Personal Growth Category

Healing Grief and Loss

The object of grief and loss counseling is to discover the deeper meaning of the loss you
have experienced. First, let us take an example of losing someone whom you loved deeply and who was ultimately the most important person in your life. This person has
died, passed away, gone to God; she or he is no longer in your immediate environment with whom to talk, hold, breath one, be breathed on, to nurture and be nurtured; only memories and a burning love in your heart exist for that person. This will never die, and is a testament, not only the this important person with whom you totally loved and felt totally loved by; it is also a testament to your own capacity to love, give, care, The object of grief and loss counseling is to discover the deeper meaning of the loss you communicate, empathize with, and nurture. That this kind of love was in your life, probably for a long time, is a wonderful thing in and of itself; and no doubt you feel lucky to have had this person in your life. So, you a...

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Wherever there has been trauma, there will be drama.  Whatever you do, do with a sense of worthiness, with intention, not just being swept along by the past. 

If you are not convinced of your self-worth, just do your best.  Although your best may vary from day to day, moment to moment, as long as you are trying, you are not only getting better, you are perfect in the present moment.


Cheryl Deaner, LMFT

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Being Mindful

I see us as energetic beings with the ability to change; everything around us has energy as do thoughts, emotions and feelings. What I have found is that Mindfulness is the energy that helps me to recognize happiness that is present at every moment of my life and is the source of happiness and joy. Whether it be simply walking the dogs and taking in deep breaths of air, enjoying my visits with the horses along the way, noticing the changes of the seasons as I walk, but every moment noticing the beauty of the each present moment and no longer being on autopilot.

Many people go about their everyday life on autopilot their minds full of what their obligations are in their busy life or caught up in worry, fears, anger or regret, reliving the past or being anxious about their future instead of being in the present moment, living a deeply fulfilled life. I practice mindfulness daily and now drive more safely because I’m not on autopilot, I am concentrating on what I am doing, being in...

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Your Choices and Meditation

You go through life automatically, not feeling quite right but not knowing why. You go to a job you hate, come home, make dinner, watch TV, and start all over again, waiting for your vacation to forget the emptiness of your life for one or two weeks. And you ask yourself, “This can’t be all there is”. And you’re right…this isn’t all there is. And, believe it or not, you always have a choice to continue to live on automatic pilot or to make the effort to become more aware of who you are and what you really want.

Socrates is reported to have said, “The unexamined life is not worth living for a human being”. Mindfulness is a powerful tool for becoming aware of our own thought processes and, eventually, of your erroneous beliefs. Daily meditation helps to quiet the body and mind and reconnect with your heart and its yearnings. While this can be scary, the rewards are unestimable. There is always the risk that this increased awareness will b...

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The power of choice

We all have choices. Each day we are faced with a myriad of choices from when to get up in the morning, to what to wear and how we spend our time daily. Many choices are small ones with little significance. However, there are choices that have big consequences. If we don't stop and think we can make a choice that can alter the course of our lives forever. I was watching the show Lisa Ling had on Teen Mothers. One girl got pregnant at 14, decided to have her baby. You would think she would've learned her lesson but then she got pregnant at 16 and now has two kids. She made the choice to stop her birth control. Imagine being 17 years old and having two kids under 4. What an overwhelming experience. The choice to not protect herself and use birth control totally altered the course of her life.

Impulsive decisions can cause great consequences. It is so important to really focus and reflect on what you want out of your life and for your future. Write down your long term goals and list the ...

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5 Strategies for Combating Shyness And Social Anxiety Disorder: How to Build Social Skills: Part 1

By Matt Sandford, LMHC
In a previous article I provided some helps for sorting out the differences between Shyness, Introversion and Social Anxiety Disorder. This is a companion piece meant to offer suggestions for addressing the skills of the person struggling with shyness. I believe it can certainly be helpful for those who identify as introverts or those struggling with SAD as well. Let me here explain something specific concerning introversion. Unlike shyness and SAD, introversion is a personality trait, and therefore the goal, my goal, is not to change it. No one’s personality needs to change in order to be fulfilled and be their best self. Our goal should be to mature, to grow. We may need to become more comfortable with who we are, but we don’t need to change our identity. Maybe you need to understand and discover your identity, but that’s not changing it. My desire is to provide some helpful skill development, but what that means is simply developing and honing...

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The Wall and the Bridge: Constructing a Path to Overcome Past Wounds

By Matt W. Sandford, LMHC

Everybody is wounded. It’s like we’re in a worldwide war that is always going on. From the time we were young there was shooting going on around us and sometimes we got hit. Maybe we got hit by a random bullet of shame or judgment or ridicule from a loved one? Of course they also could have been well timed sniper attacks by those who wished to take us down? Maybe we got caught in the machine gun cross fire of attacks between parents or family members? Maybe we were the victim of a tank assault that blew our church apart? Maybe it was the grenades thrown by bullies at school? Whatever kind of attack it was, I believe that no one arrives at adulthood unscathed. There’s just too much shooting going on for someone to make it with no wounds. And that includes the perpetrators, those wielding the guns and pointing the mortars and grenade launchers. Because I believe the book by Sandra Wilson, with the title, Hurt People, Hurt People. Heck, that is...

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Sexual Trauma and Men - A Path to Thriving

Talking about sexual assault, sexual abuse, and rape is difficult for anyone. For men, it has it’s own unique challenges – often putting to question a man’s sense of his own masculinity. Men, some think more then women, are quiet about this experience. They often don’t know what path to take in dealing with such challenging memories. And we know that when people don’t talk about the hard stuff, when they hold it in, that they often get depressed, angry, sad, and feel alone and misunderstood.

For this reason, I’m offering a new path…a therapy group specifically for men who’ve experienced a sexual trauma, whether as children or adults. Anyone who identifies as male, whether he is transgender or cisgender; gay, bisexual or straight; is eligible to join. The main criteria is that he wants to be in a community where he can find ways to improve his satisfaction and contentedness with the way he is living his life. Some of the discussions will...

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5 Strategies for Combating Shyness And Social Anxiety Disorder How to Build Social Skills, Part 2

By Matt Sandford, LMHC
This two part series on how to increase one’s social skills and confidence in social interaction is a companion piece to my article on Shyness, Social Phobia and Introversion. Part one proposed the need for trying new approaches in terms of social interactions, offered some places to look in making new friendships, and then provided strategies 1 and 2, which were, I Don’t Know What to Say, and I’m Afraid to Initiate. Here are the final three strategies.
3. What If They Think I’m an Idiot, or Something Worse!
We now have to consider the seemingly unpleasant prospect – that someone does respond poorly, or rudely or belittles you or your opinion or comment. There’s no getting around the reality that there are insensitive and small minded individuals in this world, who are self centered or just plain mean. But I think it helps if you can remember that if someone like that has a poor opinion of you, that it actually says more about the...

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Three Reasons to Start Therapy in the Summer

When is the best time to seek help through therapy? It is easy to find reasons not to go to therapy or to put it off for a better time of year. Here are some reasons why summer is an excellent time to try therapy.

1) When engaging in therapy it is very important to balance the hard work you will do in sessions with relaxing enjoyable activities. Summer is the perfect time to find this balance because the days are warm and sunlight abundant. There are many opportunities to get outside and engage in relaxing activities after a session.

The time you spend sitting outside, talking a walk around the neighborhood, swimming or traveling allows your unconscious mind to process the issues you work on in therapy. As a result you may make considerably more progress in the summer than other times of year.

2) Therapy is effective when you are ready and willing to try something new and make some changes in your life. Often summer is already a time of changed routines.

If you are a parent, teache...

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