What to Do after Your First Therapy Appointment

Continued from “What to Expect during Your First Therapy Appointment

After your first therapy appointment, there are some steps you can take to prepare for the next session. None of these tasks are hard, but they will set you on the best course for mental health recovery. Read on to learn what to do after your first therapy session, courtesy of Heron Ridge Associates.

Keep a Log of Questions

Your first therapy session may have your mind working overtime. As you reflect on the appointment and events you may want to discussion, write down questions that arise. You can do this on a piece of paper or on your phone if you prefer. This list will serve as a jumping off point for your next therapy session.

Complete Your “Homework”

Your therapist may have assigned some “homework” for you to complete, such as a writing in a journal or thinking about an experience from your past. Follow-through with that suggestion and complete the task at hand. It may seem silly at first, but it’s an important part of the process. Your therapist will recommend steps for you to take based on your unique situation.

Schedule Your Next Therapy Session

You will most likely schedule your next therapy appointment at the end of the first one. You can do this when you check out. However, if you did not schedule an appointment, make sure you call to do so. Your therapist may recommend the frequency of your therapy sessions – once a week, twice a month, once a month, etc. All you have to do is find an appointment time that suits your personal schedule.

Should I Tell People I Am in Therapy?

You decide whether or not to disclose this to friends and family members. Many of our clients will wait to discuss therapy until they have completed a few sessions. You may not need to share this information at all. If you require time off work for therapy appointments, you may need to discuss this privately with your employer. Ultimately, you decide what feels right for your circumstances.

If you would like more information about how therapy works, contact Heron Ridge Associates at (734) 454-3560. We will gladly answer any questions you have, or we can schedule an appointment with a therapist near you. We have multiple counseling centers in Michigan here to serve you.

What to Expect from Your First Therapy Appointment

Any new experience can feel intimidating, including therapy. If you are worried about your first counseling session, this information may ease your concerns. Here’s a look at what to expect from your first therapy appointment.

Before the Appointment – Paperwork

You will most likely to be asked to come in 15 minutes before your first therapy appointment. This gives you time to fill out paperwork for the office. You will be able to review the counseling center’s privacy policy and other documents pertaining to your service. The paperwork will ask for insurance information, some health and family history, emergency contact information, etc. You only have to complete this once, and your information is protected.

Meeting Your Therapist

When you scheduled your appointment, you may have been asked a few questions about your goals and circumstances. This was so you could be paired with the best therapist for your needs. During the first therapy appointment, you will meet your counselor and establish a relationship with him or her.

Talking about Your Concerns and Goals

Your first therapy appointment is mostly a get-to-know-you opportunity. Your therapist may ask questions to prompt the discussion, or you may start talking on your own. You will discuss the experiences or events that led you to therapy, along with elements of your life you want to change or improve. This overview provides a backstory that your therapist can use to personalize your treatment.

When Does Treatment Start?

The first therapy appointment creates a foundation for your treatment. As you progress through therapy, your therapist can recommend ways to improve your life. It may take several sessions to uncover the root cause of your struggles, or it may take time to find the right treatment options for you. Nevertheless, your therapist will be there to support you through the journey and guide you to an ideal solution.

After Your First Therapy Appointment – Homework

Your therapist may assign you a bit of “homework” to do before your next therapy session. This could be writing out a list of questions, starting a daily journal, thinking of an important event that shaped your life, or any number of tasks. This homework will help your therapist gain more insight into your life so he or she can customize your treatment plan.

To learn more, check out What to Do after Your First Therapy Appointment.

Holiday Stress vs. Holiday Depression

The holidays are stressful for everyone, but for some, they can also mark a depressing time of year. If you are struggling with stress or depression, there are some treatments to look into. In this guide, we will explore the difference between holiday stress and holiday depression, along with solutions for both.

Dealing with Holiday Stress

Holiday stress can be brought on for a variety of reasons. Preparing for a big meal, traveling to see family, buying presents for your children, taking time off work – there are many factors that go into Thanksgiving, Christmas, and other winter holidays. This stress may cause you to lose sleep, change your eating habits, become forgetful, or feel irritable. However, those feelings will subside once the holidays have passed.

This is one of the key differences between holiday stress and holiday depression. Stress is fleeting and situational. Depression has deeper roots and thus requires different treatment methods.

The Solution: You may not be able to fully eliminate holiday stress, but you can work to reduce it. Start by taking some pressure off yourself. You don’t have to make everything perfect. Just do the best you can. If you are hosting dinner, ask other people to bring the side dishes. Then all you have to worry about is the protein. If you have guests coming, focus on cleaning the main areas they will interact with. If you have a messy master bedroom or basement, chances are they won’t notice.

Most importantly, remember that this stress will go away. It has in the past, and it will again.

Dealing with Holiday Depression

Holiday depression has some of the same symptoms as holiday stress, but the cause is different. In many cases, holiday depression is the result of grief. A person may become depressed thinking about a loved one who will no longer be around for the holidays. Alternatively, holiday depression may be a heightened form of general depression. Feelings of sadness, loneliness and helplessness are intensified during the holidays.

There is also a condition known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). This occurs in the late fall, transitioning into the winter. Less frequently, SAD may occur in the spring and summer. The exact cause of seasonal affective disorder is unclear, but it most likely comes from a lack of sun exposure, combined with stress from the holidays and gloomier weather in the winter.

The Solution: Holiday depression and seasonal affective disorder are best treated through therapy. You can work with a therapist one-on-one to discuss the root cause of your depression. Did you experience a traumatic event that is affecting you in the present? Are there unresolved emotions you need to work through? Moreover, what can you do to reverse negative thought patterns and improve your quality of life? Your therapist will help you find personalized solutions that fit your lifestyle.

Connect with a Therapist near You

If you would like to talk to a therapist, contact Heron Ridge Associates at (734) 454-3560. We have counselors who specialize in stress management, depression treatment, anxiety treatment, couples counseling, and more. You will be matched with the best therapist for your personal needs. Get support and guidance from a licensed therapist who truly cares about your wellbeing.

How to Treat Work-Related Anxiety Symptoms

Most people dread going to work, but for some, their place of employment is a major source of anxiety. If your anxiety greatly increases with the thought of going to work, there are solutions available for you. Read on to learn how to treat work-related anxiety symptoms.

Identify Your Anxiety Triggers

What part of your job brings about your anxiety? Is it the weight of the workload? Is there a specific coworker that causes you stress? Pinpointing the source of your anxiety will guide you toward a better solution.

This is a primary focus in anxiety counseling. As you discuss your thoughts, feelings and experiences, your therapist will help you determine the root cause of your anxiety. From there, he or she will provide personalized advice to best handle your anxiety triggers.

Address the Issues Causing You Anxiety

Once you determine which element of work is causing anxiety, you can find a way to address it. For instance, if you feel uncomfortable with a certain coworker, you can speak to the person about the issue you’re having. You could also talk to your supervisor or human resources representative about the matter.

Your anxiety source may not even be the job itself. Does the traffic going to work cause you anxiety? If so, you could find an alternate route or leave for work at an earlier time. Your therapist can help you come up with solutions that best fit your lifestyle and your circumstances.

Reduce Stress in Other Areas of Your Life

If you feel overwhelmed in your personal life, that stress will bleed into your work life. Stress is a source of anxiety, and it can heighten work-related anxiety symptoms. Find ways to reduce stress in all areas of your life. If you feel overburdened by responsibilities, get help from someone you trust. If your current schedule is not healthy for you, make adjustments to provide more free time. Again, your therapist can guide you through this process to give you the best quality of life.

How to Find an Anxiety Therapist

Heron Ridge Associates provides confidential anxiety counseling in Michigan. We have several therapist offices to serve you, and we offer night and weekend therapy appointments. We will match you with the best therapist for your needs, and we can schedule appointments that fit your busy schedule. Contact us at (734) 454-3560 and learn how you can overcome work-related anxiety.


Compulsive Gambling Treatment – Do I Have a Gambling Addiction?

Compulsive gambling, also known as gambling addiction or gambling disorder, is a condition that affects approximately 10 million Americans. It can form for any form of gambling, from poker to sports betting to slot machines and more. If you believe you have a gambling addiction, there are treatments available for you. Let’s take a look at what compulsive gambling is and how gambling addiction treatment works.

Symptoms of Gambling Addiction

The symptoms of gambling addiction vary based on the severity of the addiction and the type of gambling a person is drawn to. Here are some of the most common symptoms:

  • Persistently increasing the amount of time and money spent on gambling
  • Feeling irritable or restless when you are unable to gamble
  • Taking out loans or credit cards to pay for gambling
  • Skipping work or important events to gamble
  • Using gambling as a coping mechanism for depression or anxiety
  • Constantly finding new ways to get gambling money
  • Stealing money from others to gamble
  • Lying about your gambling habits
  • Gambling as a way to make up for previous gambling losses
  • Not paying bills to have gambling money

As the name suggests, compulsive gambling typically involves a “compulsion.” You feel an uncontrollable urge to go to the casino, contact a broker, play an online betting game, etc. With gambling addiction treatment, you can learn how to control those urges and stop this downward trajectory.

The Dangers of Compulsive Gambling

Most resources warn of the financial dangers of compulsive gambling, but there are also mental health issues to worry about. Addictive behaviors often lead to more addictive behaviors. Even if you can afford to gamble at your current pace, the addictive mentality could lead to drug or alcohol abuse.

Gambling addiction can quickly spiral out of control. The desire to gamble increases with every win, and the desire for revival grows with every loss. You may not realize you’re in the cycle until it is out of your hands. That is a primary danger of compulsive gambling – its unpredictable nature.

Finally, the symptoms of gambling addiction have a tendency to ruin relationships. Lies and financial stress can break even the strongest of couples apart. Friends may distance themselves from you if they notice a pattern of unhealthy behaviors. This will push you into social isolation, which will only make the gambling addiction more prevalent.

How to Find Gambling Addiction Treatment

Gambling addiction treatment is best completed through therapy. A licensed therapist will help you find the root cause of your gambling addiction, along with underlying issues that contribute to the behaviors. You may be dealing with depression, anxiety, stress management issues, other addictions, trauma recovery, or any number of conditions. Your therapist will help you uncover those issues and find solutions for every one of them.

For more information about compulsive gambling treatment or other addiction treatment services, contact Heron Ridge Associates at (734) 454-3560.

Getting over Body Envy | Self-Esteem Building Tips

Are you constantly comparing your body to other people’s? Do you wish you had a larger chest, more toned arms, or a smaller waist? These are all symptoms of body envy, something that many Americans go through in their lives. Whether you’ve gone through this for a while or you’ve recently developed insecurities, we’re here to help you boost your self-esteem. Here are some tips to overcome body envy, courtesy of Heron Ridge Associates.

Body Trends Change All the Time

Society is constantly changing its mind about what looks good and what doesn’t. Slim builds, thick builds, curvy builds, muscular builds – these have all been considered beautiful or not beautiful at some point in time. You cannot get wrapped up in the current trend. Like a fad diet, it will pass. Instead, focus on embracing your body for how it is, regardless of where it fits with society.

You are not a trend. You’re timeless.

Remember: You Have Someone Else’s Ideal Body

You may think your body is far from perfect, but there are plenty of people who would love to look just like you! That person that you idolize for being a certain shape or stature – he or she probably has a dozen insecurities. We are all critical of ourselves in some way, but we are quick to appreciate the uniqueness in others. It’s time you realized just how beautiful your uniqueness is.

Find Clothes That Flatter You Now

Are you avoiding new clothes until you reach a certain weight or build? This mindset is damaging to your self-esteem. You don’t have to punish yourself in ill-fitting clothes until you reach a specific size. This only fuels your insecurities and adds to your depression. Instead, take time to find clothes that fit your body jut how it is right now. Play with different prints and silhouettes until you figure out what flatters you.

Don’t focus on the sizes too hard when you go into the dressing room. If you have to go a size up to better fit your body, go for it! No one will know about that number but you. Every store and every brand has a different way of sizing, and there are variations within the same line. Don’t be discouraged by a larger or smaller number on the tag. Just find clothes that you feel great in.

Find the True Source of Low Self-Esteem

There is an underlying reason for your body envy, one you may not even realize is there. It could be depression, anxiety, past trauma, addiction, or any number of other issues. For instance, you may have had a partner in the past who insulted your size or shape. This consistent belittling caused you to view your body with a different perspective. By getting to the root of your negative body image, you can learn how to revive it.

The best way to do this is through individual counseling. At Heron Ridge Associates, we have specialists in many areas of mental health. This includes depression treatment, anxiety treatment, addiction treatment, eating disorder treatment, stress management, anger management, and more. We will match you with the best therapist for your specific needs, and you can find personalized solutions for boosting your self-esteem.

Contact our main office at (734) 454-3560 to get matched with a therapist near you.

Halloween Parenting Tips: Prevent Candy Temper Tantrums

It’s Halloween season, which means your house is about to be filled with candy. This is a fun time of year for children, but it can be a nightmare for parents. Not only do you have to find time to get/make a costume and take your child trick-or-treating, but you also have to deal with the candy consumption that follows.

To prevent candy temper tantrums (and make your life a little easier), follow these Halloween parenting tips from Heron Ridge Associates.

Set the Rules ahead of Time

It’s important to set the rules about candy well before Halloween. For the full week prior to Halloween, make sure your children know that they cannot eat all their candy that night. You may allow them to have a few pieces on Halloween day, but the rest should be distributed over the course of several days. You can create rules that are appropriate for your children’s ages.

Enforce Those Rules as a Team

You and your partner need to be on the same page about Halloween candy rules. If you are co-parenting, make sure the other parent knows about the rules as well. Stand firm about the rules no matter what. If your children complain, remind them about the discussions you had before Halloween. They may not like being told no, but they will be more compliant this way.

Create a system to hold each person accountable. In other words, don’t just trust that your children will eat X amount of candy per day. Put the candy in a place that your children cannot access, and get it down only at certain times. You could also count the candy in each child’s basket, but that may not be necessary. As long as you have a way to truly enforce the rules, you can minimize the risk of candy temper tantrums.

Plan Candy Eating at Logical Times

If you allow your children to have a certain amount of candy each day, make sure they consume it at any appropriate time. For instance, you would not want them eating candy first thing in the morning or before a meal. Instead, the candy could be used as an after-school snack. This gives your children a chance to burn off the sugar rush before bed. If your children are going to eat candy after dinner, make sure it is well before bed. Abide by these guidelines as a household so no one feels excluded from the fun.

Establish Consequences for Breaking the Rules

If your child breaks the rules, there needs to be a consequence for that. This may be a separate consequence for this specific event, or it may follow the discipline you normally use. Example: if your child eats more candy than he or she is allowed to, you may take away the candy for 24 hours. Set an alarm on your phone if you have to. You could also limit video game or tablet time, in compliance with normal household operations.

If the candy becomes a constant source of dispute, tell your child that you are donating it to the food shelter. Take your kid with you if need be to emphasize your point. Whatever you decide, stick with your gut instinct. Parenting is tough no matter what. This is just another hurdle you can and will get through.

If you would like more parenting advice or help improving your family dynamic, contact Heron Ridge Associates. We have family counselors in Michigan who would be happy to assist you.

Declutter Your Schedule to Reduce Stress

Feel stressed, overwhelmed and overburdened? It might be time to declutter. We’re not talking about cleaning out the closets or going through the pantry. This is about clearing time in your schedule. In the guide below, we will explain how to declutter your schedule to reduce stress.

Eliminate Unnecessary Commitments

When you sort through your clothes, you get rid of the ones you no longer like or need. Do the same with your schedule. Eliminate the commitments that may not benefit your life the way they once did. Follow these steps:

  1. 1) Make a list of all monthly tasks.
  2. 2) Rank each of them on a scale of 1-5, with 1 being unimportant and 5 being critically important
  3. 3) Pinpoint the tasks that you could realistically get rid of, and find a way to remove yourself from those commitments. You may need to give an advanced notice so other participants can transition easily.

Always put yourself first. You may have to hurt a few people along the way, but you have to do what’s best for your mental health. When you are in a good place mentally and emotionally, you are better equipped to help others. Take some time to think about you – just you.

Focus on What Matters Most

If you are having a hard time getting rid of commitments, think of people who would benefit from your time. Do you wish you had more time with your family? What about one-on-one moments with your spouse? An overcluttered schedule may be detracting from quality time elsewhere. Think about what matters most to you, and use that as motivation to forego other tasks.

Use New-Found Free Time to Clear Your To-Do Lists

Once you clear some time in your schedule, complete some of the tasks on your to-do list. We all have a list of things we’ll get to “some other day.” Make that day today. You might be surprised by how quick a lot of these tasks are. Rearranging the living room may only take 30 minutes of your time. Have a bag of clothes to donate? Leave the house five minutes early one day and drop them off before work. As you condense your to-do list, you will be able to enjoy even more of your personal time.

Avoid Overcommitting in the Future

Don’t assume that you have to fill your nearly-empty schedule with a new set of commitments. You can add new tasks over time, but give yourself a while to relax. Spend a few weekends doing absolutely nothing. Watch your favorite TV show, read a book, or take long naps on the couch. Give your mind and body a chance to recharge, and you’ll be much better off when new commitments arise.


How to Safely Share Child Photos Online

In the first part of this guide, we discussed the dangers of sharing child photos online. There are concerns you need to be aware of, but that does not mean you cannot post pictures at all. In this half, we will explain the safe way to share child photos online so you can spread those special memories.

Keep Your Account and Your Posts Private

Before you share photos on social media, make sure your account is private. Also make sure that the post itself is private because you can adjust the privacy settings for each post individually. If you want to share a memory online, you need to be in control of who views it.

Also, be aware of the people following you on social media. Set your accounts so that you have to screen followers – they cannot automatically follow you without permission. This will ensure that your photos are only seen by people you trust.

Turn off Location Tags

If Facebook or Instagram offers to tag the location of a photo, disable that feature. This is a tool predators can use to find your child’s location. Also be careful about the details you include in the description. Rather than stating the name of a restaurant, just say “dinner with family.” Instead of naming a town you visited, just say “vacation.” Be as vague as possible.

Avoid Posting Photos in Swimsuits, in the Bathtub, or Similar Situations

Child predators can use any photo inappropriately, but they are often drawn to photos that could be considered suggestive. Avoid posting anything with your child in a swimsuit or naked. Yes, this even applies to young children who are still in diapers. It is unfortunate that there are people out there who will use these photos inappropriately, but the fact is that they exist.

Post Vacation Photos after You Get Home

Instead of posting vacation photos in the moment, wait until you get home. This will prevent someone from finding you while you are in an unfamiliar environment. It will also give you time to sort through your photos so you can carefully select which ones you want to share.

Be Mindful of Your Photo Backgrounds

Predators look for clues in the background of photos. A street sign or a noteworthy building may give them enough information to find your child. Stick with simple backgrounds, such as blank walls or greenery.

Only Share What’s Truly Important

You don’t have to share every moment of every day online. In fact, it’s better to cherish those moments on your own. You can still take tons of photos, but you don’t have to post them all. Send them to your spouse while he or she is at work, or just store them on your phone for your own viewing. That is the best way to protect your child.



The Dangers of Sharing Child Photos Online

Most parents want to share their child’s milestones online. While there is nothing wrong with relishing in special moments, you must be aware of the dangers surrounding child photo sharing. A recent study showed that 71% of parents believe their child’s photos could end up in the wrong hands, yet 30% of parents post photos or videos of their children at least once a day. In this guide, we will explore the dangers of sharing child photos online and how to approach this process safely.

Your Child’s Photos May Be Used for Inappropriate Activities

Unfortunately, pedophilia is a real occurrence in today’s society. In fact, the study mentioned above revealed that pedophilia is the top concern for parents sharing their photos online. You would never want your child to be viewed that way, but there are people out there who could interpret your shared photos inappropriately. That’s why you must be careful what you put on the internet.

A Predator May Find Your Child Based on Clues in the Photo

A seemingly innocent photo of your child going to school may provide enough information for a predator to track down your child. For instance, the color of the school uniform may indicate which school your child goes to, or the bus in the background may show what neighborhood you live in. These are clues you may not think to look for, but someone else could.

Photos Can Lead to Bullying

You may share a funny, embarrassing photo of your child because you want others to laugh about it. Depending on the child’s age though, that embarrassment could lead to bullying. For instance, if another parent from your child’s school shows the photo to a peer, that peer could make fun of your child the following day. This will not be as much of a concern for toddlers and infants, but it could be for school-aged children.

Your Child May Not Want Their Photos Online

If your child is old enough to ask you not to post pictures online, consider that before you upload. Many parents believe this decision is ultimately theirs to make, but children can develop depression and anxiety from having their photos shared without consent. This is especially true for children 10 and up who interact with social media. Your child may not be comfortable with other people seeing those pictures.

How to Safely Share Child Photos Online

To learn the right way to share your child’s photos online, continue to Part 2.

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