Proverbs 15:22 says, “Without consultation, plans are frustrated, but with many counselors they succeed.”
It has always been important to care for our mental health. But, the impact of the pandemic has brought this issue to the forefront for many of us. Sometimes we just need more help. Perhaps you are at a point where you recognize this and would like to explore how you can support your mental health in a more formal way? Taking the step to reach out is extremely brave, but it can also be incredibly overwhelming, and even scary. This post includes some information that will hopefully guide you as you consider your next steps.
The mental health world can be very confusing! Knowing some common terms and how to navigate things will help you feel more at ease and empowered as you consider options.
There are several different types of providers:
You may be asking, “So how do I know what kind of provider I need?” There isn’t any one “right” answer. The best thing to do is to start with the issue you want to address and go from there. There are several ways to research providers that can help. One of the best is word of mouth. Ask around and see who is recommended! You can also consult your primary care provider, school counselor, or pastor. There are several different websites that you can search by clinical issue. Two of these are www.psychologytoday.com and www.goodtherapy.org. Different considerations such as age and experience level of the provider, gender, location, insurance networks, and therapeutic approach are important.
Look at profiles, check websites, and narrow it down to a few choices that appeal to you. Most providers offer a brief consultation at no cost so you can try to determine if they would be a good fit for what you are seeking. Ask questions that matter to you during this time. If you are seeking a provider who offers Christian counseling, or who can integrate your faith into the work that you are doing, this is a great time to explore what this would look like.
At its heart, counseling is about creating a safe, trusted relationship between you (or your child) and your counselor, so the single biggest predictor of whether a therapeutic experience is going to be successful or not is the quality of the relationship between therapist and client. At the end of the day, finding the right provider for your needs may take more than one try. While this can be frustrating, don’t give up on the process! Your health and well being are too important.
Marriage is a big topic that deserves to get a lot of attention, and as the saga of COVID-19 plugs on marriages are still in trouble. In this article I would like to focus on a different aspect of marriage…fighting. Though this topic is unpleasant to talk about it is a normal part of every marriage. Yes, fighting is completely normal and healthy when kept within certain boundaries. Though this part of marriage is not pleasant, it is necessary.
Fighting provides a necessary release of emotion that often gets bottled up in our society. With emotions running higher than ever due to COVID that release of emotion is even more necessary than usual. In therapy I always tell my couples that I worry more about couples that don’t fight than couples that do. This is because fighting not only releases emotion but can be a major catalyst for communication if handled properly. Also, fighting indicates that there is some baseline of caring there. After all, you don’t fight with someone that you don’t care about.
As I referenced earlier, fighting must be kept within certain boundaries in order to be healthy. There are several fair fighting rules out there that can be helpful with this. Here are some fair fighting rules from the famous marriage therapists, the Gottmans.
No name calling
These are not hard and fast rules. I would encourage you to change and adapt them to your unique situation. For example, some of us use sarcasm as a second language and it is not as offensive to us, but insults are out of the question. I encourage you to talk to your partner and figure out your own unique boundaries that will help you fight in a healthier way. It will never be a fun or pleasant thing, but fighting leads us to stronger relationships.
In the last post, Meagan gave us a terrific piece about the impact of the pandemic on many marriages, with some practical advice about how we can strengthen our relationships during this time. In considering the whole family, I wanted to follow up on that and talk about parenting in the time of COVID. As we know, we have been experiencing this different way of life for about a year now. While there are some encouraging signs that we may soon start getting back to a little more normalcy, it is likely that we are just scratching the surface of understanding the impact that the pandemic has had on our children.
Predictability is a stabilizing force for kids and teens. The uncertainty of the pandemic has altered our ability as parents to provide this in many ways. Circumstances have changed over and over again, and it has been hard to settle into any kind of routine. The isolation from peers and family, uncertainty, missed milestones, loss of activities, as well as anxiety about health have taken its toll. For some young people, the pandemic may have exacerbated mental health needs that were already present. For others, especially those with social anxiety, being at home and online schooling may be a temporary relief to their anxiety, but this is not a long-term solution and may result in increased difficulty as they return to school and other aspects of life.
Here are a few ways that we can support our kids and teens as we continue to navigate the pandemic, and as we look ahead to getting back to a more familiar way of life.
Laura Dempsey is a licensed social worker and therapist with nearly 20 years of experience counseling children and families.