Anxiety and Trauma: PTSD

PTSDFacing trauma is hard. It is a difficult battle that often times seems unfairly won by the opposing side. We do our best to ignore, push down, and forget the trauma, but it just doesn’t seem to go away. The event of the trauma seems to stay with us. And while this is true, sometimes the experience of the trauma produces unwanted things such as anxiety. When we’re faced with trauma memories and anxiety, life can become quite overwhelming.

What is trauma?

Trauma is an emotional response to an event that very scary, dangerous, or violent. This could be an accident, natural disaster, or violent act you witness to someone or to yourself. Being a part of a traumatic event can have a significant effect on an individual.

You may experience such things as flashbacks – where a disturbing memory suddenly comes back and interrupts what you’re presently doing, nightmares that keep you from falling asleep at night or staying asleep or getting back to sleep after you have woken up. It can also include crying or fear when seeing something that reminds you of the trauma.

What is anxiety?

Anxiety is an overwhelming sense of uneasiness or apprehension that is often followed with compulsive behavior or panic attacks. Anxiety can happen when we come in contact with a trigger (an event, place, or situation that reminds us of a traumatic event) or it can happen, what feels like, out of nowhere. Anxiety can be your heart racing or thumping inside you, your palms sweaty, and a heaviness on your chest or difficulty breathing.

When anxiety hits, you can quickly feel like you are out of control and unable to regain any sense of normalcy. Anxiety is typically thought of as foe, though a little can be helpful just before a big performance or event. Anxiety, when out of control, can create such panic within an individual.

What happens when trauma and anxiety collide?

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, is not just applicable to war veterans. When an individual faces an event that involves actual or threatened death or serious injury to self or others, PTSD can happen. If flashbacks are present, reoccurring dreams, acting or feeling like the traumatic event was reoccurring, anxiety rises, or you’re reacting to a person, place, or thing that reminds you of the trauma, you may be dealing with PTSD.

When dealing with PTSD you work hard to avoid thoughts, feelings, activities, places, or people that remind you of the traumatic event. There is a great deal of hopelessness as well as having difficulty connecting with other people. One’s desire participate in usual activities decreases or disappears altogether.

What are possible life events that could trigger PTSD?

  • War
  • Rape/Incest
  • Car Accident
  • Fire
  • Physical Abuse
  • Robbery
  • Assault
  • Natural Disaster
  • Terrorism
  • Torture

Now what?

Trauma, Anxiety, and PTSD can produce a host of unwanted symptoms.

  1. Talking with a therapist can be extremely helpful in sorting out the traumatic experience and understanding the anxiety within.
  2. Routine exercise can be helpful in bringing down high levels of cortisol, which produce the anxious feelings.
  3. Journaling can be helpful in sorting out your thoughts and organizing them so they don’t seem so overwhelming.
  4. Taking deep, belly breaths can help you get adequate oxygen into your system – when we are dealing with anxiety, we tend to take short, shallow breaths which makes things worse.

An important thing to realize about trauma is that your story matters. And it matters because YOU matter. Your HEART matters. Having someone to journey with you and process your trauma and help you with the anxiety can be life changing. Call The Relationship Center today to schedule an appointment.


 

anxiety counselorsOver 1,700 families in southwest Missouri trust the counselors of The Relationship Center to serve their counseling needs. With more than 18,500 hours of therapy in the last 5 years alone TRC counselors have the experience that can make the difference. We specialize in Biblically Christian and Clinically Proven Counseling provided by Licensed Professionals. Session fees range from $75-$125 and we have payment plans & scholarships to meet every budget. Have more questions? Click Here to Learn More About Anxiety Counseling at The Relationship Center

The Impact of Chronic Illness on a Family

chronic illness and the family

The Impact of Chronic Illness on a Family

We have ALL had a sick kiddo in our family at some point in time.  The stomach bug goes around, winter colds are passed from member to member, sore throats and ear aches happen to us all.  And when our kiddos are sick, we care for them.  We pay extra attention to them, tending to the needs they have.  The family adjusts.  But what do we do when the family is impacted by a child who is facing chronic illness?  As parents, how to we manage the care of the impacted child while maintaining care for the others and ourselves?

Facing a chronic illness in and of itself is difficult to do.  Watching our kiddo face it is harder.  There is a great helplessness that comes with watching our kids battle something beyond our control.  There is an unfairness to it.  We’d do anything to switch places with them.  We’d gladly take their suffering and give them our healthy bodies.  Unfortunately, there’s no way to do that.

Several areas of our family life can be impacted when chronic illness is present.  Our marriage, other kiddos, self-care, and interpersonal relationships can all feel the effect of chronic illness.  So how do we do this thing?  How do we stay intact during this season of our life?

Let’s look at marriage:

When one of our children is sick or has a disability, the marriage can take a beating, especially when there is lack of communication.  The kiddo with chronic illness/disability requires more attention.  It’s just a fact.  There are more needs, more time is required, and the learning curve is STEEP.  This can take a toll on the marriage if both parents are not intentional about coming together and supporting each other.  Some ways of doing this would be:

  • Words of encouragement – I am thankful to journey this with you. You’re doing a great job. I’m here for you.
  • Giving each other time to rest and connect with others – Why don’t you take a nap or go spend some time with some friends.
  • Showing appreciation can go a long way in any marriage, but especially when more is required – I so appreciate all you do!

Both parties need to be intentional to ask for what they have need of. Both parties need to be a support to each other.  Ecclesiastes 4:12 states that “A CORD OF THREE STRANDS IS NOT EASILY BROKEN” – the third cord being God.  It is VITAL to steal away time with your spouse, even if it’s on the couch chatting for ten minutes before bed or snagging a tight hug in passing.  A SOLID marriage with help all parties involved.

Let’s look at the kids:

Kids are needy.  Kids are demanding.  Kids require a lot from us.  And that’s when they’re healthy!  But what about when one is needing some extra care for extended amounts of time?  Kiddos with chronic illness/disability DO require more care, and that’s ok.  Each child deserves their needs to be taken care of.  Each child deserves to be loved.  It is important, though, as parents we be intentional about building relationship with our other kiddos too We need to be intentional about not using the chronic illness as an excuse – for example “I’m too tired to do ­­­­_________ with you because I’ve been caring for your brother”.  This sort of statement will build resentment between siblings.  Instead, state facts – “I’m not able to play right now, but let’s set a time for later” – and keep true to your word.  Talk with your kids freely about the chronic illness/disability.  Let them ask questions.  Let them share their frustrations and emotions around the issues.  Help them gain understanding on why things are the way they are or why things have to be done a certain way – “I know you love peanut butter but it can make brother very sick.”

Let’s look at self-care:

This is the piece that most often gets neglected.  Self-care is important for each person to do anyhow, but it is especially important for those facing chronic illness/disability.  The demands are high.  The stress is high.  Self-care is not about being selfish.  It’s about CARING FOR YOURSELF so you can go back and care for your family, being refreshed so you can go and refresh others.  Blaming yourself is not going to be helpful either.  Racking your brain to figure out what you could have done differently won’t help.  Sometimes the best idea is simply taking a bath, going for a walk, getting away for a gym class, or taking a nap while kiddos nap. Even having a good cry can be helpful and refreshing.  You cannot give what you don’t have, so if you have nothing left, you’ll have nothing to give your family.

Let’s look at interpersonal relationships:

This is IMPORTANT.  Having other people, outside the immediate family, is beneficial.  Friends can be there when you need them to be.  Friends can encourage.  Friends can be a part of your self-care and go out to lunch or a walk with you.  Friends can help you keep perspective.  Friends can uplift you in prayer.  Interpersonal relationships help keep your eyes up and aware of what’s going on around you instead of you staying focused on what is going on with you.

Having a kiddo with chronic illness/disability is hard.  But it’s NOT IMPOSSIBLE.  Putting things in place to care for your heart, your marriage, and your family will help whether you’re new to the chronic illness/disability scene or you’ve been there for a while.  Allow yourself the blessing of being cared for by God, others, and yourself.

 

depression counselorsOver 1,400 families in southwest Missouri trust the counselors of The Relationship Center to serve their counseling needs. With more than 14,000 hours of therapy in the last 5 years alone TRC counselors have the experience that can make the difference. We specialize in Biblically Christian and Clinically Proven Counseling provided by Licensed Professionals. Session fees range from $75-$125 and we have payment plans & scholarships to meet every budget. Have more questions? Click Here to Learn More About Marriage Counseling at The Relationship Center

WIVES, SUBMIT?

When we, as women, hear the phrase, “wives, submit”, we cringe. We, in our women empowerment movement, twitch and our skin crawls at the idea of ‘submitting’ to someone else – especially when that someone else is supposed to be our partner!

We are strong, we are capable, we are able to accomplish whatever it may be that is before us. We don’t need to submit to our spouse. This whole idea of submission is so outdated. Past tense. “Old Testament” if you will.
We are, if nothing else, a team. EqualsPrecisely.Wives, Submit
Girls, that is EXACTLY what God had in mind when he created us. To be a part of a team with our spouse. That is God’s heart for our marriages. Within that system, God has called us women to godly submission to our husbands, just as God has called husbands to love their wives.

What Submission is not:

Let’s get this out of the way real quick.
Submitting to your spouse is NOT:

  • Allowing him to lord over you like an untamed dictator.
  • Having your strings pulled by your spouse for compliance.
  • The idea of submission is not to every man – your spouse only.
  • Does not and should not produce lop-sided relationships.
  • A dig nor is it a blow to your integrity.

What Submission is:

Conceding to the idea of your husband being a leader in the home

What?!? Didn’t we just establish that this was not going to be the case? Hang on, ladies. This is different than your husband being the boss over you. This is allowing your husband to lead the home as God leads him. If you think about it, it’s a lot of responsibility on his shoulders. This shows up typically in major decisions for the family:

  • Large purchases
  • Family decisions
  • Job decisions
  • Family concerns

Wives, you should still absolutely be a part of the discussions!! Your voice matters and it is valid. Remember though, just because you go through this, doesn’t mean you two will always agree. Coming to the same conclusion is not the goal here. But learning to trust your husband beyond what you can see is the idea of submission. This speaks loud volumes of love to your husband. It says “I trust you enough to support you in this decision in leading our family.” It’s exactly what Jesus wants us to do with him.

Submission builds confidence

When we submit to our husband, confidence is built. It’s built in our spouse when he sees how we trust him. We become more confident in our marriage as it becomes a place of trust and safety. We become more confident in our relationship with Jesus as He is ultimately the one we submit to and by submitting to our spouse, we are indeed, submitting to our God.

We become more confident in ourselves as we look to submit and serve our spouse. Confident in our ability to not only survive but thrive in an environment where we are not completely in control but instead relinquishing leadership to our spouse.

Submission builds trust

When we are committed to submitting to our husbands, it speaks loud volumes that we trust him. We are trusting him to make the best decision for our marriage and our family. Remember though, submission does not demand perfection.

Just because we are trusting our husbands to make the best decisions, doesn’t mean he’ll never make a mistake. He’s not God. He’s only human. And when we continue to submit to him, to trust our spouse, our lives yell, “I trust you have our best interest in mind!” This leaves our husbands with confidence to try again.

Submission creates an environment of security for children

When we willingly and joyfully submit to our husbands, we show our children in word and in deed that it’s ok to trust daddy. That dad’s best intentions are for the well-being of our family. A standard is created for them to carry into their own relationship someday. One in which the girls will look for a leader in a spouse and the boys will be a leader in their home.

The idea of ‘submitting’ to our spouse is scary. The very word make most cringe. It is scary to trust someone else. To trust that they have the best intentions for our family. Sometimes it doesn’t always feel this way – but that’s ok. We are not called by God to demand perfection from our spouse.

We are called to trust our spouse’s leadership with an understanding that he’s human and will make mistakes. Love him by being gracious and finding the best in the situation. Hopefully it can be something that you’ll both laugh at in the future!

For further growth in this area, check out Boundaries in Marriage by Henry Cloud and John Townsend and Love and Respect by Emerson Eggerichs.

depression counselorsOver 1,400 families in southwest Missouri trust the counselors of The Relationship Center to serve their counseling needs. With more than 14,000 hours of therapy in the last 5 years alone TRC counselors have the experience that can make the difference. We specialize in Biblically Christian and Clinically Proven Counseling provided by Licensed Professionals. Session fees range from $75-$125 and we have payment plans & scholarships to meet every budget. Have more questions? Click Here to Learn More About Marriage Counseling at The Relationship Center

How to Talk to Your Kids about Sex

Talk About SexTalking to your kiddos about sex is probably not the most looked forward to conversation in the grand scheme of parenting. BUT it is a necessity and can facilitate a whole other level of safety within the parent/child relationship.  As parents, questions come to mind such as:

  • At what age do I talk to my child about sex?
  • Is there someone else who can do it for me?
  • What resources are available?
  • What language is appropriate?
  • Will my child be embarrassed?
  • What if I mess up?

While these questions are legitimate, they should not keep you from talking to your child about sex.

Reality check:

Your child will hear about sex from other sources.  Whether it’s other kids, t.v., radio, or media, your kids will hear about sex.  You, however, have the choice to be proactive and be on the offense OR you can be reactive and be on the defense.  By being proactive, you are letting your kiddos know that it is OK to talk about sex and it is OK to talk you, the parent, about sex and sexual issues or questions.  First messages are the most powerful.  Why not then, be the first message?

So when do we talk to our kids about sex?
When is the right time?

A tongue and cheek answer would be birth.  But really, “the sex talk” is much more than just about sex.  It is about understanding how our bodies work as well as Gods design for sex and a sexual relationshipStarting early normalizes the talk, meaning it makes the discussion less awkward.

Instead of having “the talk” – as if it were a taboo subject or a rite of passage, it becomes a part of life.  And while there are boundaries around where the conversation happens, it offers an opportunity for the conversation to happen.

Starting Early:

When your kiddos are born, you’re less focused on telling them about the birds and the bees and more concerned with how many times they’ve pooped that day.  As they grow though, they become curious – it’s human nature.  The sex talk begins with teaching our children the proper names for body parts.  While it’s cute to give our private parts pet names, essentially we are teaching our kids that those body parts are a secret and we can’t or shouldn’t talk about them.

You don’t call your stomach by any other pet name, do you?  Well, what if they say penis in public!?!?!?!  Yes, it probably will happen.  I have a son who likes to yell boobies every time we pass the bra section in Target.

That’s when we, as parents, gently teach them the appropriate time and setting to talk about penises and vaginas, and boobies too. Teaching your kids the correct anatomical name for their body parts begins the foundation and builds a framework for future discussion. Here is an example of how you might talk with your child about their body parts:

Parent:  These are what we call your private body parts.  They have purpose and function, just like our hands and feet, but we do not share these with anyone else. They are just yours.  We keep them covered up unless we’re taking a bath or going potty.  It’s important to let mom or dad know if someone touches or tries to touch you in those spots.  It’s okay to tell them “no” and tell them those body parts are just for you.  Now, *what did we just learn about?*

*This is keyit helps you to know if your child is listening.  Early on, your kiddo will just be regurgitating information you just gave them, but that’s how they learn.  Just like when we teach our kids colors – they’re just spitting back information we just gave them.  Remember, we’re building a framework.

Kiddo:  I learned that these body parts are called……and they’re just mine and not for anyone else.

As our kiddos enter school, they should already have a framework for what is appropriate touch and what is not.  This way, if they are touched in an inappropriate manner, they know that the touch is not OK instead of feeling confused about the touch because no one has taught them about it.

Keep the conversation going:

Just because you taught your kiddos the correct anatomical names of their body parts doesn’t mean we’re done having the conversation.  It’s important to keep the conversation goingall the way up until they leave your house.  Peppering in conversations about body changes, sex, waiting for marriage to engage in sex, keeps the topic normative – or less scary to talk about.

Typically, between the ages of seven to nine is a good time to teach your children about sexual intercourse.  Remember, if they don’t hear it from you, they WILL hear it from peers.  Your goal, as parents, is to be on the front end of this conversation.  During this conversation, it’s important your kiddos see you as comfortable with the topic.  If you’re frightened about it, kiddos will pick up on that and take their cues from you. Here is an example of how you might continue the talk with your child:

Parent: I want to talk to you honey, about something special and very important.  I want to talk to you about something God created for marriage.  It’s called sex. (Explain what happens.)  Now, while you’re in school you may start hearing your peers talk about sex.  Sex is something that adults participate in and not kids. I want you to know that you can always come to me and talk with me about it.  If you have questions, I’d like you to come to me and ask.  Now, what are you hearing from me in this conversation?

By keeping the conversation going, we also inadvertently help our kids when it comes to decision making in the dating world.  If we give our kids a solid foundation on the gift of sex and what it was intended for, these teachings will come to mind as they begin the dating process.

Don’t stop there:

As time continues, your kiddo will be thrown into the midst of high school.  There, where decisions are difficult and pressure is heavy, being sure of where they stand on sexual issues and potential consequences of having sex, will be helpful and hopefully one less thing your teen will have to stress about.

Then, eventually your kiddos will go off to college and someday prepare for marriageBy building a foundation and an allowance for kids to talk to you about sex, they’ll likely go back to a trusted source rather than scour the internet for information – which we all know can be very dangerous and set our kids up for unrealistic expectations.

The key to any sex talk is to keep communication lines open.  The best way to do that is to be comfortable with the topic of sex yourself.  Your kids will pick up on any awkwardness from you.  The worst thing you can do is not talk to them about sex because you’re uncomfortable with it.

Below is a list of books that are very helpful in engaging your kids:

If you need additional help with navigating this discussion with your kiddos, please contact me at The Relationship Center. I’m here to help.

family-250x250Over 1,700 families in southwest Missouri trust the counselors of The Relationship Center to serve their counseling needs. With more than 18,500 hours of therapy in the last 5 years alone TRC counselors have the experience that can make the difference. We specialize in Biblically Christian and Clinically Proven Counseling provided by Licensed Professionals. Session fees range from $75-$125 and we have payment plans & scholarships to meet every budget. Have more questions? Click Here to Learn More About Family Counseling at The Relationship Center

Tips for the Single Parent

Raising children is no doubt one of the most difficult jobs there is.  The demand is high, especially when they are little and there’s more than one.  The pay is not worth mentioning either.  There are many late nights coupled with early mornings and some days just not enough coffee.Single Parent with Kids Child rearing requires patience, love, kindness, and caring.  It also requires good boundaries and firm discipline; both are needed to raise children.  And both are difficult – even in a two parent household, and can be even harder when it’s a single parent home.

In a single parent home, the majority of parenting literally falls on you, the individual.  There are brief moments of reprieve, whether it’s church or daycare or school; but the nitty gritty is gifted to you.  There is no “you handle this kids, I’m going to run around the house three times”.  There is no “I don’t feel well, can you get up with the baby”.  It’s all on you.  And, it’s hard.

What to Expect:

Often times, single parents feel like they’re failing their kids because they can’t give them what they desire to or do with them what they hopeNothing could be further from the truth.

What kids desire most, and this would be true across the board, is relationship.  Your children will be unable to communicate this to you for years to come, but when it’s all boiled down, this is what counts.  Long term, material things don’t matter.

As counselors, we frequently see the pain caused by a lack of relationship with parents, but never long term hurt caused by a lack of “stuff.”  Your child wants to know if you’re going to be there for them when they need it.  Again, they won’t be able to verbalize this.

Practical Tips for Single Parenting:

  1. Make Time for Your Kiddos:

    Especially if you work full time, it is easy to get caught up in the day to day have-to’s of life.  Carve out time just for them.  Have a game night, dance party, sports games – something that requires interaction.  Movies are fine, but there’s no interaction required and when trying to build relationship with your kiddos, interaction is key.

  2. Get Plugged In:

    Get involved in a church with a good kids program.  It will reinforce what you’re teaching at home as well as give you some adult time.  It’s a great way to connect with other people – keeping both you and your kiddos sane.

  3. Stop Trying to Please Your Kiddos:

    Regardless of who’s responsible for the circumstances, continually trying to win your child over via trying to please them will not only wear you out, but give them a false understanding of people being around to make them happy.  Remember, both love AND discipline are important.  This means that loving them does not always mean they get what they want.  When they step outside of the boundaries you have set up, there are consequences for their actions.  Consistency is key.  I guarantee your kiddos will not always be happy with you, but they will know what is expected of them, as well as, your love for them.

  4. Reinforce Expectations:

    Kids have a magical way of only hearing part of what parents say.  It can be frustrating to keep repeating yourself, but when it comes to expectations, when they hear a consistent message, it eventually sinks in.  Often times when our kids don’t meet our expectations, it’s tempting to alter what we expect of them.  This can be harmful.  Instead of pulling out the best in them, we allow them to settle for less.  And, while it may be easier in the immediate, we don’t see the effects of this – either good or bad – until many years down the road.

  5. Set House Rules: 

    What are some house rules that will help the flow of the home?  It is okay to require of them what is age appropriate.  Do they make their beds?  Take out the trash?  Help with dishes?  Set a bedtime, and keep it.  Young kids flourish on routine. Getting them to bed at a decent hour will give you the same predictability, and perhaps a few extra quiet moments.

  6.  Make Time for Yourself:

     You need to make time for yourself BECAUSE you love your children.  Recruit a friend, family member, sitter, or find a local church that offers a moms night out program.  Take time to recharge your batteries, if even only for an hour.  We call this self-care.  Some may experience a great deal of guilt for doing this. Guilt that you’re not with your kids, guilt for asking for help, and guilt for doing something pleasurable.  Guilt is not helpful. It is vital to the well-being of the family you take good care of yourself.  Families with two parents get to make time for themselves, single parent homes need to as well.  If there’s nothing left of you, there’s nothing left for your kiddos.

family-250x250Over 1,400 families in southwest Missouri trust the counselors of The Relationship Center to serve their counseling needs. With more than 14,000 hours of therapy in the last 5 years alone TRC counselors have the experience that can make the difference. We specialize in Biblically Christian and Clinically Proven Counseling provided by Licensed Professionals. Session fees range from $75-$125 and we have payment plans & scholarships to meet every budget. Have more questions? Click Here to Learn More About Family Counseling at The Relationship Center

How to Tell Your Kids You’re Having Problems in Your Marriage

Talking to Your Child about Your MarriageIn an ideal world, marriage would be continually blissful and if there just happened to be a disagreement, it would be a trite little thing resolved in moments. Unfortunately, this is not the world we live in. In our humanness, we are guaranteed to face conflict at some point in time.

Conflict within the home, especially, can have a lasting impact on our children. How we deal with this conflict and what we choose to do with it can determine how our children are affected by it.

Should we tell our children what’s going on?

We can expect to deal with disagreements in marriage and have marital conflict, let’s define ‘marital conflict’ as an ongoing strenuous point in your relationship. Although we might have ongoing disagreements, many times we feel conflicted about when to tell the children or even if we should.

Your children need the heads up if the conflict has been going on for a period of time and it is disrupting the marriage:

  1. To the point of going to counseling
  2. Sleeping in separate rooms
  3. Moving to separate places

Parents often think they’re doing a service to their child by hiding everything from them and one day surprise them with the news of one spouse moving out. This can be earth shattering to a child. Imagine sending your child to school one day and everything is fine and the next day they need to face school with the news their parents are separating.

Talking to your children in an age appropriate manner can help relieve some of the stress. They don’t need every detail but having parents on the same page with their children can be stress relieving.

How do we talk to our children about what is taking place within the home?
  • It’s important to realize that children rely on the home as being a stable environment. This helps your child thrive. Marital conflict does not mean you’re going to ruin your child, but there must be clear communication by parents.
  • There needs to be a clear message from both parents that the conflict is strictly between the adults and that your child is NOT at fault in anyway.
  • Sharing with the child, dependent on age – less details when younger, more when older – the basics of the conflict, what you as parents are doing to work through it, and goals for an outcome.
  • This is best done when everyone can sit down as a family. When children can hear the same thing from both parents and have assurance from both parties, they are less likely to  feel caught in the middle. This gives the child a sense of safety and security and allows the child to focus on their developmental goals – making friends, engaging in school and other activities – and not be consumed with the parent’s relationship. This is a vital piece for children.
Here are a few examples of dialogues for different ages:

Elementary: Remember this is best done with both parents present.

Susie, mom and dad want to talk to you about something that is going on. Mom and dad are having some trouble getting along and so we are going to sleep in separate rooms for a little while so we can work on getting along. This is between mom and dad and it is no one’s fault. We want to you to keep playing and having fun. If you have any questions you can ask either one of us.” (It’s best to have both parents talking during this discussion). “We love you and we’re so glad you’re a part of our family.”

High school: Again, best done with both parents present.

Tommy, we have something we need to share with you. Your mom and I have been not getting along for some time and are having a difficult time coming to a resolution. We are in counseling and seeking help so we can have the best marriage possible. In the meantime, we are going to be sleeping in separate rooms. This is not your fault or your brother’s fault. This is between your mom and I. We are here for you no matter what and if you have any questions you can feel free to ask at any time. We love you and we’re so glad you’re a part of our family.

Here is a more detailed process on how to talk with your children:

Allow your child to ask questions.

This is a scary time for them. By allowing them to ask questions:

  • It reinforces that they are very much a part of the family
  • Communicates they are not a part of the problem
  • Shows that there is open communication

Your child may or may not have questions immediately come to them. Let them know that you understand this and are available to them when those questions arise. Some parents may face children, specifically teens, who become distant or annoyed with the conversation.

This does not mean your child is disinterested but simply is using a defense mechanism to help themselves cope with the news. As a parent, be careful not to let this determine a response of ‘they’re not interested’, ‘they’re fine’, or ‘they don’t care. None of those would prove to be accurate.

Don’t make promises you cannot keep.

For example, don’t promise your children that everything will be back to normal or that a spouse will come back home if they have chosen to leave. There is no way you can guarantee this, even if it is what is hoped for. Being age appropriate honest with your kids will give them a greater sense of security than if you promise things you cannot deliver.

Put yourself in your child’s shoes.

If you were 6 or 8, 14 or 17, what would you need from your parents during this time? There’s an age old adage that says ‘hindsight is 20/20’. Your child may not know what they need specifically from you at this time. Help them put words to their needs by putting yourself in their shoes.

Keep nasty comments to yourself.

They are not helpful in any way, shape, or form. They are destructive not only to the child, the relationship with the child and the other spouse, but to you and your child. If the conflict arises to such a degree, there needs to be a clear understanding that defaming the spouse in front of the children is simply not okay.

If you need additional help communicating with your kids about your marriage, or help with your marital conflict, please contact me at The Relationship Center.

 

depression counselorsOver 1,400 families in southwest Missouri trust the counselors of The Relationship Center to serve their counseling needs. With more than 14,000 hours of therapy in the last 5 years alone TRC counselors have the experience that can make the difference. We specialize in Biblically Christian and Clinically Proven Counseling provided by Licensed Professionals. Session fees range from $75-$125 and we have payment plans & scholarships to meet every budget. Have more questions? Click Here to Learn More About Marriage Counseling at The Relationship Center

Winning a Fight With Your Spouse

Love & MarriageIt may not look like black eyes and bruises, but spousal disagreements are just a part of marriage. No one is ever looking to lose a fight, but what if there is a way for both parties to ‘win’. See, winning isn’t about proving your rightness or their wrongness, but making sure each party is heard and understood – working to come to a conclusion together. That’s what builds the bond of cohesiveness within a marriage.

Let’s take a look at six specific ways to win a fight with your spouse:

1. Ask for Time to Talk:

Just because something pops up into your mind doesn’t mean it is the best time to talk about it. Take some time to evaluate; have you both just had a strenuous day? Is someone sick? Is the baby crying? Ask your spouse if now is a good time to talk, share that there is something that has been on your heart that you would like to work out. If now is not a good time, schedule a time to come back and talk about the issue and resolve it. Letting it fester will only burn a hole in your heart and make you resentful towards your spouse.

2. Take Personal Responsibility:

Eleanor Roosevelt once said that “no one can make you feel inferior without your consent”. The same is true for emotions across the board. Though our spouse can have influence over our emotions, we are ultimately responsible for the way we feel. With that being said, blaming your spouse for making you mad or sad or angry just isn’t going to work. Personal responsibility for one’s own emotions looks like “I feel hurt…” Coming from this stance not only gives validation to your heart, but can stop you from pouring gasoline onto already hot coals.

3. Be Respectful:

Being called names wasn’t fun in elementary school and it’s not fun in a marriage. Just because there is a disagreement doesn’t mean that it is okay to berate or belittle the one you chose to spend your life with. Being respectful also means you allow your spouse to feel what they feel. Not being easily offended by their emotions, which also means you’re not going to tell them that what they are thinking or feeling is wrong. Their experience is true to them just like yours is to you. Telling your spouse that they should not be thinking a certain way and trying to ‘win’ them over to your side is not respectful and will only create a larger distance between you.

4. Lay the Past to Rest:

By bringing up the past you state clearly that you have yet to clear the air on former issues. You’ve allowed a hole to fester in your heart in the form of resentment and now it’s seeping poisonous toxins. No one benefits from bringing up past issues. Using phrases like “always” and “never” also indicate you’re still stewing on the past. Once you and your spouse have discussed an issue, let it be.

5. Stay on Point:

If you have come to your spouse with a punch list of wrongs they have committed, then you have not done a good job of caring for your heart. Perhaps you’ve played the role of ‘serving spouse’ – you’ve quietly taken care of ‘wrongs’ committed by your spouse but in your heart you’re building piles of resentment. There is no benefit in playing this role and it creates space between you and your spouse. Tackle issues as they arise. Decide the one issue that is pressing, stick to it, and resolve it. It can feel overwhelming when your spouse comes to you with a list of 15 things you’ve done wrong. If there are more topics to be covered, schedule a time.

6. Check Your Heart, Check With God:

Take your heart and your hurt before God. Is this disagreement one that is affecting your marriage or is it a personal preference of yours? Making sure the towels are folded just right is not an indicator of your spouse’s love or dislike for you. It’s a personal preference that needs to be worked out within your own heart. Sometimes fighting fairly with your spouse can be difficult and needs outside intervention.

If you and your spouse need help in navigating fighting fairly, please know help is available. Click Here to schedule an appointment to talk with someone at The Relationship Center about helping you and your spouse strengthen your marriage.

depression counselorsOver 1,400 families in southwest Missouri trust the counselors of The Relationship Center to serve their counseling needs. With more than 14,000 hours of therapy in the last 5 years alone TRC counselors have the experience that can make the difference. We specialize in Biblically Christian and Clinically Proven Counseling provided by Licensed Professionals. Session fees range from $75-$125 and we have payment plans & scholarships to meet every budget. Have more questions? Click Here to Learn More About Marriage Counseling at The Relationship Center

Anxiety: Signs and Symptoms of a Woman’s Journey

stressed woman

It’s a feeling you know all too well.  Your heart begins to race, your stomach turns to knots, palms begin to sweat and your throat begins to close.  Some people say it feels like a massive adrenaline rush – others report it’s like a heart attack.  Some anxiety in life is normal.  It can bring out the best in us.  But what level of anxiety is too much?

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is characterized by excessive worry, or worry that is out of proportion to the situation or circumstance.  Individuals who struggle with anxiety typically cannot predict anxiety attacks.  They often strike without warning and can last for varying degrees of time.  Anxiety disorders affect approximately 19 million Americans and affect women more so than men.

What Causes Anxiety?

Some of the causes of anxiety may include trauma, long lasting levels of stress, and even heredity.  Anxiety is often fueled by fear.  Fear can either drive you to do things you thought you’d never do or keep you from doing things that you would normally do, thus perpetuating the cycle of anxiety.

Each person’s threshold of anxiety varies, but one thing is always true.  While anxiety isn’t all bad and can have some benefits, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing.  Overwhelming levels of anxiety can stop performance in its tracks and can begin to hinder and hurt the situation.

anxiety - performance graph

For example, a woman who is concerned with doing well at her job has tolerable levels of anxiety and completes her job successfully.  When she is given more to do, she becomes fearful that she won’t be able to accomplish it all.  She begins working excessively and distancing from her family.  Recognizing her increasing distance from her family, she begins to have anxiety about not being good enough for them because she’s working so much.  The cycle perpetuates until it is stopped.

This example could be duplicated in any area of life: job, spouse, parenting, and interpersonal relationships – any place where you may feel your performance is measured.   When you look where anxiety is most prevalent, it is often where you think you have failed or have the greatest potential to fail.  Anxiety increases and performance falls.  Talking with a counselor can help you uncover what is driving both anxiety and fear.

Symptoms:

While we all may experience these to some degree (like butterflies in the stomach), an individual who is experiencing intense levels of anxiety will feel like these symptoms are taking over their life.

  1. Physiological symptoms: Heart racing, sweaty palms, tight jaw, neck or shoulder muscles, difficulty breathing
  2. Environmental disruptions:  difficulty sleeping, nightmares, increased shyness in crowds, withdrawal from social activities or marked increase in social activities
  3. Mental symptoms: Typically, a woman dealing with anxiety doesn’t look any different on the outside than one that isn’t.  She struggles intensely in her mind about the ‘what ifs’ of circumstances.  There is a great amount of fear of not measuring up, not being worth it, and not being enough.

Help on the Go:

The following is a list of things to help ease anxiety levels.  These can be done anywhere.  They may even be helpful in preventing your anxiety from skyrocketing!

  1. Deep Breathing: Make sure you are taking deep “belly” breaths.  In through your nose, out through your mouth.  Focus on moving your belly, not your shoulders.
  2. Stress Ball: Find a portable squishy ball. Squeeze as necessary.
  3. Patterned Thinking:  Focus your thoughts on something that can be thought of in a pattern.  For example: “1,2,3,4,1,2,3,4” or “red, blue, orange, green, red, blue, orange, green”
  4. Muscle Relaxation:  Beginning with your feet, tighten a muscle group and hold for ten seconds and relax.  Continue this, moving up your body adding muscle groups, until you are tensing your whole body.  Make sure you are taking good deep breaths during this exercise.

Now what?

If you are facing overwhelming levels of anxiety, please know there is help available.  This is not a journey that needs to be taken alone.  Click Here to schedule an appointment to talk with someone about helping you walk through anxiety.

About Rebecca:

Rebecca Barratt is a licensed professional counselor at The Relationship Center in the Springfield, MO area.  She ministers to individuals, couples, and families as a therapist at The Relationship Center.  She enjoys “Seeing in people what they do not see in themselves and helping them reach their potential”.  Her focus is helping those who struggle with anxiety and depression, grief, and trauma recovery.  Rebecca is dually trained in theology and professional counseling.  She obtained an undergraduate ministry degree with a focus on adolescents and a Master’s degree in professional counseling.  In addition to her clinical practice she is an ordained minister and serves on the Ministerial Education and Guidance Board (MEG) for the Midwest District of the Free Methodist denomination.  Teaching within the church since 1999, Rebecca has been in a pastoral role since 2004.  She integrates her love and knowledge of God and His Word with experience interacting with various age groups.

Rebecca and her husband make their home in Southwest Missouri with their three children.

Help! My Child is Depressed!

If your child is depressed it is important to understand the symptoms and treatment options available.

What is Depression?

Depression is more than having a bad day or feeling blue—it can take a serious toll on an individual’s life.  Depression can be even more overwhelming when your child is the one experiencing it.  Children may experience depression for a variety of reasons, but it often results from a major change or trauma the child has gone through. If your child is depressed it is important to understand the symptoms and treatment options available. This article will teach you what to look for and the next steps to take if a child you know is experiencing depression.

Depression affects more than just the individual experiencing it.  As a parent, depression in your child may be confusing.  You may be asking:

    • Why is my child depressed?
    • What do I need to do next?
    • Is it my fault?
    • Will they struggle forever?

Trying to interact with a child who is depressed can sometimes feel like a lost cause.  As a parent you try and talk with your child and figure out what is wrong so you can help them.  Your child may not understand what is going on or how to communicate their feelings.  This can leave you frustrated with “I don’t know” answers.  Siblings may also be confused about what is happening in their family.  It is the elephant in the room that no one knows how to handle.

What Causes Depression?

Depression is often not attributed to one specific event but usually a series of events.  Biologically, one of the contributors to depression is a lowered level of neurotransmitters in the brain.  These carry signals through the brain that cause one to feel good.  Situations like divorce, loss of a loved one, serious illness, moving, intense periods of stress, and even school performance can be contributing factors to depression.

Recognizing Symptoms of Depression in Your Child:

Some of the symptoms of depression in children are as follows.  It is important to remember that your child may not have all of these but still may be dealing with depression.

  • Change in eating habits: eating significantly more or less than usual – not otherwise attributed to a growth spurt
  • Change in sleeping patterns: sleeping significantly more or having difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
  • Change in mood: the child is often more irritable, sad, or angry
  • Decrease in energy level: your typically spunky child is now more sedated
  • Loss of interest: Decreased desire or motivation to participate in activities the child once enjoyed
  • Low self-esteem: this may show up as negative self-talk – “I’m stupid” or “I’m ugly”
  • Hopelessness: your child may not see the future getting any better for them
  • Social withdrawal: not socializing or spending time with friends
  • Increased sensitivity to perceived rejection: believing that most people around them will reject them
  • Physical complaints that don’t respond to treatment (i.e. Stomach pains, increased headaches)
  • Increase in crying over situations that may seem benign (i.e. not liking dinner)
  • Disruptions at school: either academically or behaviorally
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

How to help:

  1. Talk with your child.  Open communication is vital.  Reassure your child.  Let them know that you’re there for them and you are willing to walk through this with them – they do not have to do this alone.
  2. Find a therapist willing to listen to both you and your child.  Walking through depression with your child needs to be a collaborative effort.
  3. Connect with a friend.  You, as the parent, need someone to walk through this with you.  Find a friend who can be encouraging.

What about medication?

Just because your child is feeling depressed or going through depression does not necessarily mean they need to be on medication.  This is a conversation you need to have with your child’s physician or psychiatrist.  Medication is best utilized in conjunction with therapy.

Now what?

If you have a child who is facing depression, or have concerns about your child, we’re here to assist you.  Please know there is help available.  This is not a journey that needs to be taken alone.  Follow this link to schedule an appointment to talk with someone about helping your child walk through depression.

 

family-250x250Over 1,400 families in southwest Missouri trust the counselors of The Relationship Center to serve their counseling needs. With more than 14,000 hours of therapy in the last 5 years alone TRC counselors have the experience that can make the difference. We specialize in Biblically Christian and Clinically Proven Counseling provided by Licensed Professionals. Session fees range from $75-$125 and we have payment plans & scholarships to meet every budget. Have more questions? Click Here to Learn More About Family Counseling at The Relationship Center

What is Counseling Like?

What does it mean to trust the process?

People often ask me as they are sitting on the couch if “this is normal.”  This being the angst within them as they work through the tough situations they have faced thus far in life.  As we go deeper into their history and uncover things they’ve worked so hard to cover up, they want to know, “is it worth it?”  Much to their chagrin, I smile kindly and encourage them with a ‘yes, we need to trust the process.’  It is something I’ve watched as being a therapist and something I truly believe in.  However, I have also found that it’s always easier to cheer the running back on who is getting slammed, then to go down and get slammed yourself.

My husband and I have watched our sweet baby boy struggle in body for the last seven months.  We have endured many sleepless nights, discontent temperament, and a rash on his skin that left him miserable.  After many trials with traditional medicine, we had pretty much come to the conclusion that this was his lot for the next five years – that’s what we had been told.  Unsatisfied with this answer, we went to one more specialist who told us it’s not severe eczema that he’s struggled with, it is food allergies.  I then had to stop nursing for three weeks and change little man’s diet.

As I sat on the floor with him the other day asking God why does my son have to struggle, He gently whispered, trust the process.  Trust the knowledge that you have prayed and searched for.  Trust the path that is before you.

What is the purpose of counseling?  To find healing for your heart.  To give time, space, and validation to all that is within you.  Your story matters.  Your heart matters.  To unfold and to allow the salve of the Holy Spirit to heal the wounds.  To learn to trust.  Sometimes we need just a bit more help.  There is no way I would drill my own tooth for a filling or perform surgery on myself.  I go to someone who knows.

A few things I’ve learned:

  1. My specialist knows more than I.  I pride myself in knowing my kiddos inside and out.  Their schedule, their likes and dislikes, their temperament, but this, this I know nothing about.  It’s innate to question, it’s our desire to know.  Sometimes, we need to trust those who know more
  2. The process is hard.  This is one of the most difficult things I’ve walked through.  Everything seems new and foreign, that’s because it is.  But it’s not impossible.
  3. Quitting seems easier.  Sometimes clients will end their therapy prematurely – usually when it gets hard.  No progress is ever made by stopping when it gets tough.  An athlete would never finish the race.  A writer would never finish a book.  There were numerous times I just wanted to hold my son close and nurse him, but that would have hindered his forward progress.  Quitting only satisfies the short term.
  4. Some days are better than others.  As we ‘detoxed’ my son from foods he was allergic to, we had some great days and we had some not so great days.  So it is with therapy.  Some weeks are more challenging than others.  That is part of the process.

It’s not all bad:

  1. Times of joy are more frequent.  As you work through the counseling process, finding healing in your heart, the moments of joy you experience are greater and more often.
  2. Our bond is greater.  As my son learns to trust me in a new way, our bond is strengthened.  When we go through the counseling process, we learn to not only trust others, but to trust ourselves and God.  Our bond with the Lord is strengthened and we rely on Him for the next steps.
  3. He is resilient.  I’ve got one tough little guy, that is for sure.  But that same resilience that he as, we all have.  We are born with it.  Somewhere, along the way, we’ve misplaced it.  Walking through the counseling process can remind you of the resilience within you.  We then take that resilience and apply it to other areas of our lives.
  4. God is faithful.  There have been so many little details that have worked out not because of who I am, but because of who God is.  And I have seen this play out in my clients’ lives.  As they trust the process, God reveals Himself in a new way to them.
  5. The best is yet to come.  I sat on day one wondering when this was going to be over.  Over the next several days I began to see improvement on my little guy.  It wasn’t a massive change at once, but little things I noticed.  I had hope to make it through the next day.  Hope that things will get better if I keep at this.  Hope that where we are at now is not the best he’s going to feel.  Knowing he has much better days ahead of him.  And that makes me smile.  I have hope for my clients.  As they walk this journey, that they have the days that they hope for.  Joyful days, fulfilled days, peaceful days.  I have hope that their best days are ahead of them.  And that makes me smile.

 

About Rebecca:

Rebecca Barratt is a licensed professional counselor in the Springfield, MO area.  She ministers to individuals, couples, and families as a therapist at The Relationship Center.  She enjoys “Seeing in people what they do not see in themselves and helping them reach their potential”.  Her focus is helping those who struggle with anxiety and depression, grief, and trauma recovery.  Rebecca is dually trained in theology and professional counseling.  She obtained an undergraduate ministry degree with a focus on adolescents and a Master’s degree in professional counseling.  In addition to her clinical practice she is an ordained minister and serves on the Ministerial Education and Guidance Board (MEG) for the Midwest District of the Free Methodist denomination.  Teaching within the church since 1999, Rebecca has been in a pastoral role since 2004.  She integrates her love and knowledge of God and His Word with experience interacting with various age groups.

Rebecca and her husband make their home in Southwest Missouri with their three children.

christian counselingOver 1,400 families in southwest Missouri trust the counselors of The Relationship Center to serve their counseling needs. With more than 14,000 hours of therapy in the last 5 years alone TRC counselors have the experience that can make the difference. We specialize in Biblically Christian and Clinically Proven Counseling provided by Licensed Professionals. Session fees range from $75-$125 and we have payment plans & scholarships to meet every budget. Have more questions? Click Here to Learn More About Counseling at The Relationship Center