Vickie's Blog

Marriage & Family Therapist


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Do you feel disconnected from your significant other? It can be easy to get too involved in the activities of daily living and forget that we have chosen to embark on the journey of life with another soul. Between work, household chores, and soccer games, it can be difficult to effectively communicate and remain engaged with our partners. However, couples can hang onto the spark that brought them together with just a few minutes of focused attention each week. The following list of exercises and games are sure to make you and your spouse talk, laugh, and maybe even cry, but in the end, your relationship will be made stronger.   1. Hold Meetings For the business-minded folks, a weekly meeting may be the ticket for continued relationship success. Do not be fooled though, because this meeting is not about scheduling pickups or organizing upcoming household duties. This is your chance to say everything you didn’t get the chance to say in the past week. Arguments may have been interrupted by life and this is your chance to finish them. You can also take this time to discover any unmet expectations or desires that your partner may have encountered since your last meeting. Just be sure to enter these meetings with an open mind and heart. For best results, marriage counselors usually suggest 30 minutes of uninterrupted & distraction-free communication. 2. Ask Questions Another fun activity that can be carried out all week, at any time, involves a jar full of questions. This little exercise is useful for busy couples as they can quickly pluck a slip of paper out of the jar, read it aloud, and each of them can easily answer the question as they dress for work or leave the house for the day. The questions should be fun, but the answers informative. Those who answer the questions quickly and without hesitation are more likely to be honest in their responses so don’t ponder them for too long. Make sure your questions will allow you to learn something about each other. If you honestly don’t know if your partner likes Thai food, then go ahead and include it, but most marriage counselors suggest questions that will build on the relationship, not just induce boring small-talk. 3. Learn Trust Falling in love can be the greatest feeling in the world and can make you feel as if you are safe and secure in a new relationship. Unfortunately, as couples become more comfortable within that relationship, that bubble of trust can easily burst as the two find comfort and return to their normally scheduled lives of work and...

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Each year, approximately 18.5 percent of adults in the U.S. will experience mental illness. Unfortunately, more than half of these Americans do not seek treatment and this can lead to further issues including hospitalization and suicide. Most of the time, adults are not aware they are suffering from mental disorders such as depression until it is too late. What most do not realize is that depression can be caused by several factors or any combination of them. However, no matter the cause, or causes, of someone’s depressed feelings, seeking the help of a qualified and licensed therapist is highly recommended in most cases. 1. Genetics As research is completed, it has been concluded that someone with a relative that suffers from clinical depression in nearly five times more likely to develop the disorder themselves. Scientists believe that a genetic link can be found in up to 40 percent of those whom suffer from depression and have even isolated a prevalent gene, chromosome 3p25-26, in some families. 2. Hormone Levels One’s mood is highly regulated by a person’s endocrine system and the hormones it produces. Rapid or extreme changes in hormone levels can cause depression in pregnant and postpartum women, those suffering from premenstrual dysphoric disorder, or menopause. Men are also likely to experience clinical depression due to other sex hormone imbalances including progesterone, estrogen, and testosterone. 3. Medical Conditions Other causes of hormone imbalances are caused by issues with one’s thyroid. Both hyperthyroidism, caused by an overactive thyroid, and its counterpart hypothyroidism, may present themselves during periods of hormonal flux in men and women. Women may be misdiagnosed as having a panic disorder or anorexia when, in fact, she is suffering from an underactive thyroid. 4. Stress Adrenal issues are another hormone-related cause of depression. If someone seems to feel sluggish, moody, or depressed, they may have a chronic imbalance in their stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol. Stressful life situations, and the inability to cope with them, can lead to these imbalances. Seeking treatment from a therapist helps those suffering from stress-related depression to learn healthy coping mechanisms when life gets tough. 5. Substance Abuse Although no direct cause-and-effect has been found between substance abuse and depression the two are very closely linked. Drug and alcohol use may increase an underlying risk for mental disorders or make the symptoms worse. A person’s attempts at recovery from addiction may even cause depression. Those suffering from substance addiction often seek therapy services in order to learn how to fight these closely-related illnesses. Depression is a serious medical illness that affects how one feels, thinks, and acts. Those suffering from depression may...

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While traditionally recognized as a service for couples who are experiencing marital difficulties, marriage counseling can also be beneficial for couples ranging from newlyweds to those who’ve been married for decades. Beyond resolving any existing matters, these sessions can help avoid future conflicts by teaching you better communication skills and helping spouses communicate openly and honestly. Read on to learn more about the benefits of having a neutral party with a willing ear. 1. Learn to compromise. Couples can disagree about key issues such as finances, child rearing, intimacy, employment, and other serious decisions that must be made. When partners simply seem to find no middle ground on their own, seeking out a good marriage counselor can be a positive step. As an objective third-party observer with resolution skills, counselors can often help couples come to a resolution. 2. Vent safely. Some couples often have trouble speaking their mind, but those who do so can actually put their partners on the defense when venting—especially in haste. Whether one partner is holding back essential information or their true feelings, having a mediator such as a counselor can often help reluctant partners open up and share their thoughts, emotions, and even their fears, with one another. 3. Prevent skyrocketing problems. When troubles begin to rear their head in a marriage, it’s typically regarded as sound advice to seek some type of couples counseling right away. As experienced mediators, they often help couples get to the source of their issues and find solutions that prevent them from becoming larger ones that could irreparably harm—or end—a once solid relationship. Rather than waiting until your marriage is hanging on by a thread, seek out a professional counselor at the first signs of discord. 4. Learn effective communication. The ability to clearly communicate with one another in a respectful way is one of the most vital aspects of a healthy marriage. Couples need to understand how to both listen to and process information being presented by their partner and to do so without judgment, anger or resentment. Marriage counselors can help couples resolve their conflicts and express their feelings in healthy, productive ways. 5. Prevent divorce. The true cost of divorce reaches far beyond financial concerns. Considering the cost of separating your family, the disagreements that will ensue over assets and lawyer fees, it only seems wise to seek out a couples counselor before giving up hope. Most individuals are surprised to discover just how affordable couples counseling can be, and those who chose to invest are making a solid investment in the future of their relationship. If your budget is tight, most counselors are...

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While marriage counseling is helpful for people who are facing trouble in their marriage, it can also be beneficial for couples who want a healthy way to stay on track and prevent certain problems before they begin. Some people simply don’t have the skills needed to work through marriage problems on their own, or they want help maintaining their good relationship. Here are a few reasons why marriage counseling may be helpful for you and your significant other. 1. Learn how to be assertive. In a marriage, it’s important to be able to speak openly about your problems without worrying that you’ll hurt the other person. This isn’t an excuse to be cruel, but instead, it is a way to get across your point even if it’s difficult for your spouse to hear. Your marriage counselor will help you both find a way to get what you need and want without making demands or sparking a conflict. 2. Resolve Conflicts Healthily. A marriage counselor will teach you and your spouse how to communicate clearly and openly so that you can understand one another. Not only will you learn how to speak in a way that your spouse understands, but you’ll also learn how to listen to what your spouse has to say in return. You’ll both learn how to process what the other one is saying in order to avoid miscommunication and confusion. This will also help you both communicate your needs to one another in a clear way so as to avoid any anger or resentment. 3. Work toward overcoming issues. If you and your spouse seem to hit the same wall over and over again, your marriage counselor can help you move on from an unresolved problem. Even if you haven’t had luck working through the problem in the past, you may find that it’s easier to express your concerns and needs with the guidance of a professional. This process also may make it clear to you that your spouse is unwilling to do the work it will take to heal your marriage – in this case, you’ll have the information you need to decide whether or not you want to move forward with your relationship. 4. Discover your significant other. A huge part of being in a healthy relationship is understanding your spouse and both their desires and needs. At the same time, you’ll learn so much more about yourself and what your own needs are. Both of you will discover whether or not those needs are able to be met within your marriage; if they are, you’ll learn the tools and skills you need to meet...

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In life, there are certain times that we go through things that are just too hard to deal with on our own. While we may want to turn to our friends and family for the answers, the reality is that the situation may be too much for them to handle. When you are in need of help during a traumatic time or life just seems a bit too overwhelming, it can be a good idea to look for a therapist. These professionals will help you understand your feelings and give you a pathway back to a healthy life. Here are five signs that you may need a therapist. 1. Your feelings are just too much to handle Do you find yourself having to pause during the activities of a busy day in order to just get a grasp on your emotions? If this is something you are feeling, it is important to address the issue head-on before it gets any worse. Life is already difficult enough on its own without having to deal with overwhelming emotions. If you feel like this is something you are dealing with, there are many professional counselors who will be more than willing to work with you on your emotional state. 2. You can’t function at school or your job Seeing your performance at school or your job start to fail could be a big indicator that you might need to seek out professional help from a licensed therapist. When your future is at stake, you must make the appropriate changes in order to ensure that you can perform well and build a sustainable career. These professionals will give you the tools you need to make those changes. 3. It has been too long since you felt happy When is the last time that you were truly happy? If it has been quite some time since you have felt the joy of a full energy and an upbeat attitude, it may be time to seek some help. Counselors are able to help you make the changes in your lifestyle in order to truly feel happy on a regular basis.   4. You are constantly feeling sick and tired If you feel like you are always getting sick and constantly have a lack of energy, you might be dealing with depression. This is something that can be helped by seeing a therapist. Once you start to feel excited and happy about your life, it will be much easier to feel energized, excited, healthy, and ready to take on the world. 5. Friends and family members have noticed a drastic change in your behavior Your friends...

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When To See a Therapist

When To See a Therapist


Posted By on Aug 31, 2017

We all have times in our lives when our minds and moods get the best of us. You might be dealing with a failing marriage and want to see a marriage counselor or you might be interested in individual counseling because of depression, anxiety, or other mental health-related problems. In these instances, going to see a therapist is a wonderful option for you and can expand your mind to seeing your problems in a different light. What is a Therapist or Counselor? Therapists and counselors are licensed and trained individuals who work exclusively with people who need assistance in their lives. You might go to see a professional because you need individual counseling due to a mental disorder that you’re facing such as anxiety, depression, OCD, bipolar disorder, or anything else related to this field. The counselor is going to sit with you at regular appointments and you will talk to her about what’s troubling you. From there, she will come up with different ways for you to rethink your issues and diminish how your problems are affecting you. Likewise, you might want to go and see a marriage counselor because you need help with a relationship. When To See a Therapist The best time to see someone for therapy or counseling is when you’re truly struggling. Let’s face it—we all try to handle our problems on our own and while this might work for some people, it can be detrimental for others. If you’re beginning to find that your mental or mood issues are affecting your everyday life, you should consider going to see someone. There is absolutely no shame in going to see a professional about your issues. Benefits of Professional Therapy One of the major benefits of professional therapy is that you’ll be able to get a professional’s opinion on the matter at hand. Let’s say that you deal with a lot of anxiety and you’re finding it difficult to get through the day without having panic attacks and anxiety issues; the therapist you go to see will utilize therapeutic methods that you’ll begin to incorporate into your everyday life so that you can finally begin to feel better and overcome your fears. If you are living in the Redding area and need a professional counselor, be sure to contact Vickie Parker to set up an appointment. She will be more than happy to begin working with you and help you get your life back on track so that you can simply enjoy each day as it comes. In most cases, our own self-help isn’t enough to combat our thoughts, moods, and mental issues. In these...

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Forgiving, How Important Is It?


Posted By on May 27, 2017

Are you having challenges forgiving someone in your life?  Have you tried and it just keeps coming back? We all have someone in our life that has hurt us and we have trouble letting it go.  My first husband years ago left me for another woman and I was six months pregnant.  He walked out for good and did not want to take responsibility for being a father.  I was left alone to raise my son.  I had help from my very supportive family, but I was so bitter and angry for 2 years, that I had trouble moving on with my life. I realized over time that He could care less about me and what I was going through.  I wanted him to feel the pain that he had caused me and I wanted him to suffer.  Through reading and therapy, I realized that I was developing a victim mentality and not taking responsibly for my life.  I was giving all my power away to him, somehow thinking I was making him pay for what he did, but in reality I was the one reliving the pain everyday. I heard recently that not forgiving someone is like drinking poison and then expecting them to die.  Forgiving means accepting the pain that the person has caused us, letting go of bitterness and anger and moving on.  It is like getting hit by a car and getting a broken leg.  We can blame the driver all we want, but we are responsible for accepting the situation, knowing that life is not fair, and then making the best of it.  Through the pain of life not always being fair, we grow and mature. Never let the reason for difficulty be an excuse for helplessness. Forgiving is not easy and it is an act of the will.  We have to choose to forgive and accept the pain the other person has caused us.  We cannot forget, but we can choose to forgive and move on with our lives and learn from the experience. For every tragedy in our lives, there is a window of opportunity. I would not want to go through the pain, I went through, when my first husband left, again, but looking back, I would not change the experience for anything.  I learned so much about myself through the process of taking responsibility for my life and realizing that pain can be good, because we develop the tools we need to grow and manage life better.  I am much more confident and I know that I can survive enormous amount of pain and survive.  I have chosen to be...

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Cognitive distortions are things that we believe as truth, but they are not reality.  If we live our life based on our cognitive distortions, it will hinder us from living a productive, healthy life.  That is why it is important to be aware of cognitive distortions, so we can check our thinking and work on changing those false beliefs about ourselves and the world we live in. There are basically 15 cognitive distortions that have been named by David Burns, MD who works at Stanford University in Palo Alto, CA.  He is a psychiatrist and has written many books.  My favorites are “Feeling Good”, and “When Panic Attacks”. These are 15 Cognitive Distortions: 1. Filtering. We take the negative details and magnify them while filtering out all positive aspects of a situation. 2. Polarized Thinking (or “Black and White” Thinking). In polarized thinking, things are either “black-or-white.” We have to be perfect or we’re a failure. 3. Overgeneralization.In this cognitive distortion, we come to a general conclusion based on a single incident or a single piece of evidence. 4. Jumping to Conclusions. Without individuals saying so, we know what they are feeling and why they act the way they do. 5. Catastrophizing. We expect disaster to strike, no matter what. This is also referred to as “magnifying or minimizing. 6. Personalization. Personalization is a distortion where a person believes that everything others do or say is some kind of direct, personal reaction to the person. We also compare ourselves to others trying to determine who is smarter, better looking, etc. 7. Control Fallacies. If we feel externally controlled, we see ourselves as helpless a victim of fate. For example, “I can’t help it if the quality of the work is poor, my boss demanded I work overtime on it.” The fallacy of internal control has us assuming responsibility for the pain and happiness of everyone around us. For example, “Why aren’t you happy? Is it because of something I did?” 8. Fallacy of Fairness. We feel resentful because we think we know what is fair, but other people won’t agree with us. As our parents tell us when we’re growing up and something doesn’t go our way, “Life isn’t always fair.” 9. Blaming. We hold other people responsible for our pain, or take the other track and blame ourselves for every problem. 10. Shoulds. We have a list of ironclad rules about how others and we should behave. People who break the rules make us angry, and we feel guilty when we violate these rules. 11. Emotional Reasoning. We believe that what we feel must be true automatically. If we feel stupid and...

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John and Julie Gottman, through their working with couples for over 40 years, have found that couples who have shared rituals have stronger relationships. Planning fun events together as a couple creates shared meaning.  Intentionally looking for things that you both enjoy and then following through with planning and doing them helps focus on the positive and creates the opportunity to connect. One of the rituals that my husband and I do, after work, is set in our spa and share about our day.  We feel relaxed when we get out and then enjoy dinner together.  It helps set the stage for a nice evening. Another ritual we have is going to a small little town in Northern California for our anniversary almost every year.  We take our bikes and enjoy the weekend eating out and enjoying the beautiful scenery. Those are just two of our rituals for connection. What rituals of connection do you share with your spouse and family?  If you do not have any, then talk about rituals you can create to look forward to and connect.  If you are a young family, decide what rituals you want to create that are unique for just your family.  Do you have traditions around the holidays that you want to pass on to your children and what knew ones do you want to incorporate with the old. Looking forward to a planned event keeps your relationship moving forward in a positive direction.  Plan vacations together or just spending an evening together with friends or alone is important in keeping the vitality of your relationship healthy.  Be creative in thinking about different fun things you can do together.  Geocaching is a great way to get outside and enjoy the nice weather, you can download the app and learn how to play, if you haven’t already. For more ideas on how to create rituals in your relationship go to Gottman Institute and check out their web site.  They have great tools to help connect as a couple or as a family. Enjoy. Vickie Parker, MFT vickiemft.com...

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Updates on My Practice

Updates on My Practice


Posted By on Apr 9, 2017

Greetings: I want to take this opportunity to thank all of my clients that I have had the privilege to counsel for the last 8 years.  You have enriched my life with your unique stories and you have let me in to very private and personal parts of your lives.  I also want to thank you for trusting me with referring me to your friends and colleagues. I appreciate your confidence in my abilities to counsel. October of 2015, I took level 1 training in Gottman Couple’s Therapy in San Francisco.  I was very impressed with their 30 years of research, evidence based therapy.  They are well known all over the world for their work with couples. In October of 2016, I attended another one of their trainings in Seattle for affairs and PTSD related to affairs.  A lot of my couples that I counsel, unfortunately, deal with that pain. I was able to learn some interventions that help rebuild trust and restore the relationship in 3 steps; 1) Attonement, 2) Attunement, and 3) Attachment. In January of this year, I attended level 2 training and again learned some interventions for therapy.  One of the tools that John and Julie Gottman use for couples, is an assessment of their relationship. The couple takes the assessment, separately, online and the results are sent to me. It shows the strong and weak areas in different levels of their relationship. They call it “The Relationship House”. The interventions, that are needed, are introduced in therapy to strengthen the weak areas.  I have found it to be very affective. I am scheduled to take level 3 training this coming September and after that I can apply to become a Certified Gottman Therapist.  They evaluate videos, couples have given me permission to film, doing the different interventions.  They are very thorough in making sure therapist are qualified to become certified. I have also hired a company to help me become more visible on the internet.  As you probably know, Google has certain requirements before they will move you up in the rankings of searches. One of the things they look at is my reviews, which does not work well for therapist because of confidentiality. If you are so inclined and you do not mind giving your name, reviews are appreciated on Google. I am also available for online counseling for clients in California that want to do private pay. The main reason I am writing this blog, is to give you an update and to thank you for allowing me to be a part of your life in whatever capacity you have needed me....

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