Over the last couple of months, some new directions have been made within this practice. First and foremost, is the change from operating the practice in University Place as its primary location, to the city of Tacoma. This change is perhaps the biggest for the practice, as it will allow a greater opportunity for prospective clients to connect with it for services. The new address, which is at a co-working styled business, will allow for various seating accommodations (both inside and outside), as well as flexibility of space usage. The practical nature of this approach also brings the location of the practice closer to I-5, as it is in downtown Tacoma, making it easier for clients outside of Tacoma to arrive for their appointments.
This practice recognizes that not all clients can schedule sessions during normal business hours. After hour sessions are now offered for an additional nominal fee. Typically, the practice office hours to date are 9AM-6PM M-F. Clients desiring services outside of these hours or on holidays, may be seen for an additional fee that will be added to their regular rate. Weekend appointments are not available. Please check the Service Fees page on the practice website for specific details. This after hours service is only available to private pay clients.
The practice has also changed the HIPPA compliant online Electronic Health Record (EHR) program it uses to provide clinical care to clients. For the better part of a year and a half, the practice had used an EHR that was free but was designed primarily for medical services. Recently, this same EHR service was bought out by another major company, and is converting the free record keeping software to a paid service in June 2018. However, the monthly fee for that service will fall outside the cost effectiveness approach of Life Path Counseling PLLC. A recent switch to a more economical online service (another EHR), allows a more specifically tailored approach to mental health with clients, while keeping the overhead costs of the practice low. This in turn benefits the clients and this practice more effectively, while allowing base rates to remain the same as they have been since the start of the practice in 2016. It is hoped that the transition to this new EHR platform will be easier for future clients to use when scheduling appointments, and more effective in tracking clinical records and rendered services.
What's next for Life Path Counseling? There are ideas of starting small counseling groups on topics such as depression or anxiety; collaborating more directly with other agencies for referral and program partnerships of social based services; as well as expansion into more video conferencing services for people with mobility issues. As these ideas are explored, implementation will be made to better provide services to clients in Tacoma and the surrounding communities.
As a private practice in the Tacoma area, the commitment to quality counseling services remains the central focus guiding the work of caring for clients, aspiring to perfect the ideals and aspirations contained in the mission statement and philosophy of practice outlined on this website. It is hoped that if you choose Life Path Counseling for your needs, that you will experience the support and acceptance strived for in helping clients get better at living life. The services provided are reviewed regularly for effectiveness and compliance with evidence-based practices. That said, counseling services can be developed that meet your needs and create a positive experience that lead to your goals.
This might be a topic that most people may find themselves wanting to read, but also feel a little insecure in doing openly. There is no doubt that relationships (especially the romantic ones), take a lot of work. Sometimes, we might even question our sanity for staying in the relationship after any length of time. There is an element of any romantic relationship for which stress likely draws us into a lack of intimacy for many couples where there is less emotional stability. Yes, I am speaking of sex. When a romantic relationship is strained in some way, or there is otherwise less harmony, sexual activity can tend to be put on a back burner. This is actually quite normal. We lose that desire for intimacy with our partner or spouse when the relationship is not stable or impaired. However, there are still some who think that sex can change circumstances to an issue causing stress. The reality, is that it doesn't change anything. Additionally, the stress of the relationship might even out you at odds with each other in terms of where your minds are about being sexual during stressful situations.
If you are on the side of the relationship not wanting sex when you are feeling stressed, you might be less inclined to care about your partner's needs, as you are busy dealing with your emotions in the disharmony of the relationship. You may or may not be able to put words to your reasons for feeling as you do, but nevertheless there is an absence of desire to be intimate. There might be other issues that are more personal to you that are difficult to discuss, and which have nothing to do with whatever might be an ongoing concern in your overall environment. Communication is key here with your spouse or partner. None of us are really all that good at mind reading, so the more you can keep the lines of communication open and to express your needs or lack of desire for intimacy the better.
If you are on the side of the relationship who thinks that being sexual when times are tough is a way to buffer the stress in your relationship, you might actually find a disagreeable partner. This is obviously not the time to think of your own sexual gratification as a way to create peace in your relationship. For one, it will be short lived. Second, it isn't every effective in solving the stress in the relationship. The sexual encounter might even backfire on you in your attempts to soothe the stress you both are experiencing in your environment. Sexual pleasure should be an expression of joy, but not used as a band-aid when times are tough.
Perhaps the more positive way to go, is to recognize that the stress in the relationship (whatever constitutes the stress) needs to be addressed directly. Understanding what is going on in the relationship, and being willing to work on fixing it, is one of the healthier approaches to dealing with issues that impact your relationship. Communication, strategizing to find solutions, seeking support from friends and family as needed, or even connecting with outside resources are likely to be very beneficial. Rather than think that the issues will simply go away on their own and one can just turn away from the problem, know that ignoring the issues which are causing the stress is likely only going to get worse. We cannot create change by standing still and doing nothing. So we must be present and in the moment of awareness to what is happening - both to ourselves, as well as our spouse or partner.
Developing healthy coping skills in a relationship is a central goal in dealing with stressful issues, and this in turn will help you in overcoming the many challenges you face. Seeking help from a counselor might also be useful in moving through these challenges. We all struggle in solving problems in our marriages, our committed partnerships, or even just basic romance. To move away from the space of a primal sexual behavior as solution to dealing with stressful situations to a place of conscious awareness of problem solving takes effort, maturity, desire, and a healthy approach to living life. There will be time for sexual intimacy when the space in your relationship is emotionally cleaner and the problems are handled effectively. When that time arrives you'll both be likely to enjoy it more than you could possibly imagine.
How difficult is it for us to see ourselves in a positive light? Why do we put ourselves down so easily when things go wrong in our life? These questions reflect a common theme in the lives of many people around the world. The answers often determine our ability to see ourselves first as human beings who make mistakes, and second, to see ourselves as people of worth. Now for many folks the first part of any statement may not be so difficult. "I failed a test"; "I didn't get to a meeting on time"; "I ruined dinner." But the second part can be brutal to our psyche. "I'm a stupid person"; "I'm a horrible business person and shouldn't even have this job"; "I'm a terrible cook, now my date will leave." We send messages to ourselves that so easily can build us up or tear us down. Are we even aware of what we are saying when we beat ourselves up so quickly?!
Self-esteem is a construct of the human experience that entails having a sense of respect for your self, as well as a dedicated sense of confidence in your abilities to succeed. In believing in our abilities despite our challenges, we not only recognize our humanness but also pave the way for improvement. Self-esteem is a difficult thing to manage when we get messages that start early in our life that reflect other people's perceptions of us - namely, our parents or other guardians. This is often where self-esteem is formed. The early years of our identity is often molded by what we were told at home about how those who took care of us saw us, and this had a impact good or bad on our overall internal development. We then carry this box of messages with us, and those messages become the defining blueprint of our level of success in life. If the messages were negative, this can hamper our ability to feel good about our successes when they occur because of feeling unworthy. If the messages were positive, but we fail at the task before us, we can buffer the failure against the positive messages and find ways to improve in the future.
In essence, people with a higher level of self-esteem tend to perform better in the world than those with lower levels of self-esteem. What does this mean for you in practical terms? For starters, if you suffer from low self-esteem you can improve it by recognizing that you get to decide how you see yourself. The messages you send yourself do not have to be the same degrading messages you might have often received when you were young. Our ability to judge ourselves so harshly is staggeringly unbelievable, when we could spend our time building ourselves up by recognizing all the good qualities we possess! This is also often a contributing factor to the experience of high levels of depression. Here's the awesome secret to building better self-esteem: A simple change of message sending to our brain will alter our perception of our inner sense of worth and harness the power of seeing ourselves as worthy, capable, good, lovable people.
Some of you are still staring at the last line above, and that's okay. Go on, take a minute. Maybe even two minutes. I'll go grab a snack. .......... Okay, I'm back. Ready? Rather than "I'm a stupid person", try "I wonder how I can do better on the next test." Instead of "I'm a horrible business person and shouldn't even have this job", try "I need to better structure my day so that I allow enough time to travel to my next location." And while this last one might leave many in tears ("I'm a terrible cook, now my date will leave"), consider the thought that it was a difficult recipe "Wow, that didn't seem like an easy meal to make. But there is a nice restaurant down the street that is open late." We send our brain messages that our brain will then process unbiasedly and without question. The end product is the result of our own doing. We can't blame anyone else once we realize that we are responsible for our own self-worth. So sending messages that reflect our love and compassion of ourselves will indeed help us feel better about the events in our lives.
Counseling is always helpful in this regard if you find yourself challenged in creating a more positive outlook on your life. Consider that sometimes we are not able to always see how we need to change our thinking, but we do realize more easily that something does need to change. Consider seeking assistance when you are unable to sort out how to start correcting the areas of your life with which you have trouble. If you are local to my area, please feel free to contact me to discuss meeting for services. We can build your self-esteem better together.
Shawn Thomas Berthel M.S., is the owner of Life Path Counseling PLLC, and a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor. He lives in University Place, Washington.