July 2, 2015

Brevard Family Wellness CenterWow, It has been two long years since I have written a blog post on here. Of course there is a reason for that, during that time I had my second child and went on maternity leave, and then instead of returning to the practice I had been working at decided to open my own private practice. Since opening up my new practice, the number of clients I have been able to work with and help has increased drastically, keeping me even busier! If that wasn’t enough, in February of this year, I decided to expand my practice by making it a group practice and hiring on additional counselors. The new company is called Brevard Family Wellness Center. Of course there is always time of growing as you find the right people but I am feeling pretty confident that I have found two wonderful counselors to help me serve Merritt Island and the surrounding areas with high quality counseling services. One of the counselors signed right before going on an extended vacation so I do not have her bio and pic to share just yet but I would like to welcome everyone to check out the new websites. You can find my personal website at www.stebbinscounseling.com and the company website at www.BrevardFamilyWellness.com. I hope to continue to grow the practice and eventually offer other natural minded health care options such as massage therapy, nutrition, reiki, acupuncture, yoga & meditation, etc. Of course it will be baby steps in our growth! I hope you enjoy the new websites! I’m looking into starting back up with my writing and will be deciding soon if it will continue on here or if it would be best to start on one of the new websites. I’ll keep everyone posted!

P.S. Don’t you just love the new logo!


New Years Resolutions

January 2, 2012

I never make New Years Resolutions. I’m not quite sure why. I know I’m not perfect and that there are things that I can work on, but it always seems so hard to think of one thing that I would want to change. Then there is the admitting to someone else that there is something that you want to change about yourself and to allow yourself to be vulnerable and allow them into your head to know that whatever it is, it is important to you. I am not oblivious to the fact that the last statement is a lot like therapy, although with counseling you are only telling one person, they are non-judgmental, and it should be someone you know you can trust, especially due to confidentiality, unlike telling anyone and everyone about your new years resolution.

Then there is part of me that wants to rebel because I can’t quite decide if I believe new years resolutions are a good concept because people are thinking about ways to better themselves or if I find it to be more detrimental in the long run because people wait until new years for an excuse to actually begin making changes. For this reason, I’m going to say to each their own! If you are a person that makes new years resolutions, however, here are some tips on how to make it something that you can stick to. I know, I know, I said that I don’t do them and yet am going to give advice out to others about them, but really it is just like making any other goal.

First you need to identify your goal and be specific. It is not enough to say that you want to lose weight. How much weight do you want to lose and by when? Also make sure  that it is something important to you. For instance, if you say you want to lose weight because you are tired of the looks from other people but you really feel comfortable with the way that you look, you will most likely not have enough motivation to stick with this resolution. It is also important that your goal be realistic. If you are looking to drop 60 lbs in 6 months, this is just not realistic (or healthy) at the 1-2 lbs per week that is deemed healthy. No matter what it is, don’t set yourself up for failure before you have even started! What will it look like when you accomplish your goal? Looking at a different resolution, it is great to say that you will be nicer to your partner, but what will it look like when you are? How will you know and how will your partner know that you have accomplished your goal?

Once you have really thought through your resolution and have all aspects of it defined, you will then need to make a plan on how to achieve the goal. It may help to break the resolution into some smaller goals and focus on how you will reach each of them. Think about the steps necessary to achieve your goal. For instance, if this year you want to feel more connected to your friends, what must you do in order for this to happen. Think in terms of how you might need to change your thinking, your feelings, and your actions (as these are the only things you can really control). Outline the actions you need to take. You may even need to do a bit of research and reading before you can fully complete this step. This is probably the most skipped step in this whole process, but it is very important to your success.

Next you will need to begin to put your plan into action. Cut down on sugars and fats and increase exercising, or practive listening reflectively, whatever it is that you need to do. Many people begin this process (whether they have a plan or not) and follow through, but then end there, not quite sure why they haven’t had the success that they want. While you are following through with your plan, it will be necessary to evaluate your progress. Even the best planner will not be able to predict everything that might come up and there may be a need to alter your plans. Be flexible and willing to do so as necessary.

For some people, it is helpful to go through the process with a friend to keep them motivated and others may need to remind themselves consistently why they are working to make this change. You may also want to think about having someone who can help hold you accountable for your actions. This may be a friend or family member, or it may even be a professional depending on your resolution. For some people, it may even be necessary to see a counselor in order to receive the help they need to work through this process and to gain the tools necessary to make the changes they want. This is okay.

No matter what your new years resolution is, I hope you the best in accomplishing it. As for myself, this may just be the first year that I decide to make a resolution- if I can pick just one thing!

Bearing All the Togetherness of the Holidays

November 22, 2011

Thanksgiving is approaching and for some, this is a favorite holiday. Images of golden turkeys with fluffy stuffing and bright cranberry sauce leave our mouths watering. But what if your images of thanksgiving are more of boredom, family tension and arguments, or any other event that leaves you dreading this time together? Well, there are some ways that you can deal with this holiday and make it through long enough to taste some of your favorite foods.

1. Focus on the positives. Even though Grandma is always very negative and hounds you about finding a spouse, you can focus on how good her pie is every year and be thankful for having her there with you. So Crazy Uncle Bill will be joining you this year? Instead of focusing on how his lisp drives you crazy as he talks, think about how smart of a guy he is when it comes to finances and what you might be able to learn from him.

2. You can choose who you spend the holiday with and this may not be your family. For some of us, our family is down right toxic for us. Do not feel as though you have to spend the day with them anyways. You have the right to choose who you will be spending your time with and you may choose to have dinner with some close friends who feel more like family than your real one does.

3. Figure out what bothers you most and find a way to control it if you can. For instance, if you become annoyed because your sister always wants to host Thanksgiving, but then serves up a tofurkey instead of a turkey, bring a turkey for everyone to enjoy and share. If you are hosting and become frustrated when relatives over stay their welcome, be clear ahead of time when you would like for them to show up and also let them know when you need them to leave by, in a nice way of course such as by letting them know you have somewhere else you must be.

4. For those things that you cannot control, come up with possible ways you can respond to them ahead of time. Yes, sometimes we are thrown an unexpected curve ball and don’t have time to plan a response but we also know that certain family members have their own quirks that get to us. Think about how your cousin always brings up a past memory that you care to not revisit and you end up arguing about it each year. Plan ahead to figure out a nice way to handle the situation and nip it in the bud before you are in that position and you are more likely to be able to squash it instead of making it into a bigger deal.

5. If all else fails, remember that this is just one day of the year. You can be thankful that this does not happen more frequently and allow the small things to roll off your back as you enjoy a day with family.

These are just a few ways you can deal with spending the holiday with family. Please share your tricks for making it through to Black Friday in one piece!

Jessica Stebbins, M.S., LMFT

September 11, 2011

2460 N Courtenay Pkwy Ste 114

Hello, and thank you for visiting my blog. I hope you find the information to be useful. If you don’t see what you are looking for, check out the categories to the right to find other mental health articles on different topics.

If you are in the Brevard County area and looking for a counselor, please feel free to contact me for more information or to schedule a session. You can find more information about me in the About section (link located above).

Communication Tips- Making it Feel More Natural

July 11, 2011

           Good communication is essential for a healthy relationship. Unfortunately many of the tips that are given by professionals are hard to use. Not because they are difficult concepts but because they feel so unnatural. I hear people say all the time that they feel silly using them. Although this could break the tension in a situation by getting people laughing, I would like to help you learn how to use them in order to benefit from the techniques while also making them feel more natural so you are more likely to actually use them!

            The first technique is called “I” statements. An “I” statement is when you change the way you word a complaint by using “I” instead of “you”. The format is “I feel ____ when you ____ because ______.” For instance, instead of saying “You are always late!” you can say “I feel frustrated and worried when you are running behind and don’t call because I never know if you are okay or when to expect you home.” Why make such a short statement into a longer, more complicated one? Well, when you phrase things as I did with the first statement, your partner is likely to get defensive which will only escalate the problem (not to mention I’m sure he/she is not always late!) By talking about yourself (I feel…) your partner is less likely to get defensive because there is less of a sense of finger pointing and they are better able to understand the impact the behavior (reason you need to have the “when” ____ part) has on you. The “because ____” part is your thinking that goes along with the feeling and helps them to understand the reasoning behind your feelings. This part is helpful but not essential and can be dropped if it makes it more likely you’ll use it. Although it may take some getting used to, the more you use “I” statements, the more natural they become. If you start out a difficult conversation with an “I” statement and talk calmly, it is less likely the conversation will develop into a full blown argument. You can make it feel more natural too by dropping the format of “I” statements and make it more free flowing. For instance, the above statement might be less stiff when you say “I worry about you when you are late and don’t call”.

            The other technique that I believe is important but often doesn’t get used due to feeling unnatural is active listening. Many people have heard of the active listening techniques such as using “encouraging” words or actions such as head nodding, “uh huh”, “yes”, or “right” while someone is talking to let them know you are paying attention. For active listening to be really effective, however, it needs to be taken a step further. Your partner needs to know that you are not only listening but that you understand them. In order to do this during important conversations or arguments, you can repeat back to them what you heard and understood in your own words. For beginners, the format is often “What I heard is….” or “You feel…”. This gives the speaker an opportunity to either agree and let the listener know they understood or to rephrase what they said if the meaning was not understood. This technique helps cut down on many misunderstandings that contribute to arguments. Give your own flair to this feedback process by starting off however feels most comfortable to you. If appropriate, you can lighten things up by using inside jokes or funny expressions to help get your point across.

            Basically, the intention of these techniques is the important part. You can play with the format of the statements and the way you deliver them to make them feel more natural and fun. Please let me know of ways in which you have altered these techniques in order to make them work for you!

You can now like Discovery Institute, P.A. on facebook!

Types of Mental Health Professionals Part 1

May 23, 2011

       For anyone who does not have experience with the mental health field, and even for those who do, the options can be quite confusing. In fact, I often find myself correcting my family members when they are telling others what I do! There are several different professions within the field, all of which focus on different issues and are able to perform different responsibilities. You may find that you need the help of more than one type of professional for the problems you are seeking help with.  I will give brief explanations of each in order for you to be able to determine where you should start in your search for help.

Psychologist– A psychologist holds a doctorate degree. They may have different areas of specialty but typically they do more testing and assessments on individuals to help diagnosis problems.

Psychiatrist– A psychiatrist is an M.D. that works with individuals that have mental health disorders. They are able to prescribe medication and although they are trained to conduct therapy as well, you can typically expect a psychiatrist to diagnosis and provide medication management. If you would like to try medication as part of treatment, please see a psychiatrist about this instead of your family doctor.

Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC)- An LMHC is a master’s level* counselor that specializes in mental health disorders. They help individuals with different types of talk therapy, play therapy, and behavioral therapies among others.

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT)- An LMFT is a master’s level* therapist that has additional training in relationships and the impact relationships have on an individual’s mental health and vice versa. An LMFT is your best choice for marriage counseling, high conflict families, and when one person’s problems have impacted other family members. Marriage and family therapists rely less on diagnoses and focus more on the system and environment the person lives in.

        In my next post I will be discussing the differences between Social Workers, Life Coaches, , and Behavior Analysts as well as explain what it means to be a registered intern in the state of Florida.

*A masters degree is required but some individuals may hold higher degrees.