Megan's Counselling Blog...

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Welcome to Inspire Change Counselling!  I am excited to announce that I recently opened my new counselling home located right in the heart of Port Adelaide. Located at 124 Commercial Road, my counselling home is a safe, comfortable and confidential space where we spend time focusing on you.

23rd June 2021

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Relationship Counselling, Marriage Counselling, Couples Therapy it is one of my very favourite areas of practice.  Why?  I love getting to know couples and I enjoy helping them to build the skills they need to resolve their differences.  Counselling can help couples to rebuild their relationship by helping them learn how to gain a deeper understanding of each other's perspectives.  Counselling for couples is facilitated in a safe, respectful and trusting environment where each person can feel comfortable to share how they are feeling.  If you would like help with your relationship couples counselling could be the perfect solution for you.

EMDR - Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprocessing

I am lucky enough to currently be training in EMDR.  The practice of EMDR involves the processing of painful memories by recalling the experience and pairing it with bilateral stimulation of the brain such as eye movements.  You may be familiar with EMDR if you have watched "The Me You Can't See" where Prince Harry bravely opens up to Oprah about his struggles with mental health.  Prince Harry credits EMDR with helping him cope with his childhood trauma.  

EMDR assist people to heal from the emotional distress and associated symptoms resulting from traumatic life experiences. 

 

If you think EMDR might be able to help you then watch this space because I look forward to offering this service soon.

A little about anxiety...

Anxiety!  It is unpleasant at its best and absolutely debilitating at its worst.  Anxiety can feel like you are drowning, like you are suffocating and it can be extremely terrifying!  We all experience anxiety at some stage of our lives.  Some anxiety can be useful as it can motivate us.  Anxiety can help to protect us from danger and activate us to react faster in an emergency.   Many people with severe anxiety truly believe they are suffering a heart attack.  Feelings of panic, nervousness, sweating, shaking, gastrointestinal problems, tiredness and hyperventilation are all symptoms of anxiety.  What can help with anxiety is gaining the support of a professional. Someone who can understand, empathise, listen with empathy and perhaps even relate to your experience.  Counselling can help with anxiety and so can seeing your GP.  The very best thing you can do for anxiety is to get the help that you need and deserve.  Anxiety you are not alone.

When Families Don't Get Along

Families are extremely complex there is no doubt about it!  When children do not get along when they are young that is to be expected.  What we probably do not expect is our children not to get along with each other as adults.  Unfortunately in some circumstances our adult children do not always get along with us.  When families do not get along it can be a significantly stressful experience for everyone, especially the parents.  It is not uncommon to feel symptoms of depression and anxiety and it's a problem that can be difficult to talk about with friends.  This is where counselling can be helpful for you.  Discussing your problems in a safe, non-judgemental and confidential space can help you to release your emotions, see clarity on the issue and gain the support that you really need and deserve.  Yes families are extremely complex, please know that you do not have to go through it alone.

Supporting Teenagers

Supporting struggling teenagers is never easy and being a teenager is not easy at the best of times.  One way you can support your teenagers is by creating a loving, nurturing and supportive relationship with them that is centred around respect, acceptance and approval.

When supporting your teenager it helps to have open communication, this means being a good and active listener.  Let your teenager know and feel as though there is nothing they can not talk to you about.  This way they are more likely to open up and ask for your help when they need it the most.  Like everyone teenagers seek to feel valued, understood, respected and appreciated by their parents.  It's a strong need that follows through to adulthood.

It is great to try and connect with your teenager over a shared interest.  It could be sports, shopping, gaming, lunch dates, working in the shed...what ever works for the both of you. Try and create a regular 'ritual of connection' where you do something that you enjoy together or as a family.  This will help you to establish and maintain a warm and enjoyable connection with each other.

Parenting is not easy.  Another way you can support your teenager is by ensuring that you are taking extra good care of yourself.  Remember to reach out to your family and friends and remember to allow some special time each week just for you.  If you are struggling with raising your teenager counselling could be a good option for you.

Self Esteem

So what exactly is self-esteem?  Self-esteem is the way we feel about ourselves.  It is the confidence we have in our own abilities and includes both our positive and negative beliefs about ourselves.  Being negative and critical about yourself can be a sign that you have a low self-esteem.  Ignoring your achievements, not accepting compliments and feeling as though other people are better than you are also signs of a low self-esteem. 

The good news is that you can work to increase your self-esteem!  One way to do this is to stop comparing yourself to others.  Concentrate on your own goals and achievements and celebrate them rather than comparing yourself to the achievements of others.  Another way to increase your self-esteem is to embrace the fact that everyone makes mistakes!  Mistakes are a part of life and we need to remember that no-one is perfect. Additionally being your own best friend can really increase your self-esteem.  Always be extra kind to yourself and take extra good care of yourself.  Treat yourself the way you would treat your best friend. 

If you struggle with a low self-esteem talking with a counsellor could help you. For more information on self-esteem please visit https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/self-esteem

The Benefits of Journaling

The process of journaling can be really beneficial for your mental health!  Journaling can help you to release your emotions, clear your head and make important connections between your thoughts, feelings and behaviour.  Journaling can help to enhance our mood, increase your sense of well-being, reduce symptoms of anxiety and decrease symptoms of depression.  Journaling can help to increase your self awareness and identify any unhealthy thoughts and behaviours you may have.  Journaling involves expressing what ever is on your mind.  You can write about what has happened during the day and how you are feeling.  You can write about what has gone wrong and celebrate what has gone right.  Writing can help you to express yourself and to help you keep calm.  It is helpful to reflect on your journal and gain a better understanding of how you are feeling.  Some people like to bring their journal to therapy and share it with their therapist.  If you think that journaling could be helpful for you why not give it a try today?   You can find a really great article on journaling at https://positivepsychology.com/benefits-of-journaling/

The Experience of an Empath

Empathy is imagining what another person may be thinking or feeling.  Empathy can also be defined as the ability to sense the emotions of others.  Some people are highly aware of the emotional states of other people to the extreme that they feel those emotions themselves.

We refer to these people as empaths.  Are you an empath?  Empaths tend to take on other people's emotions as though they are their own.  People who are empaths tend to have a calming effect on other people and their level of compassion and understanding makes them amazing friends.  People who are empaths need to take extra good care of themselves as being an empath can be absolutely exhausting.  Empaths tend to take on the problems of other people as their own, therefore setting boundaries for themselves and saying no to people can be a real challenge.  Empaths are quite often highly sensitive introverts and can feel especially tired after spending time around others.  Can you relate to this?  For more information on empaths there is a really great article that can be found at www.highlysensitiverefuge.com

Discovering Your Love Language

The Five Love Languages is a theory developed by Gary Chapman.  The Five Love Languages refers to the way that we express and experience love.  Understanding your partner's love language can result in better communication and increased feelings of love, appreciation and connection towards one another.

The five love languages are;

1. words of affirmation 

2. quality time

3. receiving gifts

4. acts of service

5. physical touch

So for example if it is your partners Birthday coming up and you know that their love language is 'quality time' you would be much better off booking a romantic dinner for two at a restaurant than buying an expensive gift.  Your partner will really appreciate you putting in the effort to spending quality time together as this is really important to them.  I always like to encourage my couples to learn more about the five love languages as it is something that they can learn about and embrace together.  It can help to increase their connection and become more understanding of what each other's needs are.

Would you like to enhance your relationships by learning more about what you and your partners love language is?   It is as simple as completing a short online quiz that can be found at www.5lovelanguages.com.  Or you may be interested in buying a copy of Gary Chapman's best selling book 'The 5 Love Languages'.  I can guarantee you it is a really great read!

The Practice of Positive Psychology

If you ever find yourself focussing on the positive experiences in life such as happiness, inspiration and love, this is what is referred to as positive psychology.  Practicing gratitude, resilience and compassion are also traits of positive psychology.  Did you know that there are several benefits of practicing positive psychology? This includes an increased self-esteem, enhanced relationships, increased satisfaction in the work place and an overall better outlook on life.

In order for you to improve your quality of life a negative outlook can be shifted to a more positive outlook.  This can be achieved either by working on yourself through reading self help articles or books or through the help of a counsellor.  Positive psychology can improve your overall sense of well being.  Have a think about what practicing positive psychology might be able to do for you!

The Depths of Depression

Have you ever wondered what depression is really like?  Have you ever wondered if you are perhaps experiencing depression?  Here is one persons very personal account of their experience with depression.

 

"In my experience depression was a deep, dark sinking feeling of complete hopelessness.  The depression was like a rainy day where it never stops pouring, I was soaked with water and I felt like I was drowning and gasping for air.  My depression was the saddest of sadnesses and an incredibly low and intense mood.  It was the loss of my 'former self' and I grieved for the happy person I used to be.  My depression was so very sad and it truly felt like nothing in the whole wide world would ever cheer me up, not even my favourite people.  My depression was an extremely intense sadness that seemed as though it had no ending ever.  I was feeling lonely and distant from everyone even those who loved and needed the most.  In my depression I felt absolutely exhausted for not reason what-so-ever, I couldn't get out of bed, I couldn't even take care of myself.  My depression was a feeling of absolute hopelessness, despair and uselessness.  I lost any interest that I ever had in doing anything that I loved. I lost my passion for the things I loved most of all in life and worst of all I lost myself....completely!"

This is one person's very personal account of severe depression.  If you find yourself relating to any of this you may be experiencing symptoms of depression.  If you would like more information about if depression or anxiety is impacting you there is a checklist you can complete at www.beyondblue.org.au.  You can complete the Anxiety and Depression Checklist (the K10).  If you would like to discuss how you are feeling or your results of the K10 you can reach out to a counsellor or discuss this with your GP.

Sunshine Makes You Feel Great!

Did you know that sunshine is great for your mental health?  Getting a good dose of sunshine increases the serotonin in your brain and serotonin is our 'happy hormone'.

Serotonin can assist in increasing your mood and it can also help you to feel calm and more focussed.  Getting a healthy dose of sunlight can decrease your chances of experiencing seasonal affective disorder (SAD) a type of depression associated with Autumn and Spring...also know as 'the winter blues'.  

Why Pets are Amazing for your Mental Health

Did you know that having a pet is great for your mental health?

There are just so many amazing things about pets!  Having a pet can give you a sense of purpose in life which can help to improve depression and anxiety.  Having a pet (especially a dog or a cat) can help to reduce your feelings of loneliness and encourage a level of playfulness.  It can also encourage exercise which is also great for your mental health in itself.

Playing with your pet (for me it's my dog CoCo) can also lift both your serotonin and dopamine levels which can help to calm and relax  you.  Additionally patting or cuddling your pet can help to calm you and sooth you during times of anxiety.  What is incredibly special is that dogs and cats can pick up on your emotions and they know when you are sad and needing some extra love.  There are many amazing benefits of having a pet!

Is your relationship crying out for help? Don’t leave it until it’s too late!

As a relationships therapist I see many couples walk through the door who have passed the point of no return in terms of their relationship.  They have come to get help as a ‘last resort’ to try and save their relationship when really their relationship was over some time ago.  As their relationship has deteriorated their resentment towards each other has grown and the relationship is consumed with criticism, contempt, defensiveness and stonewalling.  Otherwise known as ‘the four horsemen’ according to the relationship specialist John Gottman of The Gottman Institute.

 

Signs that your relationship needs some help…

Is criticism occurring in your relationship?  Criticism is an attack on your partner’s character implying that they have consistent and negative personality floors.  Criticism can have an extremely damaging effect on the relationship as it makes the victim feel upset, rejected and hurt.  What about contempt?  Is contempt a problem in your relationship?  An example of contempt is treating your partner with disrespect and mocking them with sarcasm. Signs of contempt can include hostile humour, name calling and negative body language. According to John Gottman contempt is the most destructive negative behaviour in relationships.  How about defensiveness?   Defensiveness is a way of blaming your partner and saying “the problem isn’t me it’s you” rather than accepting responsibility for your position in the situation.  Partners who do not become defensive when discussing conflict have healthier relationships.  The last sign that your relationship is in need of help is stonewalling.  Stonewalling is extremely common in relationships and involves the listener becoming so overwhelmed that they withdraw from the conversation completely.  They shut down and close themselves off from their partner by ignoring them.

 

If criticism, contempt, defensiveness and stonewalling occur in your relationship and you have issues that are difficult to resolve then now would be a great time to reach out for help from a professional.  Get help now before you reach the point of not return.