Category Archives: Therapist Articles

How To Trust In An Un-Trusting World

Trust is a very valuable thing. In the human world, we EARN the trust of others. In the realm of God, we can trust everything because God is faithful and never deviates from the true nature of who He is. What do we do in a world where it is so hard to trust? Can we ever truly trust anything outside of ourselves when humans are not perfect and can so easily make mistakes?

Trusting depends on where our trust is directed. Have you ever given thought to trusting yourself? Can you depend on yourself and do you believe in yourself too? When the chips are down and the world is hard to understand can you rely on yourself in any circumstance to bring things through, regardless of what that might look like?

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Moments of Decision’s Past

Some moments in time are like dividing lines between seasons of learning, maturing, and growing. Think of those moments where your decisions might have been a bit more wise, clear, and spiritually discerning. Mind you, we don?t live in the past, but we should reflect on it in order to learn. Over the last few weeks I have been in a mode where even in my dreams my past decisions have been looming up in front of me. It?s amazing how the thoughts of possible upcoming trials can spin us into moments of evaluation.

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17 Things Couples Tend to Over Share on Social Media

 

New relationships can be both fun and exciting, prompting a lot of couples to want to share their excitement with the world, specifically, via social media. Social media affords many individuals and couples the opportunity to share their happiness, sometimes unhappiness with not only family and close friends but everyone in the stratosphere. Most of us have been there, unable to contain our happiness about our new love and budding relationship, however, some things should not be shared with everyone. Advancements in technology and social media has really changed the way most people socialize, engage the world, and view relationships. Years ago, when you started a new relationship you would share the news with your best friend, opting to reveal your status to your family until it became “serious”. However, with the changes in the usage, users, and options to share, we have not only increased our usage, but what we reveal and how we reveal it on social media. Social media is not limited to couples, but single adults and children. We share both insignificant and significant, from what we ate on a given day to sickness, additions to family, and breakups.

It may come as a surprise, but nearly one-third of all adults and teenagers post their relationship statuses to social media outlets, such as Facebook. Unfortunately, with the sharing of personal, intimate details of our lives also comes with scrutiny and judgement. Seeing someone’s life and relationship updates can be a welcome distraction from our own less interesting or challenging lives. Would it shock you to know that more than half of social media users lie about or exaggerate their statuses online? Often, users will report their relationships or partners in a fantastical way with everything “being great”, having the “perfect partner” or the “perfect relationship”, when their partner or the relationship is far from perfect. Keep in mind no one and no relationship is perfect, every relationship has its ups and downs, every person has both good and bad traits. Consider this, most people watching our lives play out online we barely know, do not remember, or have never met. However, that does not seem to stop our social media or “Facebook” friends from weighing in on the changes and or updates we report. Every time an update or status is reported we have potentially invited another person into our lives and relationships.

In addition to the limitless opportunities to share, some users utilize social media to keep tabs on or spy on current and former partners.  Keeping tabs on current as well as former partners can lead to breakdown of a current relationship or inability to move on from a previous relationship. Using social media to spy can lead to insecurities, self-doubt, or unwarranted suspicions. Rather than providing updates on our lives and partners we are encouraged to live life, not write about it, engage in it both selflessly and feverishly.

Although, you may want to cast yourself and your relationship in the best light possible, you may also be setting your partner and yourself up for unrealistic expectations. Relationships and people are not without fault or imperfections; therefore, they should not be depicted that way online or anywhere else. Relationships that are exaggerated online can lead persons viewing your posts to question their own relationship quality. Those that play out negatively online can lead to onlookers taking sides, speculating about the future of your relationship, reveling your relationship challenges, pitying your relationship, etc. Once you put something online you cannot take it back, it is out there, and it is out there to stay.

 

17 Things Couples Tend to Over Share on Social Media

  • Their relationship status
  • Overly mushy exchanges
  • Relationship challenges/fights
  • A cheating partner
  • Intimate or sexual details
  • Sexy/scandalous pictures of a partner
  • Criticisms of a partner or former partner
  • Comparisons between themselves and an ex-partners new partner
  • Mean spirited jokes
  • Breakups
  • Pregnancy announcements
  • Challenges with conception
  • Flaunting of personal items or gifts
  • Multiple pictures
  • Jealousy comments
  • Friends or families dislike for a partner
  • Vacation photos with your partner

Every relationship goes through a period of ups and downs. The good, the bad, and the ugly. However, the things that strengthen a relationship and enhances the bond between partners is their ability to communicate directly with each other, rather than communicating through social media, or sharing personal details about their relationship online. The urge to share can seem overwhelming, especially, in a budding relationship. However, to preserve intimacy and keep your relationship private you need to resist the urge and keep the details of your relationship between your partner and yourself.

As you spend more time with your partner and keep private things private the trust in the relationship builds, you become closer as a couple. Notably, when you overshare on social media you open yourself and your relationship up for criticism and negative feedback that can affect your thoughts and actions in your relationship. When partners overly share details of their relationship, those lending their advice can say things or make recommendations that are less than positive. This advice can lead to self-doubt, pressure to escalate the relationship, and cause tension in the relationship.

Stress and Your Health

We all know stress can make us irritable, forgetful, and moody but did you know just how much stress can affect our health? I started having chest tightness and a bit of difficulty in taking deep breath’s.  There was no pain, it just felt like I had an ace bandage around my body.  As this continued I began questioning if this could be a cardiac issue and considered making an appointment for a cardiac work-up.  I was working in an office I couldn’t stand, I had constant issues with my boss, and I often burst into tears at work due to the constant tension.  I quit my job giving a four-week notice and my chest tightness lessened by half almost immediately. When I walked out for the final time, my cardiac and respiratory problems were gone.  I never dreamed the stress of work could cause these issues.

 

Hypertension, diabetes, back pain, stomach pain, headaches.  Sound familiar?  These are just a few of the physical symptoms that stress can cause or aggrevate.  Muscular tension from clenching your jaw or tightening neck or back can limit blood circulation through area and increase amounts of lactic acid in muscles causing muscle pain.  Clenching your jaw and grinding teeth can cause tooth breakdown and an increase in tooth injuries. Grinding teeth can also cause headaches.   Headaches can indicate higher blood pressure or can be from tension in neck. Increased stress can increase stomach issues due to increased stomach acid.  Blood sugar levels are more difficult to regulate and stabilize due to stress and the poor eating habits that accompany it.

 

Business experts place the cost of uncorrected medical issues in the billions. The exact cost of increased health premiums, lost work time and decreased productivity and increased use of negative coping such as using or increasing alcohol is impossible to estimate.

 

Unfortunately, when seeing a physician for one or more of these physical complaints rarely do they discuss coping skills or suggest counseling for assistance.  Anxiety and depression are on the most common causes for people to see their primary doctor. Ask your physician if an increase in stress could cause your current issues.  Discuss your concerns about the causes of stress with him/her.  Discuss the possibility of seeking counseling to help you develop more appropriate coping skills and to begin to manage your stress in a more positive manner.

When interviewed, 70%-90% of those who had sought counselilng stated their symptoms and their quality of life had improved after seeking treatment.  Counseling may help you to manage your stress without use of increased medications.  Always seek your doctors advice before changing any medications. Ask your doctor if relieving stress could have an impact on your symptoms.

 

As consumers, we need to be aware of the interaction between our physical and mental health and ask our health care providers for referrals and assistance.   Consider counseling if your health has changed.

 

Kim offers a free 10-minute consultation on her Virtual Therapist Network site. Kim accepts most major major insurance companies and even offers a sliding scale for those in lower-income households.

Kim works in Bradley, Illinois and as an On-line Therapist (Video over the Internet) to help her clients verbalize their issues, learn to view things differently, and feel comfortable with their decisions. Just as there is not one correct answer in life, there are multiple ways to find a solution in counseling. Kim will work with you to find the most appropriate solution for you. Please contact Kim at her Associated Counseling office in Bradley Illinois or on-line at the Virtual Therapist Network.

How To Develop Thicker Skin: Five Ways

Have you ever had someone tell you that you need thicker skin, meaning that you are too sensitive and respond to insult way too easy? If so, I totally get it! Before I continue, I want to suggest you embrace your sensitivity and all of the good things about it. If you are sensitive it means you are compassionate, empathetic, and that you care about all that brings goodness in this life.

If you are too sensitive it means you can easily react out of your wounds. This is not all together a bad thing, so if this is you, don’t fret! It means that it points to where your wounds are and that can help you heal a lot.

Here Comes the Story! 

First, before I go further, you KNOW I have to tell a story. Yep, I have one for every message I put out there! When I was taking classes to become a medical assistant way back in the stone age, we used to use an orange to do injections on before we practiced on our lab partner. There is a huge reason for this! The orange has a thick enough skin to protect the inner part of it, yet it is pliable enough to allow the healing benefits of the injection into the interior (or the heart) of the fruit. The skin around an orange protects the inside from becoming bruised. Once the fruit has a  bruised exterior things can effect the heart of it. Continue reading

Avoiding Family Feuds

Avoiding Family Feuds

Have you ever wished parenting was easier?  Children struggling with classes, forgetting, or refusing to follow household rules and expected behaviors, and open disrespect  is frustrating for all parents.  We may feel this will never improve but often with some changes in the way we communicate we can change the situtation.

  • Avoid yelling and screaming.  Take a few seconds to regain control before you begin speaking with your kids.  If all discipline needed was screaming, things would have changed long ago.
  • Don’t assume your child understands your directions.  “Clean your room” often means different things to child and adult.  Break the job down into what needs to be done.
  • Kids don’t see work that should be done.
  • Make the punishment fit the crime.  Take away online time for the rest of the day, not for a week.  The reality is that few parents hold the kids accountable for more than one day, so make the punishment punish the child, not you.
  • Be consistent! Enforcing consequences sporadically is confusing for everyone and undermines future communication with your kids.
  • Don’t forget your kids need praise, recognition, and to feel certain you love them.

Parenting is constant work and worry about the most valuable relationships in our lives.  Making changes in the way we communicate can only help to improve this relationship.  And remember, childhood doesn’t last forever so enjoy the time while you can.  If you honestly evaluate things, there probably are more positive moments than problems.  Consider family counseling if you are concerned the problems are becomimng unmanageable.

Kim offers a free 10-minute consultation on her Virtual Therapist Network site. Kim accepts most major major insurance companies and even offers a sliding scale for those in lower-income households.

Kim works in Bradley, Illinois and as an On-line Therapist (Video over the Internet) to help her clients verbalize their issues, learn to view things differently, and feel comfortable with their decisions. Just as there is not one correct answer in life, there are multiple ways to find a solution in counseling. Kim will work with you to find the most appropriate solution for you. Please contact Kim at her Associated Counseling office in Bradley Illinois or on-line at the Virtual Therapist Network.

Do You Have a Meaningful Relationship?

Our lives consist of so many relationships. How to navigate through them all in a healthy, meaningful way, though, is a skill.

Where did you learn how to have those meaningful relationships?

Most likely from your parents or maybe other significant people in your life around you growing up. Maybe watching your grandparents? Growing up, you were surrounded by many people that ultimately helped mold you into the person you are today. Those relationship examples before you probably provided you with a lot of good models, however, you may have grown up also witnessing some negative examples of how to not only treat others, but also how to view yourself with others.

With all of these examples in front of you, ultimately you learned (good or bad) what different relationships were all about.

The two main people in your life were probably your parents. Think back on what you saw between them. Did you see two people who could negotiate through problems effectively and showed kindness and affection while talking? Or did you witness yelling, arguing, even silence, or maybe anxiety between two people who did not get along? Whatever your background was in front of you as a child, these examples helped to create your roadmap in how you view relationships today, how you parent, how you start and end the day, and how you interpret meaning into your interactions.

Your relationship perspective began when you were a child, and continues to play out in your life today. What are your relationships like today as an adult? Are you married? Do you have a good relationship with your partner; is your partner your best friend? Have you ever asked yourself why is my relationship not going so well or how come we continue to argue about the same topic, over and over again? Is your life repeating the same patterns with your partner that you witnessed as a child from your parents?

The relationships with whom you choose to let into your personal world are very important. I want you to think about all the interactions that you have, daily. Every interaction is a reflection of you. How you choose to talk, respond, and react to others is revealing of your personality as well as how you witnessed relationships from your past.

Are there parts of your personality that you do not particularly like? Now is your chance to work on yourself. Don’t wait for someone in your life to tell you the impact you are having on others in a negative way. Be proactive and look inward. I know, it is really hard to look at ourselves. Most people don’t want to think about themselves, let alone any negative feelings that may emerge from impacting others around them. When I think about my actions and thoughts every day, I purposely work on being intentional within every relationship I have. You may ask, what is “being intentional?” Being intentional is how you react to yourself and to others by both your inward dialogue as well as the outward expressions that others see. Intentionality does not mean that we express everything that we feel, think, or believe. You are purposely trying to slow down your thinking to situations that are presented. You stop and think, “How can my reaction help this situation or hurt it?” In a relationship, being intentional takes work. After time, it can become second nature.

Here are some tips to consider in being intentional:

  1. I want you to think about every interaction you have with your partner in a new way.
  2. Be kind.
  3. Be curious; ask questions.
  4. Be thoughtful.
  5. Have an interest in your partner’s world.
  6. Have an interest into who they are as a different person than you.
  7. Slow down with your thoughts and reactions.
  8. Try to express your thoughts into more than just body language, while doing steps #1,2,3,4,5,6,7

I had to learn this skill. It takes time and patience, but I know you can achieve it in your relationships. I learned how to be intentional during my former 19 year career at NASA, Johnson Space Center, while working as a flight controller in the Mission Control Center. When faced with crisis emergencies involving our nations’ astronauts and mission flight directors, I had to stop, slow down, and assess the situation. There was always emotion involved internally when being part of such an intense situation, but any negative interactions with a Flight Director or one of my colleagues was not going to ameliorate the crisis. I had to learn how to help the other flight controllers and Flight Director in the room, by first helping myself to focus my thoughts, while maintaining my reactions, so that I could then understand the situation. In otherwords – I had to breathe! Similar to what we are told when flying on an airplane – “place the oxygen mask on yourself first before your children” If you don’t have a lot of oxygen going to your brain, you certainly can’t think in a calm, rational manner and won’t be able to help anyone else!

I think of John Gottman’s book entitled, “How to Raise an Emotionally Intelligent Child.” If your child is in a panicked, hysterical state – does it help your child for you to be hysterical also? Or would it make more sense to be intentional and try to remain calm, so that you can listen and understand how your child is feeling; helping them to talk out their feelings. The same thing pertains for adult relationships. If a spouse is upset at you, it can help tremendously to be intentional and listen. Try and understand how they feel by asking them questions; be curious. Help them to describe their emotions. When someone is upset at you, it can be hard to hear, just like looking inward at ourselves as I mentioned previously. During those times of upset, if you can view them as opportunities for connection or closeness, then being intentional becomes easier. Your whole focus is on the other person. How they are feeling. If each of you are being intentional with each other, then you know you always have each other’s shoulder to lean on. You don’t have to worry about whether there will be a “dart” said toward you or whether your partner is really listening to how you feel; You are caring for one another.

How difficult is it to care for one another during tumultuous times? Research by the Gottman Institute, demonstrates that there truly may be a lot of difficulty in being able to focus on each other during an argument. Especially if our heart rate is increased. Instead of listening, one person may be thinking about their next sentence or how they need to express their point of view. Being intentional is a skill that allows you to slow down and put your partner first.

I specialize in helping couples and families become intentional with both inner thoughts as well as outwardly reactions and expressions. I have a natural, calm presence, without any judgement. I believe that any situation is manageable through caring and understanding. Here at the Center for Relationship Wellness, I will help you look at your relationship patterns and focus on slowing down to think about how you are personally contributing or contaminating to your relationship. Working through issues can be intimidating and stressful, however, together we can help your relationship evolve into something more positive and meaningful.

Women in the Workplace: One’s Definition of a Work\Life Balance

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2014, 57% of women participated in the labor force.  Of those women, 69.9% were mothers.  Since 1975, the rate of women in the workforce and working mothers has risen from 47.4% to 70.3%, which implies that women continue to work after having children.

The Department of Labor of the United States of America, in The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993(1993), clearly recognizes the needs of working women. According to this statute:

The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 states that “it is necessary to balance the demands of the workplace with the needs of families, to promote the stability and economic security of families, and to promote national interests in preserving family integrity. The lack of employment policies to accommodate working parents can force individuals to choose between job security and parenting. Due to the nature of the roles of men and women in our society, the primary responsibility for family caretaking often falls on women, and such responsibility often affects the working lives of women more than it affects the working lives of men. Employment standards that apply to one gender only have serious potential for encouraging employers to discriminate against employees and applicants for employment who are of that gender.” (The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (1993).

A woman has the privilege to actually choose between work and motherhood. Social conditioning, however, entails that the woman put home before career and that society treats women differently.  Social expectation affects the decisions women make about their careers. They are subjected to many different demands and are often expected to play several roles that may be conflicting. Caring for a family often means that many work-life conflicts emerge for women. A woman may face simultaneous pressures from both work and family roles. These conflicts are often intensive, and a woman’s response may result in the reduction of employment which in turn leads to a restriction in career opportunities and advancement.

How Women Can Help Themselves

According to Powell and Greenhouse (2006), women may not receive any formal help from their employer to manage their work−life balance and if they want to strike any balance between work and their lives outside work, they must find their own ways of doing so. Women must have a desire to take control of their own work−life balance and have self-initiative, representing their own individual effort aimed at securing this work−life balance with being goal-oriented.

 

There are different kinds of unofficial techniques or behaviors that a woman, as an active manager of her own work−life balance can use in being proactive.

 

According to Wrzesniewski and Dutton (2001), in order to gain control over work and their identity in the workplace, women must be able to clarify their bosses’ expectations about the workload that they can handle and also manage spouses’ and friends’ ideas about how hard they need to work.  A job may have at least some aspects objectively defined by the organization, however, work−life balance must be constructed subjectively by an individual.

 

A woman may need to consider controlling the length and timing of her working day by managing when her work actually begins.  A woman must also define her own terms in making decisions about the job she wants to work in. She must make choices about her employer, job or work projects based on the hours she thinks she will have at work.  A woman may want to move closer to her workplace in order to reduce the amount of time she spends travelling to and from work every day.

 

Some women will craft their own definitions of work−life balance, framed in terms that they believe are possible for only them to achieve.

 

For some people, cognitive techniques such as reframing and defining what work−life balance means to them or compromising an ideal work−life balance in return for future rewards are significant aspects of changes in their behavior.

How Employers Can Help

The modern work environment needs to consider the special needs of the working mother population, changing its orientation from male dominance to gender neutrality and parenting friendly behavior. The joint family and the nuclear family unit both need to adjust to the needs of the working mother so as to allow a healthier family to develop.  In order for organizations to retain talented women, they must continue to establish family-friendly human resource practices such as flextime, job sharing, telecommuting, assistance in finding daycare or providing onsite daycare, as well as suitable nursing areas. Organizations can cope with the increase in stress by creating programs to promote work-life balance, especially for employees with families.  Organizations can also make sure that mental health services are included in their health care plans through employee assistance programs.

 

From a Student’s Perspective

I am a working mother of three children.  I am now working toward my second career later in life with a Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy at the University of Houston-Clear Lake.  Twenty years ago, however, I started working professionally when I was just 19 at Johnson Space Center\NASA in Houston, Texas.  I trained the astronauts on the communication equipment onboard the Space Shuttle, was a flight controller in Mission Control and later became the deputy facility manager of Mission Control for the International Space Station.  All the while, having three children, going to school for my Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science, and managing my household with my husband of 16 years.  Looking back, how did I do it all?  I remember “swapping” my kids when they were little in the parking lot of Johnson Space Center with my husband as one of us came to work for graveyard shift, and the other one was just getting off.  Those were really hard times, but I will tell you, I had to know myself very well to manage any stress from my job or in being a mother at home.  Knowing myself meant, knowing my own boundaries, knowing my limitations.  Knowing what I was and was not willing to settle for – which meant pay, job hours, flexibility with duties, my own alone time as an individual, and what my priorities were for our family.  I have seen many successes over the years by just wanting to have that genuine interest in myself as a woman and in wanting it all with my career and as supermom.  I HAD to discover what my work\life balance needed to be for me.  My advice for women today would be – Make individual goals for yourself and with your family, and do whatever you need to do to achieve your own definition of success.  Think it through and set both short and long term goals.  Talk with your employer about your struggles, if you are comfortable, so that they know what you are trying to handle in your life.  Talk with your partner.  Make hard situations become simple by planning ahead and as I always say – “Break down any stressors in your life into manageable pieces that can be solved.  You can do it!” – I learned those critical thinking skills from working in Mission Control as a flight controller!

Antonioni, D. (1996). Two strategies for responding to stressors: Managing conflict and clarifying work expectations. Journal of Business and Psychology 11(2): 287–295.

 

Berg, J., Wrzesniewski, A., Dutton, J. (2010a). Perceiving and responding to challenges in job crafting at different ranks: When proactivity requires adaptivity. Journal of Organizational

Behavior 31: 158–186.

 

Berg, J, Grant, A., Johnson, V. (2010b). When callings are calling: Crafting work and leisure in pursuit of unanswered occupational callings. Organization Science 21(5): 973–994.

 

Campbel, C. S. (2000). Work-family border theory: A new theory of work−life balance. Human Relations 53(6): 747–770.

 

Kossek E., Lautsch, B., Eaton, S. (2006). Telecommuting control and boundary management: Correlates of policy use and practice job controls and work-family effectiveness. Journal of Vocational Behavior 68: 347–367.

 

Powell, G., Greenhaus, J. (2006). Managing incidents of work-family conflict: A decision-making perspective. Human Relations 59(9): 1179–1212.

 

Twenge, J.M., Campbell, S.M. (2008).”Generational differences in psychological traits and their impact on the workplace”, Journal of Managerial Psychology, 23 (8): 862 – 877.

http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/02683940810904367

 

Wrzesniewski, A., Dutton, J. (2001). Crafting a job: Revisioning employees as active crafters of their work. Academy of Management Review 26(2): 179–201.

 

Retrieved from US Bureau of Labor Statistics (2015).

http://data.bls.gov/search/query/results?cx=013738036195919377644%3A6ih0hfrgl50&q=women+in+the+workplace

 

Retrieved from the US Department of Labor (2015).

http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/statutes/fmla.htm

Communicating With Your Kid

Communicating with Your Kid

Teen and Parent Talking

I was chauffeuring my kids one day listening to radio news. The newscaster announced  the average American parent spends 3 minutes each day communicating with their kids.  I was horrified. 3 minutes? I knew I was doing a much better job than “THOSE” parents and decided to monitor our communication to prove this.  I paid close attention for the next week while I communicated with my kids. What I found was that I was talking to my kids more than 3 minutes each day, but it was focused on directions “hurry up and get in the car”, “do you have your homework done?” “stop aggravating her.”   So lots of talking and not much communication.  I wasn’t doing any better than THOSE parents, I was one of them.  I was shocked to learn that I spent so much time give directions and no clear time communicating.  So how can you actively communicate with your kids?

  • The time spent in the car driving to and from is not great communication time because it limits eye contact and face to face sharing.
  • Don’t be afraid to tell your kids you made a mistake or that you are sorry.
  • You don’t have to explain reasons for your decisions other than to say you are concerned about their safety. Some times the reason is “because I said so”.  Long winded explanations will not help your kids understand any better.
  • Always be as honest as possible. Tell them you don’t know everything but are doing best you can.
  • Make certain they hear that life is not fair, not everyone wins, things will make them angry throughout life and they will have their feelings hurt.
  • Most of all, take the time to listen.  Listen without electronics in place, TV on, or while trying to finish a task. Set a time with them to meet later in the day to sit and talk.
  • Humor is important in family life.  Laughing lessens tension, humanizes us, and helps lower blood pressure, improve our immune system, and lessens pain.
  • Admit your mistakes immediately. Kids need to see that parents can admit wrongs and not lose face over it.  Introduce the concept of learning from mistakes.
  • And cut yourself some slack, you are doing the best you can.

Kim offers a free 10-minute consultation on her Virtual Therapist Network site. Kim accepts most major major insurance companies and even offers a sliding scale for those in lower-income households.

Kim works in Bradley, Illinois and as an On-line Therapist (Video over the Internet) to help her clients verbalize their issues, learn to view things differently, and feel comfortable with their decisions. Just as there is not one correct answer in life, there are multiple ways to find a solution in counseling. Kim will work with you to find the most appropriate solution for you. Please contact Kim at her Associated Counseling office in Bradley Illinois or on-line at the Virtual Therapist Network.