Resilience Tips for Loved Ones of Essential Workers During COVID-19

Having a loved one who is an essential worker is extremely stressful during this unprecedented pandemic. It's completely normal and understandable to have fears, concerns and relationship conflict during this challenging time. Here are some do's and don't to help you foster resilience in yourself and your relationship.

Reflect empathy & compassion to your loved one. Don’t assume you know how your loved one feels. Don't minimize or argue with feelings.

Practice self-compassion. Don’t ignore or judge your feelings. Honor them and allow time and space for cathartic release and expression.

Control what you can (your own thoughts, feelings and choices). Don’t try and control what you can’t (the thoughts, feelings or choices of your loved one).

Prioritize your own health and wellness and practice self-care. Don’t neglect self-care because of feelings of worry or guilt.

Access support (online support groups, teletherapy, connecting with loved ones virtually, etc.). Don’t isolate alone with your feelings.

Stay in the present with mindfulness practices like deep breathing, meditation and yoga. Avoid worrying about the future.

Practice gratitude by looking at the good parts and giving thanks. Don’t look at the scary or negative aspects only.

Keep your thinking positive. Don’t fuel anxiety with catastrophic thinking. Turn down the volume of your inner critic. Detach from fear. Practice the power of affirmations and positive mantra.

Ask how you can be a support to your loved one. Don’t assume you know what they need. Reflect respect, encouragement and appreciation. Honor their service to your community.

Give your loved one space and time. Don’t ask them for constant updates or make them talk if they aren’t ready.

Remember this is temporary. Don’t think this will go on forever. "And this too, shall pass."


Mental Health Implications for Essential Employees & Their Families During COVID-19

Essential employees are the heroes who are keeping us safe and fed during this unprecedented time of challenge. Without the healthcare workers, first responders, pharmacists, grocery store workers, truck drivers and delivery personnel and more, our communities would come to a grinding halt. We must honor and appreciate their service and recognize how their work is impacting their lives as well as the lives of their loved ones.

Let's consider the the potential stressors for essential employees and their families during this difficult time.

Stressors for essential employees:
*Fear of contracting the virus
*Fear of infecting loved ones (if living together)
*Isolation & loss (if living separate from family)
*Chronic trauma
*Feelings of anxiety and overwhelm
*Pressure and hyper-responsibility
*Dealing with stigma (people fearing contracting the virus from them, social judgement because of putting your family at risk by doing your job)
*Fears of unknown and uncertainty of the future
*Feelings of guilt or resentment

Stressors for family members of essential employees: 


How to Sell a Therapy Practice

In 2017, I sold Urban Balance, the counseling private practice I founded in 2004. I hired a business broker, worked closely with my CPA, and the process from start to finish took about a year and a half. I was fortunate to receive eight offers and I am very glad that I chose Refresh Mental Health.

After researching how to sell a counseling center or private practice, the following are the five points I encourage you to consider to help determine the right...

Family Life

How to Promote Gratitude in Children During the Holidays

In this age of materialism and entitlement, it can be challenging for parents, educators and counselors to help facilitate gratitude in children, something that is perhaps especially important during the holidays season. Practicing gratitude is important because it trains the brain to look at the good parts in any situation, reinforcing a positive attitude as well as the resilience.

After over 20 years of counseling clients and in my experience as a mother of two...

Family Life

Stuck in a Rut During Midlife Parenthood? 7 Tips

It's very common for parents to feel bored, stuck or stagnant when the kids are getting older and it feels like many of the exciting milestones have passed and now you are sitting in the same house, with the same partner, not planning to have more kids and nothing new on the horizon.  It’s as if many of us know what we want to do with ourselves until midlife and then it somehow the path becomes less clear and defined.  We are both the protagonist and the author of our own life story, so make it good! 

Here are some tips for how to get out of a rut and create the life you want:  

Grieve the losses of the times that have passed. Honor any feelings of sadness or grief, rather than trying to fill the void with things like shopping, food and alcohol.  These feelings are a normal part of life transitions and are something I have seen often in my practice.  Like the phoenix rising from the ashes, through loss their can be metamorphosis and rebirth.  When you process the feelings through activities like journaling, art and counseling, you can move through them and be clear and open for the next phase of life.  

Give yourself a reboot. Reboot your mind, body and spirit for renewed energy and perspective by starting a meditation practice (apps like Calm and Headspace are great), participate in therapy,  or a mindfulness or yoga class or retreat.  Get in touch with your inner, deeper self and with your needs.  Consider doing these things together with your partner or at least share with your partner about your process of self-discovery. 


How to Sell a Private Practice or Counseling Center

My counseling practice was my baby. From the time I founded Urban Balance in 2004 to when I sold it to Refresh Mental Health in 2017, it grew to over 100 therapists working from nine locations in two states. Selling my practice was a very big decision. It was a thoughtful process; one that required much research and consultation. I’d like to share with you all that I learned about how to sell a counseling/mental health private practice (solo or group) and the key components to consider.

It’s important to have an exit strategy even if you don’t plan on selling, why?

It takes time (sometimes years) to prepare your practice to sell. It’s never too early to become informed about your choices.
Sometimes the unexpected happens and it’s best to be prepared rather than to make a “fire sale” out of urgency.

Why do people sell their practices?

To reduce liability and responsibility
To cash out and lower/eliminate risk
To be freed to pursue other opportunities
Retirement or to have more work/life balance

How can I find out the value of my practice?

Family Life

Sexual Assault Awareness Month #SAAM: Tips to Embrace Your Voice

Sexual Assault Awareness Month is an initiative to raise public awareness about sexual violence and provide education on prevention.  According to the National Sexual Assault Resource Center, nearly 1 out of 5 women and 1 out of 67 men in the U.S. have experienced rape or attempted rape sometime in their lives (Smith et al., 2017.)

At my Chicago-based practice, we sadly see how many people are impacted by sexual assault in the form of rape, sexual abuse, harassment and nonconsensual sexual acts.  Survivors often deal with issues related to trauma, self-esteem, empowerment, depression, anxiety and substance abuse as a form of self-medication of symptoms. Sexual violence a very serious and wide-spread problem.

As members of our communities, we each have a personal responsibility to develop greater understanding so we can be part of trauma and violence prevention. With momentum from the #MeToo campaign and many sexual harassment cases being exposed, we have an unprecedented opportunity to improve understanding, prevent violence and change our culture today.
This year, Sexual Assault Awareness Month is celebrating its 17th anniversary with the theme, “Embrace Your Voice. ”  Here's what you can do to help:

Know that words matter.

Chances are, you know people who have been sexually assaulted who have not shared their experiences with you.  So if you comment that somebody claiming sexual assault in the media is doing it just for attention, you might be conveying to them that you wouldn’t believe them if they shared their experiences with you.  When you stand up for survivors of sexual violence, you send a powerful message that you believe and support them.   

Stop victim-blaming.

If you hear comments like, “Well, her skirt was so short...”, say something like, “It doesn't matter what she was wearing. Sexual assault is never okay. The victim is never to blame.”

 Comment if you see stereotyping or inaccurate portrayals in the media.

TV shows and movies sometimes romanticize, eroticize or make light of sexual assault, which is never okay.  Recently, I watched a comedy where a group of women fondling an unconscious man. I said, “Whoah---That’s sexual assault! That is NOT funny.” We must find our voices and speak these options so that producers in the media realize this inaccurate portrayal isn't to be tolerated.

Say something if you hear inappropriate jokes/comments.

If you hear an inappropriate comment such as somebody teasing somebody else that they would need to use a "ruffie" to get lucky, say something like, “I don’t think it is funny to joke about rape.” These jokes contribute to a culture where sexual violence is not taken as seriously as it should.

Take victims seriously and believe them.

Never question their perceptions or minimize their experiences. Unfortunately, there is often shame, secrecy and stigma in being assaulted. Be kind and compassionate and believe them. Help them receive professional support by contacting Rape Victim Advocates.

Encourage reporting. 

Reporting is critical to stop the cycle of violence. Coach survivors through any fears of retaliation and empower them to report. Encourage going to the authorities. Offer to make a call together to get help through the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-HOPE .

For more information, visit the National Sexual Violence Resource Center and check out their important fact sheet on sexual violence and suggestions for embracing your voice. To be part of the solution, share articles and information about sexual assault prevention, such as my article about consensual sex, with #SAAM.


Consensual Sex is an Ongoing Dialogue, Not Simply a Yes

The #MeToo movement and the Aziz Ansari story have inspired much needed discussion about the boundaries involved in consensual sex. In today’s hookup culture, often sexual partners barely know each other, so they don't have a longstanding, trusting rapport at the foundation of their relationship. They lack a deeper understanding of each other’s emotional, physical and sexual comfort levels and limits. This puts them at risk for having sexual encounters that may have started out as consensual, but then became uncomfortable,...