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Shell Fish

Have you ever tried to understand a 2 year old? One of the blessings (and difficulty) of being a grandma is that I love hearing my 2 year-old grand daughter speak to me. She rambles on and on about "Elsa and Anna," but the words in-between get lost in translation. This is a stage in their young life when parents want to teach their children the value of sharing with others and discourage their being "selfish" or as my granddaughter says,"shell fish." I often talk to clients about codependent behavioral patterns that can lead to one person caring so much for the people, places, and things in their lives that there is no time (or energy) left over for themselves. They press on in survival mode

Be a Blessing

When I think of my business as a ministry it is a game changer for me. When I say my business is a ministry, what I mean is I truly believe we all have God given gifts and when we use those gifts (defined in the Bible: Romans 12:6-8, 1 Corinthians 12:8-10; 28-30, and Ephesians 4:11) we can be assured that we are living according to God's will. Years ago I took a test that identified your three highest scoring gifts and mine were Teaching, Serving, and Leadership. I didn't know what that meant exactly at the time, but now I see that I am allowed to use all three gifts at Encouragers through serving, teaching, and leading others. To think of Encouragers as a ministry is to really believe I am

Good, Good, Father

Chris Tomlin has become a familiar name in contemporary Christian music as many of his worship songs are sung in churches around the world. A recent addition to his many songs is "Good, Good, Father," which is a love song of a sort as it speaks of God's love for us, "His children." Even when we are not deserving of God's love, God loves us because, "It's who you are." And because we are his children we can accept that unconditional love, because "It's who I am" in the eyes of God that matters most. We can be imperfect, we can fall down and fail, we can be prideful, dishonest, and hurtful at times, but it doesn't change the fact that God loves us. As we reflect on the cross this Easter weeke

Fixer-Upper

Have you noticed how many reality shows there are that deal with making change: Change to you house, change to your cooking, change to your appearance, clothing, and childrearing. It’s like America is obsessed with change so much that the promise of change is what got Barack Obama and Donald Trump both elected President. Change can be good or bad and may not necessarily be the change you might be hoping for. But the one constant about change is that it is happening with or without our input or permission. Change happens. In the book, Take Your Life Back, authors Stephen Arterburn, M.Ed. and David Stoop, Ph.D. share their thoughts about change and how change can benefit the lives of many if

The Tail of the Tiger

A middle-aged woman went to the zoo one day. The woman was feeling depressed because she had recently ended an abusive relationship. By her own admission, she had been in many abusive relationships with men who were argumentative, had addictions, and who were highly critical. When she came to the tiger’s pen, she stood at the cement barrier and looked into the area where she saw a tiger napping on a large rock. The woman put her hands on the top of the wall leaned over it, and assessed the 12 foot drop, the water crossing, and the 15 foot rise on the other side of the moat. She mentally measured the distance she would have to cross to be near the tiger. She pushed herself up on the wall and

Missed-her and Misses

The closer you are to someone, the more likely you are to step on their toes. And being married to someone certainly puts you in close quarters. So the chances are good that you and your spouse have sore feet. Okay, enough of the smelly metaphor. The point is that it's NORMAL for you and your spouse to err and for those "misses" to cause hurt...sometimes serious hurt. Did your spouse hurt you? Have you made mistakes that hurt your spouse? Except in the case of physical abuse, you can "move on" from anything. In fact, your marriage can end up even BETTER! I know...you're probably thinking, "Better? How could it be better than before we screwed up?" It CAN be better, but you have to do one thi

Fine Tuned

Have you ever wondered why you are alive? Sadly, as a therapist, it is a question I hear way too often. One individual who was horribly abused as a child, tortured, raped, burned, beaten, and was ultimately abandoned into the Foster Care System when neither parent wanted to "deal with him" anymore. At age 36, this pour soul had such a terrible self image when he came to see me. He truly did not know why he was alive. He had been addicted to heroin and other pain medications, abused alcohol, and tried to find love in broken relationships that did nothing more than convince him that his life had no meaning or purpose and he was just surviving until the day he died. For over a year we worked to

School Shooting

Today, special needs teacher, Karen Smith, was working at North Park Elementary school in San Bernardino was killed by her husband while she was working in her classroom. Two children (8&9) were also struck by the gunfire, one is seriously injured and the other passed away at Loma Linda Hospital. The school has approximately 600 students and as many staff members who will be impacted by this tragic event. Encouragers Counseling & Training Centers is a Victim Advocate with the District Attorney's Office and we are ready to help anyone who is involved either directly or indirectly. Post Traumatic Stress symptoms in children can manifest slowly as well as immediately following a tragic event.

Relationship Dancing

We, too, as the Celtic saying goes, “live in the shelter of each other.” No one can dance with a partner and not touch each other’s "raw spots." We must know what these raw spots are and be able to speak about them in a way that pulls our partner closer to us. So, I think ultimately, hurt will come. However, Love, like a dance, is a constant process of tuning in, connecting, missing and misreading cues, disconnecting, repairing, and finding deeper connection. It is a dance of meeting and parting and finding each other again. Minute to minute and day to day. Just learning to dance more gracefully over time and experience means committing to being on the dance floor every day, paying attention

Laughing Legacy

I don't often get surprised with a free afternoon off work, but yesterday was the exception. Several clients canceled last minute and Voilà, I had a free afternoon with nothing planned. The weather was a perfect 70 degrees, blue skies with a hint of rain in the forecast. I realized what a wonderful blessing this was and headed over to see my horse Chancy with the intent of going for an afternoon ride. Because of all the recent rain fall, the weeds are knee high around the ranch and unfortunately I had to walk through them to get to my horse trailer where my saddle and tack are. Minutes after trudging through the bush, I had a burning sensation on my knee. I thought "What the heck?" and gave

Shut Down Mode

Shut Down Mode Have you ever gone into “shut down mode?” That’s the moment when something you perceive is dangerous, shameful, or otherwise hurtful enters your mind and you attempt to protect yourself by shutting down your emotional responses. Someone may say something accusatory, and you react automatically defensive. Someone may trigger a past negative memory that shuts you down as well. Our past and our present circumstances can bring on this defense mechanism in an effort to set up a boundary of protection from others, or to protect others from our impulsive over-reactions. This pattern of defensiveness usually is developed as a child in response to an overbearing or critical parent, or

Polar Expressed

April Fool's Day was originally a term coined by farmers concerning unexpected and wide variations of weather patterns during the month of April. One day it would be 90 degrees and the next there would be a frost. We in California have been experiencing these "polarized" weather patterns a lot this winter and an unusual rain fall following several years of drought. Polarization exists in therapy as well. It is when two opinions are in direct opposition of each person's perceived goals, objectives, or purpose, and each remains polarized (unable or unwilling to move) in their position. We see this polarization in politics, religion, racial, social, and gender biases as well, but in therapy we

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