4 Steps For Self-Growth

How often do you find yourself looking in the mirror wondering where the 18-year-old version of you disappeared to? You look at yourself, thinking that the size of your jeans actually plays a part in your ability to make friends or fall in love. You may catch a glimpse of yourself while walking out the door and think that if you could look a certain way, maybe people would treat you differently. Negative thoughts of yourself swirl through your mind just to pollute the your self image.

Well, I’m here to tell you that those thoughts are not working for you. You will always be the only version of YOU and no one can take that away. As humans, we sometimes believe that growth is something that just comes with time. We think that things will eventually just change for the better and we will naturally just grow into the person we want to be. It is important to think deeper into that theory and imagine what our lives would be if we choose to do nothing and just assume growth will happen.

You can think of it almost like the life of a plant. Now, I have no green thumb but I do know that if you forget to water your plant and keep it out of the sunlight, it will soon wither away to a very little, frail version of its previous self. This is similar to what happens to us as humans. If we forget to love ourselves, to forgive ourselves for our mistakes, to love the body we have, we will become weak and frail. The best way to avoid this is to simply tell ourselves we are enough.

Now, I say simply, but I know this is no simple task at all. This will require work and dedication. It takes discipline. If every time we looked in the mirror we told ourselves we loved the body we live in, rather than hate it, eventually we will. Like a plant, we all need a little love, compassion, and sunlight to help us grow. Being mean to others never got you ahead in life. What makes you think being mean to yourself will?

Here are some steps to help you focus on your good qualities and the love you deserve to show yourself.

Step One: Locate the problem. What is affecting your self-esteem? Is it a relationship or an outside source? Where is it coming from?

Step Two: Avoid negative self-talk. Like we talked about before, speaking negatively toward yourself will only harm you.

Step Three: Connect with those who love you. This may be a relative or friend, anyone who sees the good in you that maybe you are having a hard time finding. Being around positive supports can help us remember why we love ourselves. .

Step Four: Set a goal and make it your challenge. Focus on the good around you and create routines to achieve it. Having good hygiene and a clean room will help clear your mind as well. Open the blinds to allow light and take a walk outdoors.

All of these things will be pieces of the puzzle that will eventually fit together to complete your challenge, finally showing you the full picture. Don’t forget, we are all human and no one is perfect. Rather, perfectly imperfect in our own ways.

self growth tampa depression anxiety therapy young adult millennial teen young women online therapy

The Truth About Therapy

How do you feel about the word therapy? Some of us are under the impression that attending therapy means we are going “crazy” or “insane.” This is false and if you believe this you are actually stereotyping and increasing the stigma related to mental health. Therapy is for all, the everyday unique person who simply wants to better them self. You do not have to be experiencing a major life crisis, transformation or a traumatic event to benefit from someone listening to you.

I want to debunk some therapy rumors and clear up any misconceptions about therapy:

1. My issues are not a big deal: Your anxiety may be related to things others may not understand or empathize with. That does NOT mean they are not a big deal, it means you can talk to someone who can empathize, listen and understand how your illogical thoughts may be growing in your own head.

2. In therapy I will be told what to do: NO, sorry that is truly the most far from the truth. A therapist listens and guides. But we do not tell anyone what to do. You come up with our choices based on what you want to accomplish. In therapy, you gain insight and the ability to make your own healthy choices.

3. My therapist does not care about my problems: That may be true or not, every therapist is different and unique. If you feel they do not empathize or understand you, leave. Find another therapist, we are everywhere and we all have different talents. The most important thing for you to benefit from therapy is simply your relationship with your therapist and how well you get along.

4. It is too expensive: This can be true, but it can also be very false. Therapists can work with insurance providers, some have sliding scales or discounts for college students. I always say therapy is not permanent, it is an investment. Put away your online shopping habit and instead commit to something that can help you gain better relationships, a promotion and self-esteem.

5. Talking won’t help me solve anything: Of course, it can! You just have not found the right person for you to talk to. See talking to a therapist is not like talking to a friend, spouse or family member. It is unique in that your therapist has no motif, no underlying gain, they do not know you or your acquaintances. A therapist learns to see you the way you see yourself, through your own eyes.

6.  I can not change people around me: Very true, in therapy, you will learn this. But you should not be going to therapy to change people, you should be going to therapy to improve your own thinking and insight.

7. It is embarrassing: If you feel this way, talk about it in therapy. I do not see people feeling embarrassed about going to the doctor, dentist and even your gynecologist. Talking to a therapist is empowering and the most opposite of embarrassing.

8. Therapy is forever: No, it does not have to be forever. Find a therapist with a therapy style that gives you results and you too will see not every therapist is the same, and you do not have to invest your entire future going to therapy.

Please remember your therapist is human too. In fact, many of us attend our own therapy. It is not as shocking, embarrassing or outlandish as you may think. We study the art and science of psychology, it is important for us all to realize our own limitations and to consult with other like-minded humans, who are impartial and non-biased when we need an extra boost.

depression anxiety tampa therapy young adult millennial teen counseling psychology maternal health postpartum self esteem self love self care

Your First Semester at College Survival Guide

TampaChildTeenYoungAdultTherapyCounselingPsychology

As a high school senior you were on top of the food chain. You probably knew your school like the back of your hand and best of all you were comfortable. August is finally here and the fall college semester will begin soon. Some of you are heading to schools where you will be one of thousands of students, others are heading to small schools in which you will be one of hundreds. Either way it is a BIG change and college anxiety is real. 

Here are some ways to ease your mind and look forward to your first day of college: 

1. Purchase the essentials: Aside the typical dorm items, remember to purchase school supplies and your books. Show up to class prepared and ready to take notes (even if it is the first day of class). In college professors will expect you to always be prepared to learn, there is no movie day or freebie. 

2. Go explore the campus: Learn where your dorm is, the nearest dining halls and where your classes are. Learn to take the bus and time how long you take to reach your destination. This will help you plan how much time you have between classes. 

3. Get to know your professors: No, you do not have to take them to lunch, but introduce yourself during a class break and research their ratings on www.ratemyprofessor.com or a similar website  (this will make you aware of their teaching style and personality).  

4. Get to know your roommates: Spend time together, talk, go out to eat and learn what you have in common. Your roommates can be a great part of your college experience (they still are a great part of my life). You will be living with them so make the best of it and work on building a friendship. 

5. Have a schedule: Write down and plan out your day (from start to finish). This will help ease your stress and increase your timeliness. You can add lunch, time with friends, work out time, study hours and quizzes to all fit your schedule. 

6. Have fun: Take the time to join clubs and make friends. College is not just about your studies. It is a great opportunity to make social connections (future work connections are always great) and explore the things that really interest you. This will help you find your identity, which can help you choose a career that aligns with who you are. 

Prepare yourself for a year of learning, fun and exciting new ventures! College is what you make of it. Remember to take one day at a time. Patience is key to learning your way around, adapting to a new environment and surviving your first semester.  

Summer Loving

Hi all! I would like to introduce myself. My name is Bridgette, and I am a counseling student at the University of South Florida. I have been working with Mrs. Stephanie as her Administrative Assistant for the past year. Some of you may know me from our phone conversations, or by my assistance in the therapy room during my practicum experience. I am happy to share that I will be graduating next summer with my master’s degree in Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling, and will be a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor, and a registered counseling intern with the state of Florida. I enjoy writing in my spare time, as I find it to be a fun form of self-expression. Mrs. Stephanie has asked that I join her in contributing to our blog, and I am thrilled to share my first post!

Aaah, it’s sweet summertime!  Our kids are out of school, or if we don’t have children at home, perhaps we’ve decided to take some time for ourselves this summer. Whether vacationing, stay-cationing, or simply taking some time to relax when we have a moment of peace after work, summertime can be ideal for connecting with oneself again, and refocusing on what is most important to us.  

Summertime can serve as a great time to reconnect with our values, strengthen coping mechanisms, and re-center ourselves. For school aged children, teens, and young adults, summer may serve as the ideal time to begin therapy. Oftentimes when planning for summer we think of all of the most enriching possible activities out there. We register our kids for a great summer camp, and plan educational trips to museums. We plan picnics outside at the beach, and splurge on all access passes to Adventure Island, (anything to beat the scorching Florida heat). We take time to travel, and to be outdoors. What we often overlook during the summer is helping our young ones, and ourselves, to work on our mental health.

The benefits of therapy are innumerable. Research indicates that 75% of individuals who enter therapy show some benefit (APA, 2017). The following are some benefits of attending therapy over the summer as I have identified. Keep in mind that everyone is different, and as you are reading I encourage you to open yourself up to what benefits you could see for yourself of going to therapy.

  • Gain coping mechanisms In counseling we cultivate coping mechanisms that will be carried with us far beyond our time in the therapy room. Oftentimes when life throws us barriers, we develop coping mechanisms that don’t serve us. We may not even be aware of what these maladaptive mechanisms are. In therapy we learn to identify our not so helpful coping mechanisms, and to find what is healthy, and what works for us.

  • Manage our stress The summer can be an ideal time to take a break from our usual routine, and to work through out stressors with our therapist. The act of going to therapy itself may also serve to reduce stress. Therapy means having regularly scheduled appointments to look forward to for y-o-u.

  • Improve our concentration Whether we have a break from responsibilities this summer, or if we are still engaged in school and work, summer can be an excellent time to refocus, and to gain skills to help us concentrate throughout the year.

  • Cultivate self-esteem It’s the dreaded time of year again when we get to see the beautiful (beautifully photoshopped) models showing off their tans and their ‘beach bodies’. Rather than focusing on trying to look like the celebrities we see, this summer perhaps we can turn inward to work on cultivating our self-esteem.

  • Get a handle on our anxiety and depression Although we often think of wintertime as a time that individuals most often feel depressed and anxious, summertime can often bring those feelings to the forefront of our lives. The extra time off may be a relief, but it may also bring to light feelings we are coping with all year long. In therapy we can gain the skills we need to cope with feelings of anxiety and depression.

  • Gaining insight of ourselves Our modern society doesn’t often provide us with opportunity (or time) to take a step back and think about ourselves as individuals. Therapy, for some, may be the first opportunity for a higher level of introspection, and may be an opportunity to feel truly heard and understood by a compassionate listener.

If you or a loved one has been on the fence about when the right time for counseling is, I hope you consider taking time for yourself this summer to find a counselor who is a good fit for you or your loved ones needs. Whether you are reading this post this summer, or if it’s any time of the year, I encourage you to find a clinician who will work alongside you while you work on yourself.

You Are Mom Enough

Mother's Day is a loving holiday in which mom's everywhere are celebrated. This year I celebrate my first with my baby boy. As much as I am all about celebrating moms in abundance, I know many women wanting, trying and hoping to become moms. For them Mother's Day is frustrating, devastating and disheartening.

This and every Mother's Day we need to celebrate all moms; not just moms who have gone through labor or have a child to kiss at night. We need to celebrate moms, who in their hearts are the definition of a mom. These heart moms know that someday their precious child will arrive and until then they just want to be included. 

Infertility is the most devastating experience I have had to endure. It tested my patience, relationships and dreams. Imagine the one thing you want most in life and not being able to have it. For me, Mother's Day was always the hardest. It made me feel like an outsider and I questioned if I would ever be a mom. 

By coming together, supporting one another and including every mom this Mother's Day (and every Mother's Day) we can all help each other feel mom enough. Heart moms want to feel love and support. A message, email, phone call or an outing can give a heart mom a great boost of hope today. It may just be one of the best Mother's Day gifts, from one mom to another. 

depression anxiety maternal health postpartum new mom mom enough tampa therapy counseling psychology