Taking Action To Get What You Want From Life

Have you ever found yourself thinking that your life just has not worked out as you once planned? Many of us realize at some point that our past optimistic visions have had to surrender to reality.
Instead of feeling sorry for things that haven’t happened or didn’t work out, you might try some of these tips to get you closer to your dreams.

One starting point is put anger, blame or helplessness aside. Forget past hurts or abandonment. Unresolved anger and resentment use up energy much better spent on building the life you desire.
Nest, find your own voice. Often past relationships leave us unsure of ourselves or reluctant to express our feelings. You want to move to honest living and loving. Don’t worry that speaking up will make you appear selfish or overbearing. You don’t want to be controlling, simply honest and understood.

It also helps to learn to say “No” sometimes. Set limits and know when you’ve done enough. Avoid excessive demands on your time, talent and goodwill. Doing so creates room to say “yes” to things you really want to do, and avoids the resentment that comes with agreeing to things you really don’t want to do.
Try identifying your personal strengths and interests, and then to put time into nourishing them. Rather than trying to be someone you’re not, try enhancing who you really are.

Then take action, even if it’s  just small steps. Make a resolution to take one daily action that moves you closer to your desires: make that initial phone call, rewrite your resume, organize your closet, clean out those old files. Too often we fail to take the first step in a new direction. Don’t wait until you feel like doing it, just begin.
This is also a good time to create an overall balance in your life. If any one area of your life is consuming all or most of your time, look at small ways to make a shift. It might be work, social contacts, family demands or something else that keeps you from enjoying who you are. A healthy life means finding a balance in a variety of areas: physical, social, emotional, work/productivity, intellectual and spiritual.

A life that is too busy can easily crowd out moments of reflection which can help reconnect you with your core self and your reason for being.


CounselingWorks offers family, couple and individual Christian counseling on an affordable sliding scale fee.

This article is provided by the American Counseling Association. Visit the ACA website at www.counseling.org.

Some Tips For Surviving Your Child’s Teenage Years

The teenage years are never easy — for either the teen or the parents. It’s a time of little communication beyond eye rolls, sullen silence, and that infamous “whatever.” It’s a time when you wonder if either of you will survive this period.

It’s often very frustrating, but can be easier if you recognize what jobs each of you now have and how best to approach them.

  • Your job is to raise a compassionate and competent adult who can handle the challenges of life and who has a sense of what it’s like from the other guy’s perspective.
  • Your job is not to be a genie who makes all your child’s dreams come true or to be a servant doing things your teen is perfectly capable of doing on his or her own. You can’t always rescue your child from failure or life’s inevitable pains.

Your teen’s job, on the other hand, is to separate from you and test the waters of life.

When your child drives you up the wall by pushing limits, that’s what’s supposed to happen. It’s all part of the developmental process, of becoming an adult. You have an absolutely normal child.

But that doesn’t mean you should just smile and accept it all. You are expected to show the appropriate feelings, set limits and impose reasonable consequences for unacceptable behavior.

How do you do this when you’re so angry you could explode?

  • Start by calming down. Don’t confront your child when all you can think about is how angry you are. Take a walk, a hot bath or whatever it takes to relax.
  • Tell your child that you plan to discuss the situation later. That gives you enough time to prepare your response thoughtfully, not emotionally.
  • Sit down with your child at the appointed time. Don’t yell, scream or engage in any physical acting out. You have to be a model of responsible behavior if you expect the same from your teen.
  • Share your feelings using “I statements,” like “I was very scared about what you did without my permission.” Discuss appropriate consequences. Don’t threaten things that you won’t or can’t carry out.
  • And when handing out punishments, it’s also important to affirm that you love the child but dislike the behavior. Make it clear that what happened disappointed you.

With patience, love and a sense of humor, you will survive the teenage years.

CounselingWorks offers family, couple and individual Christian counseling on an affordable sliding scale fee.

This article is provided by the American Counseling Association. Visit the ACA website at www.counseling.org.

Why Parent-Teen Communications Often Fall Short

As a parent, you want to be there for your teenager. You try to learn what’s happening in his or her life and try to help with problems or uncertainties he or she may be facing.

But despite your best efforts, most of the time you are rebuffed. Responses ranging from stony silence to outright hostility leave you wondering how you have failed so miserably in connecting with your own child.

The problem, however, may not be your fault but just the simple fact that parent-teen communications are inherently complicated.

One reason is simply that it’s not easy to be a teenager. There’s a variety of unsettling biological, psychological and emotional changes that are all part of a teen’s normal developmental process. Pile on top of that the pressures of school, extracurricular activities, maybe a part-time job, and then the anxiety of college or a career in the near future, and it becomes easier to understand why the open communication you enjoyed with your preteen has become much more challenging.

Teenagers may often feel that their parents just can’t understand all the changes and pressures they are facing. These feelings may be reinforced when parents react negatively to teens seeking to separate more from their parents and be more independent.

While we all want our children to grow up and be responsible adults, it can be confusing to deal with as our teens take their first tentative steps in that direction. This same process is also hard on the teen’s side. He or she is anxious about sharing feelings of insecurity or uncertainty, about admitting mistakes, since it will just make him or her look weak, immature and not ready for the freedoms so badly desired.

There is no quick fix for any of these communication issues, but it’s important not to give up on the effort. While many of your communication attempts will likely seem inadequate, every now and then you will break through and have a meaningful discussion. As importantly, your attempts to stay connected are active demonstrations of your love and concern.

Look for opportunities to let your teens know you’re trying to understand and sympathize with all they are facing. Offer positive feedback when it’s deserved and let them know your trust and respect is being earned. It takes work to open up communication, but it is worth the effort.

CounselingWorks offers family, couple and individual Christian counseling on an affordable sliding scale fee. 

This article is provided by the American Counseling Association. Visit the ACA website at www.counseling.org.

The Benefits of Christian Counseling

Generally speaking, Christian counseling and secular counseling share the same desire to help people overcome their problems. Although Christian counselors at CounselingWorks often use some of the skills from secular psychology and counseling, they recognize that there are benefits for their clients in approaching counseling from a Christian perspective.  Those benefits are:

  1. Christian counseling recognizes a higher authority. While many counselors go to Freud, Jung and leaders in psychology to find authority, the counselors at CounselingWorks know that the inerrant word of God provides principles that can lead clients to enjoy the abundant life Jesus spoke of in scripture.
  2. Christian counseling accepts absolute truth. While some counselors encourage their clients to listen to the guidance of their hearts to have productive lives and do what they think is right, Christian counselors know the human heart can be deceitful. At CounselingWorks, clients are encouraged to listen to the guiding principles and truth of God’s Word.
  3. Christian counseling has a higher goal. While many counselors help their clients in a pursuit of happiness, the counselors at CounselingWorks want to help the client in their pursuit of God and a meaningful life.
  4. Christian counseling offers real healing.  Many times secular counselors are limited to administering “band aids” to deep emotional and spiritual wounds.  Christian counseling can bring the client into a closer relationship with God and His Son where real healing can take place.

          The licensed counselors on staff at CounselingWorks are professionals who counsel clients from a Christian worldview without preaching to or judging clients.  They are passionate about strengthening individuals, couples and families in their relationships with others and God.

Call 972-960-9981 in the Dallas area or 817-502-7789 in Fort Worth to schedule an appointment with a professional, Christian counselor.

Seeking Mental Health Help Is Not Something To Be Ashamed Of

If you simply ignored a physical ailment, like a high fever or a broken bone, people would be dumbfounded if you don’t get the help of a medical professional.

Yet many people refuse to see a mental health issue as just as serious and normal a problem as any physical ailment. Instead, they create a stigma that characterizes someone seeking help for a mental health problem as weak, or unstable, or possibly dangerous.

While such reactions are becoming less common, they still exist and keep millions of Americans from seeking the readily available professional help that would make them healthier and happier.

Instead, many people avoid seeking mental health help out of fear of being “labeled” with a mental illness, feeling family and friends won’t understand, or that it could lead to discrimination at work or school.  They may see mental health problems as a sign of personal weakness, and mistakenly believe that they should be able to control whatever is wrong without outside help.

The reality is that people who seek needed help aren’t weak, but are instead showing real strength in trying to correct a very fixable problem.  Just as getting to a doctor for the right medicine to stop that high fever makes good sense, so does finding a professional counselor who can help someone overcome the problems he or she is facing.

And such problems are very common. It’s estimated that one in eight adolescents is suffering from depression.  Current statistics find that about 117 Americans take their own lives every day. Yet only a small percentage of people needing mental health help seek treatment.

Mental health issues are not a reason for shame, but rather simply a condition that requires treatment by a professional. Anxiety, depression, panic attacks, eating disorders, social phobias and similar problems are not signs of personal weakness nor reasons for shame. They are simply conditions that can, in most cases, be treated successfully and can result in a happier, healthier and more productive life.

If you or someone you know is suffering from a mental health issue, don’t give in to the stigma, but rather take action for better health. Talk to a friend or family members about what’s bothering you and look to a professional counselor for assistance.  Seeking mental health help is as logical and right as seeking out that trained doctor when you have that fever.

CounselingWorks offers family, couple and individual Christian counseling on an affordable sliding scale fee. 

This article is provided by the American Counseling Association. Visit the ACA website at www.counseling.org.

Finding Positive Ways To Handle The Loss Of A Job

While reports indicate the current economy is pretty good for most people, and that unemployment is at its lowest level in years, the good news doesn’t hold true for everybody. Every day, people across the country learn that they are being let go. And regardless the reason for being terminated, it is never a pleasant experience. The financial burden of losing a job is its most noticeable effect, but there can also be significant mental and emotional stress.

Experts say reactions to a termination are often similar to what we experience upon the death of a loved one or the end of a relationship — immediate reactions of shock and denial, and of finding it difficult to accept what has happened.

These reactions are often followed by anger. And while those who took away your job may be the direct, unfortunately the anger is usually taken out on those closest to you. You may find yourself tense and stressed, more easily upset and quicker to react harshly to family and friends.

Some people become preoccupied with trying to get that old job back, no matter how unrealistic or even undesirable that might be. A person may also experience sadness and depression along with questioning his or her worth and abilities.Understanding that these are all normal reactions can help someone get through them quicker, accept the job loss and start creating a new work life.

Start to help yourself through the trauma of job loss by not adding extra stress to your life. It’s not a time for major life changes, but rather to continue living normally. Eat healthy, exercise, get plenty of rest and keep socially involved, maintaining contact with friends and family.

It’s also a good time to evaluate and set future goals. Is now a time for more education, to look to a new career field or to sharpen up your job skills? Have you evaluated what will make you feel rewarded and fulfilled in a new job? Are you using your network of family, friends and other contacts to help in your job search? Rather than dwelling on the lost job, focus on what’s to come.

If you find job loss is overwhelming you, consider working with a professional counselor specializing in career guidance. He or she has the training, guidance and tools to help you to a more positive future.

CounselingWorks offers family, couple and individual Christian counseling on an affordable sliding scale fee. 

This article is provided by the American Counseling Association. Visit the ACA website at www.counseling.org.

Sometimes School Complaints Shouldn’t Be Ignored

Most children will occasionally complain about school. Every student has days when things don’t go quite right. But when complaints are frequent, and more than just “I don’t like school,” or “Math is too hard,” it may be time to listen more carefully.

There are a number of ways in which a child may be trying to express deeper problems and that he or she needs some help. Children find it hard to say “I’m confused,” or “I feel inadequate.” Preteens and teenagers especially may have trouble admitting that they’re struggling. Instead of saying, “I need help with my schoolwork,” they say, “I hate school” or “My teacher is out to get me.”

These comments, when frequent, and when combined with other behaviors, are often an indicator that serious school-related problems may exist.

Red Flag Behaviors

Such behaviors may be your child being reluctant to discuss school and suddenly exhibiting a lack of motivation or confidence. He or she may be angry and hostile in regard to homework and studying, or very defensive or afraid in regard to criticism. A child may start to be withdrawn, avoiding any school-related questions and perhaps act self-condemning by saying things like “I’m stupid” or “I just can’t do it.”

When these signs are combined with declining or failing grades, it’s a red flag that prompt action is needed. Ignoring the problem can affect a child’s total well-being as self-esteem declines and negative behaviors may begin to increase.

How to Help

A first step is to let your child know you understand and empathize with the difficulties being faced. Try talking about your own school struggles, offering academic assistance and complimenting cooperation and progress in order to rebuild confidence. If you find you can’t effectively assist with homework or studying, and many parents can’t, consider a qualified tutor to help overcome the academic problems.

You should also talk with your child’s school counselor. He or she will have seen similar situations and will have the training and experience to offer assistance on how best to help your child. They may even have alternative explanations, from the school’s perspective, on why your child is struggling.

School can and should be a positive and enjoyable experience for your student. Being alert for when a child is asking for help, even though indirectly, can bring not only better academic success, but a happier, better-balanced child.

CounselingWorks provides family Christian counseling on an affordable sliding fee scale. Contact us to schedule an appointment.

This article is provided by the American Counseling Association. Visit the ACA website at www.counseling.org.

What is rehoming?

Rehoming is a term that you may have heard in the news. But what exactly is it? It’s not the same as adoption dissolution or adoption disruption.

Adoption dissolution

The legal termination of parental rights AFTER adoption finalization. Yes, there are cases in which adoptive parents have terminated their legal rights to adoptees. While we believe that the best scenario is for families is to stay together, every case is unique as is every family, and these parents have sought legal assistance to ensure the safety and best fit for their child.

Adoption disruption

The legal termination of placement BEFORE an adoption finalization. Every adoptee and adoptive family typically have six months prior to finalization. Disruption is when the adoption (and the child) are moved from their adoptive placement before the court finalization.


The underground, unregulated practice of transferring children from home to home without any oversight, vetting (such as background checks or home studies), or regulation. This is happening more and more within the adoption community, but it is also happening within the general population through pseudo/fictive kinship care. There are legal, moral, and ethical implications. This is not respite care, in fact, the parents have no intent of return and may be listed under the moniker of “respite care,” which under the legal foster definition is up to 2-4 weeks with the intent to return. If the placement ‘breaks down’, the child can be moved at a whim.

Essentially, these children are moved arbitrarily without any oversight, permanency, or consistent supports. Most of the time these children do not know the caregivers prior; the new caregivers are strangers or vague acquaintances. This is a violation of ICPC (Interstate Compact Placement Contracts) and can be considered trafficking by some, if there is a proof of exploitation or monetary exchange. There are significant concerns regarding their safety and well-being for the children moved and the children in the homes of those rehomed. This can open up an already vulnerable child to abuse, neglect, or exploitation. Many of the children rehomed are international adoptees and/or former foster children, particularly children of color.

Surprisingly, this practice is not considered illegal in Texas. The U.S. State Department has taken this seriously, and is working alongside others throughout the U.S. to push federal guidelines and legislation forward on this issue.

ChristianWorks is dedicated to helping prevent this practice as well as serve the children and families already impacted. ChristianWorks does not support, condone, or desire to be complicit in rehoming of any kind. We will walk with families who are brave enough to come to us for help regarding an adoptive placement in jeopardy or even considering disruption or dissolution, so we can sit down and give informed consent to prevent rehoming.

ChristianWorks provides post-adoption counseling services on an affordable sliding fee scale. For more information, visit our CounselingWorks web page or contact us to talk with a post-adoption specialist.

Allowing Our Children To Be Children

It seems obvious that, “Children are not little adults.” But we often forget that simple truism in interacting with our children, resulting in unnecessary frustration for both us and them. The world appears very differently to children than it does to adults. Children do, in fact, exist in their “own little worlds.” They usually can’t react to life the way adults do simply because they haven’t yet had the life experiences we’ve had. The following examples of adult expectations illustrate how far apart we and our children often are in how we view the world.

“Don’t be so messy!”

A messy house might embarrass Mom, but not her kids. An adult with muddy slacks might constantly apologize for his appearance; your son with muddy jeans only wants to tell you how it happened stealing second base.

“Realize how busy I am and what pressure I’m under!”

Young people aren’t yet experiencing stress and time pressure. What they hear you saying is that they’re only allowed to have feelings or need help when it’s convenient for you, when the outside world isn’t more important.

“Be aware of how dangerous the world is!”

While we want our kids to be safe, instilling unreal fears or passing on our own anxieties doesn’t make that happen. We may be unintentionally making the world feel unsafe and scary.

“There’s so much to do and so little time!”

Young people don’t fill their days with 101 things to do. They usually don’t have the urgent commitments adults face. They gauge time by whether it’s light or dark, or when they have slept and woken up. Children like wearing watches because the watch is “cool,” not because they care what time it is.

There’s a real benefit in remembering that children are really just children, not smaller adults, and in letting them enjoy that childhood. We shouldn’t expect them to live up to our dreams, understand our problems, or want to spend “quality time” with adults rather than hanging out with friends.

As adults, we sometimes have to impose rules and actions that our children simply don’t understand or relate to (like cleaning up that room before it’s a health issue). But realizing why they don’t understand, even though they may be doing what is asked, can avoid needless fights and frustration for both parent and child.

CounselingWorks offers family, couple and individual Christian counseling on an affordable sliding scale fee. 

This article is provided by the American Counseling Association. Visit the ACA website at www.counseling.org.

Guilt, Shame and Regret

Self-evaluation and reflection on our past are healthy because we can learn from our life experiences and mistakes.

It is healthy to ask:

  • Could I have done better?
  • Could I have made better choices?
  • Would things be better if I had only done things differently?

The results of reviewing and evaluating past decisions and behavior can bring us feelings of guilt, regret and shame for what we did or did not do. These feelings can be the result of bad choices and/or sinful behavior, but not always. Sometimes the feelings we experience are false guilt, false shame or unnecessary regrets. These “false” feelings can be the result of faulty thinking and the unreasonable expectations that we and other people place upon us.

Dwelling on past behavior and the resulting emotions of guilt, shame and regret keeps many people from living and enjoying abundant lives now.

Defining Guilt, Shame and Regret

Guilt is the emotion or belief that one has done something wrong. Guilt can be either real or imagined (false guilt). False guilt is the result of a perceived wrong that is not founded in reality.

Shame is the feeling or awareness of dishonor, disgrace, or condemnation. Genuine shame is associated with genuine dishonor, disgrace, or condemnation. False shame is associated with imagined dishonor, disgrace or condemnation by our expectations or the perceived expectations of others.

Regret is an intelligent and/or emotional dislike for personal past acts and behaviors. Regret is often felt when someone feels sadness, shame or guilt after committing an action or actions that the person later wishes that he/she had not done. Regret also describes a dislike for action not taken or avoided.

A Myth About Guilt

When you experience guilt, regret or shame, there is always some sin or offense against others that you have committed. This myth is often used by others to guilt or shame us into doing what they want. That’s commonly referred to as placing a “guilt trip” on a person.

How you deal with guilt, shame or regret depends upon:

  • The source or cause of the feeling (who/what is causing the guilt?)
  • The validity of the feeling (is the feeling based in truth or imagined?)

As Christians, all of us sin or commit offenses against others, and we can experience either Godly sorrow or worldly sorrow: “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.”(2 Corinthians 7:10)

What is Worldly Sorrow?

We can simply regret what we have done, and then move on—many times doing the same wrongs against God and others. That’s worldly sorrow. In worldly sorrow, the focus is on self, regretting being caught and the consequences rather than feeling guilt and shame for committing a sin against God and others.

What is Godly Sorrow?

Godly sorrow is when we know that we have offended God, bring our confessions to Him and others and repent (turn completely away from the offending behavior). In Godly sorrow the focus is on the wrong we have committed against God and others.

Seeking Help

Whether your guilt, shame and regret are real or false, dwelling on past mistakes or omissions can rob your life of the abundant joy that could be yours, your family’s and your friends’. When worries about the past become overwhelming, it is time to seek help from others.

Written by Larry M. Barber, LPC-S, CT

If you would like to talk with a Christian counselor about the guilt, shame and regret in your life, call CounselingWorks at 972-960-9981 or fill out our contact form.