Month: <span>May 2021</span>

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness has become an increasingly popular form of self-care and a widely used mental health technique throughout recent years. Because it can be practiced in many different ways, mindfulness has become a flexible option for many people.

Oftentimes, we find ourselves going into our future or past too much. This can lead to feeling drained, anxious, stressed, or the development of mental health distress such as depression. Practicing mindfulness can help direct our attention away from patterns of thinking that lead to these difficult emotions and into a frame of mind that helps us engage with the world around us in the present moment.

Mindfulness helps you bring your focus and awareness to the present moment through different techniques such as focusing on sensations and feelings in the moment without judgement or interpretation. This practice can involve activities such as deep breathing, meditation, guided imagery, or guided body awareness activities like Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR).

Benefits of Mindfulness

Multiple clinical studies have supported the effectiveness of mindfulness activities including decreasing:

  • Stress
  • Symptoms of Depression
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Anxiety
  • Panic Attacks
  • Pain
  • Insomnia

Not only has mindfulness been shown to help decrease symptoms stemming from mental health disorders, it has also illustrated efficacy in:

  • Improving sleep
  • Decreasing feelings of burnout
  • Improving attention
  • Improving diabetes control

Mindfulness Activities

There are countless ways to practice mindfulness on a daily basis. Here are a few mindfulness activities that are relatively common.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR)

 This technique involves focusing on individual muscle groups throughout your body. Within PMR, you focus on slowly tensing individual muscle groups and then relaxing them. This activity helps you connect with your body, understand the difference between what it feels like to be tensed and relaxed, and become aware of physical sensations within your body.

Most PMR activities start with tensing and relaxing the muscles in your head and neck and working your way down to your toes. Try to tense your muscles for about five seconds and then relax for between 15-30 seconds before moving onto the next muscle group.


 Breathing activities to practice mindfulness can be done a lot of different ways. The most basic way of doing mindful breathing is to focus your attention on your breath. Take time to focus on your inhale and exhale in order to limit your mind from wandering to other things outside of your breath.

Focusing solely on your breathing can be difficult, especially if it is a new practice. If you want to practice a more structured approach to mindful breathing, short guided breathing exercises are available online for you to follow along with and many don’t take more than 5 minutes.


 This technique guides you to form mental images to take a visual journey to a peaceful, calming, or happy place or situation. Visualization usually incorporates many different senses such as smell, sight, sound, and touch within the guided visual journey in order for you to immerse yourself in your vision.

In order to get the most out of this experience, it’s recommended that you sit or lay in a quiet spot, wear loose clothing, and concentrate on your breathing and on the visualization activity.

 Acceptance Training

Take a moment to notice the thoughts about yourself that you are having that are directed to yourself. Are they how you would talk to a best friend or are they a little harsher than you would like them to be? Focus on treating yourself like you would treat a good friend. Would you be more gentle? More Patient? More flexible?

Use this information to practice acceptance and compassion for yourself, your thoughts, and your feelings surrounding how you talk to yourself.

Notice the Present Moment

 The inner monologue that many of us have can be difficult to separate from. This technique helps you step away from your thoughts about the past or the future in order to focus on what is happening around you in the present moment.

Start by focusing on your breath and the sensations in your body. Once you start focusing on that, slowly bring your attention to what is happening around you. Notice the sounds, smells, and other sensations and senses that are currently present with you in the room. While some thoughts will come up, try and notice them without judgement and let them pass without inspecting them too closely.

There are many mindfulness guided videos that can help you get in touch with the present moment if you’re looking for more structure within this technique.

When to Practice Mindfulness

Depending on the mindfulness practice you choose, it is a flexible activity that can be done anywhere and anytime. Exercises like breathing, acceptance training, and noticing the present moment can be done relatively quickly and in any setting. However, research has suggested that doing mindfulness in an outdoor environment is even more effective and beneficial.

Exercises that are a bit more structured such as Progressive Muscle Relaxation or Guided Meditation require you to set aside time and be in a quiet space free from distractions or interruptions. We recommend trying these types of activities in the morning or before bed in order to get you ready for the day or decompress and get ready for bed.

Mindfulness is something that may take time in order for it to feel effortless. Aim to practice a form of mindfulness everyday for about a month in order for it to become a habit. It may be helpful to think of it as a form of self-care and a way to reconnect with yourself.

Child Counseling Services

Knowing if what your child is going through is normal or part of a bigger issue can be difficult. Typically, children and teens could benefit from therapy when they are struggling with issues they can’t cope with alone or are experiencing symptoms that are affecting their ability to function on a daily basis. It can also be beneficial when certain life transitions occur within a child’s life such as moving, a change in family dynamics such as a death in the family, divorce, or new marriage.

Therapy is a type of treatment that can help children and teens experiencing problems that affect how they feel, act, or learn. This process can help teens learn how to problem solve, communicate, and better cope with the issues they face.

What Problems Do Child Therapists Help With?

 Therapists that work with children and adolescents are trained to treat a wide range of problems that children and teens face. For example, child counselors can help children and teens navigate difficult situations like:

  • Family conflict and divorce
  • School Problems
  • Bullyings
  • Health Problems
  • Life Transitions

Therapists can also help children and teens understand and deal with difficult emotions such as:

  • Sadness
  • Anger
  • Stress
  • Low Self-Esteem
  • Grief
  • Nervousness

In addition to helping children and teens deal with emotions and situations within their life, therapists are also trained in helping treat conditions like:

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • OCD
  • ADHD
  • Anxiety
  • Eating Disorders
  • Self-injury
  • Disruptive Thoughts
  • Suicide Ideation
  • Trauma-related Disorders

What to Expect from Therapy?

Different approaches in treatment will be taken by the therapist depending on the client’s age. For instance, play therapy is typically used for younger children. This entails drawing, playing, and talking within each session. For older children and teens, talk therapy with activities that focus on learning and communication skills is typically used.

Both of these therapies include support from the therapist for the child to increase confidence, self-esteem, communication, and problem solving skills. Child and adolescent psychotherapy also provides a space for children and teens to talk, express, and further understand their feelings and learn ways to cope with them outside of therapy.

What Happens in Therapy?

Child psychologists and counselors employ a variety of methods when working with children and adolescents. For example, a therapist may use:

  • Talk – Talking helps children and teens express their feelings. When children feel like their feelings are able to be expressed without judgement while being validate, they can learn how to express and understand their emotions in a healthier way
  • Activities – Counselors employ a range of activities throughout the therapy in order to help the client understand, reflect, and find better ways to express feelings, communication, and coping skills. This can be done through activities such as play, drawing, or role-playing. For instance, meditation or breathing exercises may be used to help children and teens cope with intense feelings like stress, anxiety, or worry.
  • Life Skill Practice – Therapists often work with children and teens on life skills throughout the therapeutic process. This may be done through activities such as games which helps the client learn and practice skills such as self-control, self-advocacy, patience, sharing, and appropriate expression of feelings.
  • Problem Solving and Expression – Typically done with older children and adolescents, therapists will work with clients in order to find ways to solve problems that they are experiencing within their life.

How Long does Therapy Last

The length of therapy varies for everyone. A lot of factors influence the length of therapy such as what kind of therapy is being practiced, what reason your child or teen has come into therapy for, and the goals of therapy. In order to see improvement and goal attainment, expect therapy to last a few months to a few years with weekly sessions.

The Parent’s Role

As a parent, it can be difficult to know what your role is in the therapeutic process for your child or teen. Here are a few things that you can do in order to help your child get the most from therapy:

  • Find a Therapist that is a Good Fit for your Child – It’s important to find a therapist that your child likes and feels comfortable with. Starting therapy can cause some discomfort at first so it’s important to check in with how your child is feeling about the process and the therapist. We recommend looking through our clinicians to find someone that is a good fit for your child’s needs.
  • Keep a Consistent Therapy Schedule – Change takes time and being inconsistent with therapy appointments may result in slower goal attainment or change to occur in your child’s life.
  • Meet with the Therapist – It may be helpful to meet with the therapist and discuss the problems or symptoms that you are noticing at home or at school. Take the time to ask the therapist what you can do to help your child get the most out of therapy. Most of the time, the therapist can give you direction as to what to do that will be most beneficial to your specific case.
  • Parent with Compassion – Your child is going through a lot of changes and possibly dealing with some difficult emotions in therapy sessions. Because of this, it is important to show love, praise your child when they are doing well, and using kind words – even when correcting their behavior.

When is a Good time to start Child Counseling and Psychotherapy?

A good time to consider starting mental health counseling for your child or teen is when emotional or behavioral problems occur. Getting help earlier usually makes it easier to help the child or teen.

However, we understand the importance to avoid unnecessary treatments and associated costs in time and money. Sometimes it may be beneficial to monitor your child before starting counseling. If you’re unsure with whether or not counseling would be a good option, talking with a therapist can help guide you in the right direction or call our office at 847-979-0268 for more information.

When to take Action

There are few instances when it may not be a good idea to wait before starting therapy or seeking mental health help. For instance:

Eating Disorders – Eating disorders become harder to treat the longer the person with it has been struggling with it. This and the detrimental effects it can have on your child’s physical and mental health is why it is important to seek immediate help if your child is displaying signs of an eating disorder.

Family History – As certain mental disorders can be genetic, it is important to be aware of the increased chance that your child may begin to develop a mental health disorder that has been present in your family. If there is a history of mental health disorders in your family, it may be beneficial to start therapy a bit earlier, especially if symptoms or behaviors start presenting themselves.

Self-Harm, Cutting, or Suicide Attempts – Self-harm behavior such as cutting, suicide attempt, or suicide ideation is a dangerous behavior that should not be dismissed – even if it was a one time occurance. It’s important to get help from a trained professional in order to further understand the underlying reasons and emotions behind the action.


If you’re interested in learning more about child psychotherapy, counseling services, and psychological testing, please call our office at (847) 979-0268 or visit our website to learn more about the services we offer.

Beginner’s Guide to Couples Counseling

Couples counseling is a type of psychotherapy that focuses on helping couples-both married and unmarried- to work through challenges, strengthen their relationships, and develop healthier ways of communicating and work through relationship stress.

When to Go to Couples Therapy

 There isn’t a right or wrong time to start couples counseling. Couples counseling can be a great resource for couples in many different circumstances. From helping couples navigate through a specific event, conflict in the relationship, to strengthen certain aspects like communication, a counselor can help provide support and encouragement throughout the process.

Ideally, couples should start counseling before a crisis or talks of a breakup occur. This helps strengthen the relationship for when rough patches happen. However, coming into counseling no matter what is happening in your relationship is always better than not seeking help. The point is that you and your partner are making the conscious decision to work together and strengthen your relationship regardless of where you currently are in your relationship.

How to Find a Couples Counselor

Finding a couples counselor can be a bit more challenging than finding an individual counselor. It’s important to find a counselor that works for both you and your partner. Talking to your partner about what both of you want out of therapy, what you hope to gain, and how you want therapy to go is the first important step to finding a therapist that is a good fit for both of you.

It’s also important to keep an open mind when starting couples counseling. While you might have a vision in your mind as to what you want therapy to look like, you never really know what will click until you are in your first session together.

How to Prepare for your first session

Being open and talking about starting couples counseling with your partner is a great first step in preparing for your first session. Sitting with your partner in front of a new therapist can cause some feelings of anxiety and nervousness to arise. Know that these feelings are normal and don’t put too much pressure on you or your partner if there is some hesitancy during the initial session. Sometimes it takes time to get comfortable with the therapeutic process.

It’s also a good idea to clear your schedule for the first appointment. While it isn’t always possible, heading off to work directly after the first session isn’t recommended. Instead, try to schedule an appointment on a day off or later in the evening so you can have time to emotionally process, rest, and recharge after your session.

What to Do if One Partner isn’t As Committed to Counseling as the Other

It can be a difficult situation to navigate if one partner isn’t as sold on the idea of couple counseling as the other partner is. While it may be tempting to try and persuade your partner, it’s important to have an open and honest conversation about what your partner is feeling.

There can be many reasons as to why a partner doesn’t want to go to couples therapy. For instance, if your partner feels like they are being forced into therapy, it’s unlikely that they will gain much from the experience. Because of this, it is important to make your partner feel heard and understood.

That being said, if your partner is against therapy, it’s recommended to hold off on booking your first appointment and focus on discussing why you want to go to therapy. Sometimes, the fear of going to therapy, especially if it is their first time, can cause a knee jerk ‘no’ response from your partner. Communicating how important it is for you can help give them a different perspective and more information for them to consider.

What Results Should You Expect?

There is no definite answer to how successful couples therapy can be for a specific couple. Because there are so many factors associated with each couple, guaranteeing success is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to do.

While some evidence indicates that couples counseling does have long-term benefits for the couple, it ultimately boils down to the commitment and work that each individual within the couple puts into their relationship.

That being said, couples counseling can give you and your partner the tools necessary to build a strong foundation with healthy communication techniques that can lead to a long, stable, and fulfilling relationship.


If you’re interested in couples or marriage counseling, call Progressive Psychological Healthcare at 847-979-0268 for more information.

Social Anxiety

Social anxiety is a common mental health condition that is a fear of being watched or judged by others in a social setting. …

Tips on getting the most out of therapy

Find the Right Therapist for You Find a therapist that is a good fit for you and your needs. To set yourself up for the best …

What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)?

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy   Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a common type of therapy (psychotherapy) used to …