Category: General Articles

What WE want to be

By Christopher D. Adams, AMFT

Max De Pree an American Business man who died in August of 2017 was known to have said,

“We cannot become who we want to be by remaining what we are.”

Stronger Family relationships Becoming is a process of forward progression. Often times however, couples define their relationship by the hurts of the past (but she said… or how could he if…). Those hurts DO matter and they need to be validated and understood so as to not allow them to be repeated in the future and yet they need not define the marriage. When couples begin to use statements like, we are it interrupts the ability to become something better.

Couples are only limited by what they believe they can become together. That belief may need some tender persuasion, as it may have been lost in the quagmire of hurt and mistrust. In some instances one partner bears, seemingly alone, the hopes of something better. Don’t walk alone. Let us walk with you until you and your partner can lift together and choose what the marriage will become.

When we believe in what we can become, we change who we have been and together, we define what we will be.

Christopher D. Adams

Call today to schedule and appointment with Chris at 801.272.3420

How to Become a Savvy Therapy Customer

Therapy Tips and SuggestionsBy Jeff Bennion, ALMFT

People come to us therapists with all kinds of problems, and it’s our privilege to help them with those difficulties. We are trained with skills to help clients with these problems, but we are still human beings and that means we aren’t perfect. Sometimes out of a misplaced sense of loyalty, clients may not always get the most out of the therapy.

Several lines of research have demonstrated that the most helpful thing in therapy is a strong relationship with your therapist. That doesn’t mean you’ll always like what he or she says, or that therapy will always be a pleasant experience. But it does mean that you need to trust each other and have genuine respect and affection for each other.

We work for you

When that isn’t there, therapy is not going to be very beneficial.  If after a few sessions, you find you just aren’t jelling with your therapist, it is perfectly appropriate to request a referral to another therapist or seek one yourself. We work for you, and if we aren’t able to be effective with you, we do not expect you to continue seeing us. In fact, it is not ethical for us to continue treatment if we don’t believe we are being effective, but sometimes that is easier for you to tell than for us.

You can change the plan

As therapists, we develop a customized treatment plan for you based on your individual circumstances and what you have asked us to help you with. However, sometimes things will come up during the week that may change that. If we are proceeding with our pre-existing plan, but you have something that you think is more urgent or important, please feel free to interrupt and let us know what is going on so that we can make sure you get the most benefit from the session.

You can say no

Sometimes you might be uncomfortable or uncertain about certain things we might try in session. We use empirically validated treatment models and techniques as we work with you, but sometimes they aren’t always a good fit. You can always stop and ask why we are doing something, or tell us to try something different. There is always a different way, and we always want to know if something makes you uncomfortable. Our training does not always make us aware of all your possible triggers or negative experiences.

Summing up

As therapists, we love what we do, and we love helping people resolve their problems and live happier lives. The therapeutic relationship is very important, and hopefully this blog post has given you some ideas about how to make the best of that relationship with your therapist.

A therapeutic relationship is most important
Feel free to interrupt
Ask us questions
You can always say no

Jeff Bennion, ALMFT

Call today to schedule and appointment with Jeff at 801.272.3420

Can I Be Happy?

Can I Be Happy?by Kyle M. Reid, LMFT

In a lecture on vulnerability, Brene Brown discusses our tendency to be afraid of experiencing joy in our lives. She said, “When we lose our tolerance for vulnerability, joy becomes foreboding. I have never come across an emotion or affect [in my research] that is as difficult to feel as joy. Joy is probably the most vulnerable feeling or emotion that we experience. We are afraid to soften into it or lean fully into it because we are waiting… for the other the other shoe to drop” (clip from The Power of Vulnerability: Teachings on Authenticity, Connection and Courage).

In my experience as a clinician, I have seen this within myself and my clients. I truly believe that one of the biggest risks for mental health problems is when we refuse to find happiness in our present realities and relationships. Many of us often spend more time with our own fantasies than we do with the people who we claim to be the most important to us. We start to live our lives with what I like to call the “if/then factor.” We say to ourselves, “If I had more money, then I will be happy” or “If I had a different partner or a different relationship, then I could be happy.” We can do this for years never truly experiencing what it means to be happy or find joy in our lives. We long for the day when we can truly have joy. Then we compare our lives to those around us making assumptions that our “friends” have the happiness we seek. What many of us seem to forget in those moments is that our “friends” are most likely doing the same things to us in return. Many of us can’t see this because of our natural struggle as human beings to see the good in our present circumstances, whilst at the same time requiring little effort for us and others to see good in the lives of those around us.

Whether it’s waiting for the time when we can get married to the perfect person… or when we can have our first child… or when we can get our first house… or find our perfect career… the years start to pass by and the things that really matter to us in the end becomes neglected. The problem is that those things which bring us the most joy are often the things we are afraid of the most. Unfortunately, the relationships that we fear the most are the ones we come home to every day.

My challenge to those seeking joy in their lives is to start today with accepting the lot you have been given and chosen in life. Stay out of fantasy! Put down your cell phone or Ipad for the night and spend time with those you care about the most. Enjoy your time with them without thinking about your worries or fears of what’s to come your way. Don’t fret… I’m sure your worries and concerns will be there tomorrow when you wake up😉

Call today to schedule and appointment with Kyle at 801.272.3420

The Bachelorette says that going to therapy was the best decision she made that entire year

Open discussions about mental health do not usually happen on television, let alone reality television. A few weeks ago, during week 2 of the Bachelorette, Rachel and Peter made history by discussing their own experiences with relationship therapy. (Click here to watch clip.)

On their first date, Rachel asks Peter a question she says that she gets a lot: “You’re so great, how are you still single?” Peter explains that after his last relationship ended, he saw a relationship therapist. He adds, “[Therapy] has helped me a lot. It has helped me now be more calm in my thoughts.”

Rachel seemed to be quite excited by this concept! She added her own experience with therapy after her last long relationship ended. Rachel explained that she felt that there was something that she wasn’t getting with herself. “So I went to a therapist. It was the best decision that I made that entire year, and again, it prepared me to realize what I want from myself, and what wasn’t working for me,” she says.

While reality television dating isn’t on the horizon for most, it is common for young adults to not know what they are looking for in a relationship! A therapist can assist that person to discover tools for better communication, thoughtful preparations for challenges, setting realistic expectations, and so much more.

The stigma surrounding mental health seems to have gotten better over the last few years, however it is important to note that not all who go to therapy have a mental illness. In a recent blog post, Kyle M. Reid, LMFT wrote, “People who go to counseling are those with the courage and capacity to seek and consider input in helping them function more happily and effectively in their every day lives. Getting help is not a weakness.”

Rachel and Peter are two people that are educated, attractive, and well-spoken; the idea that they would frequently be asked the annoying “why are you still single” question makes sense. Too often the true answer is “there are things that I need to work on with myself.” We applaud both of these individuals for the courage they showed to discuss this topic on national television.

If you are questioning if you should see a therapist, most offer a free consultation. Here at Connections Counseling Services, our therapists are happy to talk to you to discuss any questions you may have. Click here to read our blog on choosing the right therapist for you.

The 12 Steps and Trauma

The 12 Steps are utilized by SA, AA, and other groups as guiding principles outlining how to recover from compulsive and addictive behaviors and restore manageability to one’s life.

By Joseph Houck

“Uncover. Discard. Discover. Heal”. This is a pattern we learn in 12 step work.   It sounds simple, right? After all, shouldn’t the 12 Steps help me do this? And shouldn’t it be as simple as described in this formula? But what is soon found when working the steps (and being involved in other healing activities), is that more problems and pain seem to arise. Most people seem perplexed that sobriety can suffer or even get worse when they first start the work of healing and recovery.

What most people forget is that the process of healing and recovery is a MAJOR undertaking because this is an addiction. Recovery requires a great deal of consistency over time.

Addiction is caused when a person stuffs their pain and trauma deep within themselves. Deep hurts that are stuffed and not dealt with directly, (usually because of age or inexperience), callous over and walls are built around the pain and hurt so that the person doesn’t have to regularly deal with the pain.

Trauma wants release and healing, but many soothe stuffed trauma with addictive behavior. Not dealing with the pain deepens the addiction.   Dealing with the pain leads to healing.

It is while working the 12 Steps that people start to see what’s truly going on deep within. We start to uncover the wounds and start to see them for what they are. But when these pains are uncovered they are overwhelming! And triggering! And traumatizing! It’s almost as if the pain is even more powerful when it is dug up then when it was put there.

This can lead to relapse after relapse for months or years because someone who is addicted hasn’t yet learned how to deal with these strong emotions or pain. After all, we’ve thought we can do it on our own for so long! The 12 Steps allow a person to deal with these strong emotions in healthy ways. With the help of others and especially our Higher Power, we learn that we can trust – that we can successfully work through difficult emotions in the safety of being loved and valued.

This initial phase of healing is painful and it does hurt—but it does end. I have dealt with many people, including myself, who have done the difficult work of trauma healing. What I’ve found is that when the pain comes up it arises like a volcanic eruption – as anger, rage, resentment and frustration. If these feelings are dealt with healthily over a large period of time by consistently using healing tools (especially the 12 Steps) these feelings give way to serenity, peace, and joy.

Yes, the road to recovery and healing does hurt initially but the hurt and pain subsides and what replaces it is serenity, peace, and JOY.

Now that’s something that is well worth any effort.


The author Joseph Houck loves helping people heal and is progressing in his education to become a therapist. Having dealt with trauma healing for several years he has an intrinsic and deeply personal view of the serenity, peace, and joy that comes with healing. He can be reached by email at Joe.Houck@gmail.com