October is a month filled with many things. It is the conclusion of Hispanic Heritage Month. It is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It is the month where Fall usually feels like Fall and Halloween is anticipated by many children. It is also Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. This particular topic is one that can be especially difficult to talk about. There are no words to describe the feeling of losing a baby and no words to ease the grief and pain that comes with this kind of loss. No one ever prepares you to lose a child, and usually, it is a loss that one does not see coming. I could sit here and give you statistics, but let’s be real, that’s not very comforting or helpful for most of us. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate statistics, but that is not going to change the situation or how I feel about what happened.
Grieving the loss of a pregnancy and the loss of a baby are very difficult and can be a complicated process. Grief in and of itself is a complicated and painful process because grief is not linear. In general, I think we as humans tend to like things to go in order and step by step. Unfortunately, that is not how grief works. Sure, we may feel the anger and depression and anxiety that comes with it, and we might even get to a point of acceptance, but sooner or later, familiar feelings come back. I tend to think of grief in “waves”. Some days, the waves are shorter in height and more manageable. Other days, the waves are ginormous and strong and knocks the breath out of you. And then there are days where the waves come out of nowhere and knocks you off your feet, disorienting you and making you question whether or not this is really happening or has really happened.
While there is no “one size fits all” approach to grieving your baby and the hopes and dreams you had for them, there are a few ways to cope with the wide range of emotions that may come up:
Journaling- Journaling can be a helpful tool to just get out what you’re thinking and feeling without any judgment. Sometimes, we just need to process our thoughts without necessarily talking them out loud. To just get them out in the moment and that’s it.
Talking to someone- This can be a friend, a therapist, a church member, or any support you can think of. While journaling can be very beneficial, it can also be helpful to share what you’re thinking and feeling to someone else. For me personally, this was difficult in that it made everything 100 times more real, but it has been helpful talking it out and verbalizing my own experience and feelings.
Making a memory box or scrapbook- I am honestly thankful that I took pictures and that I have memories that I can look back on. Making a memory box or scrapbook can be helpful in the healing process, as it can be helpful to reflect back to this important moment in time.
Joining a support group- Sometimes, it helps to be around those who have gone through similar situations as you, especially as a grieving parent. It’s almost comforting to relate to someone else who has been through this and knows what you might be feeling. It can also be helpful to talk about and process things when you know that others around you have gone through a similar situation.
Reading- This is another way one can connect to someone who has gone through a similar situation and/or to your spiritual life. This can be a book or devotional or another person’s story.
Praying/Meditating- Whatever this looks like for you, praying and/or meditation can be helpful in reflection and in connecting to your spiritual life. Personally, prayer has been a lifeline for me and a way for me to connect my experience to my beliefs.
Grieving a pregnancy and baby can feel overwhelming and so can the emotions that come with this tragic situation. Again, there is no “one size fits all” to healing, but I hope that by reading this, you know that you are not alone and that there are others with you who have gone through this, too. While each person’s journey is their own and different from another’s journey, we can hold space for one another and remember the babies we have lost. Day by day, step by step, moment by moment.
If you have experienced childbirth you know that often times what is expected to happen and what actually happens can be different. Maybe you had a fabulous birth plan and it was outside of your control or went nothing like you thought. You could have experienced a tragedy during childbirth. Did you experience a stillbirth? Research says that up to 45% of women have experienced a traumatic childbirth. What can I do? Maybe you are one of the 45%, so what can you do? It is important to know that everyone processes in their own way. Also remember the post childbirth hormones that you are experiencing contribute to your emotions and how you process.
Process in community
One important thing that you can do is process how you are feeling in community. Isolation and loneliness cause shame and feeling like you are alone. Start by telling your support person or close friend how you are feeling. Then, when you’re ready, you can join a support group or talk to others in a group who have experienced childbirth trauma. You are not alone!
Grief looks different for every person. Cry, scream, pray, talk, be silent, or anything else that helps you. You might do all of these things at once! Every grief journey looks different. Even if you had a healthy baby in the end, you can still grieve what you hoped to have. Sometimes it helps to write what you are feeling. Some people keep a journal, a blog, or process in a group.
Positive Forward Motion
Finally, take your experience and use it for good in your life or the life of others. Maybe you raise money for a favorite hospital or charity based on your experiences. Maybe you mentor another mother who has experienced what you have experienced. Often, keeping a gratitude journal in the early days can help refocus on what is good that is happening around you. Sometimes the best thing you can do is just keep caring for the children in your care and get out of bed.
We understand that it’s a process and not a linear one. Please reach out to us if you have experienced a childbirth trauma and you want to process it with one of our professionals. We have a number of trained trauma professionals who are here for you.
4 Tips to Improve Teen Mental Health
One of the most affected groups of the COVID pandemic in regards to mental health is our teens. Teens are made for connection so when that was limited, mental illness rates increased. We are still seeing alarming rates of suicide attempts, record anxiety scores, and loneliness from teens. Here are four tips to help your teen (or yourself) improve your mental health this spring.
Guard your heart and mind
Be aware of what you are putting into your brain. What social media accounts are you following? Who are your friends? What type of music are you listening to? What goes into our mind is often what comes out of our mouths and actions. Human nature shows us that we slowly become what we are most familiar with. If you are inputting positive messages, encouraging friends, and uplifting music, we are more likely to feel that and become that.
“Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future”
Prioritize what you can control
We often get overwhelmed. Many of the things that overwhelm us feel really big or even outside our control. Instead, write down 2 lists. One list is things you can control and the other list is things outside of your control. While looking at your list of things you can control prioritize what needs to be done. If a task feels overwhelming, break it up into smaller pieces to get that sense of accomplishment. Sometimes we are tempted to spend our energy on things that we have no control over. Instead, focus on things you can control and what is most important to you.
Find Good Supports
Find someone who you can be yourself around and share all your feelings with. It is important to find someone where you can share your happy feelings and sad feelings. We suggest finding someone who is older than you and can support you. Often people think about parents but it could be a church leader, coach, or teacher.
Practice Positive Thought Initiation
Often our thinking can turn into patterns. Sometimes we fall into negative thinking patterns. Instead, take a notecard and write 5 things on there that make you happy. This could be something from your past, an item, a future plan, or person. Next to each of those things write what makes you happy about them and all the details you can remember. Then, set an alarm and 3 times a day pull out your notecard and think about one or more of those things. Practice putting good in and see how it feels.
If you or your teen is struggling, we are here to help! We have other blog posts like this one to help and we have offices in Fuquay-Varina, Raleigh, or Wake Forest and are available on telehealth. We would love to work with your family to improve overall mental wellness.
No matter the age of your child you have probably had occasion to navigate challenging behaviors. Parents often struggle to find the balance between offering compassion and defining limits. Furthermore, in the exhaustion of daily life parents can take children’s misbehavior personally.
“Why can’t Sally just do her homework?”
“Why does Charlie always fight us about bedtime?”
“Why can’t he just pick up after himself?”
“Why is she always in her room?”
Why is this happening?
Sound familiar? Rest assured, in most cases, your child’s behavior is not an act of malice towards you but a method of communicating with you. All behavior has meaning and very often the meaning has nothing to do with the behavior. Acting out is a form of indirect communication. Children very often act out before they acquire the language and emotional awareness required to communicate what they need. Even after that language is acquired, people of all ages act out when they haven’t had their needs met (adults included!).
Think about one of your own difficult days. You are met with needs and demands from your family. Given that you aren’t at your best, you may snap at them, seek isolation or even cry. As adults, you know what your behavior means, you know what you need. But even still, adults can find themselves “misbehaving” and being indirect about those needs.
Being an investigator of your child
It seems that a piece of the job of parenting is being a part time investigator. From childhood tantrums to adolescent silence, parents can reflect and search to identify what the behavior means. What does their child need?
- Are they hungry or tired?
- Are they stressed or worried?
- Are they refusing to do homework because school is hard?
- Are they avoiding bedtime because they are having trouble sleeping?
- Are they throwing tantrums because they need attention?
- Are they breaking the rules because they don’t believe the consequences will be enforced?
- Are they staying up all night on their phone because they are eager for rules and limits?
- Are they making demands because they believe they are in charge of the house?
- Does the behavior work for your child? Are they getting what they want?
- Are they calling out for help?
Replacing our words
Parents should look at misbehavior as an opportunity to explore what is going on with their child. We can replace “Why did you do that?” with “What do you need?” In identifying needs, parents can equip their children with language that will help them articulate how they are feeling and what they need (even if that’s just space from us!). In addition, understanding the meaning of behavior allows for addressing the root cause of the problem and not just the side effects. For example, addressing sleeplessness as opposed to punishing avoidant behavior related to bedtime.
What is the goal?
Remember…when deciding how to deal with behavior first consider what is the goal of the misbehavior? What is your child getting out of it? Having this information will allow you to make an informed decision about the best next step.
If you are struggling with understanding your child’s behavior or knowing how to respond, we are here for you in Fuquay-Varina, Raleigh, or Wake Forest. Please reach out if you need help!
A Spring Revival
A new year brings about feelings of renewal, rejuvenation, reflection, and resolution. But, those feelings often fade in the first few weeks. Then, the hope of Springtime comes and those hopes renew that pep in your step! You think happy thoughts of warmer days ahead and plan how to spend your time in the warmth of the sun! Let’s get back to thriving this spring! Here are some practical things you can do to help achieve your goals and thrive this spring. Regardless of what your goals are!
Break down big tasks into smaller ones.
Thinking about spring cleaning? Start with one room and tackle your to-do list before moving to the next room of your house. You could even start in the master bedroom. You may break it down by doing laundry and sorting cold weather clothes and warm weather clothes. Then, wash and change the sheets, the curtains, etc. Makes sense?
Give yourself grace when trying to accomplish tasks.
Things don’t have to get completed in one day. Focus on your to-do list and do what you can when you can do it. If it’s not done today, that’s ok! Try again tomorrow or the next day.
If something doesn’t go according to plan, it’s ok! No one is perfect and your to-do list doesn’t have to be either. Be gentle with yourself.
Comparison is the thief of joy.
Does your Instagram feed look like everyone else is living their best life? Does your friend have their kitchen shelves organized while you haven’t thrown out last night’s take-out? Of course, it does! We only post the good things, not the messy and unpredictable. Remember, everyone goes through struggles. Each person’s struggles appear in different ways. These can be gentle reminders to yourself that it’s ok not to have it all together all the time.
Play your favorite music, audiobook, or podcast if accomplishing tasks at home.
You may listen to helpful, learning podcasts, or podcasts for entertainment. Regardless, there is something for everyone! Here is one of my guilty pleasure podcasts for those who like pop culture (no judgment).
Take breaks and enjoy the process while thriving in spring!
Take things at your own pace and remember to be gentle, kind, and patient with yourself when trying to meet goals. So, practice self-care! Whatever your goals are, finding balance is key! Try these steps and if they help you, share them with a friend or family member!
If you need more support with mental health, please feel free to reach out to us! We also have an online, self-paced guide. It’s created by one of our therapists called “From Surviving to Thriving”. Spring is a great opportunity to tune up your mental health and this guide is a great way to do it. Our online course contains videos, resources, teaching, homework, and more. Our team of Raleigh therapists can help you feel better right from home. Learn more about it here!
Begin Working With A Therapist in Raleigh, NC
We understand working to achieve your goals is much easier said than done. This is why we are happy to offer support from our Raleigh, Wake Forest, and Fuquay Varina offices. Our caring therapists can equip you with the tools to help you meet your goals and support your mental health. To start the therapy journey, please follow these simple steps:
Other Services Offered with Foundations Family Therapy
How to talk to your child about school related issues
Under the best of circumstances, school can create stress for both a parent and their child. As children grow in their independence, parents can feel more and more out of touch. Report cards and parent conferences are a good tool to assess progress intermittently but often that doesn’t feel like enough. In our current pandemic climate, this feeling of stress is compounded as parents’ concerns grow over what has been missed both socially and academically.
Very often, a parents first response is to go directly to their child to evaluate how they are doing. Parents often find themselves questioning their child about their day, their friendships and their work. Quite often and regardless of age, these questions are met with resistance or at the least unclear answers. This can result in a pattern of frustration for both the parent and the child. While these obstacles can present frustration there are simple practical solutions parents can implement to regain some control and stay informed.
5 strategies for communicating with your child about school:
Be mindful about how and when you ask your child questions about school and their day.
Parents very often greet their children by asking questions about their day. In an eagerness to see how our children are doing, sometimes we unintentionally cause them to shut down. No one likes to be interrogated about their day the moment they walk in the door. Oftentimes it takes time to process and decompress after a long day, even if it was a good day! Instead of launching an investigation….FLIP THE SCRIPT. Tell your child a story about your day, something funny that happened to you or something special you want them to know. Very often sharing something about your day will result in your child sharing something about their day as well.
Be informed about how to get information from your child’s school.
Many schools have platforms for accessing information. Are you connected? Make sure you are reading the communication coming from your child’s school so you can be informed about important dates and other relevant information. Early on in the school year, attend meetings and conferences to best understand the expectations for your child and what type of communication you can expect. Many older children are connected to powerschool which can give up to date information regarding grades and performance. You can even set up powerschool to send you notifications when grades are entered.
Create habits that keep you informed.
Establish regular times to review your child’s work and get an update on what’s going on. When this is part of your routine it is likely that it will be met with less resistance. Depending on your child’s age and experience in school this meeting may be daily or weekly. Look for patterns and themes in these meetings to determine if additional support is needed or further teacher communication.
For older children establish limits for when you get involved.
Developmentally, school aged children are working to establish independence. This is good! Be careful not to discourage this by being overly involved! Be sure that you are clear with your older school age children about your expectations, gain their input on what their own expectations are. Allow your child to have independence up until the point that they fail to meet those agreed upon expectations. For example, you can agree with your child that as long as they maintain a certain average you will allow them to be independent in their school work.
Be on the lookout for warning signs.
Every child is unique and as parents we are the best expert on our children. Be aware of any behavior that is out of the ordinary for your child and over time evaluate if this is something that you need to intervene with. Be mindful that small changes in behavior are to be expected as part of normal growth and development.
As parents, we want the very best for our children. Allowing our children to grow in independence can be challenging for a variety of reasons. It is possible and likely that they will fail and be disappointed. Very often, parents, in all their best intentions, intervene prior to the disappointing event in an effort to protect them from this anticipated hurt. We know that growing in independence requires failure and disappointment. As parents, we need to be brave enough to allow our children to grow in independence and develop the skills to live a full life without us! If your child needs help processing their emotions or an event that has happened, please reach out for our child centered therapy.
What to expect when starting therapy
Whether you are new to therapy or not it can be nerve-wracking just thinking about the idea of starting therapy. Thoughts of “What if I don’t like the therapist or they don’t like me?”, “Is this even going to help me?”, “What do I even say?” or, “I had such a bad experience with the last therapist what if this happens again?”. Know this – you are not alone. These are common thoughts and questions for many people who are just starting their journey in therapy. To help ease some of these concerns here are a few things you can expect.
No two therapists are alike
Before you set foot in a therapy office do some research on what you are looking for in a therapist. Not all therapists will be able to provide you with the services you are needing based on your symptoms. Similar to doctors; therapists may specialize in specific areas of treatment that may or may not align with your needs. Doing some research in advance could end up saving you lots of time and money in the long run. Ask if the therapists you are interested in seeing offer a free 10–15 minute consultation. This would be a great way to ask any questions or concerns you may have prior to setting up the first appointment.
Just like a doctor’s office, expect to complete some forms prior to your initial session. Depending on the therapist will depend on what this looks like, but most therapists will send electronic copies of the necessary forms needed to legally see you. In addition, they may also send you questionnaires, assessments and request other historical medical information. Do yourself a favor and complete these documents prior to your session. This will allow you more time in the initial session with the therapist and could even prevent you from having to reschedule.
Setting the foundation
The first session of therapy will always look slightly different from the remainder of your sessions. During the first 15 minutes of session most therapists will talk you through what I like to call “housekeeping”. They will review with you much of what is covered in the documents you signed prior to session. This could range from consent, confidentiality, practice policies, to insurance, payment and even scheduling. The remainder of the session will be focused on what has brought you into therapy and what you are hoping to gain from your time with the therapist. Depending on timing, you may even be setting goals with the therapist which will then help guide the direction of your future sessions.
Today is the day! Your first session with a new therapist, now what? Before even scheduling your first appointment you’ve probably felt a lot of different emotions about therapy. Expect these same emotions, and possibly more, to show up when you go into your first session. This is normal, and it’s OK. Upon meeting the therapist, if you are feeling comfortable enough, express some of these emotions. As you continue to build a relationship with your therapist many of these emotions will dissipate and others will arise. Therapy is hard work and can be emotionally draining. Expect to have emotions that range in nature as you progress through the work you are focusing on. It’s not uncommon for people to feel “worse” initially before they feel better. Part of this is because you are unearthing thoughts and emotions that are challenging or may not have faced before so it will feel uncomfortable at times.
No two therapists are alike
Yes, you read that correctly, and no I promise I’m not repeating myself. This is important and one of the aspects of therapy many people may not always consider and can even prevent people from seeking therapy again in the future. No two therapists are alike and there are reasons for this. The obvious one, we are human just like you. We come in all shapes, sizes, and personalities and sometimes those personalities may not align with yours. This is ok! After a few sessions, if you aren’t feeling a connecting with your therapist find a new one. Some people have had unfavorable therapists for a variety of reasons, and this turns them off from finding a new therapist. Know that you may not find the right fit at first, but there are therapists that could absolutely be the right fit and help you accomplish what you are looking for.
If you are interested in starting therapy services or learning more about our team, please check us out! We are here for you in Fuquay-Varina, Raleigh, Wake Forest and online throughout North Carolina.
Holiday Anxiety Tips
The holidays are meant to be a time of joy. Yet, much of what contributes to the joy of the season requires careful consideration and planning. Many people are stretched thin with additional responsibilities during the holidays. This can feel like a burden and create feelings of anxiety and stress. These feelings can lead to a sense of guilt that you are not able to fully appreciate all the joy that the holiday season brings. The stress, anxiety and guilt can become overwhelming. This can impact our ability to enjoy the holiday and interfere with our overall day to day functioning. You can stop this cycle and redefine what holiday joy means in your life, for your own family.
What’s the good news?
The good news is that you are the author of your story. The holidays can be whatever you want them to be and whatever you have room for in your life. The secret is simple. Give yourself permission to let go external pressures that have been weighing on you. Give yourself the time and space to consider what is important to you. Think about what you want your holiday story to be. Allow yourself to say no to things that don’t fit in your life right now. Be okay with less, if less is what is right for you this holiday season.
5 helpful hints for reflecting on your own personal joy this holiday season:
- Remember that good enough is good enough: You don’t have to find the perfect gift or run yourself ragged for the one thing that everyone wants but it’s sold out. Remember that at the end of the day, children very often have trouble recalling gifts but always remember special moments.
- Manage your own expectations: Reflect on the things that are most important to you this holiday season and be sure that your behavior matches those beliefs. Very often we can get caught up doing things out of habit or guilt when it isn’t truly what is important to us.
- Comparison is the thief of joy: Remember that when someone shares a story about their holiday that feels perfect we can acknowledge it and feel happy for them but not feel compelled to do the same thing.
- Prioritize taking care of yourself: Do your best to maintain your schedule. Continue to practice any healthy living habits that alleviate your stress during non-holiday times (working out, eating healthy, reading, time with family/friends).
- Make lists, prioritize, delegate & ask for help: Much like we do in day to day life it is important for us to maintain the strategies that keep us grounded and help us achieve our goals.
Finding Christmas Joy
Remember that joy can be found in a lot of places and not just wrapped up in boxes. Sometimes joy is found in extra time together, shared meals and experiences. Anxiety and stress can make it difficult to find joy but not impossible. Managing your anxiety through the helpful tips above will allow you to feel more in control and thus be more available to access the JOY in your life! Therapy can help! We are here for you!
You may be considering therapy but feel overwhelmed or limited by the financial aspect of it all. In some cases, it can be a little more complex than going to see your primary care doctor. You may decide that you would like to begin therapy but don’t know where to start. You could get referrals from friends, google, or your insurance company. But, what do you do with that information?
Like other medical settings, licensed therapists, or group practices can decide which insurance panels they are on. This means they can decide which insurance companies they are “in-network” with. Some panels are already closed. So, they will not take new providers so sometimes it is impossible for us to get on their panel. Other times, the insurance provider contracts out the mental health coverage. This can be a real pain for everyone. The provider that is on your card is not actually who you have mental health benefits through. For example, you might have Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance for everything except mental health. That might be through another company with which the therapist is not in-network. Confusing right? It is for us therapists too! Usually, clients or therapists can bill an out-of-network claim. But, we never know how much will get covered.
In-network, out-of-network, what?
In some insurance plans, you have to meet their deductible before they will pay anything. Some high deductible plans could have you paying the full rate the entire time you are in therapy. At that point, you might want to consider doing the therapist’s private pay rate instead. There can be major benefits to that! Sometimes you will owe your co-pay. Sometimes that is the primary care co-pay. Other times, mental health falls under the “specialist” co-pay. We can check that for you!
Deductibles, Co-Pays, and Private Pay Rates
In some insurance plans, you have to meet their deductible before they will pay anything. Some high deductible plans could have you paying the full rate the entire time you are in therapy. At that point, you might want to consider doing the therapist’s private pay rate instead. There can be major benefits to that! Sometimes you will just owe your co-pay. Sometimes that is the primary care co-pay and sometimes mental health falls under the “specialist” co-pay. We can check that for you!
Private Pay Benefits
At the end of the day, the most important thing is getting the care and expertise you need. Many times, private pay can be the way to do this. Private pay cuts out all the insurance hassle and has benefits for you. With billing the insurance, the therapist needs to give a diagnosis at the end of the first session. This diagnosis is a part of your health record. Also note that now, couples counseling is not covered by insurance. If you want to start couples counseling and use insurance, we will have to bill it under one person’s name. Then, we will give only one person a diagnosis for the couple. The private pay rate can often also be less expensive than paying the full rate toward your deductible.
Begin Therapy in Wake Forest, NC, Raleigh, NC, or Fuquay Varina, NC
We know that this can be complex and finances can be limiting. But, our team is here to help every step of the way and wants to connect you with the best expert for your situation. Please reach out if you are considering beginning therapy and let us answer your questions. We are here for you in Fuquay-Varina, Raleigh, and Wake Forest. If you are ready to start your therapy journey, follow these simple steps:
Start overcoming the issues affecting you most
Counseling Services Offered at Foundations Family Therapy
We offer a variety of services from our Wake Forest, Raleigh, and Fuquay offices. This includes online therapy in North Carolina, and services for teens, young adults, families, and couples. In addition, we offer Christian counseling, infertility therapy, therapy for anxiety, grief, depression, and recovery from trauma. For more helpful information, visit our blog or FAQ today!