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Couple Questions

Sorry for my delay in getting these out this week, but the new building has really put us behind on some things.  I do hope couples are checking in and using these questions to engage in communication with one another.  This week’s questions are:


  1.  If you were in a relationship that was fulfilling in every other area, except for the fact that sex was nonexistent, would you stay?
  2. What are your top three personal values?
  3. When do you feel the most drawn and attracted to me?
  4. How do you feel most challenge in life?
  5. What’s most challenging to you about being a parent?



Weekly Couple Questions

Even couples that are not struggling can benefit from a tool to connect and strengthening their marriage. It’s always beneficial for couples to spend dedicated time together and communicating. There are always new things to learn about one another. Whether you are feeling connected or disconnected, schedule a date out with your significant other to go over your answers to these questions.

Enjoy your connection time!

  • What is your favorite quality of your Mother and why?
  • What do you remember most about our first kiss?
  • What do you find yourself insecure about?
  • If you could change anything about your past, what would it be?
  • Are you happy with the amount of us-time and a part-time we have?
  • What can I do this week to be a better partner?

Beacons of Light

Of late, I have met with several clients where the main point of our conversations has all centered on beacons of light.

Through all of the turmoil that has happened in our community lately and the darkness, it has also been easier to see the beacons of light in our community.

I try to focus on those lights when it’s dark. I am also asking my clients to look for those lights and to stay focused on them.

While what our community just endured was painful and traumatic, it also gave us an opportunity to focus on the beacons of light, and there are many in our community.

The teachers who are with our children daily exhibited the bravery of a soldier to protect our most precious gifts, our children.

The police officers, first responders and EMS were incredible beacons of light not to mention the 911 operators who stayed calm and were a calming force in a time of chaos.

I saw restaurant owners, therapists, agencies, community members, students, mothers, fathers, children all working together and ready to help.

Instead of focusing on the horror and the trauma, I am pushing myself to focus on the beacons of light and to strive to be one of them myself.

Now is not the time to turn our lights off, but rather to polish our lenses and shine brighter than before.

Teachers, don’t stop shining. So many rely on your light and we don’t know how many are following that light and continue to need it. I know it’s hard to pick up and keep going, but for us to save the ones we will never have to count in a trauma, we must.

Focus on the Beacons of Light, they illuminate our path.

After sharing this blog with aclient, she shared this with me.  

Heart racing

Mind chasing

it’s like a battle of will

One that potentially can kill

I feel so defeated and weak

My mind just seems too meek

Have strength my heart says

To push through these days

But the emptiness creeps in

Allowing the dark sadness to begin

But I will not let this depression win

This is not the end

There is light still left to shine

A hope that the darkness cannot define

Live love laugh they say

There is a choice at the end of the day

I choose to fight

And look towards the light


More Precious than Jewels

She is more precious than jewels,
and nothing you desire can compare with her
. ~ Proverbs 3:15

I love this scripture and it’s one that I have had a lot of time to reflect on. Often when working with couples, I refer to this. This scripture is referring to the value of wisdom and how precious it is. While this scripture is referring to wisdom and the rare value of it, there is another scripture that also refers to jewels only in reference to a wife.

A wife of noble character who can find her? She is worth far more than rubies. ~ Prov. 31: 10 

Now, I am not an expert on biblical scriptures but I do think I can share what this brings to mind for me.

Both wisdom and a wife of noble character are highly valued even above jewels. 

I have found if a woman is treated like a precious jewel, if they feel they are the most valued person in their spouse’s eyes, they are more likely to give more of themselves to their partner.

The reciprocity of this balance is what makes it all work. When it’s there, it creates something special that is hard to break.

It’s hard to put someone else before your own needs.   It takes a level of trust to do so. Trust, therefore is at the core of all marriages. Without it, it’s hard to put it all on the line for the other person. However, the gains and the success of a well-balanced marriage are the prize.

These scriptures bring into focus the value of a good partnership as well as how to treat one another. Often we begin to take our mate for granted and believe that no matter what, they will be there. Unfortunately, that is not the truth. Partners need to be cherished and feel important to the other person. The relationship between two spouses should always be far different than any other relationship, unique and balanced.

Would you work to build trust if you knew the gain was a full well-balanced marriage?








Teen Anxiety


We are starting a new endeavor by providing a teen anxiety group. The group will also focus on parent involvement.  I have found that I can educate teens on coping tools, but if we can follow it up with parent education, the teen is always more successful.  Also, parents that have teens struggling with anxiety often share that they too are stressed.  This program will allow teens and parents to gather with others and find support as well as education on coping tools, relaxation, mindfulness, and self care.  While the teens will meet with me, Esther Vanderwal, LCSW-C, the parents will meet with Angela Cochran, M.S./Health & Wellness Coach.  The group will then switch at the half way point so that both teens and adults are learning the same material.

My hope for this group will be for the teens and parents to walk away knowing they are not alone, having some new coping tools and a language for reducing anxiety that they both understand.

Please feel free to share this information and to call with further questions, 301-690-8008.

Depression: A Parent’s Heartbreak

“I’ve always heard that a mother is only as happy as her least happy child.”

A friend posted this on her Facebook page and this spoke volumes to me. I have worked with countless teens and young adults and often I see the pain in their parent’s eyes.

When I have to send someone to the hospital for care, I reach out to the family as well as they are going through something too. Mother’s tear up and wonder, what they could have done differently. Fathers too look wounded. Hearts are heavy.

The teen or young adult feels the depression so strongly yet also sees the pain in their parent’s eyes and is torn between allowing themselves to get the help they need or pushing it down to not disappoint their parents.

As parents, when our children hurt, we hurt and often wish we could take their place. I have watched my daughter break her arm and struggle with that pain and wish to take it from her. I have watched my son with a broken leg and struggled to watch him in pain.

When your child is struggling through depression and/or anxiety it’s no different. The pain is very real and as a parent, it’s painful to watch. Unlike a broken arm or leg however, mental health issues are abstract and the healing seems much more difficult. With a broken bone, the doctor can give you a clear picture of what is wrong and how to fix it. With depression/anxiety, it’s a guessing game filled with vagueness. The severity of the issue can even be called into question. How do you know how serious the issue is? When is the right time to get help?

The fear of finding your child after having taken their life is such a real fear and looms over like a black cloud. You do what you can and wonder what else you can do. The challenges of their toddler years seem miles away and you long for them. At least then you were in charge of keeping them safe. How do you now protect them from themselves?

Sleep can be difficult to find much less a peaceful thought. No matter what you are doing, the fear for your child looms. The phone rings and you say a silent prayer that it’s not a person calling you to tell you that your child is no longer alive.

We carry the pain of our children in our hearts. Most parents silently carry this weight because it’s not something you post on Facebook or advertise to your friends. You quietly go about your day and attempt to protect your child’s privacy.

If you know of someone who has a teen or young adult that is struggling, reach out to them and provide some support or make sure they can find support through counseling. Even just a caring listening ear can lift a heart or help provide perspective.

Powerless Parents

In today’s blog, I want to focus on parents who feel powerless. There are many of us out there that feel that issues of caring for our children can be out of our control.

When they are babies, we can protect them and control their entire environment. As your child gets older, you realize more and more that you have less and less control and that can be a scary feeling.

I have talked to parents who worry about their children yet; know that they have very little control over their decisions and/or what they do. One parent shared that his child was either going to go to jail or die if he kept making poor decisions. When your child is 18, 25, 30, etc., how do you manage this?

It’s easy to say the have reached adulthood at 18 and you have to allow them to make their own decisions and that you have reached a point where what you have taught them needs to come into play, but that’s easier said than done.

If our children are making poor decisions, we find ourselves wondering,   “Where did we go wrong?” We take on the responsibility for what happens to our children even when we know that they are ultimately making their own decisions. Surely, if we had been more present or didn’t work so much or went to church more often, this wouldn’t have happened.

It’s even hard to hear that other young adults are doing great with no bumps along the road all the while your child is struggling.

We reach for resources in the hopes that there is an easy answer, but what if your adult child is not able to work and is dealing with addiction demons? There is no easy answer, just on-going cyclical episodes.

I try and remind parents that there are not alone. There are many with the same struggles even when Facebook shows us something different. It does however feel very lonely when this is your lot in life. Wondering if your child will ever be independent, free from jail and alive are all hard issues.

If you are struggling with any of these issues, find support. Often we find support for our children and we neglect ourselves. If there was ever a time to put the oxygen mask on yourself first, this is it.

To make an appointment, please call 301-690-8008.

Before I Share My Body

As I have been working with young people lately, I have noticed that both genders seem to falter when it comes to what they can or can’t say before, during or after sex. I have attempted to write a few things down that our young people can look at and maybe explore with their partner before engaging in sex.

Please feel free to add your own thoughts about what you would have liked your partner to know before having sex.

What I want you to know before I share my body:

  • Before I share my body, I need to know that I am able to have a voice and if I say stop, you will.
  • Before I share my body, I need to know that you care about me.
  • Before I share my body, I need to know that you will look at me to make sure I am still okay with what is happening.
  • Before I share my body, I know that it’s my body and I have ultimate say of what happens.
  • Before I share my body, I will know that it’s sacred, important and will make me vulnerable.
  • Before I share my body, I want to know that this act is between us and not for all of our friends to know.
  • Before I share my body, I want to know I am safe with you.
  • Before I share my body, I will be in full control of my mental capacities.cropped-cropped-photo-1429277096327-11ee3b761c93.jpeg

The Start of the New School Year

The first few days of a school year are always an exciting time for parents. We post the pictures of our kids taking off with new backpacks in tow or driving their cars for the first time to school.

What we often don’t see however is that not all students are excited. Some come home and lay on their beds crying.

The pressure of feeling included or having a social group is paramount. Sitting alone in the cafeteria is every child’s worst nightmare and yet, many find themselves in just that position.

We all know what it feels like to gather our gumption and walk up to a crowd that you are not very familiar with, but what if no one in that crowd even acknowledges you are there much less invites you to sit down? As an adult, we might have trouble coping with such an event, but as a teen, it can be almost too much to bear.

Depression in teens often begins when they find themselves not having any social connections or when they perceive that others are leaving them out.

So, for this start of the new school year, don’t forget those kids who feel alone and are not excited. Talk to your kids to make sure they are looking around for anyone that is siting alone and teach them to make an effort to include others.

There are many parents who feel alone in their pain regarding their child struggling to fit in and many who would take their place just to save their child some pain.

As an adult, don’t forget to have a few minutes to talk to a parent that looks concerned when their child gets on the bus. They too might be struggling to cope with how their child is feeling.

That can make a huge difference in a person’s life and mental health.