by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghJune 24, 2021 adult therapy, friendship, mindfulness, relationship, relationship resolutions0 comments
It is widely acknowledged that making friends as an adult can be a huge challenge for many and there are real reasons why this occurs. There is something very special about the connections we nurture in our childhood and teen years and if you are one of the lucky people who remains near and close with your childhood friends you will easily note how irreplaceable those special connections are. In childhood and even more so in our teen years school places us in a school environment where we are forced to interact with our peers and in that stage of development, connecting to a community of peers is paramount. The developmental object is to pull away slightly from the primary family and develop close connections with friends, creating a safe sense of belonging. Teens and kids approach the domain of friends with less inhibition and fear of what could go wrong, the younger the child is the more that this is true.
As the years go on, our needs for socializing get side stepped for practical matters such as managing professional life and raising a family. Time really does present barriers as well as our fears and anxieties that prevent us from reaching out and walking up to strangers to start a conversation. If you are reading this article because making friends as an adult has been a challenge for you, then you are likely already familiar with your own list of reasons why you haven’t been able to nurture as many connections as you like. The goal becomes to focus on what can be done to overcome this and with that in mind we can look at the 5 best steps to making more adult friends.
- Get your interests in order, don’t have a hobby yet? Well get one, common interests are a great connecting factor, think about where and how you spend your time, are you a stay at home mom, are you clocking 60 hour work weeks? Do you work out? Do you love puzzles? Think about your unique interests and life and start to think about building community with people who are similar to you.
- Find meet up events, the great blessing to social media and other groups is that they allow us to connect with many others. Meetup is a big favorite, there are also singles groups, friend finders, facebook groups and more.
- Don’t stop with the virtual world, no matter how much facetime and zoom we are doing, there is no replacement for in person connection, create at least one monthly opportunity to attend an in person groups.
- When you are at the event, it is easy to become anxious and psych yourself out before approaching a new person. You might wonder what you can say or fear how you can handle pauses in the conversation, the underlying fear is often that the person will think you are strange or reject you. The most helpful mental reframe you can use is ‘every person there is feeling the same nervousness.’ In fact you can further coax yourself by remembering that you can help someone else to feel less nervous by approaching them first.
- Be the first to follow up! Often we wait for the people we meet to follow up and say how nice it was to meet, we miss connections that way. Always be the first to reach out and bring people together by offering an invitation, that is the secret of super connectors!
Stephanie Wijkstrom, MS, LPC, NCC is a nationally certified counselor and founder of Counseling and Wellness Center of Pittsburgh. Stephanie specializes in providing therapy that emphasizes whole person wellness often including mindfulness and other evidence-based practices. She has been featured on local television, radio, and countless articles where she acts as a thought leader on mental health and wellness. Stephanie is a loving wife, an ardent yogi, and a dog mom of two. Stephanie enjoys her daily meditation practice, trying new wellness tips, prancing through the world with belly laughs on her breath.Learn More
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghApril 19, 2018 counseling, meditation, mindfulness, therapy, wellness0 comments
Want to Become a Meditation Master? This is the Most Common Mistake that New Meditators Make and How to Fix It!
So maybe you have read the abundant data that meditation is one of the most fantastic tools that there is to enhancing mental clarity, reducing individual response to stress, and enjoyment of the great benefit of greater calm. According to the National Institute of Complimentary Health and Medicine which is a branch of the National Institute of Health (NIH), symptoms and consequences associated with anxiety, anger, depression, and stress disorders are all distinguished and well managed with a self-care plan which incorporates meditation. In knowing all of these benefits, with abundant enthusiasm, you have decided to get started on utilizing this most fantastic tool to wellness.
The fact is many people struggle in their meditation and may even feel so defeated that they quit altogether, and this is due to one common misconception about meditation and how to do it. When starting out with a meditation practice, we summon our inner oracle and alight with the goal of embodying our inner Buddha. Fantasies turn to reality and we stuff and mold our shape into some oddly contorted seated position and with our full lotus blooming, we close our eyes and turn our wellness aspirations inward toward the journey of the self. We imagine that the goal in mind with all of this blood, sweat and ‘OM’ is to turn off our mind.
Here we have it, this is the number one mistake that we make that prevents us from developing a meditation practice, you see “We are not able to turn off our thoughts.” I promise that for any meditator who has climbed the precipice to ascend mindless nirvana, you have faceplanted while careening down the jagged cliff face and end up irritated and hopeless with yourself and the whole concept of mediation. The fact is, it is the nature of our thoughts to keep producing other considerations, a typical inner monologue during meditation might be thinking;
“how uncomfortable the cross legged position, belly is hungry, need breakfast, am I done yet, hope my hair isn’t close to getting singed by that candle, why was my boss so upset yesterday?”
All of this thinking is just fine, in meditation, we anticipate that the endless churning of our thinking will ramble on as it always does. In a mindfulness meditation, we breathe deeply and acknowledge the existence of all of the thoughts that our mind produces and then we take a step back and we become conscious of the kind and quality of the thoughts that we are having. We practice an ever present non-judgmental position with ourselves. For example, for the above thoughts, I would label the overall thinking state as anxious and fearful. I was desiring breakfast, fearing my hair could get burned, wanting to complete the meditation. Those are all anxious and desirous thoughts. As we become more skilled at meditation, we add in a thought or question to assess how we are thinking and we keeping breathing deeply through it. For example, as we are having our inner monologue during the above meditation, we would have the same thoughts and every so many moments we pause to think about how we are thinking.
“how uncomfortable the cross-legged position, belly is hungry, need breakfast, am I done yet? Oh yes, I am thinking of the future, I always am thinking about what is next. I hope my hair isn’t close to getting singed by that candle? I am fearful sometimes. Why was my boss so upset yesterday? I am often very concerned with what others are feeling.”
When we are mindful, and aware of our thoughts and consciousness, we become able to know that we are sentient beings, with vivid imaginings, with endlessly burning thoughts. Yet we are not these thoughts, we are some where afar and above all of the background and inward noise of being, we are the observer, conscious of our selves and the world around us, free and responsible to choose our actions and to develop ourselves, to become a more aware, and well version of our most mindful and well self.
The Therapists of-Counseling and Wellness Center of Pittsburgh
830 Western Avenue Pittsburgh Pa 15233
2539 Monroeville Blvd Monroeville Pa 15146
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghApril 16, 2018 counseling, marriage counseling, mindfulness0 comments
Relationship Wellness Checklist, A Mindful Marriage Moment
Marriage, relationships, couple-dom, all forms of interpersonal dynamics work based upon unstated rules, we peacefully and automatically operate with a lifetime of typical exchanges. Some moments are peppered with glimmers of joy, one part emotional support, heaps of memories made, when we are being good stewards of love we dutifully maintain our promises for commitment. How to maintain contented connections with our loved ones isn’t usually a goal that we think about until something starts to go wrong. We know that to keep our minds, bodies, and spirits healthy, mindfulness holds the keys to happiness and longevity. The wellness model has useful applications to marriage counseling and couples therapy, we have compiled a 5-part relationship wellness checklist – lets take a moment to see how well your relationship makes the grade.
- Do you disagree and air grievances with your partner? By disagreeing, we mean constructively having a discussion about things that are bothering you within the relationship. One very ominous behavior pattern is when a couple comes in for therapy and tells the therapist or counselor that they never argue. We know that this is usually a sign of relationship disease. In this situation, it is likely that one or both partners are withholding vital information and may even be passive aggressive and building resentment by not discussing their true feelings. This communication fallacy is a product of imagining that by not being open about annoyances that they are preserving their bond. Withholding feelings and missing chances to constructively manage disagreements is a relationship destroyer and leads to emotional disengagement in the long term.
- Does your relationship have intimacy? The concept and behaviors associated with intimacy are multifaceted. Intimacy is a dynamic synergy of emotional trust, physical connection, and having shared meaning within the relationship. Intimacy is built over time and is facilitated through travailing joys and difficulties together for example, by exhibiting the ability to offer emotional support through a crisis.
- Do you check in with each other through the day? Many of us have demanding jobs and schedules, even having to endure travel to maintain our work responsibilities. Yet, our cell phones and Skype provide us with a chance to tighten the chasm of disconnection by having some face-time, texting, or calls through the day. It is important to turn toward our partner to share highlights and check in, and this characteristic is something that healthy relationships do have in common. Alternately, this doesn’t mean to call every hour and lapse into conflict if our relationship is not experiencing as much face-time as we would like. We should highlight that checking in, is a natural response to feeling connected and participating in the intimacy of our friendship with our partner.
- Is there sexual and non-sexual touching between you and your partner? Both forms of touch are very important in our relationships, while many couples go through periods of lower sexual frequency, they stay connected by touching, hand holding and having other forms of non-sexual touch. Both forms, sexual and non-sexual touch are equally vital for our sense of well-being and bonding. Keeping in mind, consensual intimate touch provides a cascade of hormonal responses, releasing Oxytocin which is dubbed the cuddle hormone and facilitates bonding.
- Who do you turn to for support? Can you name 5 people? Is your partner one of those people? If your partner is not one of the top 5 people who you turn to for support, your relationship may be headed for trouble and this is an indication signaling that your relationship may be prey to a deeper issue worth exploring with a marriage counselor or couples therapist.
Warmly brought to you by the licensed Therapists and Professional Counselors at
The Counseling and Wellness Center of Pittsburgh serving 5 locations with 75 counselors in Western Pennsylvania
- 830 Western Avenue Pittsburgh, Pa 15233
- 2539 Monroeville Blvd Monroeville, Pa 15146
- 3901 Mcknight Rd McCandless 15237
- 2000 Waterdam Plaza Drive, Suite 240, Canonsburg
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghApril 14, 2018 counseling for depression, counseling for PTSD, meditation, mindfulness, nature therapy, Nutrition Counseling, outdoor yoga, stress managment, wellness counseling pittsburgh, wellness pittsburgh, yoga0 comments
Yoga. To many, the word conjures up images of Instagram perfection and beautiful backgrounds. Thousands of years ago, the poses (asanas) were only part of the defining point of a yoga practice. Yoga by ancient definition means “union.” A union of spiritual, emotional and physical practices of wellness. The poses are an integral part, but not comprehensive whole of the practice. Patanjali, one of the forefathers of yoga defined yoga as, the neutralization of the vortices of feeling.” An intense definition, but the meaning of yoga must encompass all that it is, in a few words.
In this modern day of technology and constant stimulation, it is essential to unplug from your phone and laptop and connect with yourself. The benefits of yoga intertwine the spiritual, emotional and physical goals of the practice. Yoga has even been shown to decrease symptoms of anxiety, depression, and post traumatic stress disorder. The physical benefits are easier to notice, but the spiritual and emotional impacts cannot be underestimated. The first step to a yoga practice is openness for change and self-improvement. The rest of the benefits will follow:
The beautiful Instagram pictures exemplify the increased flexibility regular yoga practice results in. However, there are many other physical benefits that are not as easily photographed. Yoga practice increases the functioning of the immune system, the digestive system, circulatory system and bone health. By toning and strengthening the muscles and ligaments, yoga can help prevent injury and increase an individual’s metabolism.
Pranayama (breathe control) increases the functioning of the respiratory system. Certain sequences can help with insomnia, but overall yoga helps to increase energy levels in an individual. The physical benefits are often noticeable with a consistent practice. Health benefits of yoga can be even further multiplied by practicing outdoors as nature has its own beneficial effects.
When my 3-year-old niece gets upset, my sister has taught her to belly-breathe. This has a calming effect on her and can prevent a temper tantrum. Practicing yoga is calming and can reduce stress, depression and anxiety. Participating in physical activity releases endorphins in the body, which makes people feel happy. Yoga increases concentration and ability to focus on a task at hand.
One of the most important aspects of yoga is being present and mindful in your body. Not comparing your current state to anyone else and manifesting a non-judgmental relationship with yourself.
Yoga encompasses all religions, spiritually the practice seeks to remind its followers that they are part of a bigger picture. We are connected to other beings and the environment. Contrary to some beliefs, the practice of yoga does not aim to convert anyone to a religion. Yoga is not a religion. The practice aims to seek a higher consciousness or meaning behind everything we think and do.
Everyone comes to the mat for a myriad of reasons, relieving stress, moving on your mat after a hard day at the office, or to try a new pose seen in passing….The pull towards stepping on the your yoga mat may even vary day to day. However, whether the practice is home-based or in a studio, it will help improve your moods, increase energy levels and bring a new level of self-awareness, among other power benefits. The versatility of a yoga practice can alter depending on your schedule or how you feel. It can vary from a 5 minute mindful child’s pose to a vigorous 90 minute vinyasa flow. Any practice can make a positive impact in your life and begin a ripple effect towards those around you. Yoga can be incorporated into a wellness plan including nutrition counseling, meditation, and mindfulness.
By Lauren Shaffer, Certified Yoga Instructor and Wellness Guru of PittsburghLearn More
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghMarch 15, 2018 anxiety, anxiety therapy pittsburgh, Certified Nutritionist, clinical herbalist, cognitive behavioral therapy, counseling, counseling for anxiety, counseling pittsburgh, generalized anxiety disorder therapy pittsburgh, licensed therapist monroeville, licensed therapist pittsburgh, mindfulness, Nutrition Counseling, Nutritionist, therapist, therapist in murrysville, therapy, therapy pittsburgh, wellness center monroeville, wellness pittsburgh0 comments
Treatment for Anxiety
Treatment for anxiety takes many forms, there are generally three main agreed upon and clinically verified methods to manage and reduce symptoms of anxiety. Counseling or Therapy with a licensed counselor or therapist is the first treatment route. The treatment route for this form of help can vary from short term, brief solution-focused counseling interventions as well as long term treatment including cognitive behavioral therapy and even existential therapy. Only you and your counselor or therapist can determine which method will be best for you.
Other ways to manage symptoms related to anxiety are to enhance total wellness, this includes integrative medicine, nutrition counseling, acupuncture, fitness, meditation, and mindfulness. Some people experiencing anxiety find that a holistic approach suites their lifestyle best, in turn they explore clinical herbalism and integrative interventions to learn how this can support positive emotional health and wellness. Holistic therapy is best utilized along with counseling or psychotherapy from a licensed counselor which is therapy which will focus on finding triggers and changing the cognitive response to anxiety. The final way to treat anxiety is to use medication therapy. Medication has many different options including SSRI’s which must be taken for several weeks before taking effect and then other anxiolytic medication which is more short acting, talk with your psychiatrist or prescribing PCP to explore which form of medication therapy is the best for you to treat your anxiety. Medication often works best to diminish anxiety when it is paired with counseling and therapy which can change the thought patterns, discover underlying causes of anxiety and mange the full way in which it effects quality of life.
Remember that the worst way to manage your anxiety is by doing nothing at all in the hope that your symptoms will disappear. Managing anxiety is done best when we treat it early and completely with solid medical and therapeutic interventions.
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghMarch 1, 2018 counseling, couples counseling, couples therapy, marriage counseling, mindfulness, personal growth, psychology0 comments
Repair or Run the Other Way? My partner had an affair, Should I Stay or Go?
If you or your partner has recently discovered an affair has been happening in your relationship, in this moment you are likely trembling, a blurry fury of agonizing hurt, the entire relationship now may feel foreign to you. As a couples counselor affairs and their tempestuous aftermath are ironed our my office couch. Both parts of the couple struggle to make sense of the betrayal and its costs, couples seek aid and asylum to find the answers to questions such as; should we stay together or separate, will our relationship ever regain a sense of normalcy, ‘am I weak or foolish for thinking of staying?’ ‘how can we fix this?”
A relationship is founded and grows upon a platform of trust, without the reinforcement that trust provides, the person who was victimized by the affair will be thrust into a state of panic, questioning every action and motive of their life and partner. An affair is a trauma to the relationship, often people who have learned of, or been told about an affair from their partner, suffer from symptoms similar to PTSD or Acute Stress Disorder. Sleeplessness, anxious and intrusive thoughts and images, fear of it happening again. Within the wake of this mountain of emotional upheaval they create their next course of action, remain together or disassemble their lives. Use this guideline to weigh the options, keeping in mind the decision is one that must be made by ones self, as it is personal, intimate, and an infinitely complex choice to make.
- Is the partner who committed the affair being accountable? There must be a high level of accountability if the relationship will be repaired. This means that the cheating spouse accepts responsibility for his or her actions. If instead your partner is blame shifting or gaslighting, by saying that the affair is your fault or someone else’s fault, or if he or she is trying to minimize the impact or the hurt this will not work. The relationship must have truth to begin the healing process. It can be very frightening to own up, and some personality types that are antisocial, psychopathic, or narcissistic will likely use more defensiveness when met with the truth and or will struggle with empathy for their betrayed partners hurt. Under these circumstances it won’t be possible to work thought what happened in a healthy way.
- Has communication been cut off with the paramour? If communication is on going with the alternate partner there is no chance that the relationship can heal from the betrayal. There are people who will try to stick it out and court their partner while he or she tries to figure out which partner to choose. This is not a recipe for healthy connection, jumping around doing the “pick me dance” will likely lead to a major impact on self esteem and an internal sense of anxiety and profound sadness. Many couple’s therapists will not treat a relationship when there is an active affair happening.
- Is your partner willing to have greater transparency with you? This means giving you the codes to his or her phone, email, and social media accounts. Even with the codes and access to your partners interactions, it will take a herculean effort to restore any sense of safety or trust. This is a good first step in letting ones partner in and pushing the affair partner out.
- Do you want to do the work or forgiveness? While it is true that the affair is often symptomatic of deeper issues, the aftermath puts a tremendous strain on both parties. Deciding to work through and forge forgiveness is a toll which most heavily gets heaped upon the person who has experienced the betrayal. If you have learned that an affair has happened in your relationship and that you want to work on repairing it, you will simultaneously actively be committing to forgiving, this will be exquisitely difficult. After enough time has passed, you will be required to work through the process of handling anger, hurt, sadness, resentment, jealously, insecurity, all in the name of staying with your partner. Keep this in mind as it may not be for everyone which is ok!
All of these grim facts in mind, there is hope, if the above questions can be answered with certainty then there is a path to be forged toward forgiveness. Not an easy one but it is possible to have a connection which is stronger after an affair. Trust is a formula of consistency over a time, trust can be rebuilt if the formula is followed. With understanding, truth, and commitment, love is a robust and golden vessel which proudly contains the tender blossoms of our lives. A vessel that is able to withstand complete annihilation and be recreated to become gleaming and full again, or sometimes it is best to pluck our precious contents and replant somewhere anew…
In love and care,
Counseling and Wellness Center of Pittsburgh and Monroeville
Stephanie Wijkstrom MS, LPC, NBCCLearn More
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghFebruary 1, 2018 acupuncture, acupuncture monroeville, cupping, integrative health, integrative medicine, mindfulness, moxibustion, qi gong, traditional chinese medicine, wellness center monroeville, wellness pittsburgh0 comments
Acupuncture is the insertion of very fine, sterile, single use needles into acupuncture points. The points used are specific to each patient and are individualized based on their Chinese medicine diagnosis and constitution. During your first appointment, we take focused time to do an in-depth consultation regarding the details of your health. This helps us to formulate an individualized treatment surrounding your personal health pattern. In an acupuncture session, the number of points used in a treatment varies, but the average number of points ranges from 8-12 per treatment. Most people say that the experience of acupuncture is not painful at all but describe it as pleasant and soothing.
Acupuncture can be used to offer support for a range of emotional, physical, and spiritual concerns including but not limited to anxiety, depression, stress, PTSD, infertility, hormone balancing, arthritis, muscular and skeletal injuries, addiction, cleansing, diabetes, colitis, fatigue, insomnia and many more.
Cupping is a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) technique which involves using glass cups on the skin usually on the back. The cups create suction which brings and moves blood in an area, and relieves muscle tension. Over specific acupuncture points, cupping can improve digestive and respiratory discomfort. Sometimes, Slide Cupping will be employed, which involves moving the cup while suction is maintained in order to relieve muscle tension and pain.
Moxibustion is a long-trusted Traditional Chinese Medicine technique where Dr. Truncali burns a non-toxic Chinese herb commonly known as mugwort. It is performed over specific acupuncture points or areas of pain to provide a warming and nourishing input. By warming the acupuncture points, moxibustion can regulate the digestive system, boosts the immune system, alleviates pain, and calm the mind.
Qi gong is a meditative movement practice that acts to improve blood flow, mental function, emotional stability, immunity, and more. It is a way for you to engage with your acupuncture and sinew channels outside of the office. Your practitioner, Dr. Truncali may recommend one or two medical qi gong movements for you to do at home. You will be taught the postures and/or movements in office, typically at the end of your appointment.
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghJanuary 22, 2018 Certified Nutritionist, counseling, Emotional Health, integrative health, integrative medicine, mindfulness, Nutrition Counseling, Nutritionist, wellness0 comments
What is Nutrition Counseling? Liz Mckinney, Certified Nutrition Counselor in Pittsburgh and Monroeville explains a little bit about how this works to enhance your health and wellness.
What to expect:
- One on one individualized nutrition counseling based on your goals and health complaints
- Detailed analysis
- Goal setting, coaching and working through barriers to change
- A clear cut program including diet, lifestyle and supplement therapy specific to your needs
- Existing lab report analysis and/or future recommended lab work either through a third party lab or through your primary health care provider
- Email support as needed between sessions
In your first session, we will:
- Go over your client intake form and three day diet diary
- Discuss your primary goals and current barriers to change
- Complete a nutrition focused physical exam
- Analyze any existing lab work you’ve had completed within the last year
- Set a program for you consisting of dietary, lifestyle and supplement therapy
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghJanuary 22, 2018 counseling, meditation, mindfulness, wellness, wellness pittsburgh, yoga0 comments
Be Your Own Beloved: Cultivating Self Care
Counseling and Wellness Center of Pittsburgh, 830 Western ave, Pittsburgh 15233
Saturday Feb 10, 10am
Being your own beloved means treating yourself with the same love and kindness as you would to a dear friend. Just like you cannot fill from an empty cup, you cannot fully love someone else until you love yourself. This Valentines Day, give yourself (and your partner) the gift of self-care.
Join Kayla Hersberger, yoga instructor, essential oil lover, and advocate for natural living in this seminar which will include;
A guided heart-opening meditation
A writing exercise (bring your journal!)
Tips for starting and maintaining a self-care practice
Instruction to self-massage with essential oils
We kindly ask for a $5 love donation to cover the cost of oils, but no one will be turned away due to lack of funds.Learn More
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghJanuary 9, 2018 autism, child therapy, clinical herbalist, co-parenting, counseling, couples counseling, couples therapy, educational, marriage counseling, mindfulness, Parent Child Interaction Therapy, parenting, therapist, wellness0 comments
Jackie Mandock, LPC, NCC, LBSC, MH is a counselor at Counseling and Wellness Centers of Pittsburgh- Monroeville. She provides therapy to children, adolescents, families, couples, and adults. Jackie approaches therapy from a holistic perspective, always staying mindful of how the body, mind, and spirit are interconnected. Jackie is certified in trauma focused cognitive behavioral therapy and is trained in parent-child interaction therapy. She has worked with many different concerns in these specialized populations ranging from attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder to trauma, as well as anxiety and depression. Jackie is also a licensed behavioral specialist with a strong background in autism. Jackie was a school-based therapist and is familiar with school concerns and supporting educational issues. She is a graduate of University of Pittsburgh with a Bachelors in Psychology and Neuroscience and from Chatham University with a Masters in Counseling Psychology. Jackie also has a Master Herbalist diploma from American College of Health Sciences.Learn More