The Benefits of Teen Therapy From A Therapist who ‘Gets it’

Group of teens talking. 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!

So, what’s the deal with teen therapy?

Maybe you are familiar with child- focused therapy, family therapy, or individual therapy but what does teen therapy look like and why can it be so valuable?

Teenagers can sometimes confuse parents and parents can sometimes confuse teenagers. Let’s look at what can be most helpful in focusing on this crucial life stage.

Guidance and support in a safe space.

Let’s face it. Teenagers in 2019 have many competing factors for their attention: peers, parents, social media, school, etc. It can make it difficult to determine who to listen to with all those voices, much less find your own voice. Having a dedicated non-judgmental safe space to unpack and explore struggles can be so beneficial for teens.

Therapists can be trusted mentors to help bridge the gap between parents and teens to increase communication and increase cohesiveness in the family. Therapists respect confidentiality meaning that other than safety concerns, teenagers can express freely which creates the opportunity for personal growth and exploration.

Sorting out the ‘perfect storm.’

The combination of teenage hormones with the onset of mood disorders like depression can create a ‘perfect storm’ for both teens and parents. Therapists can assist with teasing apart the red flags from the ‘typical’ teen behavior and create a focused plan to address symptoms. Parents may notice that their teens are trying to cope with anxiety, managing school academics and pressures, perfectionism, substance use, and low self-esteem or struggles with body image.

If a teen experiences a traumatic event or the loss of a loved one, this adds an additional layer of feelings and thoughts to sort through. Teens are also navigating relationships and friendships on top of determining their own sense of values, priorities, and the ‘who am I?’ question. Having an ally during this time can help with processing and preparing for the next stages of growth and discovery.

Build tools for a lifetime

Learning helpful skills during the teenage years can further accelerate personal development into adulthood. Some examples are learning healthy boundary setting like ways to say no to too many demands and recognizing when to take a break. If teens can apply strategies to reduce depression and anxiety, they will be able to use them again in their adult life as well.

How powerful would it be if teenagers are self-aware to the point of noticing mood changes in themselves and recognizing when they may need support into adulthood? Being able to recognize symptoms of depression or anxiety returning can be so powerful in awareness of early treatment and overall functioning. This awareness can, in turn, impact the stigma of mental health as more people will be mindful and communicative about how they are feeling.

Let’s be a generation that equips our teens with emotional intelligence that serves them well now and into the future.

Want to learn more? Check out the book, ‘How to Talk so Teens will Listen and Listen so Teens will Talk’ for great insight into communication with teenagers.

Wondering if therapy may be beneficial to your teen? Connect with us at FFT and let us partner with your family to find out. 😊

3 Things Everyone Should Know About Sleep And Mental Wellness

Counseling for better sleep | Foundations Family Therapy | Fuquay Varina & Raleigh, NC

Sleep is an essential part of our overall health and wellbeing. When we get quality sleep, our bodies have a chance to recharge so we wake up feeling refreshed and energized. But for some people, quality sleep doesn’t come easy.

Studies show that an estimated 50 to 70 million Americans experience sleep-related problems. Whether it’s oversleeping, insomnia, sleep apnea, or restlessness, lack of quality sleep can really take a toll on your physical and mental health. Here are a few things everyone should know…

Sleep Disorders Can Cause Mental Illness

Over the past few decades, clinicians have changed their perspective on the way they view insomnia and its connection to mental illness. Traditionally, it was thought to be a symptom of a mental health disorder whereas now, it’s believed to also be a contributor. Whatever the cause, it’s important to seek help so you can restore quality sleep and your health.

Insomnia Is One Of The Most Common Sleep Disorders

Insomnia can affect your sleep in many different ways. It’s generally described a sleep disorder that is characterized by difficulty falling and/or staying asleep. Insomnia can really decrease sleep quality when it interferes with getting the recommended amount of sleep each night. Sleep disorders like Insomnia can trigger symptoms of mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression making it a vicious, repetitive cycle.

Medicine Is Not Always The Answer

Medications alone are not always the answer. For example, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can help determine the underlying cause of your sleep disorder in order to restore your wellness. CBT can also help you develop good sleep habits and avoid behaviors that keep you from sleeping well for long term solutions.

Sleep is not a luxury, it’s a necessity even in our busy society. Sleep’s powerful effects on our mental health can’t be ignored. If you’re struggling with your sleep routine, our sleep guide can help get you started on the path of restoration.

Sometimes sleep disorders are related to other underlying causes like depression and anxiety. Our resource page can help you take the first step in wellness. Download our guides today > > DOWNLOADS

3 Ways to Make Feelings Your Friend

EMDR Counseling | Marriage and Family Therapist | Foundations Family Therapy | Raleigh, NC 27606

I just feel like my feelings are a nuisance.’

‘I don’t know what to do with what I feel.’

‘I push down my feelings all the time because I don’t have it as bad as other people.’

I hear these messages daily.

Feelings can be complex and depending on the messages we’ve received about what to do with feelings, it can be hard to accept how we feel and make meaning. Some simple strategies to look at feelings include recognizing feelings through curiosity, make meaning through validation and, explore connections with thoughts and behavior. Let’s make feelings your friend.

Recognizing feelings is the first step in using feelings to your advantage. If you have been exposed to an environment where feelings were not discussed or pushed away, this can be particularly challenging.

Some people are in tune with how they are feeling and for others, it can be a struggle. Try to be a curious observer about how you are feeling. Notice changes in your body such as, ‘Hmmm..I notice my hands are sweaty or I wonder why my stomach has butterflies.’ Do a Google search for ‘feeling wheels’ to help with feeling identification. We may start simply with feeling ‘sad’ but then we can further identify in the feelings wheel as feeling ‘lonely’ which is different than feeling ‘ashamed’ for instance. Clarification is helpful when validating feelings.

Ok, so we’ve identified some feelings, now what?

Often, if you are not used to having feelings validated, it can feel foreign to express it. Some ways to validate feelings can start internally with self-talk. Being aware of the feeling and telling yourself, ‘Ok, I’m feeling frustrated with this work situation right now.’

Journaling is a helpful way to log feelings and notice patterns over time. It also helps with validating that feeling. We know that feelings can come and go so rather than dwelling on the feeling, think of it as an information gathering process.

What is this feeling telling me? Sharing a feeling with a close friend may also be a helpful way to have feelings validated.

So now, feelings have been identified and validated so now we make some connections. In cognitive behavioral therapy, there is a focus on a link between our thoughts, feelings, and behavior in a triangle format. Think about how different thoughts can connect with our feelings and then connect with what we do in a situation. For instance, I have a thought that I am doing too much at work and this makes me feel worried, so I choose to talk with my supervisor about changing my workload.

If you notice patterns in your feelings related to certain situations or people, think about possible action steps that may help you in resolving that situation. Maybe it means reaching out to someone or changing habits in your life or creating more space for self-reflection.

Remember feelings aren’t your enemy!

Feelings tell us something, but it is up to us to pay attention an acknowledge them. If you have trouble with identifying, validating, or making meaning of your feelings, connect with me and I’d love to help you further explore how feelings can be your friend.

Renee Pugh, LCSW

The Best Ways To Calm An Anxious Mind

Boy looking out the window for anxiety calming and coping. Family Counseling in Fuquay Varina, NC 27526 is available to Foundations Family Therapy in Raleigh, NC 27606. You can also get online therapy in North Carolina!

Sometimes the “what ifs” in life can get the best of you. The emotional instability anxiety brings is consuming. Racing, anxious thoughts can interfere with your ability to focus. You might become fearful, withdraw from things you love, and overthink everything.

Don’t brush anxiety off as something you have to live with. Next time you feel racing, uneasy thoughts start to form, try calming your mind with these tips.

Label Your Feelings

When anxious thoughts come on, don’t try to ignore them and let them build up. Instead, label your feelings to help you better understand your personal mental process. If you are worried about losing something, label it as Worrying. This helps simplify your thoughts and fears which can help you gain clarity.

Stay Present

Anxious thoughts are often caused by losing sight of mindfulness. Revisiting past events? Going over all of the ‘what ifs’ in an endless cycle in your head? You can fight anxious thoughts by being present. Just because something bad happened in the past doesn’t mean it will happen today.

Stay Active

Worrying about something will not change the outcome so why not keep busy? When you feel anxious, try redirecting your train of thought. Go for a walk. Think about a positive memory or event. Stay busy with work, hobbies and things that make you happy!

Most importantly, decide whether or not a thought is helpful. If the thought isn’t inspiring happiness or providing positive value to your life then label it and try move on. The more you practice these tips the better you’ll understand your mental process.

Struggling with Anxiety? Start with our free download HERE

Freedom From Anxiety & Depression Weekend Intensive

Woman looking up in the sunset. Family Counseling in Fuquay Varina, NC 27526 is available to Foundations Family Therapy in Raleigh, NC 27606. You can also get online therapy in North Carolina!

Foundations Center For Trauma Recovery is pleased to announce our upcoming weekend intensive. Lead by Foundation’s Sharon Sheppard, LMFT, CCPT, join us to pave the way for a brighter 2019 by learning how to alleviate depression and manage anxiety and stress by learning new ways to respond to your own thoughts and feelings.

Learn how to stop living on autopilot! We’ll work to align your thoughts with your realty and accept unpleasant experiences as part of life. It’s time to learn how to treat yourself with kindness!

Friday, March 22 6:30-8:30 pm

Saturday, March 23 10-4

Friday, March 29 6:30-8:30 pm


Sign Up Here

How To Be The Best Version Of You This Year

Couple holding hands and looking happy after therapy. Family Counseling in Fuquay Varina, NC 27526 is available to Foundations Family Therapy in Raleigh, NC 27606. You can also get online therapy in North Carolina!

I’m going to do _____ in 2019”, insert any popular resolution (lose weight, exercise more, save money, get a better job) – sound familiar?

As millions of Americans make resolutions to better themselves this year, there’s one big resolution that’s often overlooked and it’s mental wellness. Achieving mental wellness is not about changing who you are. It’s not about losing 40lbs or saving up for an elaborate vacation. Mental wellness is about being the best version of YOU!

The good news is that everyone can achieve mental wellness with the right tools, mindset, and guidance, but it all starts with proper self-care. After all, you can’t always control what life throws your way, but you can control how you take care of yourself. Here’s a quick lesson…

Create Downtime

Notice how we didn’t necessarily say “find a hobby?” That’s because self-care is about what’s best for you! Finding the time to do something healthy that you enjoy (even if it’s technically not a hobby) is beneficial for your mind and happiness. If scrapbooking helps you unwind, then stick with it! The point is to relax and destress in your downtime. Find something that takes your mind off of things and encourages mindfulness so you can live in the present moment.

Develop A Positive Mindset

Much of what we experience in life can feel more or less stressful based on our attitude. Sometimes, it’s really all about your point of view. Ever notice how some people handle life’s challenges with ease while others are shaken to their core? It’s all about perception and building resilience. Start by focusing on gratitude so you’ll start to see the glass half full.

Embrace Meditation/Prayer

Prayer and meditation can nurture your mind and soul. Many people feel a deeper sense of connection and comfort during prayer or meditation. Spirituality and/or religion can provide comfort and joy in your life. It can also help you reconnect with yourself. Being alone with your thoughts brings clarity.

This year, don’t fall victim to failure and burnout trying to keep up with popular resolutions. Do what works for you. Focus on improving yourself and learn to welcome happiness. We can help you create a self-care plan for the near year that works with your lifestyle and beliefs. Give us a call today!

Trauma-Sensitive Yoga: A Journey To Healing

You’ve probably heard about the benefits of yoga. It’s a great way to strengthen your mind and body.   It’s a spiritual and physical discipline with Indian roots that date back centuries before our time. There’s a lot of mainstream buzz surrounding the healthy benefits of yoga. But, there’s a lesser known purpose you might not know about. 

Now, there’s growing evidence that aspects of yoga can be used to promote healing for individuals with trauma. As a trauma professional, this exciting and promising news is life changing.

Trauma is a generic and broad word. So, let’s get more specific about the type of trauma that’s often healed by trauma informed yoga. 

Research and professional experience indicates that Individuals with complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD), developmental trauma, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may all benefit from trauma informed yoga.

The specific benefits include helping clients regain comfort in their bodies, counteract rumination—re-thinking the same thoughts repeatedly which can quickly increase anxiety and deepen depression and help improve self-regulation—one’s ability to manage emotions effectively.

We’ve all heard the stories of people displaying superhuman strength in the face of physical adversity; lifting a car off someone trapped below or treading water for hours or days until help arrives. This ability is because of the brain’s ability to respond immediately to threatening situations with a surge of stress hormones. We call it fight or flight mode, but few folks know about the brain’s third optional response mode of freeze. 

In describing the freeze response, Peter Levine uses the example of a cheetah stalking an impala.  When the cheetah catches its prey, the impala falls to the ground and plays dead to protect himself.  The numbness will lessen the pain or terror that would normally follow even if its killed. 

Fight, flight and freeze are all normal responses to extreme threat.  It becomes a problem when responses persist in the body after the danger has passed.  Bessel van der Kolk, a pioneer in the field of trauma, describes trauma as “hijacking the body.”  The body, along with the mind, remains in a state of high alert (fight or flight) or under-arousal (freeze). Trauma takes a heavy toll on the body—the body absorbs and anticipates trauma making the individual more likely to be hyper-alert, hyper-aroused and unable to calm themselves.

How does this relate to trauma informed yoga? 

Through trauma informed yoga, the body is given the opportunity to let go of the need to fight, flee or freeze. This is taught by learning to release tension, reduce fear, and tolerate body sensation. Trauma informed yoga helps you learn to calm your mind and calm your physical responses too, and, in turn, your emotions.

Furthermore, it can help you regain a feeling of safety inside your own body. At first glance, trauma informed yoga looks a lot like traditional yoga. But, once you begin the class, the differences become apparent. 

Trauma informed yoga does not focus on poses, or breathing. It’s about letting the body feel what it feels, without judgement and with a developing knowledge that it is safe in this place and safe within your own body.

I’m beginning a trauma informed yoga class on Thursday, October 5th from 10 to 11 am. 

There are two requirements to attend the class; you have a trauma history, and you are currently active in therapy addressing your trauma. If you fall into both of those categories, I’d love to have you join us on Friday mornings at 10 am. 

If you read this post and think, “this describes me but I’m not in therapy,” please give us a call! We have several trauma therapists available to meet with you individually. 

I look forward to you joining us as we work toward establishing a safe place in class and, most importantly, within your body.

Sharon Sheppard

A Five-Step Guide to Healing Emotional Trauma

If you’ve experienced an extremely stressful or disturbing event that’s left you feeling hopeless and emotionally unstable, you may have been traumatized. Emotional trauma can leave you struggling with difficult emotions, memories, flashbacks and anxiety that won’t go away. Trauma can also leave you feeling numb and disconnected from others. It’s not something you can just “get over”. Healing from emotional trauma is a process. Luckily, there are things you can do to speed up your recovery.

Step One: Reestablish a Routine

After a traumatic event, getting back to a routine can help speed up the healing process. There’s comfort in the familiar. Even if your professional routine is disrupted from the trauma, try to establish a new normal with things like eating, sleeping and spending time with others who support you.

Step Two: Get Moving

Physical activity has many proven health benefits. It can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, stress, and memory loss. Exercise works as an instant mood boost which is essential when recovering from trauma. Burn off adrenaline and release endorphins that lead to healthy, holistic healing. This is why we offer yoga at our Trauma Center in Raleigh specifically designed for healing trauma.

Step Three: Stay Connected

Healthy relationships, group activities, and social events are beneficial to those healing from trauma. The most important thing is NOT to isolate. You might fell unsure about others. Some emotional trauma sufferers are unable to trust others. Support and open communication are essential in healing.

Step Four: Eat Right

Food is fuel for your body. Your thoughts and feelings can be affected by what you eat. The gut-brain connection is an essential part of overall wellness. Your gut and brain are connected through millions of nerves. Fermented foods (like yogurt) and Omega-3 fats are great choices to help ensure your gut-brain connection runs smoothly.

Step Five: Join a Support Group

You don’t have to suffer alone. Our Trauma Center in Raleigh, NC, offers specific support and healing for those who suffer from trauma. Work with a professional who can help you heal. Our team can help you gain freedom from your struggles.

Learn more about our Trauma Recovery Center and the programs available for holistic healing.

3 Dangerous Myths About Postpartum Depression

Postpartum depression is more common than you think! Studies show that around 1 in 7 women experience postpartum depression and/or anxiety at some point in their lives. Unfortunately, PPD is often misunderstood which further complicates an already frustrating time in a mother’s life. We’re putting the spotlight on Postpartum Depression and Anxiety by shattering these three damaging myths.

1. It will go away on it’s own. Postpartum depression and anxiety are not minor issues that should be dismissed or brushed aside. Suppressing feelings of sadness and anxiety will only make them worse. The good news is that PPD is highly treatable! Remember, it’s not just something that you can “get over” on your own.

2. Women with PPD cause harm. Most women who suffer from PPD will NOT cause harm to themselves or their children. In fact, this is a very dangerous misconception. Having PPD does not make you a bad mother or person. It’s normal to experience feelings of guilt and sadness. These feelings usually lead to symptoms like withdraw and depression.

3. Women with PPD cry constantly. You can never really know what a person is going through on their journey. With PPD, the range of symptoms looks different for every woman. Some women do cry often. Others experience anger and resentment. Some moms suffer in silence. Even women with mild or moderate symptoms of PPD should seek treatment for a happier life.

Above all, don’t let the misconceptions stop you from getting help. In order to get on the road to healing, it’s important to work with a licensed professional who understands perinatal and postpartum concerns.

At Foundations Family Therapy, Elizabeth Edwards works with women struggling with parenting and perinatal/ postpartum concerns. She can help with feelings of anxiety, guilt and sadness in a mother’s life.

What Is Faith-Based Therapy?

Unlike traditional forms of therapy, faith-based counselors combine theology and spirituality with modern behavior science. Faith-based counselors help people with the same problems as do traditional counselors like anxiety, depression, and relationship problems. This unique approach to therapy is perfect for someone who relies on faith as a pillar of their wellbeing. Faith, religion and spirituality are complex in nature.

One of the goals of faith-based therapy is to integrate one’s faith into their treatment. The foundation of this type of therapy is built on respect and support.

Remember, it’s common to feel alone in your struggles, to have doubts, and questions. It can be hard to reconcile thoughts, behaviors and choices with faith beliefs. You might be troubled by tough times in life and start to question elements of your faith.

No matter what you are facing, we’re here to walk with you on the journey of faith and healing.

As with many of our services at Foundations Family Therapy, we treat our faith-based patients with a holistic approach. It’s a way for faith and modern science to combine and treat the person as a whole.

Our faith-based counselors are committed to respect and understanding no matter what your beliefs. Your faith and faith resources are an important part of your life even during times of struggle. We can help you navigate the journey in the context of your faith by developing a deeper understanding of grace and healing.