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Choosing a Therapist

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Author: Stephanie Camins - MA, LPC

Choosing a therapist can be a daunting task.  Here are a few points to remember.

It is important to choose a therapist who is a good match for you.  This is a very personal decision.  Even the most professionally respected therapist in the world will not  be a good match for everyone.  Remember that different people work together in different ways.  You should feel comfortable with the style of your therapist.  Sometimes it takes a few “tries” to find a good match.  It is OK to shop around until you find the right therapist for you.

Feel free to interview a prospective therapist, asking questions about their style of therapy and training, fee structure, cancellation policy, insurance reimbursement, how long they have been in practice, and if they are familiar working with the kinds of issues you want to work on in therapy.

Expect and demand ethical practices, including issues of confidentiality.  Be sure to ask about the therapist’s license.  While not all therapists are required to have licenses by all states, and while licensure is no guarantee of quality, it is useful for you to know that a person receiving a state license has met the requirements for education and training mandated by your state.

Some Questions To Ask Yourself When Choosing a Therapist:

  1. Is the therapist warm and accepting?
  2. Does the therapist have a sense of humor?
  3. Is the therapist willing to challenge you when necessary?
  4. Does the therapist seem emotionally healthy and seem to feel at ease?  (in other words, does not seem anxious, arrogant or depressed)
  5. Does the therapist accept and encourage the idea that clients are entitled to shop around for a therapist before they commit?
  6. Does the therapist accept the idea that consultation or second opinions may be helpful in the course of therapy?
  7. Does the therapist let you explain your problems without prematurely trying to fit you into a preconceived box?
  8. Does the therapist have more than one clinical orientation and can fit their approach to your specific problems?
  9. Does the therapist present you with clear office policies, including the limits of confidentiality, client’s rights, etc?
  10. Does the therapist seem flexible in many ways but still able to maintain clear boundaries?
  11. Does the therapist communicate well with parents when treating children and adolescents?
  12. Does the therapist seem to be able to balance the need to respect an adolescents privacy while keeping the parents informed?
  13. Is the therapist flexible about who can be a part of therapy? (at times, it is helpful to bring your friend/partner, child or parent with you to therapy)
  14. Does the therapist conduct regular evaluations of progress in therapy, including the discussion of  treatment plans?
  15. Does the therapist listen to your assessment of what is helpful and what is not during the course of therapy?

Remember that therapy, in the hands of a skilled therapist, is a powerful and life changing experience.  It has been shown to be effective for a variety of illnesses and problems.  If you need therapy and work as an active participant in your own treatment, you can expect it will be well worth the time and money you invest.

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ZONES offered by Road to Growth Counseling
Call 303-380-5526 to Register for the next session

Based on The ZONES of Regulation®: A Curriculum Designed to Foster Self-Regulation and Emotional Control

Written and Created by                   Leah M. Kuypers, MA Ed. OTR/L

The Zones psycho-educational group is taught by Kayla Currier and Stephanie Camins.  Children ages 6-11 participate in a 6 week group session. Currently, the group is run several times a year on Wednesday evenings from 6:30-7:30pm. 

This is a highly effective curriculum, teaching children to incorporate sensory, social learning, executive functioning and emotional regulation needs to develop social, emotional and sensory regulation. “Self-regulation can go by many names, such as self-control, self-management, and impulse control. It is defined as the best state of alertness of both the body and emotions for the specific situation.” Problem behaviors such as being too silly, too distractible, shutting down, or exploding get in the way of learning, making friends, and expressing confidence. Children WANT to make better choices but don’t always know how. 

This program uses a cognitive behavioral approach, which includes cognitive restructuring, relaxation and calming skills, pro-social interaction skills, and behavioral reinforcement.  The Zones program teaches children to recognize their states of alertness and emotions using 4 colored zones. Calming and alerting tools are taught to help them move effectively between zones. Children are encouraged to evaluate the “size” of problems and make adjustments to solve problems.  

Goals include:

  • Learn to manage sensory input from the environment
  • Develop emotional self-understanding and emotional self-regulation
  • Improve executive functioning and cognitive control of behaviors
  • Encourage social perspective taking
  • Increase self-awareness – reflect on their own behavior and look at the perspectives of others

By the completion of this program, children increase their ability to attend to more than one activity at a time, also known as, attention shifting.  They are encouraged to consider multiple options aiding their ability to think flexibly. Planning and organizing actions, impulse control and emotional regulation tools are taught to achieve these skills.

Call today to reserve your spot in the next session.  Spaces are limited to ensure your child receives highly individualized learning. The cost is $300 per session and includes 6 weeks of small group instruction, parent worksheets and take home assignments and the support and knowledge of 2 professionals in the fields of education and psychology.


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5 (100%) 1 vote

Clinical Supervision

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Author: Stephanie Camins - MA, LPC

Experience

As a licensed professional counselor with 20 years-experience in mental health, not only as a clinician but as an owner of a successful private practice, I have had the opportunity to work with hundreds of clients, in multiple setting, ages 4 and up with a myriad of differing mental health diagnosis.

I began my career in mental health working in in-patient hospital settings, day treatment programs, community mental health, crisis intervention, school counseling, program development, and finally private practice.  I have gained valuable knowledge in each of these settings.  I have had the immeasurable benefit of experience across all levels of care in this field with populations from age 4 and up.  My areas of expertise include children, adolescents, family therapy, parent coaching, trauma, anxiety, abuse, EMDR, and private practice consultation.

My passion for helping others reach their potential includes not only my clients, but also my fellow therapists. It is the responsibility of established professionals to teach and guide those developing and honing their skills.   I was fortunate to have received excellent supervision and experience and look forward to giving back to my profession in teaching and supporting other therapists in their journey.

Supervision Style

Clinical supervisors should be aware of and follow best practices in counseling supervision as established by the CACREP Standards and ACA Ethical Codes.  A site supervisor must have a master’s degree in counseling with appropriate certifications and licenses, a minimum of 2 years relevant professional experience in the area in which they supervise, and have training in counseling supervision.

There are several models of clinical supervision used, including developmental, psychotherapy based, and integrative models.  I follow most closely the developmental model.   Supervision moves from most directive to least directive as a counselor in training develops knowledge and increases their skill base. Areas of growth include: intervention, skills competence, assessment techniques, interpersonal assessment, client conceptualization, individual differences, theoretical orientation, treatment goals and plans, and professional ethics. Supervision is tailored to meet the needs of each counselor’s experience and skill level.

Professional development is a life-long process.  Wherever you are in your learning and experience as a clinician, I individualize my supervision to work with your unique knowledge and skills.  Whether I am in the role of teacher, coach, mentor or consultant we will work together to incorporate new information and counseling skills to your counseling practice.

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What is the Difference Between a Licensed Professional Counselor, an Intern Therapist, and a Registered Therapist?

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Author: Stephanie Camins - MA, LPC

Licensed Professional Counselor (MA, LPC) 

must hold a Master's degree in their profession and have two years and 2,000 hours Post-Master’s supervision by a licensed professional in direct client/patient care. 

Licensed Professional Counselor Candidate (MA, LPCC) 

must hold a Master’s degree and is working towards licensure under the supervision of a Licensed Professional Counselor to accumulate the 2,000 hours required for licensure.

Intern Therapist 

is a Master of Arts in Counseling student in good standing, enrolled in a counseling training graduate degree program at an accredited college/university. They are working towards the 800 hours of supervised experience in client/patient care under the supervision of an MA, LPC.

Registered Therapist 

is registered with the State Board of Registered Psychotherapists and is not licensed or certified; no degree, training or experience is required. 

What are the Benefits of an Intern Therapist?

An intern therapist is near the end of their training as a therapist. They have completed extensive education in theory and skills. At this level, an intern therapist has often had experience with several different clinical populations. Intern therapists are in close supervision not only with their site supervisor but also their university professors and peer groups. The benefit to clients is an abundance of professional perspectives and recommendations given to support the intern’s direct client contact.

Additionally, Intern therapists provide a high level of quality care at a reduced rate. Clients are able to benefit from the personal care and service of a private practice environment rather than a larger institutional setting without paying full out of pocket rates for a licensed professional counselor. 

Another benefit is the flexibility and availability of appointments intern-therapists are able to offer.  As many who have struggled to get into therapists know, finding a therapist who has available appointments open at all is challenging much less appointments that are convenient to your schedule.  Our interns are available for late afternoon, evening and weekend appointments.

What is the Difference Between a Licensed Professional Counselor, an Intern Therapist, and a Registered Therapist?
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What Is CBT?

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Author: Stephanie Camins - MA, LPC

Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) emphasizes the interaction between thoughts, behaviors and feelings.  Given any event, you can choose to think in positive or negative ways.    A negative, destructive thought about the event will lead to a response which is reactionary, impulsive, and maladaptive.  As a result, negative emotional states such as anger, anxiety, and frustration arise.  When you respond to the same event with positive or neutral thoughts or beliefs, you tend to react in a more proactive, solution focused manner and experience empowering, uplifting feelings.

What is the Goal of CBT?

The goal of CBT is to help develop constructive ways of thinking that will produce healthier behaviors and beliefs. CBT has strong empirical support and is the most widely used evidence-based practice for improving mental health. Studies have documented changes in brain activity, suggesting that this therapy actually improves your brain functioning as well.

CBT is a goal-oriented treatment method. It is "present focused" in its aim to change patterns of thinking (or core beliefs) and the emotions clients feel when being faced with distress or anxiety. CBT suggests that emotions, thoughts, and behaviors all influence one another in powerful ways. It is used to treat patients who have distorted thoughts that are unhelpful and irrational.  These thoughts don’t make sense and there is no evidence that they are true yet they are automatic and feel uncontrollable. Some examples include, “I’m not good enough, I’m unlovable, I have to be perfect, It’s all my fault, I’m a failure, etc.” CBT will help to identify inaccurate or negative thinking so you can view challenging situations more clearly and respond to them in a more effective way.

CBT Can be Used to Treat Many Problems Such As: 

  • OCD
  • Bipolar
  • Perfectionism
  • PTSD
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Depression
  • Grief
  • Sleep disorders
  • Phobias
  • Low self-esteem
  • Better manage stressful life situations.

CBT is most often a 16-week treatment plan which can quickly help you identify and cope with specific challenges.  Skills focus on changing 1. thoughts and 2. behaviors.  Once these two things have improved your emotions will shift.

Cognitive techniques:

  • Identify the 10 thought distortions
  • Learn strategies to restructure these distorted thought patterns
  • Replace negative thoughts with more realistic thoughts
  • Quiet your inner critic

Behavioral techniques:

  • Relaxation
  • Mindfulness
  • Journaling
  • Exercise
  • Organization
  • Goal setting
 CBT will help you to manage many distressful life events from managing symptoms of mental illness to coping with stressful life situations.
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What is Telemental Health?

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Author: Stephanie Camins - MA, LPC

Telemental health is simply receiving therapy through electronic means whereby the client and clinician are in two different locations.  Video sessions are accessed through a secure video conferencing platform.   After assessing for a good fit for this form of counseling, I will provide you with log in information to the system.  I use Counsol for video sessions as well as client registration and billing.

What are the Technology Requirements?

To use telemental health for your therapy, you will need a secure setting for the session that will ensure your privacy, and a computer with internet connection.  The system is cloud based with point to point encryption which meets HIPAA criteria for privacy.  Platforms such as Skype and Face Time are not considered secure.

What are the Benefits of Telemental Health?

Telemental health provides easier access to counseling and expertise than traditional in office sessions.  It can save on travel time to and from sessions. You can use your lunch hour for sessions.  In circumstances where scheduling or distance is challenging, telemental health allows access to services that would otherwise be unattainable.

Telemental health provides an avenue for members of a family who are in a different location to participate in sessions.   For example, in the case of co-parenting, one parent may be too far away to make counseling reasonable.  Or one member of a couple may not be able to get across town at the appointment time and can participate through video.

This also gives people access to clinicians outside your geographical area who may have expertise not available in your area.  You are more able to pick a counselor that meets your needs without proximity being an issue.

Research which supports the use of telemedicine:

  • Multiple studies show online counseling as effective as “in-person” counseling
  • Depressed clients tend to stay in counseling longer online than in person
  • A higher percentage of online clients say then would seek counseling again

Who is Telemental Health For?

Telemental health can provide greater access to services in the following situations:

  • Military
  • Individuals who travel for work
  • Students
  • Work from home       
  • Stay at home parents
  • Health issues that keep you from leaving home
  • Rural communities lacking adequate resources
  • Nursing homes
  • Those with disabilities
  • No transportation to get to appointments
  • Fear face to face interaction
  • Prefer technology based interactions
  • Co-parenting when both parents can’t be in the office at the same time
  • Couples or family sessions when members are in different locations
  • Support groups with members in various locations
  • Weather restrictions
  • Convenience
  • Between session coaching and accountability

When is Telemental Health NOT Used :

Clients with severe mental illness that may require emergency services are not appropriate for this form of counseling and need to see a clinician in the office for the safety of the client.

Mental health professionals which are licensed to provide counseling services are only ethically and legally allowed to provide services in the state in which they are licensed. Although there are many advocating for licensing mobility, at this time clinicians are unable to provide services outside of the state they are licensed in.  There are a few exceptions to this, which can be addressed on a case to case basis.

Special considerations for the clinician:

  • Client comfort with technology
  • Explanation of technology used
  • Client Identity verification
  • Backup plans for technology issues
  • Identify location of client during session
  • Establish an emergency response plan and emergency contact person
  • Appropriate level of care for the severity of symptoms
  • Confidentiality in client’s environment ie.  Who might overhear session
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What Is Family Therapy?

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Author: Stephanie Camins - MA, LPC

Family Therapy

Family therapy helps families build healthier relationships and cope with many different challenges. Family therapy can address a wide variety of relational and/or mental health needs. This form of therapy supports growth and communication for each individual within the family using a systemic method of treatment. Family therapy is also referred to as systems therapy. Systemic treatment looks at the roles of each family member and the dynamics that play out in the family.  At times these dynamics cause conflict and unhappiness. Family therapy is solution-focused, identifying specific and attainable goals to achieve an optimal outcome.  Issues are addressed within the context of the family system in order to improve the overall functioning of the family. Family therapy incorporates all ages and developmental levels and is tailored to the needs of each family. You will also come to understand your own impact on others and improve your ability to have healthy relationships in all arenas of your life.

What are the Benefits of Family Therapy?

Treatment can help families struggling with such concerns as: mental and emotional disorders, health and behavioral problems, and a wide array of relationship issues. According to the American Association of Family Therapists, “clients report marked improvement in work productivity, co-worker relationships, family relationships, partner relationships, emotional health, overall health, social life, and community involvement”. While learning healthy and productive communication, family therapy also provides a safe space for families to discuss important topics and share individual perspectives.

What Comprises a Family?

 Again, family therapy is also referred to as systems therapy.  It can be used with anyone you have a relationship with or any group with which you engage with.  This can be family and/or friends or even people in the workplace. It is the group of people who have the largest influence on a person’s daily life and decisions that are made. Even if these relationships have been broken by conflict or pulled apart by distance, family therapy can assist in repairing connections.

The American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists’ website: http://www.aamft.org/iMIS15/AAMFT/Content/About_AAMFT/About_Marriage_and_Family_Therapists.aspx

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What is Family Therapy?
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What Is DBT?

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Author: Stephanie Camins - MA, LPC

Facts to know about Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)

  • Created in the early 1990’s as another version of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Originally created for women to treat symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder
  • Can also treat depression and anxiety in adults
  • Useful to treat adults with depression who also suffer from co-morbid personality disorders
  • DBT has proven to have a lower dropout rate than regular psychotherapy
  • Patients treated with DBT have shown signs of reduced depression, anxiety, irritability, anger, and impulsivity, along with a reduction in suicidal actions or ideations and self-harm behaviors (Solar, et al., 2009)
  • Overall life satisfaction can improve if DBT is effectively utilized

Why is DBT so Effective?

Many people with mood disorders or personality disorders can’t regulate their arousal levels. Their nervous systems become over aroused easily and it is very difficult for them to calm down once they are activated.  They experience extreme swings in their emotional states.  DBT uses 4 areas of skill building to regulate thoughts, feelings and actions.

DBT has the same components of cognitive behavioral therapy which help clients identify and correct negative beliefs and assumptions about self and others. Clients work closely with the therapist to solve relationship problems, complete homework, role play better interaction solutions and practice self-soothing techniques. Through this therapy process, individuals learn to identify their strengths and build on them.

Why 4 is a Special Number for DBT

DBT is split up into 4 different types of services: For the more intense needs all four services are recommended in conjunction.  Some facilities offer the full DBT program. For skill building in relationships and mood symptoms, weekly therapy sessions and occasional phone consults are more cost effective and convenient.

  • 1 hour of weekly of individual therapy
  • 2.5 hours of weekly group skills therapy
  • Telephone consultations as needed for additional support outside therapy sessions
  • Therapy consultations for the therapist in order for them to be the best support possible for their clients

The skill building therapy follows 4 modules:

  1. Core mindfulness skills teaches awareness, presence, focus and acceptance
  2. Interpersonal effectiveness - teaches interaction skills with the people around you and in your personal relationships.  These include, assertiveness, problem solving, personal boundaries and conflict resolutions.
  3. Emotion regulation techniques -  involves properly identifying emotional states. If you find yourself over activated, these techniques teach you to lower your arousal.  It is important to identify obstacles you may be experiencing in shifting your emotional states.  These skills help to increase focus on positive events and decrease focus on negative events.
  4. Distress tolerance skills - help to lower impulsive behaviors by increasing the ability to tolerate emotional upheavals.  Four strategies are taught: distracting, self-soothing, improving the moment, and thinking of pros and cons and acceptance skills. (Stepp, Epler, & Seungmin, 2008, p.4)

References:

Solar, J., et al. (2009) Dialectical behavior therapy skills training compared to stand group therapy in borderline personality disorder: A 3-month randomized controlled clinical trial. Behaviour Research and Therapy, (47), 353-358.

Stepp, S.D., Epler, A., Seungmin, J., &Trull, T.J. (2008) The effect of dialectical behavior therapy skills use on personality disorder features. Journal of Personality Disorders, 22 (6), 549-563.

What is DBT?
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The Ultimate Guide to New Year's Resolutions

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Author: Stephanie Camins - MA, LPC

It’s that time of year again.  Time to reflect on your past year and set your intentions for the upcoming year. As I’ve been having these discussions with clients and friends, I’ve noticed a common theme in conversations. “I can’t wait for this year to be over, I need a fresh start, good riddance 2017”

Leaping 2017 to 2018

Being a therapist as well as a self-proclaimed avid new year’s ‘Resolutioner’, I started thinking about the powerful emotions behind these statements and the influence this negative language has on our thoughts, feelings and actions moving forward into the coming year.  Of course, January 1st is an arbitrary day to set your yearly goals. It could really be any day, but we’ve all become accustomed to the concept of New Year’s Resolutions.  Love them or hate them, they’re everywhere at this time of year:  news shows, Facebook, articles like the one I’m writing now, conversations at Starbucks.  You name it. We are a goal driven society. 

My goal in sharing a Resolution article this year is to change the way you think about a “New Year” and what it represents to you.  I’m going to take you through a series of questions to create a meaningful story of 2017.  We will also evaluate the goals you had or did not have and create a positive and realistic set of personal goals for 2018.

Start button 2018

I want to share with you my own journey this year as a guide post for these questions.  I use this time of year to look back at the resolutions I wrote down for the previous year.  I check off those that I accomplished and I contemplate what barriers I encountered in not attaining the others.  Sometimes the resolution gets carried over and sometimes it is eliminated as it was no longer important or the barriers were not in my control to remove or work around. 

As I contemplate my resolutions and my own year, I referred back to my article “Life Goals 2017”. I described my formula for writing my resolutions which includes four categories that I have used for many years as my guidepost:

  1. Better health goals
  2. Professional goals
  3. Relationship resolutions
  4. Personal financial planning

As I was looking back over the years in my resolution journal, I realized that at the core of what I have achieved is an uncompromising priority to incorporate self-care into every day in some form.  Taking care of myself physically, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually has helped me continue to stay on track while accomplishing these goals through some tough years. 

rear view mirror 2017 to 2018

Sometimes your goals may take longer.  They may be accomplished through a different path than you originally thought or you may be guided to an altogether different goal that fits better with your current circumstances.  In the end, don’t punish yourself for those goals you have not accomplished, rather, celebrate all that you did accomplish, even in the face of life’s trials, tribulations and tragedies.

I had a very difficult start to 2017 with my youngest daughter becoming critically ill.  We spent many weeks in the ICU and had major surgery.  My resolution list of course was nowhere in my mind during all of this.  I knew after coming out of this crisis, I would probably have to pare down my 2017 goals.  In actuality, I accomplished the majority of what was on my list as well as some that I’d been trying to tackle for years. 

Maintaining a strong self-care toolbox increases your resiliency in difficult times.

When I’m successful with self-care I am able to maintain motivation, increase creativity and improve my relationships.  This, in turn, increases a sense of confidence and empowerment which again adds to positive momentum. 

Whatever it is that leads you to statements such as “Please let this awful year come to an end”, take a moment to reassess what is real and what is exaggerated.  The language we use is powerful.  In the following list of  15 questions, I encourage you to use positive language without the drama, black and white thinking and 'catastrophizing', that we so commonly go to when we are feeling discouraged or down:

  1. What went well in your life last year?
  2. What did you struggle with?
  3. Where did you fall short?
  4. Where did you go over and above?
  5. What circumstances blocked your successes?
  6. What circumstances led to your successes?
  7. Who supported you in achieving your goals?
  8. Who sabotaged your goals?
  9. In what ways did you sabotage yourself?
  10. How can you adjust your goals to give yourself the best chance for success next year?
  11. What are your core values?
  12. Do your goals reflect these core values?
  13. Are they your goals or someone else’s?
  14. What was your biggest surprise this year?
  15. How did you handle it?

Now list your resolutions that were intended for 2017, even if they were only thoughts in your head or general goals:

  • Identify which of these resolutions you accomplished, even if only partially.
  • Identify the goals you didn’t accomplish and why.
Index card 2018 goals

Review all of this information and formulate your 2018 resolutions.  I will continue to use my four categories, but this year I will also highlight the four areas of self-care, physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual, that have given me the strength and fortitude to accomplish as much as I can.  As a reference point, I have provided the top 10 resolutions according to surveys:

  1. Get organized
  2. Help others
  3. Learn something new
  4. Get out of debt
  5. More family time
  6. Enjoy life more
  7. Quit drinking
  8. Quit smoking
  9. Lose weight
  10. Exercise

All of these can be categorized into health goals, professional goals, relationship goals and financial goals; the four categories I use.  Remember goals must be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely. Start with a broad goal statement, then add your step by step action plan.  Decide how you will hold yourself accountable and what your time frame is for accomplishing your goal. Keep your list where you can refer to it easily. Remember, this is a fluid document, make changes as needed.



*Celebrate each success along the way*

*Treat each year as a blessing*

*Become a seeker of positivity*

Happy 2018

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How to Build A Support System?

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Author: Stephanie Camins - MA, LPC

Isolation is a major cause of depression in adults. As we move into adult responsibilities: work, parenting, marriages, we tend to let our relationships fade into the background. You may not be exposed to groups of people in your daily life like when you were younger. Many of us have jobs that are isolating.

The trend to work remotely has increased our isolation. In the ever increasing tasks of “adulting,” self-care often takes a back seat. Self-care includes Physical, Psychological, Emotional, Spiritual, Personal and Professional tasks. A healthy support system plays a role in all of these categories of self-care.

A support system is made up of individual people who provide support, respect, and care.

These are people who are in your corner. They do not judge you or ridicule you. They provide feedback that is genuine and in your best interest. Their support is not self-serving. They have a positive impact on your personal goals. These people may be close friends, relatives, or simply acquaintances. You may talk to them frequently or just occasionally.

Sometimes your support system includes people in your community.  Any interaction that is friendly and positive leaves you feeling happier. Frequent enough contact with that clerk, barista, or gym mate, is the foundation of building a network.  Any social connection can have a positive influence on your life. Being connected with others is vitally important to your happiness, self-esteem and ability to cope in difficult times. It also has a positive impact on self-acceptance and emotional health.

Most of us recognize the importance of this but it can be hard to build a network of supportive people, and stay connected to the support system we already have. Life is busy. It’s easy to find reasons why NOT to get together or call or email or even text. The excuse list is long:

  • I don’t have time.
  • I don’t know what to say.
  • ​It’s been so long since I’ve talked to them.
  • ​It will be awkward.
  • ​They’re probably too busy.
  • I don’t want to intrude on their life.

We all need people. I’m often asked how to overcome this list and build a support network?

Let's start by make a list of who is already in your corner.

Who do you already have in your life? Make a list of ALL the people you currently interact with. This should include family, friends, neighbors, and acquaintances. Think of your home, your work, your community, your church, your gym, your children’s school, your local Starbucks, any activity you do in your life that you are around people. You can also include professionals such as counselors, teachers, mentors, and clergy.

Go through this list and put a star next to each person who is supportive. Write next to their name what makes them supportive. Answer the following questions.

  • Do I feel respected by this person?
  • ​Do I trust this person?
  • ​Does this person bring out my best qualities?
  • ​Does this person allow me to feel good about myself?
  • ​Do I leave interactions feeling positive?

Make a point to contact these people and ask how they are doing.

How do I Build my Network?

You may find that your list is much smaller than you’d like. If this is the case, what is standing in the way of you building a support network? You may decide that seeing a counselor or talking with another professional advisor such as clergy or personal coach can help you develop your capacity to connect with others in a safe and supportive environment.

You might need help to identify the roadblocks you have created that keep you from connecting in meaningful ways with other people. A few examples of roadblocks include, low self-esteem, lack of confidence, depression, misguided life priorities, disorganization in your life, or difficulty asking for and accepting help from others.

Support systems are only effective if you use them.

Let’s work through the following roadblock example, "I dont like to rely on others." It’s hard for many of us to ask for help. Consider the following questions if this is an obstacle for you in using your support system.

  • When do I ask for help?
  • In what situations have I asked for help in the past?
  • ​When I ask for help, what am I feeling?
  • ​What do I think will happen?
  • Do I have negative or positive expectations?

Identify one situation you are dealing with in your life right now that you are overwhelmed with. Look through the list of supporters you made in this exercise, pick one person you can ask for assistance…and ASK.

Your support system should be just that, supportive. If you find that certain people tend to take much more than they give, if you feel drained after each interaction, this isn’t considered supportive. In relationships there is an ebb and flow to support. Each person takes turns being the supporter as life happens.

However, if this support isn’t balanced it may be time to set healthy boundaries for yourself -See my article: Setting Emotional Boundaries in Relationships

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I've created a helpful e-book:

Boundaries in Relationships

  • Why do People Abuse Relationship Boundaries?
  • Setting Emotional Boundaries in Relationships
  • What Makes a Healthy Relationship?
Stephanie Camins
MA,LPC
How to Build a Support System
4.8 (96.17%) 47 votes

What Is Resiliency?

A 12 Step Plan to Increase your Own Resilience When Life becomes Overwhelming

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Author: Stephanie Camins - MA, LPC

Resilience is referred to often in emotional wellness circles but typically without adequately describing the importance of having or attaining this quality. Any challenging life circumstance that creates a flood of emotion and a perceived loss of control can challenge our ability to cope. Resilience is the human ability to rebuild or come back from difficult situations.

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We all cope in some way to extraordinary life events. The positive psychology movement has long focused on the skills people use to navigate major life events. Sometimes negative events such as loss and sometimes positive events such as marriage or a promotion can challenge our ability to cope.

What’s the point of this movement? Why is this important?

The answer lies in the extraordinary number of people who cope in self-destructive ways, ruining relationships and sabotaging anything good in their lives.

Resilience theory states that we all have the ability to cultivate these positive characteristics and traits. Building resilience is a skill set involving thoughts, behaviors and actions which can be learned. It is an important component of PTSD Recovery, as well as, recovering from depression and anxiety. With these skills in place you not only manage the distress caused by PTSD or other major life events, but also inoculate yourself from the adverse effects of negative life events in the future.

Resilient People Display the Ability to:

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  • set and move toward realistic goals
  • ​have an ability to look long term
  • accept change as part of life
  • ​engage in active decision making
  • ​engage in self-discovery
  • ​communicate and problem solve
  • actively learn new things
  • ​have an optimistic outlook
  • ​have a realistic perspective of themselves and the world around them
  • ​accept and manage the presence of strong feelings
  • be flexible
  • ​have a positive view of self
  • ​actively engage in self-care
  • build connections with others

As you begin your journey down this road to resilience, focus on your own strengths. Remember what has worked well for you in the past. Who did you reach out to? What activities did you incorporate to reduce stress and anxiety? How have you overcome obstacles in the past? What gave you hope and purpose? Use the list below to develop and execute your own personal plan. The Road Map to Resilience is a task list to increase resiliency. Take your time focusing on each step. It will be helpful as you move through this process to create a journal to keep track of your emotions, thoughts and the actions you take.

Road Map to Resilience – A 12 Step Plan

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  1. Develop Caring and supportive relationships that are filled with love, trust, encouragement and reassurance.
  2. Manage your feelings You will feel strong emotions. Give yourself space to feel them. You can regulate emotions by focusing on positive emotions, such as, hope, courage, and happiness and decreasing the focus on negative emotions, such as anxiety, depression, frustration, anger, and resentment. To decrease these uncomfortable emotions, it’s important to remember to give yourself permission to feel these feelings, get support when needed and then shift your focus. Denying feelings only intensifies your reaction. Feel and release is a good rule of thumb here.
  3. Build on your strengths Remember to celebrate small achievements.
  4. Have positive expectations and expect things to turn out for the best. Visualize what you want rather than focusing on a negative outlook. Reframe negatives to positives, look for the silver lining in situations, others and yourself. Difficult life events happen. What lessons can you learn from adversity? How can you help others in a similar circumstance?
  5. Practice positive self-talk rather than engaging in self-sabotaging thoughts.
  6. Engage in activities which increase self-confidence including hobbies, personal development and work projects. Do what you love, what you’re good at and take action daily.
  7. ​Increase positive physical behaviors such as exercise, healthy eating, and good sleep habits. Develop regular routines.
  8. Create meaning and purpose
  9. Set SMART goals to increase and enhance your sense of self-control, mastery and competence, break tasks down to achievable parts, prepare and plan for setbacks, commit to hard work. Identify one thing you can accomplish today in the direction of your goal.
  10. Be flexible Create a list of alternative thoughts, feelings and actions by looking at things from different or opposing perspectives. You may need to shift your goals or direction in your life as a result of events that arise in life. Focus on the road in front of you, and adapt.
  11. Create a social support system Seek and accept help, access community resources, volunteer in your community, work toward positive communication and problem solving with those around you, actively engage in a social network, share your feelings with someone you trust.
  12. Forgive others and yourself

Following this road map, you will be able to identify not only your own personal map but also what your roadblocks are. This process involves deep emotional work and may require the assistance of a professional counselor. Life is a journey! Embrace your strengths!

What Is Resiliency?
4.9 (97.14%) 21 votes