Relationships and Family

Couple’s Therapy vs. Marriage Counseling

When partners encounter problems in their relationship, they might find themselves searching the web for “couple’s therapy vs. marriage counseling” or trying to figure out which one they need. What’s the difference? Are they not the same thing? 

There are some differences between couples therapy and marriage counseling. But both are options for partners experiencing difficulties. Continue reading to learn about definitions and examples of both, and how All Counseling can help make your search easier. 

Relationships Come with Challenges

Modern-day relationships come with their struggles. Each partner brings their challenges, and those become a part of their partner’s life. Trouble communicating, jealousy, disagreements about children or finances, and an endless array of other potential difficulties may arise in a relationship or marriage.

Some challenges can bring partners closer together. Others might cause conflict within the union. The goal of couple’s therapy and marriage counseling is to assist partners in developing tactics that facilitate growth within their relationship. 

Sometimes, partners come to therapy and decide that it’s best if the relationship ends. Couple’s therapists and marriage counselors don’t aim to keep the relationship going or break the relationship up. Instead, they aim to help the partners reach their goals, whatever those may be. 

What is Couple’s Therapy?

Couple’s therapy tends to be a longer-term form of help for partners experiencing challenges. In couple’s therapy, each partner examines their relationship patterns. Some therapists think that childhood relationships are critical to the way we develop future ties. 

For example, if parents or caregivers were neglectful, abusive, or unhealthy, that child may experience relationship difficulties in adulthood. A couple’s therapist might assist each partner in examining how their early relationships affect them.  

Couple’s therapy can help individuals confront and process wounds from previous relationships. 

Approaches a couple’s therapist might use include:

Emotionally Focused Therapy – Emotionally Focused Therapy focuses on helping you and a partner understand and repair any attachment bonds, so you can feel closer. Your EFT therapist will help you explore communication patterns that make you feel disconnected. They will help you develop empathic ways of communicating with each other, so you feel more connected.Gottman Method of Couple’s Therapy – The Gottman Method Couples Therapy focuses on building “love maps.” These maps are details about your partner that can include their likes, dislikes, hopes, and dreams. Your Gottman therapist will help you establish fondness and admiration for one another. The focus is on taking a positive perspective and turning toward each other during the conflict, not away. Ultimately, you create a shared meaning of life with your partner. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – Cognitive Behavioral Therapy involves identifying negative patterns of thinking and understanding how these thoughts can affect behavior. For example, if you think, “My partner is always so cold and distant when I try to bring up something serious,” you might not bring up serious things. Avoiding these topics can lead to feelings of isolation and resentment. Your CBT therapist will help you identify these patterns and change them.

These are not the only approaches to couple’s therapy. All Counseling has a comprehensive list of counseling approaches to explore. Take some time reading about therapeutic approaches and discussing them with your therapist to find what’s best for you and a partner.

Ultimately, the focus of couple’s therapy is understanding the “why.” Why are we experiencing relationship conflict? Why don’t we feel as close as we used to? Couple’s therapy also includes concrete techniques and goals to help you and your partner feel closer. But the bulk of the work in couple’s therapy is discovering how each partner’s past impacts the way they relate within the partnership today.

What is Marriage Counseling?

Marriage counseling focuses more on the present moment than couple’s therapy does. Marriage counseling is for married partners. Whereas couple’s therapy can be for partners in any relationship. It focuses on providing tools and skills to address current issues and conflicts. 

Marriage counseling is typically shorter-term than couple’s therapy. But the length depends on the nature of the issues. Your marriage counselor might help you and your partner work on empathetic communication and listening skills.  

Could Your Relationship Benefit from Therapy?

There are many reasons partners seek therapy. Any reason you or your partner want to reach out to a mental health professional is valid. There are some common reasons why some partners seek therapy.

Reasons couples seek therapy include:

Looking for ways to improve relational healthStruggling to communicateBroken trustOngoing conflictConsidering ending the relationship

Partners do not need to wait until their relationship is about to end before seeking therapy. You can seek help at any point in your relationship. 

Finding the Right Therapist for You

It can be nerve-wracking to find the right mental health professional for you. The process also can be confusing. You can find detailed information about mental health professionals in your area in our therapist directory. You can narrow your search by city, accreditation, approach to counseling, modality of therapy, and more. 

All Counseling wants to help you find the couple’s therapy or marriage counselor you need. Use our directory to locate a therapist who specializes in relationship issues.
Relationships and Family

Managing Betrayal Trauma Triggers

You never know when your betrayal trauma triggers could turn a happy afternoon into an emotional rollercoaster. Partners of people with sexual addictions often experience betrayal or infidelity trauma. 

Trauma is an emotional response to an event or series of events. Near-death experiences, natural disasters, abuse, or violent crimes are common sources of trauma. But discovering that your spouse betrayed you can cause the same type of emotional response. 

The stages of betrayal trauma mirror the reactions of people who experience other forms of trauma. At first, people often experience shock and denial. But if you’re experiencing long-term effects like flashbacks or difficulty regulating your emotional or physical side effects, you may have triggers for betrayal trauma. 

By understanding trauma and the associated triggers, you can begin your healing journey. You will start by identifying your triggers and developing coping techniques, so you can minimize the impact your infidelity trauma has on your life and other relationships. 

What are Betrayal Trauma Triggers?

Triggers are things that cause you to relive or re-experience the emotions from a traumatic experience. A common example of a trigger is fireworks and war veterans. The sound of fireworks can trigger a war veteran to make them feel like they’re under attack on the battlefield.

Trauma triggers are often complex. For people with unfaithful partners, the trauma is about your partner’s deception. Any number of stimuli such as a scent or sound could cause your emotional trauma to resurface. 

Sensory memory can be overwhelming. You might even be unaware of what’s triggering your emotions. Small details from a traumatic event can stick in your mind. For example, if your partner was wearing a green shirt when you discovered they betrayed you, you might get upset when you see someone wearing a similar shirt. You could experience overwhelming emotions because of the color of someone’s shirt. 

Causes of Betrayal Trauma

Betrayal trauma occurs when a partner violates trust. Marriages are supposed to be the most intimate relationships with high levels of trust. Learning your partner violated that trust can turn your world upside down. 

Discovering that your partner was unfaithful can cause you to question other aspects of your life. If your partner lied to you, what other relationships can you no longer trust? If they lied to you about this, what else did they lie to you about? If your marriage isn’t what you thought it was, what else are you wrong about? 

The wounds of betrayal trauma can cause a lot of doubt and disrupt your sense of self. 

Symptoms of Betrayal Trauma

People often feel shame or embarrassment about their triggers. They think they shouldn’t feel that way because there isn’t a logical connection between the trigger and their trauma. But your brain made a connection, and the feelings it causes in you are real. 

After a trigger, you could experience any of the following symptoms:

Emotional numbnessAnger or RageFatigueNausea or upset stomachDisoretionation or lightheadednessHeadachesHot or cold flashesPelvic painDecreased or increased appetiteCryingMood swingsPanic attacks

After a trigger, you can feel the same way you did when you experienced the trauma. 

Tips to Manage Triggers

Triggers are a natural part of the mind and body’s response to trauma. But they can disrupt your life. If you’re experiencing betrayal trauma triggers, use the following tips to help manage them and practice self-care. 

Don’t Minimize Triggers or Traumatic Experiences – Your emotions and triggers are real. Do not get embarrassed by them or think they shouldn’t bother you. The triggers and your emotions are your mind’s way of telling you about unresolved trauma. You’re still processing your partner’s betrayal. If you continue to experience triggering events, it could be a sign that you could benefit from therapy to help in your healing journey.Monitor Your Environment and Experiences – Keep a journal and make a note of when you start to feel overwhelmed or triggered. If you can identify what experiences or items might trigger you, you can develop better coping methods. The triggering events won’t seem so out of the blue if you know what caused them. Develop Calming Methods – Once you know what triggers your emotions, you can prepare for how to deal with them. Breathing exercises, positive affirmations, or just permitting yourself to leave the room or walk away from the experience can help you recenter.Don’t Blame Yourself – Shame is not a helpful part of your healing journey. Feeling embarrassed or shame about your emotions and triggers is a difficult cycle to break and only makes healing more difficult. Don’t expect to bounce back to your typical self the day after experiencing partner betrayal. Everyone’s healing journey takes time. 

Get Help Managing Betrayal Trauma Triggers

If betrayal trauma triggers disrupt your daily life, it’s time to seek professional help. Therapy can help with processing your emotional trauma, identifying subconscious triggers, and developing effective coping mechanisms.

Search the All Counseling directory to find a mental health specialist near you that specializes in treating trauma victims or contact us today if you need more help connecting to a therapist in your area. 

References

Blythe, A. (2021). When Your Trauma is Triggered. Betrayal Trauma Recovery. Retrieved 23 July 2021, from https://www.btr.org/when-your-trauma-is-triggered/.

Slater, F., & Slater, F. (2021). Strategies to Manage Your Betrayal Trauma Triggers. Faye Slater Counseling. Retrieved 23 July 2021, from https://www.fayeslater.com/blo/2021/1/15/strategies-to-manage-your-betrayal-trauma-triggers.

Trauma and Shock. https://www.apa.org. (2021). Retrieved 23 July 2021, from https://www.apa.org/topics/trauma.
Relationships and Family

Signs Your Child Needs Counseling

Are you a parent looking out for signs your child needs counseling? You may find yourself concerned about your child, nervous about their struggle, and searching for a solution.

Childhood is not all sunshine and rainbows. As a parent, you know this. Learning new things, brain and body changes, and coping with the ever-present fluctuating circumstances of life inevitably come with challenges.

But when your child is experiencing longer-term concerns, such as self-injury behaviors or significant changes in sleeping or eating habits, consider reaching out to a professional. This post explains common behaviors your family can address. It also identifies signs that signify outside help may be necessary.

Why Do Children Need Counseling?

Childhood is an exciting, adventurous time in a person’s life. But growing and changing can come with turbulence along the way. Sometimes, this turbulence can be a bit too much for you to handle as a parent or other caring adult.

Children go to counseling for a myriad of reasons. They might be struggling with anxiety, trauma-related disorders, Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, or other mental health conditions.

But, some children go to counseling for life-related stressors that aren’t necessarily qualifying mental health diagnoses, such as parents’ divorce, social struggles at school, peer/friend difficulties, or the death of a loved one.

It can be challenging to decide if counseling would help the struggle your child is experiencing. Take into consideration the following distinctions between “growing pains” versus what might indicate an escalating issue.

Growing Pains vs. Escalating Issues

Consider Developmental Changes – Depending on your child’s age, they may be going through a major developmental change that is affecting their behavior. For example, suppose your child is reaching puberty. In that case, the hormonal changes occurring can lead to behavior changes, such as wanting more time alone and with friends or being interested in sexual relationships. These are typical behaviors of newer adolescents. But, if you notice that your preteen is withdrawing from most or all of their social activities when they had previously been a social butterfly, check-in with them.Frequency – Pay attention to the frequency of the behavior that concerns you. Are your toddler’s temper tantrums occasional and mild, or have they been getting more intense, lasting longer, and practically shaking the foundations of your house with their intensity? If the latter is true, consider speaking with a mental health professional trained in children’s behavioral issues.Know Your Family History – While psychologists still can’t pinpoint exact reasons for mental illness, most concede that they have something to do with inheriting certain genes. A family history of anxiety disorders, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, or depressive disorders make it more likely that a child will also experience mental health issues. Consider your family history when thinking about care for your child. This history is something that a mental health professional will ask you about in an initial interview, so be sure to tell them what you know.

Signs to Watch For

The following factors indicate that counseling could benefit your child or family:

Traumatic Event – If your child experienced the death of a loved one, a divorce, or an accident (like a car wreck, medical issue, or an injury), counseling could be beneficial to address symptoms of trauma. Unaddressed trauma can cause problems later in life. There are plenty of therapeutic options for children who experience trauma, some that involve just the child and some that involve the whole family.Disruptive Behavior – If your child displays repeated disruptive behavior at home and in the classroom or other settings, counseling could address this behavior. Therapists can help your child implement calming techniques, practice stress reduction, or learn other positive coping skills that replace the disruptive behavior.Risky Behavior – If your child is engaging in risky behavior, such as drinking alcohol or using drugs, counseling can aid in their recovery. Look for a therapist specializing in addiction and recovery or substance use issues.Regression – If your child regresses to behavior that isn’t appropriate for their developmental level, that’s a sign your child might need therapy. Regression is when a child reverts to certain behaviors. These can include sucking their thumb, throwing tantrums after toddlerhood, using “baby talk” when they are capable of speaking in full sentences, or acting less independent and acting clingy. Regression is often a sign of stress. Counselors can help discover the source of this behavior and help you and your child deal with their stress in more positive ways.Intense Emotions – If your child is dealing with frequent sadness, worry, anxiousness, or anger, they may benefit from counseling. Intense emotions happen for everyone at various points in life, but if your child is angry or sad day in and day out, therapy can help.Isolation – If your child is spending an increasing amount of time wanting to be alone, this may be a reason to get professional help. While some level of increasing independence is common during adolescent years, withdrawing could be a sign of stress or depression.

Therapy and Counseling Options

You’ve decided it’s time to seek counseling or therapy for your child. What approach is best? While the terms “counseling” and “therapy” are often used interchangeably, counseling is usually shorter-term for acute behavior issues, and therapy is more progressive and longer. Either option could be beneficial for your child, depending on their issue.

The following are approaches to treatment that you might consider for your child:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is one of the more popular forms of therapy due to its structured approach and proven benefits. CBT is an excellent option for children dealing with anxiety, stress, or trauma. It focuses on examining and changing thoughts which, ideally, leads to changes in behavior.Exposure Response Prevention – Exposure Response Prevention is an approach linked to CBT because it uses challenging thoughts to lead to behavior change. ERP is most commonly used in children with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder to decrease anxiety surrounding a stimulus. It also can treat children with anxiety or dealing with phobias.Play or Art Therapy – Play therapy and art therapy can benefit children experiencing a range of mental health issues. Both types of therapy rely on creativity to allow children to open up and communicate (through play or art) how they are feeling. Play and art therapy are not the same as an art class or playtime. Therapists train to engage children in activities that progress the therapeutic process. Both types of therapy can be particularly effective for children experiencing trauma.Dialectical Behavioral Therapy – Dialectical Behavioral Therapy is an approach to therapy that allows people to be aware of and understand their thoughts and feelings while simultaneously recognizing that they can change them. DBT is beneficial for adolescents experiencing suicidal ideation, self-injury, anxiety, depression, and substance use.

How All Counseling Can Help

Realizing your child needs therapy can be difficult for you, your child, and your family as a whole. All Counseling’s therapist directory can help find the right counselor for your child. Additionally, if you’re struggling with your child needing help, the directory can help you find a therapist of your own.
Relationships and Family

How to Make a Blended Family Work

Blended families can bring joy, togetherness, and the chance for deep familial bonds. But complex family dynamics might make you wonder how you can make a blended family work. This post will explore some of the challenges you might encounter if you’re going into or forming a blended family.

What is a Blended Family?

Blended families refer to a household that includes children not biologically related. For example, if a mother has two children from a previous relationship and a father has one child from a previous relationship, those three children and parents would come together to form a blended family.

Issues arising from merging families are becoming increasingly common. That’s because more families are blending than ever before. About 40% of U.S. families are blended, according to the U.S. Census.

Challenges of a blended family commonly include:

Developing New Relationships – While your relationship with your partner may not be new, the relationship between your children and their children is. As with any new relationship, expect some rough patches as people get used to one another. Recognizing this potential ahead of time could set you and your partner up for less stress as you help your children navigate these new relationships.Strong Emotions – Depending on the age of you and your partner’s children, they may experience strong emotions regarding their new family. If the separation from their biological parent was difficult, these emotions may be even stronger. New relationships, new play partners, or new siblings to share (or maybe fight over) are all experiences that can bring up anger, excitement, happiness, or sadness.Different Parenting Styles – How does your new partner handle punishment? Is one of you more hands-on, and the other takes a more lax approach to parenting? Different parenting styles can cause challenges in a new blended family.Ex-Partners – Depending on custody circumstances, you and your new partner may be dealing with the continued presence of old partners/biological parents. Ex partners might cause you or your partner additional stress, affecting family dynamics.Partners Feel Neglected – Who comes first in a blended family? With so much focus on ensuring that children get along, the household runs effectively, and the family unit is strong, you or your partner might feel left out in a new blended family situation.

Making Your New Family Work

With a comprehensive list of challenges, how should you make a blended family work? Is there anything you can do to make you and your partners’ families combining easier?

Tips for making a blended family work:

Give It Time – You can’t expect your child(ren), your partner, and their child(ren) to adjust perfectly to a new family dynamic and household structure. Practice patience as you and your partner work out the kinks.Limit Expectations – Your blended family will experience challenges. Things might not always be smooth sailing. If you’re expecting a Brady Bunch type of union, remember that even the picturesque Brady family experienced difficulties. Temper your expectations based on your knowledge of your family’s unique situation.Create Bonding Opportunities – It’s vital to provide adequate time for your children to bond with your new partner’s children. Additionally, set aside some time for the whole family to create memories and experience life together. Take care to develop individual relationships with your partner’s children as well. You are a new fixture in their life, and making an effort to cultivate a positive relationship with them can go a long way.Let the Bio Parent Take Charge – Your idea of the best parenting practices could be different from what works for your partner and their children. When in doubt, communicate issues with your partner and allow them to take charge of parenting their biological children.Set Boundaries, Understand Differences – It’s critical to set boundaries in your new blended family, not only with your new partner’s children but also within the family. Be sure to address what is okay and what isn’t regarding family members’ actions and words.Communicate – When in doubt, communicate. Many of the issues brought up earlier in this post can be lessened by communicating with your partner upfront before moving to be a blended family.Establish Expectations – What are your expectations for your partner? What are their expectations for you? Who drops the kids off at school? Who picks them up? Who’s responsible for what household chores? Be sure to run through established routines and how your new partner’s and yours can fit together.Create New Traditions – Things won’t be the same as before, and that’s okay. Try new things with your blended family and see what works. Creating new traditions provides an opportunity to bond as a unit.Seek Professional Support – Therapists specializing in family dynamics are called Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists. Depending on your family’s unique needs, consider researching family therapy. Additionally, mental health professionals can help you cope with your new blended family dynamics on an individual counseling level or for you and your new partner.

How All Counseling Can Help

There’s no simple advice for making a blended family work. There are stressors, advantages, disadvantages, and the potential for beautiful experiences. If the stresses of blended family dynamics become overwhelming, consider seeking the support of a mental health professional that’s right for you. Use All Counseling’s online directory to find a therapist that specializes in issues resulting from coparenting and family conflict.
Relationships and Family

How to Have Healthy Relationships After the Death of a Spouse

The death of a spouse or partner can cause life to stop in its tracks. It may feel like the world stopped spinning, and you’ll grieve forever. Everyone grieves differently, and grief is a process.

How can you have intimacy with another person after suffering so profoundly? When is the right time to engage in a relationship or sex after losing a spouse? How can you manage your grief while also being happy with another person?

This post explains the grieving process and how to determine when it’s the right time for intimacy after the death of a spouse.

How the Death of a Spouse Affects You

You may have heard people say that grief comes in waves. This saying means people don’t necessarily go through linear stages of grief. Instead, as you go about your daily life, you may encounter seemingly random things that trigger memories of your spouse — the smell of food you used to cook together, a book they gifted you, an old birthday card, a color you associate with them. These feelings are common during the difficult process of grieving a loved one.

In addition to grief, you may experience:

Loneliness – You no longer have a partner to share a space with, so your home or life, in general, may feel empty.Emotional Difficulties – The death of a spouse brings various emotions, like anger, sadness, guilt, shame, and confusion.Physical Difficulties – Your mental health affects your physical health. You may feel fatigued, have headaches or body aches, or experience other somatic symptoms.Financial Difficulties – Without your partner bringing in their share of income, you may have to adjust your finances.Loss of Dreams – You may feel confused when you think about your future. What about that trip you planned? What about your 30th anniversary party?Lack of Intimacy – You may not feel like being physically close to anyone after the death of your partner for a lot of reasons. Simply put, no one else is your partner.

How Grief Affects Intimacy

Grief can affect a person in many different ways. One of those ways is in their experience of intimacy and sex. Grief may introduce extra stress hormones into your system, and your desire for sex may be different when you’re overly stressed.

Increase in Sex Drive – Because of the feel-good hormones that sex and intimacy can produce, a person may want more sex during the grieving process than they usually would. Sometimes, when people deal with stress, they use sex to cope. Ensure that you aren’t using sex to avoid grief. It’s critical to work through emotions, not use distractions to forget them.Decrease in Sex Drive – The thought of having sex after losing a partner may seem unthinkable. You may be so focused on working through your grief that you don’t want to engage in physical intimacy with anyone. Or, you may need some time to adjust to having sex with a person who isn’t your partner. You’re allowed to take the time you need. Remember, you can always seek the help of a mental health professional to assist you in processing your feelings.Guilt – Feeling guilty is another possible reaction to thinking about sex and intimacy after the death of a partner. How could you have sex with another person after being with your partner for so long? Feelings of guilt after death are common, specifically surrounding intimacy. You may also be in a new relationship and truly care or have desire for your new partner, but the act of sex feels like cheating.

How To Move Forward With Healthy Relationships

Each relationship is unique, just like each person’s experience with grief. The following are some general tips that may help you navigate healthy relationships as you manage through grieving the death of a spouse.

Allow Yourself to Grieve – Forcing yourself to engage in intimacy or get involved in a romantic relationship because you’re trying to fit someone else’s timeline of grief only brings stress and emotional pain. Take your time and reassure yourself that you don’t need to do anything you’re uncomfortable with.Take Care of Yourself – Your physical, mental, and spiritual health is essential. Your grief may cloud your judgment and make it more challenging to take care of yourself. Be sure you’re getting some nutritious food, moving your body in ways that feel good to you, taking care of your emotional needs, connecting with loved ones, and engaging in activities you enjoy.Be Honest About Your Feelings – Grief is complicated. There’s no way around that. If you’re experiencing sadness, anger, confusion, or another emotion, be open to the feeling. Don’t deny it or try to bottle it up. Sit with the feeling and take care of yourself.Be With Loved Ones – Even though you lost your partner, you still have family and friends who love you and want to support you. Lean on them. Part of this process is learning to accept help. Do you need someone to watch your children while you get a massage? Ask for help. Need a fun night out? Ask a friend. Do you need to hug someone and cry it out? Ask your support system. They want to help you, and you deserve support.Build Connections – Though it may be difficult to conceptualize, you will make new connections with people throughout your healing process. Consider joining a support group with people who’ve been through a similar situation. Or, build connections with others via activities you enjoy, like a book club, exercise group, or pottery class.Make Future Plans – Plan something fun that you can look forward to, whether it’s having dinner with friends or going on a trip.Talk to a Professional – Always know that you can seek counseling for help. Some counselors specialize in grief and can work with you to process your emotions.

How All Counseling Can Help

Therapy can be beneficial if you’re experiencing grief because it allows you to connect with a third party who is there to help you understand your emotions. Some counselors specialize in grief and are well-versed in assisting people in learning to adjust to living without someone.

If you or someone you know is mourning the death of a spouse, All Counseling provides an online directory of therapists you can search to find the support you need.
Relationships and Family

Do You Have Baby Fever?

Have you or your partner experienced a sudden longing to have a baby? If so, you may have baby fever. Baby fever is a longing to have a child of your own. But, the longing doesn’t equate to having children, nor does having children always arise from baby fever.

When and Why Baby Fever Occurs

The concept of having babies may begin as early as 2-3 years of age when individuals start to develop their gender identity. Societal norms tell individuals, especially women, that they should have children. As they approach their 20s and 30s, it’s considered a next step when they meet their career and relationship milestones. The desire to have children grows as the individual’s or couple’s peers begin having children. Being around their peers’ cute babies and smelling their perfume-like aroma may activate individuals’ orbitofrontal cortex, where emotions and pleasure senses are stored in the brain, leading to baby fever.

Baby fever tends to peak in 50% of women in their 20s and declines as they age. Though baby fever usually begins with women in their 20s, it has become more common for women to become pregnant with their first baby around 30. But baby fever is not limited to women in their 20s or even 30s. More women are having babies in their 40s, 50s, and even 60s.

While we’ve just discussed women, women are not the only ones who suffer from baby fever. All individuals have maternal and paternal instincts. Men, having maternal instincts, are known to get baby fever, but it happens less frequently than with women. Baby fever occurs in 44% of men. Men usually have their first child around the age of 34. But if they are yet to have a child, men may experience the longing in their 40s when baby fever peaks.

What Causes Baby Fever?

There are many reasons people experience baby fever and people’s reasoning varies.

Some reasons individuals may experience baby fever include:

Age – The desire to have a baby occurs in the 20s and 30s for women and for men in their 40s.Infertility Issues – As women age, they become less fertile, making them feel the need to have a baby while they can without being a risk to themselves or their future baby.Lineage – People often want to carry on their lineage or family name. Having a baby offers them a sense of pride.Life Meaning – Having a baby can give a certain meaning to an individual’s life, leading them to want to live healthier, longer lives.Social Pressure and Expectations – Having a baby is often considered the next step after beginning a career, getting married, and buying a house.Being Around Babies – Holding a cute, cuddly baby close enough to smell the sweet, almost perfume-like newborn baby smell can activate baby fever.

Talking to a Counselor Can Help

When it comes to having a baby, there are many factors for individuals or couples to consider. Speaking to a counselor can help you work through serious discussions about what a life with or without a baby could look like.

Things to consider before having a baby:

Feelings, Beliefs, and Values – A counselor can help address feelings about having a baby. For couples, a counselor may assist in working through the differences in beliefs and values that arise from the individuals’ families of origin.Finances – A counselor may help promote open dialogue and transparency about finances.Stress – A counselor can help you deal with the stress wanting a baby puts on a relationship.Health Challenges – A counselor can support you and your partner through infertility or other medical issues.Communication Concerns – A counselor can help individuals communicate concerns about having a baby with their partner.

If you or someone you know is having baby fever, All Counseling’s therapist directory can help you connect to a therapist who specializes in pregnancy concerns. Whether to have a baby is a big decision. A counselor can help guide you through your feelings.

Citations:

It’s Okay If You Don’t Have Baby Fever!Khazan, O., 2021 The Atlantichttps://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2021/12/how-common-baby-fever/621083/>

Where did baby fever come from?Merriam-Webster 2022 https://www.merriam-webster.com/words-at-play/what-does-baby-fever-mean>

Is Everyone Destined to Experience Baby Fever?Sarkar, D., 2021 Discover Magazinehttps://www.discovermagazine.com/mind/is-everyone-destined-to-experience-baby-fever>

It’s Not Just Women: Men Get Baby Fever, TooVinopal, L., 2022 Fatherlyhttps://www.fatherly.com/health-science/men-baby-fever-biological-clock/>
Relationships and Family. Artesian. Chicago. Illinois

Ways to Prevent Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse places an enormous strain on society’s institutions, including healthcare, mental health, addiction services, and services for those living in poverty. The effects of sexual abuse can be catastrophic. What can we do to prevent sexual abuse? What is sexual abuse? How do people deal with sexual abuse? This post explains more.

What is Sexual Abuse?

Sexual abuse is non-consensual sexual contact between people. It includes rape, sexual assault, sexual coercion, and sex trafficking. For children, it also includes unwarranted touching of the genitals, forcing children to perform sex acts, or involving in or introducing children to pornographic material.

Sexual abuse can happen to anyone, regardless of their age or gender, but according to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, women and younger people are more likely to be sexually abused. And also troubling, is The National Sexual Violence Resource Center report that the perpetrators of child sexual abuse are more likely to be male and are typically someone known to the child, even potentially being a member of the child’s family.

Consequences of Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse results in many consequences. They include:

STIs – Sexually Transmitted Infections may be passed from perpetrator to victim. Some STIs, if untreated, can lead to further complications such as Pelvic Inflammatory Disease or infertility.Physical Injuries – Survivors of sexual abuse may suffer from physical injuries, including trauma to the genitals and defensive wounds.Chronic Diseases – Survivors of sexual abuse may be at a higher risk for developing chronic diseases like heart disease due to the trauma they experience.Depression – Depression is common among survivors of sexual abuse and can affect people for years after the abuse.PSTD – Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a common mental health condition that survivors experience. It causes severe trauma symptoms, including flashbacks, nightmares, and avoiding situations that remind the person of the abuse.Substance Use Disorders – Survivors may develop substance use disorders to cope with difficult emotions.Risky Sexual Behaviors – Survivors may engage in risky sexual behaviors, such as unprotected sex or sex with many partners, to cope with their trauma.Suicide Risk – Survivors of sexual abuse also can experience thoughts of suicide and suicide attempts.

These consequences are devastating on an individual level, but they can also be damaging and costly on a community level. Survivors need and deserve appropriate resources to assist them in their recovery.

Preventing Sexual Abuse With Children

You can’t fully protect your child from sexual abuse. If that were possible, children wouldn’t be sexually abused. It’s important to remember that child sexual abuse is the fault of the perpetrator and no one else. Also, there are some steps you can take to help prevent child sexual abuse.

Educate Children – There are age-appropriate ways to educate children about consensual and non-consensual touch. Children need to know that it’s only OK for doctors and parents (when appropriate, such as diaper changes) to touch them in their genital region. It’s critical to teach children the correct words for their genitals: vulva, penis, and breasts/nipples, as this prevents misunderstanding if children tell adults about potential abuse.Make Yourself Available to Listen – Help your child understand that they can and should talk to you about anything that makes them uncomfortable. Try your best not to scold children for talking about correct genital anatomy, as this could shame them from talking about problems in the future.Trust Your Instincts – Trust your gut if something doesn’t feel right to you about a person involved in your child’s life. It’s better to err on the side of caution when it comes to your child’s safety.Consider Rules About Sleepovers – Ensure that your child, if they are at the age that’s appropriate for sleepovers, is always in the care of an adult you trust. Get to know your child’s friend’s parents or guardians and make sure you’re comfortable with their living situation and rules.Have a Safe Word – Have a safe word that only you and your child know so your child can use it to alert you that they need help or need to be picked up. Make sure it’s not a word you use frequently or is common to your conversations.Don’t Force Children to Engage – Don’t force children to hug or engage with anyone they don’t want to. This autonomy teaches consent and bodily autonomy from a young age. Ask your child’s permission before you hug or kiss them to model what consent is. Your child should not have to kiss or hug anyone, even family members.

It can be difficult to read these suggestions because thinking about your child in danger is challenging. But, all parents and guardians must take the necessary precautions to prevent child sexual abuse.

Preventing Sexual Abuse With Adults

Like with children, it’s not always easy to spot warning signs of sexual abuse as an adult. Also, like with children, the perpetrator is always responsible for abuse. Here also are some precautions you can take as an adult to avoid abusive behavior or recognize it.

Pay Attention to Controlling Behavior – If you notice your partner is trying to control who you see, what you do, what you wear, or other controlling or aggressive behaviors, consider your safety and if you should stay in the relationship.Set Boundaries and Know Your Limits – What are you OK with? Whether you have a partner or are single and dating, know what aspects of relationships you’re comfortable with. This comfort includes when sexual contact is OK, with whom, and under what circumstances.Avoid Unfamiliar Places – Make sure your physical safety is always a priority. Don’t go to new places alone, and make sure you have your cell phone charged when going somewhere new or meeting a new person.Trust Your Instincts – Trust yourself if your gut tells you something isn’t right. Have a safety plan for situations when you may need one, such as dates, meeting new people, or traveling to certain places.If You Feel in Danger, Seek Help – Help could mean the local authorities or a safe person you know has your best interests at heart. Lean on your support system to help keep you safe.Practice Self Defense – Consider taking a self-defense class to be better prepared for dangerous situations.

Remember, you can do everything to prepare for dangerous situations and still find yourself experiencing sexual abuse. It’s never the fault of the victim. Never blame the survivor for sexual abuse.

How to Stop Sexual Abuse in Your Community

As the common phrase goes, it takes a village. And like with any change movement, communities play a role in preventing sexual abuse. As a community member, you can:

Promote Social Norms that Protect Against Sexual Abuse – Schools, doctors’ offices, hospitals, and other community agencies should have awareness material regarding sexual abuse. Push for community resources that support survivors, such as victim support services. Vote for elected officials who prioritize decreasing sexual abuse.Teach About Sexual Abuse – Education is the strongest tool in preventing sexual abuse. If children learn about consent and young adults learn proper sexual health education, more people will grow up being able to recognize the signs of sexual abuse and violence. This knowledge leads to a healthier generation.Create Protective Environments – If you know of a place or institution in your area that has actively harmed the survivors of sexual abuse or allows people in power to be perpetrators of violence, speak out. Increasing protective environments means having tough conversations about what is and isn’t acceptable.Support Survivors – Individual survivors don’t need pity. They need tangible support. Consider donating to local organizations that help victims of sexual abuse. Advocate for more affordable mental health services.

How All Counseling Can Help

If you or someone you know has been affected by sexual abuse, explore All Counseling’s therapist directory. You can find a therapist in your area, filter by specialty, and explore resources regarding mental health. You don’t have to survive sexual abuse alone. You deserve support.
Relationships and Family

How to Mentally Cope With a Child Leaving for College

If you’re struggling with your child leaving for college, you’re not alone. Many parents deal with emotions like distress, sadness, and confusion when it’s time for their children to leave the nest. This post outlines some of the challenges parents may face when their child goes away to college and it offers some tips for dealing with these emotions.

Challenges Parents Face When Their Child Goes to College

When your child is about to go to college, whether that college is minutes away from you or hundreds of miles, it’s normal to feel strange. You may be dealing with thoughts and feelings you haven’t before because you’ve never been in a similar situation.

Most parents feel sad when their child leaves for college. They’ve been living under your roof for about 18 years, and, suddenly, they’re moving on. You may have fantasized about this moment during times of frustration and found yourself thinking, “I can’t wait until my child leaves for college.” Now, you’re looking back on those tough moments and realizing they maybe weren’t so bad after all.

You’ve probably heard of the term “empty nest syndrome,” which refers to when children are out of the house for the first time as adults. You’re suddenly dealing with more time to yourself than you’ve had since your child was born. Noisy dinners are quieter, mornings before work and school are less chaotic, and you may wonder what to do with your extra time while simultaneously missing your child’s presence.

It’s essential to find the right balance between staying supportive of your child in college and also letting them go. You have spent years helping your child learn and grow, perhaps neglecting part of your own life for their success and happiness. It’s time to recognize this change in your relationship with your child and build positive ways to stay connected while also allowing them to make their own mistakes.

What to Say to Your Child Leaving for College

You want to say the right thing as your child prepares to leave for college. Of course, you know your child best, but here are some suggestions for conversation starters or general words of encouragement you can share.

You’re Ready – Remind them that they’re ready for the next step and that challenges are a way to grow.Discomfort is Normal – Growth can be uncomfortable, so expect some discomfort, but remember you’re never alone.Join In – Encourage them to step out of their comfort zone, join clubs, get involved, etc., for the best chance of them meeting exciting new people and having a fulfilling college experience.Respect Yourself and Others – Remind them to take care of themselves. New friends and opportunities can bring chances for risky behavior, but they know how to stay true to themselves.We’re Here – Tell them you’ll be there for them no matter what, and you’re always a phone call away. Tell them that you’re not going anywhere as they go through this change.Don’t Worry About Us – Reassure them that they don’t need to worry about you or your partner. They have enough to worry about!We Trust You – You’ve instilled within them the qualities you want to see in a responsible adult. Remind them that you trust them.We’re Proud – You can never over emphasize enough how proud you are of your children. Small words of encouragement go a long way.We’ll Miss You – Don’t hide your emotions from your child. They’ll see through it. It’s okay to tell them that you’ll miss them.We Love You – Always remind your child that you love them.

How To Process With the Change

How do you, as a parent, actually deal with your child going away to college? Here’s some advice.

Plan Ahead – Know ahead of time that you may need extra support as your child prepares to leave for college and after they make the move. Consider taking some time off of work to take care of yourself. Additionally, consider any logistics that will help make the transition easier. Do you need to help your child pack and purchase things? Would it be helpful to make the drive to campus with your child to get familiar with things? Planning ahead for these aspects will make the transition less stressful.Show Love and Support – Feigning aloofness may not be the best choice in this situation. It’s okay if you get emotional. Explain to your child that you’re emotional because this is such a big step and because they mean a lot to you. Even if they roll their eyes, they’ll remember how supportive you were.Be Patient and Kind – You may have moments where you wish all the hard feelings would just go away. Certainly, that would make things easier, but you can’t force your emotions to leave. Give yourself time and kindness to work through anything you’re feeling.Think Positively and Optimistically – Imagining the worst-case scenario isn’t helpful for your mental health or your child’s well-being. Prepare as best as you can, and recognize some things are out of your control.Identify and Embrace New Roles – Now is the time to re-discover yourself. If you’ve been waiting for the children to go off to college to travel, go back to school, try a new hobby, or otherwise embrace a new role in your life, it’s time to dive in!Embrace New Challenges – Remember when you encouraged your child to try new experiences while they’re in college? Take your own advice! We’re always growing as humans, and you can also find new challenges in life that help you grow.Make Plans to Visit – Make sure you schedule time to visit your child. Maybe there is a parents’ weekend, or perhaps you plan to attend a big athletic event with your family to support your child. Remind them that they’re also welcome back home at any time.Use Technology – You have a cell phone for a reason! A quick call, video call, or text asking how your child’s day or week went is a good way to stay in touch.Don’t Be Invasive – Try not to be overbearing with your child. Calling after every class or checking their location every 30 minutes isn’t helpful for you or your child.Reconnect With Your Partner – Use some of your newfound time to reconnect with your partner or spouse. It’s a time to congratulate yourself on the amazing child you raised and celebrate your success as a parent.Seek Support – Stay in touch with your family and friends, as they are your support. Perhaps a friend is going through the same thing with their child, and you plan to get dinner and discuss your challenges. Loop in your family to your plans and your child’s successes. You deserve the support that you need.Give Yourself Credit – It’s a difficult process for many people. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you make mistakes or feel overwhelmed. Remind yourself that you’re doing your best to navigate this unfamiliar territory.

Sometimes, life’s challenges bring about more emotional turmoil than you can handle on your own. The transition of a child leaving for college is a major life event.

Therapy can help you sort through your emotions and navigate this new step in life. All Counseling can help you connect with a mental health professional who fits your needs. Use our directory of therapists and counselors to search for a mental health professional in your area that specializes in life transitions, family therapy, or stress management.
Relationships and Family

What is Financial Abuse?

When people think of domestic violence, they typically only consider physical abuse. But domestic violence includes taking away another’s autonomy and control of their lives. Financial abuse is one way people control others.

Financial abuse occurs in 98% of abusive relationships. It’s the most common reason people stay in abusive relationships, but most people don’t recognize it as a form of domestic violence.

Types of Financial Abuse

Financial abuse can also be helping oneself to another’s finances without controlling the relationship. It can consist of financial control, economic exploitation, and employment sabotage.

Financial Control

It’s easy for people to write off financial abuse because they see one partner caring for another. For example, a husband works outside of the home, providing most of the income, while the wife stays at home caring for the home and their children. The wife believes she’s lucky to have a partner who is such a wonderful provider, but he controls all the finances. Bank accounts, the home, cars, and other items are all in his name. He tracks every penny spent, making her feel shame when she needs or wants something. This financial control is a form of abuse.

Economic Exploitation

Economic exploitation may be the most damaging type of financial abuse. When economic exploitation occurs, the abuser intentionally destroys their partner’s credit and financial resources. They open lines of credit under the victim’s name or don’t pay bills that are in the victim’s name. They may even blow money from shared accounts but save their own.

In these cases, the victim may not have access to the accounts. They may not even know they exist. Their credit score is ruined, making it almost impossible to get a car, take out loans, rent a home, or flee the abusive situation.

If the victim can leave their abuser, economic exploitation may affect them for years or even decades. They may have to fight bankruptcies, pay off debts, or even experience tax liens. Victims spend years trying to dispute identity theft. Victims may have to file police reports in some cases, making their information public and allowing the abuser to find them.

Employment Sabotage

Employment sabotage is a method abusers use to keep their partners from having access to money. Abusers find reasons to keep the victims from working, such as saying it’s more financially sound for them to stay home and care for the children or elderly parents. Abusers may also sabotage the victim’s employment by showing up at their workplace or preventing them from attending important meetings or completing required projects.

They may push the victim so hard that they quit their job. For those unemployed, the abuser finds ways to keep them from finding gainful employment. Either way, the victim becomes entirely financially dependent on the abuser.

Warning Signs of Financial Abuse in a Relationship

Like other forms of domestic violence, financial abuse is about exerting control over another person. The perpetrator may feel they’ve earned the money or are somehow owed it.

Abuse isn’t limited to specific genders or relationships. Vulnerable adults, people with disabilities, or seniors can be targets of financial abuse. Financial abusers position themselves as caregivers, helping vulnerable adults care for themselves. They act like a friend but siphon money from the victim.

Identifying as a victim of abuse may be challenging for some. Indicators you or someone you care about may be a victim of financial abuse are:

Control of Credit Cards – Does someone else control your credit cards or other accounts in your name, including when or if they are paid on time? Do they use your credit card without permission?Anger When Spending –  Does someone make you feel guilt or shame for spending money on needs or how you spend money you have earned?Career Control –  Does someone control what job you have, how often you work, or even if you work?Hidden Money – Does your partner have money hidden from you?Secret Spending – Does someone spend your money or large sums of joint money without discussing it with you?Income Control –  Does someone control how you spend your money? Or do they question how you spend your money? Do they insist you share your income but are unwilling to share theirs?Provided Allowance –  Does someone give you an allowance and doesn’t allow you access to other money?Uniformed Expenses –  Has someone signed your name on a financial document, loan, or check without your expressed consent? Have they made themselves your power of attorney without your knowledge?Hiding Debt –  Has your partner taken on a large debt and hidden it from you?Lack of Help –  Does your partner refuse to contribute financially?

Getting Help and Overcoming Financial Abuse

The journey back from financial abuse can be challenging, but you don’t have to do it alone. Here are some ways to recover financially:

Talk to Someone You Trust –  Talk to someone who won’t leak information to the abuser or a friend of the abuser. A trusted person could be a friend, counselor, case manager, etc.Develop a Plan – Develop a safety plan with the trusted person and establish a code for if a situation arises and authorities need to be contacted.Keep Records – Document every violation, including date, time, amount, etc., and store it in a location the abuser doesn’t have access to.Gather Documents – Gather essential documents such as social security card, driver’s license, passport, birth certificate, etc. as well as essential documents for children. If the abuser controls access to essential documents try to get pictures or other digital copies.Cancel Accounts – Cancel all joint accounts even though your credit score will take a hit. It will keep you from going deeper into debt in the long run.Start Fresh – Open a new bank account and change online passwords. Ensure the new account paperwork isn’t sent to a location the abuser can access. Don’t access accounts on shared devices or linked internet service providers.Get Financial Education – Many private, public, and nonprofit organizations help individuals learn about managing finances and financial planning, getting out of debt, and building credit.Track Your Credit – Register for free credit tracking services even when not in a relationship. It’s essential to know if someone uses your credit for any reason.Freeze Your Credit – Freeze your credit to keep anyone from opening new accounts in your name.Seek Professional Help – Get help from credit services, authorities, attorneys, and mental health professionals. Financial abuse is a crime. Report it to your local police department.

Financial abuse can happen to anyone, but you can take steps to prevent or overcome it. When taking these steps, make sure you aren’t at risk of harm if the abuser finds out. Everyone deserves to feel safe. The journey to financial recovery can be a long path, but it’s possible.

If you or someone you know may be in a financially abusive relationship, use All Counseling’s directory of mental health professionals to provide the assistance you need.

Sources:

Financial Abuse – PCADV. PCADV. (2022). Retrieved 26 May 2022, from https://www.pcadv.org/financial-abuse/.

“Financial Abuse of Older Adults.” HealthLink BC, 13 June 2016, www.healthlinkbc.ca/healthlinkbc-files/financial-abuse-older-adults. Accessed 23 May 2022.

George, Dana. “How to Overcome Financial Abuse.” The Ascent, The Motley Fool, 20 May 2020, www.fool.com/the-ascent/banks/articles/how-overcome-financial-abuse/. Accessed 24 May 2022.

Smith, Kelly Anne. “3 Warning Signs of Financial Abuse—and How Victims Can Recover.” Forbes Advisor, Forbes, 21 Oct. 2021, www.forbes.com/advisor/personal-finance/signs-of-financial-abuse-domestic-violence-awareness/. Accessed 22 May 2022.
Relationships and Family

How to Know When It’s Time for a Divorce

All relationships go through rough patches. But when considering a permanent separation, how do you know when to call it quits? How do you know when it’s the time for divorce versus staying in the relationship and trying to make things work?

This post will discuss some common reasons people decide to get divorced to help you better understand your relationship. It will also outline some signs that it may be time to consider getting a divorce.

The Most Common Reasons for Divorce

While every relationship is different, some common things contribute to difficulties in a relationship. Common reasons for divorce include:

Infidelity – If one or both partners are unfaithful, feelings may be hurt. Infidelity can be an insurmountable betrayal of trust. If trust dissolves, the relationship suffers.Abusive – If any type of abuse — emotional, physical, sexual, or financial — is present within the relationship, there is a lack of safety. Feeling unsafe in relationships isn’t healthy. Both partners can be abusive toward one another in various ways.Finances – Money can be a large source of stress in relationships. If one partner makes more money than the other, there may be an imbalance of power, which can lead to issues. Maybe both partners bring in money, but there’s still not enough to support the family, which is extremely stressful. Alternatively, partners may disagree about how to spend or save money.Intimacy Issues – It’s common for partners to have periods in their relationship where intimacy and sex are less of a priority, such as when people first have children. But, if one partner has a higher perceived need for intimacy or sex, they might begin to resent the other. If one partner is experiencing physical issues, or if sex is painful or no longer enjoyable, it can strain the relationship.Age – If one or both partners are young when the relationship begins, they may not have understood what a lifetime of commitment truly entails.

Common Signs When a Divorce Might be Beneficial

No set of rules tells you when it’s the right time for a divorce. Rather, the process involves you taking a hard look at the state of your relationship, how you feel, and what you want for yourself in the future. If it’s safe and there are no threats of abuse, try to communicate the best you can with your partner as you navigate this process. They may have insights into the issues or feel the same way you do.

The following are signs it may be time to consider a trial separation or divorce:

Lack of Respect – Respect is fundamental to a healthy relationship. If you find that you or your partner are having difficulty respecting each other, it’s cause for concern. A lack of respect could be due to many factors, including resentment, anger, or disinterest.Abuse – Abuse in a relationship is something to take seriously. Abuse is a serious breach of trust and is a red flag of potential further danger. If you feel unsafe, contact your support system and local resources for domestic violence to help you leave your relationship.Unwillingness to Compromise –  If you or your partner are more frequently finding that you don’t want to compromise in terms of wants and needs in the relationship, it may be a sign that a divorce would be beneficial. A lack of compromise can sometimes stem from anger, hurt, or inadequate communication, but it can also result from a lack of compatibility. You are generally more likely to compromise if you’re in a relationship with a compatible partner who you’re willing to make compromises for.Increased Arguments – If you find that you and your partner are arguing increasingly more, so much so that you’re in a fight or disagreement nearly every day and it’s becoming unbearable, that’s an essential factor to consider in your decision about getting a divorce. While partners may experience more frequent arguments during times of stress, it should not be a common occurrence.Breach of Trust – If you or your partner has broken trust in the relationship, rebuilding may be challenging. Rebuilding trust takes time and hard work. Some people may not want to put that effort into a relationship with someone who cheated or lied to them.Lack of Joy – If you have a certain lack of happiness or joy within your relationship, that is a significant factor to consider when considering a separation or divorce. You and your partner deserve happiness.

Counseling Can Help

If you’re considering a divorce, counseling can help you in several distinct ways:

You and your partner could attend couples counseling to attempt to work through some of your issues. Counseling creates a safe space for honesty and can help you and your partner work through conflicts if that’s something you want.Alternatively, you could use a mental health professional for mediation if you have decided divorce is the best option. Mediators help people compromise when making tough decisions. This way, you can receive impartial feedback from a third party in deciding things that go along with the separation or divorce.You can also look to a therapist to help you work through some of the emotional changes that can come in a failing marriage. A therapist who specializes in divorce will help you improve your self-esteem after or during a divorce, improve your resilience, and enhance your happiness in a way that works for you.

All Counseling can help you connect to a therapist if you or someone you know is considering getting a divorce. Whether you’re searching for a couples counselor, an individual therapist, or something else, All Counseling’s online therapist directory is easy to use.
Relationships and Family