Suicide Prevention Month

suicide prevention month

September is Suicide Prevention Month and we at Foundations Family Therapy want to be part of the solution to end the stigma of suicidal thoughts and help everyone know the signs that someone you love could be experiencing suicidal thoughts.

The first thing to note is there are different tiers of suicidal behavior. The first is suicidal ideation. This can range from thoughts of “I don’t want to do anything” to “hurt or kill myself” but sometimes “I wish I could just not wake up” to contemplating suicide on a regular basis.

The next step is suicidal plans. This could be someone who has moved from the desire to be dead into making a plan of how they would kill themselves.

Lastly, suicide attempts are the last stage of suicidal behavior. This is someone who has moved from thinking, to planning, to taking action and is the most serious.

Many people who experience suicidal thoughts have some common signs. These include talking about death or suicide, feelings of hopelessness, withdrawing from friends and family, verbalizing that they are a burden to others, losing interest in activities they used to enjoy, extreme mood swings, giving away possessions, or saying goodbye to people they care about.

Don’t be afraid to ask your child or someone you care about if they are experiencing suicidal thoughts. You are not going to “give them the idea” if they are already having these thoughts. Many times, people want someone to ask and acknowledge how they are feeling and will tell you honestly.

If you or someone you love is experiencing suicidal thoughts, don’t wait, act. If they verbalize a suicide plan or have attempted suicide, please call 911 immediately or take them to your local hospital.

If they are voicing suicidal ideation without plans or means, please reach out to a licensed mental health provider about getting them help or reach out to their doctor immediately. You are not alone and there is help available.

*The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255)*

Elizabeth Edwards, LMFT

Thriving During Stressful Situations

How to manage stress

Your body feels tense, sleep is up and down, time feels like it is slipping and as soon as you feel like you have a bit of a footing on life, one more thing comes and demands your attention.

It’s hard to know what a social life looks like before COVID – but now?

It feels like survival is the only option. Thriving during stress appears to be a far-off, whimsical idea.

Well, if you somehow squeezed in the chance to read this – pause – resist the urge to skim through and think “that had some nice thoughts” and continue buzzing through your day.


Close your eyes, if you’d like, and let yourself rest and notice all the ways in which your body and mind have been on overdrive.

As you observe the places where tension and tiredness is sitting – ask yourself how those parts of yourself have been serving you.

Are your muscles stiff and joints aching? Does your head feel like it’s swimming? Are you to the point it feels like your eyes want to close but they can’t? Does it feel like you are carrying more than you feel able? You’ve been giving so much of yourself that your body is starting to hold what you have not had time to process. Or maybe you feel if you slowed down you worry there is too much to process, and it’s easier to just keep going?

You don’t have to just “get by.” It’s time to ask for help and unburden yourself. Challenge the idea that there is nowhere to turn to. Question the thought that it’s not worth reflecting on the matters at hand. Ask yourself – is this sustainable? It’s time to move from “surviving” to thriving!

Here are some suggestions.

Turn towards your faith.

Maybe it’s been some time since you’ve felt connected to your faith or you’ve fallen away. You’re not alone! Many people fluctuate with their connection to their faith identity for many reasons. Here is a great book to look into on this: “It’s Not Supposed to Be this Way – Finding Unexpected Strength when Disappointments Leave You Shattered” by Lysa Terkeurst

Find a way to renew yourself.

Give yourself permission to care for yourself and your needs. It’s not selfish! If you ever have been on a plane, the flight attendants will inform you that in case of emergency, you need to put on your own oxygen mask before you help the person beside you. What is your best way to “get some oxygen,” so to speak? Is it a day trip to the beach or the mountains? Painting? Gardening? Building a puzzle while listening to your favorite music? Is there a way to build silence and rest into your day?

Ask for help.

Many people feel they have to endure trial alone – that what they are experiencing is “too much” or a “burden” for others. Others feel they will be judged and misunderstood. Not relying on others means spreading yourself thin and is a recipe for burnout. If this is true for you, please reach out. What does your support system look like? If you are not sure who to trust or are struggling to find healing, make an appointment with a counselor who seems like a good fit for your needs – that’s what counselors are here for!

You are not meant to go this alone. If you feel like you are trying to survive and are struggling to get by, know this – you are meant to thrive, even when times are stressful!

Jessica Block MA, NCC, LCMHCA

How To Curb Negative Thinking

Negative Thinking

We’ve all been there…

Lost in a downward spiral of negative thinking. It’s a self-defeating cycle fueled by doubt and anxiety. It continues to build and gain momentum like a snowball down a hill taking out everything in its path.

These feelings are only intensified for those who suffer from depression and anxiety. Negative thinking can easily feel like quicksand if left unmanaged.

The good news is you can stop negative thinking in its tracks and move forward in positivity. Here are a few things to keep in mind…

Be Present

One of the best ways to stop negative thinking is to refocus your energy on the current moment. Stop and be present. The next time you feel yourself spiraling into negativity, remember to shift your thinking to the here and now.

Mindfulness techniques work to help keep you present and focused on the current moment. There are several mindfulness practices you can use to stop anxious thoughts from flooding in. Focus on your breathing. Let go of all the “what-ifs” and negative self-talk.

Tune Into Your Thoughts

You are not your thoughts.

When your thoughts are negative, they can make you feel sad, angry, and confused. Remember, thoughts are never the real you! Let your thoughts come…process them…and let them go.

As you process your thoughts, think about why you might be feeling a certain way. Many times, there’s an underlying cause to your negativity that you can work out on a deeper level. Don’t be afraid to reach out for support!

Set Healthy Boundaries

Setting healthy boundaries in all areas of your life can help you thrive! Boundaries are important in relationships with others and with ourselves. Avoid feeling overwhelmed by learning when (and how) to say “no”. Also, don’t fall victim to the comparison trap social media sometimes presents.

When you feel your thoughts spiraling negatively, take a step back.

Stop and listen—ask yourself why they are happening.

Once you do, set some boundaries that will prevent a downward spiral of negativity in the future.

Everyone experiences negative thoughts from time to time but it’s important no to let them spiral and ruin your entire day. We’re here to help you to gain control over your thoughts and feelings. Give our office a call today!

3 Ways To Prioritize Your Mental Wellness During The Phase 2 of Reopening in NC

Governor Cooper just announced that Phase 2 begins at 5:00 p.m. on Friday, May 22,2020, and remains in place until June 26, 2020, unless changed or canceled.

Phase 2 is all about the transition from “Stay At Home” to “Safer At Home”. But we know that transitions can be difficult for some people. We’ve all been asked to change and adapt in unprecedented ways because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It some ways, these changes have taken an emotional toll on people. In other ways, we’ve learned to practice gratitude and find joy in the little things that make life so great.

If you feel like the past few months have been an emotional roller coaster, you’re not alone! Studies show that the Coronavirus is causing a historic rise in mental health problems. New polls indicated Americans are feeling more anxious than ever- especially over concerns for the health and safety of those they love.

So how can we move forward during this period of transition in health and happiness?

Move At Your Own Pace

Remember, just because you can go out doesn’t mean you should. Don’t feel pressured to follow in line with what others are doing. Understand your risks, know how to stay safe, and find ways to keep living your life. What works for you and your family might be different from what your neighbor is doing.

Practice Self-Care

Self-care during a period of transition is an essential part of your mental wellness. Personal self-care routines vary and there’s no right or wrong way to practice self-care. The bottom line is making yourself a priority! Whether that’s going to visit your favorite salon during its reopening or for a quick walk around your neighborhood, make your health and happiness a priority.

Build Resilience

Above all, try to maintain a positive mindset. Remember, this won’t last forever. Find the beauty in your ‘new normal’ so you can focus on all that you have. This period of change, transition, and adaptation can help us all build a little more resilience in our lives.

We know that building resilience, adapting to change, and finding personal happiness in life isn’t always easy. Our team is here to walk with you through your struggles. Many of our providers are still offering teletherapy appointments that can help you adjust accordingly while staying safe at home. Don’t hesitate to give us a call today!

Responding to Feelings of Grief in the Midst of COVID-19

Woman sitting on couch with head in her hands after domestic violence or sexual assualt in Raleigh, NC. Therapy for survivors at Foundations Family Therapy can help!

Grief can be a natural response to what’s happening in our world right now.

There’s a shift and a sense of loss for the ways things were.

We’re preparing for how things may have to be.

Life as we know it looks very different as we “social distance” ourselves and many of our expectations and way of life have had to rapidly change. What we never imagined having to worry about is affecting us. The novelty is beginning to transform.

This is new and this is hard.

The thing is, our new norm can look both similar and different from our coworker who is also running a school for their kids at home, our friend who works as a nurse in a hospital, or our next-door neighbor who is elderly and also a widow.

Some might have had to re-think what walking down the aisle looks like, someone you know may soon be delivering a new life into the world, and many have to face the heartbreak of not walking across the stage for their well-earned diploma. What grief are you facing? What should you do about it?

Tending to your needs.

Give yourself time to make space for what is difficult. You can do this by setting a timer to journal, lighting a candle to pray at night, or taking a walk to have a space big enough to hold what you are going through. It is important to find a way to both open and close the space and time you are in to create a container for your grief – so it doesn’t flood into the rest of your day and become debilitating.

Creating hope – not despair

While social distancing has limited our ability to physically be present with one another, it has not taken away our ability to connect.

What I can’t help but notice is that our spirit as a community has not been extinguished – on the contrary – it has inspired us to create.

As I write this the Easter Bunny will be coming down my street in a fire truck today, after three hours of going down every neighborhood in my town. While it feels a little cheesy, I also notice a sense of excitement for my daughter to be able to squeal with joy and clap her hands at the sight.

I pray that hope – not despair – may fill your lives during these times as we see and respond to each other’s loss and needs. Together, we will see this through.

Jessica Block, Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor Associate

Coronavirus Update: Online Counseling Only

A woman types on a laptop as she holds coffee in one hand. Contact an anxiety therapist in Wake Forest, NC for support with depression treatment, family therapy in Fuquay Varine, NC and more!

In a time where so much is unknown, take comfort in knowing our team at Foundations Family Therapy is here for you! Social distancing and limiting human contact are essential when it comes to flattening the curve and we’re stepping up to do our part.

​Effective Wednesday, March 25th, we will be servicing our clients via online sessions only. Book Your Session Today ​

​Online therapy offers secure, convenient, and easy to access care in a time when you need it most. Also, many major insurance companies have agreed to pay for Telehealth services the same as they would pay for in-office visits. This means your out of pocket cost should be the same for Telehealth services as it is for in-person office visits. They have agreed to continue this throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

​Our team at Foundation’s Family Therapy remains committed to doing everything that we can to provide you a safe and comfortable environment for wellness. We look forward to connecting with you and moving forward together in health and happiness.

​Jamie Criswell MS, LMFT

Telehealth During COVID-19 at Foundations Family Therapy

Photo of woman getting telehealth therapy on a computer screen with text "We now offer secure video appointments. Telehealth powered by Simplepractice" for online therapy in North Carolina

At Foundations Family Therapy, the health and safety of our clients, staff, and community is our top priority. For those who are in the midst of social distancing and hunkering down and home to stay safe, we’re offering telehealth services for optimal wellness.

Here are a few helpful resources to help you get started. Head to our homepage and schedule your telehealth appointment today!

How To Stay Calm During The Coronavirus COVID19 Outbreak in Wake County

COVID-19 Pregnancy | Anxious and depressed pregnant woman in pain and lying on the side on the sofa. Holding a hand on the tummy.

By Jamie Criswell, MS, LMFT

It’s hard to avoid the headlines: “5 new cases reported in Wake county today”; “person with positive case traveled through RDU”. Everywhere you turn (even if you’re not looking), there is news of the widespread coronavirus COVID19. The fact that this particular strain of the virus is something the world has never seen, has led to a growing panic for most of us.

Facts not fear

Maybe you are hanging on every word of information, doing research and checking every news station for the next development.

It’s natural to want to gather all of the data, to learn as much as possible about something new; especially something that the human population has never dealt with. Anytime there is something new, there is a natural inclination to want to know more about it. When that new thing is something good (say the new iPhone or a movie) it creates excitement. However, when the new thing is something that can harm us it evokes a reaction of fear.

Flight or Fight

The initial response to a perceived threat against ourselves or our loved ones is a flight or fight response. We either decide (usually very quickly) to run and hide or to stay and prepare to fight or defend ourselves.

The response creates a surge of adrenaline and cortisone in our bodies to prepare us to respond quickly. Once we have responded and the threat is lessened or goes away, we begin to feel calmer. 

What’s different about the flight or fight response that occurs from the coronavirus COVID 19 outbreak, is that it happens over and over again. Every time we see a notification on our phones, every new headline or news conference, every gif or meme reminding us that even entertainment serves as a reminder of a potential threat.

Even a trip down the toilet paper aisle can cause a flood of panic (“oh my gosh everyone’s out of toilet paper, I’m not prepared!”).  The flight or fight response gets triggered repeatedly and sometimes the body can get stuck there and not return to baseline because the perceived threat hasn’t “gone away”.

This can cause intrusive thoughts, (“I’m going to catch coronavirus”), irrational fears (“I’m going to be stuck in my house for weeks and I’m going to run out of food, water, and toilet paper”), problems sleeping (waking up after falling asleep or difficulty falling asleep) and psychosomatic symptoms (headaches, GI trouble caused by anxiety and stress).

How to Manage the Fear

It’s important to be aware of the reality of what is going on in the world around us, especially if there are precautions and other things that we can take to protect ourselves and others. Trying to minimize anxiety or fear by avoiding it altogether is not helpful. But the other side of avoidance is panic, which is also not helpful.

So what can we do to deal with the fears and anxiety over the coronavirus, and still keep our sanity?

Here are a few tips that could help:

Tip 1: Stop Instructive thoughts 

Recognize intrusive thoughts for what they are: your brain processing fear and exaggerating worst-case scenarios and stop them in their tracks. Then replace them with logical thoughts. 

Intrusive thought: “I’m going to catch the coronavirus COVID 19” 

Recognize the thought and acknowledge it: “I’m feeling fearful of the unknowns of this virus and am scared of what would happen if I or someone I care for were to get it”

Replace the thought: “I (or someone I care about) do not have any symptoms currently and have not traveled to a high-risk area. I am ok and will take precautions but will not panic”

Tip 2: Know the Facts:

Learn the facts about the virus, how it spreads, who is at highest risk and steps you can take to prevent it.   If you are at low risk of either contracting COVID 19 or are at low risk of complications from it if you do contract it, this can help keep your thoughts grounded and your fear at a realistic level.

If your risk level (or a loved one’s risk level) is high due to age or pre-existing conditions, then your concerns about contracting the coronavirus are realistic and taking recommended steps to protect yourself and your loved ones can help to reduce your anxiety and prevent panic. 

Knowledge can be good to help us understand something better and can help calm our fears because we gain a sense of being able to control the things that are in our control. This can be a positive step when that control is grounded in reality.  

Tip 3: Be Prepared and Take Action

The problem is that the flight or fight response can make us go into overdrive thinking we need to prepare for the worst #coronapocalypse. And will leave us with enough pantry items and cleaning supplies to last a decade. Our attempt to gain control of something that feels out of control is a coping skill to reduce anxiety but is not a great one when taken to an extreme level. The problem with fear is that it’s often not grounded in reality and can quickly escalate to panic.

Instead of stockpiling all the things, take a deep breath and think through the items you truly need that can be helpful, and the things you can do to be prepared and protect yourself and others. These things are listed here by UNC  and the CDC but to summarize; hand washing, avoiding close contact with people; no shaking hands; avoid traveling to places with high-risk levels. 

Tip 4: Stay Grounded and Healthy 

We know that the mind and body are interconnected. The flood of chemical responses your body gets when in flight or fight are meant to be temporary. When these are sustained over time it can make you feel bad; headaches, tiredness, agitation and put a strain on your immune system and overall well-being.

Taking steps to stay healthy both mentally and physically is always important but possibly even more so when faced with the current epidemic.

Ways to Stay Healthy During the Wake County Coronavirus Outbreak:

  • Eat well: be mindful of your intake. Reduce sugar and too much caffeine(which increases anxiety). Lots of fruits and vegetables.
  • Take care of your body and mind:  exercise, go for a walk, spend time outdoors
  • Connect with your people: talk to and engage with  your friends, support groups, family, church, small groups
  • Consider alternative treatments (we’ve linked some of our favorites in the Fuquay Varina and Raleigh areas): chiropractic care, massage therapy, counseling, acupuncture can all help your body and mind be at an optimal level of wellness
  •  Practice selfcare: yoga, volunteering, helping others, taking vitamins and supplements and using essential oils could also be helpful.
  • Connecting to your Faith: Prayer and meditation help us stay grounded and put our faith in the God that is sovereign over it all.

Tip 5: Guard your mind from the continuous stream of information 

Finally, after you have gathered the facts, prepared accordingly based on this knowledge and recommendations and are taking steps to prevent infection you might consider guarding your mind to help you stay calm. This may mean turning off notifications for breaking news stories, not watching certain programs or stations that are going to be reporting about the virus and being mindful about the material you are consuming.  In his article Hysteria Drives Clicks, Joshua Becker over at Becoming minimalist breaks down the rationale behind the need to guard our minds and be intentional about the material that we consume.

Our Therapists Understand Fear and Foundations Family Therapy Is Here to Help!

We know the fear is real and can feel overwhelming, and we hope that some of the above tips will be helpful.   If you find yourself unable to shake the fears or worries, we would be happy to talk with you. We want you to thrive in every season of life (even in one that contains the coronavirus COVID 19), so if you’re struggling with anxiety, fear or panic we’re here and ready to help.  To begin counseling in Wake County, take these steps today:

  1. Contact our therapy practice
  2. Schedule an appointment with one of our Raleigh Therapists or Fuquay Varina Therapists.
  3. Work through your fears with a professional counselor and start thriving in the midst of the coronavirus chaos.

Other Counseling Services at Foundations Family Therapy

Our team of skilled counselors can support you with more than couples and marriage therapy. We also provide services for teen counseling, anxiety treatment, depression therapy, trauma and PTSD counseling, and christian counseling. We are here to help you and your family thrive in all areas of your life.

The Mental Health Benefits of Cleaning Your Home

Swiffer or other floor duster on wood floor. Mental health benefits of cleaning your home during COVID 19 in North Carolina

Many of us try to do our best to keep up with household chores and cleaning. But, no matter how hard we try, it seems like clutter always finds a way to creep back in our lives. Between work, after-school activities, playdates and everything in between, it’s easy to understand how clutter can sneak back in so easily.

If you dread cleaning, there’s actually a bright side according to psychological research. A recent study discovered that cleaning up messes actually can have a positive impact on your mental health and happiness.

So, if you want to destress, pick up your broom! Here’s why…

Spring Cleaning For Your Mind

The British Journal of Sports Medicine reported that only twenty minutes of physical activity was enough to decrease stress levels! Over 3,000 people surveyed reported that regular housework was enough to decrease anxiety and stress levels. While cleaning isn’t a cure-all, that percentage can really help boost your energy and calm your nerves.

On a deeper level, mental clutter can interfere with our clarity and create emotional baggage. Sometimes, external factors can interfere with your joy in life. Therefore, the problem is not in finding things that bring you joy, but in de-cluttering, your life so unhealthy distractions don’t get in the way.

Decluttering mentally is a little deeper than just getting rid of clothes you don’t wear anymore. It’s about reevaluating your thinking patterns and problem solving methods. It’s about relationships you’ve outgrown or ones that no longer serve you.

Sometimes, you can’t fully appreciate the joys in life because of mental clutter. This year, as you dive into spring cleaning, think about decluttering your mind to create joy, peace, and fulfillment.

Our team can help you identify the joys in your life as well as the challenges that stand in the way. Let’s work together on your journey to thrive!

How To Cultivate A Healthy Post-Holiday Mindset For 2020

Person looking sad after the holidays. Foundations Family Therapy in Raleigh, NC 27606 provides family counseling in Fuquay Varina, NC 27526. Online therapy in North Carolina is also available with an online therapist in North Carolina from Foundations Family Therapy!

Sometimes it’s hard to find inspiration – especially when you’re down.

Maybe the holidays have left you feeling a little derailed from your normal routine. All of the shopping, late nights and overeating can leave anyone in a major post-holiday slump this time of year.

However, as you go through this transition from the holidays back to your daily routine, it’s more important than ever to give your body and mind what they need. Here are some ways you and your family can start 2020 off on the right foot.

Rely On Your Relationships

Finding support when you need it can really be a troublesome thought for some. It’s not always easy to ask for help. Healthy relationships and connections help release feel-good neurotransmitters dopamine and oxytocin flood the brain’s reward centers, creating a deeper sense of happiness and an elevated mood.

Don’t be afraid to reach out! Having someone to talk to about your feelings whether we are stressed, angry, sad, excited, or happy is important! It is unhealthy to always have to keep our thoughts and feelings balled up.

Celebrate You

Don’t get stuck in the comparison trap social media can spark! Move at your own pace in 2020. Break down your post-holiday chores and tasks into manageable goals to help you avoid feeling overwhelmed. People who have higher self-esteem and fewer stressors in their lives tend to fare better with social comparisons.

Focus on your strengths! Instead of dwelling on your weaknesses or imperfections, celebrate your talents. Feel good about what makes you unique and use your strengths to the best of your ability.

Stay Mindful

Instead of setting a deprivation-based resolution, try focusing on positivity this year. Forget about short-term “resolutions” and focus more on developing healthy habits that will improve your overall health and wellness.

Whatever resolution or lifestyle change you pledge to make this year, it’s
essential to stay mindful every day. Mindfulness helps you stay focused which is important when goal setting. Mindfulness can help you…

Stop procrastinating and start getting real work done by controlling your
attention….end the negative cycle of self-criticism and stay focused on your goals instead of every little mistake along the way…mindfulness can do so many things!

Above all, it’s important to take care of yourself in 2020 and beyond. We understand it’s not always easy to stay mindful, optimistic, and nurture your relationships when you are suffering from depression.

If you or someone you love is struggling to thrive…our compassionate team at Foundations Family Therapy is here for you!