4 Austin Date Ideas to Improve your Marriage

 
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Relationships are work. If you want a good one, it takes maintenance.

To have a strong, sound relationship, you need to make sure you’re taking time to spend time with one another on a regular basis. Spending time together as a couple doesn’t mean just being in the same space at the same time, but actually connecting and enjoying one another. One way to do this is to carve out time to go on regular dates. As couples therapists, we typically suggest a weekly date to our counseling clients.

Obviously, the concept of dates being good for relationships isn’t anything groundbreaking. But how many of you actually plan and go on dates regularly? And I don’t mean just going out randomly to lunch because you don’t have anything at the house. I mean actually planning an outing and calling it a date. Many of us start out our relationships with regular dates, but somehow, with all of the busyness in our day-to-day lives, it just gets forgotten. It gets pushed to the back burner.

You’re relationship is important. Building your marriage or couplehood is worth setting aside time. It’s worth nurturing and making a priority.

How to make the most of your dates

The next time you think about planning a date for you and your partner, think about what type of connection your relationship really needs at the moment. Do you need to take some time to get away to talk about life stressors or future plans? Do you need to cut loose and just have fun together? Do you need to challenge yourselves and do an activity to get out of your comfort zones?

Then, consider how the environment and atmosphere affects that need. In what ways can you connect with one another in the space you’re going to for your date? If you need time to talk, will you be able to hear one another in the space or will it be too loud? If you need to focus on one another because you haven’t had much time together lately, will the TVs on the wall be a distraction? If you need to loosen up, will you be able to chill out and just have a good time?

Need some Austin date ideas?

The White Horse

  • Good if you need: Physical affection, to have fun, and to work together

  • Atmosphere: It’s a good ole fashioned honky tonk… loud, music filled, and might get a little rowdy

  • Favorites: Free dance lessons + the fact that you can have a good time while also practicing or learning something new together

Twisted X Brewing Co.

  • Good if you need: Time to talk, a relaxed environment, and to breathe some fresh air

  • Atmosphere: Open-air, back porch vibes

  • Favorites: Their seasonal brews, great food truck, and live music

Justine’s Brasserie

  • Good if you need: To slow down, a space to talk to one another, and some romance

  • Atmosphere: Eclectic, vintage, and romantic

  • Favorites: The laid back atmosphere, no rush service, and good food (especially the fries!)

Butler Park Pitch & Putt

  • Good if you need: To get outside, to take it easy on your budget, and to get some exercise

  • Atmosphere: Relaxed, judgement-free zone (no one cares about your golf skills!)

  • Favorites: Bringing along your own cooler, laughing at bad shots, and the fact that you only need two clubs since it’s a Par 3 course


-Hannah


 

4 Podcasts I'm Loving Right Now

 
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Real life, I love a good podcast. Something to know about me is that I’m not a huge TV or movie watcher. Let me clarify by letting you know that I don’t say this to be one of those holier- than-thou-I-don’t-even-own-a-TV-I’m-above-that-noise type of person. Actually, I wish I enjoyed it more! A few shows catch my attention, but I have a hard time sitting still for long, which makes investing in a season somewhat of a challenge. And then there are podcasts, which only require my ears to listen and have a similar entertainment factor as TV does. I can drive, do dishes, do chores or workout while I listen. A multitasker’s dream.

Here are a few podcasts I’m loving right now!

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Conscious Construction

https://www.abirobinsyoga.com/consciousconstruction/

I’m such a fan of this newish podcast hosted by Austin Yoga Therapist, Abi Robins. Abi is just a force, a very special one at that! We connected last year because of our mutual love for the Enneagram and even decided to pair up to host the South Austin Enneagram Meetup. This podcast dives into the world of yoga, the Enneagram, relationships, spirituality and personal growth. Each episode is almost like a mini therapy session and very thought provoking. Abi interviews some really awesome people and hits on important topics for personal growth. She’s also just a super fun person, and I love feeling like I get to hang out with her each week through listening to Conscious Construction.

Start with these episodes:

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The Enneagram Journey

https://www.theenneagramjourney.org/podcast/

Suzanne Stabile is a spirited Enneagram teacher who has authored two great books, The Road Back you You, and her latest, The Path Between Us. Suzanne is a gifted teacher, and her podcast can help you understand the Enneagram better. Some episodes are a panel of Enneagram teachers talking about various Enneagram topics and others are Suzanne interviewing people on their Enneagram Type. This podcast is best for someone who already is familiar with the Enneagram. I wrote a post on how to get started over here:

Start with:

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For the Love

http://jenhatmaker.com/podcast.htm

This podcast is just a lot of fun. Jen Hatmaker is bubbly, honest and just doesn’t take herself too seriously. Her podcast features a mini-series on different topics such as girlfriends, food, laughter, holidays and faith. If you’re looking for an easy listen, this podcast is for you. You must listen to the Brené Brown episode, and of course, there is an Enneagram episode wedged in there. Check out the episodes below to get started.

A few to start with:

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Armchair Expert

https://armchairexpertpod.com/

I'm just starting this podcast after it was recommended to me by a friend. It’s hosted by Dax Shepard, who I’m mainly a fan of because he and his wife, Kristen Bell, are big proponents of mental health issues and couples therapy. The couple is refreshingly honest about their own struggles and how much marriage counseling has helped their relationship. The podcast features guests talking about the messiness that is life. I mean, the first episode is Ellen DeGeneres. Sign me up!


-Cat


 

Meet The Counselors | Austin Relational Wellness

 
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Meet Colleen

Colleen is a Licensed Professional Counselor, a Spiritual Director, and owner of Austin Relational Wellness, a group practice of counselors in Austin, Texas. She provides individual counseling and spiritual direction for adults and also leads spiritual direction groups, Enneagram workshops, and women’s retreats.

The first thing you’ll notice about Colleen is her authentic, enthusiastic presence. Colleen brings her bright personality into each counseling session, where she is outgoing, warm, and has the unique ability to help people feel comfortable from the start. She genuinely cares about each individual therapy and spiritual direction client she works with. She listens with empathy and acceptance and creates a safe space for people to talk through life difficulties. Colleen combines all of her strengths to create an atmosphere where the therapeutic relationship between client and counselor can flourish.

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Colleen’s Counseling Services at Austin Relational Wellness

Colleen offers individual counseling for adults and specializes in working with those struggling with a life transition. She is especially skilled at helping therapy clients work through grief and loss, and she has an incredible ability to hold space for her clients to help them navigate all the difficult emotions that come from different types of loss. Helping clients understand that they are cared for, normalizing their experience of the negative emotions associated with loss, and guiding them toward their own ability to handle the tough experience they are going through is an important part of Colleen’s work.

In addition to her individual counseling work, Colleen is passionate about helping people discover their own versions of spirituality through her spiritual direction services. She works with those who are questioning their beliefs or wanting to deepen their relationships with the Divine, Higher Power, or God. Regardless of clients’ spiritual or religious backgrounds, Colleen works to understand and guide her clients toward greater understanding of the ways spirituality works in their lives. She helps people incorporate spirituality on a practical level by figuring out the role that spirituality plays in their lives, exploring ways to integrate spiritual practices on daily basis, and viewing important decisions and life changes through the lens of spirituality. On a deeper level, spiritual direction helps people explore and interpret their experiences of their Higher Power, spiritually heal from past wounds and hurts, discover their unique purpose or calling, and become who they were truly designed to be.

Recently, Colleen has been putting together Enneagram workshops to help spread the Enneagram to the Austin community and is also in the process of developing a women’s retreat. Stay tuned for more information on these services!

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Outside the Counseling Room

Colleen’s strongly values family, friends, good communication, and fun. Her commitment to these values shows up in her work with clients, as well as in her personal life. Some of the activities she enjoys are reading, scuba diving, grandparenting, and traveling. Colleen likes to spend her free time hanging out with her family, having a good time with friends, going to the latest movies, and catching up on all things Netflix.


Connect with Colleen here!


 

Meet The Counselors | Austin Relational Wellness

 
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Meet Hannah

Hannah is a Licensed Professional Counselor Intern and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Associate supervised by Tammy Fisher, LMFT-S, LPC-S. She provides counseling for couples and young adults and also facilitates Enneagram workshops and marriage retreats at Austin Relational Wellness.

The first thing you’ll notice about Hannah is her grounded, genuine presence. Hannah’s counseling style is conversational, transparent, and relaxed. She has a playful sense of humor, which is something she often brings into the therapy room. She believes that, though therapy is a difficult process, it shouldn’t have to be so serious all the time. She uses her calm demeanor to gently challenge her clients to think about things differently. Hannah’s sense of humor, calm demeanor, and clinical skills help her clients move from a place of feeling fearful about the process of therapy to a place of comfortability and growth.

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Hannah’s Counseling Services at Austin Relational Wellness

Hannah offers weekly counseling at our South Austin office for couples who want to experience more fulfilling lives with stronger relationships. She works with couples who are committed to one another and have a strong foundation but want to have a deeper connection. Couples that come to her for therapy are typically feeling disconnected from one another on some level, whether it’s because they’re having frequent arguments and talking problems in circles or because they’re feeling emotionally disconnected and struggling to find a more meaningful relationship. Hannah also works with premarital couples to help establish this connection and prevent future disconnection prior to marriage. She uses Gottman Method Couples Therapy to help couples learn to effectively talk to one another about their issues, create more meaningful time together, strengthen their bond, and begin to know one another on a deeper level.

In addition to her work with couples, Hannah also offers weekly therapy for individuals. She works with young adults who are going through tough life transitions and tend to be really hard on themselves. She helps people who are worried they’re not measuring up to certain expectations, feeling a sense of stuckness, or holding themselves back because of painful emotions. By creating a safe space, her individual counseling clients feel truly heard and understood. She works to help her clients become aware of their emotional and thought processes, relational patterns, and unique strengths to help them recognize their true potential and get in touch with their best selves. One of the ways Hannah helps people connect to who they truly are is through exploration of the Enneagram of personality, a personality typing system that sheds light on different patterns of being. She enjoys integrating this tool into her work with clients.

Hannah also co-facilitates the Creating Connection Couples Retreat, a space for Austin couples to get away from their busy lives for a day to focus on forming a stronger bond, learning about one another’s needs in the relationship, and working on valuable communication skills. The retreat can be an alternative or a supplement to Austin marriage counseling for couples who feel like they have a good foundation but could just use a little relationship pick-me-up. Held in South Austin in a beautiful Hill Country setting, couples who attend will enjoy complimentary beverages, great food, and a group couples massage lesson from a local licensed massage therapist. Austin Relational Wellness is pleased to be able to offer this couples retreat to the community and offers a few special perks to premarital couples who attend.

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Outside the Therapy Room

Hannah’s most important values are those of growth and family. This is apparent in her work but also in her personal life. She’s really into the Enneagram and is currently enjoying several Enneagram podcasts that help her with applying this tool to her own life. Hannah enjoys spending time doing anything creative, is consistently finding new recipes to try out, loves exploring the Austin brewery and winery scene, and enjoys going out to listen to live music. She spends most of her free time with close friends, family, and her husky, Mika.


Connect with Hannah here!


 

Meet The Counselors | Austin Relational Wellness

 
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Meet Cat

Cat is a Licensed Professional Counselor Intern and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Associate supervised by Tammy Fisher, LMFT-S, LPC-S. She provides counseling for young adults and teens, as well as couples counseling, at Austin Relational Wellness.

The first thing you’ll notice about Cat is the passionate energy she has about her role as a therapist. She’s warm and non-judgmental, which makes the fear-provoking experience of meeting with a counselor more enjoyable. Cat makes her therapy clients feel at ease with her open and genuine personality. Her ability to make her clients feel comfortable helps when working through tough life challenges in the therapy room. She’s passionate about building community and helping people live their best, most authentic lives.

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Cat’s Counseling Services at Austin Relational Wellness

Cat offers weekly counseling at our South Austin office for people who feel stuck and hopeless no matter what they try. She helps people who have talked a problem in circles and still feel like things will never change or get better. Cat offers a space for healing when clients are worn out from carrying around this stress and are just plain tired of doing it all alone. She works by helping her counseling clients become aware of their own motivations, coping skills, and relationship patterns to get people out of that stuck place so they can start feeling more fulfilled.

One of the ways Cat helps her clients in therapy is by using the Enneagram of personality. The Enneagram is a powerful and dynamic personality system, describing nine distinct and fundamentally different personality types. The nine types have different patterns of thinking, feeling, and acting. As you discover your personality type and how it colors your view of the world, you’ll also discover what motivates you, your coping strategies, and keys to personal development. The Enneagram aides in development of self-awareness, self-acceptance, and compassion for others. It helps people in their relationships and on their personal journeys.

In addition to individual counseling, Cat also offers couples counseling for young adults and premarital counseling. She uses the Gottman Couples Therapy Method to help couples reconnect through rebuilding friendship and intimacy, while managing conflict. Cat strongly believes in the power of a healthy, loving relationship and strives to help couples feel better together.

Speaking of healthy relationships, Cat is one of the leaders of the Creating Connection Couples Retreat. This retreat is a great opportunity for couples who just need to pause and reconnect, as well as premarital couples. Held in a retreat-like setting in the South Austin Hill Country, with treats and delicious food, it's a chance for couples to reconnect with intention and grow their love

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Outside the Therapy Room

Community is an extremely important value to Cat, both in her career as a counselor and in her personal life. She has a strong need to connect with others and a firm belief that things turn out better when we support one another and work together. In her free time, Cat enjoys Melody DanceFit, finds crossword puzzles relaxing, and loves a good bluegrass band.


Did something here resonate with you? Connect with Cat! Reach out to her for a phone free consultation. Evening appointments are available.


 

Don’t Have Time for Marriage Counseling? Check Out This Austin Couples Retreat

 
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We recognize that, in Austin, marriage counseling can be a time-consuming and expensive process. Whether it’s due to mismatched schedules, an inability to make appointments at certain times because of Austin traffic (ugh!), or financial strain, working on your relationship in couples therapy may not be an option for you and your partner. While there’s certainly great value in attending weekly sessions with a therapist as a couple, there are other ways to help strengthen your relationship or marriage, such as couples workshops or marriage retreats.

Coming up in May, Austin Relational Wellness is holding the Creating Connection Couples Retreat. The retreat is held on a Saturday in the beautiful Texas Hill Country. Just a short drive outside the city to southwest Austin, you’ll find the Bluff Trail House, a comfy, inviting space where our retreats are held. Throughout the day, you’ll be able to enjoy the grounds, dine on delicious food and snacks, and sip on ice cold beverages.

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What happens at the couples retreat?

We’ll begin our day with a light breakfast and coffee as we introduce ourselves, give you a chance to get to know one another a bit, and set our intentions for the day. Then we’ll jump into a bit of teaching and help you get a sense of where you currently are in your relationship and where you’d like to be as a couple. Next, we’ll teach you about a concept surrounding certain needs we all have in relationships. We’ll help you figure out your own needs, as well as your partner’s.

During our break for lunch, you’ll have a chance to connect with your partner alone as you enjoy the grounds during a couples picnic. After lunch, we’ll dive into the relational needs a little deeper and do some activities to help you get a better understanding of what these look like for each of you.

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Because every relationship has conflict, the next part of our day will focus on conflict resolution. You’ll assess your current conflict style, and we’ll teach you some evidence-based techniques to help with communicating during conflict.

Something we’re excited to offer is a couples massage lesson. This portion of the day gets you out of your head and connected with your partner to increase closeness and affection. Our licensed massage therapist will give a group lesson on basic massage techniques that you can use to help meet your partner’s needs. Comfy clothes are a must for this part of our day!

We’ll wrap up by focusing on your vision for the future of your relationship. By creating this plan, you’ll be able to take what you’ve learned and apply it to your relationship going forward. You’ll also take some time to express appreciation to your partner one-on-one before we end the day.

If you’re looking for an alternative to Austin marriage counseling, our couples retreat is an option worth considering. You can find out more information and reserve your spot for our next retreat here.


-Hannah & Cat


 

The Valentine's Gift That Keeps On Giving

 
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In our therapy practice, we believe humans are hardwired to connect with others. Just as we need air to breathe oxygen into our lungs, food to nourish us, and water to keep our bodies functioning, we also require certain emotional needs to be fulfilled. We refer to these as relational needs, and they are met through relationships and social connectedness. One of the relational needs is affection, which is expressing care and closeness through physical touch and words such as “I love you” or “I care about you” (Ferguson, Ferguson, Thurman & Thurman, 1994).

This relational need is especially important in romantic partnerships, as a lack of affection is a total relationship killer. I love to teach my couples counseling clients about the relational needs and help them discover specifically how they need to be met. One way I do this with couples in therapy is by helping them discuss and clearly define how they like to experience affection. Traditionally, affection gets lost in the idea of mushy-gushy love or sex, but I’m continually surprised by the various ways my therapy clients like to feel affection.

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For many, affection is met through physical touch like hugs, kisses, holding hands, or sitting close. It might also be placing your hand on your partner’s knee while driving, a touch on their shoulder as you’re passing by, or a back rub after a stressful day. These little signs of affection help you feel closer to your partner and have a huge payoff.

The more obvious way to show affection is through touch, but affection does not have to be physical. It is ultimately about showing warmth and tenderness toward someone you care about. Someone with a high affection need would likely appreciate being greeted when they walk in the door with a warm smile or a hug and a kiss. Working as a couple to establish a ritual of how you greet and leave one another can be an anchor for affection in a relationship.

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Additionally, affection can be expressed by sharing how much you care for your partner through words. Saying “I love you” or “You mean so much to me” is an important way to show your partner you care. Looking for more ways to show affection through words? One way is by letting them know they look good! Paying someone a genuine compliment can be meaningful, especially when you’re comfortable in the relationship. But it’s not all about looks. Share with your partner what you admire about them. If you’re not the verbally affectionate type, write them a note! Leaving a surprise message just for them can also show you care.

It doesn't always have to be grand, actually that would be exhausting. It’s the small things which, according to Pamela Regan, Ph.D. in an article for Psychology Today, are just as important, and sometimes even more important than the big things, as they "represent very important attempts by our partners to establish intimacy and to connect with us emotionally."


How is affection showing up in your relationship? Use the questions below to help you and your partner discuss what you both need.

Grab your partner and take turns asking and answering one another the questions below. Have a piece of paper handy so you can write down what they say. Make sure to switch so they write when you share.

  • “How do you like to have your affection need met?”
  • Give specifics!
  • Try to come up with at least three specific ways your partner can meet your affection need.
  • Ex: “A goodnight kiss and to say, “I love you,” before we go to sleep.”
  • “It means a lot to me when you _______.”
  • Let them know the things they are already doing that you love.
  • Ex: “It means a lot to me when you text me just to say you love me while I’m at work.”
  • “It would be meaningful for me to feel more _______.”
  • Decide on one way you would like to see more affection from your partner.
  • Ex: “It would be meaningful for me to hear from you when you think I look nice.”
  • Tip: Using this sentence stem works a whole lot better than, “Why don’t you ever compliment me?”

-Cat


Ferguson. D.L., Ferguson, T., Thurman, C., & Thurman, H. (1994). Intimate Encounters: a practical guide to discovering the secrets to a really great marriage. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

 

Getting Started With the Enneagram

 
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New to the Enneagram and want to know where to start? When you don’t know much about the Enneagram, it can feel like information overload! We’ve gathered some resources to help you on your journey.

The Enneagram is a powerful and dynamic personality system describing nine distinct and fundamentally different personality types. The nine types have different patterns of thinking, feeling, and acting. As you discover your personality type and how it colors your view of the world, you’ll also discover what motivates you, your coping strategies, and keys to personal development.

Tips for getting started with the Enneagram

Take an assessment

You can begin by completing one of the online Enneagram tests we’ve included below. It’s important to know that the test alone cannot determine your type, but you can use the results as a jumping off point to get you going in the right direction. The RHETI test will give you your top 3 types and urges you to explore them each to see which one resonates the most with you.

RHETI $12 Test

Free Enneagram Test - 100 questions

Attend a workshop

Another great way to discover your number and learn about all nine types is to attend an introductory workshop. Austin Relational Wellness hosts an Intro to the Enneagram workshop several times a year. We’ve got one coming up next month on March 3rd.

March 3, 2018 (9 AM - 11 AM)

https://www.austinrelationalwellness.com/intro-to-the-enneagram

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Explore Enneagram websites

There are some great websites out there that are full of incredible content for all things Enneagram. Visit one of the websites below to you read more about your type.

Enneagram Worldwide: Enneagram Studies in the Narrative Tradition (ESNT)

Enneagram Institute

Listen to Enneagram podcasts

The best way to learn about the Enneagram is really to hear people talk about what it’s like for them as their type. The Enneagram has infiltrated the podcast game, and there are some shows dedicated entirely to it! The two listed below are fantastic and entertaining, and they really help you gain an understanding of the nine types.

Typology

Dive into Enneagram Books

There are so many Enneagram Books out there. It can be hard to know where to start, so we’ve included a few of our go-to books for beginners. Half Price Books and the Austin Public Library are great places to find some of these.

The Wisdom of the Enneagram - By Don Riso and Russ Hudson

Attend a Meetup

In our experience, once you discover your Enneagram type, you’ll find yourself talking about it to just about anyone who will listen. We believe the Enneagram is best experienced in community, so we hold a monthly meetup in South Austin. Our monthly meetup is held the first Tuesday of each month. Each meetup is an opportunity to connect with other Enneagram enthusiasts as we explore and discuss various topics. Check out our website below for more information on our monthly South Austin Enneagram meetup.

https://www.austinrelationalwellness.com/south-austin-enneagram-community/

 

It Takes Courage

 
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Courage - the ability to do something that frightens one

Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the concept of courage. Mainly because I see it in my therapy clients each week.

I see it in them when they come in for the first time… vulnerable and raw, nervous to meet a new therapist or enter counseling for the first time, and afraid of what might come up.

I see it in them as they come back to counseling week after week. Each week is different. Sometimes they’ve had a great week and don’t feel like they even need a session, but they come anyway because they’ve made a commitment to growth. Sometimes it’s been a terrible week. These weeks, they muster up even more courage. They show up and face their difficulties head on. They fight hard for what they want to see different. They think about things in new ways and gradually make changes. They do the work.

I see it in them when they make the decision to end our counseling relationship because they feel like they’ve met their goals. They have a newfound strength, knowing themselves on a deeper level and having a better understanding of who they are and where they’re going.

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My clients really look at themselves, even when they don’t want to. They take a hard look into their lives, patterns, and personalities and face the things they don’t want to see.

As Brené Brown would say, they’re “in the arena.”

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.”

        -Teddy Roosevelt

Culturally, in America, there’s this underlying assumption that vulnerability equals weakness. That we should just stuff the emotionally painful parts of life way down deep and “pull ourselves up by our bootstraps.”

But that’s bullshit. Vulnerability equals strength.

It takes real strength and courage to look at your true self… to get out of your comfort zone… to see all the things that have been carefully tucked away for so long that you may not have even known they existed… to admit that you’ve got some things you need to deal with… to recognize your own faults.

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The truth is, facing yourself is probably one of the most difficult things you could do in your life. You’ve got to be ready for it, because it’s not an easy course. It won’t always be fun. It’ll be uncomfortable at times. But it can be empowering, and the outcomes are well worth it.

Therapy or counseling isn’t the only way to do your own inner work. There are multiple avenues. One of my favorite avenues is through the Enneagram, a personality typing system. When you learn about your personality type through the Enneagram, it’s enlightening, insightful, and some would say life-changing. Just like with therapy, it requires vulnerability and the courage to look at both your good and bad parts. It’s a constantly evolving journey.

It’s tough to stay the path toward change and growth. But inner work is important.

It takes time. It takes grit. It takes courage.


If truly knowing yourself and growing as a person is important to you, join us for our 2-hour Intro to the Enneagram workshop on March 3. We’ll dive into the basics, including history, structure, and descriptions of each of the nine core personality types.

Space is limited, so register here today!


-Hannah


Brown, Brené. Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead. New York, NY: Gotham Books, 2012. Print.

 

10 Myths About Therapy Debunked + The Truth Revealed

 
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There are so many misconceptions about what therapy or counseling is all about.

Oftentimes, a therapist is portrayed as a silent man, sitting behind a desk, stroking his beard and mumbling, “I see,” or “How does that make you feel?” Either that, or it’s Dr. Phil’s confrontational style of advice-giving, criticizing, and raising his voice to get his point across.

Therapy is wildly different from these portrayals. It’s a powerful tool that helps people live better lives.

Here are some of the most common myths about therapy... 

Myth #1: If I go to therapy, I must be broken.

Rather than being broken, it’s about being self-aware. Counseling is a tool to explore struggles, strengths, and personal beliefs so you can realize and act on your true potential.

Myth #2: Nothing traumatic has happened in my life, so I don't need therapy.

Of course, therapy can address past traumas. But counseling also helps with difficult life transitions, managing stress, anxiety, depression, relationship issues, and building self-esteem and confidence. Having had major trauma in your life isn’t a qualifier to begin therapy.

Myth #3: Therapy is just paying for an expensive friend.

The therapeutic relationship is different from a friendship. You’re paying for your counselor’s time and expertise, but the meaningful support and care you receive is the benefit.

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Myth #4  A therapist will just tell me what I already know anyway.

You may feel like you already know what you need to do about a problem that is affecting your life. At times, though, you may not be able to take action. Therapy can help you get to that point.

Myth #5: A therapist is just a good listener.

The keen ability to listen is an important skill that a counselor must possess, but that’s not all! Therapists hold at least a master’s level degree, along with a clinical license. Their training and years of experience have equipped them with the knowledge, empathy, and skills to help you get through the most difficult parts of your life.

Myth #6: Therapists are critical and will tell me what to do.

Therapy is not advice-giving. Your counselor will help guide you in the direction you seek to go. Therapists see clients as individuals and don’t place clients in boxes based on what they “should” be doing. Counselors have the ability to see things from many different angles and respect and understand different perspectives.

Myth #7: Therapy is only for those with a mental illness.

People seek therapy for a wide variety of reasons, from stress to life transitions to severe mental illness. No problem is too small to see a counselor if it’s having an affect on your life.

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Myth #8: Therapists think their clients are“crazy.”

Many people are fearful of the stigma associated with seeking therapy. And we get it! There’s a huge stigma about counseling in our culture. Therapists understand that all people will experience unique struggles or challenges with their mental health at some point in their lives. They are nonjudgmental. Most counselors actually go to therapy themselves.

Myth #9: I’m taking medication, so there’s no need for therapy too.  

Commonly prescribed mental health medications can help reduce symptoms. They are often used in tandem with therapy to promote stability. Drugs can help alleviate symptoms, whereas talk therapy can help you work through and process issues to produce lasting change.

Myth #10: Once I start going to therapy, I will be in it forever.

How long therapy lasts is always up to you. You have the right to begin and end counseling at anytime. Some people only need a few sessions, while others choose to participate in long-term therapy. In your first encounter with a therapist, you can voice any concerns you may have about the length. Together, you and your counselor can determine what’s best for you.