How To Get Help When You Can’t Afford Therapy

I feel as if I’m getting all of the benefits of your counseling without giving you anything in return.” Quote from a reader of Beyond Messy Relationships.
We all need help from time to time. And we all know that reading books are never a substitute for professional counseling. Yet, you can learn how to get help when you can’t afford therapy.
 
Not many therapists are so gracious to write their personal stories along with taking the mystery out of counseling. I’ve felt like a lone ranger until I read Lori Gottleib’s book, Maybe You Should Talk To Someone. Lori’s writing style is both engaging and humorous. She opens up her vulnerable self as a psychotherapist and pulls us into the stories of three clients… some of which you won’t like at first. Yet, throughout their journeys, you identify with and learn to love them.
 
Lori helps us honor our human struggles. Yet she gives us so much more. Her book appeals to those of us in this mental health profession. But in reality, we can all benefit from her wisdom, transparency, and expertise.

Get help by reading, or listening to books 

If you don’t care to sit with your nose in a book this summer, then you can listen. It’s so easy to do menial tasks or take a walk in the neighborhood with earbuds and a smart phone in your pocket.
 
You can sign up for an audible account, that comes with a [first] free month trial. Or, use your local library for downloadable audible or digital books. Of course, you can check out print books!
 
Reading or listening to books can be the first step to getting help.
But, there’s more.

Get help by participating in community groups 

You can start with a google search to find the right support you need. Therapy or community groups can get us out of our isolation and rigid thinking. As Lori Gottlieb has done for us in her book, groups normalize our human struggles.
 
For those of us who are faith-based, we value the Scripture passage in the gospel of Matthew.
For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18:20)
 
Here’s some groups I recommend to my clients.

Get help by attending events

Look for community resources for events that enhance your well-being. Our community here in Chattanooga hosted the Embracing Hope event. In honor of mental health awareness month, hundreds came to hear Bluegrass music. They also spoke with vendors who provide support. Local counselors, community mental health centers, and organizations gathered together.
 
Now I’m in the planning stages of “The Beyond Messy Experience” event. This free event will take place on September 10th here in Chattanooga. It will also be live streamed for those who cannot attend in person. 
 
The main goal is to provide support. And to honor every human being’s dignity, value, and worth. Whether you’re in a partnered relationship or not, you’ll want to save the date for this event.
You may or may not get the benefits of counseling from reading Beyond Messy Relationships, or Maybe You Should Talk To Someone. But you do have what it takes. Access the resources. You know how to get help when you can’t afford therapy.

Here’s one of two steps you can take now:

  1. Sign up to get the first three chapters (for free) of Beyond Messy Relationships: Divine Invitations To Your Authentic Self.
  2. Sign up for “The Beyond Messy Experience” and mark your calendar for September 10th.

Are You Hanging Out With the Right Friends?

It was an awesome time in Franklin, Tennessee with new friends who traveled there from across the United States and Canada. It was my first face-to-face group event from Dan Miller’s Eaglepreneur group. Not only did we experience camaraderie, but it spurred a question we all need to ask. “Are you hanging out with the right friends?”

As we develop relationships with others, there are three qualities to look for: courage, curiosity, and calling.

The right friends are courageous

Since writing “Beyond Messy Relationships” I’ve been more aware of what resonates. I’ve been encouraged by most acquaintances, family, and friends. But there are a few who’ve left me feeling discouraged.

Of course, not all who’ve known me over the years are target readers for my book, Beyond Messy Relationships. Yet, it was a message I had to write. It was risky to be vulnerable. To practice what I’ve written motivates me to take deep breaths of AIR: Awareness, Intentionality, and Risks.

The group I met with in Franklin are not perfect people. But they are courageous friends. Our being together and hearing each other’s stories encouraged us all to be courageous.

The right friends are curious

We met at The Sanctuary, what Dan and Joanne Miller have named their dwelling. I was compelled to read Joanne’s book, “Creating a Haven of Peace.” Of course, I was curious about her’s and Dan’s 51+ year marriage. How did they create magnetic peace in their home? Why did others gravitate to this couple?

Everyone has a story. And it’s easy to make assumptions and make up stories in our minds about others. But when we take the time to be curious, we connect. And we become more aware of ourselves. We allow others into our lives and create sacred space between us.

When we take the time to be curious, we connect. Click To Tweet

Curiosity is the opposite of judgments and assumptions. It’s a remarkable gift to ourselves and others when we take deep breaths of AIR with attitudes of curiosity.

The right friends tune in to their calling

My new friend, Teresa McCloy is an Enneagram expert. After our Eaglepreneur group event, I participated in her Real Life Process Retreat. When I heard her story, I was touched by her clear calling. Figuratively, she breathes life into others and helps business owners tune into their purpose and calling.

Are you hanging out with the right friends? Or a better question might be this. Are you the right friend with attitudes of courage, curiosity, and calling?

Be aware, intentional and risk growing toward curiosity, courage, and calling. Click To Tweet

Your friendships may not be from across the United States and Canada. It doesn’t matter whether our friends are local or long-distance. But it does matter that we are aware, intentional, and take risks of growth. (Notice the acronym AIR?)

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. ~ Maya Angelou

Your next step:

Sign up for the first three chapters of “Beyond Messy Relationships: Divine Invitations To Your Authentic Self”

Peace

How To Really Give The Best Simple Presents

As we reflect “peace on earth and goodwill toward men,” I’ve wondered how to really give the best simple presents. There’s three things to consider as we prepare for Christmas. They are ways to honor this sacred time and give the gift of ourselves. Memories and expectations along with our perspectives can interfere with our gift-giving. Loving eye contact along with a prayer for peace enhances the best simple present we can give.

Memories and Expectations of The Best Simple Presents 

Memories of Christmas pasts and expectations of friends and family can be overwhelming. As a child it’s easy to believe Santa comes down the chimney and brings presents. But, as adults we learn to guard ourselves against pain. Our beliefs turn to distrust, negativity, and avoidance where there’s perceived danger. And sometimes, we’re up against not just perceived, but real emotional harm. The wonder of life no longer seems wonderful as we move through relationships.

Let’s remind ourselves of the phrase “good will toward men.” Of course, we interpret “men” as all human kind. In this special season, we celebrate the coming of Christ.  And let’s ask ourselves, what does that really mean?

Perspective Gives Us The Best Simple Presents

What if we could see the childlike soul of the person who holds discomfort in us? We may see a wounded, betrayed, hurt little boy or girl. Can we be open to see the substance of their being and look beyond their manipulation or rejection of us? If so, could we see their good will?  If we could see their pain out of their own unhealed wounds, we could relate with compassion.

Loving Eye Contact Accompanies The Best Simple Presents

It’s not easy to make loving eye contact. Nor is it easy to believe in the goodwill of those who cause us pain. Yet, if we choose to hold onto our childlike faith, we can grow beyond our own woundedness. As a result, we allow the love of Christ and His healing touch on our own lives. We can give the best simple present of ourselves. Our souls are filled when we’re at peace with the life-giving meaning of “goodwill to men.”

An Attitude of Peace Makes The Best Simple Present

This prayer brought tears to my eyes more than once in my reflections of Christmas. May it touch your heart as you celebrate this sacred time!

Peace Prayer

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.

Where there is hatred, let me sow love.

Where there is injury, pardon;

Where there is discord, union;

Where there is doubt, faith;

Where there is error, truth;

Where there is despair, hope;

Where there is darkness, light;

Where there is sadness, joy.

O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console:

To be understood, as to understand;

To be loved, as to love:

For it is in giving that we receive,

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,

And it is in dying that we are born to

eternal life.

– attributed to Saint Francis of Assisi

Feature Photo by Joshua Hoehne on Unsplash

Couples counseling

How Couples Counseling Can Make You More Discouraged

Many of us well-trained professional counselors specialize in relationship therapy. But the general public may not know how couples counseling can make you more discouraged. It’s important to know the factors that get in the way of improving relationships.

Couples Counseling Means the Relationship is the Client

When a couple comes in for counseling, their relationship is my client. Even though they are two individuals, the focus is the well-being of their marriage.

There can be successful outcomes for couples counseling. And both of them need attitudes of curiosity about themselves and their partner. This is tough. It’s human nature to believe our spouse is the one who needs help. Yet, we all have blind spots that our spouse sees. And we all have quirks and flaws built into our personalities. For clarity, here are questions to ask:

  • “What it’s like for my spouse to be in a relationship with me?”
  • “Am I willing to change my part of the relationship pattern?”
  • “Am I willing to learn from my past mistakes?”
  • “Is my motive for counseling driven by improving my partner or myself?”

Couples Counseling Can Make It Worse

In some cases, couples counseling is not appropriate. Here are questions to ask.

  • “Is drug or alcohol abuse an ongoing issue?”
  • “Is there a sexual or emotional affair currently going on?”
  • “Are you a victim or perpetrator of domestic violence?”
  • “Are physical or verbal fights situational? Or does it characterize the relationship?”

Certain behaviors and attitudes are our “normal.” But it’s still destructive. We may not have discernment about issues of emotional and verbal abuse. For couples counseling to be effective, the well-being of each spouse must be honored. If it can’t, it’s time for individual therapy.

When Couples Counseling Is Not Appropriate

First of all, if couples counseling is not appropriate, DO pursue individual therapy. Secondly, it may be appropriate to come back to the couples therapist when both spouses can respect each other. They’re able to partner with common intentions.

For couples counseling to be effective, the well-being of each spouse must be honored. Click To Tweet

Many couples’ therapists can be fooled by the most clever and charming of spouses who abuse. I don’t like labeling individuals as “abusers” or any other derogatory term. And unfortunately, therapists can inadvertently harm the bullied spouse if they lack additional training. And we’re all human. So even therapists’ marriages can have similar issues.

The power/control issues of emotional abuse are ingrained in our society. It’s vital for therapists to have acute self-awareness. They hold power in the counseling office that can repeat what victims experience at home. Too many in our field have unknowingly caused harm by lack of awareness.

Questions to Ask Yourself About Couples Counseling

  • “Are you concerned about your emotional well-being?”
  • “Do you see yourself as a victim in your relationship?”
  • “Are you fearful of your spouse?”

A more difficult issue to assess is emotional or verbal abuse. And it’s important that each spouse is honored through couples work.

If your well-being is at stake, then it’s vital for you to get help apart from the relationship. Click To Tweet

I’m not suggesting that we perceive one partner in a marriage as the victim and the other as the villain. Both individuals can be willing and teachable to overcome the power/control dynamic. If not, individual counseling will give a sense of clarity.

Start with your free consultation to find out if if couples or individual therapy is best for now.

 

Photo by Yoann Boyer on Unsplash