BY: Matthew Armstrong
Anxiety / Communication / Couples therapy / Depression / Faith / Marriage / Parenting / Personal Development / philosophy / Relationship / relationship counseling / Sobriety / Therapist / Therapy / Uncategorized
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What do you do?
My real title is Option Bringer. Clients that seek counseling often feel that there are little to no options in what they are struggling with. My role is to show them that there are options. I accomplish this by connecting. Connection is the key! My approach emphasizes creating a safe nonjudgmental space that allows clients to process their thoughts, feelings, and experiences. I enjoy giving clients homework in the form of worksheets that they can utilize to gain insight, knowledge and perspective. These are ?tools? that can provide clients success if they utilize them. All of this can provide hope and a way forward even in the most difficult of circumstances.
How do your life experiences contribute to your counseling style?
Helen Keller once said, ?Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.? My life and all its mountain tops and valleys are a reflection of this quote. Listing my ?credentials? in life doesn?t seem enough. We all have our trials and moments of great stress and grief that shape our life. I have endured and been blessed by my own. From the pain of addiction to the loss of my sister to suicide, those things were not easy to overcome. But God?s grace showed me I can. His strength was what I needed to stand and find my way out of the darkness.
This road of growth and change also wasn?t without error. Mistakes, yes, there were a few. But I learned from them. Through it all, including my years in graduate school and this journey of counseling, I have had a couple of constants that have kept me going. First, is my relation with Jesus Christ. He has guided me through all the twists and turns of my life. He has never left my side or walked away, even when I detoured from Him. Whatever success I have in this field I owe to Him. I can?t do this without His direction and His wisdom. Then there is my wife LeeAnn. She has validated and affirmed me like no one else. She helped me believe that I can go from being pessimistic to optimistic. I am driven to be the best I can be due to her never-ending patient love for me. So game on! I am in this game, an active participant, and I look forward to helping you elevate your game.
What do you specialize?
I work predominantly with adults 18 and up. Within that age group, I work and support clients in the following areas:
Blended Family issues.
Foster Parent issues
Depression and Anxiety
Domestic Violence, both victim and perpetrator
How do you approach therapy?
Everything in the client/counselor relationship starts with rapport. This is a strength I believe I have. As I mentioned earlier, having connection with the client is a cornerstone to success. Being consistent and showing up as myself. Showing up as authentic and fully present is something I strive for in every session. I don?t try to be someone I?m not.
Clients benefit when they see that they can be authentic. They don?t have to pretend they have it all together. They can be themselves around me. As trust increases, clients often start to peal back the different layers of their life. That?s when the real work begins. Lastly, as a Christian, whatever skill sets I have I rely on Him for guidance. So prayer is something that if clients ask for it, I offer it to them. Prayer is vital to what success I have and prayer is an effective weapon against the difficulties that all of us go through.
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BY: Matthew Armstrong
Anxiety / Depression / Faith / Family / Marriage / Relationship / Therapy / Trauma
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I am a therapist because I believe therapy is a tool that God created to heal the broken-hearted. I believe that this is a broken world and sin often leaves trauma in its wake. As a therapist, my goal is to work with families to break the family cycle of trauma. Trauma impacts people of every age, race, gender, religion, or socioeconomic status. Too often, I?ve seen people minimize their own trauma or the trauma of others. Minimizing the travesty of trauma does not help the healing process and can lead trauma victims have low self-esteem due to belief that they have little or no worth.
I love this quote that I came across on twitter last year, ?Someone who drowns in 7 feet of water is just as dead as someone who drowns in 20 feet of water. Stop comparing traumas, stop belittling yours or anyone else?s traumas just because it wasn?t ?as bad? as someone else?s. This isn?t a competition. We all deserve support & recovery? @jesssxb
My goal as a therapist is to provide support and recovery to victims of trauma so that they can learn to know their own worth and view themselves as worthy of growth, positive change, and a healthy life.
I cater my approach to individual client needs. I find that depending on the therapy approach that is most appropriate to the client, there are often pre-existing exercises/worksheets that are evidence based. I naturally have a DBT therapy style, but am eager to continue to grow in the use of models which come less naturally to me as no therapy approach fits every client?s needs. I have had training in Motivational Interviewing which is based in the Transtheoretical Model of Change. Motivational interviewing is incredibly helpful for helping individuals make difficult changes and stick with those changes.
As an adolescent I struggled with a lot of insecurity and depression. I was raised in a legalistic Christian home where I learned all about God?s wrath, and nothing about his mercy and love. I felt trapped in my own imperfection and was certain that perfection was the only acceptable lifestyle due to my family culture. This caused a lot of feelings of worthlessness and led to deep depression. I was blessed to be part of a great youth group at my church where I had a mentor and healthy mother figure who poured a lot of prayer, time, and love into me. God used her in my life to show me that the perfection I was striving toward was crippling me and keeping me from genuine growth.
As I began to believe that I have value and worth, I found myself wanting to empower other women to break free from their own insecurity and low self-esteem. When I was working toward my bachelor of social work degree, I worked in a restaurant. I recommended to a coworker that she should go home after work and write down ten things she likes about herself because she I observed that she had little to no sense of self-worth. I learned years later that she actually did so and it began her own journey of increasing her self-esteem. I have met very few women that do not experience shame/guilt for not meeting societal expectations. I have also seen the ripple effect that occurs when women empower other women to improve their core beliefs about themselves and the world.
BY: Angela Lake, MA, LPC, NCC | Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Specialist, Trauma, Parenting, & Relationship Expert
Faith / Infidelity / Marriage / Relationship / Trauma
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Marriage is a time when vows are taken.? Vows become a covenant.? Covenant is a word you may not hear a lot of unless you read a spiritual book like the Bible.? It is sacred word. Nowadays, there are people who don?t view marriage as sacred. When people in a relationship commit to each other and exchange vows, ideally, that event should be set apart.? What happens when that commitment is not looked after? If a marriage is left unattended or neglected by either spouse, then ugly will occur. What happens to the marriage if the husband or wife decides to seek comfort in the arms of another?
Infidelity, like adultery, is an ugly word.? Yet when spouses engage in an affair, ugly is the last thing they think about.? It?s a time of excitement and adventure for them.? The nagging guilt of breaking vows is often pushed back. Like an addict, the adulterer is very good at rationalizing their behavior.? It?s only when the person is caught or decides to finally come clean that the repercussions and consequences begin to unfold.? For the person being betrayed?? Other emotions are displayed.? Anger, hurt, betrayal, and sadness come screaming to the forefront.? Overnight, trust is shattered.? They ask questions and no answer seems good enough.
What happens next?? For some, infidelity is a deal breaker and to them there is no option but divorce. Lives are irrevocably changed.? Families are broken up and kids are left to wonder, “what happens now?”? There are a plethora of reasons why the Bible speaks so forcibly on the subject of adultery.? ?Do not commit adultery? is one of the 10 Commandments. God has warned us of the devastation that infidelity can bring.? It doesn?t get much plainer than those 4 words.? It?s Gods way of putting up flashing neon lights, road blocks, and danger signs just to get our attention.? Yet the sexual revolution has made it easier to go around these warnings signs and plow right into the ugly and pain.
There are some couples that fight for their marriage.? It is a difficult and emotionally draining time for both spouses. ?Offending spouses should come to a point of brokenness, not because they got caught, but because it is in that space of brokenness that remorsefulness is authentic that spouses can own up to their trespass. If the repentance is genuine, is there a chance for forgiveness and reconciliation?? For those that seek reconciliation, counseling can be a place where healing begins to take place.? My goal is that when clients meet with me or any therapist at Armstrong Family Counseling that they enter into a safe space that?s nonjudgmental and a place that fosters hope.
Both spouses have to face certain truths about the state of their relationship.? They will have to individually and together decide if their marriage is worth fighting for.? They will have to be willing to listen to each other. They should come to a point where they are willing to walk through the many different emotions and actions that a counseling session might bring up.?
Perhaps for the first time they will learn to be on the same page.? But as I am sure you know, nothing worth while ever comes easy.? Rebuilding a marriage will take time.? There are no easy fixes. ?If you are spiritual, then God or your higher power can play a giant role in bringing about new life to the marriage.? With honest hard work from both spouses, and lots of prayer, there is hope for a new beginning.? One woman wrote on the website The Unveiled Wife about her experience and what occurred when she trusted God to rebuild her marriage into something better.
?There is a reason for EVERYTHING ? every tear, every heartache, and every lonely night. Our marriage is already significantly more intimate, physically AND spiritually, than it ever was in the previous five years. Our God can heal? Our God can renew? It is all possible with our God. Believe!?
BY: Gabe Fry | LPC | Relationship, Depression, & Anxiety Expert
Faith / Uncategorized
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In my life I have had the great privilege to walk alongside people who are going through hell. Be it suicidal thoughts, abuse, neglect, gender dysphoria, divorce, or addiction. I have seen people who have gone through difficult things and often they ask where was God when this was happening? Or ?how could God allow this to happen?? Often these are asked with tears in their eyes rather than with an upraised fist; they genuinely want to know.
When I was in college I had my world rocked by two couple with whom I was good friends with first divorcing and then the two wives marrying. Soon after, one began transitioning to male. It was at this point for me a theoretical issue became a concrete one. I asked God, ?what do I do with this?? The same is true of many Christians who seek counseling.
It is hard?so hard, to hold true to what you have been taught about a certain subject and then to walk through it yourself. It?s hard when you have always believed divorce is wrong yet you find yourself contemplating it. Or when your child says they have gender dysphoria, are cutting, or suicidal.
Christ told us ?In this world you will have trouble?
This world is not a Christian?s home. It is in this life that your faith grows. Once you get to heaven your faith stops growing as God is there and can be seen. It is in the brief time upon the earth that God will grow and strengthen the faith of his children. Yet how does our faith grow? Peter had the right of it when he said in 2 Peter 3:18 that we ought to ?grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.? But how does one do this?
To grow in grace is accomplished first and foremost by failure.
Failure will teach you far more than success ever will. Proverb 24 :16 says that a righteous person falls down 7 times yet gets back up. The most gracious people I have ever met are those who have failed in life. When I was going through my divorce I found far more sympathy and grace from others who had gone through divorce then those who had not. This doesn?t mean that those who had never divorced were in the wrong it just means they haven?t grown in grace in this area.
Many Christians that I have counseled hate coming to a counselor. In fact, many times I have debated even advertising that I am a Christian counselor because of the pre-conceived notion people have about Christian Counselors. They feel that I will try to make them feel bad in order to motivate change. When the opposite is true. People are much more motivated to change when the guilt and shame is lightened instead of increasing it. The same is true of our walk as Christians! Christ once told a woman caught in adultery to go and sin no more. However, He told her only after letting her know that He did not condemn her behavior.
That is what it means to grow in your faith! It means truly understanding that God does not condemn you! Yes, even if you are having an affair! Yes, even if you are contemplating suicide! Yes, even if you are transitioning to another gender!
If you don?t believe me that?s okay, not everyone does. That?s why growing in faith is a journey. If you are reading this today and honestly don?t believe that God doesn?t condemn your actions then your God is too small and you need to grow in grace.
To grow in knowledge means to take in as much as you can about Jesus.
Growing in knowledge first and foremost one must read His word. I encourage my clients to download the YouVersion app on their phones and find a devotional plan to read each day.
It also means finding out what godly men and women have to say about Christ. This can be a pastor, an online blog or a wiser man or woman you know.
It?s also trying new things as a Christian. Donate your time to a cause, go on a mission trip, take risks!
Finally, growing in knowledge includes talking to God and seeking His input on the decisions of your life. James told us that if you lack knowledge of God then ask Him!