Vickie's Blog

Marriage & Family Therapist


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Let’s be honest, the television and film industry is pretty good at dramatizing situations in ways that make viewers believe what they are seeing and hearing. However, all these films and sitcoms have only one thing to offer – entertainment. Your experience with a licensed therapist will not at all resemble that of Tony Soprano nor will you find a cursed Jiminy Cricket offering his services in your area. As in many fields of practice, myths about therapy abound. By learning how counseling services really work, you may be more willing to seek the help you need. 1. Seeking therapy means you are crazy. Most often, those seeking help from a therapist are simply struggling with everyday stress. Major life changes, overwhelming grief, relationship problems, and self-esteem issues are all examples of reasons why people see a therapist. 2. You can fix your issues on your own. Sometimes a positive attitude can help someone rise from a funk or muddle through their life, but this idea tends to only exacerbate the feeling of stress and depressive feelings. An experienced therapist has the ability to give insight and wisdom that may not occur to those struggling with personal issues. 3. Therapy will confirm my worst fears. Many clients go into therapy believing that something is fundamentally wrong with them and that treatment will only confirm the ideas they have about themselves. The truth is, a therapist doesn’t want to label their clients, they simply want to help them understand why they feel what they feel. 4. Friends do the work of a therapist for free. Yes, social interaction is a very healthy activity in which to participate. On the other hand, while your friends and family may listen to you speak about your problems and sometimes offer advice, it’s a good idea to remember that these confidants don’t have the training necessary to help you learn the coping skills you need. 5. My employer will find out I’m in therapy. Whether you are worried about using your health insurance to pay for therapy or you will need time off from work for appointments, the only way your employer will know you are in therapy is if you tell them. You are not required to specify your need for time off, nor is a therapist or health insurance provider allowed to tell them about your services. 6. Counseling services cost a fortune. Of course, there are times when a client needs more sessions than others due to bigger issues and those payments can add up over time. For lesser issues, less time will be required and the suggested length of therapy...

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The last thing any parent wants to do is cause harm to their children. Unfortunately, the stresses of everyday life can have unforeseen effects on kids. It’s one thing to have a bad day at work or feel a little aggravation from heavy traffic, but engaging in conflict with a spouse at home can fill children with anxiety and fear. Not only that, children that constantly witness their parents’ fighting are more likely to suffer a lifetime of ill-effects. Luckily, there are ways to care for your children and the health of your marriage all at the same time. Teach them healthy conflict resolution. Protecting children from violence or emotional abuse within the home is one thing, but kids begin learning social skills at home. For this reason, a couple suffering from marital issues shouldn’t shield their children from conflict, but should instead allow them to see how to best handle that conflict. Reduce your child’s anxiety. Children are very in tune with the emotions of those around them. This is especially true in the close quarters of a family home where they may also witness the snide remarks or constant bickering. The only way to reduce the anxiety that this empathy can cause in your children is to learn how to deal with conflict in healthier ways. Respect their rights to learning. Finding compromise during an argument, or at least working actively toward a resolution, teaches young children how to approach such situations as adults. With the help of a licensed marriage counselor, you and your spouse can learn how to resolve problems through what you say, the feelings you show, and the behavior you exhibit. Do not ignore your children or the problem. Without the proper tools, parents tend to either emotionally withdraw from their children because of marital issues or ignore the issues entirely. Avoidance only serves to exacerbate problems and ignoring your children for the sake of your own emotional distress is never a healthy option. Engage in constructive conflict. Learning how to problem-solve as a team, whether it be from books, parenting classes, or therapy, makes couples better role-models for their kids. Parents need to approach these situations in a constructive manner with empathy and understanding instead of jumping into opposition. Protect everyone’s health. In addition to the emotional effects of a strained marriage on the children, it has the potential to cause physical harm to everyone in the home. Namely, stress has been shown to weaken the immune system which can lead to more illness and slower healing from illness or injury. Children are also more likely to engage in harmful habits. Avoid...

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Sure, a lighthearted romantic comedy is sure to brighten your day. These films may even give viewers a new perspective on the possibility of finding true love. However, as fun as they seem, these films are not exactly true-to-life. If you and your spouse have encountered problems within your relationship, this list of relatable movie couples in desperate need of marriage counseling may help you take this step yourselves. 1. Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005) Quite possibly the most volatile relationship to ever be seen on film, John and Jane Smith, love each other as much as humanly possible. That is until they begin learning the real truth and come to discover they are both really assassins that have now been hired to kill each other by their respective agencies. In just two short hours, viewers will see Mr. & Mrs. Smith attempt this task while also rediscovering the reasons they fell in love in the first place. 2. Gaslight (1944) Perhaps if the main character, Paula, had tried and succeeded in getting her new husband into seeing a marriage counselor, his plan to make her feel crazy wouldn’t have worked out as planned. Any chance to find explanations for the strange goings-on around her recently murdered aunt’s estate, and the odd activities of her husband, may have been Paula’s ticket to a faster resolution to her troubles. 3. Gone Girl (2014) If ever a film has been the definition of “a woman scorned”, it is Gone Girl. Amy Dunne could have saved herself a lot of her own headaches and stress if she had put all of her sadistic and torturous activities into actually repairing her marriage following her husband’s infidelity. Instead, she allows herself to be assaulted and robbed before destroying her relationship with Nick for good. 4. American Beauty (1999) There’s only a slim chance that seeking help with their crumbling marriage would have helped Lester and Carolyn Burnham, but at least it sheds light on how not to handle such a slip into boredom and routine. This is a film that can lead couples to almost instant communication on such matters as the idea of losing their children and possibly even their lives begin to set in and take root. 5. Blue Valentine (2010) Viewers will watch the death of a marriage, intermingled with flashbacks of its initial growth, in Blue Valentine. Both Dean and Cindy had come from dysfunctional families and this may have led them to go about their own relationship with false ideals and motives. With a little counseling, the couple may have been able to identify their issues and find a...

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There is a lot more to seeing a couples counselor than sitting on a couch and chatting with a therapist. Upon choosing the best counselor for your situation, he or she will meet with you and work to draw up a clearly defined treatment plan. This plan may include individual, joint, or group sessions. You may even be asked to do a little homework now and then and this work is just as important as the work you do in the presence of your therapist. 1. Contemplation In the beginning, it will seem as if your couples counselor is just having you fill out a lot of forms. This is true, but the answers to the questions on those forms will give your therapist a lot of insight into who you are and how you approach your relationship. Additionally, answering these questions will make you think long and hard about yourself and make it easier to pinpoint the issues you are having with your significant other. 2. Information Beyond the rote forms, the homework assigned during couples counseling is meant to inform you and your spouse about one another. Sometimes, they are games that reveal hidden fears or maybe a music sharing assignment that helps you understand his or her outlook on life. Whatever the task, you are sure to learn things about your lover that you may never have known before. 3. Motivation The use of fun, yet informative, games and conversations can go a long way to keeping you and your significant other motivated during treatment. You will soon want to play these games more often and that will serve your relationship well in the long run. The success you find will also keep you motivated in other aspects of your counseling. 4. Conversation The more you can learn about what makes the love of your life tick is with solid communication. Not only should you discuss the important things, you must chat about your fears, likes, dislikes, and yes, even political and religious views. Homework often instigates these types of conversations and allows you to understand your spouse on a deeper level. 5. Rehearsal What is homework, really, if not a source of practice? The math homework you did in high school wasn’t meant to have any end-game other than teaching you how to apply it when faced with a real-world situation. The same is true for homework assigned by your couples counselor. The next time you are dealing with something together, you can use what you’ve learned during your homework assignments. 6. Unavoidance In order to complete the homework you’ve been assigned, you may have...

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Nothing in this world can be completely controlled. There are moments in everyone’s life in which they find themselves suffering from things they cannot change. Learning how to accept the uncontrollable events in our lives is essential to living a happy life at home, work, or out in the community. Stop worrying. The number one thing someone can do to improve their overall mood is to learn how to stop worrying about everything all the time. Sure, there are potentially dangerous times in our lives when worrying seems like the correct response, but this is not the case at all. The only things a person has any control over are their own actions, and their reactions, to the events occurring around them. This isn’t to say you should allow yourself, or your children, to engage in dangerous activities, but there are better ways to handle these situations when they arise. A little knowledge and careful preparation go a long way to reducing worry. For instance, there’s no need to worry about getting to work on time, even when traffic seems to fight against you because you always have the option of leaving your house a little earlier. Reduce emotional pain. Let’s face it, tragedy happens. From the loss of a loved one to a sudden financial crisis, these moments come without warning and have the potential of being very negative influences on our mood. When tragedy strikes, many people find themselves running the events over and over in their minds. Unfortunately, allowing this to happen will quite often lead us to suffer from depression or substance abuse as we try to escape these thoughts. Many clients who seek help from a therapist do so because they are unable to let go of their tragedy and reduce the overwhelming emotional pain they are feeling. Counseling services are the best way to learn how to accept what has happened without denying your feelings or allowing your homelife, relationships, and career to suffer. Live stress-free. Coming to the realization that you can’t control others and learning from the consequences of your own actions are the first steps to letting go of stress. In the end, we are all powerless to change the past or predict the future. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can cause some sufferers to pull back from family, friends, and society in general. Most of the time, those suffering from PTSD are simply trying to avoid the situations similar to those that caused them harm. A well-trained therapist will counsel you on how to cope with the things that cause you stress and offer tools that will help you reduce...

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Therapy, in general, is more than just sitting on a couch in an office and complaining about your troubles. Effective counseling, especially when it’s geared toward helping couples, requires a lot of time, hard work, and patience. Upon completing an evaluation of your situation, your therapist will design a tailor-made treatment plan and recommend one or more additions to in-office counseling that will aid in the improvement of your relationship. 1. Required Reading Whether you and your partner read together or separately, the book recommendations given to you by your therapist should not be ignored. Sure, you could probably find some of this reading material on your own, but those experienced in providing couples counseling are the best resource when trying to weed out the few good publications from a very long list of relationship self-help books. For example, written works such as “The 5 Love Languages” by Gary Chapman and Dr. Gary Smalley’s “The DNA of Relationships” have been helping couples learn about how they show their love for one another and how to deal with situations that cause disharmony. 2. Fun & Games As families expand and careers grow, a lot of married couples begin losing sight of the fun they once had and this can lead to a shift in their connection and, therefore, their communication. However, taking advantage of even the smallest amounts of time goes a long way to keeping the lines of communication open. Any game that promotes communication can be very useful in a couple’s attempts to stay connected. Some of these games, like “Would You Rather?” are easily carried out over long periods of time via text messaging, giving couples the opportunity to respond when they can. Other options include sexy board games and “The Game of Truth”, both of which require honesty and the sharing of intimate details with one another. 3. Role Playing Two types of role-playing have been identified as very useful in helping couples reconnect and work through marital issues. Experts agree that role-playing aids both partners in reaching a deeper level of intimacy and by providing a safe outlet to explore their relationship. These exercises help couples express what they really want from each other. Role-playing in the bedroom is known to awaken couple’s creativity in a manner that makes them feel less inhibited and more willing to try new things. It can also help divert from the routine sex that frequently occurs in long-term relationships. Another type of role play instructs couples to act out a real event as each other. Role reversal activities such as this allow spouses to identify how they perceive each...

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Recently, a survey revealed that only 12 percent of marriage counselors have completed the education and clinical experience to offer quality services to clients. If you and your spouse feel the need to seek out the services of such a professional, you must be sure to find someone that has the knowledge necessary to help you through your issues. 1. Start with a search. The very best way to begin looking for a service provider of any kind will involve a simple Google search. Simply typing in the service you need and your location will give you local results. Some may be advertisements, but do not discount these providers for this reason alone. Advertising costs money and, most of the time, unsuccessful businesses cannot afford this luxury. 2. Read reviews. Many of the search results generated by Google will include review websites, such as Angie’s List and Yelp. These sites are useful to users because the companies can pay to be listed, but they have no control over the reviews written about their business. When looking for something specific, like a marriage counselor, industry-based sites can also be useful in separating the good from the bad. 3. Ask others. Unfortunately, as folks become older, more of their friends and family members have been through what are sometimes very trying times. If you and your spouse are having problems, chances are you know someone else that has as well – even if they haven’t discussed it with others. Perhaps you recently noticed a big improvement in how a couple you know is interacting. It never hurts to ask those couples where they learned those new skills. 4. Verify credentials. Not every state requires a license to practice marriage counseling, but there are still ways to verify a therapist’s ability to provide these services. This type of counseling requires a lot of education and checking on one’s completion of this schooling can be done by contacting the schools or training programs of which a therapist claims to have attended. Don’t rely on a framed degree or the presence of a training certificate. Degrees are easily faked and not all training programs are the same. 5. Meet her. The final thing you can do in order to choose the right marriage counselor for your situation will be to meet with them. At this time, you will be able to get a feel for the dynamic of the relationship and the compatibility of everyone’s personalities. If, after doing all of your homework, you meet with someone that seems genuinely interested in helping you learn how to solve your marital issues, and everyone feels...

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The need for therapy extends far beyond basic mental health issues. Most are aware that those with depression, eating disorders, and other diagnoses, are strongly encouraged to seek the services of a licensed professional in order to cope and begin healing. However, those without a clear family history or diagnosis may not even know that a therapist may be able to help with the things affecting their lives and relationships. 1. Sudden Mood Swings Abrupt and unaccountable changes in mood can be attributed to several different factors depending on the person and their situation. Though mood swings are sometimes connected to bipolar disorder, they can also be caused by other issues such as depression, stress, puberty, and pregnancy. 2. Loss of Motivation Often, patients do not see their own lack of desire or willingness to do the things they normally enjoy. This loss of motivation to carry out everyday tasks, or engage in beloved activities, is usually first spotted by friends and family members who will ask about the change and suggest seeing a therapist to find the cause. 3. Feelings of Isolation Perhaps you feel alone in a room full of people. It could be that you are going through something and it feels as if no one around you supports you or understands. These feelings are likely if you have been ill, suffered a recent personal or professional setback, or have lost connections with close family and friends after a change in your location. 4. Changes in Sleep Patterns Depression and anxiety are the two most common reasons why someone’s sleeping patterns will change. Those with depression and a loss of motivation will often find they are sleeping more each day, but do not feel rested upon waking. On the other hand, stress and anxiety will likely cause bouts of insomnia as patients fret and worry over the things that are affecting their lives. 5. Substance Abuse Substance abuse is not the reason to see a therapist or the problem with which she will help you learn to cope. Instead, therapists seek to find and treat the underlying issues that have led their patients to seek solace in drugs and/or alcohol. 6. Harmful Thoughts Persistent thoughts of harming yourself or others is a very moral reason to see a therapist. Stress and trauma are two of the biggest causes of sudden harmful thoughts. Patients are less likely to act on these thoughts if they are able to find ways of dealing with the pain or frustration from which they stem. 7. Recent Trauma Due to the host of ill-effects to which trauma can lead, seeking advice from...

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As technology progresses, doctors and therapists are beginning to see patients via the internet. Utilizing other medical services, physicians are remotely diagnosing and prescribing treatments to patients. Likewise, therapists have also begun counseling clients using email, group webinars, and text messaging. While this type of web therapy may seem like a convenient idea, there are several reasons you should continue seeing your therapist in-office. 1. Finding Quality Services Trying to find a high-quality, licensed, therapist through a smartphone app is probably the most difficult avenue for finding services. How do you verify the experience or qualifications of someone you’ve never met? These counselors could be anywhere in the world. Even if they are licensed, it does not mean they are licensed in your state or any other in the country. If you find yourself in-office counseling services and your therapist has found text messages as a helpful tool for reminders and quick check-ins, then by all means you should utilize this technology. The point is, seeing a real, live, person in an established office in your hometown is really the only way to verify their qualifications. 2. Valuable Cues Therapists use more than words to develop treatment plans for their clients. Not only would an online therapist fail to see drooping shoulders in a text message or email, but they would not hear the erms, um, and oh’s, that may accompany responses. These forms of communication allow clients to edit their replies and this can be misleading. There is a lack of pressure and clients have ample time to think about what they will say so their responses are less organic which can create problems for counselors. In an office, a therapist will see the body language and verbal pauses you use when confronted with certain questions or topics which allows him or her to assess you and treat you in the best way possible. 3. Client Confidentiality How often do we hear that some social media site or app has been hacked and users’ confidential payment information has been compromised. Anyone can create and release an app, but by no means does this mean they are interested in protecting your private information. Online counseling service websites may not be secure which can expose your deepest issues to the public. Contrarily, in-office therapy sessions are completely confidential, aside from a few exceptions, and you can be assured that a truly qualified and licensed therapist will be HIPAA-compliant in every case. 4. Insurance Coverage The use of web-connected counseling services is a fairly new concept. There hasn’t even been enough time to fully research these types of services. For this...

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The decision to visit a marriage counselor is never easy. Many couples feel that it is a sign of weakness or vow to resolve their relationship conflicts without outside assistance. Those with this mindset are only furthering their troubles and harboring the potential of mending their relationship. Lackluster results are oftentimes experienced by couples who attempt to resolve marital issues on their own. It is never easy to spend your life with another person, and problems are only anticipated. Understanding how to resolve those problems is key to a long, healthy, and happy marriage. A marriage counselor has the skills to help couples resolve a variety of problems leaving their marriage on the rocks. Receive Compassionate Training Marriage counselors are trained, experienced, compassionate individuals who’ve dedicated their lives to helping couples experiencing life’s triumphs so great that their togetherness is at-risk. They have the skills and expertise to resolve even the most complex of marital problems. If saving your marriage is important, the benefits of scheduling a visit with the counselor should only further entice you to seek help from a professional. Clear Communication A lack of communication is oftentimes a problem facing many couples. The inability to communicate leaves unspoken words and emotions to escapade into deeper issues. If you’re communicating in an unconstructive manner, whether yelling, cursing, or blaming, it only leads to additional conflict. Counselors trained in relationship therapy can help couples develop clear lines of communication, helping resolve prior issues and prevent them in the future. Understand Your Spouse Understanding your spouse, their needs, their wants, and their hopes are the best solution to making your spouse happy. Understanding their needs also helps you gain an understanding of these things for yourself. With this knowledge, it’s easy to determine if your partner can meet those needs. Work Through Unresolved Issues All couples endure problems during their relationship. It’s their response to those problems that oftentimes result in deepening issues. When a counselor helps you work through unresolved issues within your relationship, it’s easy to solve problems, or at a minimum, feel assured that you gave it your best shot. Conflict Resolution Learning the best ways to resolve conflict with your partner can resolve and prevent many of the issues that you now experience in your relationship. You can learn the best ways to resolve conflict with assertiveness, not aggressiveness, ensuring you get what you need without engaging in conflict. Relationship counselors work with couples to provide personalized attention addressing the exact needs of their relationship. The benefits above are only the start of many that help your relationship thrive once again. It’s ideal to take...

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