Individual counseling is a personal opportunity to receive support and grow during difficult times in one’s life. Individual counseling can assist with a variety of personal issues such as anger, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, marriage and relationship difficulties, parenting issues, school difficulties, career changes, and so on.
Individual counseling (also known as psychotherapy, talk therapy, or treatment) is a one-on-one process in which clients work with a trained mental health clinician in a safe, caring, and confidential setting. Individuals can use counseling to explore their feelings, beliefs, and behaviors, work through difficult or influential memories, identify aspects of their lives that they want to change, better understand themselves and others, set personal goals, and work toward desired change.
Individual counseling focuses on the individual’s immediate or near future issues. Individual counseling may include career counseling and planning, grief counseling after the death of a loved one, or dealing with problems at work before they become major issues. Individual counseling is a one-on-one conversation between the counselor and the client, who is seeking treatment. The two form an alliance, relationship, or bond that allows for trust and personal development.
What Factors Influence Therapy Goals, Frequency, and Duration?
In general, the goal of psychotherapy is to help clients talk through their mental health issues and heal, grow, and move toward more productive, psychologically healthy lives. Good therapy is client-driven, and you and your therapist will decide on specific therapy goals.
Individual psychotherapy sessions usually last 45 to 50 minutes. The frequency and duration of therapy will be determined primarily by your needs, treatment objectives, and progress. Many issues can be resolved with short-term therapy, whereas other chronic or more complex issues require long-term commitment before improvement can be realized.
Psychotherapy has been shown in studies to reduce relapses of common conditions such as moderate depression and anxiety, and that the positive effects of good therapy extend far beyond treatment. In fact, many clients report that their conditions have improved long after therapy has ended. Psychotherapy is frequently more effective than psychotropic drugs or medical treatments alone, which can have negative side effects. Furthermore, many therapeutic modalities are evidence-based, which means they have been subjected to research studies and clinical observations, and their effectiveness has been evaluated.
What Happens in a Single Session or First-Time Short-Term Counseling Appointment?
If you agree that a single session or short-term individual counseling is the best treatment option for you, you will be offered the first available appointment that fits your schedule. If you have specific counselor preferences, you may have to wait longer for your first appointment. This initial appointment is typically scheduled within a few days to a few weeks. (Please keep in mind that if you require immediate assistance, please notify our staff so that we can connect you to the appropriate therapist as soon as possible.) The total time required is approximately 90 minutes, which includes filling out forms, the therapy session, and scheduling follow-up appointments, so keep this in mind when scheduling your appointment.
It is critical that you arrive on time to allow enough time to complete the necessary forms. You may be asked to reschedule if you are more than 15 minutes late. A demographic and clinical history form, a treatment agreement, consent to treatment, and a notice of privacy practices are among the forms included. Your clinician will learn about your current issues, relevant history, and goals. Your therapist will also go over any pertinent policies and procedures, such as confidentiality.
What Happens in Subsequent or Follow-Up Sessions if You Attend CAPS Short-Term Counseling?
You will meet with your counselor for approximately 45 minutes for subsequent or follow-up sessions, which will be scheduled according to a mutually agreed-upon plan. If you require additional counseling beyond what we can offer, we will work with you to locate a therapist in the community. You will work with your counselor to establish goals for your counseling sessions early on. Setting clear goals will give you direction and allow you to track your progress in counseling. If you have any questions or concerns about the counseling process, please contact your therapist, who will gladly discuss them with you. The issues you bring into counseling, your therapists perspective, and the goals you set for your work together will all influence the exact direction of your counseling experience.
Can You Relate?
Have you ever tried to go to sleep only to be assaulted by a barrage of negative thoughts? Or what about when you say something and feel like it came out the wrong way and just can’t stop thinking about what other people are thinking about you now? If this is you then you are in good company. And by that I mean that company includes all of us. Every human on this planet has experienced times when negative thoughts overtake our minds and we feel like prisoners in our own lives. The good news is we have a loving God who cares and has given us help.
What does God say about our thoughts?
The verse Proverbs 3:4 says, trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. If we were to believe our negative thoughts, and perceive them as true, or lean into them as our own understanding of a situation, then we would be in constant pain, confusion, and anguish.
He also says in, 2 Corinthians 10:5, we demolish arguments and every argument that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
What does it mean to be obedient to Christ in our thought life? The verse, Philippians 4:8, comes to mind when I think of ways to be obedient in my thought life. He says, MEDITATE ON THESE THINGS!! Finally, brethren, whatever things are TRUE, whatever things are NOBLE, whatever things are JUST (fair), whatever things are LOVELY, whatever things are of GOOD REPORT, if there is any virtue and if there is anything PRAISEWORTHY—meditate on these things.
Take every thought captive.
This does not mean to ignore the hurtful or harmful thoughts you may have, it just means to not dwell on them. Challenge every negative thought by interrogating it.
5 Practical Strategies
- Become aware of your negative thoughts by writing them down and challenging them against the list of things in Philippians 4:8. Is this thought true? Am I being fair to myself or others by keeping this thought? What happened right before I had this thought? Have I eaten yet today? How is my sleep? Am I stressed?
- Challenge the thought by asking, how will I feel about this in a week, a month, a year? Will my feelings toward this thought change? When you tend to personalize others emotions you can ask, maybe they were having a bad day? Maybe their mood isn’t actually directed toward me. Did I really do anything wrong? Is this REALLY my issue or is it theirs?
- Sometimes we get so stuck in our negative thinking and we need something quick and abrupt to stop that cycle. Imagine yourself riding a bicycle and you are riding along a deep dark alley, heading toward death and doom. Your brakes aren’t working, you can’t stop yourself and you keep speeding up, but nothing seems to work so you grab a stick and throw it in the spokes of your bicycle wheel. This will abruptly stop your bike.
- Thought stopping works similar to that by saying out loud STOP! If your negative thought cycle is becoming incessant and you are deep into the cycle, use this technique. Then take some deep breaths and think on things that are good and true and noble and just. Distract yourself from the negative thoughts.
- Journaling is another great way to get negative thoughts out and give them a place to rest. Even tearing up the paper or safely burning it can release the anger or frustration behind those thoughts. Using positive journal prompts can help to remind yourself of the things in your life that represent Philippians 4:8. Make a list of things that are true, praiseworthy and lovely and of good report. Keep a list of positive things you can think on to replace those negative thoughts that like to creep in and dominate your thought life.
Just Imagine What Life Could be Like
Initially it will take some effort to process and challenge your negative thoughts, but as you begin reframing them with thoughts that are good and true, you will notice a major shift in your mood and how you respond to others. You can feel better about yourself and how you think and respond to others. You are worthy of a healthy thought life and are more than capable of achieving one.
This is where you can absolutely get the help you need to make positive changes. You can read books on changing your thoughts to change your life, process your thoughts with friends for accountability, or go big and reach out to a therapist. If you are ready to make a change and want someone trained to help you with these issues then here and ready to get started. You can go to NewVisionCounseling.live or call (405) 921-7776 to start your journey towards what better looks like for you today. We are here to help you and hope to hear from you soon.
Authored by Shae Baker, LPC and edited Shawn Maguire, LPC at New Vision Counseling and Consulting
Consider the Word Distort
Have you ever started a day feeling amazing and then something happens that makes you feel depressed, anxious, angry and you just want to ________________(fill in the blank)? I know I have and many times when I look back or talk with friends it seems like it wasn’t nearly that big of a deal. I may have misunderstood something a friend said, felt like I didn’t do a great job on a project, or did something to embarrass myself in front of others. When I looked back on these events I discovered a common theme…Distortion. My perspective of others, myself, their intentions etc. was distorted.
When I imagine that word I think of going through a circus fun house and seeing those mirrors that completely distort your body. It’s as if your body is twisted and construed in weird and unusual ways. Some mirrors cause you to appear short and wide and maybe even wavy, while others stretch you long. It’s easy to recognize that those mirrors don’t accurately represent your body or features.
Now shift your focus to your thought life and how your thoughts may become distorted or twisted or construed, just like the images in the mirrors. The difference is that you perceive them as true or accurate because you are thinking about them and can’t visibly see the distortion. The thought came from you, so of course you believe it to be true.
This can often cause issues in how we relate or respond to others. Our perceptions are built on previous experiences, which become our reality. So if someone reacted negatively toward you in your past, you may have a preconceived notion that others will respond similarly in the future. And thus, a cognitive distortion is born.
What are Cognitive Distortions?
According to the website Therapistaid.com, a cognitive distortion is an irrational thought that can influence your emotions, which in turn, influences your behavior or reaction to stimulation. Everyone experiences cognitive distortions to some degree, but in their more extreme forms, they can be harmful.
Examples of Cognitive Distortions?
- Magnification and Minimization: The idea that something holds greater weight than it actually does is a magnification, for example, “I’m the worst!” A minimization is making something seem like it’s no big deal, like, “they stole my purse, but it’s fine, they must have needed it more than me.” I’ve noticed that hospitals or doctors offices utilize minimization often to help the patients feel more comfortable about a scary procedure. This can be helpful in those settings, but when it comes to your personal feelings, be mindful of ways you may minimize your experiences or the opposite, magnify them and “blow things out of proportion.”
- Catastrophizing: The thought that the absolute worst-case-scenario will come true. We will talk more about how to challenge these distorted thoughts.
- Overgeneralization: Common phrases used when overgeneralizing are “always”, “never”, “every”, etc.
- Magical Thinking: This is the idea that because you follow the rules or are a “good person” bad things won’t happen to you. I find this to be something I’ve struggled with before, especially as a Christian. I’ve thought, “I’m a Believer, I trust God, and do what’s right, why are bad things happening to me? Why isn’t life easier?”
- Personalization: This happens when you take responsibility for or ownership of another person’s feelings. For example, your spouse responds negatively to you and you think “if I do everything right and perfect, they will be happier.” This thought process does not serve you, or them, well and we will talk about how to challenge it.
- Jumping to Conclusions, Mind Reading, Fortune Telling: These distortions are filled with assumptions and can rob you of opportunity for good and pleasurable things. For example, “I’m not going to apply for that job because I already know that someone else better will get it.”
- Emotional Reasoning: This cognitive distortion puts too much credit into your feelings, for example, “I feel like I am a bad wife, therefore, I AM a bad wife.” Feelings come and go, although we need to pay attention to them, they are not facts.
- Disqualifying the Positive: This is actively ignoring or disqualifying positive things someone says about you. It tends to come from insecurities or the inability to believe that someone sees good in you.
- “Should” Statements: These can get us in trouble, because they are riddled with unrealistic expectations that no one is capable of meeting. For example, “I should always be happy.”
- All-or-Nothing Thinking: This type of thinking keeps you stuck in absolutes, when often life is full of gray in-betweens.
How Do Cognitive Distortions Affect Our Mood?
The CBT Triangle helps bring awareness to exactly how our thoughts impact our mood and behaviors.
A situation occurs, you have a thought about it, which follows with a feeling attached to that thought. Then you have a response or behavior to the feeling/thought and it is generally confirmed in some way which perpetuates the process.
This cycle happens repeatedly throughout your day, which, depending on a negative or positive thought, can improve or impair your daily functioning. At each point in that cycle, you a have choice.
Ready To Get Help?
This is where you can absolutely get the help you need to make positive changes. You can read books on changing your thoughts to change your life, process your thoughts with friends for accountability, or go big and reach out to a therapist. If you are ready to make a change and want someone trained to help you with these issues then reach out. You can go to NewVisionCounseling.live or call (405) 921-7776 to start your journey towards what better looks like for you today. We are here to help you and hope to hear from you soon.
Authored by Shae Baker, LPC and edited Shawn Maguire, LPC at New Vision Counseling and Consulting
By Erin Jackson
As mentioned in last week’s post, college is an exciting time in a young person’s life, but it can also be the most stressful. Let’s take a look at a few more reasons why:
- Treatment transition: According to Dr. Anthony Rostain in an interview with NPR, college students can face a particularly tough transition because they’ve learned to manage their mental disorder at home with medication and/or talk therapy, but then they get to school in a new environment and face new pressures. Where they once were being treated for mental disorder successfully, they now may not have the same access to their doctor, counselor, or medication. Additionally, they may be struggling with following through with their treatment due to being on their own for the first time.
- Homesickness and loneliness: Family is often a major support system for a struggling young adult and being away at college means that they are away from their support system, or at least part of it.
- Pressure from parents: Many parents feel that the pathway to success is a straight shot. They are well-meaning and love their children, but they fail to see that the road to success can look like a roller coaster, full of ups and downs and twists and turns. They can put pressure on their children to do well and to never make mistakes. Thus, these high-pressure, highly-driven children are plagued with terror at the very thought of making a bad grade and can’t seem to deal with doing less than excellent. A better method: Approaching parenthood with balance by encouraging children to do well, but being the safe haven for them when they don’t. Don’t be afraid to enact tough love, but be the soft landing, too.
There are alarming statistics indicating that suffering students are not seeking help.
- Among suicidal students, only 1 in 4 get help.
- Three out of 5 have experienced overwhelming anxiety
- Two out of 5 have been too depressed to function.
Only 10-15% of these suffering students seek help at their on-campus counseling center.
Why? Some may feel like they’ll get better in time. They’ll adjust. The depression will go away. Some feel like they don’t have time to get help and others think it’s not that bad and they can handle it themselves.
There is also a stigma surrounding mental health that can make it difficult for people to seek help. As stated by Dr. Rostain, “…the most deadly thing of all is not the mental illness, but the stigma around it that leads people to avoid getting the help in time.”
STUDENTS: We offer both in-person and Telehealth (video) sessions. With Telehealth, you can access your counselor before or after class in the comfort of your home and pajamas. Don’t wait! Get some extra support today!
PARENTS: We offer counseling for you too, both in-person and via Telehealth. You may be wondering how to be a support to your struggling student – call us and we will get you connected with a caring and experienced counselor today!
Call New Vision Counseling at 405-921-7776 or contact us through newvisioncounseling.live. We are here for you! Better is possible!
By Jessica Forehand and Erin Jackson
Being a college student can bring about many unique pressures. There’s a lot going on in the life of a student. There are deadlines, presentations, tests, boring lectures, and endless studying. For some, it may be the first time you’ve been away from home and you find yourself struggling with the newfound freedom. For others, you may be juggling a hefty work schedule on top of your education. For still others, you may find yourself bogged down with the expectations of yourself and/or your professors/parents/advisors.
Let’s face it: school is stressful. A great opportunity and a necessity for a lot of us, but still – stressful.
Over time, these pressures can build up and cause symptoms of mental disorder. When you’re in survival mode, it can be a challenge to remember to take care of yourself. Sometimes it’s hard to even know where to start. At the end of this post, you will find a short list of quick tips on how to lessen symptoms of anxiety and depression, which are two of the most common mental disorders among college students.
First, let’s talk about what to look for.
SIGNS & SYMPTOMS
There are many signs and symptoms of anxiety and depression to look out for. For instance:
- Trouble concentrating or focusing: You may find it difficult to pay attention in class or stay focused on your homework.
- A persistent feeling of nervousness or tension
- Racing thoughts: Having several thoughts go through your mind at once and being unable to slow the thoughts down
- Avoidance of things that make you nervous such as social situations, traffic, or giving a presentation
- Feelings of helplessness or hopelessness like nothing will ever get better or change.
- Loss of interest in daily activities or lack of motivation: You might lose interest in going to class, completing assignments, or doing things you usually enjoy like hobbies.
- Feeling angry and irritable even towards those you love like friends and family
- Feeling tired or sluggish all the time
- Trouble remembering things or making decisions
- Low self-esteem: Feeling bad about yourself and being unable to celebrate accomplishments
- Trouble experiencing joy
It is important to note that you may not experience the traditional symptoms of anxiety and depression and that they also present through physiological symptoms such as:
- Muscle tension and back and neck pain
- Insomnia or oversleeping
- Changes in appetite or weight
- Gastrointestinal problems like upset stomach
- Clenching or grinding teeth
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms you may want to talk to your doctor as well as make an appointment with a mental health professional.
With the options of in-person office visits or Telehealth sessions, the counselors at New Vision are ready and able to work with you! Call us at 405-921-7776 and we will answer any questions you may have and connect you with the right therapist for you.
With Telehealth, you have the option of connecting with your therapist between classes. No need to leave home!
There are things you can do that help lessen symptoms of anxiety and can also prevent them from occurring, such as:
- Give yourself enough time to sleep or rest. It is easy to put off sleep when you have so much to do but getting enough sleep will help your mind stay clear and sharp.
- Make time to do things you enjoy. It is important to schedule time to do things you like to do outside of class. Give your brain a break every now and then!
- Eat healthy! It can be tempting to grab something quick and easy but meal prepping healthy meals will make a difference in how you feel both mentally and physically.
- It’s important to spend time with friends and loved ones. You need human connection!
- Minimize screen time. Give yourself a cut-off time and then don’t go over. Make sure you’re getting face-to-face time with real, actual people and that you’re going outside and soaking up some vitamin D.
- Get help. Counselors are there to help you with anything you may be facing. If you feel overwhelmed and are experiencing any of the above symptoms (or just not feeling like yourself), contact New Vision Counseling today! A counselor can help you process your emotions, help you find coping skills that work for you, help you with time management and relationship difficulties, etc.
Are you ready for more peace and joy and less stress and overwhelm? We are here and ready to help you get started today. All you need to do is go to newvisioncounseling.live or call 405-921-7776 to begin. We look forward to meeting you soon!
Written by: Jessica Forehand, LPC-C and Erin Jackson, LPC-C
We are now finding ourselves months into a worldwide health crisis and by now you have probably read or seen something about the importance of self-care. You may wonder: what is self-care exactly? Self-care is the practice of making time to take care of yourself.
Sounds simple, doesn’t it? It should be, but in the daily grind of everyday life, sometimes taking care of ourselves takes a back seat to everything else we have to do. Between jobs, kids, school, and of course surviving a pandemic, it can be very easy to neglect our own needs. For one thing, where do we find the time? It can sometimes feel very selfish to make time for ourselves while juggling everything else that needs to be done.
Thankfully, self-care does not have to take up a lot of time. Even small, simple things can greatly impact your health and well-being and that is good news for a busy person like you!
Below are five quick and easy self-care tips to implement into your daily routine:
1. Stay active: As little as thirty minutes of exercise a day can boost your mood and sense of well-being. Try taking a 15-minute walk or doing these fun stretches at your desk:
2. Drink enough water: Studies have shown that even mild dehydration can negatively impact mood, energy level, and cognitive ability. If you feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated. Stay hydrated by keeping a bottle of water close by.
3. Get some sunshine: It’s a great source of vitamin D. It has been found that vitamin D deficiency could play a role in depression and other mental disorders. Try to go outside for a few minutes every day – not only will you soak up vitamin D, you can also get some exercise while you’re at it.
4. Laugh: Sounds funny but laughter is a good way to ease stress. Interestingly enough a study has found that laughter positively affects the immune system and mental health. Take a little time to be intentional about laughter, whether you watch some funny videos online or talk to a friend who never fails to amuse you.
5. Stay in community: Be sure that you’re connecting with others. Loneliness negatively affects both mental and physical health. Studies show that isolation and loneliness are linked to many dysfunctional immune responses and increased blood pressure, which can lead to many illnesses. Mentally and emotionally, humans need connection with others in order to thrive in life. We need each other.
It’s important to remember that you’re not just taking care of you for you, but for your loved ones as well. Your well-being impacts everyone around you. If you’d like to talk to a counselor about coping skills during this difficult time and even more self-care tips, feel free to contact us here at New Vision Counseling! We are here to help.
New Vision Counseling & Consulting: 11209 N May Ave Oklahoma City, OK 73120
Call us at 405-921-7776 and we will get you connected with an amazing therapist on the team!
Caleb McKean no longer works at New Vision Counseling but the good news is that we have other amazing counselors who can help you in your time of need. We have a team of therapists who care and are experienced in helping you gain freedom and achieve your goals. Contact us today so we can help you navigate this season together
Are we still open with the COVID-19 Pandemic?
YES! We sterilize our entire office frequently and have taken massive precautions to protect you and our team. We have you text upon arrival and the therapist will come and get you when its your appointment time. There is a bathroom with soap immediately when you walk into the building and it’s across from the exit door. You won’t have to touch anything if you don’t want to. We have an empty lobby and you will likely only see your therapist and no one else. We also offer telehealth. If you don’t want to come into the office you don’t have to. Call or reach out today! This pandemic has begun to wreak havoc on the world, but it DOESN’T have to wreak havoc on you!
Can Counseling Help with COVID-19
Through in person counseling or telehealth (by video or phone) we can help! We can help you untangle your thoughts and get unstuck from the pressure and stress. Then, you can start moving forward in life again. Times are hard, really hard and scary. But we don’t have to live there. When you reach out to us we will listen and be there for you. However, we won’t just sit on the couch and listen. We will jump into your story with you and help you through. YOU ARE NOT ALONE! We walk with you every step of the way. We use Biblical principles combined with cutting edge counseling techniques to help you live again.
This pandemic has begun to wreak havoc on the world, but it DOESN’T have to wreak havoc on you! At New Vision Counseling & Consulting, we are here to help. Call or email us today at (405) 921-7776 or go to New Vision Counseling and Consulting to set up your first appointment. We look forward to helping you through this!
What is Telehealth?
Through technology we can connect with you even when you are not in the office. You can save travel time and avoid unnecessary exposure to sickness during that time of year. And the great news is we can walk with you in this season of life so that you are not alone. Through Telehealth you can continue healing and moving forward without interruption from the chaos all around.
We use a HIPAA compliant web based platform called simple practice or doxy.me. It is very easy to use and we will walk you through it. All you need is WiFi and a phone or computer. I have been using this platform for awhile and it has been extremely effective.
Should I Stop Counseling Because of the COVID-19?
I know things are crazy right now and there is so much uncertainty and anxiety regarding our health, school closings and finances. I feel it too. I know that this seems like a good time to take a “break” from therapy. In reality, it is very important that you continue to prioritize your mental health. You need the help and delaying counseling won’t help make life better. This is a time that we need to come together and take care of each other and we at New Vision Counseling & Consulting are still deeply committed to you and your emotional, spiritual and physical health.
Rest assured that when you invite us into your life during this season, we will be praying for you and your family as we navigate these uncharted waters together. Remember, even when we can’t see Him moving; God is always with us and for us. “He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged” (Deuteronomy 31:8).
Please feel free to reach out to us by text, email or phone if you want to talk about your scheduling or your specific requests. And know that we will do everything we can to accommodate your needs and walk with you in this season. You don’t have to do this alone because we are here for you.
Is Telehealth as Effective as in Person Counseling?
I have been counseling over 25 years and have seen clients enjoy profound transformation in person and through phone and video counseling. Therefore, if you need help we have multiple ways to meet you where you are. There is only a benefit of getting the help you need now.
Do you need counseling but are anxious about COVID-19?
We have good news. We offer telehealth. If you don’t want to come into the office you don’t have to. We can help you over video or by phone. Call or reach out today! This pandemic has begun to wreak havoc on the world, but it DOESN’T have to wreak havoc on you! At New Vision Counseling & Consulting, we are here for you. Call or email us today at (405) 921-7776 or go to New Vision Counseling and Consulting to set up your first appointment. We look forward to helping you through this!
Can I still come to Counseling during the COVID-19 Pandemic?
YES! We sterilize our entire office frequently and have taken massive precautions to protect you and our team. We have you text upon arrival and the therapist will come and get you when its your appointment time. There is a bathroom with soap immediately when you walk into the building and it’s across from the exit door. You won’t have to touch anything if you don’t want to. We have an empty lobby and you will likely only see your therapist and no one else. We also offer telehealth. If you don’t want to come into the office you don’t have to. Call or reach out today! This pandemic has begun to wreak havoc on the world, but it DOESN’T have to wreak havoc on you! At New Vision Counseling & Consulting, we are here for you. Call or email us today at (405) 921-7776 or go to New Vision Counseling and Consulting to set up your first appointment. We look forward to helping you through this!
Will I be exposed to COVID-19 if I go to Counseling?
If you sign up for telehealth then you will get zero exposure because we will see you over video or by phone. If you want to come in person we are open. We sterilize our entire office frequently and have taken massive precautions to protect you and our team. We have you text upon arrival and the therapist will come and get you when it’s your appointment time. There is a bathroom with soap immediately when you walk into the building and it’s across from the exit door. You won’t have to touch anything if you don’t want to. We have an empty lobby and you will likely only see your therapist and no one else. We also offer telehealth. If you don’t want to come into the office you don’t have to. Call or reach out today! This pandemic has begun to wreak havoc on the world, but it DOESN’T have to wreak havoc on you! At New Vision Counseling & Consulting, we are here for you. Call or email us today at (405) 921-7776 or go to New Vision Counseling and Consulting to set up your first appointment. We look forward to helping you through this!
I can hear the question already. How can counseling help with a disease? While it can’t cure the physical virus, counseling can effectively help you walk through these times. Below are three ways that counseling can help.
With the mass hysteria surrounding the coronavirus, leading to many stocking up on toilet paper and hand sanitizer so much that every shelf that was supposed to contain these goods are now as barren as the Sahara Desert, it’s no wonder that anxiety is skyrocketing. The level of uncertainty surrounding this disease has grown to include not just health concerns but also worries about the future.
What happens if…? What if…? What about…? What’s going to happen now that…?
Does that sound like your mind? All of these questions and worries can throw you in a tailspin so that you don’t know which way is up.
Speaking to a counselor can help untangle your thoughts and help you make sense out of your experiences. Research shows that simply talking it out can have a calming effect on your mind. However, when you come to counseling, you don’t just get someone to talk to, you have a person who can employ cutting edge tools and techniques to help you banish that anxiety for good!
And seeing a Christian Counselor can help you connect with the One on whom we can cast our anxieties because of His care for us (1 Peter 5:7).
In addition to simply working to eliminate anxiety, a counselor can also provide the role of being a support for you.
Are you feeling more isolated than normal because of this outbreak? Are your fears dismissed by those who are close to you? Is it much harder to connect with people because of this?
We understand. When you enter our counseling office, you enter a judgement-free zone. You have our permission to exist as you are. Are you worried about what’s going to happen to the economy? Are you concerned about a sick loved one? Do you worry that you won’t be able to find toilet paper?
We want to listen to you and walk with you through these difficult times. We want to serve as a representative of the One who gives comfort in times of distress.
As the psalmist writes “You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with shouts of deliverance. I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you” (Psalm 32:7-8).
Lastly, if your worry over the corona virus is keeping you from leaving your home, then consider our telehealth platform. This brings the therapy session into your own home without having to invite someone over!
Modern technology has made it possible for counseling appointments to occur securely via video chat, or phone so you don’t have to fret about being in front of another person.
It’s also our way of meeting you where you are. Remember, you are in a judgement-free zone when you are with us, so if you don’t want to leave your house, you don’t have to!
At New Vision Counseling & Consulting, we want to help. Call or email us today at (405) 921-7776 or go to New Vision Counseling and Consulting to set up your first appointment. We look forward to helping you through this!
Dustin Walker, LPC
New Vision Counseling and Consulting
Marriage is a blessing!
Take a minute and think about when you first met your significant other. You got butterflies thinking about them, you could not wait until you saw them again, you spent hours talking on the phone, you wanted to learn everything about them, their likes, dislikes, favorite food, favorite movie….we could not get enough, we were obsessed by this person!! This honeymoon phase is easy, it’s fun, we enjoy it so much that we think it can sustain us for the rest of our lives, we choose this person to make a commitment and spend the rest of our lives in love!
And then… one day, the things we thought were cute or funny, endearing even, are now annoying, all the habits and mannerisms that drew us to this person now get on our last nerve! We begin to question, “Is it supposed to be this hard?” “If I’m with the right person, should we struggle, every day?” Some days it seems like everything that drew us to this person now annoys us. Too often, people walk away from marriage at this stage. Our nation is all about easy, quick, fast fixes. Marriage is not easy, but it can be fulfilling, you can grow as an individual, as a couple, as a family. If you stay the course, seek help when needed, surround yourself with other couples who have similar values and marriage goals as you and your spouse you can succeed! Your marriage can thrive. In this phase of love, when the butterflies and easy conversation fade, you must be intentional and faithful. Some steps you can take to grow your marriage are communicate, communicate, communicate!
Keep God in the center of your marriage. Pray together, ask God to guide your marriage, yourself, and your spouse in the direction to prosper your marriage and keep your focus on one another. God gives us the gift of marriage and it is our job to nurture it. If we hold each other accountable, pray together, and are intentional about keeping our vows and communicating our needs to God, as well as each other, we can better understand our partners needs. A couple’s devotional is a great way to keep your focus on God leading your marriage. The Bible has plenty to say about marriage, it gives us examples of good relationships and what NOT to do in marriage. Take time to look at scripture about marriage and love, and then talk about what is missing in your marriage.
Almost all couples who are struggling in marriage report they do not communicate in their daily lives. They are so busy with work, small kids, big kids, sports, dance recitals, plays, drama, church, community, household chores, you name it, life gets in the way of our marriage. We hardly see our spouse let alone speak to them. Again, being intentional about taking time to talk about busy schedules, who is going where, talking and discussing family needs and who will cover what event, helps alleviate the stress and busyness. It keeps us connected and working together!
We also need to be heard; part of communication is actively listening to our spouse. So many couples report “I don’t feel heard, so I just stop asking” “We fight about the same things over and over” communication stops and resentment builds. Taking time to listen to our spouse’s needs and taking action to meet those needs is a must in your marriage. Being intentional about communicating, I feel, I need… followed by action keeps your marriage moving forward. Learning conflict resolution skills can help you be a better listener, process your emotions, and come to an agreement or a compromise. It takes practice, your therapist can help you with this skill.
NEVER stop dating your spouse! Date night is a crucial time to laugh, have fun, ask silly questions, be in the moment and make each other feel cherished and loved. Put your phone down, leave your worries for another day, direct all your attention to your spouse and have light fun conversation, reconnect and focus on the love that brought you together.
Communication is the lifeline to all relationships! It nurtures and grows relationships with friends, parents, businesses, and most importantly our spouse. It is the single most important thing we can do, communicate with God, communicate with our spouse, communicate with our family, our business partners, the list goes on… At New Vision we value our own marriages and we are committed to helping you navigate your marriage. I love all things about marriage counseling, pre-marital, couples looking for a little extra help, couples in crisis. We can give you tools and strategies to grow a struggling marriage to a thriving marriage. We trust God to bring you back to one another and teach you how to communicate in a safe, non-threatening environment. The bible has much to offer about marriage, that is our foundation along with therapeutic strategies to foster change and bring long lasting love. We should never question God’s intention for our marriage, he doesn’t want us to take the easy way out. God wants us to stand on the vows we made to him, to each other, and our families. Prepare to fight for your love, enjoy the peaks and talk through the valleys, your marriage is worth it!
It all starts and ends with solid communication!!
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” ~Philippians 4:6-7
Peace. We all say we want it, but it seems like so few have it. Maybe you’ve recently heard somebody say, “Please pray for peace,” or, “I just want peace in this situation.” You may have recently nicely (of course) requested from your kids, “Could you just give me some peace?” We all long for peace.
At church we’ve hear or pastor talk about peace. I started this blog with a passage from Philippians that speaks about a “peace of God, which surpasses all understanding.” Sign me up for that! What a beautiful thing it must be to have this kind of peace. Have you found it yet?
A lot of us ask the question, “How in the world can we find peace at a time like this?” All the political battles, the mass shootings, illegal drugs being legalized, suicide rates on the rise, and so many other things—peace, sounds nice, but not going to happen, right?
And yet, Paul says in Philippians we can have peace through God, despite everything that is going on around us. Thanks, Paul, but aren’t you asking a little much here? It can feel like that, but I believe Paul is asking us all to find peace amidst the chaos of life, and it all has to do with our approach to life.
I believe Paul is showing us how to have peace in a chaotic world, and below are three steps for finding more peace in life.
First, understand peace is not a destination, it’s a state of mind.
It’s important to remember the context in which the Bible was written. Christians were not liked, and, in fact, often persecuted in brutal ways. If it wasn’t happening to you, you more than likely knew someone that experienced it. This was not a peaceful time for Christians where their biggest concern was what to have for dinner. They were facing major difficulties.
All of this to say that peace was not something they were going to find in their outside world. Paul is teaching Christians that it is not their external conditions that need to change, but their internal condition. The solution from Paul was to develop a peaceful state of mind amidst all the chaos and fear. Focus on God more than you focus on your troubles and you will feel more peace.
Second, commit to the practices that lead to peace.
We must practice peaceful habit to feel peace more of the time. Paul, in this passage, gives steps on what to do in order to feel more peace: prayer, supplication, making your requests know to God. And further, in Philippians 4:8-9 Paul writes, “…whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” In essence, Paul tells us that when we change our thoughts and our focus, we get more peace.
This is not positive thinking or pretending things are good when they aren’t. That would be foolish. What Paul wants you to do is deliberately choose what you think about and focus on. When you take control of your thoughts, you can feel more peace.
Also, committing to the practice does not mean you give it a couple of days, and then when you don’t have a “peace that transcends all understanding,” you just give up. It takes days and days of practice to change the way you think, but as Paul shows, it’s worth it.
Third, continue to give up control to God.
The final step is to live in the peaceful state as much as possible. This calls for a state of trust in God, especially when our expectations of how the world or my partner or my kids should act are not met.This level of trust in God asks us to continually admit and accept that God is in control and we are not. The way to peace is not to take all control and make everything happen the way we want—that leads to destruction and stress and death. The way to peace is trusting in God’s faithfulness and practicing faith and trust in him. It’s not easy, and it’s not a quick fix—two things we love in our American culture—but it is the way to peace. I’ll sum it up with the words of Paul in Philippians 4:12-13:
“I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
Is Christian counseling in Edmond or Oklahoma City your next step to breaking free of fears and finding peace? If so, you can reach us at (405) 921-7776.
By Ben Thompson, LMFT
Marriage brings about many changes and challenges. One such challenge is building a loving and cooperative relationship with your in-laws. Here are three tips to keep the peace and steer clear of relationship pitfalls with In-Laws.
Establish clear boundaries right away.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. Psalm 16:6 (NIV).
Your home is intended to be one of the pleasant places to establish and develop a family. The home is the space that should feel pleasant, safe, and beautiful. When couples marry, they must determine what their pleasant place looks and feels like. Although healthy relationships with family can be the most challenging to establish and form, healthy boundaries must be established to prevent any disruption to this sanctuary. Couples should discuss boundaries for in-laws before marriage and then communicate these boundaries with the in-laws to minimize conflict. Consider this scripture, “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” Genesis 2:24-25 (NIV). As a married couple you and your spouse will establish values and traditions for your growing family apart from those of your parents and family including childrearing practices. Your in-laws may not agree but you must both present a united front to your families.
Build a Healthy Relationship with Your In-Laws
“Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise), so that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth.” Ephesians 6:2-3
This scripture extends to your in-laws as well. Treat in-laws like you would any other member of your family as they are your family. Love your in-laws and tell them you do. Build a healthy relationship with your in-laws but do not expect to be close right away. Give your relationship the time it needs to grow. Discover ways to connect through shared hobbies or interests as it demonstrates that you are making an effort to know and understand them. Listen to their stories even if you have heard them several times. They can provide a wealth of knowledge and wisdom about life in general or about your partner, which may help you learn more about them. Also, it might make them feel good be listened to as well.
Keep quarrels to yourself
“Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.” II Timothy 2:23-24 (NIV)
Do not complain about your spouse to your parents or in-laws. Hearing complaints will likely cause them to become defensive. In-laws will always take the side of their child, sibling, or family member. Discussing problems or issues in the marriage may make the situation worse. Work out your issues privately with your spouse. Do not attempt to get your spouse’s family involved or make them choose sides.
In a Conflict Between Your Spouse and Your Family, Support Your Spouse.
Your loyalty is to your spouse. It is your duty to support your husband or wife and manage your family in a way that consistently conveys this fact. Again, you must both present a united front to your families, making it clear from the beginning that your spouse comes first. Marital problems typically occur quickly in couples where an allegiance has not been established. A failure to support your partner may lead to bitter disputes and one partner feeling isolated. You and your spouse must agree on how to handle issues as in-laws are an inherent part of your life. A mutual understanding will help nurture healthy relationships with your in-laws.
Be as patient with in-laws as they learn to let go. Don’t complain to others or speak unfavorably of your in-laws. Do not compare your in-laws to your parents or family. Be willing to compromise. Your family may have different values that you feel need defending when you’re with your in-laws but do not take the bait! Offense is one of the most common causes of relationship pitfalls with in-laws. Let go of the need to prove anything. Again, give your relationship with your in-laws time to grow.
On November 12th, Disney debuted its much-anticipated streaming service Disney+.
With the hustle and bustle of everyday life, it seems as though there is never enough time to accomplish all the things that need to be done. Trying to balance my time and energy with my wife, kids, friends, family, and work seems almost impossible most of the time. I’m one of those whose excitement to share a piece of my childhood with my children has now turned into a way for my family to draw closer to one another. The thought of having an opportunity created to spend quality time with my wife and kids was intriguing to me.
As a Marital & Family Therapist, I’ve helped couples with practical ways to solve problems of disconnect within their family. One of the most common complaints I hear is “We never spend time together”. Often the families and I will search for something they all enjoy doing together (often some past memory holds the key). So, it comes as no surprise that I would turn what we as a family thought would be family time into an opportunity to dig deeper and strengthen our family.
I remember as a child the excitement I felt for Sunday evenings when “The Wonderful World of Disney” would bring our family in front of the television to spend time together. Looking back, as a parent now, I can only imagine the relief my parents must have felt that there was an opportunity for the family to watch something and not have to worry too much about the content of the programming.
This week at home I was able to recreate some of the nostalgia that my childhood had with my wife and kids. We decided to allow one of the children to select any cartoon they wanted from the available movies on Disney+. We then took this as an opportunity to learn more about each other by asking each other questions regarding the movie chosen.
What an amazing opportunity this afforded our family to start a conversation with our kids about who they are and who they want to become as they grow up. Imagine learning that your kid selected a movie because it reminds them of you. Or how about finding out that one of your children selected a movie because they have a desire to be a problem solver like so-and-so in the movie. How cool would it be for your children to ask you the same questions and learn more about who you are?
Often as a parent, I struggle with balancing compassion and connection, with discipline and correction. So many times, as I try to go to sleep, I find myself wishing, hoping, praying that my children see me more like the compassionate connecting parent than the one only concerned with correction and discipline. I also find it more difficult at times to show my wife and kids that they are more important than all the other distractions in our lives. By using our movie time, I can discuss a movie we have watched as a family and use the movie to show ways in which the movie relates to our family.
I have listed some ideas; of the types of questions, you can ask to enjoy quality time with your family.
Questions to ask:
Is there any significance for you in the movie you selected?
With all the different types of movies available, how did you choose this movie?
Do you feel the movie has a lesson to be learned? If so, what would that lesson be?
If you could be one character from the movie who would you be and why?
If you were the one telling the story is there anything you would want to change and why?
What questions can you come up with that might help you connect with your family? Go ahead comment below and let’s see how many ideas we can come up with to help one another out and begin a new routine of family connection.
If you’re struggling to connect as a family, visit our website at www.newvisioncounseling.live and let us help you discover what better looks like for you and equip you with the tools to create it.
-Daniel Edwards is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist at New Vision Counseling and Consulting.
The holidays are right around the corner, and usually that’s a time of joy, expectation, and
anticipation of spending time with our family and our friends. But for some, the thought of
celebrating anything this year brings great pain. Maybe you’re one of those people. Maybe life
has changed for you in ways that you never wanted, or never expected. Maybe you’re grieving,
and are dreading the coming months. Maybe you just wish that we could jump past
Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, and Valentine’s Day, or that people would just leave you
alone during the holidays this year. Maybe you’re reading this because it’s just what you need.
It has been said that grief is the price of love. The hard truth is that none of us get to go through
life without being touched by grief. In the Bible, Isaiah describes the Messiah as “a man of
sorrows and acquainted with grief.” (Isaiah 53:3). While that may feel helpful when we’re doing
well, it often doesn’t feel very helpful when we’re in the grip of grief. Nothing seems to help.
We typically think of grief as what happens when a loved one dies. That is absolutely true, but
we can also experience grief from other sources, too. Other things that can cause grief are a
divorce, the loss of a relationship, the loss of a job, a difficult health diagnosis, or the loss of a
beloved pet. It can even be an outwardly positive event that can cause a more hidden grief, like
a move, retirement, or becoming an empty nester. Whatever it is that is causing your grief,
know that your feelings are real and they are valid.
We often want a road map to help us understand what to expect, and what we go through while
grieving. It’s important to know that grief is not a neat and tidy experience. There is no time
table, and you may bounce around through different stages on your way through the
experience. Also, contrary to what we may wish, grieving never ends—it just becomes
something that we eventually get used to and live with. We never stop missing those whom we
The Stages of Grief
So what does grieving look like? The most well-known model developed by Dr. Elizabeth
Kubler-Ross describes 5 stages of grief, and includes the following:
● Denial—This is when we are trying to process the loss. We often suppress our feelings, and
are just trying to make sense of what has happened. ex. “This can’t be real. I’ll wake up and
it will be a bad dream.”
● Anger—This is an emotion that hides more difficult emotions to deal with, like pain or
sadness, and is often aimed at an inappropriate source. We may find ourselves exceedingly
angry at the person who died or left, at God, or even at inanimate objects. ex. “How could
God let this happen? It’s not fair!”
● Bargaining—During this stage, we try to regain some sense of control in our life. Even
though it may be irrational, we think of a lot of “what if” or “if only” scenarios. Sometimes we
even try to “make a deal with God.” ex. “God, if you will fix this, I will open an orphanage in
China,” or “If I had/hadn’t done _____, then it wouldn’t have happened.”
● Depression—In the earlier stages of grief, we may find that we are running from our
emotions. In depression, we may become overwhelmed by our emotions. We may isolate
ourselves, have trouble thinking clearly, eat or sleep too much, and cry until we feel like we
have no tears left. ex. “I don’t know how to go on from here.”
● Acceptance—This doesn’t mean that you are happy, or that you’re “okay” now. A better way
to describe it might be to say that you have come to grips with the loss, and have more good
days than bad ones. Although you still miss the way that life was before, you see a way
So what do we do when the holidays come, and we’re grieving? Remember that all of the firsts
will be the hardest: the first Thanksgiving without Grandma’s special dish, the first Christmas
without their special touches, the first birthday or anniversary spent alone. Acknowledge that it’s
hard, and even if it doesn’t feel like it today, know that it will be better in time.
First, be honest about what you’re feeling. You may feel it’s important to pretend to be okay or
happy for others that you care about, but that only makes the pain and loneliness feel more
pronounced. Acknowledge it, and allow yourself to feel the grief. Grief is experiencing our
internal feelings. Mourning is the external expression of that grief.
When we’re grieving the loss of a loved one, some ways that you can externalize your grief are:
● Donate money or time to something that your loved one cared about.
● Say a prayer for your loved one before a holiday meal.
● Share a funny or poignant story about your loved one.
● Plant a tree or flower in honor of your loved one.
● Write your loved one a letter.
● Do something kind for someone else without taking credit for it.
Be kind to yourself. No one else knows what is best for you, even if they think they do. You
have to do what feels right for you this year. If you want to go to the family event, then go, but
give yourself permission to leave early, if you need to. If you want to stay home or go to a
movie, do that instead. It’s okay to take a year off, if that’s what you need. Next year will be
different, and you will be more ready to find a new way to address the holiday season.
Through your grief, remember that God is there with you, even if you don’t feel Him. If you need
to talk to someone who won’t judge you, the counselors at New Vision Counseling would be
honored to walk through this grief with you. Please give us a call today at (405) 921-7776.
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are
with me.” Psalm 23:4
“But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may
not grieve as others who have no hope.” 1 Thessalonians 4:13
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for good and not for evil, to give
you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11
*Kathy Gissler is a therapist at New Vision Counseling & Consulting. A place where we help
you discover what better looks like for you and equip you with the tools to create it.
“So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” Matthew 19:6 (NIV)
Nearly half of marriages in the United States end in divorce. Some couples often decide to live separately as an initial step towards divorce. Separation has become all too common in American society. This approach seems counterintuitive as the majority of separations typically lead to divorce, which leaves a small percentage of marriages that survive after separation. How do these relationships survive and others do not? Is it possible to save a marriage after a separation? Have you heard of the saying “Time heals all wounds?” I would like to add to that. I believe that healing is predicated on what happens within that time spent apart. I believe that time can heal wounds, if you nurse those wounds. Left alone the situation could worsen. Couples often separate to give each other a “time out” to reflect on their marriage. What you do with this time is vital to the future of your relationship. I strongly recommend that you do not stop working on your marriage just because you have decided to no longer live together. Staying connected with your spouse and working towards common goals will strengthen your bond, which decreases the likelihood of additional marital strain attributable to drifting apart. Experts have coined this approach as therapeutic separation, enhancement separation, controlled separation, and healing separation, just to name a few. The point is whatever the method you decide, be intentional regarding your approach to separation. If you are currently separated, I recommend creating a plan of reconciliation to help you navigate your way through this time apart. You may appeal the help of clergy or a Christian counselor to help with this process. Couples who adopt this approach need to be dedicated to doing the hard work necessary to sound results.
“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32 (NIV)
Mutual repentance and forgiveness can be the first step to the healing process. Process what went wrong as it is important to address the problems that led to the separation. No one is perfect. We are to forgive one another as God has forgiven us. Remember, forgiveness is a process. I encourage you to create a space where your spouse feels safe to share and open up without fear of judgment and criticism. The first step to forgiveness is addressing the offense. The Bait of Satan by John Bevere defines offense as one of the most deceptive snares Satan uses to get believers out of the will of God. Pray fervently for your spouse. If they are wrestling with sin, pray for them. Consider this scripture, “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.” Galatians 6:1 (NIV)
Effective communication is essential. Prepare to communicate in calm and nonjudgmental manner. Avoid communication traps such as blaming or stonewalling. Avoid “You” statements, which may cause defensiveness. Take ownership of the way you feel. Use “I” statements to minimize defensiveness. Using “I” statements helps you take responsibility for your feelings while tactfully presenting the problem. Use your words and actions to build up your spouse. The book, The Five Languages of Love, by Gary Chapman is a great resource for principles to understanding your spouse’s unique needs, which helps you express your love more effectively.
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Colossians 3:12 (NIV)
Be kind to one another. Make a commitment to change and personal growth by exploring your own unproductive and maladaptive behaviors. Practice new skills and ways of relating to each other. Learn practical skills such as problem-solving and conflict resolution that reduce stress in the relationship. Be patient during this process. Change does not occur overnight. Explore ways to practice humility and gentleness towards your spouse. Accept characteristics of your spouse that are unlikely to change that may cause some discomfort but is not damaging to the relationship. New habits take time and persistence.
As you move closer to reconciliation start dating again. Create a safe environment where intimacy can grow and the relationship thrives. Discuss needs and expectations. Keep the focus on rebuilding and strengthening your marriage. I am a firm believer in the sanctity of marriage. I’ll be the first to tell you that it is not easy. Marriage is a lot of work! The word of God is your number one resource for keeping your marriage together.
Is Christian counseling your next step in rekindling your marriage? If so, you can reach us at (405) 921-7776. Or, you can go to our website to explore videos and contact us at newvisioncounseling.live.
By: Donnulette Dulaney, LPC
Every family is different and unique, and we all have our own stories to tell. Some families have one parent, some have two. Some families have children, some are childless. Our family began with two biological children, grew by fostering children, and eventually expanded by adopting three of the children that came to live with us.
Becoming a foster family is not for the faint of heart, and definitely needs to be something you choose to go into with your eyes wide open. For families of faith, it also needs to be a directive from God for your entire family, because it will definitely challenge and change all of you. For our family, we wanted to share God’s love with children by providing a safe and loving home when they couldn’t be with their family of origin.
After following God’s prompting, the first thing that you will want to do is to make sure your whole family is on board with this decision, starting with you and your spouse. Are you both really in agreement, or is one agreeing to it to please the other one? My husband and I prayed about becoming a foster family and discussed it before we ever got married. We agreed that if we wanted more than two kids, or if we were unable to have biological kids, we would foster and/or adopt. After our first two children were born, we wanted to explore becoming a foster family. We talked about it with our kids, then age 9 and 6, and they said they were looking forward to it. I think we all had kind of romanticized ideas of what being a foster family would be like. My biological children thought it would be like having a constant sleep-over with friends. My husband and I thought that it would be hard for a bit, then the child(ren) would adapt to our loving family, and would become a seamless part of it.
The reality was far different from our imagination. We learned that the kids all had a past that didn’t include our values, or our happy memories. Many of the lessons they learned in their life before us were so contrary to anything that we ever experienced. One child thought that it was normal to take whatever you wanted from stores, and put it in their pockets, because that’s what their grandpa taught them. Other children flinched from any touch, even kind and loving touches, because they were so badly abused by the adults in their past. Many of the children lied better than other people could tell the truth, causing a lot of problems in otherwise healthy relationships. These were the easier problems that we had to face. Many families have much more difficult situations with their foster children. This is why is must be a family decision, and must also be a God-prompted decision. When you consistently bathe the decision, your family, and your foster children in prayer, it helps to keep your focus on the ministry of being a foster family, and off of the immediate struggle.
Let me back up a bit. One of the most important things I learned in our foster parent training was to use the word “no” with purpose and with enthusiasm. As a foster family, you get to choose the number of kids you will add to your home, the ages you will accept, and the types of problems you are willing and able to handle. For example, we chose to only take in children that were younger than our biological children. This kept the “pecking order” intact, and proved to be a good choice for us. We also chose not to accept children who acted out sexually, were fire starters, or had physical disabilities that would not allow them to walk upstairs to the bedrooms. Our trainer told us that we should not accept children that were outside of our parameters, as the case workers from the agencies would regularly try to push those boundaries. She said that telling them “no” was not only okay, but it was wise and healthy for everyone. She reminded us that even when we declined a placement, another one that was a better fit would come along sooner than we may expect. It turns out that this was some of the best advice we ever got.
Another thing that we learned was to ask for help when we needed it. Sometimes it came in the form of a listening ear from a caseworker, or counseling for our whole family. Sometimes it was hiring a babysitter so we could go out for a date night. Sometimes it was even asking for respite care during a difficult time so that we could re-group and figure out a better way to deal with whatever the situation was that caused the distress in the first place. Joining a foster parent support group is always a huge help. Getting ideas from others who may have experienced something similar is so beneficial. It really helps having someone to talk to who knows firsthand the pain of loving a child for a time, and being willing to bear the heartache of letting them go when their family is doing better.
One thing that was kind of hard to deal with was the comments from other people about being a foster family. People often make weird comments that are a compliment, but can feel like a backhanded criticism. They say things like, “Oh, you’re such a saint for doing foster care. I could never do it because I love kids so much, and I would never want to let them go.” Umm, so you don’t think I love them as much as you would? Or you think it’s easy to let them go? Then there’s the guilt of knowing that you just yelled at your kids, and this person thinks you’re a saint for doing foster care. It’s hard to say an honest “thank you” when you’re feeling such a jumble of feelings.
The leaving part is almost always hard for the foster family left behind when a child is reunited with their family or moves on to an adoptive placement. You miss the child, and usually never find out how their life turned out. All we can do in those circumstances is to pray for them and trust God for their future. This is also a good time for you, as the foster parent, to seek good counseling to process the feelings of loss, relief, guilt, or whatever it is that you are feeling.
Know that if God has called you to open your home and your heart to love and care for a foster child, that He is the One who will give you the wisdom and strength to do it. And when you have those shining moments when you see your foster child grow or learn to accept love in a healthy way, you have been a part of something holy.
If becoming a foster parent is something that you find interest in and would like some guidance navigating the ropes please consider contacting New Vision Counseling and making an appointment today! You can contact us by calling (405)-921-7776.
By Kathy Gissler, LPC
When we have a goal or desired outcome that we would like to attain, we usually want to skip the process required and go directly to the reward. In our instant gratification society, we cultivate the idea of this misguided method. Yet, in order to enjoy the harvest, there are typically necessary steps to be taken before we can reap the benefits.
There is quite a bit of symbolism attached to the word harvest, which often represents abundance and bounty. Often when we think of the word harvest, our mind conjures images of the reward of farming. We imagine all the fruit of their labor, without giving much thought as to what action it took to get there. If a farmer decides to take short cuts or skip necessary steps, he may find that in the end there is a harvest/crop failure, which means that his crop yield is either absent or significantly less than his expectations. Although the metaphor of farming is being used here, this can apply to any area of our life including financial, professional, relational, spiritual, etc. I’m going to share you with you the essential steps for creating a bountiful harvest.
Groundwork comes first. Scripture has a lot to say about the importance of the condition of the soil in the ability to produce a harvest. The parable of the sower shows us many examples of the outcomes of different types of soil. We can see the result of a shallow, hard, or anxious heart. Where our heart is when we begin things can dictate how things turn out. Understanding what our motives are behind why we’re choosing to pursue what we’re chasing after can help us decide if it is safe to move forward. Is our motive being prompted by the Spirit or by the flesh? If we are doing something just because someone else desires it and we want to gain their approval, or because we are resentful and have a bitter heart, our objective might not turn out the way we hoped. Spending time in prayer to determine what direction God wants you to go before you begin a journey is important. The groundwork towards our goal might require some actual work. Plowing soil is not easy, and the work God calls you to do in preparation may not be easy either.
Sowing is the next step after laying the right groundwork. Sowing requires action. First, we cannot expect that we will receive anything if we are lazy. The book of Proverbs has a lot to say about lazy people. It tells us that their “hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth” (10:4). We are called to be diligent in whatever God has called us to do, which requires work and effort. Second, what we sow is important. Most of us have heard the popular saying “You reap what you sow,” which is also in scripture. Galatians 6 explains the importance of what we sow, whether it’s from the flesh or from the Spirit. Depending on what you’re working toward, sowing might include sharing the gospel through words or actions, going back to school, creating a budget or savings account, or setting goals and taking the steps necessary towards achieving them. When you start being intentional in moving towards whatever God is calling you to, you are sowing seeds.
There is still action that needs to be taken once seeds have been sown. Tending can include a number of different activities, but two key elements to note are patience and faith. These two are essential for a bountiful harvest. Having the faith to take the steps necessary when we don’t understand God’s plan is essential. Often God calls to do things that don’t make sense to us. It can be hard to follow through when we don’t understand or see the importance. However, obedience is important (Psalms 128:1). Patience is also crucial in this process. God’s timing is not our timing, and sometimes it seems as if God is running behind. However, it is imperative that we be patient and wait. If a farmer proceeds to gather too early, he may damage his crop. Likewise, if we start making moves before God consents, we may place ourselves outside of what He has in the making and lose out on the harvest that He has planned for us. Tending well requires being content with where we are in the journey right now.
The process required to produce an abundant harvest is important. However, there are times that we do the groundwork, the sowing, and the tending exactly as we believe God has asked us and the harvest isn’t plentiful. As a matter of fact, it may appear to be a complete failure with no harvest at all. If you find yourself in this place, take heart friend. It is not over, and God is there with you. If you find yourself in this difficult season, or perhaps you are already there, it is important for you to find good counsel through your church or a trusted friend. Perhaps you may need some additional help with what you are experiencing, a counselor can help you navigate through this difficult time. Remember, “Weeping may endure for a night but joy comes in the morning” (Psalms 30:5).
By: Misty Tafao, LADC
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