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How to Help a Loved One Process a Miscarriage

How to Help a Loved One Process a Miscarriage

Experiencing a miscarriage can be an incredibly challenging and emotionally overwhelming time for individuals and couples. In this blog post, I will outline four ways you might help someone process their miscarriage. Remember, every person’s experience is unique, so it’s important to approach this process with sensitivity and empathy.

 

Acknowledge the Grief

If your loved one is opening up about their loss, slow down and listen. Acknowledge the depth of the grief and allow space for them to feel the emotions that arise (perhaps pain, sadness, anger, powerlessness, confusion, and/or numbness). Remind them that it is normal to grieve and that there is no set timeline for how long this process should take. Understand that this was not just a physical event but an emotional one as well, involving dreams, hopes, and expectations for the future.

  • Phrases like “I’m here for you” and “Your feelings are valid” can be supportive during this time.
  • Avoid comments about “trying again” because this can feel invalidating and minimize the significance of their loss.
  • Keep in mind that having a miscarriage can be a traumatic experience. Focus more on supporting them in their feelings and less on probing for details about what happened.

 

Provide Information and Resources

Empower the individual with knowledge about the grieving process and the physical and emotional aspects of miscarriage. Offer resources such as books, support groups, and online communities where they can find solace and connect with others who have experienced similar losses. Encourage them to seek professional help if they feel it would be beneficial.

Here are some great resources:

Encourage the individual to explore these resources at their own pace, emphasizing that they are not alone in their experience and that there are supportive communities and expert guidance available to them.

 

 Encourage Self-Care and Compassion

Grieving takes a toll on both the mind and body. Encourage the individual to prioritize self-care activities that promote healing, such as gentle exercise, journaling, meditation, and spending time in nature. Remind them to be patient and compassionate with themselves, acknowledging that healing is a gradual process.

 

Foster a Sense of Hope and Meaning

While it may seem difficult to imagine at this moment, helping the individual find hope and meaning in their experience can be a powerful step toward healing. Encourage them to explore ways to honor their loss, such as creating a memorial, planting a tree, or participating in a charity event. This process allows them to transform their pain into something meaningful and positive.

 

Processing a miscarriage is a deeply personal and complex journey. By acknowledging the grief, validating the experience, providing information and resources, encouraging self-care, and fostering a sense of hope, you can guide the individual toward healing and growth. Remember, your role is to offer support, and it’s okay to seek professional advice or refer them to specialized support groups if necessary. Together, you can navigate this difficult journey towards a place of greater understanding and peace.

If you are looking for a therapist that helps folks that have experienced miscarriage, infertility struggles, or postpartum depression, Stephanie Doig is now taking new clients. Reach out now to schedule with Stephanie today!

7 Skills to Try When You Feel “Overwhelmed”

7 Skills to Try When You Feel “Overwhelmed”

Have you ever felt completely overcome by an intense emotions? Have feelings at times felt challenging to manage and overcome? The experience of being “overwhelmed” is uncomfortable and impactful in your life at work, home, or school.   Defining "Overwhelm" Emotional...

Coping with Scarcity and Scarcity Mentality

Coping with Scarcity and Scarcity Mentality

Are you among the millions of people that have lost work since a state of emergency was declared last month? Employment numbers keep rising across the country. And those numbers don’t account for those whose applications for unemployment remain in limbo. There is an...

Empowering the Self: An Introduction to Internal Family Systems Therapy

Empowering the Self: An Introduction to Internal Family Systems Therapy

Understanding the Internal Family Systems Model

 

Developed by Dr. Richard C. Schwartz in the 1980s, Internal Family Systems Therapy draws on a unique perspective that views the human psyche as a family system. Just as a family consists of different members with their own roles and characteristics, our internal system comprises various “parts.” These parts can be categorized into three main types:

 

  1. Exiles: These are wounded parts within us that carry unresolved traumas, pain, or memories from the past. Exiles often hold intense emotions and vulnerability.
  2. Managers: These parts take charge and work diligently to keep the exiles suppressed. They strive to maintain control, avoid triggers, and ensure our daily functioning remains intact.
  3. Firefighters: When the managers are overwhelmed or fail to protect us, the firefighters step in to manage crises. They adopt impulsive coping mechanisms such as substance abuse, disordered eating, self-harm, or other destructive behaviors to numb or distract us from the pain.

The goal of IFS therapy is to foster harmony and integration within this internal family system. By establishing a compassionate and safe space, individuals can develop a relationship with each part, understand its role, and ultimately foster healing and transformation.

 

Key Principles of Internal Family Systems Therapy

 

IFS therapy operates on several key principles that guide the therapeutic process:

 

  1. Self-Leadership: The central principle of IFS is the belief that within each person exists a core essence referred to as the Self. The Self embodies qualities such as wisdom, compassion, and curiosity. Through self-leadership, individuals can connect with their Self and guide the internal system towards healing and wholeness.
  2. Non-pathologizing Approach: IFS views all parts of the internal system as valuable and necessary. Instead of pathologizing or attempting to eliminate certain parts, therapists encourage clients to develop a compassionate and non-judgmental attitude towards themselves.
  3. Unburdening Exiles: IFS recognizes that emotional wounds and traumatic experiences can create inner exiles who carry the weight of these experiences. Through empathy and understanding, therapists help clients engage with these exiles, provide them with the support they need, and help them release their burdens.
  4. Healing Inner Conflicts: By facilitating open communication and negotiation between parts, IFS aims to resolve internal conflicts and foster cooperation. This process helps parts recognize their shared goals and enables them to work together harmoniously.

 

Benefits of Internal Family Systems Therapy

 

  1. Emotional Healing: IFS provides a powerful framework for accessing and healing deep emotional wounds. By establishing a compassionate relationship with our exiled parts, we can address unresolved traumas and find emotional resolution.
  2. Increased Self-Awareness: Through IFS therapy, individuals gain a deeper understanding of their internal system and the dynamics between their various parts. This heightened self-awareness allows for greater self-compassion and the ability to make conscious choices aligned with personal values.
  3. Integration and Harmony: The ultimate goal of IFS therapy is to foster integration and harmony within the internal system. By developing a compassionate relationship with each part, individuals can restore balance, facilitate cooperation, and enhance overall well-being.
  4. Long-lasting Transformation

 

Are you interested in working with a therapist that uses parts work? Sherese Cordova, LMHCA is currently taking new clients age 16+. Reach out today to schedule an appointment!

 

All about EMDR as Trauma Therapy

All about EMDR as Trauma Therapy

Have you heard of EMDR? Among therapists, it’s all the rage as an up-and-coming, evidenced based approach for trauma treatment. Because it is different than standard talk therapy, we thought you might have some questions. We’d love to help demystify EMDR as a form of...

How to Disobey “Worthless” Thoughts

How to Disobey “Worthless” Thoughts

If you believe you are “worthless,” it can bring on crushing feelings of depression and shame. But worthlessness doesn’t only impact how you feel. It also profoundly impacts what you do next. When you believe you are “worthless,” you might:

  • Not ask for help
  • Silence your voice
  • Say ‘yes’ when you’d prefer to say ‘no’ (or vice versa)
  • Deny your own needs
  • Stick it out in a toxic workplace or relationship
  • Stop trying
  • Quit things that matter most to you
  • Isolate from friends or family
  • Spend money on others but not yourself
  • Behave recklessly
  • Cover up, conceal, or hide
 
The trouble is, the more you behave as if you are worthless, the more shame you feel, the more you believe you are worthless. This perpetuates more of the same stuck behavior. It’s a vicious circle.

 

DISCLAIMER: Before we dive in too deep, as detailed in my post “Why I Think ‘Worthless’ Isn’t a Feeling AND Why that Matters,” I see “worthless” as a judgment NOT a feeling. Worthlessness is a malleable belief system that can be changed as you alter thinking, change behavior (the focus of this article), and heal from past hurts or traumas.

 

CHALLENGE: Imagine for a moment that a miracle took place while you were sleeping and you wake up in the morning fully believing that you are a person of infinite worth. Really stick with the image for a few minutes even if it’s difficult. Grab a piece of paper and jot down your ideas about how you interact with your day differently if you were to see yourself as WHOLE and WORTHY.

 

Depending on how deeply the belief of worthlessness has taken hold, perhaps behaving as if you are a person of worth starts with taking care of basic tasks of living, such as:

  • Rolling out of bed (maybe rolling on to the floor if that’s what gets you started)
  • Getting dressed in clean clothes
  • Taking a shower
  • Brushing your teeth
  • Checking the mail
  • Scheduling that doctor’s appointment or dentist appointment you’ve delayed
  • Getting in to see a counselor or psychiatric medication prescriber

 

If your beliefs about worthlessness have impacted your relationships, behaving as if you were a person of worth might look like:

  • Reaching out to friends or family you find trustworthy
  • Practicing vulnerability (again, with those you find trustworthy)
  • Accepting an invitation (or declining an invitation if your experience of worthlessness involves co-dependent people-pleasing)
  • Putting yourself out there to make a new connection
  • Raising your standards for friendship or dating
  • Setting boundaries with someone causing you harm
  • Speaking up about something you’re needing

 

If beliefs about worthlessness have impacted you at work or school, behaving as if you are worthy might involve:

  • Requesting accommodations
  • Applying for that promotion or job change you’ve been too scared to try, even if it doesn’t work out; as a student, perhaps trying out for the school play or a position on a team (regardless of outcome)
  • Going back to school later in life
  • Asking for help or more training
  • Giving yourself a break to prevent burnout
  • Making a change to your schedule to accommodate what you’re really needing
  • Living like Teddy Roosevelt’s “Man in the Arena”(however that translates for you)

 

If body image struggles have been a source of worthless thoughts, perhaps behaving as if you are fully worthy involves:

  • Buying clothes that fit your body comfortably at its current size
  • Nourishing yourself with consistent food intake throughout the day
  • Moving your body in ways that feel joyful but not self-punishing
  • Not letting your body hold you back from living your life (ex. Going swimming, traveling, dating)
  • Asking your doctor not to weigh you unless it’s (truly) needed medically
  • Respecting your body with your thoughts (get your inner bully in check)
  • Reading the book “Body Respect” by Lindo Bacon for even more ideas

 

These are all only examples. You will customize your behavioral REBELLION against worthless beliefs based on how worthlessness impacts you.

ASK: What action does worthlessness want you to do? You can either obey or disobey. Real change happens when you begin to DISOBEY.

In Dialectical-Behavioral Therapy (DBT), there is a skill called “Opposite Action” that helps shift negative beliefs with different (opposite) behavior. Here’s a video where you can learn more: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wkxOICjG2is

 

The big idea is this– If acted as if you are a person of worth EVEN BEFORE YOU BELIEVE IT’S TRUE– you can impact how you feel about yourself positively. Sometimes Action comes before Belief. Sometimes Action comes before you Feel any differently.

 

As mentioned above, many folks that experience worthless beliefs have trauma experiences that have contributed to low self-worth. If you’re curious about the impact of past experiences on worthless beliefs, ask yourself..

 

  • When did you first start to believe you are  “worthless?” Did someone in your life send you this message– directly or indirectly?
  • Did you have experiences of emotional neglect that taught you that your feelings or needs weren’t valuable?
  • Did you experience physical, sexual, verbal, or emotional abuse at anytime in childhood or adulthood?
  • Did you experience other Adverse Childhood Experiences(ACES)?

 

Let’s not pretend that any of this work is easy, especially if you are feeling depressed! That’s why many people get support from a professional therapist when doing this work. Don’t hesitate to reach out for support. You’re worth it!

 

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How To Stop Beating Yourself Up

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7 Skills to Try When You Feel “Overwhelmed”

7 Skills to Try When You Feel “Overwhelmed”

Have you ever felt completely overcome by an intense emotions? Have feelings at times felt challenging to manage and overcome? The experience of being “overwhelmed” is uncomfortable and impactful in your life at work, home, or school.

 

Defining “Overwhelm”

Emotional overwhelm entails more than being stressed. You can feel submerged life’s current problems, to the point where you lack efficacy and feel frozen or paralyzed.

Compare the feeling of being overwhelmed to being submerged in a rough wave. It’s a scary experience! You may not know which way is up or what way to swim. You may feel stunned and unable to react. You may be unable to think or act rationally or functionally.

 

Whether brought on by events in the world (ahem, global pandemic) or events in your work or family life, emotional overwhelm can occur for a short burst of time or over a much longer period.

 

Sometimes, like many are experiencing in 2020, a series of hardships and challenges occurring in rapid succession can trigger someone to feel overwhelmed. Common experiences that may have lead to emotional overwhelm this year include:

 

  • Suddenly homeschooling your children
  • Experiences of racism or discrimination
  • Worry about systemic or political matters
  • Quarantining and isolating from friends
  • Cancellation of social hobbies and sports
  • Physical illnessor worry about COVID-19
  • Traumatic events
  • Relationship crises
  • Increased workload
  • Serving as a front-line worker
  • Newly working from home
  • Getting laid off or furloughed
  • Financial distress and insecurity
  • Deadlines and time constraints
  • Death of a loved one
  • Wildfires or other natural disaster
  • (And can we also add Murder Hornets?)

 

Managing Emotional Overwhelm

Here are some strategies that can help mitigate feelings of overwhelm:

 


  1. Embrace Anxiety

Fighting against high anxiety doesn’t help. In fact, it can add on a “secondary anxiety” that makes you feel anxious about your anxiety. Instead, try to remember that anxiety is an expected response to being out of your comfort zone. It is a “normal” human emotion.  The feeling is uncomfortable but not dangerous.

Acceptance means allowing for uncertainty and discomfort, mindfully acknowledging it, and keeping on with what you can do instead of dwelling on what you can’t. Sometimes “acceptance” means non-judgmentally sitting with the feeling in your body, assuring it that it’s “welcome,” and allowing yourself to experience it with curiosity.

If you’d like to learn more about this skill, check out “The Happiness Trap: How to Stop Struggling and start Living” by Russ Harris.

 


  1. Challenge Negative Thought

Distorted, negative thoughts build up as anxiety grows and can amplify your feelings of overwhelm. In his book “Feeling Good,” Dr. David Burns lists 10 common cognitive distortions that often fuel feelings of distress. By noticing negative thought patterns, stopping them in their tracks, and re-writing them with more balanced, neutral, and accurate thoughts, you should notice a reduction in distress.


  1. Practice Mindful Grounding

If your feelings of overwhelm are future-oriented “what if” thoughts, try out 5-senses grounding skills to bring you back into the present. The Calm meditation app is a great resource for guided meditation and practicing being present.


  1. Prioritize and Let Go of the Rest

Ruthlessly cut out extraneous and optional activities that don’t fully align with your top priorities and core needs. There aren’t as many “shoulds” and “have-to’s” in this life as sometimes our culture makes it seem. What are the true “essentials” in your life?  Is there anything you can let go of for now?


  1. Center on Core Values 

If you are feeling powerless over world events and broken systems, center on your core values. Give your values a specific name (ex. Acceptance; Equality; Freedom). Imagine that your value is speaking to you right now. What does it whisper? Feel it encourage, uplift, and ground you. Imagine yourself feeling rooted in them.


  1. Get Organized

Write down your to-do list and track activities on you schedule. When life becomes too busy, holding these things in your head is too much. Your thoughts can spin with all of your to-do’s so you don’t forget. Let a piece of paper (or your smart phone) hold on to the to-do’s for you. If you struggle with staying organized, you might try out Microsoft To Do, an app for organizing lists and tasks.


  1. Start Therapy

There are times in everyone’s life when it’s time to ask for help. A therapist is able to help you identify triggers for your feelings of overwhelm and craft a coping plan specifically for you. Help is available! You don’t have to do this by yourself.

 

7 Skills to Try When You Feel “Overwhelmed”

7 Skills to Try When You Feel “Overwhelmed”

Have you ever felt completely overcome by an intense emotions? Have feelings at times felt challenging to manage and overcome? The experience of being “overwhelmed” is uncomfortable and impactful in your life at work, home, or school.   Defining "Overwhelm" Emotional...

Coping with Scarcity and Scarcity Mentality

Coping with Scarcity and Scarcity Mentality

Are you among the millions of people that have lost work since a state of emergency was declared last month? Employment numbers keep rising across the country. And those numbers don’t account for those whose applications for unemployment remain in limbo. There is an...

Coping with Scarcity and Scarcity Mentality

Coping with Scarcity and Scarcity Mentality

Are you among the millions of people that have lost work since a state of emergency was declared last month? Employment numbers keep rising across the country. And those numbers don’t account for those whose applications for unemployment remain in limbo.

There is an understandable financial strain; the impact of which is palpable. Calls to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) increased 891% compared to this same time last year.

 

But what is it about this experience of scarcity that triggers so much stress?

Abraham Maslow theorized these basic physiological needs for human survival:

  • The need for health
  • The need for food and water
  • The need for shelter
  • The need for sleep
  • The need for clothing

Maslow teaches that BEFORE you have a chance of feeling “safe” and “secure,” your physical needs MUST be met. This is why we cope with ACTUAL scarcity by prioritizing basic needs.

With that in mind, here are a list of local resources that can help with basic needs during this crisis:

 

 

Emergency Food Assistance:

Housing & Utility Assistance

If changes to your personal pocketbook aren’t enough, news reports trickle in day by day, hour by hour, reminding us of the faltering state of our economy.

 

ABOUT SCARCITY MENTALITY

What happens if your financial situation is indeed secure, but you don’t feel secure? Maybe you begin to take precautions as if you were under financial threat. Maybe you hoard food, ration the toilet paper, and cut back on expenses. Perhaps you bolster your savings. Or maybe you just feel anxious when spending money, as if that fear will prevent you from overdoing it.

 

Scarcity mentality is defined by a sense that there is never enough. It impacts our thought life, our feelings of fear and caution, and drives us to action.

 

Impact of Childhood Experiences

Many of those that experience scarcity mentality (but are otherwise financially secure in the present) have had past experiences of insufficiency.

 

  • Past experiences with homelessness, hunger, or poverty
  • Difficulties affording basic needs
  • Sense that there’s “not enough” to cover the “wants” of life (For Example: the cost of engaging in sports or music lessons)
  • Sometimes subtle messages that there isn’t enough to go around (“clean your plate so nothing goes to waste” or “we need that to last all week”).

 

Those past experiences fuel a belief system that predicts future instability in order to protect against a similar lack of resources.

 

If you are experiencing scarcity mentality, a counselor can help by:

 

  1. Helping you process past experiences feeding your current distress (which may be stored in your brain as a ‘trauma’ memory)
  2. Using Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to help you shift out of negative thought patterns
  3. Teaching you skills (such as thought defusion) that help you ‘let go’ of unhelpful intrusive worries.
  4. Coaching you on how to use (and take a break from) ruminating thoughts.
  5. Giving you a toolbox of other skills for lowering overall anxiety, including:
  • Mindfulness
  • Meditation
  • Grounding
  • Thought-stopping
  • And many other skills, depending on the theoretical orientation of the therapist

Having Difficulties Affording Therapy?

At Star Meadow Counseling, we know there are people who may be unable to pay for therapy as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. This is why our graduate student counselor is currently offering pro bono services to those impacted by the crisis. She has immediate openings for telehealth and is ready to help!

 

 

How To Stop Beating Yourself Up

How To Stop Beating Yourself Up

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Afraid of Failure? Here’s Advice on Coping with Failure

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Fear of failure causes us to put the brakes on our life. When we’re so afraid of failing at something, we either don’t try at all, or we subconsciously undermine our own efforts to avoid an even bigger failure. Without question, fear of failure is immobilizing and,...