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Archive for the ‘Achieve Balance Today’ Category

What is a Boundary Anyway?

Friday, January 22nd, 2016

 

 

 

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Good boundaries are a part of any good relationship. In fact, a relationship without boundaries will almost always have other symptoms: violence, emotional arguments, infidelity, addiction, emotional cutoffs, or debilitating enabling. The problem with boundaries? They can be hard on a relationship. The boundary-setter finds it hard because he dreads retaliation from the boundary-receiver. The boundary-receiver finds it hard because, well, no one really LIKES to receive a boundary. Here are three things everyone in a relationship needs to know about boundaries:

  1. Boundaries are designed to protect the boundary-setter, not the boundary receiver. Let’s say you love your neighbor, you love your neighbor’s cows, and you love your yard. You do not, however, love your neighbor’s cows IN your yard. In fact, you are starting to lose your serenity because of it. Since you value your yard and your serenity, you decide to build a fence. The cows are a little miffed because they can’t get to your grass and your neighbor is a little miffed because his view is now marred by your fence. You, on the other hand, feel pretty good because you have your serenity and your yard. Maybe your neighbor will realize your serenity helps the relationship and grow to appreciate your fence. Maybe he will harbor hurt feelings over your fence and never speak to you again.

Lesson: You built a fence because you started valuing your peace more than your neighbor’s peace. There is a possibility the relationship with your neighbor will suffer because of this shift. There is also a possibility the relationship will become better than ever.

  1. Boundaries are not the same as telling someone what to do. Let’s say you have the same neighbor, the same cows, the same yard, and the same budding resentment. You realize that a fence might hurt your neighbor’s feelings so you are going to try some things that are ‘less offending’ than a fence. Here’s what you try:
    1. You try to talk to your neighbor and tell him that if he cared about you he’d keep his cows on his own side.
    2. You tell your neighbor that it’s just common sense to keep his cows under control and if had any common sense, he would do that.
    3. You repeat 1. and 2. at all social gatherings, barbecues, and kids’ birthday parties until eventually he goes the other way when he sees you coming.
    4. You file a restraining order against your neighbor and his cows.
    5. You shoot the cows when they come in your yard.

Lesson: Nagging, guilt trips, threats, and acts of violence are attempts to change or control another person. Unlike boundaries they rarely protect your yard or your serenity and they always damage relationships.

  1. Boundaries will always require a change in your behavior, not your neighbor’s. Did the neighbor have a right to graze his cows on your grass? No. Did you have a right to be angry? Sure. Is it fair that you had to spend money and time and energy to build the fence when his cows are the problem? Yes. After all, you care more about your serenity (and your yard) than your neighbor does. Lesson: If you value it, then it’s up to you to protect it.

So the next time you are considering action because of a partner (or a neighbor) remember the difference between boundary setting and controlling. Boundaries are uncomfortable, sometimes costly, strategies designed to protect you. Controlling strategies are designed to change someone else’s behavior so you are more comfortable. Boundaries have the added benefit of improving a relationship. Controlling almost always results in relationship damage.

Kate Walker Ph.D., LPC, LMFT

What Does Feeling Better Look Like?

Tuesday, January 12th, 2016

NopainWhat does ‘feeling better’ look like?

You probably don’t have to ask yourself that question when you have physical pain. When you have a pounding toothache, you Google ‘dentist in my town,’ or you phone your friends and ask who they use. You will probably book an appointment with the professional with the most stars, highest friend recommendations, lowest price, and earliest opening (not necessarily in that order). Most important, you will already know exactly what you want as an outcome: no more tooth pain.

Should emotional pain be any different? I don’t think so. Whether we are experiencing emotional or physical pain, we want relief. According to research you can get varying degrees of relief from different forms of treatment including diet and exercise, acupuncture, counseling therapy, meditation, medication, or a combination of all of the above. If your emotional pain is a manageable two or three out of a high score of ten, you might even take your time to explore different options and develop what are commonly known as coping skills. Ideally you would work those coping skills into a daily regimen of self-care (think daily tooth brushing) to keep emotional pain manageable.

If your emotional pain started creeping past manageable to a level-10-toothache pain, however, your need for relief would become urgent. Your criteria for a counseling professional would resemble the criteria you had for your dentist: expert skills, affordable price, accessible location, available immediately, and most important, the ability to relieve your pain.

Counselors are highly skilled professionals trained in the art of emotional pain relief. We use our skills to promote insight in our clients so they feel better. When they feel better, we terminate treatment. If they don’t feel better, then we look at our treatment plan and make adjustments. If we make adjustments and our clients are still not feeling better, we help them find a specialist who can meet their needs and hopefully accomplish what we could not.

What we’re not so good at is explaining how what we do alleviates pain.

So when talking to clients, perhaps a counselor should think more like a dentist and clearly explain what he does and what to expect from his sessions. This ‘solution-focused and goal-oriented’ approach could begin with the first phone call. Once the client explained her emotional pain, he would be able to tell her three things:

  1. Whether or not counseling with him could help her specific issue,
  2. A step by step map of the first three to four sessions, and
  3. Specific tools she would gather by that fourth session that might offer symptom relief.

When we have physical or emotional pain, we all want the same thing: pain relief. Counselors need to be able to explain just as well as a dentist how their skills can help make that happen.

 

 

Getting the Most From Therapy: Sleep Better

Friday, August 7th, 2015

Coming to therapy is a big decision. Individuals come to therapy for personal marriage, and family issues. Therapy works because of the relationship between you and your counselor. She will help you achieve insight by showing you roadblocks holding you back, and thinking errors keeping you stuck.

Whether you are coming to therapy for yourself, your marriage, or a family member, you will get the most out of your time and money if you commit to work both during your sessions and on your own. Take time to make small changes and talk to your therapist if you are not getting the results you want. While there are no guarantees, therapy often leads to better relationships, solutions to specific problems, and significant reductions in feelings of distress. Here are some week-by-week tips for getting the most from your therapy:

Week 1
Start cutting back on caffeine and get a journal. Cut simple sugars from your diet. Take a walk outdoors. Make an appointment for a physical.

Week 2
Cut caffeine from your diet and add something healthy. Each day walk outdoors and write something in your journal you are thankful for.

Week 3
Start a bedtime routine. One hour before bedtime take a warm bath or shower. Thirty minutes before cut out TV and computer. Five minutes before breathe and relax.

Week 4
Help someone in need. Give your time at a soup kitchen, meals on wheels, or a thrift shop.

Want more detail? Check out or 30 day transformation. It’s a FREE download here.

To Succeed You Gotta Get Gritty

Monday, June 15th, 2015

Good morning Achievers!

You know grit is quite a hot topic these days (check out Angela Duckworth’s research here). Grit means you go through a hellacious experience and you do more than just survive, you thrive. Or perhaps you are the Energizer bunny and no matter what happens, you just keep going and going and going. My own gritty experience (I think the actual word I used to describe it at the time only rhymed with gritty) involved getting a cancer diagnosis, having three little kids, knowing my husband was in a combat zone, and deciding to start a Ph.D. program and a new counseling practice. So what are the five traits of Grit? They are courage, achievement, follow-through, resilience, and excellence (rather than perfection).

 

Courage, or your ability to manage fear of failure, can only be cultivated through hardship. That’s a tough sell to entrepreneurs. We want to succeed because we have a mortgage to pay, student loans to pay back, or food to buy. Achievement might seem like an easier virtue to swallow, but it’s important to note that this is NOT meticulous conscientious completion. It is a ‘do your best-finish it up-get on to the next task whether it looks pretty or not’ virtue. Follow-through is akin to Malcom Gladwell’s ‘10,000 hours to mastery’ theory. It tells us that practice with purpose is the driver behind accomplishing long term goals. Resilience can be descried as the belief that “everything will be alright in the end, and if it’s not alright, it’s not the end.” Excellence-not perfection is a gritty trait because it is an attitude. Perfection, on the other hand, relies on the opinions of others and is impossible to reach.

 

To see Angela Duckworth’s TED talk about grit click here.

 

Have a Gritty Day! – Kate

Getting the most from your therapy sessions

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

Small changes can lead to big results!

  • Coming to therapy is a big decision. Individuals come to therapy for personal, marriage, and family issues.
  • Therapy works because of the relationship between you and your counselor. He or she will help you achieve insight by showing you roadblocks holding you back, and thinking errors keeping you stuck.
  • Whether you are coming to therapy for yourself, your marriage, or a family member, you will get the most out of your time and money if you commit to work both during your sessions and on your own. Take time to make small changes and talk to your therapist if you are not getting the results you want. While there are no guarantees, therapy often leads to better relationships, solutions to specific problems, and significant reductions in feelings of distress.

Week 1:  Start cutting back on caffeine and get a journal. Cut simple sugars from your diet. Take a walk outdoors. Make an appointment for a physical.

Week 2:  Take daily supplements that include Omega 3 and add something healthy to your diet. Walk outdoors. Write something in your journal you are thankful for.

Week 3:  Start a bedtime routine. One hour before bedtime take a warm bath or shower. Thirty minutes before cut out TV and computer. Five minutes before breathe and relax.

Week 4:  Help someone in need. Give your time at a soup kitchen, meals on wheels, or a thrift shop.

For questions or comments contact us at 936-697-2822.
AchieveBalance.org and Ann’s Place are a part of All About the Family LLC

 

Frequently Asked Questions About Therapy

Monday, May 6th, 2013

Why see a therapist? The reasons people choose to see a therapist vary. Therapy can be beneficial for a wide range of problems such as depression, loss, marital strife, parent-child concerns, or emotional distress. Some people need help getting through a specific life event. Some want an unbiased perspective on an issue they are struggling with. Regardless of what brings you to therapy, it can be an opportunity to grow, learn, and heal.  

Who do I choose? Psychiatrists, psychologists, licensed professional counselors, marriage and family therapists, pastoral care counselors, and life coaches are several options for individuals who are seeking help. How do they differ?

Psychiatrists (MD):

  • Are licensed medical doctors who can prescribe medication
  • Have completed training in a psychiatric residency program
  • May provide therapy (also known as psychotherapy) but most focus on medication management  (some do both)

Psychologists (PhD):

  • Are not medical doctors and cannot prescribe medication
  • Have completed a doctoral program as well as post doctoral experience under supervision and passed a licensure examination
  • Provide therapy and diagnostic testing

Licensed Professional Counselors (PhD/MA LPC):

  • Are not medical doctors and cannot prescribe medication
  • Have completed either a doctoral or a master’s level program, a supervised postgraduate internship, and passed a licensure examination
  • Work with individuals, couples, families and groups
  • Provide therapy and diagnostic testing

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (PhD/MA LMFT):

  • Are not medical doctors and cannot prescribe medication
  • Have completed a doctoral or master’s level program, a supervised postgraduate internship, and passed a licensure examination
  • Specialize in working with families to improve relationships among family members; also work with individuals, couples and groups

Pastoral Care Counselor

  • Training depends on the religious denomination. Most denominations require licensing and post-graduate training and supervision

Coach or Life Coach

  • No standardized training or licensing required
  • Since the field is unregulated at this time, clients must   

rely on information provided by the coach

How do I find a therapist? The most common ways to find a therapist include asking:

  • Insurance carrier
  • Physician
  • A friend or family member

Will insurance cover the sessions? You may choose to see a therapist who is on your insurance company’s provider list or you may choose to see one who is not on the list. If you choose a therapist who is not on the list, the insurance company might consider the therapist to be an out-of-network provider. In such cases, it is up to the discretion of the insurance company to decide whether or not they will reimburse you. You also have the option of self or private pay which means you pay the fee yourself.

How do I know if I’ve made the right choice? The emotional connection that a client makes with a therapist oftentimes has a greater impact on the success of the therapeutic process than the type of therapist chosen. The therapist must provide an atmosphere of safety and trust for the client. If, after a few sessions, the client doesn’t feel that he or she is making any progress, it is important to discuss it with the therapist.

The client determines his or her own goals in therapy, not the therapist’s. The client and therapist work together toward achieving client’s goal. It is normal to experience a certain amount of discomfort when facing difficult issues during the course of therapy. If the client feels that a change of therapist would be best, the therapist should be supportive of that decision. A proper fit between therapist and client is essential toward goal achievement.

How long will therapy last? Many people think that therapy is a long and drawn out process. Very often that is not the case. There are many different approaches to therapy. The needs and goals of the client determine which approach would be most suitable. Some clients achieve their goals in as few as two or three sessions, some take longer.  A goal is defined by the client during the first session. The client and the therapist work together toward attaining that goal.

How to Stop Anxiety Attacks and How to Control Anxiety Through Natural Anxiety Relief

Friday, December 7th, 2012

Anxiety can be frustrating, devitalizing, and even paralyzing. For the individual that struggles with sustained anxiety, it is actually a bugger. My hat goes off to those who is able to get up everyday and do what they have to do while managing to keep the anxiety in check. For those among us who fight with anxiety, it’s important to be aware of how to control anxiety so it doesn’t control you.

An anxiety management plan needs to be multifaceted. Individuals seeking to create such a plan must analyze medical causes, an advantage of utilizing care, and possibly medication management with a psychiatric professional when necessary. In the meantime, I’ve listed 2 natural anxiety relief practices that can help.

First, focus on the moment. Disconcerting thoughts usually take us into the future and cause us to worry about what could happen. Teaching yourself to focus on the here and now will lower anxiety by shifting your perception into the present and decreasing the ruminating thoughts about situations out of control. Try it! As you eat, become aware of what you are eating and how it tastes. As you work, feel the weight of the pen in your hand or your back against your chair.

A second practice is to break down a project or goal into tiny steps. Those with foreboding sometimes get overwhelmed when facing a cut off point. In this case, the goal feels so great that procrastination happens due to the uneasiness. To cope, try this: write down one thing you would like to attain. Now set down the steps wanted to complete it. Take each “main” step and break it down into one or two smaller steps. Keep the list with you and as you complete each small step, check it off. Let yourself be conscious of your success for that moment and be ecstatic that you’re heading towards your goal.

Anxiety can be a real game-stopper. To those fo you with nervousness, these two practices can be a game-changer so you’ll know how to stop anxiety attacks in the future. Try either or both today!

The Very Best You

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

Everyone has buddies and relatives whom we love. Not only do we care deeply about them, we think a lot about what we will be able to give them. These emotions and thoughts are crucial! There’s a point, nevertheless, when giving might be negative.

The best thing you can give your loved ones is the very best you. What does that suggest? It means that you learn about yourself, how you are feeling in different situations, how your family of origin affected you for good (or not so good), how you deal with conflict, and what your wishes are. When you find out about yourself you begin to change. You can discover you are becoming as important as your mother or father. Maybe you never learned to request what you need and now you’re getting depressed due to resentment. You might even discover your intense wrath is a cover-up for your hurt. The result is that you may be good at going through the motions of giving, but the internal attitude is not so charitable because it consequently diminishes the value of your good works, thus leaving you feeling sad and alone inside. But it does not have to stay that way.

Consider Wayne* and Sandy*. Wayne and Sandy came to see me because Sandy was depressed and Wayne didn’t think he could handle it any more. As we conversed, Sandy discovered that in 27 years of marriage, she never asked for what she needed. She thought that her role as wife and mom was to only do for others!

Wayne spotted that, while he was fond of having Sandy take care of him and the children, he had become self-absorbed and disconnected from Sandy. As they gained understanding of themselves and one another, Sandy started listening to her feelings and wishes and Wayne started listening and responding. Sandy’s depression lifted and Wayne found out he was married to an interesting woman!

This is what I mean by becoming the very best you. Start today: invest in yourself, learn to love yourself, and begin making the changes you need so you can love yourself more. When you learn to love yourself more and love yourself first, everything falls into place. So the gift you can give is the gift of loving yourself. Everybody will be happy with that as a gift!

 

* Wayne and Sandy are pseudonyms and represent a host of couples who have received solutions in their marriage for matters surrounding this kind of issue.

Sue Watkins is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. Sue can be found at www.SueWatkins.net.

 

Achieve Balance: Balancing Life and Work

Friday, September 28th, 2012

In today’s fast paced world, at times it may seem impossible to balance your life. Many people feel they must wake up with their feet on the ground running in order to meet the demands of the day.

Whether it is taking care of the household duties, meeting the needs of a demanding job, or pleasing the spouse and children, balancing your life without being struck down by physical or emotional issues can be challenging at times. When an event, task, relationship, or thought is overpowering, it is normal to feel overwhelmed and out of control.

Managing tasks, emotions, relationships, and retain self-respect is essential to a healthy and balanced life. It is important to not be too one sided about anything, and balancing life and work is key. In fact, combining opposites is the key to staying in balance. For example, all work and no play is just as unhealthy as all play and no work. Being too invested in self-interests and having no interest in others will cause an imbalance just as too much time invested in others and not enough time in self.

While it is important to strive to enhance and make ourselves better, self-acceptance is essential to balance. Know the difference between dieting to combat obesity or diabetes and dieting to look like the swimsuit models you saw in last month’s People Magazine. Accept your body shape and your genetic makeup while dedicating yourself to a healthy lifestyle.

Do you feel like your life is out of balance? A therapist utilizing Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) can help you move away from extremes and attain balance again by helping you learn mindfulness, distress tolerance skills, emotional regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness skills. Finding balance in life and achieving balance can lead to healthier relationships, greater self-confidence, and a more fulfilling life. If you are struggling, why not call a therapist today?

Tia Parsley, MEd, LPC, LCDC has experience assisting adolescents and their families with issues such as addiction, anger management, depression, anxiety, communication, parenting, and stress management.

 

Mothers Who Work

Friday, September 14th, 2012

From PTO boardrooms to corporate boardrooms everywhere, the debate rages on. What is better for kids, a mom who works full time outside the home or a stay at home mom who works as a full time parent and homemaker? Just as important, what is better for the mom? First we must be clear that both types of moms are working moms and there is no such thing as a mom who doesn’t work.

If we look back in history we find mothers who work in fields while older and younger women in the village worked to nurse and care for the children. During the industrial revolution we saw both moms and children working to earn money for the family. Children with working mothers in this instance were likely to accompany their mom to work.

Today in third-world cultures women work from dusk till dawn securing sustenance for the family. There is no such thing as a mom who doesn’t work, and moms that get enough sleep may be hard to come by too!

Today, it appears deciding to work outside the home versus inside may affect a mother’s health. A recent Akron University study found that mothers who worked full time steadily before and after the birth of their first child had better mental and physical health. The study by Dr. Frech and her co-author, Sarah Demaske considered nearly 30 years of data provided by 2,540 mothers as participants in the National Longitudinal Study of Youth.

Far from being a ‘call to work’ for stay at home mothers or a condemnation of personal choices made by women based on advantages and disadvantages, the study hopes to illuminate that choosing to work full time outside the home as a mom is not a bad thing. Those mothers dealing with the guilt of leaving children with caregivers to work outside the home can perhaps feel a little better knowing first, mothers have been doing the same thing for millennia, and second, they may be doing something positive for their own health and wellbeing. The best careers for moms are the ones that they choose be it staying home going to work or a balance of both.

Dr. Kate Walker Ph.D., LPC, LMFT  has experience assisting adolescents and their families with issues such as addiction, anger management, depression, anxiety, communication, parenting, and stress management.

 

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