Meet the new face of the Center for Hope & Healing

It is with great pleasure we welcome Kristen Ernst, LPC as our New Manager of Community Outreach, Grief Support and the Center for Hope & Healing, who joined team Baue Monday, February 25, 2019.

Kristen has been a Counselor with our Center for Hope and Healing for the last 8 months where she has been overseeing Baue’s 6-week Grief Support Educational program on Loss.

She attended Lindenwood University where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Mass Communications and a master’s degree in Counseling. She also has experience as a Hospice Bereavement Coordinator conducting sessions for the last several years with those who struggled with the grief of a loved one and as her experience as a Crisis Worker supporting those who were suicidal and non-suicidal in a time of need.

Additionally, she has extensive expertise in Trauma Counseling, helping victims of sexual abuse by facilitating a survivors’ support group.

We will miss Kelly Karavousanos, Kristen’s predecessor, who dedicated 15 years with us supporting those who mourn and educating our community in areas of grief and loss. Kelly decided she needs to spend more time with her growing children but will continue to be working in the counseling profession. We wish her the very best and will keep her passion close to our hearts and in our minds as we continue to serve our community.

Kristen’s duties will include the development and facilitation of relevant support groups and bereavement programs, and providing numerous educational programs in our community.

Kristen states recently, “I will humbly embrace this new position and I hope to bring an empathic skillset that is congruent with Baue’s stellar reputation.”

You may contact Kristen Ernst at 636-328-0878 or email her at KristenErnst@CHHCounseling.com.

 

By | 2019-03-04T12:03:40-05:00 March 4th, 2019|Uncategorized|0 Comments

2018 Seeds of Hope Remembrance Program

Since 2010, hundreds of families have attended the Annual Seeds of Hope Remembrance Program sponsored by Baue Funeral Homes, Crematory and Cemetery in St. Charles, Missouri.

This year, families will have an opportunity to participate in the planting of wildflower seeds in memory of their loved one. This tribute is designed to leave a colorful and lasting memorial in a wildflower garden area at our cemetery for families to contribute to for years to come.

The Seeds of Hope event, beginning at 11 a.m. on Saturday, June 23, is being held at the Baue Funeral and Memorial Center (3950 West Clay Street in St. Charles), is open to the public and is attended by over 250 people each year.

Families will receive a biodegradable card to write a memory on that has wildflowers embedded in them. During the ceremony, families can honor their loved ones by writing their memories on this card and placing their card into a memorial planter.

The contents of the planter will be cared for and transplanted to the Seeds of Hope Garden at St. Charles Memorial Gardens.

During the program, additional tributes will take place including a reading of the deceased names, a touching poem, special music, and a program on grief and loss given by Baue’s Director of Grief Services, Kelly Karavousanos, LPC, CT.

“It is a moving and sacred time for families to participate in an event together in remembering a loved one,” States Kelly Karavousanos “Some people have come for years to participate and it is always a healing experience for them.”

For additional information regarding the program, or if you wish to register yourself, family, and friends, please click here or call 636-328-0874.

By | 2018-05-11T11:03:54-05:00 May 11th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Your Brain on Trauma

Writer: Jessica Volger, MS, MAC, PLPC

The human brain is so very complex.  One tiny change can make a tremendous difference, much like a computer.  For example, when I lived in Ireland, I worked for a company that utilized a rather complex software program to manage revenue from various business sectors.  In this system, it was important to right click and select paste rather than use “ctrl V”.  After years of training my brain to use “ctrl V” it seemed near impossible to remember to right click and select paste.

I was a serious nightmare for our IT department in the UK.  When a user used “ctrl V” they would lose an important function in the program which could only be restored by calling over to the team in the UK.  No.  This is not a story about being the annoying employee who called for help all the time, though I am sure that was also the case.  Whenever I used “ctrl V”, I was corrupting the database’s data.  Where?  That’s a good question!  We did not know exactly where.  Reports would be generated, and the numbers would be wrong.  The client would ask why numbers did not match.  Other reporting problems would crop up.  My little mistake created big problems due to the ripple effect of one little command.

That can also be true for our brains when a traumatic event happens, especially if there is a series of small traumatic events.  The effects of less intense traumatic experiences may add up much like my continued use of “ctrl V”.  Despite the size of the traumatic experience or its frequency, the ripple effect in our brains is unknown.  Studies have shown that our resiliency to traumatic experiences is unpredictable, and I assume this may be attributed to the complex functioning of our brains.  Nonetheless, trauma has an effect even if it cannot be predicted.

Another point my database example illustrates is how our brains often wire themselves to a specific behavior pattern that can be difficult to change without intentional effort.  I often refer to this as “the cattle path” quality of the well-known neuroscience phrase “fire together, wire together”.  Much like a cattle path groove that becomes deep and well defined, my brain had strongly mapped the behavior to use “ctrl V”.  The behavior was second nature.  Before I even thought about what I was doing I was using the function, almost like watching myself select the wrong answer.  The embarrassment of calling over to the UK became quite shaming.  I had to work hard to change my automatic response to transferring data.

WIN_20180508_11_49_08_ProThis is how our brain is on trauma!  With repeated trauma, like childhood abuse, our brain maps a strong response to these incidences.  The response can be over the excitement of our amygdala (panic center of the brain: fight, flight, or freeze) or under activation of our amygdala that prevents us from keeping ourselves safe.  These maladaptive paths become so strong it is like the deep cattle paths where grass becomes so trampled all you can see now is a groove of dirt.  Cows will not make a new path without the right incentive, bringing their awareness to fresh grass to eat.  Our brains are the same way when healing from trauma.

Telling someone to stop doing whatever automatic response their brain engages in is not helpful.  It does not change the mapping of the brain, and in some cases strengthens the maladaptive mapping.  One of the first things I do with clients who have a significant trauma history is to train, or re-train, their brains what it is like to be relaxed and feel safe.  It is excessively repetitive for a reason.  During the process, client’s may not feel a change.  After several months they notice their thinking is different or their response time to triggers in their life has lengthened so they have more time to decide on a different response.  Sometimes, a few months pass and a client is able to have an “a-ha!” moment they would not be able to experience during their first session.  Fight, flight, or freeze responses would have been too intense to hear or experience an alternate perspective.  After the amygdala has been trained to be calmer, healing work can begin.  The therapeutic work becomes more efficient after a healthy foundation has been established. New wiring.  Productive wiring.

Do you need new wiring?  Do you know someone who could benefit from new wiring?  If you live in the St. Louis Metropolitan area, I would love to help, even if that means helping you find another therapist to walk your journey with you.

By | 2018-05-08T12:15:42-05:00 May 8th, 2018|Grief Support|0 Comments

Transforming Seasons of Grief

There is so much to love about living in Missouri. One of the best is the ability to witness the dramatic change of seasons. Right now spring is upon us and there is so much to see. Robins and Cardinal birds flitting in the trees, green grass growing like a soft carpet in the fields, and tulips of all colors blooming. So many of these changes are welcome to those who are lucky enough to witness. However, for those who are grieving things can be much more complicated.

Bereaved have a much more complicated relationship with change. There is no right way to grieve and there is no roadmap to guide the way but for many grieving this changing of the seasons represents just more change they did not want or ask for. Everything in their lives has changed and it is very difficult to adapt to this new life. This change of the seasons can also represent just more time and movement away from their loved one. There can also be a sense of disbelief that there is now one more spring, summer, or fall without their loved one.

On the other hand, spring can also bring a relief of grief symptoms. There is more warmth, sunshine, and an underlying hope for things growing anew. After being shut in for winter, spring can represent a brief reprieve from the darkness of grief.

Whatever example resonates with you just know you are coping with your grief best you can and you cannot force yourself to be somewhere you are not. In any season it is important to reach out to ask for support. That support can come in the form of counseling, support groups, and family and friends.

If you or someone you know have been experiencing a prolonged grief period or feel as if your grief has turned into depression, our Center for Hope & Healing offers individual and family counseling for all of life’s transitions. Click here for more information or call (636) 328-0878.

By | 2018-04-19T11:15:47-05:00 April 19th, 2018|Grief Support|0 Comments

Interpersonal Process: A Therapist’s Framework for Healing Attachment

The original post may be found on GoodTherapy.org

Contributed by Jessica Volger, MS, MAC, PLPC

Someone recently asked me why they needed to know about the interpersonal process. There seemed to be a misunderstanding that the interpersonal process is only focused on building rapport, when stronger rapport is, in fact, a byproduct of the interpersonal process. If you have similar questions about how or why this framework could strengthen your practice, read on.

Interpersonal Process as a Framework

It is important to know that the interpersonal process is not a new theory or technique. Instead, it is a framework that can be integrated with any modality you want to use. You lay your favorite theory or technique upon this framework. This makes the interpersonal process not only versatile but the cornerstone of any practice in which it’s used. Your modality can change based on individual needs, but the framework stays consistent.

Keep in mind that the interpersonal process comprises three core components: process dimension, corrective emotional experience, and client response specificity. Of these three, process dimension is what this article will focus on.

The Cognitive Domain: A Crucial Component of Process Dimension

Tyber and McCluer identify three domains that make up the process dimension: the cognitive domain, interpersonal domain, and familial/contextual domain. While interpersonal domain addresses how a person experiences attachment brokenness, and the familial/contextual domain is where this brokenness is reinforced, the cognitive domain is at the origin of a person’s attachment brokenness.

The cognitive domain addresses the practical application of much of the attachment research that has been done. Under the cognitive domain, we identify the origin of the attachment style a person had or has with their primary caregiver. As therapists, we seek to uncover how a person’s values and identity were established, how they developed coping mechanisms, their covert thought processes, their beliefs about themselves and the world, how their value of self-care was determined, and what they need to restore their identity.

Therapists use these subcategories of the cognitive domain to identify attachment brokenness that occurred in response to real life experiences. To understand the importance of healing attachment brokenness using the interpersonal process framework, let us first look at how we treat attachment brokenness in children.

The Experiential Approach in Action: Play Therapy, Theraplay, and the Neurodeck

Becoming a registered play therapist requires candidates to spend 15 hours in training that specifically address attachment and how to build, repair, and strengthen a child’s ability to attach to a primary caregiver. But what is the common theme of attachment play therapytheraplay, and the Brain Booster Neurodeck? Simply put, the common thread in these three modalities is an experiential approach. Healthy attachment is developed through experience, not reframing.

As therapists, we seek to uncover how a person’s values and identity were established, how they developed coping mechanisms, their covert thought processes, their beliefs about themselves and the world, how their value of self-care was determined, and what they need to restore their identity.

Play Therapy

In play therapy, clinicians provide experiences that support healthy, safe touch through activities such as foil hand prints, lotion on hands or feet, holding hands during activities, or working together on a task. All these activities encourage safe touch and eye contact. Eye contact, in particular, is important for our limbic systems to communicate and bond, as we learn from clinicians such as Curt Thompson or Louis Cozolino. Communication between our limbic systems is nonverbal; hence, the importance of eye contact.

Theraplay

Theraplay is also quite experiential; in fact, it may be the most experiential of all the methods listed. Attachment brokenness is healed through re-experiencing the attachment-building interactions that were not provided (or were insufficiently provided) during the first years of life, such as eye contact made when a baby is fed and swaddled. In some cases, the child needs to be cuddled or rocked as they would have been as an infant, a process that is exceptionally experiential. It may also be that a traumatic event broke an initially secure attachment, in which case Theraplay is utilized to re-establish the previously secure attachment style.

The Neurodeck

The Neurodeck comprises activities that build the brain from the bottom up. It begins with activities that assist with sensory integration, utilizing many of the same types of activities used in other attachment play therapy techniques. These experiential approaches harness messy play and movement. For example, they may use the lotion activity mentioned above or swing a child in a blanket to mimic the rocking movements experienced in utero. As a clinician moves through the deck, the activities become increasingly relational. This is the attachment component of the Neurodeck approach.

While it is impractical to swing an adult in a blanket to provide experiential therapy, the interpersonal process provides relational experience to honestly, yet compassionately, bring awareness to a person’s interpersonal characteristics.

The deck specifically states that certain activities should be completed in a one-on-one context before they are used them in a group setting. The one-on-one context is important in establishing safety before engaging in group work. Attachment work is rooted in laying a foundation for understanding safe and unsafe characteristics in relationships through a one-on-one dynamic. This dynamic then informs the safety of other relationships, especially relationships in a group setting. Each phase of the protocol is experiential and progressive.

Addressing Attachment in Adults

It is evident how attachment work in children is achieved through experiential modalities. The same can be said for attachment work with adults. The cognitive domain mentioned above is at the root of a person’s attachment brokenness, while the interpersonal domain is where attachment brokenness is experienced, and the familial/contextual domain is where the brokenness is reinforced. Through our work as therapists, we provide an experiential repair for broken attachment that is evaluated through interpersonal skills. A person’s maladaptive interpersonal skills provide a wealth of information about what happened in the cognitive and familial domains, as well as crucial information for effective treatment planning.

While it is impractical to swing an adult in a blanket to provide experiential therapy, the interpersonal process provides relational experience to honestly, yet compassionately, bring awareness to a person’s interpersonal characteristics. Are they interacting in healthy ways that allow people to draw near to them and create a desire for others to be in a healthy relationship with them, or are they fracturing relationships unknowingly because they lack the awareness or skills to build healthy relationships? Sharing our experience of a person’s behaviors or words can help them develop self-awareness and contemplate whether they are communicating what they intend. This approach can also help with reality testing.

Strengths of Interpersonal Process

One strength of the interpersonal process framework is the way it helps build flexibility and other-focused awareness, which allows for healthy attachments and navigating unhealthy relationships more confidently and constructively. By highlighting awareness of how a person’s communication might be perceived by others, we broaden their understanding of themselves and of others. Maintaining a broader range of interpersonal understanding ideally increases a person’s window of tolerance in their relationships and creates a desire to repair a broken healthy attachment or confidently sever an unhealthy attachment. The individual becomes better equipped to advocate for positive change in their life through a strengthened commitment to repair healthy relationships or by valuing themselves enough to part ways with unhealthy relationships without behaving destructively.

The Effective Interpersonal Process Clinician

A provider who effectively uses interpersonal process reflects truths to people that help them feel heard and known so they may heal. Those on the receiving end of these truths may not always like what they hear. However, when they work with an empathic and skilled therapist, people can hear and understand their therapist’s reflections, even if they do not like what is said.

At the appropriate level of reflection, people learn to trust their therapist. Feeling known and understood improves rapport. In this context, rapport is equivalent to attachment. A grounded relationship with an effective interpersonal process therapist is emotionally supportive so people may engage in difficult, effective therapy that greatly improves treatment outcomes.

Reference:

Teyber, E., & McCluer, F. H. (2010). Interpersonal process in therapy: An integrative model (6th ed). Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole.

© Copyright 2018 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Jessica Volger MS, MAC, PLPCtherapist in O Fallon, Missouri

By | 2018-04-19T11:13:55-05:00 April 19th, 2018|Grief Support|0 Comments

The Yarn Connection: Grief & Trauma

For this activity, you will need a few supplies that you can pick up at your local all-in-one market or craft store.  You will need:

  1. Yarn: red, yellow, blue, green, white, black, grey, purple, orange
  2. Small Styrofoam ball
  3. Strong glue
  4. Duct tape (optional)
  5. Paint (optional)

   

If you choose to use paint, you will need to paint the Styrofoam ball first and give it plenty of time to dry.  Next, you will cut at least six feet of each color of yarn and glue one end to the Styrofoam ball once the paint dries.  If the glue does not stick well to your ball and yarn, you can use strips of duct tape to secure the yarn to the Styrofoam ball.

If you choose not to paint your Styrofoam ball, you could select duct tape in a color that represents your most significant grief or traumatic event and use that to wrap the yarn around your Styrofoam ball.  After the yarn is properly secured, wind your yarn around the Styrofoam ball until all the yarn is wrapped around the ball.  Do NOT cut the ends to match up in length.  Leave the ends however they end up.

Look at your ball of yarn.  What do you notice?

Start with the longest piece of yarn and slowly begin unwrapping it.  What color does it run into?  Find the start of the second string and start unraveling it.  What does that color run into?  Find the start of the third string.  What does it run into?  Keep doing this until you have completely unraveled the ball of yarn.

Notice how all the colors run into each other as you unravel the ball of yarn.

       

What if I told you the

colors are as follows:

 

Red = anger

Yellow = joy

Blue = sadness

Green = growth

White = peace

Black = fear

Grey = frustration

Purple = anxiety

Orange = confusion

 

Now, what do you think of your ball of yarn?

As we deal with grief and other traumatic events, our emotional experience is much like this ball of yarn.  We do not simply feel sad and depressed.  We do not feel sad and depressed followed by unending joy.  We vacillate between several positive and unpleasant emotions for quite some time before making peace with our traumatic circumstance.

Are you holding the ball in the middle of your yarn ball?  That Styrofoam ball represents the incident that created such an emotional experience for you.  Death of a loved one.  Abuse.  Car accident.  Financial distress.

If you are untangling your ball of yarn and it gets knotted up, reach out for help.  A caring professional is available to help you untangle your knotted ball of yarn.  Some tasks, like untangling yarn, are better achieved with the help of others.  The same is true for grief and trauma.

 

 

The Center for Hope and Healing is a private practice that provides individual therapy to individuals and families going through life transitions and mental health challenges such as the death of a loved one, divorce, and serious illness of self or loved one. Our goal is to help individuals foster resiliency, increase problem-solving and coping skills, reduce stress reactions, and develop healthy relationships, thereby improving overall wellness. Counseling those who need guidance and support through various life transitions has become a much-needed service. Our society and communities are changing so quickly we sometimes need to lean on others to process the many changes that are taking place and how those changes impact our lives. There are no certainties in life except change.

Written By: Jessica Vogler, MS, MAC, PLPC

Jessica has experience working with adult survivors of childhood abuse and trauma, elementary aged children in an intensive outpatient treatment setting, and women with a trauma history.  She is trained in EMDR, SHARE bereavement practices, and Effective Trauma Care.

Jessica enjoys working with children and women of all ages to overcome grief, heal from traumatic experiences, and strengthen identity.  Trauma work specialty areas include adult survivors of childhood abuse and pregnancy/infant loss.  Jessica also has a special interest in working with parents of special needs children who need to strengthen their resilience or grieve the loss of ideals that may not come to pass.

Under the supervision of Sonya Paramore, License Number: 2007022552

By | 2018-03-09T14:14:10-05:00 March 9th, 2018|Counseling, Grief Support|0 Comments

New Educational Classes & Support Groups Available

At Baue Grief Services and the Center for Hope & Healing, we believe in offering support to families and individuals after a death.

Established in 1981, Baue Grief Services has since grown to become the more comprehensive Grief Services Program in the St. Charles and St. Louis County Regions. Baue saw a need for further counseling in our community and began the Center for Hope & Healing in 2013.

This private practice provides individual therapy to individuals and families going through life transitions and mental health challenges such as the death of a loved one, divorce, and serious illnesses of self or a loved one. The goal of the Center is to help individuals foster resiliency, increase problem-solving and coping skills, reduce stress reactions and develop healthy relationships, thereby improving overall wellness.

Each quarter, Baue and the Center for Hope & Healing offer complimentary Grief Educational Classes. From April 2018 – June 2018, registration for all sessions are open. Every complimentary session is led by counselors from the Center for Hope & Healing. To register, please click on the title of the Educational Class you would like to attend.

 

Wednesday Evening Sessions 6PM – 7:30PM

April 18 Understanding Grief

May 2 Grief & Your Health

May 16 Living with Memories

May 30 Coping with Guilt

June 6 Grief & Stress Reduction

June 20 What Now?

 

Thursday Morning Sessions 10AM – 11:30AM

April 19 Understanding Grief

May 3 Grief & Your Health

May 17 Living with Memories

May 31 Coping with Guilt

June 7 Grief & Stress Reduction

June 21 What Now?

 

Complimentary ongoing Support Groups are also offered. Please visit. Baue.com/event-calendar to register for any of the following groups.

 

Young Surviving Spouses Group

6pm – 7:30pm

2nd and 4th Wednesday of the month

Baue Community Center

608 Je_erson Street

St. Charles, MO 63301

 

Surviving Spouses 65+ Group

10am – 11:30am

2nd and 4th Thursday of the month.

Baue Community Center

608 Je_erson Street

St. Charles, MO 63301

 

Survivors of Suicide Group

6:30 – 8:00 PM 1st & 3rd Mondays

This support group is appropriate for adults

whose loved one has completed suicide.

For More information on the SOS group please contact_Provident

at (314) 647-3100 or email SOS@providentstl.org

 

Pet Loss Support Group

7:00 PM – 8:00 PM

1st Monday of every month

3950 West Clay Street, Suite 100,

St. Charles, MO 63301

 

Pregnancy & Infant Loss Support Group

Call the Center for Hope & Healing for more

information at (636) 328-0878.

 

If you would like further information on any of our Grief Education Classes or Support Groups, please call Director of Baue Grief Services and the Center for Hope & Healing, Kelly Karavousanos, LPC, CT at 636-328-0878.

By | 2018-04-06T14:39:07-05:00 March 6th, 2018|Grief Support|0 Comments

Emotional Crayons: 4 Activities for Children

In my experience working with individuals who struggle with grief and trauma, I find that it is common to struggle with knowing where to begin processing these experiences.  An idea came to me as I helped my child sift through her crayons and markers, throwing out the dried-up markers and deciding what to do with the broken crayons.  I was reminded of an activity I did with my family growing up.  We took the broken crayons and melted them into cool new creations.  My child and I melted her crayons in some miniature pie plates, kind of like an easy bake dishes.  When I dumped out the spherical crayon I began thinking about my client’s mixed up emotions.  A new lesson was birthed!

There are four parts to this lesson. I will explain the activities needed to prepare for the lesson followed by the lesson itself.  Stay with me as I explain the activities and think about the ways the outcome for each activity is different from the others despite similar instructions.

Activity 1: Spherical

The first set of crayons are made using a muffin tin.  Crayons from the dollar store are NOT recommended!  Mine did not come off the pan easily and were mostly broken in the removal process.  They also had more wax film on top after melting.  It is also best to use a non-stick pan if you have one handy.    

Okay.  Here is what I did:

  1. Select black, blue, green, grey, orange, pink, purple, red, and yellow crayons.
  2. Break them up into pieces that fit into your muffin pan; no more than two crayon diameters high.
  3. Make sure the yellow crayon is in the middle.
  4. Heat the crayons in the oven at 200 degrees Fahrenheit for 10-15 minutes or until completely melted.
  5. Let cool until pan is completely cool.
  6. Gently tap crayons out of the pan.

Activity 2:  Square Mixed

The second set of crayons is made using a brownie pan.  Follow the same directions as “Activity 1” except using a different shaped pan, preferably a brownie pan though another shaped muffin tin is also fine.  Do not use a circular pan or you will have simply made a second set of spherical crayons.

  

Activity 3: Square Single

Use jumbo crayons and melt each color in a separate well of a brownie pan or muffin tin.  It is best to use a brownie pan for this activity since it will make more sense in the lesson to use a square shape.  Go with what you have though!  Ideally, you will end up with a black square, red square, yellow square, etc.       

Activity 4: Rectangle

For this activity, you need a bread pan.  Non-stick is best!  A silicon bread pan is not recommended due to staining.  Jumbo crayons are best for this activity as well.  There are two ways you can try this activity.  First, you can lay out the crayons in rows, unbroken.  Second, you can break up the crayons and toss them in the pan.  Melting takes about 20-25 minutes.

  

The Lesson:

Now that you have melted down enough crayons that you are considering buying stock in a crayon making company, let’s talk about WHY we melted these crayons.  Look at your crayons from Activity 1.  Draw a picture using only the yellow color.  You may not break the crayon.

Were you able to do it?  If you were, contact me directly.  I have some questions for you!

Yellow represents happiness or joy for most of us.  I have heard it represent other emotions, so we will stick with happiness/joy for this activity.  It should have been difficult for you to color with the yellow crayon since it is in the middle and surrounded by the other colors you melted with it.  If some of the yellow ran to the sides of your crayon, that’s okay.  The demonstration still works.  This is a good depiction of how difficult it is to access our happiness or joy when we are grieving or overcoming traumatic life experiences.  Other emotions, represented by the other colors in your crayon, are more readily accessible or interfere with our ability to access our joy.  If your yellow ran to the edge of your crayon, this represents the experience of multiple, sometimes seemingly contradictory, emotions at the same time.

In the example of Activity 2, square mixed crayons, your yellow may not be seen at all.  It is trapped in the middle of the crayon, completely surrounded by the other colors.  The spherical crayon and the square crayon represent two examples of how people grieve or experience emotional injury.  In the spherical example, we can see all the colors though we are unable to use yellow until we have worked through at least one other color, if not more.  In the mixed square, we do not become aware of the yellow (unless we made the crayon) until we work through other colors.  We cannot see the joy until we process our other emotions in the mixed square example.

Let’s look at Activity 3 now.  For this activity, I asked you to make a single-color square, which is very different from all the other activities.  Were you able to guess why I asked you to melt down your perfectly good crayon into a square shape?  Well, some individuals manage their emotions in this manner.  They are organized separately rather than running together as in the first two activities.  Some will compartmentalize their emotions as if in boxes or a filing cabinet.  When they are ready, they will open up a selected box or file and deal with that specific emotion.  Or, they may be able to access their happy/joy compartment freely, which could give the appearance that they do not grieve or feel emotional pain.  They only open the fear, sadness, or worry boxes at home when they are by themselves.  When they leave the house, they store their “negative” emotion boxes and only use their happy box when they encounter the world.  In some cases, an individual might decide to never open “negative” boxes, but they are still present.

This brings us to Activity 4.  The mixed rectangle.  The rectangle represents a single shared experience with two or more people.  For the purposes of this example, I am going to say the rectangle represents the death of the family matriarch or patriarch.  Pretend all the emotions possible regarding the loss of this family member are present in your rectangle.  If you are brave enough, stand on a hard floor and hold the rectangle in front of you. Raise the rectangle as high as you can while keeping it in front of your body.  Then, let go!

Try not to be mad at me now that you have broken crayon pieces all over your floor!  What do you notice?  The different shapes the rectangle broke into represents the diverse ways we process our emotions for the same experience.  No two pieces are the same!  Similarly, no two people have the same reaction to the same experience.  Notice how the distribution of colors in the fragments is different.  One piece has more sadness than another.  One piece has more anger than another piece.  One piece might not have any joy in it.  The rectangle started out with equal portions of all the emotions, and the fragments display distinctly different proportions of those same emotions.

Questions

  1. Which activity best represents how you process your emotions?
  2. If you are having difficulty accessing your joy, is it time for you to seek out a counselor?
  3. Are you able to show grace and mercy toward those who process their emotions differently than you do?
  4. Is it possible for you to walk beside someone who only opens their “negative” boxes privately?
  5. If you did not melt the crayons before reading to the end of this blog, will you melt them now?

The Center for Hope and Healing is a private practice that provides individual therapy to individuals and families going through life transitions and mental health challenges such as the death of a loved one, divorce, and serious illness of self or loved one. Our goal is to help individuals foster resiliency, increase problem-solving and coping skills, reduce stress reactions, and develop healthy relationships, thereby improving overall wellness.  Counseling and therapy sessions for St. Charles and St. Louis counties. Click here or call 636-328-0874 for more information.

 

The Center for Hope and Healing is a private practice that provides individual therapy to individuals and families going through life transitions and mental health challenges such as the death of a loved one, divorce, and serious illness of self or loved one. Our goal is to help individuals foster resiliency, increase problem-solving and coping skills, reduce stress reactions, and develop healthy relationships, thereby improving overall wellness. Counseling those who need guidance and support through various life transitions has become a much-needed service. Our society and communities are changing so quickly we sometimes need to lean on others to process the many changes that are taking place and how those changes impact our lives. There are no certainties in life except change.

Written By: Jessica Vogler, MS, MAC, PLPC

Jessica has experience working with adult survivors of childhood abuse and trauma, elementary aged children in an intensive outpatient treatment setting, and women with a trauma history.  She is trained in EMDR, SHARE bereavement practices, and Effective Trauma Care.

Jessica enjoys working with children and women of all ages to overcome grief, heal from traumatic experiences, and strengthen identity.  Trauma work specialty areas include adult survivors of childhood abuse and pregnancy/infant loss.  Jessica also has a special interest in working with parents of special needs children who need to strengthen their resilience or grieve the loss of ideals that may not come to pass.

Under the supervision of Sonya Paramore, License Number: 2007022552

By | 2018-03-09T14:14:45-05:00 February 19th, 2018|Grief Support, Support|0 Comments

Random Acts of Kindness Day

Did you know today, Random Acts of Kindness Day generated from  the phrase “practice random kindness and senseless acts of beauty.” The phrase inspired a 1993 book to be written about true stories of acts of kindness. Since its publishing, many people around the world have been inspired to participate in random acts of kindness. Now, many people celebrate today by brightening the lives of those around them.

Below is a list of creative ways that you can spread kindness in your own neighborhood.

  • Let someone go in front of you in line at the grocery store
  • Give a stranger a compliment
  • Insert coins into someone’s parking meter
  • Participate in a fundraiser, walk, run, or other charitable events
  • Donate clothing or non-perishable food to the Salvation Army
  • Plant a tree or help someone tend to their garden
  • Pay for a stranger’s library fees
  • If someone you know seems sad or lonely, spend time with them and allow them to talk to you while you listen

These simple, yet kind gestures can go a long way to make someone else’s day.

The Center for Hope and Healing is a private practice that provides individual therapy to individuals and families going through life transitions and mental health challenges such as the death of a loved one, divorce, and serious illness of self or loved one. Our goal is to help individuals foster resiliency, increase problem-solving and coping skills, reduce stress reactions, and develop healthy relationships, thereby improving overall wellness.  Counseling and therapy sessions for St. Charles and St. Louis counties. Click here or call 636-328-0874 for more information.

By | 2018-01-09T06:40:47-05:00 February 17th, 2018|Grief Events|0 Comments