25 Feb 2019

BY: Matthew Armstrong

ADHD / How to / Medication / Parenting / Psychology / Therapy / Uncategorized

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Before You Medicate: Considerations Before Starting Your Child on ADHD Medication Part 1

Over the last few years the health care community has been forced to take a hard look at the prescription medications that providers have been putting out into the community.  The rampant misuse of doctor prescribed opiates, stimulants, and ?benzos? has compelled clinicians to re-evaluate their methods for treating patients.   But as encouraging as this trend has been, it is still important for us as patients and consumers to take an active role in our treatment.  A balance must be struck between relying on the expertise of providersand being conscious of what we choose to consume.

I want to preface this by saying that the correct medication can do wonders for your mental health.  The difficulty stems from (1) thinking that ONLY medications can help and (2) not taking the time to figure out the true nature of the problem before deciding on treatment.

Rule out other causes

It may be tempting to want to get your child on an ADHD medication at the first sign of problems in the home or school.  The presence of inattention, difficulty concentrating, irritability, excessive activity or aggression can all be disruptive to your child?s academic success and relationships with family or friends.  But, like most endeavors, mental wellness must be built on a solid foundation that cannot be rushed.  And the best place to start, is with a proper diagnosis.

This is often easier said than done.  For example irritability, increased sensitivity, sleeplessness, temper tantrums, and difficulty concentrating can all be seen by your clinician as signs of ADHD.  However, these symptoms are also what you might expect to see with DEPRESSION, as it presents in children.   Taking the time to ensure a thorough diagnosis may save you years of chasing your tale with minimal benefit (not to mention money).

Who should I have diagnose?

First and foremost, a diagnosis of ADHD has to come from a health care professional.  Resist the urge to self-diagnose!  While no one would argue that you aren?t the expert on your child (you almost certainly are) there are clinicians out there who are experts in mental illness, which is what you need.  If your child?s school is lucky enough to have a school psychologist, try reaching out to them to discuss options.  In the community, the primary clinicians diagnosing ADHD are psychiatrist.  These are medical doctors, with expertise in treating mental illness, and they are the only providers (at least in Kansas and Missouri) that can prescribe medication.  A Licensed Psychologist may also be a good person to reach out to for an initial diagnosis.  Although they cannot prescribe, they can help you create an optimal treatment plan for your child.

With all respect to teachers out there, teachers should not be diagnosing.  A well-reasoned recommendation from your child?s teacher may be worth taking into consideration, as they do spend a significant amount of time with your child in a structured environment.  But teachers should never diagnose.  I would also strongly encourage against letting your primary care physician prescribe psychopharmaceuticals to your child.  While they may have had some training in the past on mental illness, that does not mean they?re still well versed in the subject (you likely wouldn?t let your pediatrician perform an operation on you right?).  It?s far if your PCP suspects your child may be suffering from a mental illness, to just ask them for a recommendation to a good psychiatrist or psychologist.

What goes into a GOOD diagnosis?

As I previously stated, there is no definitive test for ADHD.  I am fond of saying things like, ?there?s no thermometer for depression or blood test for inattention?.  But that does not mean we should be taking shots in the dark hoping to hit something; especially when it comes to prescribing medications to a developing brain.  There are some ways for you to know that your child is receiving a good, well thought out diagnosis.  A thorough evaluationshould include the following:

  • Extensive history ? Any thorough diagnostic intervention is going to include a detailed history going back to infancy or earlier.  You never know where important diagnostic information may pop up, so having as much information as possible is a plus.
  • Multiple settings ? An often overlooked aspect of ADHD is that it appears in multiple settings.? You would normally expect impairment to be fairly global, with signs of hyperactivity/inattention appearing in multiple areas of life.? If you only see symptoms in one area (at school, at home, out with friends, etc.) then it would be a good idea to explore other diagnoses.?*this can be accomplished through testing discussed below*
  • Areas of strength ? aside from the difficulties, children with ADHD almost always have tasks or topics for them that are considered strengths and aren?t impaired by symptoms of hyperactivity or inattention.? When interviewing parents of children with ADHD, you almost always hear, ?Little Johnny just can?t focus on anything, except when it comes to ______ .? With that he?s focused in.?? It?s important to focus on these areas (reading, video games, sports, etc.) and take them into consideration during diagnosing.
  • Psychological testing?? I know, I know, I said there?s no DEFINITIVE test for ADHD.? But there are assessments that can lend some measure of objectivity to the diagnosing process and help rule out other issues besides ADHD. These tests include the Conners 3?, BASC-3, or Brown ADD Scales??and should be administered and interpreted only by a qualified professional.? A good psychological assessment should include 1) a developmental history, (2) a parent rating scale, (3) a teacher rating scale, (4) a self-report, and (5) observation.?

Now, clinicians certainly don?t HAVE to go through all of these steps before giving an ADHD diagnosis.  In fact, there are plenty out there that will give your child a diagnosis and prescription after one, 50 minute interview.  But like any treatment, you want to be sure your provider is treating the correct thing.  Just like you would want testing done to confirm lung cancer, rather than asthma for example, before starting chemotherapy.  Before your provider prescribes your child stimulants, it?s worth taking the time to rule out other causes; like depression.

Take away

There are plenty of good and effective medications and treatments available to help manage ADHD symptoms in your child.  But, there are ZERO shortcuts.  Before you invest the time, energy, and money into your child?s treatment, it?s crucial that you insist your clinician take the time to ensure an accurate diagnosis.

Thank you for reading.  Feel free to reach out with any questions or topics of interest.  In Part 2 we will be discussing treatments available, what the latest research is saying, and self-care.

25 Feb 2019

BY: Matthew Armstrong

Anxiety / Depression / Habits / How to / Life Coaching / Stress / Uncategorized

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Adjusting Your Nighttime Routine: Tips for Better Sleep and Good Mental Health

For those people who struggle to get a good night?s sleep, have you considered that you might be your own worst enemy? There are some definite ?dos? and ?don?ts? to observe, which include important measures that have a direct effect on your ability to sleep and maintain good mental health. Consistent, restorative sleep is closely tied to mental health ? when you?re tired, your mood suffers, you?re impatient, and you have trouble concentrating. Consequently, your sense of well-being is compromised, and symptoms of depression and anxiety may occur as a result.

What?s more, sleep is especially important for people recovering from drug or alcohol abuse. Sleep has a powerful healing effect on the body and mind, bolstering the immune system and strengthening your metabolism. It also improves your mental outlook, an important factor in recovering from the ravages of addiction.

Consider the following points if a lack of sleep is affecting your mental condition and ability to function on a daily basis.

Observe a Sleep Schedule

Many of us get to bed only when our daily responsibilities have been completed and, as such, fail to get the necessary seven to nine hours of sleep every night. Your body functions best when you follow a regular schedule, and going to bed at the same time and waking up every morning at the same time is the best way to recalibrate your internal clock. Also, stick with your sleep schedule through the weekend and on holidays so as not to disrupt your sleep schedule. Eventually, your body will fall into line and let you know when it?s time for bed.

Winding Down

You can?t expect to climb into bed and fall asleep straight away if you?re experiencing sleep deprivation and insomnia. It?s important to spend an hour or two winding down, so prepare yourself to sleep by observing relaxing habits such as reading a book, taking a hot bath, or engaging in meditation. These activities can calm your thoughts and slow your heart rate, both of which are necessary for you to feel sleepy.

Sleep-Conducive Environment

Insomnia can be a serious problem, leading to both mental and physical complications. If it persists, it might be time to take a close look at your sleep environment. People often make the mistake of leaving a TV or computer screen on at night or keeping a smartphone on the nightstand. These are disruptions that can prevent sleep. What?s needed is a dark and quiet environment, so consider installing blackout shades and using a white noise app or machine to mask any disruptive external sound. Pay close attention to the comfort of your bed ? rough sheets and heavy blankets may drive up your body temperature, making it hard to get to sleep.

Don?t Force It

As a kid, do you remember being told by a parent just to lie in bed until you got tired? It?s a convenient piece of parental advice, but it doesn?t work when you?re an adult with a sleep problem. Whether you?re tossing and turning or just lying in bed thinking about next week?s big client presentation or an argument you had with your spouse, you?re only making the situation worse. Instead, get up and sit quietly in a darkened room, or do some light reading until your eyelids start to get heavy.

Limit Food and Drink at Night

Ingesting caffeine at night is a bad idea if you suffer from insomnia, as is eating a meal too close to bedtime. Your metabolism has to work to process the food, and you won?t feel like sleeping. Some people like to have a few drinks before bed, thinking it?ll help them wind down after a busy day. Unfortunately, alcohol undermines the healing, rejuvenating REM sleep you need to feel good and stay healthy.

Think through your sleep habits if you?re having difficulty at night. You might find that a simple adjustment will make a big difference. A consistent nighttime routine, a restful sleep space, and a little willpower in the evening can restore your mental well-being and leave you feeling refreshed and reinvigorated during the day.

Image courtesy of Pixabay

03 Dec 2018

BY: Matthew Armstrong

How to / Parenting / Psychology / Uncategorized

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4 Ways to Help Encourage Your Children to Attend School

School refusal is becoming and evermore common concern for parents of children and teens.? School anxiety effects 25% of school aged children, with 2-5% refusing to attend school altogether.? With it?s short- and long-term consequences being particularly concerning, parents often feel unsure about how to address the problem.

For our purposes, school refusal should be considered separate from general truancy, due to the presence of emotional distress (specifically around attending school) and an absence of antisocial behaviors.? School refusal is a psychosocial problem, meaning it can be considered the result of both psychological and environmental issues.? This may manifest as complaints of physical symptoms shortly before it is time to leave for school or asking to the nurse, but once allowed to stay home, the symptoms quickly disappear.? Common physical symptoms include headaches, stomachaches, nausea, or diarrhea with behavioral symptoms manifesting in tantrums, inflexibility, separation anxiety, avoidance, or defiance.

The emotional distress that is frequently associated with school refusal often manifests as fear or anxiety, with about 50% considered to have anxiety disorders. However, while it is often characterized as anxiety driven avoidance of school and school-based activities, there seems to be no absolute-uniformity in the development of these behaviors. ?Depression has also been shown to be associated with poor school attendance. ?And although mood-related issues are often centered around school or school related activities, that is not always necessarily the case.? For example, the presence of depression often manifests in symptoms that may result in poor attendance yet not be directly related to school, such as general lethargy and/or loss of interest.

The question then becomes, what can be done to help combat school refusal problems?? Most of the research done on school refusal interventions has centered around Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), behavioral interventions, and psychopharmacological interventions. A 2016 study that examined the effects of combined intervention of CBT and fluoxetine (Prozac) showed significant improvement in school attendance and mood concerns; with the improvements showing stability at 6 and 12 months. Behavioral interventions often draw upon principles of operant conditioning, focusing on how school refusal has become reinforced; either positively or negatively.? Graded or In Vivo exposure both have a long history of use in anxiety management and can be implemented to help re-acclimate the child to being in school.? Parents can also help support consistent attendance by emphasizing the positive aspects of school, helping to develop a support system within the school, meet regularly with teachers/counselors, encourage distractions such as hobbies and interests, and talking with your child about their feelings/fears about school.

4 Ways to Help Encourage Your Children to Attend School

Although it can be scary and troubling when your son or daughter starts refusing to go to school, it?s important to remember there are things you can do to help.?students chairs

  1. Don?t panic!? It?s tempting to interpret refusal as disrespect, rather fear or distress.? Keep your cool.
  2. Intervene early, as it will improve outcomes.
  3. Utilize outside support; spouse, teachers, counselors, therapists, etc.? You don?t have to do it on your own.?(816) 448-1663
  4. Be supportive.

For more information about helping your child or teen manage their anxiety reach out to Armstrong Family Counseling, (816) 448-1663?or at ArmstrongFamilyCounseling.com.

lonely girl 03 Dec 2018

BY: Matthew Armstrong

Christian / Loneliness / Relationship

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Loneliness

I’ve had the privilege of working with many different types of people-addicts, veterans, couples, singles and even a few kids. Although they each had individual issues, they each grappled, in some way, with loneliness.

At it’s core, loneliness is about a lack of connection.? That connection could have been broken by the death of a loved one or the end of a relationship.?? Another type of loneliness can occur when a person makes a whole change of environment. ?Perhaps you moved to a new state for a job or fresh start. ?Making new friends can take time and that might lead to some lonely days. Loneliness can be weakened or strengthened depending on one’s perspective.?Let’s focus on three types of loneliness and take a look at strategies to overcome these types of loneliness.

Loneliness in relationships:

Most of my work is with couples.? Couples can lead a lonely existence in a relationship when they don?t feel listened to.? Being lonely in a relationship seems odd because we?re with somebody.? We share space with that person.? But if key ingredients are missing then the feelings of loneliness can and most likely will occur.?? Communication is a main “relationship” ingredient and if BOTH sides of the couple aren?t willing to work on this skills, that loneliness of not being heard and listened to can lead a spouse or significant other to another person or the end of the relationship.Couples can lead a lonely existence in a relationship when they don?t feel listened to.

Typically after an initial session, I email all my couples worksheets on reflective listening skills and creating fair fighting rules in handling disagreements.? Bad listening is a learned behavior that perhaps we learned from our parents.? We can learn new behaviors to improve our listening abilities.? Having fair fighting rules, if you use them, can move a couple from an adversarial relationship (Me, you, win, lose) to learning to fight the problem together and not against each other.? These are building blocks in becoming less lonely in a relationship and more connected.

Loneliness in singleness:

Are you single?? Do you struggle with loneliness?? Maybe not every day, but sometimes?? I can relate.? I didn?t get married until I was 41 years old.? I spent most of my young adult life in single groups and dating sites on the internet hoping to find that one connection that would cure my feeling lonely.? When I was 30, I watched a lot of friends get married.? ?I kept asking God when was it going to be my turn to start a family.? I wasn?t a hunk, but I’ve always been a nice guy.? Nice guys finish last.? I felt like that and my loneliness led me to have some incredible pity parties. ?Me, myself and I showed up and all three of us never made the party better.? It wasn?t until I started working on myself and focusing on personal growth areas that I began to change and that brought about a different perspective shift.

My focus took a change to where it wasn?t all about me.? My identity wasn?t rooted in desperation to be with someone any more.? I found my security as a single person was rooted in my faith and having healthy friendships.? I could be independent and happy and still be single.? One day I was listening to a guest speaker at my church and he had experienced incredible loss in his life.? He had lost his whole family in a massive flash flooding accident.? He was the only one that survived.? Google: Robert Rogers family and learned how he coped.? He had appeared on many of the morning talk shows and people asked him how he could go on and survive such a tragic event.?? He said it was the peace of God that was getting him through it and quoted this verse that changed my life:

Philippians 4:6-7: ?Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.? And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Right then the light bulb turned on in my brain.? I wanted that peace in my love life.? So, at 38 years old, this scripture set me on a new path. ??I trusted all of my hopes, my dreams and my expectations of being with someone over to God’s care.? I had to be at peace whether I married someday or never dated again.? What about you?? If you?re single, how have you coped with feeling lonely in your singleness?? Moping about it and having endless pity parties won?t help.? Remember, if you do nothing, nothing changes.? Focus on others.? Volunteer at your church or a community group.? Find social groups that align to your interests and hobbies so you can meet other people.?? If you need more ideas, reach out to me.? I can help because I?ve been there. ?I would love to help you take the first few steps of finding happiness in being single.

Loneliness in children:

One little documentary was released this summer that captivated the nation if not the world.? ?Won?t You Be My Neighbor? is about Fred Rogers and his passion for making connections.? He connected with kids like almost nobody else.? He showed them that no matter who they were, they had value.? They mattered, and they are loved.?? He also listened to the children he interacted with. ?He was genuinely interested in what they had to say.? That told them that they had a voice.?? Most of us have seen Mr. Rogers Neighborhood on PBS when we were younger.? The message of Mr. Rogers needs to be repeated over and over.? Because many of today?s kids feel like they don?t have a voice?except on social media and sometimes that?s a scary place to be.? Research continues to show that kids and teens that are constantly on social media and not interacting in person are more prone to loneliness and self esteem issues.

The ills of society have left our kids feeling lonely.? Divorce has caused kids pain and hurt and even damaged their thoughts. Often, their hopes are drowned out by the roar of their parent?s anger. Some children become pawns in a game of power play that parents create to get their kids to side with them.

What can we do about this growing epidemic?? Here are a couple of suggestions.

  1. Interact with your children. Make time to take them on parent-child dates.? Trips in the car are valuable for conversation. ?Listen to them. ?Get to know you kids interests, hopes and fears.? Find out who their friends are and get to know their parents.? Have fun with your kids and let them know it?s ok to have feelings, good and bad.
  2. Be consistent in your own behavior.??Follow through with what you say you will do.? Model appropriate behavior around your children.? Your kids are watching you and they look to you for moral, emotional, structure, and spiritual guidance.? If you?re not providing these, the child that gets older can become more susceptible to listening to those voices and examples that do not have their best interests in mind.

Lastly if a child is lonely, we have an incredible opportunity to help them form healthy connections? Do they have someone they can talk to and spend time with like a teacher, friend, relative, mentor or parent? ?We all need healthy connections and children are not different.?? This article has just scratched the surface to what some face.? Counselors at Armstrong Family Counseling have a wealth of experience to help adults and children cope with loneliness.

Connecting with others is a big way to overcome the stigma of loneliness. If you are lonely and need to talk, contact us today.?

01 Dec 2018

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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Q&A with Michael French

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.

Credit: AnExtraordinaryDay.net

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:

Relationship Counseling
Singles Counseling
Blended Family issues.
Foster Parent issues
Career concerns
Depression and Anxiety
PTSD
Christian Counseling
Domestic Violence, both victim and perpetrator
Addictions

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.

 

Contact Michael French today!

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21 Jul 2018

BY: Matthew Armstrong

Personal Development / Therapy

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Positive Thinking & Gratitude

Take a moment to reflect on this morning. What was your first thought when you awoke? If you are like many people, it was, ?I did not get enough sleep last night.? It is also likely that your last thought as you prepare to go to sleep each night is, ?I did not accomplish enough today.? If you are frequently beginning and ending most days with these ?not enough? thoughts, you might have difficulty engaging in positive thinking throughout each day. Your thoughts about all the things in your life that are ?not enough? may lead to feeling that you are not enough.

Our culture is filled with messages that feed this ?not enough? mindset. There are expectations that in order to be enough, you have to be the best, work the hardest, and achieve the most. This idea that the ordinary is not enough cultivates dissatisfaction and unhappiness.

Replacing your ?not enough? thinking with positive thinking will improve your satisfaction and feelings of happiness. This process starts with a shift in perspective.

Circumstances have a lot less control over your emotions than you might realize. Your emotions, including feelings of happiness, are closely connected to your thoughts. Positive thinking leads to positive emotions. A key to increasing positive thinking about yourself and your experiences is gratitude.

?I don?t have to chase extraordinary moments to find happiness ? it?s right in front of me if I?m paying attention and practicing gratitude.? Bren? Brown

Gratitude is more than saying, ?thank you,? to a stranger for holding the door open. Gratitude is a state of being ? a lifestyle. Living in a state of gratitude means recognizing that you do have control of your thoughts and choosing to trade in your, ?not enough? thinking, for ?enough? thinking. Gratitude is choosing to say, ?this is good, because?,? or, ?I am doing well, because??

Mindfully choosing to practice gratitude will increase contentment, reducing ?not enough? thinking which traps people in shame and feelings of inadequacy. Gratitude provides freedom from feelings of shame and inadequacy and allows you to begin thinking positively about yourself and your circumstances.

Melody Anderson | MSW | Armstrong Family Counseling | Teen and Young Adult Trauma And Depression Expert

Melody Anderson |LMSW | Play Therapy |Trauma Expert |Neurofeedback Provider

24 Jun 2018

BY: Matthew Armstrong

Anxiety / Depression / Faith / Family / Marriage / Relationship / Therapy / Trauma

Comments: 1 Comment

Melody Anderson | Play Therapy | Trauma Specialist | Neurofeedback Provider

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.Melody Anderson | MSW | Armstrong Family Counseling | Teen and Young Adult Trauma And Depression Expert

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.

Contact me today and let’s start the journey towards becoming who you were created to become!

 

Girl at peace around flowers

Butterfly | Angela Lake | Armstrong Family Counseling 24 Jun 2018

BY: Matthew Armstrong

Therapy / Trauma / Uncategorized

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Angela Lake’s Philosophy

A personal philosophy I have is the butterfly in the cocoon. The caterpillar typically has spun a cocoon around themselves, and are struggling and fighting to change (fighting their existence of being a caterpillar, fighting the environment, fighting the metamorphosis itself). If someone tears open the cocoon the butterfly will die. The caterpillar must do the work to change and become the beauty the lies within. They may not understand who they are as a caterpillar, they may not know how to change, they may not have an environment that is safe for them to change, they may fear or not believe they can become a butterfly.

As a therapist I want to assist in understanding of self, to define desires or goals, to encourage and support change and work toward goals, to give tools and interventions, to provide information and education, and to celebrate the butterfly.

Contact me today to start your journey towards, healing, hope, and joy!

Unhappy couple on bench 16 May 2018

BY: Angela Lake, MA, LPC, NCC | Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Specialist, Trauma, Parenting, & Relationship Expert

Faith / Infidelity / Marriage / Relationship / Trauma

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How To Handle Infidelity

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!?

If you need help moving foward, I am a relationship expert. I can help you. Don’t wait, contact me today!happy couple

Girl at peace around flowers 21 Apr 2018

BY: Angela Lake, MA, LPC, NCC | Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Specialist, Trauma, Parenting, & Relationship Expert

Depression / Emotional Intelligence / Life Coaching / Personal Development / Uncategorized

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The Mental Health Benefits of Physical Self-Care

Saying the mind and body are connected is nothing new. The Ancient Greeks attempted to understand the mental phenomena of emotions and their complex connections to physiological order. That fascination continued through the Roman era, the Renaissance, and on throughout history — and that?s just Western European culture. Physicians and philosophers all over the globe have explored the mind and body connection since the beginning of time and even recent science backs up the claim that they are intrinsically connected.

If you are not taking care of your physical self, your mental health is likely not where you want it to be. For instance, one of the main symptoms of depression is poor personal hygiene. Addicts are another good illustration of this problem. Addicts turn to self-harm in the form of drug or alcohol abuse as a way to cope with their own mental health issues. While environmental and genetic components also contribute to the disease, the mind/body link plays its part.

Taking the time to take care of the physical self can have a helpful impact on your mental health and addiction recovery. In addition to seeking help and supervision through a physician, try incorporating the following self-care rituals into your routine.

Establish a Solid Sleep Routine

Sleep is awesome, so why do so many of us get so little of it? According to the American Sleep Association, 50 to 70 million American adults have some sort of sleep disorder, insomnia being the most common one. Sleep problems are common in addicts, as well. Drug and alcohol abuse disrupt the body?s natural rhythm along with the neurochemicals and hormones that help control rest. After a while, the body forgets how to rest properly.

Thankfully, you can retrain your body by establishing a sleep routine and following it religiously. It?s not just about going to sleep and waking up at the same times every day — although those two things are key. Practicing good sleep hygiene has a lot to do with how you spend the hours before bedtime.

  • Limit stimulants including nicotine and caffeine.
  • Invest in some soothing herbal teas you can drink leading up to bedtime to help brain and body relax.
  • The glow of your television, computer and smartphone screens keep the brain alert. Turn them off and put them away an hour before bed.
  • Turn your bedroom into a sanctum of rest. Buy yourself nice linens, keep the room temperature cool, and use a white noise machine or essential oils to create ambience.
  • Read a chapter of a book before you fall asleep to help your mind wind down. If you are still not sleepy, read another chapter until you are.

Exercise Regularly

You may think exercise is just something you have to do if you want to lose weight, but it?s essential to the addiction recovery process. Drugs and alcohol trick your body to think it needs them by triggering the brain?s reward system. When you give up those substances, you can help beat cravings with exercise. Physical activity also stimulates that part of the brain while also releasing neurochemicals like dopamine and endorphins, which relieve pain and promote a positive mindset. You don?t have to train for a marathon to get these benefits, either. Just walking an extra half hour a day provides significant benefits.

Explore Healthy Stress Release

Finding some way to release stress and anxiety in a healthy manner is essential for addiction recovery. Meditation, yoga and hobbies like knitting help people tune out those thoughts and criticisms without having to use drugs or alcohol. Think of them like exercise for your brain. During these mindful exercises, you will experience negative thoughts. However, by recognizing those thoughts, dismissing them and returning your attention to your activity, you are training your brain to dismiss them on its own. The more you practice, the easier it becomes and your brain learns to automatically pass over self-criticisms in your day-to-day life so you can stay focused.

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Since the mind and body are connected, your physical health has a significant impact on your mental health and vice-versa. When you struggle with a mental health issue like addiction, incorporating a solid sleep routine, exercise, and healthy coping mechanisms for stress all contribute to recovery. Incorporate daily physical self-care routines in your efforts to heal yourself holistically.

**Visit Brad’s website and learn more about becoming the best you here

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