Monthly Focus

April 2024



March 2024

Challenging Myths about Boundaries

February 2024

Radical Self-Love

(Information in this article has been adapted from "The Body is Not An Apology" by Sonya Renee Taylor)

By: Anna Kraft, MS, LPC, SAC-IT, NCC

Everyday, we are bombarded with messages telling us how to change our bodies into something else. Ads for powders that will reduce bloating. Supplements that will support weight loss. The perfect razor to get rid of body hair. A new workout that will transform the body. In all these ads, the underlying message is the same: your body should change. All people are potential targets for this message and this message is hurtful.

Radical self-love encourages each person to love their body as it is. You read that right: love your body as it is. Radical self-love is the best foundation for self-esteem, self-worth, and self-confidence. So how do we achieve radical self-love? As you may have already guessed, this change doesn't happen overnight. Here are some strategies you can use to start moving towards radical self-love:

-Detoxify your media consumption: As mentioned above, we receive many body-shaming messages throughout our day because most of us regularly consume media, including the radio, television, movies, Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok. Take some time to thoughtfully consider the media you are consuming, the creators or public figures you are following, or the station you choose. Consider if these individuals or agencies promote messages, products, or ads that support radical self-love or body shaming. Decide if you want to continue to subscribe to these individuals or if you want to remove these influences.

-Find like-minded creators and content: Removing body-shaming influences is a great start and the next step is to include radical self-love influences. For some individuals, positive influences will look like following content creators, channels, stations, or artists who support radical self-love. For others, you may decide to find local community resources that align with your values and don't promote body shame, such as holistic healers, support groups, or hobby-focused groups.

-Explore the roots of your internal body-shame messages: We are not born with critical thoughts of our bodies. Children are in awe of their incredible bodies until they receive an external message that says that their body is "different," "abnormal," or "wrong." Spend time considering the roots of your body-shame. Was it a comment from a classmate? An ad on the radio? Maybe a song? As we explore the roots of these hurtful messages, we can begin to disentangle the outside influences from our narratives.

-Seek support from others on the same journey: We have all been subjected to body-shaming messages and it can be difficult to move towards radical self-love alone. The journey to radical self-love may feel easier and more clear if you connect with others who are also working towards radical self-love, such as friends, family, and healers. Healers, including therapists, may be helpful in deconstructing your internalized body shame, improving the relationship with the body, and enhancing your existing resources.

January 2024

Relationship Tools

By: Dr. Sheila Gissibl

After many years as a practicing psychologist, it has become apparent that the greatest source of both pain and joy for us derives from our relationships. Given this truth, it is a wonder why such little time and effort is put into teaching us effective, healthy communication strategies. I have found the right tools and techniques can make a huge difference towards reducing conflict and strain, enhancing intimacy and connection, and improving overall satisfaction in our relationships. The resulting interpersonal improvements impact our daily emotional wellbeing and mental health. Because of this, I have sought to learn and teach communication skills to my clients. This growth in knowledge and practice has proven quite beneficial. That’s why I was intrigued and excited when I came across RelateWell, an approach presented by Dr. Rick Marks, designed to assist in the development of skills that will increase loving, caring communication and help people become more mature in their relationships. The program consists of nine sessions that include a video, workbook and weekly practice homework. The foundational elements are to increase maturity in communication by understanding our own needs, as well as our partners, learn concrete tools, follow communication scripts, collaborate and practice forgiveness. Dr. Marks encourages “the four protective walls”- goodwill, respect, empathy, and humility to preserve and enhance the “us” of a relationship, as well as promote individual healing and maturity. I have personally completed RelateWell twice and find the program invaluable. Please let us know if you would like more information about how to get started, [email protected].    



December 2023


Checking in During the Holidays 

Danielle Filtz, Clinical Intern 

The holiday season is a time full of emotion. We often hear about how the holidays should be a cheerful and joyful time full of love and laughter. While we hope everyone can experience a happy holiday season, it’s okay to not be joyful during this time. The holidays may bring up certain memories or emotions for some that make enjoying this time more difficult. The winter months also influence many peoples’ emotional state, with the decrease in daylight and colder temperatures. 

We at Hope for a Better Tomorrow want you to know that we are here for you and ready to help anyone that needs extra support during this time. We have many therapists that are accepting new clients and are ready to help you navigate any concerns you may be facing. Our clinicians can help you work through emotions and provide healthy coping strategies to improve your mental and emotional wellbeing during this busy holiday season.  Our new client intake phone number is 262-266-0222. 

To view therapist bios, click this link: https://www.hopeforabettertomo...


November 2023

Mindfulness for the Holidays

October 2023

Supporting Your Loved One’s ‘Coming Out’ Journey

Heather Brose, LCSW

For the past 35 years, October 11th has been an important day for those in the LGBTQ+ community who embrace National Coming Out Day, where many individuals take the opportunity to share part of their identity with others. The first National Coming Out Day was celebrated in 1988, a year after the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights.

Though the coming out experience often is not complete in one day, many people utilize the opportunity to share aspects of their personal identity, whether it is about their gender, sexuality, or romantic attraction to others (or lack thereof). However, there are still many people who feel intense fear, anxiety, or shame when thinking about sharing their identity which keeps them ‘in the closet’ as they worry they may be rejected, judged, discriminated against, misunderstood, physically hurt, or even abandoned.

National Coming Out Day isn’t a day to force LGBTQ+ people to come out, or to shame people who haven’t done so. It’s a day to celebrate the beauty of being true to yourself, for having the courage to share an important part of your life with others, and for celebrating those who may come out to you” (Why Do We Need National Coming Out Day?, 2021).

So what can you do to support someone who comes out to you on National Coming Out Day or beyond? Here are a few do’s and don’ts to keep in mind:


  • Listen / Show your support: Remember that if someone is sharing this vulnerable information with you, it means you are important to them and they are looking for support and acceptance. Sometimes they don’t need anything from you except to feel heard and seen.
  • Provide reassurance: “It’s okay” and “I love you” go a long way toward making someone feel safe, comfortable, and secure that your relationship won’t change.
  • Respect their privacy: As exciting as it may be to share this news with others, wait until your loved one is ready and gives you direct consent before doing so. It is always up to the person to decide if and when others should be given this information. 
  • Educate yourself: Start to do your own research on the complexities of gender and sexual identity, before asking a lot of personal questions or expressing how difficult it is to understand. Identity is very confusing! There are many support groups you can join, virtually or in person if you want additional resources to support your loved one. Always remember, everyone’s experience is different, but by having a baseline knowledge of these concepts, you’ll better be able to understand your loved one.
  • Be patient with your loved one and with yourself: Because someone’s identity can change and fluctuate over time, be patient with your loved one and trust that they know themselves better than anyone else. Things, for example, like their name or pronouns may change and they may go back and forth before deciding on something concrete. You may need to re-adjust and adapt, but any effort you show to someone will be truly appreciated, even if you mess up (because you likely will)!
  • Be an ally: challenge homophobic and transphobic comments or attitudes to help create a safe environment for LGBTQ+ individuals.


  • Avoid expressing your personal feelings or beliefs about being LGBTQ+ as expressing disapproval or judgment won’t change someone’s identity, but it will cause lasting hurt. If uncomfortable or negative feelings come up for you, try to sit with those feelings and reflect on the reasons why you may feel this way. Seek professional resources or support groups to work through these challenges.
  • Avoid assumptions that this is “just a phase.”
  • Avoid expressing disappointment or hurt if you were not the first person to be told this information, remembering that can be a very challenging and anxiety-provoking experience for many to decide when, how, and to whom to come out to.


  1. National Coming Out Day. (n.d.). Human Rights Campaign.
  2. Why do we need National Coming Out Day? (2021, October 10). Stonewall.
  3. (2022, May 18). Supporting someone who comes out as LGBTQ+ - Centerstone. Centerstone.

September 2023

Core Mindfulness Skills to Improve Emotional Regulation

Cori Sandall, LPC-IT

When I ask clients about their thoughts on mindfulness, I often hear it means being completely free of thought while sitting in silence - which is something that isn’t always attainable or achievable. Contrary to this belief, mindfulness is more a practice in being in the present moment without evaluation with an understanding that thoughts are going to pop up - knowing we get to choose how we engage and interact with those thoughts. Take some time to learn or review the following core mindfulness “WHAT” and “HOW” skills from Dialectical Behavioral Therapy to learn to reduce intense emotion, pay attention on purpose, and to live more in the present.

1) Observe

Observing is about paying attention on purpose. It's about looking at your environment and experiences, allowing your thoughts and feelings to come and go without trying to change it. Don’t worry about labeling anything or trying to change things, just simply work to notice what is happening in the present moment. Being more observant helps you to become more aware of your thoughts and feelings, and overall gives you a better understanding of yourself and your reactions.

2) Describe

Once you are able to successfully observe and notice your thoughts and feelings, it’s time to add words to describe what is going on. Work to be objective in your descriptions, using simple, factual, and neutral words and statements rather than more negatively charged words. Using factual and simple terms takes out those unhelpful and damaging words that we aim at ourselves, as there is a difference between “I am feeling anxious right now before this meeting” vs “I’m awful and there’s no way I can do this”.

3) Participate

Participating is all about being in the moment and letting go of distractions - throwing yourself fully into whatever is happening in the present. If you’re hanging out with friends, focus on hanging out with friends. If you’re watching TV, immerse yourself in watching TV. On a run, focus on the experience of running. Participating allows us to be more engaged with ourselves and others and to find more fulfillment in our daily lives.

4) Non-Judgement

Non-judgement is one of the hardest things we experience - as humans, we often are our own worst critics and are quick to judge ourselves and others. In the scope of mindfulness, non-judgement takes the form of letting go of unhelpful messages and interpretations - instead

taking on more self-compassion and understanding. Non-judgement works to decrease that inner critic that keeps you doubting and second guessing, instead shifting perspective to more of an open and accepting viewpoint.

5) One Mindfully

Similar to participating, one-mindfully involves focusing on doing one task at a time and letting go of distractions. Give each task your entire focus and effort - when we try to multitask it splits our focus and concentration into multiple categories, leading to worry and anxiety that we’re going to drop the ball or mess something up because we’re too distracted. This is the benefit of putting all your energy and focus into one task - it minimizes worry and allows you to be more productive and effective.

6) Effectiveness

This final core mindfulness skill is effectiveness. Here, one works to recognize and become aware of what actually worked in a situation, rather than what might be deemed “wrong” or “right”. The goal here is to let go of rigid patterns of thinking - shifting your mindset to be more flexible and adaptable. With a goal or outcome in mind, work to challenge yourself to come up with several different ways you could get there. You may realize that while you come up with several safe and comfortable options, the most effective may be different than your usual approach. x%20mindfulness%20skills%20of,7%2C%20not%20just%20during%20meditation.

August 2023

Social Support as a Protective Factor for Mental and Emotional Wellbeing

Danielle Filtz, Clinical Intern

As life becomes busy and filled with many responsibilities and stressors, it’s important to ask ourselves, “What are the protective factors in my life, and am I taking advantage of them?” 

By definition, protective factors are those things in our life that promote health and wellbeing. Protective factors can greatly vary depending on a person’s age and current life circumstances, but social support is one protective factor that everyone has in some capacity in their life. Humans are social creatures who seek out connection, and having other people to connect and socialize with is an important component to maintaining a balanced lifestyle. 

While social support is an important protective factor, it isn’t always everyone’s instinct to gravitate towards our support network when we are facing difficulties in life. For some people, they may find themselves socially isolating or distancing from others due to the stress or conflict they are feeling. 

If this is something you identify with, the therapeutic approach of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, or DBT, has a helpful skill to practice. DBT’s opposite action is a skill that asks you to identify what the overwhelming emotion you are feeling is telling you to do, and do the opposite. In this case, the opposite of the urge to isolate from others would be to reach out to someone for support. This could look like texting or calling a friend, talking to a roommate or family member in the home, or going to a social event where you can connect with others. 

It is important to note that reaching out doesn't have to be to talk about your stress or struggle. While that can be helpful, it can still be beneficial to talk to or spend time with someone in your support network in whatever way you choose. Going for coffee and catching up, playing a board game, talking about a mutual interest, or even just being in the same space as a friend can all provide feelings of happiness and support. Being with others can remind us that we are not alone and that there are others who care!

Opposite action is a helpful DBT skill that teaches us how to fight against the urges to do things that won’t help us feel better, and work towards alternative and healthier coping skills. Consider trying this skill if this resonates with you, and be sure to reach out and talk to someone if you are struggling. 

July 2023

Finding a Good Match in Therapy

Jessica Rustler, LPC

Often times I am asked, "How do I find the right therapist for me?" There are many considerations, after reviewing a recent Time Magazine article there are 5 that are likely to help you find the best match.

1.     Consider the client and therapist's background

         a.   Are you looking for someone who has a shared lived experience or are you open to a different perspective?

2.     Look for expertise

         a.    Are you looking for expertise relevant to the specific topic you are hoping to discuss or goals the you wish to accomplish?

3.     Get specific about the feedback you like

         a.     Do you have compatible communication styles?

4.     Check that you define success in the same way

         a.     Are you in agreement of what progress “looks” like?

5.     Find someone like-minded

         a.     Helps to build trust and the therapeutic relationship

Here at Hope for a Better Tomorrow we strive to provide a wide range of therapist options to ensure that you can find the best match possible. To view "Our Clinicians" page click this link: and give our office a call today to start or continue your therapy journey!  

Source: Haupt, A. (2023, February 20). 5 Ways to Find the Right Therapist for you. Time Magazine, p. 16.

June 2023

Applying the Basic Principles of Yoga to Mental Health.

Kaitlyn Plautz, Clinical Intern

There are 5 ethical principles in yoga that guide how we should treat others and ourselves. These principles include: 

    • Ahimsa: non-harming – non-judgement and acceptance, sharing positivity and support
    • Satya: truth – kind, mindful and truthful communication while maintaining balance of listening
    • Asteya: non-stealing – time, energy, or material objects, application of give and take 
    • Aparigraha: non-attachment – being in the present moment, just be and hold the space to create more peace and acceptance of life around us.
    • Brahmacharya – moderation of the things we tend to indulge in

These guiding principles aid one in living a mindful life that benefit overall wellness, specifically mental wellness. With the hustle and bustle on our busy lives, Asteya (non-stealing), specifically with the idea of time and energy, we are encouraged to think about healthy boundaries and self-care. 

If we are always pouring into others, what energy or time is left for us? Taking care of ourselves mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually, and socially improves our relationship with ourselves and with others. We can use these 5 ethical principles from the practice of yoga to model how we strive to treat ourselves and others in all areas of life. Through contemplating each of these 5 principles, we can see how ideas such as non-harming, non-judgement, truth, non-stealing, non-attachment, and moderation can be applied to a healthy mind and healthy relationships.

Many people come to therapy with the goal of improving their relationship with themselves or other people. These principles are focused on making sure we create loving, supportive relationships, and it's important to note the inclusion of the relationship we have with ourselves. This relationship is the foundation for how  we treat others and approach forming new relationships. We can use these principles to model our idea of a healthy relationship with the self in order to have a guide when we drift away from a healthy relationship. By applying yoga's principles which are rooted in treating all people ethically, we can work towards fairness and cultivate growth in all relationships. 

Being kind to ourselves opens up a world of possibility for how we view what life brings us. If we are being compassionate with ourselves, it will be easier for us to put compassion out into the world. 

Fill your cup, so that it overflows to others. 

Source: The 8 Limbs of Yoga, Yoga Renew Teacher Training Book

April 2023

Do your homework: The science behind therapeutic change.

Alison Donald, LPC-IT, 200-IYT, Reiki II

Just like the learning process, ‘homework’ or therapeutic engagement outside of appointments is an important aspect of improving one’s mental health.  Why? If we look at neuroscience and the science of neuroplasticity, we learn that our brains have neurons that connect major networks through synaptic connections every day based on what we think, feel or act on. While these were established in childhood, plasticity is the ability for the brain to make new neurons and connections with consistent effort over time. So, if a person only engages in new ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving for one hour a week guided by external prompts from a therapist, changes to these ingrained pathways of the brain are unlikely to occur.  While therapy comes with the hope for change, being an active participant in the process is what shifts the neurochemical reactions, synaptic connections, and core brain structures.  For example, depression is known to result in decreased neurons in cortical and limbic brain regions that manage mood and emotion so therapy prompts such as watch a video that makes you laugh, take your medication as directed, or even practice specific breath techniques can help strengthen these neurons over time. 

Let me offer an analogy.  Mental health professionals are like horticulturalists, experts in the cultivation and management of thriving mental health gardens.  Therapy itself can begin and evolve in many ways, often starting with identifying the current state of your garden plot. This stage begins during the intake and includes learning everything from physical health to personal and family mental health history. Next, they listen to your needs and preferences while helping you identify any barriers to cultivating your desired garden. Barriers may include specific symptoms of a diagnosis or factors like low self-esteem, poor nutrition, or not taking medications as prescribed. Finally, a therapist will develop a detailed design informed by all the previous steps which becomes the treatment plan. Goals are what you want your mental health garden to look and feel like. Objectives are the actions required to cultivate that vision. For example, turning the soil and finding the right fertilizer is like the process of finding the tools and skills that actually help you’re your symptoms, removing any pests or weeds could be addressing automatic negative thoughts (ANT’s) and the analogies go on.  Even after geminating the seeds and planting them in your freshly tended soil weeds will return and winds will blow, but a your carefully designed treatment plan supports any external or internal challenges that arise. Even through setbacks and storms, therapy can help keep you on the path to a thriving mental health garden – if you are ready to tend to it.   


References for further exploration:

Bruce H. Lipton, PhD. “The Biology of Belief: Unleashing the Power of Consciousness, Matter, and Miracles.”

Dr. Bruce Perry and Oprah Winfrey “What Happened to you?”  (Trigger Warning: this book has detailed accounts of his work with highly traumatized populations and may not be suitable for those negatively impacted by the narratives of others.)

Hasim Akasheh, TEDxPSUT presentation “Brain Plasticity: A Mental Health Renaissance”. TEDxPSUT, 20:12. 

Rădulescu, I., Drăgoi, A. M., Trifu, S. C., & Cristea, M. B. (2021). Neuroplasticity and depression: Rewiring the brain's networks through pharmacological therapy (Review). Experimental and therapeutic medicine, 22(4), 1131.

February 2023

What Are Your Core Emotional Needs? 

Anna Kraft, MS, LPC, SAC-IT, NCC

Core Emotional Needs When considering wellness, people often lose sight of their emotional needs or mistake them

For common pathologies, such as anxiety or depression. Unmet emotional needs lead to distressing feelings similar to these pathologies, but these feelings may persist if they are not identified and addressed. Our core emotional needs exist from the time we are born and last throughout our lifetime. If you have not taken the time to explore your emotional needs, now is the best time to start.

There are five core emotional needs:

-Secure attachment: This term is frequently used to describe a child’s connected relationship with their caregiver. A secure attachment is formed when the individual receives care in a way that makes them feel safe, protected, loved, and valued. When this need isn’t met, children develop mistrust of others or experience feelings of shame that last into adulthood.

-Freedom to express valid needs and feelings: Individuals must be able to express their thoughts, needs, and feelings and receive an understanding response form their caregiver, friend, or partner. When this need isn’t met, individuals may have difficulty expressing themselves or become excessively self-critical.

-Autonomy, competence, and a sense of identity: As children, we must be able to do age appropriate tasks and receive non-critical feedback. When given the room to complete tasks and explore new environments, individuals develop confidence and learn their likes and dislikes. If this need isn’t met, individuals may feel they don’t know who they are or have trouble being independent.

-Learning and expressing yourself through spontaneity and play: Play time and spontaneous activities allow us to explore self-expression, creativity, and adventure. Individuals who don’t experience sufficient play and spontaneity may lead to feelings of sadness and hopelessness.

-Realistic Limits and Self-Control: Children must receive age appropriate limits to develop self- control and self-discipline. When children experience excessive limits, they cannot develop their own sense of self-control or may perceive their normal inclinations as wrong. Without limits, children may develop dependency or entitlement.

If you find that any of your core emotional needs are unmet, please find solace in knowing you aren’t alone and that you can meet your emotional needs. Identifying your needs is the first step. Some next steps to meeting your core emotional needs include:

-Building self-compassion -Identifying maladaptive coping patterns -Processing attachment trauma -Strengthening adaptive cognitions



January 2023

Approach to Inflammation Presentation
Join us on Monday, January 16th at 2 pm to learn from Crystal Dalkin, a Wellness Way Practitioner,  about inflammation and the steps you can take to take control of your health. 

Located at our office in suite #135

RSVP by 1/9/23 to [email protected]


December 2022

Checking in During the Holidays

Danielle Filtz, Clinical Intern

The holiday season is a time full of emotion. We often hear about how the holidays should be a cheerful and joyful time full of love and laughter. While we hope everyone can experience a happy holiday season, it’s okay to not be joyful during this time. The holidays may bring up certain memories or emotions for some that make enjoying this time more difficult. The winter months also influence many peoples’ emotional state, with the decrease in daylight and colder temperatures. 

We at Hope for a Better Tomorrow want you to know that we are here for you and ready to help anyone that needs extra support during this time. We have many therapists that are accepting new clients and are ready to help you navigate any concerns you may be facing. Our clinicians can help you work through emotions and provide healthy coping strategies to improve your mental and emotional wellbeing during this busy holiday season. 

Our new client intake phone number is 262-266-0222.

To view therapist bios, click this link:

February 2021

Forrest path

The North Wind & The Sun

David Sorensen, MS, NCC, LPC

There is an ancient story about a quarrel between the North Wind and the Sun over which of them was the stronger. After much arguing, they agreed to settle their dispute by seeing which of them could get a Traveler who happened to be walking by to take off his coat. The North Wind repeatedly blew ferocious cold blasts of air at the Traveler, forcing him to cling tighter and tighter to his coat to protect himself from the icy chill. Not until the Sun began to shine bright beams of warmth did Traveler begin to loosen his tight grip on his garment. As the Sun’s rays became warmer and warmer, Traveler finally was compelled to take off his coat and rest in the shade of a nearby tree.

Have you ever felt like the Traveler in this Aesop’s fable, caught in a cold north wind of angry words and actions that escalate feelings of distress and bruise your relationship with someone you love? We’ve all been there. How can we shift out of futile and frustrating efforts to force change in our partner, when hurt, frustration, fear, or anger have been triggered by something we have seen or heard? How can we find words and actions that, like the calming, soothing warmth of the Sun, open us to reconnect with the one we love with renewed hope and understanding?

To change the weather in our relationships, we can start by turning our attention inward. What do we notice? Tightness in the muscles around the back or shoulders? Shallow breathing high in the chest? An accelerated heartbeat? A general mood of agitation? When triggered by what appears to us to be a threat, our bodies instinctively prepare to fight in self-defense or flee, unless the threat is so great and overwhelming that the only way to survive seems to be to collapse in hopeless resignation. Feel whatever is there to feel: anger, hurt, frustration, sadness. Lean into whatever is there with kindness and respect, making space for it to be present.

As we turn our attention inward with kindness and respect to notice and make space for whatever is there to notice, we can shift our breathing in a way that helps our whole body move from its initial fight/flee/collapse response. Slow, deep breathing low in the abdomen elicits a calming response throughout the body. If we put our hand on our stomach, we feel it extend forward as we slowly breathe in, and then come back as we breathe out. We can add to the calming, quieting effect of this ‘belly breathing’ by putting another hand over our heart, letting our body experience the secure comfort of being held in this way.

These are just a few of the things we can do to help ourselves move from defensive, fitful agitation or exhausted resignation, to restore a more hopeful sense of wellbeing within us. We then are in a better place to return, when we are ready, to work through whatever relationship distress there may be with the ones we love. Talk to your therapist about how to use these and other skills to make the shift to warmer, more satisfying relationships when cold North Wind is blowing.

January 2021

Two women sitting on a bench hugging

A Note from Lindsay Sherwood, LMFT

As a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, I often have clients reach out to me when their family is struggling with a member of the family who has been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). ASD does not simply affect an individual. According to the Journal of Family Psychology, parents of children with an ASD diagnosis had a higher rate of divorce than the comparison group (23.5% vs. 13.8%). Parents often seek me out and report marital problems as they have had to focus the majority of their attention on their child with special needs which took away from self-care, giving attention to their marriage, and/or spending time with their other children.

An outpatient clinician, I also see siblings of individuals on the spectrum who struggle in their relationships with their parents as they feel as though they missed out on some of their childhood as their parents were busy addressing the needs of their child who needed extra support. Adult children often recognize this logically, but their “emotional brain” makes them feel sad and alone that their parents missed out on parts of their childhood.

Using externalization techniques, I encourage families to talk about their experiences with Autism Spectrum Disorder and how it changed their family dynamic. I work with teenage and adult siblings to address areas in their life in which they feel that they have unmet needs. We work together to “fill in the gaps” and help their “inner child” find a way to find peace and meet those needs that their caregivers might not have been able to give them – even though they most likely desperately wanted to.

It is important that we all find ways to “complete ourselves” and heal inner wounds. Some clients are afraid to talk about this topic, as they do not want to come across as selfish or ungrateful. I encourage my clients to talk about anything that comes to mind without judgment as a way to move forward in finding forgiveness, acceptance, and self-love.

Delightful December 2020

Shot of someone's legs with paper arrows surrounding them

Helpful Tips for Managing COVID Anxieties

Hannah Tarnow, MFT-IT

When I state the word COVID-19 or Coronavirus, what evokes in you? For many of us, this is an extremely difficult time in our world full of unprecedented change and lack of preferred routine and structure. Whether it be working from home when you usually spend 40 hours a week in the office, or learning how to be a “homeschooling parent,” or having to social distance and isolate because it is harmful to our health to go to any social gatherings or public places.

Maybe your wedding got postponed. Perhaps your child’s graduation ceremony got cancelled. Whatever the case is, we are all experiencing a time of turmoil and increased stress amidst trying to find our new normal. With these drastic changes and increased stress comes increased anxiety and depression, both in individuals who already experience these mental health struggles and in individuals who have never had anxiety or depression before.

The purpose of this article is to briefly describe signs and symptoms of anxiety and depression in yourself and in your loved ones. With this information, it is our hope as mental health professionals that you feel some sense or normalcy and calm knowing that you are most certainly not alone, and that there are some wonderful resources available to you in the form of self-care (i.e. taking care of yourself and your anxiety/depression) as well as professional assistance.

The current pandemic across the world is causing levels of uncertainty that many of us have never experienced before. With that said, increased stress, anxiety, and/or depression is normal and expected, especially due to the fear that COVID-19 has evoked in society and in our personal lives. How do you recognize anxiety and depression? What are the signs and symptoms that you or a loved one may be feeling? Let’s start with anxiety.

Ultimately, anxiety is a feeling of worry or unease that may be associated with a particular event or situation and is often made worse by apprehension over an uncertain outcome. You can look at anxiety as stress’s older, more cumbersome and intense brother. Below are some typical signs and symptoms of anxiety, although keep in mind that anxiety may present itself differently from person to person and this is not an exhaustive list.

Signs & Symptoms of Anxiety:

  • Excessive worry, nervousness, or feeling of unease (perhaps you are worried about normal day-to-day activities that you were once able to complete with ease)
  • Having a sense of impending danger, doom or panic (this one is super important to watch for during the current pandemic crisis)
  • Recurring thoughts or concerns that may become intrusive
  • Restlessness, fatigue, irritability, increased agitation
  • Trouble falling or staying asleep
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Physical signs such as tense muscles, headaches, upset stomach, increased heart rate, sweating or trembling

Next, let’s look at the definition and signs/symptoms of depression. Depression is referred to as a mood disorder that can cause an intense and consistent feeling of sadness, lack of interest, or low self-esteem in an individual. Depression can present itself in various ways can can vary significantly from person to person, including the severity of symptoms.

Signs & Symptoms of Depression:

  • Sadness and hopelessness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in things you would normally enjoy (not having energy to play with your kids or work on home projects as you used to)
  • Mood swings
  • Excessive crying spells
  • Social isolation (perhaps you don’t have the energy to call your best friend on a daily basis anymore as you once did)
  • Excess sleepiness or tired all the time
  • Weight gain or weight loss

If you or someone you know is experiencing any of the above signs & symptoms of anxiety and depression, related to the COVID-19 pandemic or not, there are an abundance of resources available to you when reaching out to a mental health professional.

From your local therapist, the following are suggestions for self-care related to stress, anxiety, and depression that you can do at home.

  • shower and change into clean clothes on a daily basis (even if that means a new pair of pajamas!)
  • open all shades and curtains to let natural sunlight & warmth in
  • practice guided meditation as a relaxing strategy
  • call at least one friend and/or family member each day
  • Keep physically active as much as possible.

If you feel as though these home tips just aren’t enough, please seek help from an appropriate therapist or counselor. Many therapists are now seeing clients via Telehealth, via computer, smart phone, or phone calls.

Take care of your inner self. Both COVID-19 and mental health are invisible, that doesn’t make them less important. These areas of focus within our health is not something to overlook.

Noticeable November 2020

man smiling and eating salad

Body Shaming and the Holidays

By Ash Rotonto, MS, ATR-P, LPC-IT

In many cultures, decadent, delicious, and comforting food is at the forefront of celebrations during the holidays. For many, the holidays are synonymous with festively decorated gatherings, where a spread of mouthwatering food is shared with loved ones. For me, this often includes honey-glazed hams, turkeys overflowing with stuffing, steaming brisket, vibrant soups, beautifully frosted cookies, homemade pumpkin pies, buttery rolls, and colorful jello (a midwest tradition that as a transplant from Seattle I've never understood!).

An unfortunate side dish that is often served as well at these celebrations is repetitive body, weight, or food shaming. Comments that might include, you're going to eat all of that? or is that all you're going to eat?, or that's a lot of sugar!. These comments can also be communicated by glances, side eye, and even pinching or prodding fingers. And sometimes, we make these comments to and about ourselves: I'm so out of control, I've had 2 cookies! I'll have to skip sweets next week or I haven't eaten all day to prepare for this meal!.

These family and food-oriented gatherings can often create heightened opportunity for body, weight, and food shaming. For many, family systems and family dynamics were where we first shaped our attitudes, beliefs and feelings about food, bodies, and movement. As we move throughout life, even though these patterns might upset us or hurt our feelings, we feel pressured to maintain and even perpetuate them.

I want to offer us an alternative to this painful cycle: one where we do not have to earn the right to eat food and we do not have to "make-up" for foods that we've eaten; we always, unequivocally, have the right to eat what feels good for us no matter the body we are in. In this alternative, we are allowed to set boundaries around our bodies, what we eat, and how we move. We are allowed to use food as comfort, as joy, and as a way to connect. What I believe is much, much worse than gaining weight or eating "too much sugar" are the obsessive, negative, or ruminating thoughts we can have around food and our bodies. You cannot hate yourself into happiness; you cannot restrict yourself into a "better" version of you. What we can do is practice self-compassion, setting boundaries, and having confidence in our body's ability to tell us what is good for it.

Oftentimes, when these things are presented, folks ask, well what about so-and-so's, health condition (diabetes, blood pressure etc); they just shouldn't be eating whatever! My response to that is: folks with health conditions still deserve to set boundaries and still deserve to enjoy food without negative rumination cycles. If someone is sitting there happily eating, they most likely do not need or want unsolicited advice, even if it comes from a place of kindness. These comments often do not feel kind, no matter the intention. We have to trust that folks are able to listen to their bodies and can take care of themselves. (Just as you might want folks to trust that you are able to listen to your body and take care of yourself). I once read that if someone can't change something about their appearance or body in ten seconds or less, like lipstick on their teeth, we can forgo telling them (and then perhaps ponder why we felt the need to comment on it.)

Setting boundaries can be easier said than done, but I want to offer a few phrases that you can pick and choose from throughout this holiday season (and at all times!). You can use these for yourself, or to uplift others:

  • Please do not comment on my body/weight/eating. (Or my child/partner's etc). 
  • My weight is not the most exciting thing about me. What else have you been up to? 
  • Food is food, I don't feel guilty for nourishing my body. 
  • I am working hard on developing a kinder relationship with food and my body. I would prefer if we could talk about something else. 
  • We don't have to restrict in order to eat. No matter how much we ate today or yesterday, we deserve to eat today as well. 
  • I feel ______ when you _____. I would prefer ______. (Ex. I feel uncomfortable when you make comments about my body. I would prefer if we didn't talk about my body, and instead talked about school). 

So, as the days start to darken well before folks get off of work at five and snow dust begins to pile into banks, I am asking you to allow yourself to practice self-compassion for the naturalness of which bellies might grow, or the negative thoughts that might swell. Remind yourself that: All bodies are good bodies. I am safe in my body. I can trust my body. My body knows what it needs. It's okay to eat.


Outstanding October 2020

Close up of daisy

The Importance of Positive Thoughts/Affirmations

By Kendra Bittner, MS, LPC-IT

How often do you have a negative thought about yourself? Most people would answer daily. Sometimes having a negative thought will pass within a few moments but other times they hang around and feed off of each other, impacting our overall mood.

If asked if you would say your negative thoughts about yourself to a loved one or friend, would you? Most likely you wouldn’t, so why do we allow ourselves to have negative thoughts about ourselves?

All thoughts are automatic and we can’t control the thoughts that come into our minds, whether they are positive or negative, but we can choose how we respond to these thoughts.

Fear of the future - No one has control of the future, hence where our anxiety of the future stems from. Having goals for the future can be helpful and you’ll have something you’re working on reaching, breaking the bigger goal down into smaller achievable goals. Goals may change overtime and that’s okay too. Telling yourself, “I can do this,” or, “I will reach my goals,” are more helpful than, “I’ll never reach my goals,” and, “why do I even try,” (PowerofPositivity, 2019).

Anxiety about the present - There are many things going on in our day-to-day lives, making sure you grabbed your packed lunch, locking the house, paperwork for your work meeting, taking the kids to school or making sure they are set up for virtual learning, the list is endless. Now adding on more with COVID and making sure your health is taken care of is another stressor that everyone is facing. This is a challenging one for everyone, but try slowing down and practice being more present in the here and now. What can you control in this very moment? What are you feeling? Not just emotion but also physical body sensations. Focusing fully on one task at a time can be helpful and redirecting your future worry thoughts to now. It can be helpful making a to-do list and crossing off as you go. Now if you don’t get everything done you wanted to on your to-do list, instead of saying, “I’m a failure, I can’t do anything right,” try saying, “I’m doing the best I can,” “I got a lot done today,” and “I’m a hard worker,” (PowerofPositivity, 2019).

Shame in your past - We all wish we could have done or said something different in our past. When we constantly think about the past, “I should have said this instead,” “why didn’t I do this differently,” etc. this is called ruminating. We can’t go back and change what has happened in our past and thinking about what we wish we would have done differently takes away from what you can control in the present moment. When similar situations come up from our past you can choose what you do or say, learning and growing from your past experiences. Now when your negative thoughts about your past come up, “I’m so stupid for saying that,” “I made the wrong choice,” redirect your thoughts to, “I’m learning and growing,” (PowerofPositivity, 2019).

It seems to be much easier to get caught up in the spiral of negative thoughts than positive ones. I’m not saying this will fix all of your problems or be easy, this will be challenging to do and takes time. Each morning writing down positive thoughts/affirmations about yourself can be a reminder throughout your day when negative thoughts pop up, redirecting to your list from that morning. It doesn’t hurt to say these positive thoughts/affirmations to yourself, and if you don’t believe them right away that’s okay, that might take some time. We all deserve kindness now let’s start with ourselves.

Here are a few positive thoughts/affirmations:

  • “I’m doing the best I can.” 
  • “I’m kind.” 
  • “I’m worthy of love.” 
  • “I’m learning.” 
  • “I’m beautiful.” 
  • “I’m brave.” 
  • “My body is healthy.” 
  • “I’m successful.” 
  • “I’m creative.” 
  • “I can do anything I put my mind to.” 
  • “My strength is greater than my struggle.” 
  • “I’m fearless.” 
  • “I’m getting stronger everyday.” 
  • “I can do this.” 
  • “I inspire others.” 
  • “I love myself.” 


PowerofPositivity. (2019, June 23). 3 Reasons People Have Negative Thoughts. Retrieved September 25, 2020, from

"Suicide Prevention" September 2020

Woman therapy session

Suicide Prevention Month in Wisconsin

If you are worried about a friend, family member, coworker or other, see below for helpful tools and ideas for how you can help! The following information comes directly from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. You can visit their website for more information:

"Have an honest conversation:

  1. Talk to them in private
  2. Listen to their story
  3. Tell them you care about them
  4. Ask directly if they are thinking about suicide
  5. Encourage them to seek treatment or contact their doctor or therapist
  6. Avoid debating the value of life, minimizing their problems or giving advice

If a person says they are considering suicide:

Direct Quote Reference: "What to do if someone is at risk;"

Letter from a valued client in honor of this month to raise awareness.

"Suicide is a silent snake…

Always lurking, waiting to bring down those of us who are in deep depression or severe chronic pain. If someone you love has committed suicide and you want to know why, please read on.

When someone commits suicide, it is because they can no longer live with their pain. Physical, emotional, real or imagined, their pain is very real to them. It is an exhausting way to live. It is like trying to live on a roller coaster, with constant ups and downs. Often they feel like a complete & total burden on everyone around them. They feel needy all the time, and don’t want to ruin the happiness of those around them by always leaning on them. And, there is always a tendency to isolate. The old, pull the covers over head and don’t talk to anyone maneuver is very familiar to us all. Some days, it’s a victory just to get out of bed & get dressed. Recognize and celebrate it. If you don’t or can’t learn to manage your illness, accentuate the positive and minimize the negative you are in real trouble.

While you may not understand it, everything we feel is based on our perception of our life. And you need to realize, that everything is filtered through thunderstorms of dark, terrible thoughts. You start to sink into a deep, dark, black hole, or whatever form your pain takes for you, very slowly. Some sink fast. Some find the strength to get out of the hole, bit by bit, pulling up with your fingertips if necessary fighting back. If your pain is always with you, it’s a vicious cycle. It is easy to become so, so, so very tired of the constant fight and just want to fade away.

The most important way to get through is a POSITIVE ATTITUDE . It’s also the hardest thing to maintain . Therapy, individual or group, is VITAL . You must have someone to talk to so you can learn to navigate, and again, manage your life. A professional can help you better understand your feelings, and hopefully cut through the quagmire, so you can see and feel the good things in life. If you have terrible ongoing pain it’s a good bet that dark hole is always near, and we stand on the precipice attempting to maintain balance. EACH PERSON MUST FIND A REASON TO LIVE: People, pets, important projects, crafts…whatever brings pleasure. FIGHT FOR YOUR LIFE! If you want to help your loved one get through, just be there for them. Let them know you value their place in your life and how much you need them. Don’t let them distance themselves. Bring them into the ‘normal’ of everyday life and away from their troubles.

Please do not feel GUILTY or wonder what more you could have said or done. Chances are you tried. But our pain can be so severe and unbearable that the fight is completely knocked out. That is when suicide becomes a real option.

Personally, I was diagnosed with clinical depression 30 years ago. I’ve had terrible migraines over 20+ years. A car accident 15 years ago gave me a migraine that never leaves. The pain is unbelievable at time. I have been riding this vicious cycle for a very long time. Found my reasons to live and keep fighting. It can be done. It’s possible to live with suicidal thoughts. Just not all of us can. Hope this helps. -K."

Absolutely August 2020

Smiling interracial family of four

Addressing Parent Guilt

By Stephanie Hein, MS, LPC-IT

As I reflect on Arianna’s article from last month paired with the large decisions that are being made about the 2020 school year, I cannot help but think about the challenges that parents are having to face. Now more than ever it is essential that self-care is prioritized in order to show up as the best person you can for yourself, as well as your family. Most know the term “mom guilt,” and I am going to extend that to “parent guilt” at this point in time due to the effects of COVID-19 and school on moms, dads, and relationships/marriages.

I first want to speak of the differences between self-care versus self-indulgence. I often hear people speak of the things that they splurged on or engaged in and classify it as “self-care” (including my past self!). Self-indulgence is about pleasure seeking and this could look like a shopping spree, eating a whole tub of ice cream, drinking too much, etc. Self-indulgence in short-term pleasure while self-care is about long-term wellness (Healthy Humans Project). Self-care is more about living with intention so that in the long-term we are caring for ourselves wholly, versus spending too much money and then being mad at ourselves a week later when one realizes how much money we spent. Revisit July’s article to learn about the various categories of self-care to ensure you’re caring for all your needs.

Revisiting the “parent guilt,” there are many excuses that one can come up with to not care for ourselves. Whether that be a busy schedule, work, not spending enough “time” with the kids, etc. (Psychology Today). Regardless of the decisions that are made by schools, your children need you the most so be sure that you are showing up as your best self, versus parenting from that place of guilt and chaos. I often hear parents say that if they are exercising (or replace with any other form of self-care), it could be time that they could be spending with their kids. I want to encourage you to shift perspectives and think of it as refilling your cup so that the time you have with your kids is better quality and that you are able to be more present with them. How much more present can you be when you are feeling good and have a clear mind? Evaluate what you and your kids need most right now and work towards a healthy balance for you and your family. “Put your air mask on before your minors,” as all the airlines say (On Being). Care for yourself so that you can show up for those who need you most in these uncertain times.“In%20case%20of%20emergency%2C%20air%20masks%20will%20drop,Each%20time%20I%20hear%20it%2C%20it%20unsettles%20me .

Joyful July 2020

Woman smilling in car

Safe Summer Self-Care Activities 2020!

By Arianna Katrichis, MS, LPC-IT

With the world slowly opening, the transition into “real life” can be a daunting task. Now, more than ever, it is so important to work towards taking care of ourselves and being mindful of our well-being. This will help prevent the possible build of up stressors of getting back to work, interacting with people (at a safe distance), taking care of others, family, summer, school, and the list goes on!

The beauty of self-care is, it looks different for everyone! There are so many options to take care of yourself, while still keeping safe and healthy. Before jumping on the self-care bandwagon and feeling like you need to try everything RIGHT NOW, try evaluating exactly what you feel you need to work on. From there, pick appropriate activities or skills to address current needs. We want to avoid overwhelming ourselves with what we feel like we “should” be doing and shift that focus to what our mind, body, and spirit actually need!

Here is a list of safe summer self-care activities to get you started!

Emotional and Spiritual Needs:

  1. Journaling
  2. Meditate
  3. Mindfulness


  1. Running or walking outside
  2. Beach
  3. Going to the gym
  4. Evaluating nutritional habits
  5. Creating a healthy routine


  1. Talking to/hanging out with friends or family – FaceTime, phone calls, In-person
  2. Saying no! – YES it is okay to say no to social activities to focus on bettering yourself or if you do not feel comfortable meeting in person quite yet!
  3. Evaluate social media habits – it is really easy to scroll for hours right now and always, (trust me I know!) but sometimes we don’t realize how detrimental that can be to our mental and physical health!


  1. Creating a budget
  2. Read/learn about personal finance
  3. Limit online shopping
  4. Explore or set future financial goals

This is just a short list based on common areas in which people tend to want to focus their self-care on more often than not! If you ever need assistance in creating a self-care plan or coming up with other positive activities that suit your needs more, feel free to reach out to a therapist and work together to create a plan that is manageable for you. Also, due to COVID-19 concerns, please keep social distancing and smart health practices a priority in your self-care routines!

Happy Summer and stay safe!

June 2020

We are taking a break for June....Stay Tuned for something insightful coming in July!!

Magnificent in May 2020

Hand holding compass

Words of Encouragement

By: Jessica Niedermayer, MS, NCC, LPC

As I reflect on my life and the hardships I have experienced, there are words to live by and there is wisdom to follow. As we all walk along the path that is called COVID-19, I would like to share words that I have found encouraging and words I have continued to review and reflect upon…even now.

“We can’t be impoverished by love even when we are bruised by it. One of the greatest things about humans is that getting bruised doesn’t spoil us. Unlike plums, apricots, mangos, or nectarines, humans don’t perish as a result of being knocked around by the turbulence of life. This is because we have the capacity for personal self-renewal. We routinely replace damaged parts of ourselves with new ones that are more resilient, more able to handle challenges. As long as we manage to avoid the trap of growing a skin so thick that nothing gets through, getting bruised can only boost our ability to cope with whatever life throws at us” (Ruti, 2011).

Wishing you all well as you continue to embark on this journey…being renewed from it.

Direct Quote is from: Ruti, D. M. (2011). The Case for Falling in Love. Naperville, Illinois: Sourcebooks Casablanca.

Aspire in April 2020

Planning for Mental Health During COVID-19

By Deb Sarnowski, MA, LPC, SAC-IT

As a counselor, isolation and avoidance can be challenging for clients. However, what happens when mandatory distancing becomes part of our daily lives. Many of us could handle a few days away from the public, however living in a place of social distancing exists beyond most of our comfort zones. Currently, we know these radical changes remain part of keeping all healthy and quenching a pandemic for all our safety. You may be wondering how to function and manage mental health during this time. Good counseling teaches us to keep a regular schedule, maintain socialization and find ways to decompress are imperative during these challenging times.

Let’s start with some ways to keep a regular schedule. Regular schedules ward off anxiety and depression (Ren, et al, 2018; Wood, et al, 2016). If you’re not working or even working on line, filling the time may be challenging. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Play games or put together a jig saw puzzle of your favorite place to vacation
  • Plan a vacation for the future (yes, we will be able to travel again)
  • Read or listen to a book
  • Write a book or journal experiences or be creative in story writing
  • Practice old skills, such as drawing, playing an instrument, crafting, knitting etc.
  • Do those projects you have been putting off (clean a closet, organize your pantry, rearrange the living room, etc.)
  • Create a positive environment for your children and online activities (attached are a few links to people that have put together things for kids to do)
  • Practice self care: bathe, get dressed, eat regular meals and do things to create positive feelings.

Please don’t fill every minute of your day with things to do. Remember finding white space in your schedule will be important too. Having down time and time alone are essential. This will be explored later in this article. Finding room to socialize will be the next biggest challenge to positive mental health.

Socialization, human contact and compassion are part of the human existence. Many of us have adapted to social media and technology as a part of our interaction, but how can we make this a part of our socialization. Many apps, like FaceTime and Skype, offer a place to talk one on one without friends face-to-face. Here are few other suggestions to add to connecting with others.

  • Support groups and AA meetings online help with community
  • Create your own group online using Zoom or Marco Polo or other video type groups with friends or family
  • Invite a few friends for coffee time online using Zoom or other app
  • Send an email, card or text to let someone know you care
  • Message someone on Facebook or other social media verses just posting on their page
  • Pick up the phone and call elderly person, single mom or anyone you want to encourage
  • Share silly jokes, videos and funny stories
  • Think out of the box and share your ideas
  • Text, talk or email people good things that happened today

Most of all think out of the box and take a step to be kind to someone else. Research shows interaction in random acts of kindness “displayed an increase in well-being” (Ko, K., et al, 2019). Recalling these actions through the tough days will increase your mental health and offer comfort when feeling alone. Next let’s explore how to decompress with COVID-19 news everywhere and being confined to our homes.

Exercise instead of sitting in front of our computers or televisions continues to be fundamental. Some ideas for exercise: look for YouTube videos on workouts, dust off the workout DVDs, run in place, practice yoga, stretch, play Wii games with movement, remove the clothes off the treadmill and go for a walk with the dog. Find ways to move! Make a plan to take few steps every hour, even if it’s around the house.

You may be asking, what else can I do for mental space and time out? It is important to limit your time on media when associated to the recent pandemic. Being informed about COVID-19 remains important for safety, however limiting this exposure will reduce anxiety related to the pandemic. In addition, remember to practice breathing deeply, prayer, meditation, and relaxation to help with this. There are many apps out there for all these things. Some application for sleep and relaxation include Abide, Calm, and others. Relaxation, sleep and time out let us decompress, reflect and help with mental health.

This journey into mental health can be thought-provoking. While keeping a regular schedule maintaining socialization and finding ways to decompress remains challenging, this article hopes you have discovered it’s not impossible. Hope this piece will help you along this journey. However, if you find yourself struggling and needing extra help, please call our office and set up an appointment. Our clinicians will continue to do everything possible to accommodate mental health needs during this time. We are meeting with tele-mental health: video or voice counseling. Please call us if you or a loved one needs further assistance at 262-313-8339 .

Activities for kids online:



Buchanan, K. E., & Bardi, A. (2010). Acts of Kindness and Acts of Novelty Affect Life Satisfaction. The Journal of Social Psychology , 150 (3), 235–237. doi: 10.1080/00224540903365554

Ko, K., Margolis, S., Revord, J., & Lyubomirsky, S. (2019). Comparing the effects of performing and recalling acts of kindness. The Journal of Positive Psychology , 1–9. doi: 10.1080/17439760.2019.1663252

Pomeroy, C. (2019, March 20). Loneliness Is Harmful to Our Nation's Health. Retrieved from https://blogs.scientificameric...

Ren, L., & Fan, J. (2018). Chinese preschoolers’ daily routine and its associations with parent-child relationships and child self-regulation. International Journal of Behavioral Development , 43 (2), 179–184. doi: 10.1177/0165025418811126

Seniors: Tips on coping with COVID-19 isolation. (2020, March 26). Retrieved from https://www.journal--republica...

Wood, Wendy, and Dennis Rünger. “Psychology of Habit.” Annual review of psychology. 67 (2016): 289–314. Web.

Self-care for Uncertain Times

Man on dock

By Kylie Slavek, Graduate Intern

  • Start each day with breathwork or meditation
  • Limit your social media exposure
  • Read something inspirational
  • Give yourself space to process emotions
  • Create positive affirmations for when you feel ungrounded, insecure or anxious
  • Connect with your loved ones
  • Focus on something to be grateful for every day

Source: Spirit Daughter, Health and wellness account - Instagram

Mystical March 2020

Smiling family of five

Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorder

Lindsay Sherwood, MS, LMFT

As a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, I am often asked about the impact that Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) has on families. While ASD is often thought of as a disorder that only affects children, it continues to affect individuals throughout the lifespan.

As a therapist, I often see teenagers and adults who have gone through life thinking that they are on the spectrum but have never had a formal diagnosis. These clients often report struggling with social interactions as well as struggling with the ability to adapt to everyday life changes. These individuals find that their struggles to relate to and be understood by other people cause them impairment in their daily functioning. To be clear, social impairment in individuals with ASD and social impairment in those with social anxiety is very different. It is more than being introverted or “shy.” Most people on the spectrum report having issues with making and sustaining friendships, having relationships with significant others, and/or maintaining employment.

To best understand this, one must think about the social world that we live in and how often we rely on our social skills to get through day-to-day activities. For example, think about your drive into work or walking through the grocery store to get what is on your list. While driving, you are required to use your eye contact and gestures to get you through 4-way stop signs. Perhaps you needed to gesture “go ahead” to a pedestrian who was walking in the crosswalk. Maybe you waved as a “thank you” to someone who let your vehicle into a line of traffic. While standing at the deli counter in the grocery store, you might have waved over an employee to indicate that you needed help. Perhaps you smiled at the cashier when she greeted you and asked, “Paper or plastic?” These are every day occurrences that we rarely have to think about and simply “do.” For others on the spectrum, these every day social interactions are challenging, uncomfortable, and often avoided.

Clients usually come to see me for evaluations or psychotherapy as they have reached a point in their lives where they are seeking answers about themselves. I have been told that it is not so much about the “label” as it is understanding why they continue to have challenges in their daily lives that they just cannot figure out. People will often report that they “just do not understand people” or feel that others “do not get them.” These individuals also struggle with changes in life and do not demonstrate the ability to be flexible and tolerate unexpected changes. Others report that they struggle with aspects in the environment that they find upsetting (e.g. sounds are too loud, certain smells are upsetting, lights are too bright, certain textures cannot be tolerated, etc.). For others, they have intense interests that get in the way of their relationships with others. For example, clients that I have worked with have reported being “so into” certain topics that they spend too much time researching and studying these topics that they do not leave other time to personal relationships and or their professional life.

When clients come to me with concerns such as those above, we look into what a formal diagnosis of ASD would or would not do for a client. When someone indicates that they want to move forward with a diagnosis, we should schedule an intake to get to know one another. During this time, clients share with me some of their concerns as well as what things look like in their personal and professional lives. If the agreement is mutual in moving forward with an evaluation, I meet with the client for an additional appointment to go through the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule, Second Edition (ADOS-2). The ADOS-2 can be administered starting at 12 months old and goes throughout adulthood. This is a structured social assessment that looks at how an individual acts in a structured social setting. This is an important tool that is used when confirming or ruling out a diagnosis of ASD as it is standardized and uses a specific scoring algorithm.

ASD is not something that someone grows out of or “goes away.” The signs and symptoms look different as an individual gets older, and the challenges often become greater as social expectations increase the older one gets. ASD is a lifelong disorder that begins in childhood but causes lifelong challenges.

At Hope for a Better Tomorrow, we offer diagnostics and ongoing support for individuals who are on the spectrum or are looking to find out whether or not they meet criteria for ASD. Please contact our front desk to schedule an intake appointment or leave a message for me as I would be happy to discuss additional ways that our clinic is able to support the ASD community.

Fantastic February 2020

Forrest path

Did you know that February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month?

By Shannon Glomski

While one in three women and one in four men will experience violence from their partners in their lifetimes, one in three teens will experience sexual or physical abuse or threats from a partner in one year.

Dating abuse can involve a current partner or past partner and can be in-person or digital. Abuse can be physical, sexual, or emotional

  • Physical abuse includes hitting, kicking, shoving, hurting someone with an object or weapon, or breaking their things on purpose
  • Sexual abuse includes forcing, pressuring, or blackmailing someone into doing something sexual (kissing, touching, or having sex) when they don’t want to or are unconscious
  • Emotional abuse includes bullying behaviors (name-calling, yelling, and humiliating), keeping them away from friends and family, threatening them, getting them fired from their job on purpose, or stalking
  • Digital abuse is a type of emotional or sexual abuse. It includes constant texts and phone calls, using social media or GPS/spyware to track someone’s location, stealing passwords, or pressuring them to send explicit photos and videos

The effects are damaging to teens, students that had been abused by a partner were more likely than those that hadn’t to report being bullied on school grounds and missing school because they felt unsafe. Victims are also more likely to become depressed or anxious , use drugs or alcohol, become suicidal, or be abused in future relationships. It can be prevented . By promoting positive relationship behaviors, teens learn about what they should expect from peers and how they are expected to behave toward peers, in both intimate and friendship relationships. Pre-teens and teens are forming ideas about relationships that can last a lifetime, but it doesn’t have to be bad one.

If you or someone else is a victim of abuse, please reach out to a trusted adult or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.


Jubilant January 2020

woman sitting in a yoga pose at sunrise

Newfound insight moving us into the New Year: Secular Buddhism

Kylie Slavek, Graduate Intern

As we head into the new year we look towards setting goals for ourselves and making positive changes in our lives. It is a time of inward reflection. This year why not set a mental health goal for yourself? What emotional and behavioral patterns or ways of thinking no longer serve you? What thoughts or beliefs are you carrying that may be hindering our ability to move forward?

Sometimes all it takes is a fresh perspective or a little bit of insight to develop a newfound understanding of yourself.

In my journey through life, overcoming my own personal obstacles I have found elements of Buddhist philosophy to be profoundly impactful in my ability to enhance my understanding and awareness of myself. Secular Buddhism refers to the philosophies and wisdom of Buddhist teachings that can be added to whatever background or world views you already possess. Regardless of your personal beliefs, religion, or spirituality the teachings can be relevant and useful to anyone. They can help you to become a better whatever you already are.

I would like to mention that components of Buddhist philosophy are incorporated into a variety of effective therapeutic approaches including Dialectical Behavioral therapy (DBT), Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT), and Acceptance and Commitment therapy (ACT). The concept of mindfulness originates from Buddhist practice and has countless benefits to mental health. It is a staple in many therapeutic modalities as an integrated approach to treatment.

I’d like to share a metaphor which touches on elements of secular Buddhist philosophy that have been helpful to me in increasing my awareness and understanding of my unhealthy thoughts, patterns and beliefs. It is my hope that it will also help you in your process of inward reflection moving into the new year.

Tale of Two Arrows

The tale of two arrows explains that in life no matter how well, efficient, or healthy you try to live your life at some point you will experience difficulty, you will get hit with an arrow. In Buddhist philosophy this is referred to as the truth of suffering. The truth of suffering simply states that in life there is suffering. Suffering is an inevitable part of our human experience. Simply acknowledging the fact that we will, at some point in our lives, experiencing uneasy or uncomfortable experiences allows us to be better prepared to handle difficulties as they arise and to approach them with compassion and grace. Things change, nothing is permanent. There is good and there is bad, and we get all of it in life.

So, at some point you will get hit with an arrow, the first arrow that hits you is inevitable and cannot be prevented. For example, you experience the loss of a loved one. The initial arrow, the loss, you cannot prevent. The interesting part about suffering is we as humans have the tendency and ability to create additional and unnecessary suffering for ourselves. This unnecessary suffering may prolong, enhance or worsen the initial blow. With unhealthy beliefs, and thought pattern thoughts, we hit ourselves with a second arrow. We may guilt ourselves into believing we did not do enough, we may tell ourselves we will never find another, or believe we are not worthy of love. This unnecessary suffering is preventable because it does not lie in the events or circumstances, but in the way we perceive and interpret our experiences. This unnecessary suffering is referred to as the truth of the cause of suffering which emerges from life not conforming to our expectations or wanting things to be different than they are.

Healing and Moving Forward

Remember impermanence. Because nothing is permanent there is always a path to the end of suffering. This is referred to as; the truth to the path that frees us. To end suffering Buddhist philosophy suggests the importance of developing awareness of your expectations and abandoning them and developing awareness of the way things are to cut through the dualistic habits of perception and illusion. This can be done by embracing them and exploring them through personal reflection or with a therapist.

Time for reflection

In what ways am I adding more arrows?

What thoughts, beliefs, or patterns are you stuck in?

How can I continue bettering myself?


I hope the tale of two arrows was as helpful to you as it was for me in gaining insight as to how your thoughts, beliefs, and perceptions influence your life. I hope it helps you to move forward as you continue on your journey of healing and process of becoming a better person. If you are interested in learning more about secular Buddhism you can visit for more information as well as access to a helpful podcast by Noah Rashets.

Determined December 2019

Healthy Holiday Habits

Stephanie Hein, MS, NCC, LPC-IT, SAC-IT

With the holiday buzz beginning, self-care tends to become overlooked. Our “to-do” lists continue to grow, we have another holiday party to attend, and we remember past holidays with loved ones who are no longer with us. It’s supposed to be the “most wonderful time of the year,” but often becomes dreaded by many (Harvard).

I would encourage those of you who are struggling with the holidays to go back to caring for yourself. This can look different for everyone, but below are some ideas to get you started:

  1. Healthy sleep habits: A healthy 7-9 hours of sleep per night will help one become less vulnerable emotionally. Be sure to keep a consistent sleep schedule, avoid using blue lights before bed, reduce consumption of food and liquids late at night, and avoid caffeine/alcohol in the evenings (Sleep Education).
  2. Moving your body: Exercise can release endorphins, which can promote better mental health and wellness. It can help reduce depressive and anxiety symptoms, which can increase one’s abilities to manage stress and get better sleep (ADAA).
  3. Practice gratitude: Turning the mind towards the “power of positivity.” (See Feb. 2019 monthly focus for more information). Is there a way to make someone’s day during a busy time? We can improve our mental health sometimes by caring for someone else. Maybe say thank you to the bagger at the grocery store, maybe telling the mom who is juggling kids while trying to shop that she is doing a great job, etc.
  4. Be present and breathe: With the hustle and bustle of the holidays, what could we be missing out on? Remember it is not about the presents, but the memories and what memories may be missed if we are not present. Slow down and enjoy what matters.
  5. Eat healthy: “Take care of your mind by taking care of your body.” The holidays can be a time of eating on the fly in between errands, stress eating, or the array of desserts at holiday parties. Still enjoy yourself, but be mindful of what you are putting in your body and to what degree. Try to maintain balance throughout.


Nifty November 2019

Women meditating

Why is Yoga good for my Mental Health?

Dr. Sheila Gissibl, PsyD

A few years back I took a continuing education class on “Neuroscience & Yoga in the Treatment of Complex Trauma”. I was fascinated to learn the impact of traumatic experiences on our brain structure and Nervous System. I was even more fascinated to learn how very simple yoga poses can literally HEAL those detriments and restore our nervous system back to proper function. How can yoga heal our brain and nervous system? Let’s begin with a brief discussion about what happens when we experience either intense single traumatic events, or the accumulation of lesser but chronic/repeated traumas. When we experience situations in which our brain/body perceives a “threat” to our well-being (now this can be physical or emotional) it initiates a “response.” We often experience this response as “fight, flight or freeze.” Our sympathetic nervous system activates the body and mind to react in a manner that we call anxiety (or sometimes anger). When we experience this repeatedly, our brain begins to be “wired” in a manner conducive to anxiety. This may result in a diagnosable anxiety disorder (GAD, OCD, PTSD, Social, Phobia). When we become wired for anxiety, our “window of tolerance” narrows and we become less capable of resolving stressful events. We can become very discouraged at our inability to handle even minimally stressful events or thoughts.

So, how does yoga help? In yoga, there is an emphasis on the process of breathing, which quite honestly could provide half the benefit. When we practice proper inhale and exhale, pair it with movement designed to lengthen and strengthen the spine and vagus nerve, and grounding techniques, we begin to “rewire” our brain and nervous system. We create new feedback loops and improve brain structure integration (always a good thing!). Research shows that yoga lowers cortisol levels (stress hormone) and increases GABA (neurotransmitter that helps us relax). We are better able to calm the amygdala and give ourselves more time to process and create new content in our thought life. Experiencing the benefits of yoga on our mental health does not require athleticism, flexibility or even yoga pants. It just requires an open mind and a knowledgeable teacher. For more information about how yoga can help you, [email protected].

Original October 2019

Clip art of 4 people holding hands

Tips for a Healthy Family

Dr. Doug Meske, Ph.D and LCSW

It doesn’t take a great deal of thinking to realize that or society is struggling with many issues. Daily TV news and paper journal reports overwhelm us with tragic stories. These stories, these events take a terrible toll on our thoughts, on our moods/emotions, and on our attitudes. So if all of this is true, how do moms and dads raise healthy children in a society that is too often unhealthy and too often confusing? One positive answer— by what can be done at home, in the family.

I want to share with you 5 specific tips/techniques to make home life a place where the people can feel safe, feel cared for, and can grow into healthy, happy, effective people.

The following 5 tips/techniques should be asked as questions and then discussed in terms of how your family will use these tips.

1) Does It Matter to Everyone in this Family How We Make Each Other Feel?

When you think about this question you realize that there is only really one healthy answer. A “no” would need to be dealt with as a serious problem. So, once everyone agrees that a “yes” should be the answer, then everyone can talk about all the specific ways people influence how others are made to think and to feel about themselves; and also how safe and comfortable we each make living together feel.

2) Then, if we are committed to how we make people feel, What Expectations of Each Other in This Family Will We All Live Up to?

This question allows the family to make, in writing, a Family Contract . Let’s all write down what each of us will do more of or less of that would make the rest of the family happier and more comfortable. This Family Contract can be periodically discussed, evaluated, added to, even recommendations given as the family works together.

3) In This Family, Do We Have Relationships Or Just Roles ?

Being a Mother, Father, Sister, Brother, Daughter, Son are all roles just like Teacher, Officer, Doctor, etc. These terms do not mean the people involved are truly connected and close to each other. Relationships mean we have a certain level of closeness; we know one another; we enjoy one another; we want to spend time with one another; etc. etc.

4) How Effectively Do We Communicate and Problem Solve?

How closely do we say what we want heard and understood? What’s my voice tone like? Am I a good listener? Do we intercept? Do we revisit what we haven’t effectively resolved? Do we reach agreements from now on or stop before we are truly finished? Do we ask questions or just make statements? Do we hear the emotions present or the words first?

5) In Our Family, How Do We Show Love, Affections, and How We Value Each Other?

There are numerous ways of showing how we think and feel about each other: words, touches, letters, gifts, actions, kisses, hugs, compliments… think of the many ways. Everyone could come up with possibilities. Then What?

So hopefully all of the above makes sense to you and you see that value of living and using each of the 5 in your family. I believe a family that lives these tips on a daily basis can offset the negatives and create a beautiful, positive family.

God Bless and Good Luck.

Back to School September 2019

Solution Pathway

Back to School: A Better Transition!

By: Arianna Katrichis, MS, LPC-IT

As the warm days turn cooler and football takes over Sundays, our minds start to turn focus onto fall. Fall can mean a time of excitement for a new season of pumpkin spice lattes and apple picking but, also, dread of going back to school and everything that entails. This time can be stressful for students and parents as they make the transition from free summer days to busy, structured days. It is important to be able to recognize the signs of stress within yourself, as well as those around you.

Common back to school stressors for students:

  1. Change to routine/environment
  2. Participating in class
  3. Lack of support
  4. Too much homework/heavy workload
  5. Upcoming tests
  6. Lack of organization
  7. Poor sleep schedule

Common back to school stressors for parents:

  1. School supply shopping
  2. Homework (Yes, parents get stressed about your homework too!)
  3. Bullying
  4. Pick up/Drop off routines
  5. Child’s mental health/well-being
  6. Unexpected fees (academic, extra-curricular, sports)
  7. Dress codes

Tips to reduce stress…for the both of you!

  1. Plan Ahead: Starting looking into sports, clubs, events, etc. that your child may be interested in! This will help them have focused situations in which they can meet friends with common interests as them. Planning ahead can also be beneficial in making sure your child has everything they need on their school supply list or for all of their new classes starting in fall.
  2. Talk it out: Opening lines of communication right away can help the child practice expressing their emotions. This practice will make them feel more at ease for future conversations they are interested in having with you or others around them. This can also help parents become more aware of the signs of their child’s stress and feel more comfortable approaching them about it.
  3. Teach Relaxation: Learning when and how to use relaxation skill (coping skills) early on can prepare your child for knowing what stress looks and feels like ahead of time. This can help your child reduce initial stress and channel it into a constructive activity (breathing exercises, sports, physical exercise, meditation).

These tips can help make the students and parents transition into the school year easier and less chaotic. By getting ahead of stress, we reduce the likelihood of becoming easily overwhelmed.


Pope, D., Brown, M., and Miles, S. (2015). Overloaded and Underprepared: Strategies for Stronger Schools and Healthy, Successful Kids. John Wiley & Sons.

Healy, M. (2018). Back to School (With Less Stress). Retrieved August 24 th , 2019 from Psychology Today.

Abounding August 2019

Women meditating

The How-To's for Practicing Mindfulness

By: Kylie Slavek, Graduate Intern

Mindfulness focuses on :

"The ability to stabilize and direct the mind is especially important in moments when we may feel stressed, distracted, or overwhelmed" (Fernandez, 2018).

Ways to practice Mindfulness (Tarrant, 2017):

  • Practice observing and Noticing- Pay attention to what is happening in the moment in relation to your thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations and behaviors.
    • Notice what is happening in the environment, pay attention to each of the 5 Senses
  • Slow down- Shift out of stress mode, frantic lifestyles can distract us from experiencing underlying feelings of sadness, grief, remorse and fear.
    • Engage in a task that slows down your life spend time alone, put your phone away, leisurely walk outside, lay in bed a few minutes before waking up, pause after finishing a task
  • Active storytelling- Become more aware of the storylines in your mind by actively engaging with them.
    • Pick a random person and observe them, make up a story about the person and their life.
  • One thing at a time- improve attention and increase appreciation of daily activities
    • Choose a daily activity, something you normally do on auto pilot, intentionally, pay full attention to what is happening in the moment, notice senses, bodily sensations, emotions and thoughts.
  • Challenge the storyteller- The mind naturally creates stories about people and events in out lives
    • Observe and recognize the story you are telling yourself
    • Question the story- is it true? How do I know?
    • Challenge the automatic messages and themes- thoughts are not facts, imagine a new interpretation, think of an exception to the themes.


Fernandez, R. (2018, September 26). A Meditation to Focus Attention . Retrieved July 29, 2019, from Mindful: Healthy Mind, Healthy Life:

Tarrant, J. (2017). Meditation interventions to rewire the brain. Eau Clair, WI: Pesi publishing & media.

Joyful July 2019

Footprints on sand

Building Pleasant and Positive Emotions for a Lifetime

By: Jessica Niedermayer, MS, NCC, LPC

Summer time is all about getting outside the house and enjoying activities! After a long winter, it can feel so good to stretch the legs and feeling the warm sunshine. Research shows (from practicing Dialectical Behavior Therapy) that participating in pleasant activities, big or small, at least one time per day in the short term can build positive emotions that will last for the long term (Linehan, 2015). Over a period of time, one can build and create new memories and a life worth living.

Pleasant activities include but are not limited to: biking, swimming, going for walks, getting a fun coffee drink from your local hot spot, calling a friend or family member, volunteering, or even going to the library. Participating in pleasant activities helps to build new and fun memories to replace old and possibly negative addition, these activities can help give you ways to contribute to conversations with others and find common ground in interpersonal relationships.

One way to help yourself on this summertime project is to track the pleasant activities and positive emotions along the way. "Tracking positive emotions helps us be more aware of the positive feelings we already experience, and the situations or activities that bring them," says Dr. Lyness from TeensHealth (D'Arcy Lyness, 2016). So with that...conquer your fear and get out there!!


D'Arcy Lyness, P. (2016, October). 3 Ways to Increase Positive Emotions . Retrieved July 11, 2019, from TeensHealth from Nemours:

Linehan, M. M. (2015). DBT Skills Training: Handouts and Worksheets; Second Edition. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.

Jesting June 2019

Smiling family of five

Knowing Our Emotions -- Inside Out

By: David Sorensen, MS, NCC, LPC

Riley is an 11-year old girl from the Midwest whose happy life is turned upside down when her family moves to San Francisco in the Disney-Pixar movie, Inside Out. The movie beautifully illustrates the challenge a person at any age can face when unexpected change brings unwanted loss and confusion. For Riley, the simple joys of childhood become a distant memory, replaced by feelings of fear, anger, sadness and disgust. Riley eventually resolves her crisis when she learns to accept and use the variety of emotions she is feeling to help her reconnect with the people who are most important in her life.

The ability to use our emotions in this way can be difficult to learn. Like the person who resists going to the dentist in order to avoid the anticipated discomfort of the drill, we may look for ways to avoid the persons, places and things that trigger the uncomfortable feelings we don’t want to feel. In time we may discover that our lives are becoming smaller and our living constricted by this pattern of avoidance. Fortunately, there is way to move forward to a fuller life.

It is the way of openness and acceptance of whatever we are experiencing on the inside while turning to face whatever stands before us. Fortunately, the emotional turbulence that we dread and sometimes experience does not last forever. It has a way of subsiding even though difficult emotions and difficult situations may not entirely go away. In time, we find we don’t need to be afraid of what we are feeling. This gives us confidence to make a shift to a fuller, more satisfying life as we learn to live from the inside out.

Magical May 2019

Coaching sign


Hope for a Better Tomorrow is starting a new intensive program focused on providing education, skills and trauma resolution therapy for those experiencing PTSD. This program will utilize a combination of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, Mindfulness, Yoga, Psychoeducation and Focused Mindfulness with Trauma Processing.


What: PTSD Intensive Programming will focus on skills building to manage symptoms of PTSD more effectively, build relaxation skills to increase quality of life and incorporate focused mindfulness practices for trauma resolution

Where: Hope for a Better Tomorrow

When: Weeks 1 – 3: Group Wed/Fri 12p – 1p, One individual appointment on Thursday between 9 – 2pm

Weeks 4- 8: Group: Friday 12p – 1p, one group from 12 p – 2p on a Wednesday will be scheduled. Two individual appointments on Tues/Thurs between 9a – 2pm

Duration: 8 Weeks starting July 8 th and running to the end of August. All programming will require participants to attend 3, 60 minute sessions weekly.

What is needed to attend?

  • Complete an initial intake session with leaders Sheila or Patrice, if new to the clinic
  • A referral from current therapist, if you currently see a therapist at Hope for a Better Tomorrow


If this group sounds like a good fit for you, please contact the administrative office or either group leader to assist you in getting set up with an initial intake assessment.

We look forward to working with you!

Adventurous April 2019

green field with a sign that points in several directions


Hope for a Better Tomorrow is starting a new intensive program centering around learning about DBT skills. DBT is a combination of cognitive and behavioral therapist that has a goal of transforming negative thinking patterns and destructive behaviors into positive outcomes.


What: DBT Intensive Program designed to focus on gaining skills with an emphasis on emotion regulation

Where: Hope for a Better Tomorrow

When: 10 am – Noon; Tuesdays and Thursdays

Duration: 9 weeks, 17 sessions (Start 6/4/19 – End 8/1/19; No Group on 7/4/19)

What is needed to attend?

  • Complete an initial intake session with group leaders Jessica or Arianna, if new to the clinic
  • A referral from current therapist, if you currently see a therapist at Hope for a Better Tomorrow
  • Must participate in individual therapy in addition to group (At Hope for a Better Tomorrow or another agency)

Group Aftercare:

After group sessions have concluded, members of the program are invited to attend weekly a weekly DBT Group offered at Hope for a Better Tomorrow for skills maintenance.


If this group sounds like a good fit for you, please contact the administrative office or either group leader to assist you in getting set up with an initial intake assessment.

We look forward to working with you!

Marvelous March 2019

Shot of someone's legs with paper arrows surrounding them

Understanding Thoughts of a Teenager!

By: Jessica Niedermayer, MS, NCC, LPC

Adolescence...this is time for building and developing formal-operational thought, meaning teens during this time are building their own capacity to: gain a sense of identity, think in more complex ways about moral issues, understand other people better...and then questioning ideas can lead to confusion and rebellion against ideas. But with that development, teens can get caught in the following traps:

1. Adolescent egocentrism: difficulty differentiating one's own thoughts and feelings from those of other people (ignorant to differences from person to person, failing to see something from another perspective, selfishness)

2. Imaginary audience: confusing your own thoughts with those of an hypothesized audience (taking on others emotions as their own, pre-occupation with what others are thinking of you and not differentiating enough)

3. Personal fable: tendency to think that you and your thoughts and feelings are unique (differentiating too much to the point of believing no one could possibly understand what I am going through).

Parents who take the time understand these traps will be able to identify better ways of helping their teens process and cope with the stresses of life.

Reference: Sigelman, C. K., & Rider, E. A. (2018). Life-span human development (9th ed.). Australia: Cengage Learning.

Fancy February 2019

Tightrope walking

Taming Our Thoughts

By: Stephanie Hein, MS, NCC, LPC-IT, SAC-IT

How are you limiting yourself with your thoughts? Our minds are typically our worst enemies and we may be missing out on opportunities because we tell ourselves that we will never be good enough or that we are not going to get the dream job we applied for.

The power of positivity by acting “as if” is an essential way to begin to re-train our minds. Being conscious of our thoughts and acting in the way we wish to be will begin to shift to positivity.

Don’t confuse acting “as it” with lying or being fake. If we truly want to change something about ourselves (not because other people want us to), changing behaviors for feelings to follow is a positive route to achieving the goals we wish to.

Examples to get started:

  • smile when feeling sad
  • write out positive self-talk post-its and stick on a mirror
  • take care of your body as if you love it through healthy exercise
  • apply for your dream job
  • start a gratitude journal

“We open up to the positive possibilities of the future, instead of limiting the future by today’s feelings and circumstances. Acting as if helps us get past shaky ground and into solid territory.” -Melody Beattie


Morin, A. (2016, June 27). When to fake it till you make it (and when you shouldn’t). Retrieved from:

Beattie, M. (1990). The language of letting go: Daily meditations on codependency. Center City, MN: Hazelden Publishing.

Jolly January 2019

Sticking to you Goals in 2019

By: Cheryl Buroker, Graduate Intern

It’s that time of the year again where so many make New Year’s Resolutions. Maybe you aren’t a resolution person, maybe you are more of a goal-setter. If you haven’t set yourself resolutions, or goals, and want to, this article maybe helpful for you. However, if you set goals and aren’t sure how achievable they will be this could be helpful for you to reevaluate them. In addition to setting goals, we will give you a few pointers to consider while you work on achieving your goals.

When setting goals, we want to make sure they’re SMART . Ask yourself are they S pecific, M easurable, A ttainable, R elevant, and T ime-bound?

S: Is your goal clear in what you want to achieve? If it’s a large goal, break it down into smaller, specific ones.

M: How will you know if you are making progress? Is there a method to measure your progress?

A: Does achieving your goal require the help of others, if so is there way to alter it so you are the only one responsible for achieving your goal? Will there be obstacles that prevent you from achieving your goal?

R: What makes this goal important to achieve? What does this goal say about your values? How will achieving this goal effect your life?

T: When will you reach your goal? Keep in mind what is realistic for yourself. If you have a large goal that you broke down into smaller ones, set increments for each one.

Writing goals out can be helpful, for some people it gives a sense of accountability, or just a better understanding. If you would like to print a worksheet to help guide you in writing SMART goals, there is a link at the bottom of this article.

Sometimes it’s hard to hold ourselves accountable for the things we say we will do. If you have a difficult time holding yourself responsible, but have an easier time remaining accountable with others, maybe you can ask for one or two people in your support network to check-in with you on a regular basis. When asking your support network, make sure it is an individual who genuinely wants you to succeed in your goal(s). Be sure to explain to them what goal(s) you set and why achieving it is important to you. If they agree to support you and hold you accountable in reaching your goal, decide and agree upon check-in dates and times for progress updates.

Treat yourself! When you reach certain milestones, reinforce that progress by rewarding yourself with something healthy.

When it’s possible, remove triggers or negative obstacles. For example, if you are trying to lose weight, through away any unhealthy snacks you have. If you’re trying to quit smoking, donate your ash trays, get rid of the cigarettes, and keep chewing gum around for when you have a craving.

Switch things up. If you’re trying to go to the gym more often, keep a gym bag in your car, or by the front door. If you’re trying to take food to work instead of eating out, pack your lunch the night before so it’s ready to go in the morning. If you want to reduce time on your phone before bed, leave your phone in another room or leave a good book by your bed. Want to save money? Keep a spare change jar next to your bed and at the end of the day whatever is in your pockets put into the jar, or maybe setting aside a set amount of money from each paycheck into another account.

Another important note to keep in mind is to be patient. If it is worth it, it won’t be easy. Goals take time to reach, sometimes longer than others. Be forgiving to yourself. If you beat yourself up for a hiccup in the road, you’ll get stuck on the negative. Remind yourself that it was just a hiccup and you can get back on track. We often get it in our mind that there is a deadline on everything, but progress is still progress. Sometimes goals need altered, but that doesn’t mean don’t hold yourself accountable either.

For a free printable PDF sheet to setting-up SMART goals click the link below:

Decadent December 2018

Solution Pathway

How to Beat the Winter Blues

By: Arianna Katrichis, MS, LPC-IT

During the winter months it can be easy to retreat inside to avoid the cold. Without the joys of feeling warm sunshine on our faces, we are left unmotivated to seek activities outside of our homes. The withdrawal from the outside world can wear on an individual’s spirits. Believe it or not, weather has a large impact on our moods and lifestyle. As the seasons change, an estimated 25 million Americans notice a significant change in their mood and behavior. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) can leave an individual with an increase in lethargy, increase in cravings, weight gain, social withdrawal, and increasing feelings of depression.

Due to the decrease in sunshine and dim indoor rooms, the brain is deprived from the amount of light it needs to function properly. To combat these effects of SAD, getting any bit of light brighter than typical indoor light is effective. This can be done by participating in outdoor winter activities or bright light therapy. Light boxes can help supply efficient light to the brain to compensate for the lack of light throughout the winter months. If light boxes, or bright light therapy, is not an option, there are plenty of other activities that can help an individual get through the winter months.

Some activities include:

  • Ice skating
  • Sledding
  • Building a snowman/fort
  • Having a snowball fight
  • Cross-country skiing
  • Ice fishing
  • Joining a gym

Individuals that are unable to participate in physical activities can still enjoy the outdoors by stepping outside to practice some mindfulness techniques. Spending a few minutes outside taking in the sights and sounds can be a great way to increase the exposure to the daylight. If the temperature allows, spend 5-10 minutes noticing all of the different things you can using your five senses: Smell, touch, listen, see, and taste. For tasting, bring some candy or gum to have in your mouth during this time. It might not be the best idea to taste the outdoors (especially the yellow snow) so if you wish you experience taste during this exercise, please bring a tasting element with you!

I know these winter months are long, but using uplifting activities can help us keep our mood and energy high!

Source: The Oxford Handbook of Mood Disorders by Robert J. DeRubeis and Daniel R. Strunk, 2017

Holiday Grief Support Workshop

Hope for a Better Tomorrow is proud to offer a Saturday morning Grief Recovery Workshop ! David Sorensen, LPC will be hosting and teaching material from The Birdhouse Project in which each participant will assemble a cardboard birdhouse that will serve as a metaphor for the work of reconstructing one's life after an important loss.

When: December 15th from 9 a.m. to Noon

Cost for the 3 hour workshop is $25, all materials and refreshments included

There is limited space available, please call 262-313-8339 by 12/12/18 to reserve your spot!

To learn more information, please visit:

New Start November 2018

man with a thinking expression against a chalkboard. arrows drawn to come out of his head

Understanding Grief and the Holiday's

By Cheryl Buroker, Graduate Intern

As we move into November, some of us may start to think about the upcoming holidays of Thanksgiving, Christmas, Chanukah, Ramadan, Kwanza, and New Year’s Day. For a lot of people, holidays can bring thoughts and feelings of happiness, but for others, there are thoughts and feelings of sadness related to the loss of a loved one.

“Holidays are for spending time with loved ones,” but when one loses a loved one, the celebration of these holidays change. It’s difficult to enjoy the decorations, the festivities, the music, the dinners, or other things that remind of us of time we’ve spent with our loved ones. Many people feeling this sadness over the holidays want to wish the days away. However, we don’t want to avoid the grief and loss, we want to learn to deal with the pain. You may ask yourself what you can do to get through the holidays while missing your loved one, below you will find suggestions:

  • Start a new tradition or expand on the current one.
  • Make a memorial for your loved one (i.e., photobook, an ornament, a picture frame, a stuffed animal or pillow made from an article of their clothing.)
  • Tell those around you what you need. It’s okay to say no. It’s okay to tell people what you do want.
  • Volunteer. Give back to the community or to others who are less fortunate.
  • Give yourself a break. The grieving process doesn’t happen overnight, don’t beat yourself up for being sad and thinking about the loss.
  • Ask for help. You may need extra support from a therapist, or from family and friends.
  • Self-Care. Do something you enjoy and that brings you comfort.

If you’d like more suggestions click the following link:

Services that are available during holiday season:




For hearing and speech impaired: 1-800-799-4889

Observant October 2018

Clip art of 4 people holding hands

Surviving in a Social World with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Lindsay Sherwood, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist & Autism Specialist

Have you ever found yourself feeling like you just do not belong or that people do not understand you? Has anyone ever told you that something that you said or did was not appropriate and you do not understand why? Do you struggle with interacting with others?

We live in a social world, and one will struggle to be successful in this world if he/she does not follow the “rules” that our society has created. Many of us take for granted the fact that naturally we developed the social skills that are essential for success in today’s world. We drive our cars, walk the malls, place an order with a waitress at a restaurant, greet co-workers, interview for jobs, and maybe even sit down at night with our significant other to talk about our day. For most of us, these things are just a part of our everyday lives, and no one ever taught us how to do these things. For others, social interactions are painful and maybe avoided all together.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a disorder in which an individual struggles with social communication skills and demonstrates restricted or repetitive patterns of behavior. Our society seems to think that ASD looks a certain way, but the reality is that no two people on the spectrum look alike. It is a complex disorder that is often missed or misdiagnosed.

ASD is typically diagnosed in childhood as research supports that the earlier the individual receives treatment, the better the chances they have at a successful outcome. However, not all individuals are diagnosed at a young age, and it is becoming more and more common for individuals to be diagnosed as teens or adults. However, if you were to talk to these adults who have been on this journey, chances are that they would report that it was a difficult journey. Most places do not offer evaluations for ASD on individuals over the age of four. This is because there are so few resources and the resources that ARE out there tend to focus only on early intervention.

At Hope for a Better Tomorrow, we are able to offer services to individuals on the spectrum of all ages. Our staff has clinicians that specialize in ASD and offer diagnostic services as well as outpatient services. You do not have to continue to feel as though you do not belong. You do not have to feel as though your future is hopeless. Here at our clinic, we can help you on your path of self-discovery and help answer questions that you may have been chasing. We offer many services that other outpatient clinics do not (i.e. adult ASD evaluations), and we continually strive to provide our community with quality services that are much needed.

As a specialist in ASD, I am hoping to begin a social skills support group for adults in the near future. Skills to be targeted will include job interviewing skills and challenges in interpersonal relationships. Please contact our front desk if you are interested in a social skills group for teens and adults ages 16 and older. We look forward to hearing from you!

Sublime September 2018

Hand holding compass

Did you know September is National Pain Awareness Month?

Cheryl Buroker, Graduate Intern (Mount Mary University)

According to the U.S. Pain Foundation (2011), “chronic pain affects nearly 100 million Americans, more than cancer, heart disease, and diabetes combined.” A 2011 study showed that pain cost the U.S. up to $635 billion per year in treatments, disability payments and lost productivity (U.S. Pain Foundation, 2011).

Like most “invisible to the naked eye” illnesses, pain varies from person to person. The level of intensity and its affect differs in everyone because one’s chemical makeup and experience with the pain. Since each body is different, every person’s journey through pain management will be different. It is important to note that some pain may never be cured, but one can find a way to manage its intensity.

Methods of Management

  • Relaxation- redirecting thoughts of pain onto something you enjoy like art: music, painting, coloring, sculpting, cooking, puzzles, gardening, and more.
    • Yoga, meditation, tai chi- these methods help one to gain awareness of breathing and can teach one to be more in-tune with their body, which can lead to more of a sense of self control.
  • Positive outlook- while sometimes it is easier said than done, positive thinking/ attitudes play a role into our daily outcomes and motivation. Researchers have found negative thinking about pain attributes to poor sleeping patterns, which results to individuals feeling more pain.
  • Changing eating habits- well-balanced eating is important for one’s digestive process, weight management, improving blood sugar and improving heart functioning.
  • Cold and Heat- try a cold pack, or a heating pad. If neither of these work, you can always ask a licensed professional for their forms of these treatment which may “dive” deeper into the muscle and tissue.
  • Essential Oils- According to Advanced Pain Management (2017), “essential oils can provide relief for many serious chronic pain sufferers through their ability to penetrate cells quickly, providing oxygen and improving circulation to inflamed joints.” To find out which oils help, click this link:


American Chronic Pain Association. (n.d.). The art of pain management . Retrieved from

Advanced Pain Management Blog. (2017). 3 pain fighting powers of essential oils. [web log]. Retrieved from

Harvard Health Publishing: Harvard Medical School. (2018). 8 non-invasive pain relief techniques that really work . Retrieved from

Johns Hopkins Medicine. (2012). Change in attitude may ease chronic pain by aiding sleep, study suggests . Retrieved from

U.S. Pain Foundation. (2011). About us: did you know? Retrieved from

Audacious August 2018

Women meditating

Yoga and Mental Health: The Mind/Body Connection

Dr. Sheila Gissibl, Psy D

While the physical benefits of Yoga have long been recognized, research increasingly supports the emotional and psychological benefits of this ancient practice as well. Neuroscience advancements have afforded us the opportunity to SEE firsthand the healing and recovery that occurs in the brain and nervous system when we engage in a regular Yoga practice. Subjective reports indicate a decrease in negative emotion, depression, anxiety, and symptoms of trauma, while scientific research highlights the changes in the brain as shown on imaging scans.

Although, the mind gets most of the attention for its role in emotional balance, the body has an equal role in the process. Advancements in research areas reveal that the mind and body are actually inseparable. This interplay can make anxiety and depression feel insurmountable, but it can also be used to improve emotional balance. There are many systems within the body that has a two way relationship with the emotions- heart, circulatory, endocrine, musculoskeletal, and nervous system. Therefore the mind AND body work together to wire anxiety and depression and both should be considered in the treatment.

Because the nervous system and our brain’s electrical wiring is integrated, we can greatly benefit from a therapeutic approach that is also integrated. Emotions behave like stress in the body (internal stressor) which tends to impact our functioning in a greater measure than external stressors. Our sympathetic nervous system responds to both the external and internal stressors in a manner that activates our fight-flight-freeze response. The body communicates with the nervous system and by bringing awareness, breath, and presence to the body despite pain or discomfort, we can interrupt the negative cycle of depression and anxiety. A mind-body model would emphasis processing through the body rather than around it.

The nervous system is an emotional intermediary and filters all of our emotional experiences. As previously mentioned, activation can occur by internal and external stressors. Thankfully, we also have a “dimmer switch” called the parasympathetic nervous system (rest-and-digest system). It lowers the heart rate, blood pressure, respiration rate, and stress hormones. It increases digestion and strengthens the immune system and revitalizes you. How do you engage this dimmer switch? The key is relaxation, an inherent part of breathing and Restorative Yoga. Many people misunderstand what relaxation actually is and how to enter it. For many people, they feel they are relaxing when watching TV, because they are lying down, or physically inactive. However, you can be inactive in your body, but still engaged in your nervous system (try watching the news!). True relaxation is deeply therapeutic, and involves muscular relaxation in the body AND quieting in the mind. Emotional reactivity is decreased and brain activity is slower, allowing for greater awareness on breath and body. Conscious breathing is essential to emotional balance. In addition to yoga’s relaxation of body and regulation of breath, we can incorporate gazing inward without judgment, but rather with self-compassion, love and acceptance.

We cannot expect this (or anything else) to be the instant fix, and in fact instant often is not lasting. When we emphasize the outcome of our personal growth work over the process, we deny ourselves an important gift. Healing through slow, steady work enhances out self-esteem. This also allows us to make new habits through repetitive conditioning, thus creating new neural networks.

For more information, or to try Yoga for emotional balance, call today 414-841-9165.

Reference: Forbes, Bo (2011). Yoga for emotional balance. Boston, MA: Shambhala.

Joyful July 2018

A New Perspective in Court Ordered Counseling

Michael Gissibl, SAC-IT, HHP

Court ordered counseling for legal problems does not have to be a burden. I understand the financial hardship and inconveniences stemming from the legal problems, but please consider the counseling side of the requirements in a different light. I have had many clients come to see me because of court orders. They have come into my office with one goal- complying with the states requirements. They start our relationship not giving any thought as to the benefits of counseling. In in the end, however, they discover the life changing good that comes from it. Those that have found benefits in counseling have shifted their mindsets. They have taken time to consider things they would like to see different in their lives. They have made a decision to change something in their lives and have become willing to talk about it.

I encourage you to consider doing the same. If you are being mandated to see a counselor for legal problems, shift your mindset. Don't merely think that your time in counseling is for compliance reasons only. Consider two or three things in your personality, or life in general, that you would like to change. Tell your counselor and begin the process of change. In doing so you, like many of my client's, you will be thankful you did.

June Suicide Awareness Month, 2018

Woman and teenager hugging at therapy session

How we can help!

By: Cheryl Buroker, Graduate Intern (Mount Mary University)

Recently, in the media there have been talks about suicide. The focus has been on celebrities, military veterans, children, and the list goes on. So many people stop and ask themselves, "What could I do to help to prevent this from happening to someone I care about?"

Luckily, there are things we can do to help. If you have a friend or loved one who has voiced the thought of suicide or are worried about them harming themselves, here's a few things you can do:

  • Ask- ask them if they are thinking about harming themselves.
  • Keep them safe- if your loved one is thinking about taking lethal action and you can remove that from their access, it can help. Keeping them safe, might mean taking them to be around another person they feel safe with.
  • Listen- sometimes, all you need to do is be an ear.
  • Help them connect- they may have a friend, family member, spiritual adviser, sponsor, or mental health professional they can trust. If they don't feel comfortable reaching out to others, or even if they do, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline's number is helpful to have in one's phone.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline's number is: 1-800-273-8255.

If you are unsure of what warning signs look like, please check out the link below for more information:


(2018, June 11). Retrieved June 12, 2018, from National Institute of Mental Health:

May Mental Health Awareness Month, 2018

Mental Health First Aid

By Jessica Niedermayer, MS, NCC, LPC

Have you ever wondered how you would respond if a person you loved struggeld with mental illness, self-harm or suicidal thoughts? It can be very difficult navigate those types of circumstances but there is something we call can do about it!

Recently, training courses have become available to friends and family who have limited to no knowledge of effectively help a loved one who may experience mental health emergencies. "Mental health first aid was developed after medical practitioners decided an approach was needed that was akin to CPR and other physical first aid applications. The training is for anyone who is interested. The eight-hour class, usually offered in two sessions, teaches how to identify signs of mental illness and how to talk about it. The training is typically free as a benefit of grant funding, but a $19 fee might be charged for a manual" (Faulkner, 2017).

"Mental health first aid focuses on ALGEE: assess for risk of suicide or harm; listen nonjudgmentally; give reassurance and information; encourage appropriate professional help; and encourage self-help and other support strategies" (Faulkner, 2017).

If anyone is interested in learning more about this amazing opportunity, please visit the website below:



Faulkner, D. (2017, April 23). Spreading message of mental health first aid. Retrieved May 11, 2017, from

Adventurous April 2018

Silhouette of people holding hands

Supporting a Loved One

By: Jessica Niedermayer, MS, NCC, LPC

Many of us feel stuck and at a loss when faced with a family member or loved one who experiences symptoms of a mental illness. If you find yourself asking, “How can I help and/or support, What can I do?” … According to Jean Holthaus, LISW, MSW, see the following for 3 helpful strategies:

  1. Encourage your loved one to seek additional support whether in a professional or peer atmosphere. This can help your loved one to know they have other areas of support and advocacy.
  2. Express assurance, respect and acceptance toward your loved one to show you see them as a person and not their mental illness.
  3. Take time to learn more about your loved ones symptoms and/or mental illness, this can open the door for understanding and empathy.  It may even open the door for you to find support and encouragement for yourself.

Holthaus, J. The importance of mental health awareness. Retrieved April 4, 2018, from

Masterful March 2018

The Art of Confrontation

By: Robert Keehn, LPC

Standing up for ourselves and doing so gracefully is one of the more difficult tasks we encounter in our day-to-day lives. It’s something that many of us struggle with.

Though it takes some skill and a touch of finesse it certainly isn’t impossible.

Here are a few tips to help you hone your craft without screaming at a coworker or slinking out of the supermarket after the cashier’s overcharged you… again.

1) Focus on regulating yourself: Self-regulation is the most important piece of the puzzle; it’s going to be our foundation. When it occurs to you that someone’s metaphorically (or literally) stepping on your toes - start with a deep breath. Try and get everything to slow down. When we realize we’re about to have an experience of confrontation, those trusty fight-or-flight reflexes start to kick in. We want to slow our response down so we can get back to a place of clear thinking.

2) Be direct and concise: You really don’t have to offer a Nobel Prize worthy speech. When you’re in confrontation mode, keep it to the point.

Stick to the basics: “John, please don’t speak to me in that way. ”

“Excuse me, Ma’am, but I believe you’ve overcharged me on the bread.”

“Sorry, Susan, but those aren’t my job responsibilities.”

I’m a firm believer that if you can frame confrontation in a polite way, it tends to go in your favor. You’ll often get an apologetic response. If that’s the case, thank the person for their understanding and move along.

If that isn’t the case...

3) Stand your ground: Of course, there will be times where the other person has a differing opinion and they may want to talk it out with you cordially - that’s completely okay. Have a mature conversation about the matter.

However, If the person doesn’t respect your boundaries, don’t concede! If you do, it reinforces that the person can ignore your boundary.

For instance, if the person becomes disrespectful, make a statement such as:

“John, if you continue to speak to me in a disrespectful manner, I’m going to leave.”

And if John continues? Keep to that and leave.

We hold a lot of power in our willingness to engage or withdraw. If a confrontation goes south, walk away. It sends the message that you aren’t willing to take the low road which is a huge social plus. The whole office will rejoice in the tales of your heroism.

4) Finish and transition: The vast majority of confrontations end respectfully and in a place of mutual agreement. As I mentioned, thank the person for their understanding, and transition to a new topic. I think that this is a kind thing to do. Most people are just as uncomfortable with confrontation as you are and probably feel a bit off kilter. Let them save face.

For instance: “Thanks for your understanding, Susan. Anyways, do you have any big plans for the weekend?”

This lets Susan know that no harm’s been done to the relationship - it wasn’t personal.

Fabulous February 2018

What is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)?

By David Sorensen, MS, NCC, LPC-IT

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy is an approach to life that helps us identify and live what is important to us even in the face of pain, anxiety, sorrow, and other uncomfortable feelings. A short story helps us understand how this can be possible.

Imagine that our life is like a bus on which we have been picking up passengers from the first day we were born. Our passengers are the thoughts, feelings, beliefs, impulses and bodily sensations we have developed as a result of our relationships with the people, places and things we have met as we traveled on the road of life. We may not be very aware of these internal passengers until we want to make an effort to travel in a particular and sometimes new direction that is important to us. It is then that some of these passengers can become very noisy, even resisting the actions we want to make and the directions we want to take.

As we drive our life-bus down the road of life try a number of things that we hope can quiet these noisy ‘passengers’ (our overactive, frenzied minds and troublesome emotions). The behaviors we experiment with seem to work for a while. However we find the same old worries, fears, and thoughts returning. Sometimes we tell ourselves we just need to try harder to quiet down these noisy ‘passengers’ but more of the same also doesn’t seem to work. The harder we try to quiet these passengers along with efforts to not notice them the more noticeable they become. The more we try to make them less noticeable and quieter the bigger and noisier they seem to be. As we reflect on this dilemma we may notice that our efforts are beginning to consume more and more of our time and energy, sidetracking us from living the life we want to live and going in the direction we want to go as we drive our bus down the road of life.

It is then that we may seek someone who we hope can help us. We come to therapy with goals to be happier, less anxious, more self-confident, less afraid, more calm, less angry, etc., especially when all the things that we have tried to achieve these goals not only have not worked but quite possibly have even created more problems for us. We hope to find a therapist who can show us how to do what we were unable to do by ourselves: quiet the noisy passengers on our bus so we can get on with our travels down the road of life.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy offers us a different approach. ACT teaches us how to accept the noisy passengers that we sometimes fear will take over our bus and drive us to who knows where if we let them. As we develop the flexibility to notice our passengers without fighting with them and without getting drawn into believing everything they may be saying to us, we then have energy to focus on what is really important to us. We greater compassion for ourselves and others we recover the will to live out our lives doing what is really important to us. Our passengers may still be very noisy at times. We notice that. We accept that. And we continue on our way.

This story is just one of the many metaphors developed by Steve Hayes, the originator of ACT, and his colleagues that help us to look at and live our lives in a different way as we learn and practice the principles and insights that make up Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. If this appeals to you and want to learn more about how Acceptance and Commitment Therapy might be able to help you, come and see us. We would be happy to talk with you.

Joyful January 2018

New Year's Resolutions

By Jessica Niedermayer, MS, NCC, LPC

After the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, I know the month January can leave me feeling drained and perhaps a little bit stressed. At Hope for a Better Tomorrow I urge clients to take time so they may breathe deeply and know they can be in control of the stress they may experience in there everyday life. I often encourage clients to create New Year's Resolutions as a way to set goals in order to move forward in a new year. Recently, after reading an article by Lisa Marshall, I was prompted to think about my top three helpful strategies to share with clients (and readers just like you) so we all can begin reenergized we start to feel stress creeping back. I am all about encouraging resolutions that can last all year long...Let’s do this, 2018 here we come!

  1. Put some distance between you and your cell phone
  2. Imagine your potential and envision yourself accomplishing something positive
  3. Take 10 minutes a day to practice a mindfulness or mediation exercise

Marshall, L. (2018, January). Seven Ways to Banish Stress. Natural Awakenings , p. 21.

Delightful December 2017

Thoughts overwhelming your day? Could grounding be the answer?

By: Deb Sarnowski, MA

Often one’s thoughts can overtake the day and make concentrating, sleeping and even functioning difficult. The mind can be a powerful tool for success or create anxiety and depression. Cognitive behavioral therapy examines the functions of the mind and thinking patterns. This collaborative approach allows the client to learn how to manage thinking processes and move from unreasonable and irrational thought processes to functional and healthy thinking (Murdock, 2009). This approach helps conquer fears and anxieties to use beyond therapy and into the future.

Because the mind offers the biggest battlefield when dealing with depression, anxiety and unproductive thinking, often creating a safe place for managing thoughts can give the mind rest and help one determine if thoughts are helpful or true. Grounding tools serves as a place to slow one’s thoughts and reframe the unhelpful and untrue thoughts. Similar to electrical grounding, this physical process helps regulate the output and redirect. Grounding often involves touching the earth or the here and now physically or thoughtfully. This process helps one to reorient to the current and to manage overwhelming feelings which often accompany over thinking.

Events, circumstances, and experiences formulate subconscious reactions to a situation which creates psychological and physiological reactions creating anxiety and depression brought on by stress or life situations. Grounding offers a tool to quiet the mind and help client be aware of their simple body responses, where the thoughts are formulated, or automatic thoughts from previous life experiences or something else. Finding alternate thoughts to help change self-talk or unhelpful cognitions after grounding, can help one challenge thoughts and reframe thinking. This in turn creates new ways of thinking (cognitions) or neuropathways.

Some helpful techniques in grounding can be as simply reading an article, listening to calming music, reading a book or going for a walk. Often relaxation and breathing awareness can be part of the process and help one with slow down breathing to purposeful breathing. Being mindful of things in one’s current surroundings creates a safe place. For example, naming all the blue items in the room or just naming the items in the room (in your mind or out loud) can stop one from ruminating or worrying. Or when breathing, repeating the words “breath in and breath out” in your mind can help one slow down one’s mind chatter and over thinking (Curran, 2017).

By practicing these techniques and finding what works for the individual, one can learn to be aware of cognitive, emotional, behavioral, interpersonal and physiological responses. Psychological health includes a stable cognitive and emotional stability to operate functionally in everyday life. These response help both the mental, physical and spiritual health (Hill & Pargament, 2008). In therapy, techniques in grounding are matched to the personal needs of each individual in a collaborative matter to help optimize the best solution for the client and give them tools beyond the therapy sessions. This in turn will help one develop a new healthier patterns of thinking into the future.


Curran, L. A. (2017). 101 trauma-informed interventions activities, exercises and assignments to move the client and therapy forward . Eau Claire, WI: Premier Publishing & Media.

Hill, P. C., & Pargament, K. I. (2008). Advances in the conceptualization and measurement of religion and spirituality: Implications for physical and mental health research. Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, S (1), 3-17.

Murdock, N. L. (2009). Theories of counseling and psychotherapy: A case approach (2 nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.

Novel November 2017

How to Build Frustration Tolerance

By: Kelsey Dillon, MS, LPC

1. Let your child experience frustration. Be patient and observe your child when he or she is trying a new or difficult task. It is very difficult to watch your child struggle but that is how they learn to problem-solve and work through their anger. Do not save them right away from the difficult task, be a support and maybe help talk them through it in the beginning. Do not fix it/solve it/do it right when you see the first signs of frustration.

2. Encourage the Expression of Emotions. Tell your child what you see. Do you see them crossing their arms, scowling, grunting, or saying "I can't do this"? Then label the possible feelings of anger, frustration, disappointment, etc. Say things like, "this is hard", "it might take practice", "let's take a break", or "let's try something different." Then support them in that decision.

3. Let them experience the consequences of their choices. If your child decides not to finish part of their school project they have been working on or not fixing something that was a mistake especially after you gently reminded them. Let them receive the natural consequence of a few points getting taken off. Do not go and fix the mistake after the child goes to bed. Another example would be if a child gets up from the dinner table and you say, "If you leave the table and don't finish your food, there won't be anything else offered to eat tonight." Then right before bed your child says, "I'm hungry." Stick to your decision and follow though. No matter how hard that decision is.

4. Set Boundaries and stick to them. Children need to have limits. Some important limits would be to only allow a certain amount of time on electronics, a specific bedtime, or the amount of dessert the child is allowed to have. It is so important that the parent not only sets the limit but also sticks to them and follows through.

5. Be a role model. Your child is watching you and learning from everything you do, and how you handle your anger and frustration is a big one. How do you act when you are frustrated? Do you say "I'm done!" or "I give up"? Do you yell and stomp away? They will learn to handle their anger in the same way. Show them to express how you are feeling and take a break or problem solve a different strategy.

6. Teach Coping Skills. Count to 10. Take Deep Breaths. Go for a bike ride. Help remind your child of good choices they can make when feeling frustrated because it's okay to feel frustrated.

7. Teach them how to ask for help. Tell them it is OKAY to ask for help. It does not make them "weak" or "dumb". Tell your child how everyone needs help sometimes. How even the President or a Doctor has many people help them with different things everyday.

8. Delay Gratification. You and your child are coloring and you are using the only blue crayon. You child feels like he or she must color the water in her picture blue right now so she tries to grab the blue crayon out of your hand. Even if you weren't coloring anything important, finish what you were doing before handing the blue crayon to your child.

9. Help Kids Identify Feelings. Simply knowing how they feel and being able to talk about it will help them feel more in control.

10. Play Board Games. They require taking turns, following rules, and losing every now and again. It is a great way to practice frustration tolerance with your kids.

Outstanding October 2017

The lotus flower is a symbol of detachment, of loving and letting go, of saying goodbye to the old and hello to who knows what...

By Bonnie Leggo, MSW, LCSW, CSAC

I recently got this painting from a client – I'll call her Rene – who is moving out of state with her partner. She attached a beautiful note to it, thanking me for helping her "flower to bloom".

When she gave it to me, I began to tear up, and so did she.

By no coincidence, I also recently started re-reading The Writer's Journey by Christopher Vogler. In discussing the role of Mentor, the author reminds us all that, "Anyone who has ever taught knows that you learn as much from your students as they do from you." (40). Although I would not go so far as to consider myself Rene's mentor, I do recognize the impact that each and every client has on my life. Some days I am better at remembering this than others. Rene has had a way of making this pretty easy for me.

She is an artist – by trade and also by heart – and she has taught me to remember that part of me, that once wrote hundreds of pages of a book I never finished, and to not be afraid to pick up the pen or the keyboard again. She showed this to me countless times, in returning to her painting or sculpture, and then returning to my office to share her enthusiasm.

Rene and I worked together and utilized EMDR in order to fully process some previous memories that seemed to be holding her back from making decisions she wanted to make, like moving out of state and returning to a facet of her work that she had not had time for.

What has impacted me the most about my time working with Rene has been her courage to be honest with herself and what she needs in her life. Twenty years ago, I do not think I could have done the work she has done. She has been gutsy in facing some challenging and also important decisions about what is important in her own life. Finally, she has reminded me (and will continue to, as her painting is now hanging in my daughter's bedroom above her crib) that the only way to be open to new experiences is to make room for them, and let go of what no longer works.

Her heart is open to what is next, and I wish her strength in what is to come. I know she will continue to create lotus flowers wherever she goes. Goodbye for now, Rene. And hello to all that comes next.

Splendid September 2017

Freedom from Addiction

By: Michael Gissibl, HHP, SAC-IT

Freedom from addiction begins with a change of mind. The benefits discovered during the process of recovery are realized as we collapse present conditioned responses of the mind. The collapse begins as we form new responses in the mind to help facilitate freedom from addictions. As these new responses become conditioned, they move you out of one realm of existence, the culture of addiction, and into another realm of existence, the realm of freedom.

The process of transition from the culture of addiction to the culture of freedom is like building a house. You must gather the right materials and then begin building. These right materials are gathered most effectively as you form specific social networks and incorporate coping skills that facilitate freedom form bondage. Therapy becomes an important component to your social network as you discover not only what steered you into the culture of addiction but identify vehicles of transportation into a life of freedom. We were not created to be ruled by anything, but rather to rule over all our circumstances, including what we put into our bodies.

If you are struggling with an addiction of any kind- help is here. Even legal problems can be used for personal growth and healing. Call today to get scheduled and on the path to freedom!

Ambitious August 2017

Mindfulness Skills and Benefits

By: Arianna Katrichis

Often times in our lives we get stuck into a routine that becomes so predictable and monotonous, we don’t even have to think about doing it. Using mindfulness is a way to break that cycle and be more aware of the actions you are performing daily. Mindfulness is focusing on the here and now to bring awareness to those things in our life we often breeze over.

Mindfulness Techniques to practice at home:

  1. Breathing: Mindful breathing is as simple as putting all of your focus onto the breaths you are taking. By taking controlled, deep breaths in and out, it helps re-center yourself from any distractions or stressors going on around you.  Any time you feel anxious or stressed, trying taking a deep breath in for 3 seconds, holding that same breath for 2 seconds, and then exhaling for 4 seconds.  You can do this as many times as you need!
  2. Meditation: Find a quiet place to sit for about 10 to 15 minutes.  This practice can be done with a guided meditation recording or simply taking that time to sit and focus on your body awareness and breathing.  Consciously and slowly relax each part of your body working your way from your toes to your head.  Inhale and exhale slowly as you relax each part of your body and feel all of the worries, stress, and tension leave your body.
  3. Five Senses:  This grounding activity can be done wherever and whenever you need to do a quick mindfulness practice.  Focus on the environment around you and use your five senses.  Look around and name 5 things you can see, 4 things you can feel, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell, and 1 thing you can taste.  This helps you process your thoughts through your five senses.

Learning to practice mindfulness in your everyday life activities can benefit all areas of your life.  Some benefits of practicing mindfulness are:

  1. Physical Health:  Practicing mindfulness can have positive influences on your physical health. Mindfulness can help relieve stress, lower blood pressure, reduce chronic pain, and improve sleep.
  2. Mental Health:  In more recent years, therapists have started incorporating more mindfulness into their therapy practices.  This can help in the process of treating depression, substance abuse, eating disorders, anxiety disorders, and obsessive-compulsive disorders.  Mindfulness helps replace maladaptive coping skills and behaviors by replacing them with a healthier option for processing positive or negative experiences.  

Davis, D. M. & Hayes, J. A. (2011). What are the benefits of Mindfulness? A practice review of psychotherapy-related research. American Psychological Association, 48(2) 198-208.

Jazzy July 2017

Emotional Regulation Skills

By: Jessica Niedermayer, MS, NCC, LPC

Emotional regulation is an important component to living a mentally healthy life. As people, we are designed to feel and express emotion, and there are moments when our actions are controlled by our emotions. When this occurs, it can lead to regret and the hope that we can recover from actions. This article offers tips and suggestions that can allow you take control of a seemingly out of control circumstance. Emotional regulation offers many benefits, including but not limited to, increased empathy and improvement of mood.

When you begin to experience emotions that are leading you to act in ways you may regret, consider the techniques listed below on how to effectively practice emotional regulation:

  1. Take a time out -- breathe in and out deeply, and slowly. Take a step back from the situation to observe what you know to be true.
  2. Imagine understanding -- step into the other person's shoes, try to see the situation from the other point of view.
  3. Be kind -- rather than throwing insults or reacting in a harsh manner.
  4. Change your posture -- unclench your hands and teeth, relax the muscles of your stomach, chest and face.


Linehan, M. M. (2015). DBT Skills Training Manual (2nd ed.). New York: The Guilford Press.

Jubilant June 2017

Body-Mind Connection - Why Take Nutritional Supplements?

By: Geralyn Schwalenberg, LCSW, RN, Psychotherapist

An excellent holistic chiropractor once said to me that every dollar I spend on taking care of my health I will save, ten-fold on future medical bills. What a great return on investment! This article is to encourage you to EDUCATE YOURSELF!

Many people think supplements are just for the health of your body. Not true! What you eat, including supplements can have a dramatic effect on your mental health. Remember, the blood that flows through your body flows into your brain. Too often mental health professionals treat mood disorders as something “in your mind or psyche” and pay no attention to health. This trend is changing, thank Goodness! Now science is telling us that our gut bacteria is related to our mood. No surprise here because our gut bacteria makes vitamins for us, particularly B vitamins that are burned up daily when you are under any sort of stress.

The following are basic supplements I recommend for people to improve their health and mental health. If you take prescription psychiatric medication, taking supplements might improve their efficacy or reduce side effects. These supplements are recommended over and above a whole foods (unprocessed) diet and plenty of water for hydration.

Probiotics capsules

Hi potency Vitamin B Complex capsules such as B-100. Look for one that has choline and inositol added as these are so important for the brain. Take with food once or twice daily to counteract stress and fatigue.

Activated B complex capsules . Many people have genetic anomalies in which they do not metabolize certain elements of Vitamin B very well. It helps the B-100 work even better. Jarrow “B Right” is one such brand.

No Flush Niacin : Powerful B vitamin that helps the brain fight all sorts of mood issues. Take 2-3x daily with food. Read, “Niacin – The Real Story” by Dr. Andrew Saul or watch his You Tube video on Niacin.

Vitamin C : Powerful anti-oxidant that boosts immunity, supports detoxification and gives energy. Educate yourself on Vitamin C by watching Dr. Andrew Saul on You Tube. Learn about Vitamin C to bowel tolerance, videos on You Tube. You cannot overdose on Vitamin C-- it is safer than water. Human beings and guinea pigs are the only mammals that cannot make vitamin C in the body from glucose. When other “animals” are stressed, they make boatloads of vitamin C!

Vitamin D : Take supplements, all year long, especially if you live in northern climates. Vitamin D is the sunshine vitamin that works to create the positive, feel good, neurotransmitter dopamine in your brain.

Multi-Vitamin/Mineral capsules . Once or twice daily with food

Omega 3 Fatty Acids: If you don’t eat fish multiple times weekly take a supplement it is good for your brain and body.

For special issues:

5HTP for anxious sadness. Take between meals. Alternatively, L-tryptophan which also helps taken before bed. Take enough for it to work. Free book on line: “Look-up From Down” by Dr. Sagle. Another book: Mood Cure by Julia Ross.

L-Tyrosine or NALT for low energy depression and to improve focus. Take between meals with a bit of fruit juice not too close to bedtime as it can be activating.

DLPA for low energy depression or lack of joy. Between meals with juice not too close to bedtime.

L-Theanine: to increase BDNF

Lithium Orotate : for many mood issues! Most people take 1-4 pills once to twice daily. Read “Lithium Orotate – a Cinderella Story” and watch You Tube Dr. John Grey.

Glycine Powder : helps increase GABA a calming neurotransmitter. Take this if you have anxiety or suffer sleep issues. Sleep usually requires 3,000 mg. If you wake up, you can repeat dose.

Take charge of your health. This article is not to replace medical advice and it is your responsibility to check with your doctor or pharmacist for potential rug/supplement interactions or other reasons you should avoid certain supplements.

May 2017-- Mental Health Awareness Month

Mental Health First Aid

By Jessica Niedermayer, MS, NCC, LPC

Have you ever wondered how you would respond if a person you loved struggeld with mental illness, self-harm or suicidal thoughts? It can be very difficult navigate those types of circumstances but there is something we call can do about it!

Recently, training courses have become available to friends and family who have limited to no knowledge of effectively help a loved one who may experience mental health emergencies. "Mental health first aid was developed after medical practitioners decided an approach was needed that was akin to CPR and other physical first aid applications. The training is for anyone who is interested. The eight-hour class, usually offered in two sessions, teaches how to identify signs of mental illness and how to talk about it. The training is typically free as a benefit of grant funding, but a $19 fee might be charged for a manual" (Faulkner, 2017).

"Mental health first aid focuses on ALGEE: assess for risk of suicide or harm; listen nonjudgmentally; give reassurance and information; encourage appropriate professional help; and encourage self-help and other support strategies" (Faulkner, 2017).

If anyone is interested in learning more about this amazing opportunity, please visit the website below:



Faulkner, D. (2017, April 23). Spreading message of mental health first aid. Retrieved May 11, 2017, from

Ambitious April 2017

The Effectiveness of Gender Specific Group Therapy as it relates to Substance Abuse Recovery

Deb Sarnowski, MA, LPC-IT, SAC-IT

Substance abuse can often be a complicated puzzle when trying to tackle change without support. Both individual and group therapy provide the tools needed as one embarks on changing the patterns which reinforce addiction. The people, places and things in life often trigger relapse and the constant cycle of addiction. Individual counseling helps with the underline issues personalized for one’s needs, while group counseling offers the social reinforcement and skills needed to handle day to day interactions. These tools prevent relapse and encourage continued recovery (Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, 2005; Yalom, 1985). Research also indicated group therapy produced a significant reduction of substance abuse (Greenfield, Sugarman, Freid, Bailey, Crisafulli, Kaufman, Fitzmaurice, 2014). In addition, gender specific recovery groups have an added benefit since the communication style presents very differently in a mixed gender group. Women in particular reported feeling safer, supported and enjoyed topics specifically tailored to their needs as women in recovery (Greenfield, Cummings, Kuper, Wigderson, & Koro-Ljungberg, 2013). The need for gender specific counseling in substance abuse recovery groups contributes an extra step in offering effective and ongoing recovery.

The Women’s Recovery Skills group at Hope for a Better Tomorrow will meet the general needs of overcoming substance abuse and specific skills focused on women and their life challenges with addiction. This open group’s focus will be both psychoeducational and skills development. This group will allow time for learning the tools of recovery, discussing and practicing skills within the safety of the group, and homework to practice the application outside of therapy. Some of the subjects covered will include confidence in temptation, problem solving, day by day decision making, mindfulness, living one day at a time, setting goals and preparing to change, decisional balance and other subjects relevant to the group. This group supports the successful focus of group therapy and each individuals need in recovery.

Because this group will be a therapeutic focus, there will be some requirements for participation. Participants must also partake in individual therapy and meet with the group leader (Deb Sarnowski) before participating in the group therapy. This group will be restricted to women eighteen or older and will meet Tuesday from 4:30-6:00 PM. For more information, please call the office at 262-313-8339 or talk to your therapist at Hope.

References :

Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. Substance Abuse Treatment: Group Therapy. Rockville (MD): Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (US); 2005. (Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series, No. 41.) 1 Groups and Substance Abuse Treatment. Available from:

Greenfield, S. F., Cummings, A. M., Kuper, L. E., Wigderson, S. B., & Koro-Ljungberg, M. (2013). A Qualitative Analysis of Women's Experiences in Single-Gender Versus Mixed-Gender Substance Abuse Group Therapy. Substance Use & Misuse , 48 (9), 772-782.

Greenfield, S. F., Sugarman, D. E., Freid, C. M., Bailey, G. L., Crisafulli, M. A., Kaufman, J. S., . . . Fitzmaurice, G. M. (2014). Group therapy for women with substance use disorders: Results from the women's recovery group study. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 142 , 245-253. doi:10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2014.06.035

Yalom, I. D. (1985). The theory and practice of group psychotherapy (3rd ed.). New York: Basic Books

Mindful March 2017

By Bonnie Leggo, MSW, LCSW, CSAC

When we consider someone's experiences in childhood and there is recognition of abuse or neglect, resolving trauma or attachment issues becomes a goal of treatment. In EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), we utilize the various implicit memory aspects – pictures, emotions, thoughts, and physical sensations – that people learn to recognize are a part of those traumas or attachment wounds.

This is because instead of using words and a story (explicit memory), trauma memories are laid down in the brain in fragments – pictures, thoughts, sounds, sensations, with highly charged emotions. These fragments need to be fully processed, literally to make this implicit information explicit. And this is where EMDR therapists focus a great deal of time with their clients.

There is a great deal more to the process, but what I want to focus on for this monthly topic is the need for mindfulness, for all types of therapy, and most certainly for EMDR work.

In sessions, my clients and I begin our work with mindful breathing. This serves to calm the nervous system and offer us both a time to "be here now" before starting the challenging work of naming and processing those fragments. There is no special training needed for mindful breathing. Some things that can assist the process are a calm, quiet place with comfortable pillows or seating, the willingness to close your eyes and silence your phone, and your two hands – one to place on your chest, and the other on your abdomen. Breathing through your nose a little slower and deeper than usual, concentrate on breathing all the way through your lungs into the stomach, like mammals (such as infant humans) do to calm themselves. And then allow that breath to make its way out of your body, also through your nose, in its own time. There is no need to strain or push the breath. Just be with it, and allow it to re-center you and remind you of its importance. Without the breath, we have nothing else.

Whether or not EMDR is the right therapy for you, one thing every human can agree upon is the need for re-centering, in and out of therapy. One of Milwaukee's most accomplished Jungian Psychiatrists and Addictionologists has been known to say, "Each person's life is the space between his first inhalation at birth and last exhalation at death." As we look forward to the spring season, let's remember to consciously breathe and enjoy this time we each have between that first and last breath.

For more information about EMDR, please visit: , EMDR's International Association.

Fantastic February 2017

Managing Your Eating Disorder After The Holidays

By Robert Keehn, MS, NCC, LPC

So, you’ve made it! Another holiday season under wraps… pun intended? For folks with eating disorders, the holidays can be both a welcomed distraction from day-to-day food and weight worries, a reprieve from feeling isolated, and a source of healthy support and connection. With that being said, the holidays are incredibly food-centric with a theme of feasting and indulgence. This can make life tough for someone with an ED. With all of the comfort foods, public eating, and constant temptation... even the strongest recovery can take a hit.

Seeing the scale go up can be a struggle when it comes to negative thoughts. Doubt these. Holiday weight gain is a real thing. If you don’t believe me, consult Google! There’s at least a million articles. It's not just you. With that aside, shouldn’t you be allowed to indulge too? You deserve sugar cookies and seconds on Mom’s mashed potatoes as much as anyone. Be kind to yourself. If you adopt a punitive attitude, you’ll only be working against yourself.

Old habits of restriction, binge/purge, and so on, can start to look attractive. Remember: It's a trap! Start small. Ease back into your routine one step at a time. If you’ve started restricting, try to get back to the meal plan you had established before the holidays. If you’re feeling the urge to purge, find a distraction until it passes. If you’re looking to binge, leave your wallet at home. Set your sights back on managing your feelings, not food.

What can you do to manage these least pleasant of emotions? To keep it simple: mindful relaxation, enjoyable activity, social support. Simple is our mantra. Just in case you need some ideas: meditation, yoga, breathing exercises, journaling, jogging/walking/hiking, arts and crafts, sports, reading, films, and naturally, keeping in touch with your therapist!

If you don’t already have a therapist, we can help with that! Robert is the clinic eating disorder specialist. He received his training through Aurora Psychiatric Hospital’s Eating Disorder Services, and is accepting new clients. Individual therapy is currently available, and an ED support group will be offered once we have enough members. If interested, don’t hesitate to give us a call!

Joyful January 2017

By Jessica Niedermayer, MS, NCC, LPC

Here at Hope for a Better Tomorrow we offer a variety of services from individual therapy to couples therapy and now we are proud to offer a unique group therapy experience focusing on skills training using Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). Originally created in the late 1970’s by psychologist Marsha Linehan, this therapeutic process focuses on cognitive behavioral therapy techniques, skills/support oriented and collaborative in nature. In a group setting, DBT assists clients in identifying strengths and skills to alleviate painful and distressing feelings/emotions. In addition to identifying strengths, DBT is collaborative meaning clients are never alone in their journey. Members of the DBT group must participate in individual therapy co-currently. The individual therapist aids the client to learn, apply and master the DBT skills learned and reviewed in the learn group setting (Psych Central, 2016).

At Hope for a Better Tomorrow, our group therapy sessions are led by Jessica Niedermayer, MS, NCC, LPC where she breaks down the DBT process into the follow steps: Distress Tolerance Skills, Mindfulness Skills, Emotional Regulation Skills and Interpersonal Effectiveness Skills. In the group setting, “DBT asks clients to complete homework assignments, to role-play new ways of interacting with others, and to practice skills such as utilizing self-soothing techniques when upset. These skills, a crucial part of DBT, are taught in weekly lectures, reviewed in weekly homework groups, and referred to in nearly every group” (Psych Central, 2016).

If you are a current client with us, we encourage you to discuss DBT with your individual therapist but if you are looking to join the group please contact our front desk for more information.


An Overview of Dialectical Behavior Therapy | Psych Central. (2016). Retrieved December 07, 2016, from

Delightful December 2016

By David Sorenson, MS, NCC, LPC-IT

Brainspotting is a treatment method that works by identifying, processing and releasing core neurophysiological sources of emotional/body pain, trauma, and dissociation along with a variety of other challenging symptoms. It is used within the context of a trusting, therapeutic relationship where a person feels heard, accepted, and understood. Within this therapeutic relationship Bainspotting gives us a tool to locate, focus, process, and release experiences and symptoms that are typically out of reach of the conscious mind and its cognitive and language capacities.

Brainspotting works with the deep brain and the body through its direct access to the autonomic and limbic systems within the body's central nervous system. Brainspottlng is accordingly a physiological tool/treatment which has profound psychological, emotional, and physical consequences.

A "Brainspot" is an eye position which is related to the energized emotional activation of a traumatic/emotionally charged issue stored within the brain. Located by eye position and paired with externally observed and internally experienced reflexive responses, a Brainspot is actually a physiological subsystem holding emotional experience in memory form. When a Brainspot is stimulated, the deep brain reflexively signals that an area of significance has been located. There are a variety of reflexive responses, including eye twitches, wobbles, freezes, blinks (hard and double blinks) and pupil dilation.

As the client maintains the eye position (Brainspot) along with an intentional focus on the body's felt sense of that issue or trauma, a deeply integrating and healing process is stimulated within the brain that appears to stimulate, focus, and activate the body's inherent capacity to heal itself from painful imprint of trauma . This can lead to a more positive outlook on life, a more compassionate relationship with one’s self, and an improved capacity to develop more satisfying relationships with others.

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