Specialties

When are they normal reactions or anxious ones?

Counseling for Anxiety ChicagoRacing thoughts…

Tight chest….

Feeling flush…

It goes unnoticed – these feelings come and go – they’re just accepted. If you are someone who feels anxious, you may experience these feelings in an entirely different way:

While sitting on your couch watching your favorite show, you notice your heart begin to beat faster, your breath is uneasy, and your palms begin to sweat.

What is happening?

Why can’t you just enjoy the evening?

We all worry! How is this different from anxiety?

Counseling for Anxiety ChicagoEveryone worries; we all feel nervous from time to time.

However, the term anxiety has been used so much, many people are unsure what it means and how it may impact them.

Anxiety is the term used to describe intense, uncontrollable worry; it can also be felt in your body: a simple headache to gastrointestinal discomfort, irritability to withdrawal, and muscle tension to sleep difficulties.

The intensity and the duration cause distress and impact your functioning at work or school, with your family or friends.

Some people experience a generalized sense of anxiety that is persistent, excessive, unrealistic worry about everyday things. Other people might experience panic attacks, which can be mistaken for a heart attack. Social anxiety may be experienced only related to social events or outings.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is another type of anxiety where unwanted and intrusive thoughts (obsessions) compel a person to perform rituals and routines (compulsions) to ease the anxiety.

You can learn to control anxiety!

Counseling for Anxiety ChicagoWe understand how difficult living with anxiety can be, but you are not alone. In fact, the Anxiety and Depression Association of America reports that “anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults, or 18.1% of the population every year.”

Reference: Anxiety and Depression Association of America (n.d.). Facts & Statistics. Retrieved from https://adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics

Feeling uncomfortable in your own skin?

Help with Body Image ChicagoYou see them as soon as you look in the mirror. The love handles. The split ends. That enormous patch of acne in the middle of your forehead.

Life will be so much better, so much happier, if you could just lose weight, change your hair, or clear up your complexion.

You’ve tried everything. Every fad diet, every hair treatment, every skin product. But nothing works. Still the same body. Minus more self-confidence. Negative thoughts just keep chipping and chipping away.

But your body’s not the problem.

Help with Body Image ChicagoYou’ve been conditioned to think so. You’ve been trained to think you’re not trying hard enough to change it. That if it’s not the ideal, it’s your fault.

According to a recent study published by Common Sense Media, by the time girls reach the age of 10, 80% of them have been on a diet. Viewing your body as a problem starts at a young age and only worsens as you grow up.

Well-meaning family members, friends, and even physicians may tell you that you need to change your body.  The more you hear, the more ingrained the body shame becomes.

Shame can have a huge impact.

It can cause negative self-talk, isolation, and anxiety.

Shame can hold you back from pursing a coveted job or relationship because you think you’re not “good enough.” It can cause you to become so preoccupied with food and exercise to the point that you no longer nourish or care for your body.

Help with Body Image Chicago

You deserve to live the life you’ve always wanted right now, not “once you’ve lost the weight.”

You deserve to be FREE!

Free – from constantly thinking negative thoughts about yourself.

Free – from obsessing over the next “miracle” diet or product.

Free – to take the chance on that new job or new relationship

Communication is a requirement from birth.

Communication DifficultiesYou learn communication at birth – that first cry. Quickly, you understand that crying will bring attention, food, dry diaper, etc.

As you grow older, you no longer cry to get your needs – or wants – met but you may struggle finding other ways. Perhaps you are passive in a conversation where you fulfill the other person’s needs neglecting your own.

Or perhaps you don’t listen. You say what you think or feel at the expense of hearing what someone else may think. Clamming up is another poor communication choice, because those around you then have to ‘guess’ at what you are feeling.

If you identify with the above, you may want to look deeper into how you communicate.

Our well-being depends on communication.

Communication DifficultiesCommunication can be difficult but necessary for all relationships and our well-being. Communication is a way for us to use our voice to express our emotions, get our needs met, and to connect to the larger world around us.

When we are not communicating effectively, we may feel misunderstood and alone. These feelings may lead to us avoid or not want to communicate. And the snowball continues: we may internalize our feelings and may even feel like our voice doesn’t matter.

Enhancing your communication skills can help you become more confident in using your voice, communicating your needs, and connecting with others.

The word ‘conflict’ sounds painful.

Conflict Management ChicagoWhen you constantly must deal with conflict, it can take a toll on your stress levels and everyday can feel like a struggle. You spend your time walking on eggshells around people who you feel are at odds with you.

Making it through each day takes every ounce of energy you possess. Some days are so physically and emotionally exhausting that you lose motivation to fulfill your responsibilities. Your physical and mental health, work life, and relationships suffer as a result.

Conflict can present in many ways. Maybe you have trouble working closely with a coworker, getting along with a friend, dealing with disagreements within your family, or sorting through differences in your relationship.

Regardless of how you experience conflict, the effects make it hard to feel content with your relationships.

Family Conflict

Conflict Management ChicagoFamily connections are some of the most important relationships in people’s lives. When conflict arises between family members, relationships can become complicated. You may feel like you have less options when it comes to speaking up or setting boundaries.

Perhaps you feel stuck between family members and uncomfortable about having to choose sides. This can cause anxiety, stress, and an urge to isolate yourself from family.

That’s where we come in. We can provide tools to help you identify when you can manage the conflict and when you need to prioritize taking care of yourself.

Professional Conflict

Conflict Management ChicagoHave you ever struggled with the Sunday night blues or woken up every morning with a sense of dread just because you have to see the person who you can’t seem to get along with at your job?

The last thing you want to do is work closely with someone who undercuts your efforts and belittles every decision you make. You want to be content at your job, but your interactions with this person make each day seem like a battle.

Finding a middle ground does not seem possible at this point. As a result, you move through your week in a constant state of irritation.

We are here to help. While conflict is never comfortable, we can assist you with building the confidence you need to manage your emotions and your work relationships! You will have the chance to learn practical skills and tools to deal with challenging work relationships.

Relationship Conflict

Conflict Management ChicagoInteractions between friends or partners can sometimes leave you feeling sad, resentful, and angry. Maybe you both say things that you don’t really mean and later regret. Disagreements can quickly turn into disputes that end with both people feeling hurt and distant from the other.

As a result, you constantly feel on edge about the status of your friendship or relationship. You just want to get along again, but you feel hopeless that things will ever get better. At this point, you think to yourself, “Is change possible?”

Sadness… Feeling blue…Down in the dumps…

Counseling for Depression ChicagoWe all feel sad, lonely, and hopeless from time to time, but depression is different. Depression is disabling. Depression impacts your daily functioning and may impede your ability to work or damage your relationships.

It can feel like you do not have control of your emotions anymore; things you once loved no longer seem to matter.

Depression doesn’t discriminate!

Counseling for Depression ChicagoPeople of all ages, cultures, genders, and races can be impacted.

According to the National Institute for Mental Health, 6.7% of all U.S. adults have had at least one major depressive episode and 12.8% of U.S. adolescents aged 12 to 17 have had at least one major depressive episode*.

For some, depression may only occur for a single period. For others, depression may be chronic. Whether it be one period of time or many, the earlier treatment is sought, the better the outcomes will be. You do not need to suffer alone.

Common symptoms of depression may mean feeling sad more days than not or losing interest in activities that you used to enjoy. You may find it difficult to concentrate or sleep. Emotions can range from excessive guilt to being lethargic with no energy – being almost numb.

The feelings of worthlessness that sometimes accompany depression can cause excessive weight loss or gain; these feelings can even lead to thoughts of self-harm or suicide.

“But I’m not depressed; I don’t feel like so-and-so who is.”

Counseling for Depression ChicagoDepression may be experienced differently from one person to another. Some people experience chronic, long-term depression that can last for years. Other people alternate between periods of depression and extreme elation or manic moods.

Maybe you notice that you experience depression symptoms only during certain times of the year. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) most commonly begins in fall or winter. On rare occasions, people suffer during the spring or summer.

You are not alone! Although depression may feel unmanageable at times, it is treatable.

Reference: *National Institute for Mental Health (n.d.). Major Depression.

Feeling overwhelmed about how to move forward?

Divorce & Separation Counseling ChicagoLost.

What went wrong? How did it get to this point? Splitting up was never supposed to be a possibility, and yet here you are – angry, resentful, numb, sad, and overwhelmed, all at once.

The thought occurs to you that if you keep yourself preoccupied with phone calls, lawyers, mediators, and meetings, then maybe you won’t have to feel so weighed down by your emotions.

The only problem is that the despair still creeps in at the worst times. You get tearful at work, cry on the train, feel detached when out with friends, or snap at your children. The exhaustion of putting on a brave face when you are really screaming inside has taken its toll.

You feel like you can’t turn to your friends and family as much as you would like because they have their own burdens to bear. Where do you go from here?

Divorce and separation affect the whole family.

Divorce & Separation Counseling ChicagoHave you noticed your children becoming distant? Your children may have started acting completely different than how they usually act — not following the rules, constantly retreating to their room when at home, avoiding conversations with you, and seeming preoccupied.

Or – maybe your children are taking on the “perfect child” role, and they are doing everything in their power to not upset you.

Both responses are normal, but there are often underlying feelings that they are unable to express to you – or anyone. Some children feel like they are put in a position where they must take sides when their parents separate or divorce, even if you tell them different. So, what can you do?

You can mourn this loss.

Family connections are some of the most important relationships.

When conflict arises between family members, relationships can become complicated. You may feel like you have less options when it comes to speaking up or setting boundaries.

You feel stuck between family members and uncomfortable about having to choose sides.

Family conflict comes in many forms.

As we transition from childhood to adulthood, our roles change.

From child to

     spouse to

          adult to

               parent

                    ….and so many phases in between.

Family Conflict ChicagoIt can be hard to navigate these changes, so you are true to yourself while keeping your relationships strong.

New parents have to learn how to parent together.

Couples may struggle to adjust to the rules and expectations of each other’s family.

Becoming an adult can lead to differing values, world views, and life choices that family might not agree with.

Setting boundaries with family members is often necessary but can feel difficult. What will happen if a different opinion is shared? Will the relationships be lost? Will the whole family structure change? Will there always be tension?

Trying to manage family conflict can cause anxiety, stress, and an urge to isolate from family. It can mean dreading family events or holidays weeks or months in advance. It can make even answering phone calls scary.

This is where we come in. We can provide tools to help you identify when and how you can manage the conflict and when you may need to prioritize taking care of yourself.

Grief is not just sadness…

Some days, grief can feel like rage building up within you while on other days all you feel is a persistent numbness. Perhaps you feel fearful or even guilty as a result of what has happened. Maybe you feel a sense of dread anticipating a loss that will happen sometime in the near future.

Grief is a natural part of the human experience. It is normal to feel strong and painful emotions as a result of a loss.

People grieve for a limitless number of reasons, so intense emotions such as sadness, fear, guilt, emptiness, and anger may occur. Regardless of what emotions you experience and how challenging or easy different days seem, your grief process is unique to you.

The ups-and-downs of grieving a loss can feel like a rollercoaster. Some days, you might feel “okay,” while other days it might take everything you’ve got just to get through the day. When the intense feelings and hard days seem unbearable, it’s easy to slip into feeling hopeless. You do not have to stay in this space forever.

Are you starting to feel stuck in your grief? Does it seem like intense feelings are so persistent that you are struggling to find hope? With the right tools and support, healing can occur.

 

How do I know when it is time to get support?

Grief can occur before, during, and after a loss, and every person responds to loss differently. Some of the more common instances of loss include:

  • death of a loved one
  • loss of a job
  • separation from a partner and/or divorce
  • loss of a friendship
  • diagnosed with a life-altering illness
  • serious illness of a loved one
  • loss of a pregnancy
  • loss of a particular way of life

If you have experienced a loss and are trying to cope with your grief, keep an eye out for these signs to know if it is time to seek help:

  • feeling that life is meaningless
  • excessive avoidance of others
  • difficulty experiencing any positive emotions
  • difficulties with functioning at work or at home

Grief can be a complicated journey, but the process can become one of hope and healing. Let us help you take your healing to the next level so that you can get back to living life in a way that feels meaningful and fulfilling. 

You keep hearing that the whole world has changed so much.

LGBTQIA

There are laws now about discrimination and marriage equality. And, yet, there are still moments and places that make you feel uncomfortable just for being yourself.

You want to be able to live your truth and express yourself without having to worry about what the consequences might be. This type of vigilance is not only exhausting, but over time can cause you distress and shame.

You deserve to feel seen and heard!

Your gender and sexual identity can play a big role in your life. And you get to declare what identities feel right for you. Knowing that you’re going into a safe space regarding this can make all the difference when it comes to sharing other challenges that you may be having, like anxiety, depression, or family conflict. Some of these challenges can intersect with your identities.

LGBTQIAYou may find that the discrimination you face has made it difficult to feel comfortable on the bus as you aren’t sure if someone will be staring or commenting on how you look. You may find that you’re struggling to feel comfortable in your body. Or, you might have family that are not as supportive as you wish they were.

When having to cope with these challenges, isolating yourself from others may be a choice. Identity feelings can affect sleeping or eating. Lacking in self-confidence can cause you to struggle to go after your goals whether they are personal or work-related. These challenges are holding you back. But they don’t have to anymore!

You can feel comfortable being yourself and live your best life!

Change is inevitable.

Counseling for Life Transitions ChicagoThroughout life, we will all experience transitions. Some may be welcome experiences while others may be situations outside our control. No matter the circumstance, it can be difficult to adjust.

Learn to embrace the change and feel in control of the journey.

Perhaps you were so excited about your upcoming move but moving day has arrived and you feel sheer dread. What if you don’t meet anyone? What if you hate the new neighborhood?

These thoughts continue even after you begin to settle, and you cannot seem to shake the nonstop worry surrounding your decision and what lies ahead.

Transitions come in many ‘shapes.’

We might think immediately of a divorce. Yes – that’s a big one. Divorce affects each family member differently.

But there are so many others.

Counseling for Life Transitions ChicagoBeginning or ending a relationship can cause stress or worry – perhaps indecisiveness. These same emotions may develop during a job change. It’s easy to second guess what we thought was a ‘firm’ decision made after careful thought.

The cycles of life: birthing a child, the child graduates, becoming an empty-nester – while we all may want this flow, sometimes each phase can surprise us with the degree of anxiety or depression that accompanies these steps.

Some transitions come with a heavy load of worry. Loss of a loved one can feel catastrophic. A serious illness or major medical diagnosis can change life as we know it.

Can’t wait to retire? Then what? Where did the lethargy or lack of motivation go? These are the ‘golden years.’ Really. Or they can be with a little help from our team.

A dream come true – children!

You have always wanted to have a family. Children are supposed to be the best thing that happened to you. And so why do you feel stressed, tired, and unsure? You can’t get your children to follow your directions. They have tantrums that leave you embarrassed and exhausted. Your life feels so chaotic.

Can’t one of these books/blogs/Websites/podcasts help?

Parenting Help Chicago

There are so many resources and opinions available about the best way to parent.

Give them structure.

Make sure they have the time and space to explore.

Let them make mistakes.

Shield them from making mistakes.

It can all be so overwhelming!

Children don’t come with an instruction manual.

Parenting Help ChicagoEach child is different and interacts with you and any other parents in your household in a unique way. And when you add additional challenges your child might have, such as special physical needs, a trauma history from adoption or emotional struggles, it can become more confusing and stressful.

There is so much to navigate!

It’s not only about your household, but also school, activities and friends. You want your children to have the best life they can. It can be a lot of pressure that you put on yourself.

As a result, you can find yourself feeling anxious, losing sleep and unable to concentrate. You find that you aren’t connecting to others in the moment and spend more time thinking about what to do next than really enjoying your time with your family.

The need to be perfect can be overwhelming.

Being perfect in all aspects of life is impossible! Social media makes it increasingly easy to compare ourselves to others. How do I compare to others related to parentingschoolrelationships?

Living with these constant comparisons increases the likelihood of feeling anxious, depressed, and devalued.

What does it mean to be a perfectionist, or to live with perfectionism?

While many will argue that perfectionism has benefits, there is a difference between wanting to be successful and struggling with perfectionism. How do you know which one you are dealing with?

Perfectionism leads to unhealthy thoughts and feelings:

• If I don’t complete this task I am a failure
• Feeling anxious, depressed, or ashamed
• High attention to detail, and not seeing the big picture
• Always being afraid of being evaluated negatively

You are enough!

Recognizing your need to be perfect – and telling yourself it’s ok not to be – is an important step. Perfection is not realistic, but that does not mean success is lost. We will work with you to set realistic and attainable expectations and to help you practice self-compassion. You deserve to feel accomplished and proud for all of your hard work!

Humans are wired for social connection.

Counseling for Relationship Challenges ChicagoSome of us crave social interactions more than others, but relationships are an inevitable part of life. Social, professional, and romantic relationships can be both rewarding and challenging.

Unfortunately, the emotional security provided in connecting with others can be overcome by conflict at times.

Often, the obstacles faced within relationships build up and can lead to “mountains from molehills.” Developing connections with others can lead to feeling vulnerable.

 

Key attributes of relationships…

Counseling for Relationship Challenges Chicago

In all relationships, we must balance the need to listen with being heard; the need for self-resiliency with the need to ask for help; and the need to set boundaries with the need to let others in. It is equally important to recognize that while you cannot control others, you can control the way you interact and react.

It is important to explore the past and how unspoken issues may be influencing present functioning. Facing unresolved conflicts is just one critical step toward change.

What can go wrong in relationships?

Everything.Counseling for Relationship Challenges Chicago

We recognize how challenging it is to take care of ourselves and our attitudes. Double that!

Often, the most common issue within a relationship is communication difficulties. This may be caused by one or the other ‘guarding’ what is said – or how to be free with our feelings while still maintaining control.

It’s easy to feel misunderstood within relationships. And it is hard to see there may be two sides. Managing conflict is never easy.

And then dependence. If the relationship is required ‘to make you happy,’ when it falls apart… feelings of abandonment may arise. Isolation may be the antidote – but it isn’t. Loneliness erodes self-confidence.

While our friends and family may say, ‘Get back out there; there’re more fish in the sea,’ we are thinking, ‘No way will I ever put myself in a relationship again. I won’t ever trust anyone again.’

Who am I?

Counseling for Self-Esteem ChicagoImages and messages about beauty, gender roles, and values are everywhere. The barrage of messages can make it difficult to assess who we are, as well as how to feel confident, valuable, and worthy of respect.

Not only do we have to navigate societal norms, we also must address our own thoughts and perceptions. How do you rate your appearance, views and opinions, and life circumstances?

Your appraisal of yourself will vary throughout your lifetime. These ups and downs are common, but people are often unaware of just how impactful having healthy versus low self-esteem can be.

Imperfect = I’m Perfect

Counseling for Self-Esteem Chicago

At times, you may feel good about yourself. You feel deserving of respect from others, take pride in your accomplishments, and acknowledge both your positive and negative attributes. Overall, you accept that you are a human comprised of strengths and imperfections.

Having a healthy self-esteem does not make you conceited or egotistical; instead, it means you are able to recognize yourself as the entire, complex being you are. You might find yourself willing to be more assertive, as you feel your thoughts and opinions matter regardless of whether they are perceived to be “right or wrong.”

When you have a healthy self-esteem, you are more resilient to stress and less likely to personalize difficulties or set-backs. Instead, you recognize that life is difficult, and things do not always go as planned. But that does not mean that you are the cause for the issue. Having a healthy self-esteem allows you to take a realistic appraisal of the situation and recognize yourself as a change agent.

I’ll never be good enough.

Counseling for Self-Esteem ChicagoExperiencing low self-esteem is something most people experience at some point in their lives. During these times, you may devalue your own thoughts and opinions, making you less likely to freely share. Using negative self-talk routinely can cause you to have difficulty making decisions or accepting criticism.

You might find yourself withdrawing for fear of being judged. You become highly critical of yourself. Rather than recognizing both your strengths and vulnerabilities, you focus almost exclusively on your weaknesses.

Sometimes low self-esteem can result in anxiety or depression, sleep difficulties, or even hostility to those around us.

Low self-esteem often manifests in a degrading way whereby you cannot realistically see all that you have to offer. Instead, your negativity toward yourself may make you feel unworthy, unlovable, useless. While we all have faults, this is not the sum of who you are! Prolonged or excessively negative thoughts can lead to mental health or physical conditions.

P R E S S U R E…

Stress Management ChicagoThe pressure to succeed professionally and personally is not a new phenomenon. However, the advances in technology have changed the expectations dramatically. It is increasingly difficult to leave work at the office thanks to emails and messaging that are available on phones and laptops.

Trying to enjoy an evening with your family may be interrupted by the urge to get on social media platforms to see what everyone else is up to. With the never-ending access to people, places, and events that are near and far, it has becoming increasingly difficult to be present in the moment.

Somehow, instead of being connected to the ones we are with, staying connected with those who are not near has taken precedence.

We are always connected!

Stress Management Chicago

Often, people underestimate the impact of constant stress. With the never-ending to-do list mounting, people fall into auto-pilot; this robotic method of getting through every day by merely going through the motions removes the excitement and connection that would otherwise be present.

Your constant attention on what needs to be done and who needs to be responded to often means that you are neglecting yourself. When do you check in to assess your own needs? Are you aware of when you need to recharge?

Where’s the reset button?

Stress Management Chicago

In a world where self-care has been deemed selfish and bragging about lack of sleep is a means of noting commitment, it is time to break the status quo!

Learning to manage your stress and care for yourself is critical to ensuring you can continue tackling all the other commitments in your life. IT STARTS WITH YOU! You don’t fit in self-care with whatever time you have remaining for yourself; you must prioritize it.

Failure to manage stress effectively…

Stress Management Chicago…can lead to mental health or physical conditions. You’ve heard of exhaustion, burnout, and constant worry. These are real responses to stress. Less known but generally present is difficulty concentrating, feeling stuck, and irritability. Stress can also keep you from sleeping, thus creating intense fatigue.

Physically, stress can attack your gastrointestinal (GI) system and cause discomfort; your immune system can become compromised. You might experience weight gain or loss – overeating out of nervousness or not taking time to eat.

A never-ending loop of despair holds you in its grasp.

Trauma Help ChicagoA traumatic experience can look different for everyone, and it’s not always obvious.

Major events such as warfare, abuse, and life-or-death situations can be traumatic. However, it may be just as difficult to cope with other situations.

Trauma can include being bullied while in middle school, the end of a relationship, discrimination or harassment, public humiliation, or any number of other situations that leave you feeling like you are lost and stuck in a never-ending loop of despair.

You feel isolated because you don’t want to burden others with your problems. Just traveling to work or watching the news causes flashbacks or memories of what happened to you that you can’t seem to shake.

Relationships at work, home, and in the community start to suffer. You just can’t seem to snap out of it. Your trust in others and yourself suffers.

You have tried so hard to be brave and strong, but now all you feel is exhausted, both physically and emotionally. It’s taken everything just to survive at this point.

Trauma impacts the whole person — mind, body, and spirit.

Recognizing trauma is not always within your awareness at first.

You may experience the physical reminders of your trauma without fully understanding why. Events that happened years ago may still be impacting you now.

Disturbed sleep, nightmares, irritability, loss of hope, panic, disconnection from reality and your surroundings, feelings of shame and guilt, and difficulty connecting with others might be a part of your experience.

Trauma can make living your life to the fullest difficult. Maybe you just want to understand who you are and what you want out of life.

You tell yourself that you want to move on, move forward, and forget – but your trauma holds you captive.

Healing is possible with the right support.

Trauma Help ChicagoWe are here to be that understanding avenue for healing. It is our honor when individuals allow us to accompany them on the often-difficult journey of trauma recovery.

Working through traumatic experiences can help you to establish your sense of safety and trust in yourself and your world again.

We Can Help!

Restorative Counseling prioritizes the health and safety of our clients and staff. We will be offering Virtual Counseling until further notice.