A great therapist generally won’t be like the stereotypical psychologist character that is often portrayed in movies. Therapy involves much more than venting to a listening ear, and your therapist should offer more feedback than repeatedly asking you, “So, how do you feel about that?” If you’ve been “shopping around” for a therapist or you’re wondering if your current therapist is right for you, first ask yourself two questions:
If you find yourself hesitating to answer yes to either question, it would be best for you to find a different therapist. Even therapists are imperfect, so they may not communicate well with you, your personalities can clash, or you may simply not like them--and that’s OK. However, if you answered yes to both questions, you’re off to a good start! Keep reading to see if your therapist is the perfect fit for you.
Most people would assume that all therapists are naturally good listeners because it’s such a huge part of their job. Sadly, some therapists can be distracted or unfocused when talking to their clients. Some patients have even reported that their therapist fell asleep during an appointment! If your therapist makes phone calls, texts, or eats meals during your session, these are warning signs that they’re not entirely focused on you.
You will know your therapist is a good listener if:
Accepting and Non-judgemental
You should never feel ashamed or afraid of being judged during therapy. Your therapist shouldn’t make you feel like you need to lie about your feelings, or cause you to fear disclosing “too much” during your appointment. If your therapist makes hurtful or judgemental comments that leave you feeling worse, it’s time to find a more compassionate therapist.
A good therapist will help you feel accepted by building trust with you, and approaching sensitive topics carefully. They should display empathy and be able to understand things from your point of view. Once you’re comfortable with opening up more to your therapist, they should ask you non-judgemental questions about the event to fully understand what happened so they have the knowledge they need to help you cope and heal.
Help You Implement Change
Making changes in your thinking habits or daily life can be really challenging, which lots of people might not realize. Therapy isn’t just a weekly appointment to update your therapist on how your week is going! A good therapist will give you the tools you need to start making positive changes in your life. For example, if you’re dealing with a mental illness, your therapist should work with you to identify specific goals you want to reach (i.e. challenge a negative thought daily), and teach you healthy coping skills. Your therapist should give you “homework” to do every week and ask you how it went at the following session.
If a few sessions go by and you haven’t talked about setting goals yet, ask your therapist to help you begin setting reasonable goals for your treatment. But remember: your therapist shouldn’t be telling you what to do, either. They can offer their advice or perspective, but in the end, all goals and decisions should be up to you.
Knowledgeable About Current Research
A good therapist should be up-to-date about the latest breakthroughs in treatments, new terminology, or changes in the DSM. Their sessions should be based upon proven scientific studies that have been shown to help people, such as using cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). Great therapists usually read books about psychology, attend conferences, or even take more training courses to stay knowledgeable.
The ways a therapist helps you should all be based on facts. Noam Shpancer, Ph.D., writes, “Good therapy does not contradict or ignore sound scientific data, knowledge, or evidence.” So if your therapist promises that the treatment is guaranteed to help you or says they can “change” your personality, it would be wise to look for a new therapist.
Where to Find a Good Therapist
At Oakville Wellness Center, we understand how frustrating it can be when you can’t find the right therapist for your needs, so we made the process easier for you. On our website, you can view the profiles and specialties of qualified therapists before scheduling a session, and you can even book an appointment online.
A good therapist can make a world of difference in a person’s life. They offer valuable advice and feedback, provide a safe environment to talk about negative emotions, and teach individuals healthy ways to cope with their feelings. But just like in any profession, there are good therapists that you’ll benefit from and bad therapists that may discourage you. If you’re worried that your therapist might be doing more harm than good, look out for these signs.
Do You Dread Your Appointments?
It can be nerve-wracking when you first start seeing a therapist, and you may feel uncomfortable during the first session or two, and this is normal. After your therapist gets to know you, you should feel more comfortable with being open and honest, and your session should become a highlight of your week. However, if you dread future appointments because they leave you feeling bored or unmotivated, you would benefit from seeing a different therapist.
Clinical psychologist Christina G. Hibbert, Psy.D, has noticed that many people prematurely decide therapy isn’t right for them after only seeing one therapist, but she encourages others to keep seeking treatment despite the disappointment they might experience at first. She says, “It’s hard enough to get yourself to therapy when you need it, but to have to then ‘shop around’ for the right therapist can make many people either quit or settle for the first one they find, even if it’s not a right fit.”
Is Your Therapist a Good Listener?
You would think that all therapists are good listeners, but unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. People have told stories of their therapists answering phone calls, texting, or even falling asleep during sessions! Even if your therapist doesn’t seem noticeably distracted during sessions, it might be reasonable to find a new counselor if your therapist doesn’t seem interested or engaged or doesn’t remember major details about you. Ros Johnson, LICSW, says there are a few ways therapy clients can tell if their therapist isn’t listening:
Are You Making Progress?
There are countless reasons why a person might decide to try therapy, whether it’s for a mental illness, addiction, relationship troubles, or a big life change. Your therapist should be helping you to address specific areas of your life where you can begin implementing change. According to Linda Esposito, LCSW, says that, “You cannot fix a problem without having a goal.”
As you discuss your issues with your therapist, you should work together to create goals for yourself. If you feel like each session is the same routine, you don’t have a specific goal, and your therapist doesn’t give you something to “work on” in between sessions, you should express this to them. Explain that you’re at a loss for what to do, and that you’d like help with determining a goal for yourself. If nothing changes, find a different provider.
Do You Feel Judged or Invalidated?
One woman recalled her therapist saying that if she lost weight, her depression would likely get better. This occurred after the woman had opened up about her struggles with body dysmorphic disorder. Needless to say, she left the session feeling defeated, upset, and insecure.
Another therapy patient recounts this statement from their therapist: “You seem to be doing fine. I’m not convinced that you really have anxiety.” If your therapist makes a comment that hurts you, you should speak up about it. Notice if other harmful comments are made, or if any of these things occur during your sessions:
Does Your Therapist Break Confidentiality?
There are only three reasons a therapist should break confidentiality: if the patient is a danger to themselves, has a plan to harm others, or if a child is being abused. Other than these, a therapist should never disclose any patient information to others. You should be confident that whatever you tell your therapist will be kept private. Loren Soeiro, Ph.D., writes that if your therapist doesn’t keep your sessions confidential, you can report him or her to the state licensing board for psychology.
Finding a great therapist can be challenging, which is why Oakville Wellness Center allows you to review therapist profiles and find the perfect fit for your needs.
Having relationship tension with your partner is normal after having a child. Sleepless nights, changes in employment, money problems, and several other issues can arise that neither of you would have expected before your baby arrived. A previously happy marriage can seem to take a turn for the worse as you and your spouse disagree over rules for your child, child rearing practices, and other important factors.
Disagreement and frustration is undoubtedly going to occur between you and your partner after having a child, but these difficulties can be overcome. If you fear your marriage has been suffering as you raise children, here’s a few words of advice for common relationship troubles.
Partners to Parents
Some couples may underestimate how much a baby will impact their lifestyle. Couples who enjoy late-night dates or spontaneous trips come to realize that with children, these activities become much rarer. Fun, energetic conversations about dreams, funny stories, or opinions can die out and be replaced by mundane questions about daily life. New parents may also stop doing little things for their spouses that make them smile after having children. It can feel like there’s no romance left in your relationship.
If you feel more like coworkers in raising children than a married couple, try to start bringing romance and spontaneity back in small gestures. Send a quick romantic text to your partner, cook their favorite meal, or simply ask them questions that aren’t about the kids. In order to keep your marriage strong, it’s important to continue making your spouse feel loved and appreciated despite the busyness of life.
Parents can become lonely and overwhelmed if they’re often at home by themselves taking care of the child. One mother says that she “envied her friends’ freedom” during the months she stayed home with her infant son while her husband worked. Even in relationships where both partners continue working after childbirth, women are more likely to cut hours at work in order to spend more time with their baby. After spending a lot of time home, women can start to feel disconnected from coworkers, friends, and family.
To combat the feelings of social isolation, talk to your partner about scheduling time during the week where you can take turns watching the children so the other person can meet up with friends, go shopping, or simply take a walk.
Most men don’t know anything about raising a child or child care until after their partner has a baby. This can be especially frustrating for new mothers, as they feel like they have to supervise their husband to make sure he’s changing or feeding their baby properly. Women may take on the role of the “primary caretaker,” leaving the other partner to feel left out or upset. If this problem continues unresolved, it can lead to power struggles where the husband keeps trying to prove that he knows what to do and he can handle caring for the baby.
The easiest way to combat this problem would be to educate the expecting father about child care before the baby arrives. An expecting father is encouraged to go to prenatal classes and doctor appointments with his wife, and some areas even have “expectant fathers’ classes.” However, if your baby has arrived and your husband seems clueless about caring for a child, he can read up on the basics of child care online.
Raising a baby is expensive, and if one partner needs to take time off work to care for the baby, finances can become even tighter. The spouse who earns money for the family may encounter more stress while being the sole provider, and their partner can feel guilty about staying home. New parents often encounter money problems, but it’s usually the underlying emotions that make these issues worse, such as feelings of shame, stress, or sadness.
One way to combat arguments and negative feelings about money is to find a time to sit down together and go over your budget in detail. Make a list of what the total income is, what essentials your family requires, and look for areas you can cut back spending in.
Of course, there are many more problems parents may encounter as they raise children, and these issues may result in significant stress or depression. Psychology professor Matthew D. Johnson writes that, “The link between psychological and marital problems is strong enough that researchers have found that couples therapy is one of the most effective ways of treating depression and some other mental illnesses.”
If your marriage is struggling or you think you may be suffering from a mental illness such as postpartum depression, don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment online at Oakville Wellness Center today.
Divorce can be a difficult, painful process for you and your partner, but it can be even harder to tell your child about the decision. How can you discuss the situation without upsetting your child? What can you do to make sure they know it isn’t their fault? These, along with several other questions, are likely on your mind, so we did our best to address some common worries and provide advice for approaching the conversation with your child.
Preparing for the Discussion
Research has shown that over 75% of divorcing parents talk to their children about the upcoming shift in their lives for a total of only 10 minutes. That’s not nearly enough time for children to process the situation and ask questions about what will happen in their future! Try to gradually inform your child of the details and make sure you let your child know about the divorce at least a few weeks before the separation is to occur.
Therapist Lisa Herrick, Ph.D., suggests that parents may want to tell their children’s teachers the day before they discuss the news with their children. Ask teachers to keep the information private, but to be sensitive to your child’s feelings the following day. Informing your child’s teachers will also help them understand if your child seems “different” or upset.
Psychotherapist and author Vikki Stark says that for some children, sudden news about their parents’ divorce can actually be traumatic. She writes, “Time slows down, the world feels unreal and their bodies go into shock.” It’s crucial for parents to address the topic carefully, but without sugarcoating the reality of the situation.
Steps for Breaking the News
There is no perfect formula for telling your child the news, and it will depend on several different factors. If you and your partner are able to, plan how you’ll approach the topic together. Plan to tell your children about the upcoming changes in their own routines rather than the reasons behind the divorce to avoid further fights or upset. When you’re ready to have the conversation, be sure to complete the following steps:
How to Help Your Child Cope
Some children may be angry or sad, some may pretend everything is OK to avoid making you feel worse, or some might become more isolated. Each person will react differently, and it’s normal to experience a range of different emotions and behaviors. To help your child start to accept the news, here are some things you can do:
Divorce is hard on anyone. For more guidance through the process or any other relationship troubles, visit us at Oakville Wellness Center.
All parents wonder at times if their child is really understanding or listening to what they’re saying, but what if you’re worried your child may actually be struggling to comprehend conversations or instructions? About 5% of school-aged children have an auditory processing disorder, or APD, which affects the connection between their ears and their brain. Children may get confused in the classroom, upset in loud environments, or fail to follow instructions when they have this condition.
What’s the Difference Between an APD and Hearing Loss?
Hearing loss, hearing impairments, and APD can appear to have very similar symptoms, but they have entirely different causes. With hearing loss or a hearing impairment, someone may struggle to hear different sounds or quieter volumes. Hearing loss can also worsen over time if there’s any damage to the cochlea in the inner ear.
APD, on the other hand, isn’t a hearing impairment at all. Those with an auditory processing disorder can hear perfectly fine, but the information gets disorganized somewhere in their brain. Children can have trouble discerning what people are saying to them, or understanding and analyzing different sounds.
Signs and Symptoms of APD
Most parents begin to notice signs of APD when their child is in grade school because their symptoms may become more apparent in the classroom. APD can range in severity, but a common problem is having difficulty listening to one person talking in a loud, noisy environment. Your child may also:
What to Do if You Suspect Your Child has APD
If your child seems to have an auditory processing disorder, make an appointment with an audiologist. Only an audiologist can accurately diagnose your child, but keep in mind that most diagnostic tests require children to be at least 7-8 years old. If you’re wondering what exactly an audiologist will be testing for, here are the five main “problem areas” they will check:
Ways You Can Help
If your child is diagnosed with APD, there are several ways you can help them succeed both at home and in the classroom. First, your child’s doctor or audiologist may refer you to a speech-language pathologist to help your child improve their reading and listening comprehension skills. A speech therapist can also offer you and your child different resources or let you know about in-school supports, such as assistive listening devices. Other ways you can help your child at school include:
At home, you can significantly lessen your child’s frustration or confusion to make both of your lives easier. Along with helping your child study and stay organized, here are a few more tips to ease their symptoms of APD:
For more information, visit us at Oakville Wellness Center.
Over the past few decades, technology has grown exponentially. Parents today probably still remember using big, clunky computers and cell phones with actual buttons. These have been replaced by sleek tablets, laptops, and phones that can do much more than just call others. With this rapid growth, researchers still aren’t sure about all the effects screen time has on children, and it’s one of the most pressing concerns that parents have today.
Consequences of Too Much Screen Time
According to the ADA (American Optometric Association), children today are increasingly learning how to use technology before they can even walk or talk. Screen time for young infants can cause damage to their developing eyes, but as children grow older, screen time may cause even more harm such as:
How to Monitor Your Child’s Screen Time
It’s important to be aware of how you monitor and approach the subject of screen time with your child. Try to calmly explain why you want them to spend less time on their phone or laptop instead of just saying, “Because I said so.” Having access to the internet is often essential for children’s school work, and it will just become more important as your child grows older. Help your child establish good habits now so they don’t experience the negative drawbacks that excessive screen time can cause. Here are a few tips to help you monitor how much time your child is spending in front of a screen:
Benefits of Limited Screen Time
Cardiologist Dr. Tara Narula says that technology, when used for appropriate amounts of time, can have several positive effects on children. Narula says, “It can introduce them to ideas, information, current events, even health education that they may not get normally. It can also connect them socially to people who may live far away geographically, like family and friends, and allow them to be involved in school projects and assignments." When your child becomes a teenager, they’ll also utilize technology to apply for jobs, write research papers, look for colleges, and much more.
The key takeaway here is that screen time isn’t always a passive activity. YouTube videos can teach children how to make simple recipes or learn an instrument. Social media can keep your child up-to-date on the latest news from around the globe. There are plenty more sites dedicated to educating people about every subject known to humanity. Encourage your child to access this wealth of knowledge responsibly and to use their knowledge to help others, learn new skills, and pursue their interests.
For more guidance, visit us at Oakville Wellness Center today.
Telling stories is one of the longest lasting traditions of mankind. Even before written words were invented, stories were passed down from generation to generation and have mesmerized children for centuries. Kids today still love hearing stories and being read to, especially from their parents. While tucking your child into bed and reading to them can be a calming night-time routine, research has proven that reading to kids can have several other benefits, too. Read on to learn more about why you should read to your children regularly.
Behavior and Attention
It’s believed that when children are read to, they learn how to empathize with the characters and learn how to describe new feelings. Instead of acting out, children are able to identify their emotions and learn how to handle difficult feelings, such as anger or sadness. Parents who tend not to read to their kids raise the chances that their toddler may have attention difficulties or increased levels of aggression. These issues may persist throughout childhood and could lead to issues with concentrating at school.
One study that focused on children from just a few months old through 5 years old showed that reading to children can help them develop better self-control and decrease hyperactivity. Children need to stay still and quiet so they can enjoy the story, which can be hard for kids to do in other circumstances. Dr. Mendelsohn, one of the leaders of this study, stated that, “The key take-home message to me is that when parents read and play with their children when their children are very young...it has really large impacts on their children’s behavior.”
Interest in Books
Reading to your child, even while they’re just a year old, can encourage “pre-literacy” and help them develop an interest in reading. Toddlers enjoy looking at the pictures, hearing about the heroes of the story, and turning the pages of the books. Toddlers often like to ask questions while being read to, and this should be encouraged! Answering their questions will help them increase their vocabulary while learning more about their world.
Children aged 3-5 usually become motivated to learn how to read if they were read to often during their earlier years. If they enjoyed a certain story their parent had read to them before, they may pick it up on their own and try to read it themselves. For preschoolers, having the intrinsic motivation to read will help them immensely when they enter kindergarten.
The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) discovered that young children who are read to at home are more likely to be able to write their own names, count to 20, and recognize all the letters of the alphabet before other children. Kids who have been read to often have larger vocabularies and better language skills when they begin going to school, or they may already be reading independently.
As your child grows older and continues to read on their own, their reading comprehension and writing skills are likely to improve as they subconsciously notice sentence structures and other key elements of writing. It’s also shown that children who read more often typically score better in all kinds of subjects, not just English!
Reading a variety of different books to your child can cause them to become fascinated by a certain topic. They may ask questions about a specific place or job or want to read more about the subject. Having the desire for more knowledge at a young age can help invoke a natural curiosity about their world and lead to a love of learning. When a child enters school, they will be more excited and motivated to work than other classmates who aren’t thirsty for knowledge.
Parents should encourage their child’s interests and find books that appeal to them. This also gives parents the opportunity to explain different topics to their kids and answer any questions they may have. Learning about several different aspects of the world helps to foster compassion, imagination, and motivation for young children, and these benefits may all come simply from nightly bedtime stories. One study conducted in 2004 followed a group of 4-5 year old children who were read to by their parents and found that by the time they were 10-11, they were more likely to enjoy reading than other children.
Have Quality Time
The quality of reading is much more important than the quantity of books you read to your child. Try to not rush through books! Instead, take your time showing your child the pictures, explaining different words, or asking questions about the story. Making sure your child is engaged is the most important part of spending quality time with them. To help your child focus, ask questions about the pictures, or ask them how the main character might be feeling. The key is to spark curiosity and imagination, and your child’s interests and motivation will grow from there.
Looking for more parenting help? Visit our blog at Oakville Wellness Center.
Grieving is a difficult and complex process that every person experiences differently. Grief is well-known to be the result of the loss of a loved one, but it may also be caused by other significant losses in life. Finding out that you or a family member has a terminal illness, losing a close relationship, moving away, or losing your job can all lead to a period of mourning.
Five Stages of Grief
Most people are likely familiar with the five-stage model but may not understand exactly what it entails. This model can help people understand where they are in their stages of mourning by putting their feelings into context. That being said, everyone mourns differently and there is no “right” way to grieve. It’s perfectly OK if you don’t experience each stage in order, or if you don’t go through a certain stage at all. The most important thing is allowing yourself to feel intense emotions without judging yourself.
How Long Does Grief Last?
The grieving process varies depending on each person’s experience and beliefs; someone who loses a loved one to a tragic accident will likely spend more time mourning than someone who ends a relationship with their significant other. In some cases, such as the passing of a close friend or family member, you may never “get over” the loss completely.
Dr. Michael Craig Miller says that grief rarely has a clear ending, but the difficult emotions associated with grief often change and begin to soften over time. It’s normal to miss a loved one if you hear a song they used to enjoy, or wish that they were with you for an important event in your life. Dr. Elisha Goldstein writes, “Grief may be something that doesn’t completely go away, but instead evolves and weaves into your life, lessening during some hours and making its presence known during others.” Mourning is a normal and important experience; it shows us how much we care for one another and the impacts just one person can have on others.
How to Cope with Grief
As you’re experiencing the intense emotions of grief, here’s some advice that may make your life a little easier in this tough time:
There’s a big difference between merely feeling anxious and having an anxiety disorder. It’s normal to feel anxious before starting a new job or speaking in public. This type of nervousness has a specific cause, it’s predictable, and others can understand why you feel anxious. However, for people with generalized anxiety disorder, feeling nervous and “on edge” is a part of their daily life even when there’s little reason to worry.
Mental Symptoms of GAD
Several years ago, a survey found that roughly 3 million Canadians, or nearly 12%, suffered from some form of anxiety. General Anxiety Disorder, or GAD, is among the most common anxiety disorders. One common misconception about GAD is that people with the disorder don’t realize that their anxiety is unrealistic. In reality, people with GAD recognize that their worry is irrational, but they’re still unable to stop their anxious thoughts. While each person’s experience with GAD can vary in severity, some common mental signs can include:
Physical Symptoms of GAD
While describing their experience with GAD, one individual said, “Anxiety is like an adrenaline rush without the actual roller coaster! Heart races, palms sweat, knees get weak. You have all the physical symptoms of a thrill ride but your brain has no actual event to tie the symptoms to.” The physical signs of anxiety disorders are less well-known than the mental symptoms because the general public typically doesn’t associate anxiety with physical effects. Due to the constant feelings of dread and apprehension, GAD can cause a litany of physical symptoms. Some common signs can include:
Causes and Risk Factors
Like most types of mental health disorders, there is no one known cause of GAD. Researchers believe that developing GAD may be caused by a variety of biological and environmental factors such as:
Possible Complications Due to GAD
Sometimes, GAD can become debilitating. Being unable to sleep, or having worsening feelings of restlessness or worry can start interfering with someone’s daily routine. The symptoms may increase in severity and prevent an individual from living out their normal life Untreated GAD may even cause or worsen physical and mental illnesses such as:
Tips to Prevent GAD
Although there’s no way of predicting the development of a mental illness, anyone can benefit from adopting healthier habits. These simple tips can help improve your life and create healthy ways to deal with stressful situations or worries:
If you believe you’re suffering with GAD, make an appointment with your doctor. They will be able to rule out other illnesses or conditions and will give you an accurate diagnosis. It’s also important to get treatment early rather than later on; your anxiety may worsen, and it tends to be easier to treat if you get help sooner. Your doctor may suggest medication, such as antidepressants or sedatives, to help you manage your anxiety.
If medication along isn’t enough, talk therapy is often beneficial for people with anxiety disorders because they can express their worries without fear of judgement. A great therapist will teach clients coping skills to deal with worrisome thoughts and work with them to start changing their thought processes. Cognitive behavioral therapy is typically a short-term commitment and is dedicated to helping people ease their worries and return to living a normal, fully-functioning life.
Starting therapy can seem scary, but Oakville Wellness Center makes it easy to choose the right therapist for your needs. You can check out profiles of qualified therapists or even schedule an appointment today.
Everyone experiences negative thoughts from time to time. Looking on the bright side might seem unrealistic or futile, especially during stressful situations. People can easily slip into negative mindsets and start developing a more pessimistic outlook when they feel discouraged, but this only causes more stress and anxiety. To avoid falling into a negative cycle, the first step is to recognize which thoughts are harmful or untrue.
Automatic Negative Thoughts
Many people have such habitual cycles of negative thoughts that they don’t even question the validity of their thoughts anymore. Automatic negative thoughts (ANTs), also called cognitive distortions, come to a person’s mind instantly and leave them feeling discouraged and defeated. But these thoughts are usually far from the truth!
Before you can start challenging or replacing your negative thoughts, you need to become more aware of your thought processes and be willing to understand that they’re unrealistic. To help you start recognizing the damaging thoughts, here are nine of the most common ANTs people experience:
How to Set ANT Traps and Practice Positivity
Once you recognize your negative thoughts, then you can work towards stopping them and replacing them with positive thoughts. Dr. Daniel G. Amen writes,” If you can catch them at the moment they occur and correct them, you take away the power they have over you.” Dr. Amen and other researchers suggest the following steps to begin changing your thoughts:
Why Positivity Matters
Mark George, M.D., researched the brain activity in women during three different moods: happy, neutral, and sad. He noticed that the deep limbic system became much more active when the women were sad, but it calmed down significantly when they thought positively. The study proved that thoughts create physical reactions throughout your brain and body. Sadness can cause muscle tension, increased sweating, and a faster heart rate, while positive thoughts help relax and calm people.
Positivity combined with eliminating negative self-talk has been shown to have excellent health benefits. Researchers claim that positive thinkers typically have:
If negative thoughts are holding you back from fully enjoying your life, therapy may be a great option for you. View our therapist profiles or schedule an appointment today.