mental health counselor murrieta

6 topics engaged couples seldom discuss that could lead to divorce

You just got proposed to, the ring is fabulous and you can't wait to start planning the wedding of your dreams. You have always imagined yourself in a beautiful, big dress with lace sleeves. You've picked the bridesmaids, you know your location, but have you had the right discussion with your fiancé to make sure that you are both in sync? Or do you still have fears that your marriage might end up like your parents'?

Now I know there is nothing romantic about having a serious discussion with the one you love. You'd rather focus on the fairy tale wedding. But if you plan to spend the rest of your life with someone, you better make sure you have laid the right foundation. You don't want to end up like your parents who are now unhappily divorced or like your friend who used to be so happy, but now she can't stand her husband. Laying the right foundation for your marriage will ensure that you both are happily married.

Here are 6 topics that every serious dating and engaged couple should discuss so that the marriage doesn't end up in strife or divorce.

Finances: Money is a huge trigger for many people. Some of us are taught how to take care of our money, and others were never taught. We typically take care of our money the way we saw our parents take care of their money. If your father was a big spender, chances are you'll also want to spend your money quickly. But if your parents or guardians were frugal, you'll probably have a smilier mindset. In some families, money is actually never discussed, meaning that the kids grow up to believe that money is a taboo topic. 

While you are still engaged, it's important to talk about how you both will manage finances. Will you have 2 separate accounts or 1 joint account? Will you split bills half way or will one partner contribute more to the bills? Will you be setting a monthly budget or will you play it by ear? Money is one of the top reasons for divorce. Although it might be uncomfortable, get the discussion in now before you say your vows.

Kids: I can't even tell you how many couples do not ever discuss the issue of kids until after they are married. How many kids do you both want to have? Who will take care of the kids? Will one of you stay home for a while to care for the kids? Will the kids be in daycare? What type of daycare are you comfortable with? How will you raise your kids? What values will you like to instill in them? What are your parenting styles? Will you be a listening parent or a barking orders, do what I say parent? Will the kids be home schooled? If both parents cannot agree about how to raise kids, I promise you, it'll become an ongoing argument once the kids get here. So while it isn't romantic to go over these issues, it's definitely practical.

Holidays: Holidays are joyous times. We spend the time with our loved ones, we have special rituals around that time of year, and we definitely know what type of food should be served. But when an engaged couple gets married, the question becomes, "Do we celebrate holidays at your parents' house or mine?" Great question.

Marriage is a joining of two families. And you can't expect one person to completely leave their family behind. And if both of you are from different cultures, you have to add a separate layer to it. Your spouse might celebrate holidays that you've never heard of. Take some time to talk about what holidays you both would like to celebrate, where you'd like to celebrate, as well as who you'd like to celebrate it with. It might sound too simple to discuss, but when one partner feels like her family is ignored every year, it could lead to resentment, which leads to bitterness and anger. 

Chores: When you're single, you get used to running your household however you want. You can leave your dishes in the sink for 2 straight nights, you can vacuum 3 times a day if you'd like, and you can cook all the stinky cheese you please. No problem. But when you become engaged, then get married, you have to learn how to compromise. Don't take chores for granted. Before you move in together, talk about how you plan to split chores around the house. Is it his job to take out the trash, or will you both do it? How often do you expect the house to be cleaned? Specify what cleaning looks like, because for some people, cleaning simply means sweeping the floor, for others, cleaning means, sweeping, dusting, mopping, fluffing pillows, cleaning the blinds and scrubbing the grout. Make sure it's obvious what your expectations are. I can assure you that something as simple as a dirty home will drive you to daily conflict. 

Religion: This is a huge one. Be very honest about your religious and spiritual beliefs. This is not something to glance over. Talk about your beliefs and how you express them in daily life. So if your expectation is that you go to church on Sundays, then say that. if your expectation is that you volunteering Sundays, go to mid-week service on Wednesdays and also participate on other days, let that be clear. And if you are 2 people form different faith backgrounds, it's even more important to discuss what that would look like. Religious beliefs run deep so put everything on the table and let your expectations be very clear. This WILL lead to strife if not ironed out while you're still and engaged couple.

Roles: Discuss what each of you believes the wife and the husband's role is. Usually, we expect to run our household the way our family of origin ran theirs. So if your mom stayed home and watched the kids, you might want to do the same. If your dad worked two jobs and your mom worked one, you might assume your husband wants to do the same. Do you believe the husband is the head of the household? And what does that mean in practice? Get very specific. The easiest way to do this is to think back to your family of origin. Write out what roles your mom and dad played and think about if you'd like to continue that lifestyle or if you'd want something different.

Learn more about ways to set appropriate boundaries with your partner in this post- How to set appropriate boundaries in your relationships

And if it's too difficult to have these discussions on your own, I provide premarital counseling/therapy for engaged and premarital couples. Let's make sure that you are confident when walking down the aisle. Start your marriage off right with solid counseling. Don't make the same mistakes your friends and loved ones did. And if you'd like to schedule a free 15 minute consultation call, to see if premarital counseling in the Murrieta/Temecula area is right for you, click here or call 951-905-3181. I also provide online premarital counseling throughout California.

Confessions of a therapist- everything you don't know about your therapist

Most therapists go into the mental health field because we either have a burning desire to help people live great lives, or we have experienced hurt and pain, which creates a need to walk people out of the pain they are currently experiencing. It is a great responsibility to walk side by side with you as you are on your journey of healing. Now there are many misconceptions about therapists and counselors. Many people view us as mysterious people- but what you don't know is that we are quite easy to crack. Here are some secrets you should know about your local therapist.

I'm a regular person-just like you: Even though I'm a therapist, it's important to know that I'm a regular person just like you. I have hopes and dreams- to be healthy and happy. The only difference between me and you is that I have dedicated my life to helping people become unstuck so they can move on to brighter futures. Many therapists have families, we live in homes, some have spouses and kids. Some of us create art, sing, dance (even though I might have two left feet), watch movies, and travel. We have hobbies and do regular people things. It really is the only way we can take care of ourselves so that we can give you the care you need. If you're local in the Murrieta/Temecula area, you might even catch me around town just living life. If you've worked with me before, then you've probably heard my really loud laugh, my animated jokes and all the craziness that comes out of my mouth.

I sometimes nap on my couch: Now this is one of my deepest, darkest secrets as a therapist or counselor. Sometimes the days can be long, and when I find myself lucky enough to have a long break between sessions, I sometimes take a cat nap on my lovely couch. You see the couch isn't just for you to feel comfortable, it's also a great napping spot for me (Shh! Don't tell anyone).

I believe in you before you can even believe in yourself:  So often clients come to me broken, disillusioned and feeling lonely. Life feels so horrible that they just can't bear it. The moment you walk in to see me- sometimes with tears in your eyes-I usually can tell that you will be just fine. Because I've worked with so many women over the years, and I take great care to only take clients whom I believe I can help in some capacity. I have high hopes for you when you come to see me. I believe it is my job to hold the hope for you until you believe that you deserve to hold the hope for yourself.

I don't place judgement on you: It usually takes a while before a new client can trust me. But eventually, all my clients learn to trust me. I completely understand why many take a while to trust- after living a life of brokenness, trust is difficult to come by and must be earned. Sometimes clients are not completely truthful with me- because of guilt and shame. It is important to know that when you walk into my office, all you will receive is kindness, empathy and understanding. You can trust me with your emotions, but it is important to be truthful so I can help walk you out of the stuck, dark place.

I also have struggles of my own: I'm a therapist, not a robot. I have struggles, emotions and hard days. I have learned how to schedule my time appropriately so that I can take care of my own needs. I practice what I teach my clients. You see, self care helps me do my job effectively. But if I didn't have struggles or difficult days, I wouldn't be able to walk with you in the dark places. It is my humanity that helps me better understand my clients.

I've been in therapy before: Now I'm sure this confession will make you gasp. But there's no scandal here. Sometimes we also need our own therapists to help us see our blind spots. You see, the reason why therapy works so well, is that the therapist is able to view your situation from the outside looking in. When you're trapped in your struggle, all you can see is the struggle. It takes someone who isn't emotionally attached to you to help guide you out of your troubles. And yes, I've been in therapy before. It was one of the greatest blessings. My therapist was awesome and she helped guide me out of some of my blind spots. She was honest, capable and so very kind.

I don't walk around "Therapizing" people all day: People often ask me, "Ibi, are you analyzing me right now?" The answer is no. When I'm out and about, I take my therapist hat off and put my human hat on. I don't walk around watching parents interact with their kids or sniffing out anxious women in Murrieta. Nope. I live my life. So you don't have to run away from me if you catch me at a mental heath fair or at a pumpkin patch. But if you're my client, I'll let you say hi to me first to protect your confidentiality. 

You can also find out ways that I can help you in this blog post- How can a therapist help you?

So if you're a woman in the Murrieta/Temecula area who struggles with anxiety, and you are looking for a human therapist who can lead you from frazzled to calm, click here to schedule a free consultation call. You can also call me on 951-905-3181. I also provide online therapy for women throughout California. 

This is why your life sometimes feels sucky

Thanksgiving is around the corner. The turkeys are in the freezer, pumpkins are everywhere, the leaves are looking colorful, and the air is crisp. But for some reason you are not feeling your best. All you want to do is stay in bed, be upset and not talk to people. You wonder if something is wrong with you- and maybe there is something wrong- but perhaps a few simple tweaks can turn the day around. Sometimes you feel like your life just sucks. You get trapped in an ugly black hole. The more you try to climb out, the deeper you seem to fall. 

But little do you know that there are some things you could do to possibly help you get out of the hole for good.

Start your day off right

Many people start their days off without any intentions. They spring out of bed in the morning, rush into the shower, make a cup of coffee, skip breakfast and hope for the best. If you want your days to consistently feel great, then plan them out. Now don't get it wrong, there are no quick fixes to give you a perfect life. However, people who have an intentional approach to their lives often end up enjoying their lives more than those who wake up, are unplanned and who just hope for the best.

Try to wake up 10 to 15 minutes earlier than usual. I know it sounds alarming, but trust me, your future self will thank you. When your alarm rings, slowly get out of bed, say one or two things you're grateful for (It'll even be better if you could get a notebook just for this), say a quick prayer, meditate on scripture, then reach for a glass of water to rehydrate your thirsty body. Once you're out of bed, spend about 5 minutes stretching your body. As you stretch, create a visual for how you would like your day to unfold. Imagine yourself walking to work with a smile on your face, or dropping the kids off while saying "Have a great day," or giving your spouse a hug before he or she runs out of the door. 

Intentional minds create much more positive results.

Bring the joy

Once you begin to dive into your usual tasks, do them with joy. Even if you're picking up dog poop or combing your screaming child's hair, remind yourself that you are actually lucky that you get to do these things. These subtle mindset shifts will help you move from disgruntled to appreciative. When you go to the store, greet the greeters with a smile. Smiles are free, and they bring joy to most people (ignore the perpetually grumpy folks). 

Before you begin your work day, take 30 seconds to breathe and tell yourself that today will be a great day. It'll be great, not because everything will be perfect, but it'll be great because you have decided to bring the joy with your wherever you go.

Pick the right people to do life with

Life can be so sweet- that is if you have the right people to do life with. When your friends and family members are negative, uninspiring or unsupportive, then it's time to do something different. Now of course you don't get to pick your family members, but when you notice that you are trapped in a toxic environment, perhaps it's time to put them at arms' length. I'm not saying to cut them off, but you get to decide how much time you can spend with them, and how much of yourself to share with them.

The same goes with friendships. If the top 5 people you hang out with aren't living the happy, balanced life you've always dreamed about, then it's time to evaluate your circle. You should only be hanging out with people who leave you feeling recharged, excited about life and feeling great. if your friends seem to be going nowhere fast, chances are your life will go nowhere fast. You are who you hang out with. So take a long, hard look around you.

This might sound harsh, but I've seen too many people be sucked into negative spirals by friends who are no good for them. Find out more about how your friends could be increasing your anxiety in this blog post- This is how your friends are increasing your anxiety

Put the phone down

This last one sounds strange. What does a phone have to do with a sucky life? Well too many people spend entirely too much time scrolling mindlessly on social media. They could be working out, networking, taking naps, eating, and enjoying the world, but they spend all the time on social media. Make an effort not to pick up your phone right when you wake up and right before you go to bed.

Give your thumbs, your eyes, your posture and your mind a break. When you feel the urge to post all of your feelings to complete strangers, perhaps think of a friend you could share those feelings with. Create real connections. When you are at work, try to plow away at your actual work tasks and resist the urge to use your phone as a crutch. 

Another problem with too much phone use is that it creates the green grass syndrome. You begin to imagine that everyone is living their best lives except you. You look at their flashy cars, their 6-pack abs, their amazing executive offices, and you begin to feel self pity. Truth is, social media only highlights the best of the best. very few people chronicle their journey to the top. Most people only show themselves on their best days-with great hair, great makeup and their best outfits.

So before you get sucked in, put the phone in a drawer, or in another room. Put your head up, and enjoy the life you actually have. Remember, the grass isn't greener on the other side. It's actually greener where you water it.

And if you are feeling like you just can't take these steps on your own. Click here to schedule a free 15-minute consultation call to determine if I'm the therapist to move you from sucky life to happy life. You can also call me on 951-905-3181. I help women who are overwhelmed and anxious, create boundaries, find their strengths and live calm lives.


How to set appropriate boundaries in your relationships

If you follow me on social media, I talk about boundaries A LOT. Why? Well because boundaries either create a sense of safety or they provide a sense of vulnerability and insecurity. We all have boundaries- even if we don't know it. Some people have very rigid boundaries that keep them safe, yet keep people out. And others have very porous, open boundaries that let lots of good (as well as bad) in. But porous boundaries hurt you in the process. Having both types of boundaries serves a specific function. Rigid boundaries will definitely keep you safe-especially if you've had loss and hurt in the past. It's a great way to protect yourself when you've experienced lots of bad. The problem is that rigid boundaries also keep good, safe people out. So you'll definitely feel safe, but you might end up being lonely.

With porous boundaries you will get lots of good people coming into your life, but the bad will also be able to come in. It's a great way to get to know lots of acquaintances and have tons of fun, but it means you don't have a screening process to let the good in and keep the bad out. Many people I talk to don't give much thought to boundary setting. I suggest that you start to think more about it. If you don't think about boundaries, you might open your world and your heart to people who aren't a good fit- thereby causing you a world of pain, confusion and frustration. In reality you want healthy, flexible boundaries so you can keep the bad out and allow the good in. And once the good is in, flexible boundaries allow them to stay in.

So, how do you begin to set boundaries?

1) Get clear on what your values are: If you've never decided what your values are, you'll open your life up to just anyone and everyone. So sit and think, "What are my top 5 non negotiable values?" These will serve as a guide when you're on the hunt for friendships, acquaintances, business partners and romantic partners. Because boundaries aren't just for marriages, boundaries affect every aspect of your life. If your values include honesty, sobriety, patience, family togetherness and love, then you will instantly screen out anyone who doesn't have the same values. Does this mean all your friends have to be just like you? Nope. It just means your friends should have similar values- even if their personalities are different from yours. If you value sobriety, but everyone you hang out with is using substances, chances are you'll always feel uncomfortable around them and might even end up using just like them. You are who you hang out with after all.

2) Know what your people limit is: How many people do you want in your life? Sometimes you might feel the need to have 100 close friends. Well, not everyone can tolerate a full social life. Be honest with yourself. If you feel exhausted being with a lot of people or always being on the phone to check up on the people in your life, then perhaps you don't need a huge list to fulfill your social needs. But if you have a few close friends and a yearning to open your life up to more people then perhaps you need to do just that. But be honest with yourself. Are you expanding your social list because you think it's the thing to do, or will adding more people bring you more joy? It's your life. You get to set the limit regardless of what others think.

3) Write a detailed list of the type of people you deserve: Now that you're clear on your values and how many close friendships you can comfortably tolerate, the best step is to dig deeper and write out the specific qualities you want in your people. Realize that hot every person is your person, and that's just okay. Even if the people around you believe both of you would make great friends or acquaintances, you don't have an obligation to include everyone in your life. So, what are the qualities you deserve in a friend, acquaintance or partner? Write them down, review them regularly and study them. This list will set you up for boundary success.

4) Write a list of the type of people you don't deserve: After you've created a list of the qualities you'd love in someone who is a part of your inner circle, what qualities do you absolutely not deserve in a person? Think about habits and character traits that drive you nuts. Or think back to people who have caused you pain. What qualities do you need to be protected from? Of course, you should add things related to abusive and controlling traits as those will only bring you pain- no one deserves abuse and mistreatment.  

5) Figure out what type of person you need to be to attract the right people: Like attracts like. The next step is to figure out what type of person you need to be in order to attract people with your desired traits. Why do you need to do this even for friendships? Well because your friends will either raise your self esteem or completely tear it down.  You need good quality friends who will fill you with joy, give you sound advice and help your journey through life be better. The people you spend majority of your time with will do a great job of shaping your ideas about who you are- so pick wisely. Many women think they can attract nice, respectful friends, but are they also nice and respectful? You see, if you want to attract good people, you also have to work on building your character. Sometimes coaching or therapy- depending on what your needs are- can help you with this.

6) Figure out a system to push out the bad: Once you've set your values, figured out who you deserve around you, and worked on building your character, the next thing to do is to weed out the bad. When someone tries to date you, but you realize they don't meet your character standards, then you simply turn away (or run!) in the other direction. It's that simple. You don't owe anyone anything. What if the person is family? Well it's time to learn how to spend less time with that person and reduce the impact they have in your life. Remember, bad boundaries could even affect your self esteem.

So are you ready to start creating healthy boundaries? Which one of the above works best for you? And if you'd like to work with me on setting clear boundaries so you can become a confident women, click here to schedule a FREE 15 minute consultation call. Life is too short to spend it with people who don't life you up. I also offer online counseling or therapy sessions for women who live anywhere within California.

How to teach your child important skills without having to pull out all your hair

Your wish for your child is that he becomes self disciplined, independent and he is able to follow rules so that he can become a successful, productive citizen. However, sometimes you feel extremely frustrated because you have to repeat instructions 700 times before he budges. Well, don't despair. It is possible to teach your child rules and give him self discipline without the feeling of daily frustration.

First of all, why is it important for a child to be self disciplined? Well it's simple. A self disciplined child is able to regulate his emotions better (not scream and shout when things don't go his way), he will be able to follow rules easier (when he's in school and the teacher says to complete 5 questions, he'll be able to do it) and honestly, he'll get along with the kids on the playground a lot better.

So are you ready to learn how to teach your child important skills like how to brush his teeth, tie his shoe laces, make his bed, etc?

1) Make sure the skills are age appropriate: Sometimes parents expect just too much from their kids. Only teach skills that a child can master at that age. Don't try to teach a 2 year old how to wash dishes or a 6 year old to mow the lawn. Sure there are some genius kids who can do it, but the average 6 year old just doesn't have that type of mastery. Before you get upset that your child isn't able to do something, first ask yourself if he is capable. Some children are also not as mature as their age mates. So try not to compare your child to others. Teach him skills that he is able to complete.

2) Make sure your directions are clear and simple: Parents are known for shouting out 17 instructions at once- "Go downstairs, get a cup of water, get your bag, grab your lunch, comb your hair, then wait for me to come downstairs." Woah!! Very few children (or adults) can remember 7 instructions at once. First, do not yell instructions from one room to the other. Talking through walls isn't very effective. Call your child into the room where you are, then only give him 1 or 2 instructions at once. Sometimes you can have him repeat the instructions to ensure that he heard and understood you. If your instructions are not clear or simple you're setting him up for failure and setting yourself up for frustration.

3) Watch your frustration level: When you're in a hurry or you're upset, that's the worst time to dish out instructions. You won't have time to explain clearly and your child will be stressed out. Also, if you're giving your child an instruction for a challenging task, chances are that he's going to need extra help. So don't set yourself up for failure. Only assign difficult tasks when you know you're going to have an extra minute to help him. Most kids cannot perform well under pressure. It's a simple fact. They'll get upset or have a meltdown.

4) Remove all distractions: Before giving out instructions, make sure the TV and video game console are off. There's no point competing with World of War Craft or Sponge Bob-don't try. First make sure your child isn't distracted, then give him 1 or 2 simple instructions. Sometime your child won't understand your instructions. Instead of yelling or getting frustrated, just repeat it in an easier format. Many parents will say things like "Why are you so distracted?" or "You just don't listen." But the problem is not the child, the problem is with the teacher. 

5) Use praise: After your child follows through, praise him. If you ask him to pass the salt and he does, say "Thank you." If he cleans up his room, give him a high five. These things not only build his self esteem, but they encourage him to continue to contribute to the household in a positive way. I know what you're about to say, "My mom never praised me for mowing the lawn. So I'm not going to praise my child." Well if you want a child with high self esteem and self discipline who has a strong, positive relationship with you, it'll only help to sow the seeds now.

6) Leave room for questions and errors: Many parents run their households like military installations. They don't leave any room for their kids to question them. It's okay if your child asks you why you use Windex on the glass instead of Mr. Clean or why you mow the lawn in a certain way. Children are curious. If you're not satisfying their curiosity at home, when they get older, they'll find other influences to give them the attention they need- and you won't like it.  Plus the truth is that no one wants to raise a zombie child who doesn't ask questions. No one wants their child to just obey without reasoning first. If you want an independent, smart child, leave room for questions and for errors. The best investors and the most successful CEOs are people who are constantly questioning the system. Also remember that your kids will make mistakes. You can either beat them down when they do or teach them resiliency. It's your choice.

And to learn more about Why do your kids behave the way they do? click the link to read another blog post.

What are some ways you teach your child simple instructions? If you're in the Murrieta or Temecula area and you'd like to learn more about ways to improve your relationship with your child, how to strengthen his/her self esteem, and how to manage misbehavior so that your home becomes a safe haven, call me on 951-905-3181 or email me here. We'll talk about my 8-week parenting support group. If you feel like it's a good fit for you, I'll put you on the waitlist. You too can have a peaceful home with self disciplined, happy kids. 

Do you need a parenting class?

Being a parent is hard-but I bet I don't have to tell you that. Kids are so cute and cuddly, but after a while they begin to drive you nuts. They never seem to listen to what you have to say, they throw tantrums all the time, they sometimes don't want to follow a convenient schedule and sometimes, all you want to do is scream at them.

There is a myth out there that mothers are supposed to intuitively know how to take care of their kids. When the baby cries, you're supposed to know why she's crying and you're supposed to be able to fix it immediately. And when you're in public and she throws herself on the floor in the middle of the Murrieta Target? Well everyone immediately stares at you like you're a horrible person. The feeling of shame suddenly overwhelms you and you either leave the store quickly or give her the candy she's begging for. You begin to judge yourself and wonder if you're cut out for this parenting gig.

And as she gets older, she'll start talking back and it sure won't be pretty. You wonder what you'll do then. In your heart, you just want to raise a child who has structure, who is self disciplined and who listens to you from time to time. You know your daughter isn't perfect, but you want her to not give you headaches. You don't want to be screaming at her or spanking her like your mom or grandma did. You dream of going with her to the nail salon and having girl time when she's all grown up. But the problem is you don't know how to get from point A to point B- from strong willed toddler to happy teenager.

Some people think that parenting classes or parent support groups are only for moms with CPS cases. Or that these groups are for moms who use substances or who abuse their children. Well this is quite false. A parenting class is simply an avenue where parents (yes, dads too) or caregivers (and grandmas are welcome as well) go to learn more about their goals for their kids, their family values, how to instill self discipline in their kids and how to help children to be assertive, while still knowing how to follow rules. It's not a group for mom shaming or a group where you learn that you're bad. Actually, in my group, my goal is to help you understand your child so well that at the end of the class you'll be pretty confident as a parent.

So if you're a parent who loves your child, wants her to accomplish great success in the future, wants her to learn empathy, wants her to learn independence, wants her to learn how to share and play well with others, and wants to know how to strengthen your parent-child bond, then a parenting class is just for you.

Let's face it- there is no such thing as a parent who knows it all, so why not spend some time learning about the developmental needs of your child and how to strengthen your relationship with her so that she wouldn't have to throw herself on the floor of Target in order to communicate her needs with you.

If you're interested in enrolling in my 8 week Toddlers to Tweens class, you can call me on 951-905-3181 or you can email me here. We'll talk about if the class is a great fit for you, what goals you're looking to accomplish and how you can become a much more confident parent. Remember, parenting is hard, but it doesn't have to be totally painful. With some new tools in hand, you can learn how to make your journey a lot smoother. Call today-don't be shy.

Could you have separation anxiety?

If you've been watching the news lately, there has been a lot of spotlight on the thousands of immigrant children who have been separated from their parents. Whatever your political ideology is, we can safely agree that no child wants to be away from her caregivers for a long amount of time. Many of these kids might go on to develop something called Separation Anxiety Disorder.

To put it in simple terms, Separation Anxiety Disorder occurs when an individual experiences excessive feelings of anxiety when he or she has been separated from a caregiver. Now it's quite normal for a little child to cry when she is dropped off in a strange environment or to be nervous on her first day of school-everyone is nervous in a new environment. But when a child younger than 18, has been experiencing extreme anxiety-and sometimes even panic attacks, when he or she has to be separated from a caregiver, then that child might be diagnosed with Separation Anxiety Disorder.

With Separation Anxiety comes a fear of being left alone, a recurrent fear that one's caregiver will be harmed, constant and extreme worry that one will be separated from a caregiver or loved one. Sometimes the child will have nightmares regarding separation from her loved one, and these nightmares are so terrifying that the child cannot sleep separately from the caregiver. So you'll see kids wanting to sleep on their parents' beds or in their parents' rooms.

Often times, kids with Separation Anxiety are pretty much attached at their caregiver's hip. They'll follow mom, dad, grandma, around the house, they carefully watch to ensure that their caregiver isn't going to leave them and they have painful anxiety. Sometimes the anxiety gets so bad that the child could fall ill.

Although Separation Anxiety is much more common in children, sometimes, adults experience Separation Anxiety. Sometimes an adult is overly attached to another person (it could be another adult or a child). They worry when the person leaves their sight, they ask tons of questions about the person's whereabouts, they might insist that they go everywhere with the loved one. To the person who is on the receiving end, he or she might tag the person as "Controlling, nosey or needy." There is a constant worry that something bad will happen to their loved one, which is why they want to know so much information about the person.

Now remember, we aren't talking about normal concern. I'm talking about concern so big that the person is worried sick all the time. There is an overarching fear that something bad will happen to their loved one. This might have been triggered by having lost a loved one in the past or some other traumatic experience.

Do you ever find yourself worrying constantly about a loved one? Are your friends or loved ones always complaining that you keep tabs on them all the time? Do you find that you can't go to bed alone? Perhaps you might have some symptoms of Separation Anxiety Disorder. Although more common in kids, it could happen with adults. If you're tired of experiencing anxiety, worry and you're always sick to your stomach, give me a call.

I provide counseling services for women in the Murrieta area who experience various forms of anxiety. The first step is calling me on 951-905-3181 for a free 15 minute consultation call. During this call we'll talk about what you've been experiencing and how we can work together to help you find your calm. I also provide online counseling and therapy to women who live in California. You don't have to feel stuck. Help is a phone call away.

Are you shy or do you have Social Anxiety Disorder?

When you go into a public place, do your stomach muscles tighten up? Do you just want to crawl into a ball or take off running as fast as you can? Do you make excuses when people ask you to go out? When you finally summon up the courage to step out, are you constantly worried that others will judge or embarrass you? Sometimes what you think is shyness is actually something called Social Anxiety Disorder. It’s an unbearable fear that happens when you interact with others in a public space. While some people might go out to unwind after a long day, you just want to go home and relax in front of the TV or cuddle up with a good book.

 Social Anxiety creates fear when you have to be in certain social situations where you could possibly be observed, noticed or scrutinized by others. Some of these situations could include eating out at a restaurant, going to a party, going on a date, speaking in front of a crowd or even just going to the grocery store.

 While these situations appear like normal everyday social situations to others, to you, they create a deep sense of fear, anxiety and worry. Before you are about to go to a restaurant, you practice walking through the door, you visualize all the people who will be staring at you and you even wonder if you'll have to escape from the emergency exit.

Usually when you are in social situations, you feel an increased sense of anxiety, you might have difficulty interacting with others because you believe they are judging you or scrutinizing your every move. You find it difficult to stay calm when you're with others, because you can't shut your mind off. The entire time, you might be thinking "Will they think I'm weird? Are they judging me? I know I'm going to embarrass myself. What id I fall? Will they laugh?" Although the situation might seem harmless to others, it fills you with such distress that you have to leave. Sometimes you get so nervous that you might embarrass yourself, that you’re not able to truly enjoy the company of others.

If this sounds like you, the good news is that Social Anxiety Disorder is treatable. All you need to do is contact a mental health professional who is experienced in treating Social Anxiety so that you can work on changing your thoughts, you can be slowly introduced to social situations and you can get your happy back. It doesn’t have to ruin your life.

You can work on it and be released from the constant anxiety you experience. If you are in the Murrieta area and you are in need of a counselor or therapist, contact me for a free 15 minute phone consultation (951-905-3181) so that we can decide if you’re ready to begin the healing process.

Have you ever experienced social anxiety?

Types of anxiety disorders

You've heard the word anxiety over and over again. Maybe you've even felt that feeling in the pit of your stomach, or thoughts that move so fast that you can barely focus. Or maybe you've felt the room spinning and you couldn't catch your breath. Sometimes it shows up as an overwhelming feeling that stops you in your tracks. Or you wake up and instantly burst into tears. Well, did you know that there are many different types of anxiety disorders?

 Over the next few weeks, I'll be posting about each main category, but today let's just talk about the main categories. Before we dive in, I'll give you a brief overview of how I got the information. You see every therapist has a great huge manual from which we diagnose (yes, we can diagnose). Every few years, this manual is updated by tons of professionals in the mental health field. The most current version is called the Diagnostic and Statistics Manual of Mental Disorders 5 (DSM 5 or DSM V). This manual contains every single mental health disorder known to man. You can check it out here.

 Okay so on to the good stuff. Here are the main categories of anxiety disorders:

1) Separation Anxiety Disorder: This occurs when a person experiences a heightened sense of anxiety when they have to be away from someone whom they are very attached to. In many cases, children often feel this when they have to be away from a parent, guardian or loved one. Adults can also experience this. The person has a huge fear of being away from the person, they might scream and shout when the person has to leave, they avoid leaving the person and they might even have nightmares about leaving. This isn't just an ordinary feeling of "I'll miss you." It's a tense, anxiety provoking angst when you think about being separated from your loved one.

 2) Selective Mutism: This is also more common in children. This occurs when the person can speak, but he or she chooses not to speak in certain social situations such as at school or in a public place. This could be because the person feels very anxious or unsure. If the child does not speak due to a hearing or speech problem, or because they don't understand the language, then they probably don't meet the criteria for this disorder. My advice would be to first take the child to his or her pediatrician to get checked first, before going to a therapist.

 3) Specific Phobia: Did you know phobias are a real thing? A phobia is a serious fear about an object or situation which causes the person very serious distress. You could have a phobia about anything-water, trees, certain foods, mascots, feathers-anything. Phobias are not something to laugh about because they can intense emotional pain and fear. Luckily they are treatable.

 4) Social Anxiety Disorder: Serious fear or anxiety about being in a social situation where the person can be scrutinized by others. This isn't just a case of butterflies or a little shyness, in this situation the person has a serious fear. Because of this people often avoid such social situations.

 5) Panic Disorder: This is a case of getting various unexpected panic attacks. Some symptoms of a panic attack are shortness of breath, dizziness, sweating, difficulty breathing, hot flashes, numbness and even fear of dying. After the panic attack subsides, people who get them often have anxiety about getting more attacks-which could then cause them to have panic attacks. It's a vicious cycle.

 6) Generalized Anxiety Disorder: This is the diagnosis I see the most in my practice. It's basically excessive worry that is difficult to control, which occurs more days than not. Worry happens all the time even though you can't figure out why. Sometimes you experience tension in your neck and shoulders, difficulty sleeping, bad dreams, crankiness and tiredness.

 7) Agoraphobia: A serious fear about being in open spaces, being in enclosed places, going into  public transportation, being outside of your home alone and/or being in a crowd. Sometimes these situations could also trigger a panic attack. People with agoraphobia often feel most comfortable when they are in the comfort of their own homes.

 So you see, anxiety is real and it is often very complex. But the truth is we have all felt anxious to one degree or the other. Anxiety is treatable and mental health therapists and counselors are trained to help you reduce your anxiety.

 If you've been struggling with any of these situations, contact me for a free 15-minute phone consultation so we can talk about how to get you from sinking to thriving. Click here to email me.

What your first therapy session looks like

You've been thinking about calling a therapist for a while. You've been getting into arguments with your partner, your stomach is in knots, old memories have been creeping up in your mind, you cry sometimes and everything seems to be falling apart. You've tried to hold it together, but you are coming unglued. You know you need help, but you're not sure what therapy looks like. So here is a sneak peek into your first therapy session.

Before we dive in, note that therapists have different styles, so I'm basing this post off of how I run my first session.

Your first contact with me will probably be through an email or a call. If you send me an email, I'll ask to schedule a 15-minute phone consultation call with you. During this time, we talk a bit about what problems you're having, how you've tried to solve them, your prior experiences in therapy (don't worry you don't have to have prior therapy experiences), what your goals for therapy are, as well as issues regarding insurance and the cost of therapy. This is a time for you to get to know me, ask me any pressing questions you have as well as decide if I'm a good fit for you. Note that not every therapist call will be a great fit-hence the need for consultation.

If we decide that I cannot meet your needs, I'll either refer you to someone else or point you in the right direction. I don't work with every single person who calls me-I like to work with people for whom I can get results. But if we do decide that we want to work together, then we move on to step 2.

You'll get an email from me welcoming you to therapy. I'll also give you directions to my office and I'll send you paperwork to fill out. This gives you a chance to read over it and sign it if you agree. Doing this ahead of time will give us more time to dive into what brought you to therapy in the first place.

Your first session with me is an assessment session. It is important that we take some time to dig into your social life, physical health needs, mental health symptoms, 

important relationships in your life, past history of receiving psychiatric or psychological care, as well as your goals for therapy. I conduct a 90-minute assessment for all new clients, however each therapist does this differently. I believe in treating the root cause of your problem, not just the symptoms. Doing a 90-minute-deep dive allows me to do just that.

This 90-minute assessment session also allows you to really decide whether to not therapy is for you and whether or not you even want to work with me. You can ask whatever questions you want and if by the end of the first session, you don't want to come back, all you have to do is say so-no hard feelings on my part. I'd rather link you to the right fit that force you to work with me. 

I try to make my sessions as open as possible. Our work together is a collaboration. I'm not the boss- I'm a guide in your journey of healing. The more honest you are in answering my questions, the better I'm able to create a plan to help you reach your goals. But if you hide valuable information, I probably won't be able to help you.

It's totally normal to feel awkward or even shy during our first session together, but as the weeks go by, you'll probably become more comfortable. Remember, I'm not judging you. I'm asking you questions so we can work together to get to the root of your problems so that you can live a fulfilled life.

So, what questions do you have about the first therapy session?

If you want to hop on the phone to ask me directly and see if I might be a good fit for you, call me on 951-905-3181 or send me an email here. I'd be more than happy to answer your questions. Just know that help is out there. You don't have to struggle through your anxiety alone.