Join us for a come and go OPEN HOUSE at our new 2nd location.
November 1st, 2018
4 to 7 pm
10333 Harwin, Suite 375D
Come meet our therapists and see our new second office location!
Our WEST therapists:
Our WEST therapists:
The self is our sense of personal identity, it is a mental picture that we have of ourselves based on a number of things. The self is comprised of our moods, cognitions, behaviors, and relationships. Furthermore, the self is made up of our unique personal traits, physical characteristics, abilities, values, roles, and goals. Our sense of self begins to develop as young children and continues to develop throughout our lifetime. The experiences that we encounter throughout our lives have an impact on who we are and how we perceive ourselves. At times, it can be easy to lose our sense of self due to the interactions that we have with others, particularly loved ones. It is because of this that it is important to have a clear understanding of who we are.
Developing greater self-awareness is a necessary skill to learn if one is interested in growing as a more balanced and confident adult. Self-awareness is the extent to which we are focusing on and aware of our own self- concept. Our self-concept can be accessible for short periods of times like when we are in front of a mirror and we suddenly become aware of ourselves, or for longer periods of time like when we are clear and aware of our sexual preference. Because self-awareness comes and goes it is easy to lose sight of who are, and therefore more likely to violate our own values and norms. This is especially true when we are in a group setting where there is more pressure to conform to the group mentality.
Increasing self-awareness can be achieved through a number of mindful and intentional practices. As mentioned earlier, it is a skill to develop, and therefore requires time and intentionality. One of the best ways to gain greater self-awareness is to process your life story with a mental health professional who can help you gain greater insight into yourself. Seeking the help of a counselor can not only help you become more self-aware, but also can help you understand yourself better. Another way to practice self-awareness is by committing to dedicating 15-20 minutes of your day to exploring yourself and what you are about. You might even consider writing down ideas about who you are and what your values and beliefs are in order to gain greater clarity. Lastly, one way to learn more about yourself is through personality tests like the famous Myers-Briggs or the Enneagram personality assessment.
Being clear about who you are is essential for going through life, and learning to develop further self-awareness is a skill that can be developed through mindful and intentional practice. Because our sense of self is influenced and molded by the world around us, it is important to be clear about where we stand in that world. Our sense of self develops as we go through life, and because of this practicing self-awareness can aid in growing as balanced and confident adults.
For more information on the self and how to achieve greater awareness of the self, please visit: https://www.enneagraminstitute.com/type-descriptions/
Parental conflict is inevitable. It’s going to happen. There is also a clear link between interparental conflict and children’s behavioral and emotional problems, in both divorced and intact families. However, parents can fight in ways that fosters positive outcomes in their children.
Research has shown that the content of the argument is less impactful on childhood development than the way decisions are handled by the parents. Kids are constantly learning how to interact and engage by watching their parents. Throwing verbal low-blows, criticizing and blaming back and forth demonstrates a lack of respect for each other. (Even worse, you may find your middle-schooler responding just as disrespectfully to you and to others!) Instead, choose to put away defensiveness, be curious about the perspective of your spouse, and treat them kindly.
This does not mean one parent just giving in to the other parent though. “We did a study on that,” says psychologist E. Mark Cummings. He has studied the effects of interparental conflict on children for decades. Cummings and his colleagues at Notre Dame found that kids do not respond well to seeing their parents capitulate.
In fact, the most problematic reactions from kids came from witnessing parents express nonverbal anger like stonewalling, avoidance, shutting down, or being unwilling to cooperate. When parents withdraw from one another it is actually more disturbing to kids in the long term than open conflict.
He explains, “Kids understand hostility. It tells them what’s going on and they can work with that. But when parents withdraw and become emotionally unavailable, kids don’t know what’s going on. They just know things are wrong.” It becomes harder for kids to regulate themselves. This remained true regardless of the relationship status of their parents.
University of California Berkley’s Philip Cowan studies the impact of the marriage relationship on children. He found a connection between improvements in the quality of marital relationships and parent-child relationships and the children’s ability to adapt. In other words, the quality of your marriage, or relationship with your ex-spouse, matters because it affects parenting.
As therapist and psychologist Laura Berman, Ph.D., explains, “No matter how sacrilegious it sounds…you need to put your relationship before your children. A strong relationship provides security for your children and demonstrates how a loving, respectful partnership. . What could be more important?” This may look like being more intentional about daily touch points with one another during the day, showing affection in front of your children, holding conversations where children are not the main topic. If parenting issues are continually eroding your marriage it may be helpful to evaluate whether your emotional desires are being met through your children.
Even if you are not together anymore, it is better for children to have parents who choose to back each other up and work together as a team, than to have parents (even with all the greatest parenting skills) who lack a supportive relationship. Take time to communicate with your co-parent to verify stories from your children and involve one another in important decisions affecting your kids.
Interparental conflict isn’t always a bad thing. In fact, children exposed to healthy conflict can learn effective ways to manage differences and solve problems. They grow when they see their parents calm themselves down, assert themselves without putting the other down, and regulate their emotions instead of shifting blame. Fuller Life is here to help families stay on the same team and raise strong, healthy, secure children.
D.D. (2014, April 30). What Happens to Children When Parents Fight. Retrieved February 15, 2018, from http://www.developmentalscience.com/blog/2014/04/30/what-happens-to-children-when-parents-fight
Gregory, L. (2017, November 30). When Parents Fight: The Pros and Cons of Arguing in front of Your kids. Retrieved February 15, 2018, from https://globalnews.ca/news/3655488/when-parents-fight-the-pros-and-cons-of-arguing-in-front-of-your-kids/&p=DevEx,5036.1
Contributed by Angela Blocker , M.A, LMFT Associate
Clinical Supervision by Amy Fuller, PhD, LMFT, LPC
Imagine the days before the internet, before television, even before radio. Imagine a time when the senses were not constantly inundated with competing sources of sound and imagery. That, my friend, is quiet. Our world is bombarded with all kinds of sensory information—music, video, talking, billboards, the noise of the city, laughter, alarms. But our brains need a break from even the most enjoyable stimuli. Studies indicate that even low levels of constant noise increase stress levels and impair our ability to function properly. A growing body of research also highlights the impact that too much visual input from sources like the internet has on problems like anxiety. It also disrupts our attention and learning ability.
Silence, however has been found to have a greater impact on relaxation than even listening to relaxing music. Authors, artists, and many great thinkers have used the discipline of quiet time to develop ideas. Quiet time has actually been found to improve brain circulation and help grow new brain cells. Similarly, decreasing visual “noise” contributes to greater concentration
Finding quiet might seem impossible in a society where the advancement of sales, popularity and political agendas seems hinged on how much information can be pumped into our systems. But there are tools to help give your brain a break.
Getting the quiet that your brain craves is more about a change in perspective. Modern society can make you feel that every free moment must be occupied with getting or disseminating information. We think we will fall behind or miss the next important thing if we do not constantly stay connected.
Sometimes we can grow so used to the noise around us that we no longer realize what we are constantly taking in. Begin by changing your mind about the importance of quiet. Then shhhhhh….
Contributed by Shani Bell, MAAT, LPC-Intern
Supervised by Dr. Amy Fuller, PhD, LMFT-S, LPC-S
It can be difficult for any parent to learn to let their adult children go off into the world to succeed, and inevitably, fail on their own. The desire to protect is a strong one and may be especially true of parents of children with special needs. These parents may wonder what adult life could possibly look like for their children and whether their children could receive the same level of care and support from the world that they have at home.
The transition to adulthood is a long and ongoing process that begins in infancy and continues long past your child’s 18thbirthday as your child gradually becomes more independent.
Self-determination, which is about making choices and decisions that affect one’s own life, is an important aspect of fostering independence (PBS, Mitchell, 2012). In fact, choice-making is viewed in Western society as part of transition to adulthood (Mitchell, 2012).
Encouraging self-determination and choice-making does not mean allowing your child to make every single decision that impacts his or her life. But, it does mean gradually relinquishing parental control in order to allow your children to develop the skills and self-confidence necessary to manage doing some things on their own.
In wanting to protect their children and keep them from harm, some parents of older children may even make decisions for their children without them being aware of the decision in the first place (Mitchell, 2012). There is a fine line between being a protective, concerned parent and becoming overprotective. Nevertheless, overprotective parenting, even with the best of intentions, can have a negative impact on your child’s self-esteem and perception of their capabilities (Sanders, 2006).
It is helpful to consider family choice-making along a continuum (adapted from Mitchell, 2012)…
Here the aim is to protect the child. This results in the child not being involved in the choice.
The aim is to help he child understand and participate in choice-making, but parents make the final decision.
Parents support and empower the child’s choice-making
The choice is completely handed over to the child.
Families may adopt differing choice-making styles depending on the decision at hand and the level of risk involved. For example, the choice of which school to attend may more easily fall into the informative andcollaborative,or evendelegatory, categories. However, the decision to undergo a life-changing surgery is more likely to fall into the exclusionary or informative categories.
Here are a few questions to consider as you think of ways to support the growing independence of your child (adapted from PBS.org) ….
It is every parents’ desire to see their children living to their full potential. Encouraging wise and appropriate choice-making is one way to watch your children grow and flourish as adults.
Sanders KY. Overprotection and lowered expectations of persons with disabilities: the unforeseen consequences. Work, 2006;27(2):181-8
Mitchell, 2012.Parents’ accounts: Factors considered when deciding how far to involve their son/daughter with learning disabilities in choice-making. Children and Youth Services Review, 34: 1560-1569.
Supervised by Amy Fuller, PhD, LMFT-S
Consider two different scenarios. First, imagine yourself on a career trajectory that is suddenly cut short. You now take a new job for which you feel unqualified. You are consumed with defeat, insecurity and anxiety. Worried that you will appear incompetent, you avoid any challenges.
Now, imagine that you are about to give a presentation on a topic that is meaningful to you. You feel jittery and nervous, but excited to share your insights with the audience. You stand tall and speak from your heart, connecting with the group in an impactful way.
What comes to mind as you think of the two very different scenarios?
We have all experienced situations in life in which we have felt powerless, discouraged and defeated. Similarly, we have experienced situations in which we have felt powerful, confident and ambitious.
In her research on presence and power, Amy Cuddy (2015) shows that power activates the psychological and behavioral approach system, which means that we feel free, in control and unthreatened. On the other hand, powerlessness activates the inhibition system, making us more anxious, pessimistic and conforming to social pressures.
While the word “power” might conjure up thoughts about dictators and oppressors, Cuddy (2015) suggests that personal power is very different than social power. Social power is the ability to exert dominance and influence the behavior of others. Personal power, on the other hand, is freedom from the dominance of others. It means accessing and controlling our limitless inner resources.
The consequences for powerlessness are significant. Cuddy believes that powerlessness is as likely to corrupt as power is. And unless we feel personally powerful, we cannot be truly present with those around us.
Here are some ways powerlessness negatively impacts us (adapted from Presence by Amy Cuddy)…
Powerlessness and the anxiety that results undermine executive functioning (I.e. higher order cognitive abilities such as reasoning, attention control, task flexibility) which is critical to coping well in challenging situations.
Social anxiety interferes with ability to see the world through others’ eyes. This is bidirectional. The more self focused we are, the more anxious, depressed and powerless we are likely to feel.
The more anxious and self focused we are, the more likely we are to ruminate on social interactions in an unhelpful manner and this directly inhibits being present in those interactions.
In contrast, personal power benefits us in a number of ways (adapted from Presence by Amy Cuddy)…
Personal power serves as a buffer against negative emotions, making us feel less pain in difficult times and less hurt by negative interactions.
It frees us to be more open and vulnerable with others.
We are more creative, less self conscious about expressing feelings and beliefs when we feel powerful.
Feeling powerful has a way of harmonizing our thoughts, feelings and behaviors such that we appear more authentic in our presence.
When we believe we are able to perform the task at hand, even in a high-stakes situation, we are more likely to perform it.
Cuddy also suggests that the way we build personal power is gradually, one step at a time. It comes as we pay more attention to our body language, embodying postures of power (upright, expansive), deep breathing, smiling. Personal power also comes as we make everyday decisions. Often we need to act first and the feelings of confidence and competence will follow. When we notice ourselves doing something with courage or competence, we can then recall this the next time something challenging comes our way, making it easier to perform in future situations. As this goes on, we are able to harness our internal resources in order to meet challenges.
At Fuller Life, we hope you will bold and brave as you ride the waves of life!
Cuddy, A. (2015). Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges.
Supervised by Amy Fuller, PhD, LMFT-S
Grief usually brings up memories of those we have lost. However, people grieve for many reasons. Believing grief is only about mourning those who have died can leave a person feeling confused and lost when they witness related symptoms after the loss of other important parts of their lives.
People often mourn the loss of a marriage or other relationship, a job or business after retirement, functioning, a home after a disaster, a life plan that does not pan out the way you thought it would, or personal security after being violated to name a few. The loss of all of these can lead you through stages of grieving. But unlike the loss of a loved one, you may not expect to encounter grief in these areas. Being aware that grief does not just happen when you lose a person or a pet can help you to recognize it for what it is and address it in a healthy way.
People respond to loss in different ways. Many have heard of the stages of grief which include anger, denial, bargaining, depression and acceptance. These stages occur in different orders, with some occurring more than once during a single period of loss. And not all stages may be experienced. In addition, you might find that you are having physical symptoms like fatigue, changes in weight, headaches or upset stomach. Emotional and behavioral difficulties can often appear in the form of restlessness, drastic mood changes, crying spells, deep sadness, difficulty concentrating, confusion, fear, guilt, anger, and many other symptoms.
Pay attention to your mind and body if you are witnessing any of these symptoms. They might be telling you that grief is present.
Trying to convince yourself that you should not be grieving because no one has died is not helpful. Having to deal with disenfranchised grief only makes the healing process more difficult. Minimizing the weight of your loss might come from your inner voice or external friends and family who may not understand the impact of your loss. Whether or not you initially think you should be grieving, you are still doing so.
A healthy dose of self-compassion is a great first step to managing your grieving process. Through accepting and validating your loss to yourself and then giving yourself space to grieve, you open the door to properly deal with it.
For many, especially when they are enduring disenfranchised grief, it can be helpful to participate in a support group with people who are coping with similar life changes. Engaging with peers can help with validating and normalizing the pain of such loss. These groups may also help to provide tools for processing your loss. Individual counseling can be similarly beneficial, especially for people experiencing prolonged grief for greater than six months. It is especially important to take care of yourself and seek professional help.
If you are struggling with grief, check out some of these resources to start your healing journey:
Supervised by Dr. Amy Fuller, PhD, LMFT-S, LPC-S
“Picture this: we were both butt naked banging on the bathroom floor…” While this is a well-known lyric in Shaggy’s hit song “It Wasn’t Me.” The image painted is not far from the reality of how many couples start off their relationship. Unable to keep their hands off each other, and exhilarated in the excitement of a new relationship. Ironically, couples never imagine getting to the point in their satisfying relationship in which the passion and desire dies down, and instead are replaced with feelings of resentment, frustration and loneliness.
If this at all sounds like something you have encountered in your relationship,Dr. David Schnarch , renowned sex therapist and clinical psychologist, has a simple answer for why issues with desire arise in long term committed relationships. Here are two universal truths virtually every relationship experiences when it comes to love and sex.
Dr. Schnarch offers a unique way of viewing the way relationships work, and he does this through the lens of sex. He states, that in every relationship there are two positions that people take when faced with a decision, i.e. low desire partner (LPD) and high desire partner (HPD). The position a person takes is dependent on the decision at hand, and can change between one topic to another and from one relationship to another. That is to say, one partner may be for LPD in sex, but that same partner could be the HDP for intimacy. Even if both partners want the same thing, one will want it more than the other. You may be the LDP if you want sex once a day and your partner wants sex twice a day, or you may be the HDP if you want sex once a month and your partner doesn’t want sex at all. You may be the LDP in one relationship and the HDP in the next relationship.
Dr. Schnarch points out a second rule of sexual relationships which is, that the LDP always controls sex. The LDP controls sex whether that person likes it or not. The LDP also control sex whether things are going great or not. This rule is no fun for either person, so there are common ways people try to get around it. According to Schnarch, “begging, cajoling, criticizing, demanding, and withdrawing are standard methods,” while the HDP may be able to pressure the LDP into having sex, the HDP cannot pressured them into wanting to be with them or be passionate. Dr. Schnarch lays out how the LDP controls sex:
Sexual desire issues are a natural part of longer term committed relationships. All couples will experience desire issues at one point or another. Knowing these realities can be a huge relief for couples who are struggling to get through difficult challenges in their relationships. When used well, these challenges can push you to become more solid and clear about who you are. As you work through your sexual desire issues, you become more mature and more capable of being intimate, passionate, giving and respectful in a long term committed relationship. For a broader understanding of some of the concepts discussed in this blog, read Dr. Schnarch’s book Intimacy and Desire.
To book an appointment with Manet Castenada LPC- Intern, Under the supervision of Dr. Amy Fuller, PhD LPC-S, LMFT-S please email at Manet@fullerlifefamilytherapy.org
You are dependable and loyal. You take family seriously and honor those around you who are unable to care for themselves. So you have found yourself in the position of caring for an elderly parent grandparent or chronically ill or disabled loved one who requires constant care. Sometimes it feels like it is just too much for one person to bear. You may feel that no one else is there to carry the burden but you. However, not reaching out for help can lead to harmful results.
The United States is home to over 44 million unpaid caregivers. The numbers will continue to grow as the population of baby boomers continues to age. The prevalence of spectrum disorders, like autism, has increased in America by 30 percent in recent years. Many disorders can limit the ability of people to function independently. These situations may create a need for family members to step up when care facilities seem like an unwanted or unfeasible option. But what effect does the caregiving lifestyle have on the caregiver?
Fatigue and sleep deprivation when caring for a loved one are common. Fatigue can make a caregiver more vulnerable to physical, emotional or mental illnesses themselves. This can be due to a combination of physical obligations of providing care around the clock to the worry and stress that can accompany the responsibility of maintaining someone else’s welfare. Oftentimes, caregivers are not only responsible for the elderly parent or disabled family relative. They are parents, husbands and wives as well, further adding to their load.
You may notice that you, or the caregiver in your life, has become increasingly irritable, anxious or angry lately. A prolonged state of fatigue and stress puts caregivers at risk for diabetes, addictions, increased sensitivity to pain and infections. If you see signs of depression, such as feelings of hopelessness or helplessness, loss of interest in other activities, social withdrawal, find help. That is a clear sign that it is time for intervention.
In difficult circumstances, some caretakers may appear disoriented, erratic and/or highly emotional. Let extreme changes in mood, behaviors or routine be a signal to you that something is wrong.
If any of this sounds familiar, please take the necessary steps. As a caregiver, know that reaching out for help and taking care of yourself are just as important to your role as a caregiver as the caregiving itself. If you know someone who is responsible for a loved one’s wellbeing and is exhibiting signs of burnout, lend a helping hand. Here are some steps that you can take:
Want to see if you or someone you love is battling caregiver burnout, take this short quiz:
Supervised by Dr. Amy Fuller, PhD, LMFT-S, LPC-S