Katie Steele, MA, LMFT #96656

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When you are grieving

grief 1

Grief is one of the most complex and unpredictable life experiences out there. It sneaks in unexpectedly and paralyzes you. It swings you wildly up and down, never knowing where then next turn is heading. Grief encompasses our whole being; the social, emotional, physical, and spiritual parts of who we are. It is important to have realistic expectations for grief work. Below are some of the realities of grief work.

  • Your grief work will require more energy than you might have imagined.
  • Your grief will not remain static over Grief evolves and unfolds and is, therefore, continually changing and developing.
  • Your grief will have an impact on all areas of your life; social, physical, and emotional.
  • Your grief will not follow a logical progression of decreasing. The grief process is much more like a roller coaster, with dramatic ups and downs, than it is a logical, step-by-step progression.
  • How you grieve will depend on how you perceive the loss.
  • You will grieve not only for the person who has died, but also for all of the hopes and dreams you held for the future and all of your needs that can no longer be fulfilled by the person who has died.
  • Your grief will involve a wider range of feelings than those typically recognized as grief such as sadness or You may also experience guilt, anger, frustration, resentment, intolerance and irritability. There is no one, all-inclusive list of appropriate grief feelings. Remember, feelings are not good or bad, right or wrong, they just are. Give yourself permission to feel and express whatever emotions you are currently experiencing.
  • This loss may trigger feelings of grief for earlier losses that were not resolved or recognized at the time of the Coming to terms with earlier unresolved losses may be part of dealing with your current loss. Look at this as an opportunity to heal old wounds and to free yourself of burdens that you may have been carrying for a long time.
  • Grief usually involves an identity You will have to figure out who you are now without the person who has died.
  • At times you may doubt your sanity and fear that you are going crazy.

It is important to give yourself the space and permission to grieve how you need to grieve (not how others think you should)! Some suggestions for managing the grieving process are:grief

  • Allow yourself to cry – letting your feelings out can bring some relief
  • Take time out – if you need to be alone sometimes that’s okay
  • Let yourself smile – it’s okay to enjoy your memories
  • Say goodbye – letting go is part of the grieving process
  • Avoid bottling things up – keeping feelings to yourself may build tension inside you
  • Be gentle with yourself – give yourself time to recover
  • Talk to someone – sharing your feelings with someone you trust can help
  • Stay healthy – eat well and stay physically

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Book Review- Rising Strong, Dr. Brene Brown

I recently finished reading Dr. Brene Brown’s newest book; Rising Strong. I found this book to be insightful and useful both personally and professionally. Dr. Brown discusses what it takes to process through and practice the courageous act of vulnerability. She challenges each reader to explore their own story and how they acknowledge it or deny it. I appreciate Dr. Brown’s candidness with her own story and struggle. She displays authenticity and models true vulnerability by exposing her own struggles and triumphs.

In this book, Dr. Brown takes the reader through a 3-step journey of practicing authentic vulnerability and acknowledgement of the truth of their own story. She breaks it down into “The Reckoning”, “The Rumble”, and “The Revolution”. These steps acknowledge the falling we all do, the struggle to regain ourselves, and the courage it takes to get back up.

“When I see people stand fully in their truth, or when I see someone fall down, get back up, and say, “Damn. That really hurt, but this is important to me and I’m going in again”—my gut reaction is, “What a badass.”
Brené Brown, Rising Strong


Coping Skills

In therapy there is often discussion and exploration of enhancing healthy coping skills in the client’s life. My work with clients often entails building a metaphorical “tool box” filled with healthy coping mechanisms. We all carry around tools for coping with life– these tools can be detrimental to fulfillment, healing, or positive self growth.These are the negative coping mechanisms that can come as second nature. In order to achieve growth and health, the negative tools need to be replaced with healthy and active coping mechanisms. What active coping tool are you going to integrate into your life?

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The Value of Journaling

I don’t know about you, but my mind is constantly swirling; thoughts, ideas, worries, wishes and dreams run through my mind. Sometimes I find myself consumed with these things and need a place to sort through it. Journaling is a great way to sort out our thoughts. There is power in the written word. Research shows that journaling not only improves psychological health, but also physical and physiological well being. Journaling is a platform where one can reduce stress, heal from past wounds, problem solve, enhance self awareness and experience personal growth.

There is no right way to journal. The value isn’t in the content but in the process. Here are a few ideas and tips to get you started:

1. Pick a journal with appeal! Spend some time finding a journal that you are drawn to; do you like the look and feel of it? If so, you are more likely to use it!

2. Don’t pressure yourself. Your journal can be filled with long entries, quotes, drawings, pictures etc. Don’t stifle your creativity by putting expectations on what belongs in your journal.

3. Bring your journal everywhere! Capture the opportunity to spontaneously journal. Life moves fast and carrying your journal with you will allow you to pause and reflect on what is important or impactful to you.

4. Consider using some prompts to help enhance your processing. Pinterest is a great place to explore journaling prompts. Here are some pins that I recommend to get you started. Visit my journaling pin board for more ideas. https://www.pinterest.com/kstherapy/journaling/


Journal Prompts

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Book Review – Parenting with Love and Logic

I am frequently asked about book recommendations for issues regarding parenting, relationships, marriage, healing past traumas etc. I am working on compiling an extensive list of books that I have found beneficial, but in the mean time I am going to occasionally post a review of a specific book.

Parenting with Love and Logic by Foster Cline and Jim Fay is a great resource for parents. This book offer insight into parenting without being emotionally reactive. The authors offer many practical ways to empower your children to make responsible choices. The premise of Parenting with Love and Logic is that choices and behaviors that children make come with consequences, whether good or bad. The book emphases giving your children choices, letting natural consequences be the teacher, and being an empathetic but consistent parent.

This book is broken into parts. Part one is the educational piece; the explanation of the theory behind the title. It equips the reader with knowledge of how to parent with love and logic as well as an explanation of the philosophy behind love and logic. Part two is filled with specific scenarios, which they call “Pearls of Wisdom” where you can go to find specific ways to implement the the principles of Love and Logic. It is a helpful resource to be able to look to topic specific issues you may be dealing with in your parenting struggles.

Overall, I think this book is a great tool for parents. I think the general principle behind the book is good, however some of the logical consequences the author gives seem extreme. I would recommend this book as a guideline for parents. The approach of Parenting with Love and Logic is beneficial in helping shape your child’s character; teaching responsibility and well thought-out decision making. However I do suggest that readers of this book decide where their comfort level lies when it comes to logical consequences for their children.

If you have read this book, what are your thoughts on the principles of Parenting with Love and Logic? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.

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The Importance of Remaining Friends

When working with couples, I often come across the fact that part of the relational struggles stem from the fact that the couple has forgotten to nurture their friendship. Couples get wrapped up in the functional aspects of the relationship; the business of raising a family and maintaining a household. Making time for connections outside of these roles can become challenging. When we become good co-parents and business partners, but starve the emotional connections of our relationship, we are at risk for foundational breakdown. Relationships need a foundation of emotional safety and trust in order to thrive. By making time to connect as friends and lovers, we provide the proper environment for emotional connections to be cultivated.

When was the last time you and your partner spent some quality time together? Pull out a board game or go on a walk together; share a laugh or a personal struggle. Building a strong foundation of emotional safety and trust doesn’t require a lot of time. Connecting as friends is a great way to cultivate the environment that breeds emotional connection.

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Picking a Therapist

Entering into therapy can be a challenging, scary, and uncertain task. Picking a compatible therapist is an important key in the success of your therapy experience. The therapeutic relationship is essential to the benefits of therapy. So how do you go about picking out a therapist? Here are some suggestions:

1. Take some time talking on the phone with potential therapists. Connecting over the phone will give you a good indication of compatibility. Take notice of how it felt to talk with him or her.

2. Ask questions. Find out about the therapist’s modality of treatment, theoretical orientation, experience, and types of clients he or she has worked with. There is nothing wrong with interviewing a potential therapist!

3. Consider the gender. Take a moment to reflect what it would be like to enter into therapy with a therapist of the opposite gender or the same gender. If you feel that you won’t be able to disclose information to a therapist due to his or her gender, seek out a therapist you would be most comfortable with.

4. Ask for referrals. Word of mouth networking is powerful. Consider asking a friend, family member, or coworker for recommendations.

5. Look online. The internet offers a vast amount of resources. Check and see if a potential therapist has a website or Psychology Today page. These resources can offer you more information about the therapist and be a good indicator of the type of therapist he or she is.

Lastly, if you find that once you have entered into therapy and you don’t feel comfortable with the therapist, ask for a referral. It is in your best interest to feel safe, comfortable and confident with your therapist!

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The way we talk to ourselves

 The greatest discovery of any generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind.  -William James
Positive thinking will let you do everything better than negative thinking will.-Zig Ziglar

I often browse pinterest for therapy charts, resources, and interventions. It has a plethora of mental health information available. I recently came across this pin about stopping negative self-talk. It provides a 3-step simple intervention for curtailing the negative messages we tell ourselves. The power of self-talk is often underestimated. I believe that practicing positive self-talk is a simple change one can make that has impactful results. Awareness of our the way we talk to ourselves is the beginnings of change. Be gentle with the messages you are sending to yourself. The next time you are finding your thoughts drifting into negative self-talk, practice S-O-S.