A Letter of Encouragement to Myself

10 X0JTVjQzNDkuanBn“I don’t always love Parenthood”

I talk a lot about my life as a mom on this blog. Usually I am sharing joyful moments, techniques, and other positive themes on parenthood. I’ll be completely honest though. While a moment doesn’t go by that I don’t love my kids more than life and want to give everything to them… the truth is that I don’t always love “parenthood.” It’s a HARD JOB, often filled with stress and always requires sacrifice. I work hard as a mom. I give my whole heart to them and desire to give them a happy, structured, opportunistic childhood. I want to raise them with good character and values. This kind of parenting requires a lot of effort and I am thankful to have a wonderful husband and father to my children to share in these responsibilities. Still, all you mothers and father know what I am talking about when I say that being a parent isn’t easy.

Negative Self-Talk = Negative Mood

In the middle of the most stressful times, like getting the kids dinner and bath by yourself, when one of them has an ear infection and the other is testing boundaries like there is no tomorrow, all on an empty stomach and back ache from an injury during your work out… Yes this is me! ūüôā You have to draw strength to continue without biting everyone’s head off! ūüôā I noticed my self-talk was very negative¬†during these moments. I was really making those stressful times even more miserable for myself and spiraling into a state of stress, anxiety, and feelings of hopelessness. I want to look back and know I enjoyed my kids when they were little, not the experience I was having.

A Letter From My “Negative Self” to My “Positive Self”

When things are calm (aka when kids are in bed or entertaining one another) my mind set and perceptions about parenthood are totally different. I decided to write a letter from my calm, joyful self to my stressed, negative self.

I’m going to share this personal letter with you here.

Dear Kim,

I know you are stressed right now and feel like giving up. Raising kids is hard, especially when both of them are so young. Please remember: You are strong; You are a good mommy; Your kids are amazing; And this won’t last forever! Time will go by so quickly… it already has and you want to relish in the precious moments you have with your babies. Give yourself a break if needed! If your kids are in bed 30 minutes later… they will get an extra long nap tomorrow. If water splashes out of the tub, just put a towel down. If the kids are crying and clingy, it’s because they miss you… give them love and nurture them tonight! Take it moment by moment and remember to breath. Your babies are precious and your family is beautiful. There is no reason to stress like you are. Take care dear kimmy and focus on that warm bath and glass of wine you have planned for later tonight!

Your Turn: Writing a Letter to Yourself

Practicing positive self talk and positive affirmations is not a new concept. However, I found it very helpful to write Depositphotos_26703933_mthis. The act of writing itself is therapeutic, such as journal¬†writing. You also have something to reference during your times of stress. We all see things differently when we are in a good mood versus a bad mood. Reminding yourself of your “good mood perceptions” can encourage you to push through and give you positive affirmations that may be hard to come up with during times of stress.

You don’t have to be a parent to use this tool. Whether you are battling an illness, training for a competition, attempting to loose weight, or studying for an exam or overall degree, this can be a useful tool to apply in your life.¬†When you feel strong, confident, and joyful, this is the time to sit down and write down reminders to yourself about how you feel now and the reasons to push through whatever adversity you are facing.

Applying This Tool In Therapy

I find that client’s often describe their moments of distress in therapy as being really bad at the time, but when they talk to me they say things like “I know this is normal…” or “At the time it felt so hard…” Writing a letter to can be an excellent homework assignment. Have the client write a letter to themselves when they are feeling more positive and strong and use it as I have described here.

You May Also Like:

No Longer A Super Mom Wannabe
Exploring the Benefits of Unwanted Behaviors
4 Play Therapy Skills I Use In Parenting

I’ve Been A Busy Woman… Come Check Out My New Office!

If I haven’t responded to your email or facebook post, or you have noticed my blog posts have been few and far between, it’s because I have been a very busy woman! Over the last many months, I’ve worked on establishing a new place for my clinical practice. ¬†If you have ever set up a new office, or moved into a new home, you know the errands and tasks are endless… or seem that way at times. I am so happy to be moved in and wanted to share my space with you all!

 Clinical Practice

Kingwood Counseling and Play Therapy

First off, the name of my practice is Kingwood Counseling and Play Therapy. For more information, please visit my practice website at www.kimscounseling.com! Here you will learn more about the who, what, and where of my services!

Combining Psychotherapy and Play Therapy Spaces

While I looked very hard for a space that separated the play therapy room and talk therapy room, I actually decided on a larger space that allowed me to combine the two types of treatment, and still have room for a desk and work space!

As you can see from these two pictures, the play area is behind the talk therapy space. My desk is off to the side, away from everything else.

The combined space has worked out great and here’s why…

  • One reason is that sometimes I don’t know how receptive a child will be to play therapy, especially when they are around 7-8 years old. This allows for the child the have the opportunity to explore both spaces as needed.
  • My games, art materials, sand tray, and sand toys are in the play area, but I am able still access these items quickly and easily with teens when I want to incorporate these modalities ¬†into their treatment.
  • I like to read to some of my younger clients toward the end of a play therapy session. It’s easy to walk over to the couch and snuggle up with the teddy and blanket on my couch.
  • Having a play area in the back is a reminder to adult clients that I work with all ages. If they want to make a referral, they know I am equipped to work with children as well!
  • The lighting in the area is divided between the play area and talk therapy space. I can turn on the light in the talk therapy space without turning it on over the play area, and vice versa. This minimizes distraction the toys may cause adult clients and creates an even calmer environment.

Psychotherapy (aka Talk Therapy) Space

My goal for this area is to create a warm, calming, and safe environment for clients. The colors are greens, blues, creams, and brown. The lighting is dimmed. ¬†For auditory purposes, I have a white noise machine in the corner and a zen like fish tank that trickles water very, very lightly. In addition to the sound and a visual calming effect, the fish is also a way to bring the outdoors in… very important for me since I don’t have windows.

Office and Play room for Kingwood Counseling and Play Therapy (www.kimscounseling.com)

Play Therapy Space

The play area was the funnest to put together, of course. My goal was to display the toys in a way that made them easily visible to the child and easily accessible, yet organized and not distracting. I have sooo many toys and sand tray items, yet there are still some things I need (like puppets and a puppet center). Soon I’ll post more on my play room and share more detail about the toys and games I have. Here are a few good pictures to give you a general idea.

Office and Play room for Kingwood Counseling and Play Therapy (www.kimscounseling.com)

Waiting Room

My waiting room is just the right size. My goal was to create a space that was comfortable, blocked sound from the counseling office, and offered some perks to make clients feel special and welcome! These perks include coffee, tea, and water, free wifi, toys and games for kids, reading materials for adults, contemporary music, and a bubble gum machine (my personal fav!).

So, that’s pretty much it! Please feel free to ask questions or make comments (love positive ones especially!) on this post. I’m also interested in hearing if you have a personal experience with a counseling/play therapy office and any feedback for me just starting out!

Remember to visit my website at www.kimscounseling.com and help me move up on the google ratings! ūüôā

5 Ways Motherhood Has Changed Me As A Therapist

How Motherhood Has Made Me a Better Therapist.Kim's Counseling Corner

My son turns 2 years old today. It has gone by so fast and and I haven’t been a mom for all that long, but I know I have definitely changed. Thinking about all the joys and challenges over the last two years, I can’t help but also think about how motherhood has changed me professionally and made me into a better therapist.

1. I am more empathetic to parents. In counseling, we like to believe that we can empathize with just about everyone. After all, pain is pain, joy is joy, etc… no matter what the circumstance. I still think this is true to an extent. But now, when a parent sits across from me and says they are devastated because they don’t know why their child feels so sad, or they want to know where their little angel has gone, I think of my own children. How will I feel if my happy little guy is one day an adolescent who rages in my living room, or if my sweet girl one day talks about hating herself because she is not accepted at school. The pain for me is so unbearable. I channel this empathy towards my clients to help them see better days ahead.

2. I give limited “homework” assignments to parents now. Pre-motherhood, I had all kinds of homework for parents, such as charting 5 different aspects of a behavior during the week (when, where, why, your response, their response…sigh), completing daily exercises with their children, taking personal time out for an hour a day… can you imagine? I am much more cognizant of the daily demands of parenthood. Now, I still recommend personal time for parents, but aim for one hour a week, and my homework assignments are given with more realistic requirements. I get much more follow through now!

3. I am more confident. This increased confidence is not completely due to being a mother, but also due to just having more experience under my belt. However, I do feel that since I am a mom, I can connect better with parents and kids. I also feel more secure in setting personal boundaries for my time and commitments. As a professional who aims to teach healthy boundaries to my clients, being able to set them for my own life is important.

4. My priorities have changed. Now that my family life is set, I can begin working towards long term professional goals that sink with the demands of my family. For example, I hope to establish a successful private practice over the next several years that will allow me to schedule appointments during the time my kids are in school.

5. I have more life experience. No matter what field you work, life experience always give you a leg up. The more I live and the more life phases I enter and travel through, the more I can relate and offer help to others!

Check out these posts too!

Why I Became a Licensed Professional Counselor

Four Play Therapy Skills I Use In Parenting

No Longer a Supermom Wannabe!

 

 

Thinking Back On 2012 and Ahead To 2013

2012 has been quite a year for me. A lot has changed, both personally and professionally. So, for those of you who know me well, this review will be no surprise, and for those of you who are new to my blog you may learn something about me you don’t know.¬†In my 20’s, I learned that I am responsible for myself and no ¬†one else in this world can make things happen for me, except for me. In my 30’s, I have learned that I cannot control everything that happens in my life. Challenges and blessings will be thrown my way, and even when I try to plan my year, I must be ready for unexpected things to happen. So, I write this list and plan to make these things happen, but I am also preparing myself for surprises. This time last year, I would have never expected to have a blog, be in private practice, and have a new baby!!

Major, Memorable, or Significant Events/Changes in 2012 (In no particular order)

My sweet daughter, Molly, was born (ok, so maybe this one is the best part of the year).

I could never have imagined a happier, more beautiful girl. She truly is a sweet spirit in our house, blessing us with a smile that lights up a room and a tender spirit that is more precious than words can describe.

In February, I launched Kim’s Counseling Corner.

Can you believe this blog is still less than A year old? I started the blog as a way to talk about my passion, and that’s what I did. It has come to open many doors and introduce me to some wonderful people in the blogging and counseling worlds. I honestly did not expect the response I have received. I look forward to continued growth, but overall being able to continue blogging about what I love!

I started private practice.

After many years of working with the same company, where I learned and grew so much, I decided it was time for change. I can now focus more on my family, as well as take the next step professionally. I am thankful to have met an amazing group of therapists and build my practice along side them.

I became a Licensed Professional Counselor Supervisor (LPC-S). 

To be an LPC-S, an LPC must have a certain number of years of experience and complete 40 hours of training (think class room lecture style). As an LPC-S, I am approved by the great state of Texas to supervise new LPC interns as they start their career. I wanted to do this because it’s important for me to give back to the field and share what I have learned. In addition, there are few supervisors who are also play therapists, so interns interested in learning this style of therapy have one more option for supervision out there.

My son turned 1 year old.

Now, already about to turn 2, I am in awe of how fast time flies when you are having fun (or changing diapers, calming tantrums, reading books, giving baths, preparing meals, kissing “hurts” and rocking to sleep). He is already so funny, sensitive, intelligent, strong, and adventurous and I am blessed to be his mommy.

I made Liana Lowenstein’s list of favorite things!

I can’t tell you how much an honor it is to get a nod from Ms. Lowenstein. She chose me as her favorite website for 2012. I still have a hard time believing my blog is that great, but it sure is a confidence booster and has encouraged me to keep on blogging, even when time is tight!

So, what’s in store for me in 2013?
It’s impossible for us to know what really awaits us in the new year, but we can at least realistic goals and look forward to new challenges and blessings.

Complete marriage therapy training with The Gottman Institute.

If you have noticed my references to John Gottman in the past, it is because I am working on marital therapy training, along with a few fellow colleagues. Gottman’s marriage therapy is based on years of scientific research on couples and marriages. I look forward to continuing to growth in this area of my profession by mastering the Gottman techniques.

Focus on physical fitness and mindfulness.

So cliche’ I know! Before my first born, I was very much into running, weights, and yoga. In fact, I ran the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, DC with my husband just a few short months before getting pregnant. I don’t have aspirations to run like that again, but I miss the feeling of being strong and healthy. I also practiced yoga and meditation regularly. This was for my emotional health, as well as physical. Now that my life has so many more demands, I am going to have to make it a priority and work it in when I can. Expect some blog posts on this!

Continue to grow Kim’s Counseling Corner.

Writing to you is therapy for me. I often feel a sense of connection with the readers and others in my field. I also learn a lot. When I write about a topic, I typically spend a good amount of time reading what others have written on the topic, finding resources, or reviewing my own client histories and progress. And finally, it also gives me a feeling of accomplishment and contribution to the field of counseling, play therapy, and psychology.

 

Ten Counseling Things I’m Thankful For

This time of year, many of us are reflecting upon the many things we are thankful for, including family, friends, health, home, and our jobs. I would like to share some of the things I am thankful for in relation to my counseling profession.

  1. Fellow Counseling Friends: I don’t know what I would do without friends who share my love for counseling. We all have those friends who can understand just what we mean when we share excitement about a client who finally shows a small sign of trust, or finding a great deal on a sand tray miniature. I’m so thankful for my counseling friends!
  2. Uno Cards: If you work with adolescents, you get this one.¬† In addition to taking the pressure off an adolescent for having to talk, Uno cards give them something to do with their hands. This will often lead to establishing a positive therapeutic rapport, which ultimately leads to progress. I’m thankful for Uno cards!
  3. Play Therapy: Working with children is challenging without techniques that account for those early developmental years. Plus, collecting the toys is half the fun! I’m thankful for play therapy!
  4. Committed Clients: Therapy is a process and, just like anything else, results come from consistency and hard work. I admire clients who are committed to their emotional health and the emotional health of their family and I am thankful to have committed clients!
  5. The Paper Office: This is a book filled with private practice forms for mental health that can be edited and reproduced. Not only are there forms for informed consent, but I have found excellent assessment tools as well. I’m thankful for tools that make my life easier!
  6. Pinterest: I find so many great ideas on this website and it has introduced me to even more websites and blogs with great ideas. Plus, everything is organized and in a convenient place when I’m ready to access. I’m thankful for the wonderful world of Pinterest!
  7. LPC-Interns: New grads and interns are so excited about the field of psychology and counseling. They are eager to learn and ready to work hard for their dreams. I’m thankful for the opportunity to work with interns so I can always be reminded why I entered this field and continue to feel the excitement of all it has to offer!
  8. All Tied Up With Worry Activity: I use this activity with so many clients. Whether they are dealing with anger, stress, worry, or depression, there is always so much the client learns about themself from this activity.
  9. My office: Since starting my private practice this year, I am so thankful to have a beautiful space in which to work!
  10. My family: It’s impossible for me to mention what I’m thankful for without mentioning my family. The mental health profession and starting a private practice requires the love and support of your family. I am so very thankful for my husband who gives me encouragement and my kids who give me inspiration!

What are you thankful for this year?

Why I Became A Licensed Professional Counselor

“Why did you decide to become a Professional Counselor?”

I get this question fairly often. Mostly from new counseling graduates or clients who have been seeing me for long enough. For me, being a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) is an honor and a challenge. To fully answer this quesiton, I would have to start by talking briefly about what I do as an LPC.

My “Job” as an LPC

I put the word “job” in parenthesis because I often don’t feel as if this is a job lately. I am in the profession of helping people through a wide variety of problems.

Here are a few things I get to do on the “job.”

  • Listen: I listen to what my clients have to say. Many times, people feel they talk but they are not heard. They feel as if they share their feelings, but the underlying meaning of why they are feeling that way is not brought to light. So, I listen for what is being said, but also to whay is not being said.
  • Recognize: I am training to recognize many things as an LPC. Some of these include signs of unhealthy boundaries, indications of a mental illness, patterns of behavior, and structural patterns in relationships.
  • Validate: This cannot be underestimated in my role. People often need validation and empathy in order to fully heal.
  • Plan: I establish a plan to help my clients with the issues they bring to me. This includes coming up with goals and ways to reach those goals.
  • Encourage: I encourage my clients in reaching their goals, making progress in their life, and reaching healthy milestones.
  • Advise: I advise clients in handling certain situations, such as handling a child’s visitation after divorce, talking with doctor’s and teachers about what is going on.
  • Play!: As a play therapist, engaging children during therapeutic play is one of my roles, and definitely one of my favorites.

The Reason I Chose Counseling (A Rare Moment of Personal Disclosure)

I am an only child and grew up in a 2 parent home. I can say confidently and thankfully that I am loved by both parents and a small extended family of aunts, uncles, and cousins. I had a happy childhood. However, starting around middle school, I began to experience the challenges that I believe most adolescents experience. I started a new school as well, which added to some of the social challenges of the time. Making friends was difficult for me and I found myself being bullied pretty regularly. This was more of the relational aggression bullying that we see among girls. I remember feeling confused and lonely. I did not have siblings or friends to talk to and I don’t remember my school having a school counselor either. I began surrounding myself with anyone who would be my friend, no matter whether they were a good influence or not.

I finally made my way to high school. My grades were good and I was making a few more friends. But then I got the dreaded boyfriend. You know the one that every mother and father despises and wants to keep far from their daughters. I will skip the details of this time in my life, but I’m sure you can fill in the blanks with your own experience, or one of someone you know. The bottom line is that I again felt lonely and confused. I actually wanted OUT of the relationship with this boy, but I felt trapped and scared. If only I had someone to talk to and help me sort it all out in a healthy and safe way.

Why didn’t I talk to my parents? This is where my career choice will begin to make sense for you. I didn’t tell my parents how scared and lonely I felt for many reasons (that I can only now finally to put into words):

  • Embarrassment. I was embarrassed to admit I made mistakes and needed help.
  • Fear. I was afraid what would happen if they intervened.
  • Disappointment. I didn’t want to disappoint my parents, especially being an only child and all.
  • Pride. As a teenager, you are trying to prove yourself as an adult and admitting mistakes doesn’t help your case.

Putting It All Together

So that’s my personal story of some difficult times when I really needed a counselor as an adolescent. I’m confident the outcome could have been different, as well as saving myself and my family some grief. However, like most challenges and triumphs in our life, those experiences made me who I am today! I am in the business of helping people who are lonely, need answers, feel depressed, or don’t know the healthiest way to handle their circumstance.

I have mentioned in other posts, the importance of finding a mentor for your teenager and it’s for the reasons I stated above that I believe this is so important. With the rise of depression in teens, divorce, autism, and so much more, I don’t ever want a teenager, child, adult, or parent to feel they are alone and don’t have someone to talk to and help.

There are many professionals in the helping profession who follow this blog. I would love to hear how you decided this was the career for you!

Counselor turned MOM

Wow, life as a mom is everything and nothing like I expected! People were right… I could never imagine loving someone as much as I love my little boy. As I’m writing this blog, I have a precious little girl on the way. Thinking of names is so much fun!

Being a mom has given me a new perspective on counseling and play therapy and on the children and their families that I work with every day. I want to share my experiences, lessons, and advice with the world, as well as gain new insights from fellow parents and professionals. So, I have decided this blog is just the avenue I needed. Comments and questions on this blog are welcomed and encouraged!

20120219-223142.jpg