Blog March Mindfulness 3/11/2019 9:06:55 PM What do you avoid when you are anxious, overwhelmed or distressed? 



--Physical activity? 

--Social activity?

A common therapy recommendation to addressing anxiety includes mindfulness, but what exactly is this and how do we do it?

Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.

How does one begin to practice mindfulness?  According to the book, “The High Conflict Couple: A Dialectical Behavior Therapy Guide to Finding Peace, Intimacy and Validation” mindfulness starts with self-awareness-- Noticing what you are thinking and feeling, without judgement of yourself, and listening to yourself for understanding leads you to being able to be mindful in your relationships.  How many times do we try to win that argument (by using any unresolved issues as a weapon, making judgements which leads to secondary emotions like shame and anger) but sacrifice what we actually want in our relationships long term (empathy, connection, teamwork, peace)? 

Start by slowing down.  Breathe.  Be aware of your long term goals (this reduces reactivity).  Describe your experience (ie. emotions and sensations) without judgement (ie. good or bad).  If there are judgements, let them go and do not give them power. Pay attention to describing your emotions and sensations and how they make sense (validation), which will be soothing and then you can return to a balanced perspective, which leads to acting effectively (choosing how to respond from the best of you, and not from the hurt in you).

Breathing deeply, from your diaphragm can also facilitate mindfulness.  Balanced breathing may be necessary so you can get to the place to notice your emotions, sensations and thoughts without judgement.  Try this:  Breathe in through your nose slowly to the count of four, hold your breath to the count of four, and then blow out hard like you are blowing up a balloon to the count of four. 

Therapists at Gratitude Counseling utilize many interventions to assist clients in reducing anxiety and increasing interpersonal effectiveness.  Reach out anytime and we can get started in creating your own mindfulness practice or finding other helpful strategies to cope with anxiety.


Becky Hoffman, MS/LMFT

February 2/6/2019 10:06:03 AM

February is the month of love, relationships, and romance. However, for some it is a time of loneliness and disappointment, despite being involved in a relationship.

Relationships are one of the most difficult things we do in life. It takes many skills to have a healthy relationship. What are those skills? How do we learn them? 


We often hear that couples just need to communicate more. However, it is more than “just” communication. There are key things that are important in the way we communicate. Things we should do and things we should not do. How do you know if you would benefit from learning new skills for your relationship? Ask yourself, do you often feel resentful of your partner? Do you find yourself sharing the problems in your relationship with someone other than you partner? Do you come home and not speak with your partner for a long period time or at all? Do you feel lonely even though you are in a relationship?


If you would like to change these dynamics the first step is to share with your partner your emotions, your experiences, without blaming. It may be useful to call a therapist and ask for help to facilitate the learning of the necessary skills to communicate more effectively, and bring yourself closer to your partner. Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists are available to help you and your partner learn new skills that will help your relationship grow and heal. Maybe by this Valentine’s day there will be more romance by taking this step. Or maybe by the next year. Either way, when you begin attending therapy together you have made the first step in developing the long-term relationship you dreamed of and the romance you felt in the beginning, or maybe it will be even better! 



Elizabeth Flynn, PsyD, LP

]]> January, new year 1/11/2019 9:52:31 PM New Year’s Resolutions


Happy 2019! We hope the New Year brings joy and peace to all.  As the New Year begins many will set New Year’s resolutions. How will you decide what your resolution will be? Often times, we set them based on what we think we “should” be or do. Others have given up on setting New Year’s resolutions due to failure in the past. The problem is not failure. It is our expectations and shame around goal setting. We often set vague goals or forget about the small goals that we need to set (and meet) to reach the larger goal. Two common goals are often eating healthy and losing weight. Self-talk is very important; for many “should” is strongly paired with shame. We invite you to make New Year’s Intentions instead. The difference is we can set an intention and if we do not achieve it, the feeling is not shame or guilt.  In addition, set up small steps each day. Each day, review your success and set a new intention each morning. Below are some examples:


If you would normally set a goal of Eating Healthy, instead set an intention to drink an extra glass of water, eat one more piece of fruit, one more serving of vegetables, eat a healthy protein, or eat a healthy fat (yes, fats can be healthy). At the end of the day, if you cannot identify engaging in an activity related to your intention, you still have time to be successful. Just pick from the list and do it. For example, have a glass of water before bed.


If you were to set a goal to lose weight… Don’t! There are too many steps and there is not enough reward. Instead break it up.


The intention to “get in shape.” What does this even mean, you are a shape and you are beautiful. If you would like to be more fit, set an intention each day that works toward this. For example: walk 100 more steps today, do 5 push-ups, walk an extra flight of stairs, do 5 sit-ups.  If it is bedtime, you can lay in bed and do leg lifts to meet your intention for the day.


We would recommend a journal were you record your success. If you did not meet your intention and cannot do anything to meet it, be kind and loving to yourself. Tell yourself tomorrow is a new day and a new opportunity. Evaluate your intention: was it realistic to meet it? Is it really important to you or is it a society based “should?”


Elizabeth Flynn, PsyD/Licensed Psychologist

]]> January come and gone 1/31/2017 9:46:20 PM Why gratitude?


“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.”   Melody Beattie is the author of Codependent No More and offers the reader a new path to living a new life…gratitude.

Life is more than simply existing.  It is more than worrying about problems. It is more than regretting the past.  But what do you do when you cannot stop the worry or regret and it is all you can do to exist each day?  Therapy can help you navigate these challenges and forge a new path in life.  We all know making changes to our life can be tricky, and it is too intimidating to do it without support.  Our brains are wired to take our behavior from a one-time choice to a default habit-simply for convenience and to conserve energy- so we need all the help we can get to unlearn these habits and learn new ones.  Therapy assists you in the rewiring of the brain to allow you to live your life in a different way.

Therapists at Gratitude Counseling have 26 years of combined experience in integrating the therapy process with gratitude.  For starting out in 2017, we recommend you try the gratitude jar.  Simply write down something you felt grateful for, or about a situation in which you felt appreciated once a week and put it in a jar.  At the end of the year (or during difficult times throughout the year), take these reminders out and experience each moment again as you read them.  And be grateful for these reminders of the moments that make life full of meaning, light and love; you will recognize how far you came on this new life path!


Becky Hoffman, MS/LMFT