers use to alleviate anxious thoughts. These rituals bring a level of comfort even if it causes embarrassment in a social setting. Intrusive thoughts. Your young child may not be able to articulate some of the scarier symptoms of OCD in children, which involves disturbing thoughts that flood the mind: killing a pet, thoughts of violence and self-harm. Older children and teens may also struggle to discuss them, as they bring a [...]

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How to Cope With Divorce: Finding Support

By |November 21st, 2023|Featured, Grief Counseling, Individual Counseling, Relationship Issues|

It’s never easy changing direction in life or giving up on a dream. When you get divorced, there’s a sense in which your life starts anew, with new possibilities. Divorce is often painful, but that pain can shape you in positive ways and toward a deeper appreciation of God’s love. The unexpected ways divorce affects you. When you enter a marriage, you do so with certain expectations. Some of these are legitimate and get fulfilled, for good or for ill, while others aren’t met at all. With a divorce, the same holds true. You may have expectations of what it’ll be like, and these are shaped by media, the experiences of friends and family, and your imagination. The following may be unexpected ways that divorce affects you: It leaves a void in your life. Whatever your marriage was like, losing your spouse is like losing a limb. You’ll feel their absence in your life, by missing them, feeling free, or a strange mixture of both. It can feel liberating. Not having a spouse can feel liberating because you don’t have to account for your time, money, or movements in the same way as you do when married. It is like death, and it brings grief. Your marriage may have been a hard one, and while you may be relieved to be divorced, it is still a loss. You’re foreclosing on a particular future and dream, and any divorce, even when justified, grieves God because that’s not His intention for us (Matthew 19: 1-12) It can make you feel like you’ve failed, or even that you are a failure. If you’re a disciple of Jesus, and even if you’re not, divorce feels like a failure in the relationship. It can affect you and make you feel like you’re a failure [...]

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What is Catastrophic Thinking?

By |November 17th, 2023|Featured, Individual Counseling, Personal Development|

The word catastrophic means something terrible, sudden, and disastrous. While it is normal for all of us to fear or think about impending disasters or terrible events, especially on the back of the pandemic, those who battle catastrophic thinking can’t turn that thinking off. They are in a constant state of crisis as anything can be potentially disastrous. Our mind unfortunately cannot tell the difference between someone experiencing something terrible and our imaginations of something terrible happening. As a way of protecting us, the body goes into fight, flight, or freeze mode, even when there is no actual danger. It is for this reason catastrophic thinking can be detrimental to mental and physical health. It is important to note that catastrophic thinking is not a mental health condition, though it can be a symptom of some conditions. Catastrophic thinking has been likened to the snowball effect. It starts with a small negative thought that can, just like a snowball grow into something much bigger than the initial trigger. Characteristics of Catastrophic Thinking People caught up in a catastrophic thinking loop do so without any evidence that what they fear will come to pass and in most cases, those fears do not materialize. Some of the common characteristics of catastrophic thinking can include the following: Negative irrational thinking. Catastrophic thinkers do not rely on evidence or fact to support their fears and anxieties. It’s all cognitive with no actual reasoning behind their negative conclusions. They use their emotions and/or intuitions as evidence that something terrible is going to happen. Exaggeration. In simple terms, this is sometimes referred to as blowing things out of proportion. Catastrophic thinkers magnify the significance and impact of a situation, making it much worse than it is. Minimize abilities. They minimize their ability to deal with [...]

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Bible Verses about Worry: Letting God Console You

By |August 2nd, 2023|Anxiety, Featured, Individual Counseling, Spiritual Development|

There’s no end to the ways things in our world either don’t make sense, or seem out of control. Of course, while they may not make sense to us, and they may be out of our control, which should not cause us to despair. We can turn to Bible verses about worry. God’s ways and thoughts are above our own (Isaiah 55:9), and to Him nothing is impossible (Luke 1:37). We don’t need to worry because God knows the end of things before they even begin (Isaiah 46:10). Worry is when you ruminate or repeatedly think about the same thing in a way that ultimately leaves you feeling anxious and unsettled. Usually, we worry about future events whose outcomes we have a stake in. Sometimes we worry that something we’d like to see happen won’t happen, and at other times we worry that the worst possible outcome will occur. Either way, thoughts about the situation, possible solutions to the problem, and dwelling on the possible negative outcomes are what worry is all about. Worry doesn’t leave you feeling energized or hopeful; instead, it makes you fearful, apprehensive, and distracted. Instead of helping us, worry simply robs us of our sense of joy and rest. Letting God console you: Bible verses about worry If you find yourself feeling worried, one way to deal with it is to allow the Lord to console you. The Bible says a lot about worry, but below are a few verses that can help you. When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul. – Psalm 94:19, ESV This Psalm addresses a context in which wrongs are being perpetrated by powerful and arrogant people against those who are weak. When the odds are stacked against us this way, it can be overwhelming, [...]

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Using Fitness to Battle Stress Eating

By |June 28th, 2023|Eating Disorders, Featured, Individual Counseling, Personal Development|

If you struggle with stress eating, you probably have a set of tools to get through a craving or urge. For example, you might plan your meals, have an accountability partner, weigh regularly, and keep fresh fruits and veggies at your disposal. But how necessary is fitness to your battle with stress eating? Whether you think of it as fitness, exercising, working out, or training, physical movement can help you get past food temptations, reign in your appetite, and crush stress eating. Why we love endorphins. Your body releases endorphins when you exercise, even at a moderate pace, for ten or fifteen minutes. Endorphins affect your mood and appetite. The neurotransmitter dopamine leaves you feeling happy and on top of the world. It is what runners refer to as a “runner’s high.” Leptin decreases your appetite so that you feel less hungry and balances out the ghrelin levels, the hormone that increases appetite. You may find that after training consistently for a while, your anxiety and depression lift thanks to endorphins. Our bodies were created to withstand physical stressors to build strength, so physical movement and training are beneficial and healing to the body. How to get started with fitness. Before you start any fitness regimen, you should get clearance from your primary physician. This will rule out any medical issues and provide guidelines for you to follow. Next, you will want to take note of your weight and measurements. You will also want a baseline level of performance. For example, can you walk a mile? How long does it take you to walk one mile? How many pushups can you do? Can you do a pullup? Try to touch your toes and record how far your reach is from your toes. These are performance assessments that you can [...]

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