Each stage of life brings changes to relationships, routines, roles, and reflections on Self and the World. Transitions are events or changes that significantly impact a person’s life. Some changes are planned, such as marriage, having a child, or moving. Some changes are not planned, such as losing a job, divorce, severe injuries or illness. Some are “non-events,” or planned changes that do not come about, such as infertility, getting passed over for promotions, etc. Your ability to cope with your transition determines its overall impact on your life. In therapy, the overall impact of a life change is assessed, and resources are created and gathered to aid in adjustment.

Being Present for the Presents

This picture made me laugh.  This is a clever yet poignant statement about the way we often operate in our everyday family life.  This family isn’t putting on a fake front, even for the ubiquitous happy holidays happy family photo.  This picture made me think about being fully present in the moment.  It is true that we can be so preoccupied and distracted that we miss our own lives.  We can even miss the times that are supposed to be the happiest, most memorable times!  “Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. And today? Today is a gift. That’s why
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Categories: Family, Holidays, and Transitions / Change.

Life’s Little Interruptions

 We live lives mostly in a routine.  We get up relatively close to the same time every day, eat meals at the same time every day, follow our weekly schedules year after year.  There is comfort and security to be found in routine.  There is also a danger lurking there in our routine – the danger of going on autopilot.  Its the danger of becoming closed off from others, even from ourselves and ultimately from God.  Our routines are pathways externally as well as internally – pathways of thought and emotion as well as behavior.  The usual reaction when our
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Categories: Faith issues, Mental Health, Stress, and Transitions / Change.

Putting Some “Thanks” in Your Thanksgiving

There is a special field of research in psychology called “positive psychology” that studies the “science of gratitude.”   Positive psychology has been around for a while, but recently it has gained credibility under the scrutiny of science.  Scientists have made important discoveries about thankfulness.  Research has actually shown that practicing thankfulness decreases depression and anxiety!   Its all explained in a book by Robert Emmons called “Thanks!: How the new science of gratitude can make you happier.” The author defines gratitude as the recognition that one has received a gift or benefit of personal gain.  Gratitude really is an attitude, which
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Categories: Family, Holidays, Mental Health, Stress, and Transitions / Change.

Get Some Direction for Your Life!

Developing the Roadmap for Your Life The Roadmap Exercise is a writing activity to identify and clarify your values and goals.  These concepts are the desired destination for your life and how you want to live. Ultimately, it helps you answer the questions “What do I want to do with my life?”, “How am I going to be?”  It is very helpful to devote some thought to these questions because, in the words of Henry David Thoreau; “We only hit what we aim at.”  Identify three people that you admire and respect.  Write a few sentences about the traits admired
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Categories: Mental Health and Transitions / Change.

The Structured Separation Agreement

Occasionally in my practice there is a couple I am working with that are “stuck” and if they continue to stay together they will definitely hurt their chances of perpetual marital bliss. Yet, divorce is not something I encourage though for some it becomes a decision they must make.  Sometimes it is helpful for the couple to agree to “trial separation.”  In this post you will learn a way to go about a structured or trial separation.    Definition: Terminating cohabitation with a moratorium on the final decision to reunite or divorce – basically a postponement of that decision for
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Categories: Divorce, Family, Marriage, and Transitions / Change.

Sharing Custody

The children are the ultimate victims of the conflict between the parents. A good analogy is a child in a boat and the parents are on the dock watching. The poor kid’s boat is sinking and the parents argue about who’s going to help and how are they going to help and accusing the other of not being there for the child. While the parents are arguing over these things, the child’s boat sinks and he is really at risk for drowning now. The same thing occurs emotionally for a child when the parents get stuck in a cycle of conflict over child support, visitation schedules, personal vendettas and who said what.
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Categories: Parenting and Transitions / Change.

Tips for the Holidays

Think about the following questions, and take some time to come up with your answers.  What’s most meaningful to you about the holidays?  What would your Thanksgiving and Christmas be like if they were truly wonderful?  What makes it all worth it? Many say that what makes it wonderful is time to enjoy relationships with family and friends, a time to refocus on what’s really important, celebrating Jesus’ birth, doing good for others, and so on.  On the other hand, what often makes your holiday time take a turn for the worse?  Could it be too much time with family
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Categories: Family, Holidays, Stress, and Transitions / Change.

Coping with Change

Stress often comes in the form of change to our lives.  Therefore, it is very important that we learn how to “get a handle” on change so that we can roll with it rather than be rolled over by it. Stress can literally run you over!  Did you know that researchers are finding out that emotional stress is associated with increases in heart disease as well as other stress-related illnesses such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and fibromyalgia? Life can and will change in unexpected ways.  About the time you are getting used to a routine and feel you are
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Categories: Stress and Transitions / Change.

Becoming Parents: Challenging Changes

Parenthood is great in many ways.  Becoming a parent, however, is a growth process and it takes a lot of learning through trial and error.  Bill Cosby says “Having a child is surely the most beautifully irrational act that two people in love can commit.”  Those of us who are parents can agree it’s much harder than we thought, but there is also the potential for great joy and happiness as a parent.  When I found out that my wife was pregnant the first time, I had only the slightest idea how my life was about to change.  Before I
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Categories: Parenting and Transitions / Change.