Pillow Talk

Often I meet with couples that are struggling to connect. I usually suggest that they attempt “Pillow Talk” as a beginning to more intimate conversation.

This assignment requires couples to go to bed at the same time and face one another in the bed side by side.

During this time they are to look at one another and talk about their day.

It’s very difficult argue when you are this close to one another but it’s also very easy to create intimate conversation.

This is a wonderful habit for couples to begin and practice each night until communication that is deep and connecting begins to form without any practice needed.

If praying as a couple is important, I also encourage couples to end their Pillow Talk with a prayer in this same position.

Give it a try tonight and see how it works for you and your partner.

If you and your spouse are struggling to connect and you feel that counseling could help, give us a call for an appointment.


I Have Become Her

As I stood waving good -bye to my daughter with my husband by my side, I couldn’t help but envision my mother doing the same thing, only I was the one driving away back then.

I have officially become my mother. I remember she used to stand and wave at me as I got in my car to drive away from her. I was eager and young and ready to take on the world. She would look at me with both pride and sadness in her eyes.

At the time, I didn’t reflect on how she was feeling, I just moved on to whatever else I had going on; oblivious to my mom’s feelings.

I miss my daughter and long for the days when I knew where she was every night and knew what she was up to most of the time. Now, I get very little information and see her so infrequently. I am proud of what she is doing and how well she has adapted to college but a little part of me still wants her safely in our home.

As I think of these things, I realize my mother felt the same way. I see her in me more these days than not. I guess what she used to tell me about one day understanding why she did what she did was right.  The one day has finally arrived.

I understand my mother now better than I ever have in my life. My mom passed away several years ago. I wish she were here for me to share my newfound sympathy for her. The only thing that gives me comfort when I miss her in this way is knowing that we don’t end when we die. She didn’t end. I carry her forward and so do my siblings and now, my children. The impact she made on my life carries her forward.

I am okay with becoming her. When I was a teen that was the furthest thing from my mind and there were days I would say I never wanted to be like her. Now however, I see that becoming her is an honor. I hope that someday, my daughter too will reflect on me and how I feel in this moment in time and she too connects with me in a deeper way whether I am physically present or not.

I hope she too becomes Her.

Round and Round

“The merry-go-round goes round and round never going anywhere new, but it’s safe.”

This line was in the movie “American Crime.” I thought it resonated with many of the clients that I see. Often we sit on a merry-go-round of life, staying in the place that we know because it feels safer than venturing out. Unfortunately, when we do this, it limits us in unimaginable ways.

It’s scary to get off the merry-go-round. We don’t know what’s out there and have to rely on sheer faith that what will happen next will be okay and perhaps even be more than what we could imagine.

Even if what we have on the merry-go-round is bad and we don’t like it, often we stay in it because we are fearful of what we don’t know. In this particular movie, the two girls were living in an abusive home and not leaving because they weren’t sure if leaving could be worse. If you watch the movie, you will see that they were in one of the most abusive situations you could find yourself in, yet, they were still bound to that merry-go-round. It wasn’t safe yet; they stayed there because it was what they knew.

This very same thing happens to many who are in abusive relationships. Not knowing whether you will end up alone or worse off is one of the reasons why so many stay in their current situation. The fear of being alone over rides the abuse that a person has been enduring.

Let me say that again because it’s so very important to understand this about human nature.

The fear of being alone over-rides the abuse.

This gives you a different perspective on how important relationships are to people. We fear being alone more than being treated poorly. Human nature drives us to be in relationships.

So how do you get off the merry-go-round?

You do this with support from a good therapist and with support from family and friends. Having relationships that sustain you so that you don’t feel alone is of upmost importance.

Often in abusive relationships, the abuser will work to alienate all others so that the sole dependence is on them. This is how the abuse cycle is sustained. The only way to break it is to form other relationships, so that the person in the abusive situation can feel safe enough and in relationship enough with others to leave.

If you need help getting off the merry-go-round, call to set up an appointment.

How Insurance Works When Seeing a Therapist

Insurance does cover the cost of seeing a therapist but there are a few things you should know and ask about.

Does your therapist take your insurance?

Many therapists are only credentialed with certain insurance companies; some due to their choice and some due to the insurance not accepting more providers.

If you have out of network benefits, your insurance may still pay, so ask your insurance provider to see if you have that benefit.

Are there many providers that accept your insurance?

Our agency accepts BCBS CareFirst, Medicaid (state insurance), and Tricare. Check with your insurance plan to see how many mental health providers accept your insurance in the area.

When looking up mental health providers on Psychology Today, look at their site to see what insurance they accept or if they will accept a sliding fee.

When you renew your insurance, make sure your provider accepts the insurance you are getting and if you are paying out of pocket, consider changing your insurance to one that your provider accepts.

What is your deductible? 

When choosing insurance plans, you are often deciding whether to pay a higher monthly fee with a lower deductible or a lower monthly fee with a higher deductible.  This is important when seeing a therapist.  If you have a high deductible, you will have to meet that cost prior to having insurance pay for the sessions.  This deductible goes toward any medical care that you receive and a mental health provider is a medical expense.  The insurance company does lower the full fee cost of seeing there therapist if your therapist is credentialed through them, because they have an agreement for a set fee.  However, the fee can still be high per session until your deductible is met.

Many pay the fees initially at the beginning of the year for mental health providers and other healthcare providers but toward the middle or end of the year, have met the deductible and no longer have to worry about that fee.  Be aware that at the beginning of the year, you may see higher charges to see your mental health providers as the deductible is reset each year.

What are your co-pays?

Your co-pay should be listed on your card under specialty provider. If not, you can easily look that up on-line or call to ask your insurance company about your co-pay. Many have co-pays until the deductible is met and thereafter don’t but it’s very individual. Your provider may be able to look this up for you but you should really call on your own to make sure that you understand your insurance.

Do you have a Health Savings Account (HSA)?

If you have this plan at work, they take a certain amount of your pay every pay cycle and often give you a credit card to use. This money is taken before it’s taxed and you can use it for health care costs. You may use this card to pay for your deductibles and co-pays.

I hope this information is useful.  Please let us know if we can answer any questions.

When to See a Therapist

I have many clients ask me if they have to have a mental health diagnosis such as Generalized Anxiety, Major Depression or Bi-polar Disorder to see a therapist.

The answer is no. You don’t have to have a major diagnosis to see a therapist. We do have codes for issues that crop up in relationships, marriages, work life or any other situation that is creating problems for a person.

Insurance does pay for you to visit a therapist for these issues.

If you have been on the fence regarding calling to talk to someone for any struggles you have in life, please feel free to call. We would rather see clients before things in relationships become so dysfunctional that help could be too late.

Call today to set up an appointment.

Social Anxiety

woman covering her right eye using her right hand during daytime
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By Molly Rowen

It’s common for people to have certain things that they worry about more than other things. One worry is about our social interactions. You may have heard about, or even experienced yourself, how people lay awake at night replaying the conversations they had that day, picking apart little details that may not matter in the long run, but seem impactful at the moment. A lot of times people analyze their own behaviors and words– or lack thereof– beating themselves up for how they portrayed themselves, or wishing that they had done something differently.

Social anxiety holds people back from opportunities, as well as from being ourselves and forming meaningful relationships. It is very uncomfortable and discouraging to live life feeling like we can’t be our authentic self. No matter how much we tell ourselves we are going to change, the truth of the matter is that it doesn’t happen with the flip of a switch. You hope that one day you’ll wake up and not be shy or not fear social situations. The reality is that it is not that simple, and does not go away with pure willpower.  

We can be our own worst enemy. We can hold ourselves back from opportunities for fear of being ridiculed or rejected. It’s easy to avoid situations where we might be rejected. It’s easy to be ourselves in the comfort of our own bubble.

So, how do we move past the guards we put up around us? You can start by putting yourself into uncomfortable situations until they start to become comfortable. In a way, I can relate to this because I am shy and, like all humans, I want to be liked and accepted for who I am. My whole life has been a series of uncomfortable situations that I put myself into because I have dreams and goals that are bigger than my shyness and self-doubt.  

We can also work towards stepping out of our comfort zone by changing the way we talk to ourselves. We can be so negative and analytical towards ourselves without even realizing it. Do you think you want to change your lens? We are here to help.


Lunch Time Anxiety

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First days of schools are here or lurking. For many school-aged kids it’s a source of anxiety rather than excitement.

Many of the kids that I work with, share that lunch time is the most anxiety filling time of a new school year. Who will they have lunch with? Will they be alone at a table and that set the course for the entire school year? Do they approach someone already at a table and risk rejection?

Being mindful that kids are anxious at this time of year is helpful for adults who support them.

Talk to your children about lunch time and how they can handle the social situation that may set the course for them for the year.

Listen, without judgment, to what they are struggling with even if it seems to you to be a minor detail. Their social world is of upmost importance during middle school and high school.

Help them know they have the power to also reach out to others and chart their own path rather than waiting on others to set it for them.

Talk to them regarding how to handle rejection from a peer and move on to another situation without it defining how they think of themselves.

Remember that even as an adult, we are navigating who we sit next to and the feeling of wanting acceptance.

Life Changes

It’s that time of year when families are posting pictures of their kid’s first day of school pictures. It’s fun to see and it’s one of the many perks of social media however one of the drawbacks is also seeing how quickly time flies.

It gives me pause to reflect on life and the life cycle. I don’t think it was ever so evident to me until recently. It seems just yesterday I was going to college and loading up my car and waving casually at my mom. Now, I am the mom who stands there tearfully waving at my daughter.

I am watching my friend’s kids graduate from the military academies and moving to their first duty stations. Some newly married. Wasn’t that just yesterday that it was happening for me? Newly stationed at Spokane, Washington.

Some of my friend’s children are starting their families. It’s sweet to watch and I love seeing the pictures of their new grand children. I am not in that stage yet but know that I will blink and it will be my turn.

New generations forging their lives, just like I did. It’s just a continuous circle hopefully with the next generation being in a better financial state, better environmental and social mindset.

Time is flying by. It’s fast and furious. It is making me reflect to make sure that I am doing all that I can for others and to pass along something of myself that will go on.

I thought leaving my girl at college would sadden me, but staying focused on the excitement of what the future holds for her as I watch on the sidelines is keeping me smiling.

To quote a song that keeps resonating in my mind, “Life’s about change and nothing ever stays the same” (Patty Loveless).

I know that sometimes we all struggle through significant life changes.  Even if the changes are positive ones, they are still stressful.  Perhaps some of you have many of these changes going on at once, the load you are carrying might feel too heavy.

If you are struggling with life’s changes and feel either too stressed or anxious and you need someone to help you work through them, please give us a call.

Self Care

As a therapist I find myself telling many clients to remember self care. It’s interesting that we have to be reminded to take care of ourselves. In our fast paced society however, that key, yet necessary element is often overlooked.

As a mom I rarely if ever eat the last slice of anything. I leave it for someone else. It’s the same with our use of time.

In this blog I’m asking you to not only have the last slice, but to reserve it for yourself.

In scripture we find references to lamps of oil that help light the way but we also read that it’s necessary to fill those oil lamps.

I’m always surprised by the reminder being needed even in those days. Perhaps society or human nature hasn’t changed that much over time.

The way you take care of yourself can be different for everyone. For one (me), it might be writing. For another (used to be me), it might be running. Whatever it is that fills you up and helps you feel ready to meet the challenges of everyday, that is your self care.

So today’s assignment is to reserve that last slice for yourself and fill your oil lamp.


Photo Credit:  April Fernandes Photography

Conflict Resolution in Marriage

woman and man sitting on brown wooden bench
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One of the biggest predictors of a successful marriage is whether a couple can work through conflict in a way that is satisfying to both.  

Often I see that couples who have made attempts to resolve conflict and have found that one person seems to give in to the other more times than not. The one who seemingly “wins” the arguments feels good about things but what about the other person?

If one person feels that their voice is not being heard or respected, things begin to fall apart.  

The unheard person may begin to withdraw or respond in passive aggressive ways.

Often when a couple comes in to see me, one person has already disengaged from the relationship.  

It’s not impossible for a marriage to survive this situation but it does take time to heal it and change patterns.

All too often I hear one person in the marriage say they had no idea anything was wrong. They didn’t get into arguments with their spouse so they thought things were fine.  What they didn’t realize is that their partner had already given up and stopped trying to be heard.

Disagreement in marriage is normal and healthy.  

If two people feel safe enough to explore differing thoughts with one another and are able to feel that they are both valued and respected no matter the outcome, disagreement is healthy.  

Perhaps a good task this week is to engage in a conversation with your spouse or partner to evaluate if you are resolving conflict in a way that is satisfying to both and if your disagreements are healthy.

Don’t wait and be caught off guard.  Place importance on tending the garden of your relationship.  Sometimes we don’t do this until it’s either too late or the marriage is put in a precarious position. Then we react in desperation to save what we then realize should have been the focus all along.  

If you are struggling to feel heard in your marriage, please give us a call to schedule an appointment.