BY: Matthew Armstrong
Communication / Conflict / Culture / Family / Holiday / relationship counseling / traditions
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For many people, the holiday season truly is ?the most wonderful time of the year,? and for many others, this is an ideal they struggle to achieve. ?Whether you grew up with great holiday memories, struggling to recreate those experiences as an adult, or you grew up with terrible memories, now attempting to give your new family the opposite, it is not an easy task to achieve family unity and joy during the holiday season.? Let?s examine some common obstacles and how to work to overcome them.
It is a common tendency in relationships to resolve issues by ignoring them.? Doing so results in the buildup of pain and irritation.? This is similar to an untreated infection in the body.? Let?s say you fall and scrape your knee, and many unsavory particles make their way deep into your tissue, and instead of cleaning it out, you simply put a bandage over it and ignore it.? Over time, infection sets in, and touch becomes sensitive.? Eventually, activities as simple as walking will become very difficult, if not impossible.? In relationships, the unresolved issues are the infection.? Any attempt to discuss those issues brings pain, and any attempt to draw closer together becomes difficult, and perhaps even impossible while the infection in the relationship remains.? In these cases, it is recommended to seek relationship counseling.? A qualified relationship counselor is skilled in healing conflict, just as a qualified physician in skilled in treating an infection.? Resolving the issues removes the barriers to unity and joy in the relationship.
Thanksgiving and Christmas are so deeply loved by many people that any change to these holidays are often seen as wrong, or even heretical.? Instead of bickering about which family tradition is correct and which is a mockery, it is better to understand that with the creation of a new family must come the creation of new and unique traditions.? Any attempts to recreate past traditions will ultimately end in frustration since there are different people involved, and it is a different generation.? Creating a new culture, your family?s culture, the culture your children will forever remember, is a wonderful and rewarding endeavor that has the power to unify the family in a lasting way.? This takes time, patience, and the consideration of new ideas.? Many families can accomplish this on their own, but if those attempts fail, relationship counseling can be a wonderful tool to help build a strong, unified family culture.
Time is currency in the world today, and anything we desire requires a payment.? People have named our age the ?information age.?? It is called this because we can now access nearly any information we desire within seconds on a small rectangular device we carry everywhere we go.? More than anytime in recorded history, we can manage most of our affairs without getting out of bed.? We can pay bills, shop, connect with people, go to school, make money, watch movies, file a lawsuit, renew a prescription, all without even standing up.? There is one thing, however, that we cannot do from this small rectangular device, and that is to build strong, healthy relationships.? This requires time, time spent engaged with people, time not spent staring at a screen.? We can?t approach a relationship the way we monitor social media.? The time required to build strong, healthy relationships is not small; it is substantial.? Time is currency, and if we don?t pay the full price, the result is like the cheap shirt we buy at the discount store that shows its first tear two weeks after buying it.? On the other hand, if we spend substantial time together as a family, and that time is quality, it will be an investment that will pay us back with love and joy for years to come.? In summary, the holiday season can be a wonderful time to build strong, healthy relationships if we resolve buried issues, if we create new traditions together, and if we spend large amounts of quality time together.? If these attempts fail for any reason, seek a qualified relationship counselor who can help you and your family succeed.
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: Matthew Armstrong
Divorce / Family / Mediation / Parenting
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As we’ve recently celebrated Father?s Day, I was reminded that the purpose of Father?s Day is to acknowledge all fathers and celebrate their special day. However, if your family has been impacted by divorce, it may not seem like a celebration. If this sounds like your situation, it may feel extremely stressful for you, your ex, and your children. If you are a mother, please remember you are normally the first person your child bonds with. Therefore, you can assume a positive role of modeling how to respect their father, no matter how you may feel about him (unless he was abusive and safety is a concern.) I would ask the same type of respect from him on Mother?s Day.
By having an open dialogue with your ex, your communication models how you have set aside any negative feelings toward the father(s) of your children because you know that is best for your child or children. Depending on the ages of your child/children, volunteer to take them to a card store so they can choose a Father?s Day card. Or, if that isn?t in your budget, suggest that they make a card.
If your child/children express an interest in giving dad a gift, again, follow through with their idea. If finances are an issue, once again, encourage them to make something for dad. Even if you have negative feelings toward their father, by helping them with these tasks, you are modeling for them how to ?care? for another human being.
Allow your children to spend Father?s Day with their dad on his special day. Try to do this no matter what is outlined in your parenting plan (if you don?t have a parenting plan or need to revise it and don?t want to pay for an attorney or the cost of going to court, consider contacting a mediator to help you resolve any conflicts or to assist you in making changes to the plan.) Flexibility and mutual consideration as co-parents makes your children much healthier emotionally and mentally.
If geography or travel logistics are an issue in bringing together your children and their father, suggest using social media so they can ?see each other.? Depression, loneliness and isolation are common in divorced or estranged parent(s.) If you experience these things frequently, please contact a therapist and /or seek help. I can help you. Your children need you in their lives.
Fathers, you need to ask your ex-spouse and/or the mother of your children for what you need. Maybe you (father) would really like your child/children to spend Father?s Day and an additional day since school is out for the summer. If you and your ex can communicate and practice being flexible, you are less likely to feel resentful.
For both parents, even though you are divorced, remember to stay focused on the needs and well-being of your child/children. It is crucial to plan ahead for holidays or other ?special? days so your child/children see that even though you are divorced, both of you are co-parenting in healthy ways.
If you are struggling with co-parenting, or other issues, mediation may be something to consider. Mediation is a more peaceful, economical resolution to resolve conflict. Please contact me. I am a therapist and a?Kansas State Supreme Court Approved Mediator.? Let’s start rebuilding your relationships today!