What is Counseling?
Sometimes our mental health challenges come from what’s going on in our life and how we think about it. Grief and loss, life transitions, work or school stress, relationship problems, feeling inadequate, unimportant, and overwhelmed are all factors that impact how we feel. What we do in counseling is first provide a space to unload, but then we need to work through what comes out. Maybe we would benefit from addressing the narratives in our heads. Maybe we need to understand and articulate why we feel the way we do about ourselves or our relationship. We’ll work on the way we think, understanding yourself and others, and learning skills to help us manage what’s going on in our mind and environment.
Who is it for?
Counseling is beneficial to kids, teens, and adults who feel emotionally impacted by something going on in their lives. It could be depression, anxiety, acting out, mood/personality disorders, people who struggle to build and maintain relationships, or simply (or not so simply) a major life change.
How We Can Help?
At Restoration Hope we focus on relationships and brain-based interventions, which go hand in hand. We want to create an environment where it feels safe to be vulnerable. It can be incredibly uncomfortable to go to counseling and start talking about the deepest parts of our lives. We get that. So, go at your pace.
We’re here to help you work through your stuff, whether that’s relationship stress, tough transitions, loss, depression, anxiety, or past trauma. Sometimes we need help getting over a bump in the road and sometimes there are deep roots from years ago. Depending on which one it is, we’ll either focus on the here and now, or we’ll take a look back.
It’s the traditional model for therapy. We’ll discuss your presenting concerns and use a number of therapeutic approaches to help you work through what’s going on.
With traditional talk therapy, we incorporate elements of person-centered, emotion focused, narrative, existentialism and cognitive behavioral therapy. Depending on what brings a person in, we’re going to either look at the roots of the behavior, fear, or emotion; or we’re going to look at the situational trigger and look at how we can process it to get past the difficult patch you’re in. We may work on identifying emotions, giving language to them, and figuring out how to communicate them to the important people in our lives. Our brains feel better just by giving a word to what we’re feeling, even if we’re feeling rejected, neglected, used, or scared. If I can borrow from A Fault in Our Stars for a second, “Pain demands to be felt” and as Dr. Dan Siegel says, “you have to name it to tame it.” We may also work on identifying problematic patterns in our lives, identifying our attachment style and how that impacts our relationships, or simply having a safe space where you can talk through the tough stuff of life.
When roots run deep, we often use EMDR as a tool. It is a brain-based way of helping us process dysfunctionally stored memories. This may be memories of failure at school, which led to feelings of inadequacy, which now affects your ability to perform at work or on exams. It could be memories of being afraid, making you believe you’re not safe in this world, which leads to keeping others at a distance preventing that connection we all need so much. And maybe it’s one incident that really derailed you, like losing a child, a major betrayal, or having a near death experience. Sometimes it’s big things and sometimes it seems little, but it’s all important. Either way, EMDR can be incredibly useful in breaking the emotional tie we have to those memories. You’ll always have the memory, but you don’t always have to be emotionally triggered by it. EMDR can be used on both children and adults.
And of course, we play!
Play is so important! Play therapy is to children, what talk therapy is to adults – Play is the language of children. It is essential for brain development, mastering gross and fine motor movements, creating safety, providing an outlet for stress, and allowing space for children to process, learn, and grow in independence through exploration. Check out this really great Ted Talk all about play:
We never stop needing play, even as adults.
It’s impossible to feel unsafe and play at the same time. When you go to the play ground and there are kids watching from the sidelines, there’s something in them assessing to see if they feel safe enough to join in. The kids who are in it, laughing, throwing sand, hanging upside down, and generally acting like maniacs, don’t think twice about whether or not they’re safe. They need mom to stop them from jumping off of the top of the monkey bars because in their mind, it seems like it’s all part of the fun.
Sometimes it’s not that we need to talk about our feelings, first we need to learn to feel safe again. Sometimes that’s in a parent-child relationship, between siblings, or in a romantic relationship. Once safety begins to reappear, then we feel like we can have that scary conversation about a wound or frustration. Play is such an important part of the process. If you’re hitting a wall with your teen, you know there’s something going on, but they’re unwilling to talk, start with play and see where it goes. There’s structured play, unstructured, roughhousing, trampolines, giving each other airplane rides, and much, much more. See where the wind takes you and have fun!