Category Archives for "Blog"

called to thrive - guilt
Mar 04

A Christian Counselor’s Approach to Guilt

By Beth Allen | Blog , Counseling and Therapy , Life

called to thrive - guilt

As Christian counselors we often hear people talk about guilt as a negative emotion, causing us to feel like failures, to feel condemned, or unable to meet what is expected of us. However, guilt is not always bad. It can lead us to repentance, towards righteousness and towards making needed positive changes in our lives. So how can we tell the difference between good guilt and bad guilt, or “true guilt” versus what June Hunt (Christian counseling radio host) calls “false guilt”? True guilt is based in fact: I was at fault, I did do something to deserve punishment, or I did commit a sin. True guilt is the result of any wrong attitude, thought, or action.
On the other hand, false guilt is based on the feeling that I’ve failed to live up to my own expectations or someone else’s. False guilt involves self-condemnation – either I blame myself even though there’s no evidence that I committed a wrong, or continue to blame myself even after I’ve apologized and made amends. False guilt causes me to feel accused. False guilt leads to shame, fear and anger.

To get to the bottom of the guilt, we will need further examination of our “self-talk,” that is the
messages we tell ourselves, our thinking patterns, etc. Do you often think about past mistakes and failures? Do you often think to yourself, or say out loud, any of the unreasonable “shoulds”? (Maybe you are giving yourself messages such as: You should be smarter … You should be more careful…You should never show your anger…You should be more like your cousin…). These statements are often impossible to live up to, judgmental, condemning warning signs that we are being affected by false guilt. These lies are unlearned in Christian counseling when held up to the reality of the truth of the Bible.

Take the following steps to deal with guilt effectively:

1. Discuss your guilt with a Christian counselor to find the source of your guilt: fact or feelings? Examine why you are feeling guilty.

2. List out the facts! Take responsibility for your sin and make restitution if appropriate.

3. Ask for forgiveness from God and the person offended if possible.

4. Give up dwelling on the past, and become willing to stop the self-condemnation.

5. Practice prayer and positive self-talk if the old accusations and condemning thoughts arise.

6. Practice some more.

7. Review steps 1-6 and keep practicing!

Adapted from Counseling Through Your Bible Handbook by June Hunt, 2008.

If you would like some personal help please give us a call. Often a little personal time with one of our Christian Counselors can help you get on the right path. Our number is 724-863-7223

called to thrive - shame
Mar 04

Guilt: True or False?

By Beth Allen | Blog , Counseling , Life

called to thrive - shame

Guilt: True or False? Can Christian counseling help me get rid of my guilt? After all, guilt is usually viewed as a negative emotion, causing us to feel like failures or feel condemned, or unable to meet what is expected of us. Guilt is not always bad however. It can lead us to repentance, towards righteousness, and toward making needed positive changes in our lives.

So then, how can Christian counseling help me tell the difference between good guilt and bad guilt? Christian counselor June Hunt refers to this as “true guilt” versus “false guilt.” True guilt is based in fact: I was at fault…I did do something to deserve a punishment…I did commit a sin. True guilt is the result of any wrong attitude, thought, or action.

On the other hand, false guilt is based on the feeling that I’ve failed to live up to my own expectations or someone else’s. False guilt involves self-condemnation: either I blame myself (even though there’s no evidence that I committed a wrong) or continue to blame myself even after I’ve apologized and made amends. False guilt causes me to feel accused. False guilt leads to shame, fear and anger. Through Christian counseling, it can be revealed how false guilt is contrary to what Scripture says. (Discuss Romans 8 with your counselor).

To get to the bottom of the guilt, we will need further examination of our “self-talk” which is our internal chatter, the messages we tell ourselves, our thinking patterns. Do you often think to yourself (or say out loud) any of the unreasonable “shoulds”? For example, perhaps you are giving yourself messages such as: You should be smarter; you should be more careful; you should never show your anger; you should be more like your sibling, etc. These statements are often impossible to live up to, judgmental, condemning warning signs that we are being affected by false guilt.

Walk through the following steps with your Christian counselor: 1) Find the source of your guilt: fact or feelings? Examine why you are feeling guilty. 2) List out the facts! Take responsibility for your sin. Discuss with your Christian counselor if any restitution would be appropriate. 3) Ask for forgiveness from God and the offended person if possible. 4) Give up dwelling on the past and become willing to stop the self condemnation. 5) Practice prayer and positive self-talk if the old accusations and condemning thoughts arise. (Process Philippians 4 with your counselor). 6) Practice some more. 7) Review steps 1-6 with your Christian counselor as needed and keep practicing!

Submitted by Beth Allen, LPC Adapted from Counseling Through Your Bible Handbook by June Hunt, 2008

called to thrive - relationships
Mar 04

Christian Counseling Helps Build Relationships

By LeeAnn Trout | Blog , Counseling , Counseling and Therapy

called to thrive - relationships

Searching for deeper connections with others? Surrounded by others but still feeling alone? Christian Counseling can help build closer relationships. We were not made to live alone regardless of the independent nature of our American culture. The fast pace and media saturated lives may leave less time for nurturing close personal relationships. While our social networks grow through various social media, our true intimate relationships suffer, including intimacy in marriage. Why this loneliness when there is so much going on around us? Within each of us there is a void that can only be filled with an intimate relationship with God. Also, as image bearers of God, we seek intimacy within community. God said that it is not good for man to be alone (Gen. 2:18). So from Adam he made Eve (Gen. 2:23) and joined them together showing a deep intimacy of the two becoming one (Gen. 2:24). They were naked and unashamed, not just in a physical sense but in a completely emotional, vulnerable, open and trusting relationship. They were truly known by one another and by the Lord. Before sin entered the world the relationship between Adam, Eve and God was perfectly intimate.
Since The Fall, we must now discover a relational God and develop the skills to be in relationship with others. Sin brought shame and the reaction to hide ourselves over being open, resulting in us not allowing others to fully know us. With the inborn desire for intimacy and the ability to increase in knowledge it is possible for us to improve in relational skills. The perfect, intimate relationship of our Triune God is impossible for us to develop but with His grace, He will teach us to be more like His Son, leading us to deeper intimacy with Him and others.
The Lord knows his people and how they work. This drive for intimacy brings benefits when it is being fulfilled. Research shows the importance of intimacy. Intimacy provides a buffer to psychological and physiological effects of stress. Lack of intimacy or emotional support from wives makes a heart attack more likely in men. Both men and women report less depression and anxiety when they also claim to have high intimacy within their relationships. Intimacy difficulties are also associated with maladjustment, personality disorders, admission to mental hospitals, and suicide. Marriages that are suffering from a lack of emotional intimacy will also negatively impact the couple’s spiritual and physical intimacy. So, it is evident that intimacy is a need psychologically, physiologically and spiritually. We were created for intimacy.
What types of experiences keep people from allowing themselves to be known or intimate with others?

1) Abuse – those that have experienced abuse of any type will naturally become guarded
2) Unforgiveness – unable to forgive and harboring the pain and resentment toward those that have hurt you keep people from opening up to others.
3) Judgmental- When expressing one’s self has been met with criticism, sarcasm and judgment.
4) Fear of rejection – fear of not being liked or cared for will also keep others from experiencing the real you.

Healing past hurts and traumas, learning to take steps beyond these experiences and allowing yourself to be open toward others in a safe relationship are all possible and will allow you to experience deep personal connections and acceptance in others. Christian Counseling can assist individuals in the identification of intimacy breakdown and walk with the client in opening up a path to experience real intimacy with others.

called to thrive - worried girl
Mar 04

Depression and The Christian

By LeeAnn Trout | Blog , Depression

called to thrive - worried girl

Christian counselors often have clients walk into their office when their shame and guilt over experiencing depression has reached an unmanageable level. How could a disorder that affects 1 in 6 individuals at some point during their lifetime result in feelings of judgment and condemnation from the Christian community? Many well meaning brothers and sisters in Christ may misunderstand Major Depressive Disorder (MDD). The stigma that can follow this disorder can be seen in false beliefs that depression always: 1) indicates a need for salvation, 2) points to possible unconfessed sin, 3) signals a lack of being spirit filled, 4) means attention seeking behavior/ excuse for behavior, 4) evidences a stronghold, 5) signifies a resistance to the call of God, or 6) denotes not trusting or depending on God (Lyles, 2013). When the Christian community supports these beliefs, those suffering from MDD can internalize guilt/shame, stop talking and avoid others, begin self-medicating or increase in suicidal thoughts (Lyles). Depression certainly is not always due to spiritual issues but condemnation and judgment certainly can increase MDD symptoms.
Faithful servants of God, such as David, Elijah and Job, suffered from depression. Job’s significant personal losses, David’s guilt following Bathsheba, and Elijah’s stress certainly brought about depression even though they were walking with the Lord. Christian figures, such as C.S. Lewis, Martin Luther, and Charles Spurgeon have been reported to experience bouts of depression. Spurgeon stated in a sermon, “Fits of depression come over the most of us. Cheerful as we may be, we must at intervals be cast down. The strong are not always vigorous, the wise not always ready, the brave not always courageous, and the joyous not always happy.” Christians are subject to depression because they are human not because they are bad Christians.
Understanding the causes and symptoms of depression can allow Christians to seek help more readily and to reach out to other’s in the community who may be suffering. MDD can be due to “genetics, gender, age, trauma/grief, stressful life events, medical/medications, nutrition, psychiatric problems as well as spiritual issues” (Lyles, 2013). Emotional symptoms can include, depressed mood, inability to enjoy oneself, hopelessness, low self-esteem, impaired memory, difficulty concentrating, anxiety, and negative thoughts. However, 69% of people with MDD present only with physical symptoms. These symptoms include: headache, fatigue, disturbed sleep, dizziness, chest pain, vague joint pain, vague back/abdominal pain, GI complaints, sexual dysfunction/apathy, and menstrual problems (Lyles, 2013).
Being aware of depression, the prevalence, symptoms and the stigma for the Christian, we may be able to reach out to others and assist them in receiving proper treatment. Consequences of not seeking treatment can be physical distress or illness, family/marital discord, self-medication, financial stress, addictions, and a higher risk of suicide. Treatment includes prayer, diet, exercise, sleep, counseling, hobbies, and medications. Encouraging those suffering from depression to seek professional help as well as encouraging them with scripture could be the action taken by pastors, church leadership and the congregation. Draw close to those suffering and encourage that “the Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18, NIV).

*Note- LeeAnn used an outside reference, one of our online seminars, for her article. Those are the in-text citations you are seeing.

called to thrive - stress
Mar 04

Counseling Children Through Divorce

By LeeAnn Trout | Blog , Counseling , Divorce , Marriage


called to thrive - stressStatistics surrounding divorce are heartbreaking. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (2012) for every 1,000 people there are 6.8 marriages and for every 1,000 people there are 3.6 divorces. Marriages are constantly breaking up and within those marriages are precious children being faced with difficult life situations. The 2009 American Community Survey indicates that only 47% of children reach the age of 17 in an intact married family. The effects of divorce on children are related to the degree of conflict level within the parents’ relationship. Counseling is encouraged for children of divorce to adapt to their situation and to learn to express emotion and gain proper coping skills. Studies in the area of effect of divorce on children vary greatly. Some research will suggest a lower level of well-being in children of divorced families when compared to intact families, while others suggest that the majority of children can overcome this situation with no difference in well-being. Research can conclude though that the higher conflict divorce, the greater the effects on the children. Stressors such as change in community, friends, or school, a decline in economic status, as well as less time with each parent and an inevitable sense or fear of abandonment lead to diminished functioning or health. Effects can be seen within relationships and interpersonal skills, diminished religious faithfulness, educational achievement, future income, and physical, emotional, and psychological health.
The effects of divorce seem to be life altering in many cases. Children’s adjustment to marital discourse and divorce can be helped through various types of therapy. Group therapy seems to be a leading approach to helping children of divorce, such as Divorce Care. Behavior change theory has been suggested to assist the parents in becoming better models and more peaceful in co-parenting. The use of expressive arts in all therapy is intriguing and has shown to be helpful with children of divorce.
Considering level of conflict amongst the parents is a determining factor on how effected the children are from the divorce, co parenting counseling can reduce the conflict and bring parent’s together to raise the children in a united relationship while remaining separated, all within the best interest of the children. Those attending co-parenting counseling are typically court ordered. However, some parents chose to participate in co parenting in order to ensure a healthy environment for their children. Co parenting counseling gives the parents the opportunity to sort through parenting issues and learn to provide a stable atmosphere for their children rather than taking one another to court to resolve conflicts.
It is imperative for our nation to understand the impact that divorce, especially high conflict divorce, has on children. Many children go through these difficult transitions without appropriate care and will possibly pass to the next generation the legacy of divorce. By providing children with appropriate counseling and entering into co parenting counseling the impact can be minimized.

called to thrive - international
Mar 04

Suicide Across Society and Cultures

By Dr. Phil Huggins | Blog , Life

called to thrive - international

Watching the TV news is depressing, but now I can’t even read the Newspaper! I started out my day be learning that people ages 35 to 64 (I land right in the middle) account for about 57 percent of suicides in the United States. The suicide rate among middle-aged (35-64 years old) Americans has climbed a startling 28 percent between 1999 and 2010. During the 11 year period studied, suicide went from the eighth leading cause of death among middle-aged Americans to the fourth, behind cancer, heart disease and accidents.
The trend was most pronounced among white men and women in that age group; their suicide rate jumped 40%. There was little change in younger and older people and middle-aged African Americans, Hispanics and most other racial and ethnic groups. According to the Associated Press, the reason for the increase is that caucasians do not have the same kind of church support and extended families that African Americans and Hispanics do.

After reading this article, one of our counselors Denise Pfhal shared: “This is true…I will never forget reading about a study done years ago in a small Mexican village… which confirms this report…they studied the village because there was virtually no evidence of mental illness (can you imagine this?)….the primary reason-large extended families of support and not only your own extended family, but your cousins extended family, and your neighbors extended families would also be there for support-not to mention the local church families! They had a “true” relational/functional community. Isolative communities lacking a spiritual rudder (hopelessness) define our current state of affairs…and the resulting rampant addiction and emotional disorders reflect this.”

Another theory for the increased suicide rate notes that white baby boomers have always had higher rates of depression and suicide, and that has held true as they’ve hit middle age. A third theory is the growing abuse of prescription painkillers over the past decade. Based on death certificates, perscription drug abuse leads to overdose and/or puts people in a frame of mind to attempt suicide by other means.

Whatever the cause, the end result is alarming! What is the church doing to impact this world in which we live? More important, what am I doing to impact this world? The Prince of Peace that offers a peace that passes comprehension must be introduced.

called to thrive - mixer
Mar 04

Who’s In Control

By Stephen A. Luther | Blog , Life

called to thrive - mixer

Who’s In Control?
God wants to give you his full blessing but first see how Christian Counseling can help you give him full control!

If you are like me, the more you try to be in control of things, the more out of control things become. Unfortunately I’m stubborn and often this just leads me to try to control more and more until I realize I am getting nowhere. Only when I get to the end of myself do I realize that the only real control is from God. I don’t gain self control until I give God full control!

The need to control in our flesh starts with a feeling of being out of control. This is that “I’m not ok” feeling we have which leads us to try to manage things the best we can. The more powerless you have been in your life, the stronger your need to regain control will be. This is why people who are hurt very deeply often struggle with control issues such as addictions or eating disorders. What is your “I’m not ok” feeling about? Who hurt you? What are you going to do about it? If you want to begin the healing process, read on and consider giving us a call to help you on your healing journey.

Our flesh/natural self hungers for control. Our flesh will endlessly compare ourselves to others or some imagined standard to determine if we are okay and in control. If we don’t measure up or don’t feel satisfied we try one of three things. We can choose to remain “out of control” and look for sympathy for being the victim of some real or imagined injustice. Often times this is accompanied by out of control behaviors that are ultimately self destructive and are attempts to either control our circumstances or other people. These are the other two categories of control that our flesh uses to try to regain a sense of control.

Attempts to control our circumstances and details of life I call “obsessive control.” This involves active and passive attempts to manipulate what is going on in our life to try to feel in control. A obvious example of this is someone with OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder). A person with OCD will engage in a variety of obsessive behaviors such as hand washing or checking door locks with specific rituals that have to be adhered to specifically for the behavior to provide momentary relief of anxiety. Another example of this type of control would be addictions; if the addict has what they are addicted to they too have a momentary sense of being okay or in control. These are examples of active attempts to control but perhaps even more frequently people will engage in passive or avoidant attempts to control. The classic example is the procrastinator who falsely believes that if he can just avoid some responsibility he will be ok. Someone may even be very responsible in other areas of life, but has taken on the belief that one specific area of life needs to be avoided. Ultimately none of these attempts work and the person is just spinning their wheels and never really grows or gets better at feeling in control.

The other form of control the flesh uses is controlling others. In the extreme this is the abuser who creates an inflated grandiose self image that gives them a feeling of entitlement to use others as they wish. This entitlement involves a sense that other people deserve what they get because the abuser deceives himself into believing that the other person is to blame for everything. However, to a less extent people control others all the time in more subtle ways. Do you ever manipulate people to get what you want or become passive aggressive about something you disagree with? These are also attempts to control others that ultimately only leave us with momentary satisfaction.

These ways in which the flesh attempts to be in control ultimately offer no real control in our life and any control we believe we have is an illusion. The only solution to our lack of control is to give God control. Just as the Bible teaches that if we want to find our life, we have to lose it (Matthew 16:25) and if we want to be strong we have to be weak (2 Corinthians 12:9-10), we must give up control to gain control. Only when we surrender completely to God and walk in the spirit do we gain self control (Galatians 5:22-23). Psalm 46 teaches us that we need to cease striving and know that He is God. Striving is what we do in the flesh to try to control things that leave us with only an illusion of control. Whereas when we cease striving and surrender to God, we gain real control as we walk in the Spirit.

Are you ready to have real control in your life? Do you want the kind of control that leads to true contentment and empowerment? Only God can offer this type of control. At Grace Wellness Center, we help people identify and remove the barriers to having true freedom in Christ. Once they find this freedom they realize that for the first time, they are able to truly be in control and no longer have to strive after the illusive control that the world promises but never delivers. Can we help you find this control in your life?

At Grace Wellness Center, the invitation is open to every heart that has been broken…Let us help!

called to thrive - sorry
Mar 04

I Am Sorry Is Not Enough

By Dr. Phil Huggins | Blog , Life

called to thrive - sorry

I Am Sorry is Not Enough: Incorporating Genuine Apologies into Christian Counseling
“Real life involves real people who make real mistakes. Sometimes saying ‘I’m sorry’ just isn’t enough. The need for apologies impacts all human relationships.” This is the opening statement on the back cover of The Five Languages of Apology written by Gary Chapman and Jennifer Thomas. They present five fundamental aspects or languages of an apology:

Expressing regret – “I am sorry”

Accepting Responsibility – “I was wrong”

Making Restitution – “What can I do to make it right?”

Genuinely Repenting – “I’ll try not to do that again”

Requesting Forgiveness – “Will you please forgive me?”

These five aspects gave me something to think about. Chapman and Thomas present the premise that often times when an apology is offered, it is not totally accepted because it does not speak the language of the hearer. I would like to present an alternative view. It is not the wrong aspect of an apology that causes it to not be accepted, but that the apology is incomplete. The apology is lacking one or more of the five aspects. An incomplete apology has the potential to do more harm than no apology as it is perceived and received as hypocrisy.

While the authors stressed learning your primary and secondary “language”, it seems to make more sense to practice using all five in all apologies. They even encourage using all five at different points. Rather than five unique languages of apology a better concept would be the complete apology which would include all five aspects. It would be hard not to accept an apology that states “I was wrong. I am sorry. I will try not to do that again. Will you please forgive me. What can I do to make it right?”

The problem is not that an apology did not speak the right language but that it is incomplete. In my college classes, I have often told a student that what they did was good, but they did not do enough or go far enough so they received a less than desirable grade. The same is true in an apology. Often what is offered is good but it does not go far enough so the response is less than desirable.

To offer an apology and not have it accepted is devastating for the individuals involved. The one who did wrong is desiring the relationship be restored; the wronged needs to be healed. When the healing does not happen because of an incomplete apology and the relationship is not restored due to a lack of acceptance, the result is bitterness and anger and resentment.

It would be interesting to see how many marriages and friendships would have been salvaged if a complete apology had been offered. How many apologies would have been accepted if a complete apology was offered?

The next time you make an apology. Make it complete. Let me know how it works. I have begun encouraging complete apologies in my counseling sessions. It is having an amazing positive response. Truth is truth so this should work in your life as well.

called to thrive- teen frustrated
Aug 04

Christian Counseling for Teens When Life Feels Like a Big Pile of Manure

By dougl1kj | Blog , Counseling , My Kids Program

     called to thrive- teen frustrated

As a Christian counselor with youth I long for break through sessions where a teen I am working with finally “gets it.”  I was talking with a teen boy recently and reflected to him that it “sounds like life feels like a big pile of manure right now.”  He agreed and began to reflect on that idea.  We began to discuss the redeeming power of Christ in making all things new, even a pile of manure, when he had that break through thought.  He said, “manure can be used as fertilizer.”  “Wow! That is an awesome thought” I replied.  What does manure do?  It is stinky and dirty but when used as fertilizer it makes things beautiful and healthy.

And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away. Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.”  Revelations 21:4,5a

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.  2 Corinthians 5:17

 In Revelations we are given hope in knowing that eventually all things will be made new and there will be no more sorrow and no more pain.  But 2 Corinthians reminds us that if you are “in Christ” being made new is not just a future hope but a present reality.  We can live in a world full of manure and come out smelling like roses if we use that manure as fertilizer instead of just letting it stink up our lives.  Too many teens and others are just living with the manure as they get swept away by a culture that openly mocks God.  As Christian counselors we help these youth and people of all ages find hope in the redeeming power of the Lord.

Many of us struggle with understanding why God allows bad things to happen in our lives.  While attending a training on the Art of Marriage program by Family life recently we were presented with the idea that “God does not protect us from the things he will perfect us through. “  What a beautiful and accurate way to understand God’s plan.  God allows the manure in our life not because he is mean and wants us to stink but because we need to recognize the reality that, apart from him, we are lost and in need of redemption.  That “manure” can either make us hardened and callused or it can be the very thing that God uses to set us free.  It is his intention that, just like when manure is used as fertilizer to produce beautiful flowers and healthy vegetables, our suffering is used to produce beautiful and healthy things in our life.  He wants us to be made new!

Are you feeling like life is a big pile of manure right now?  Maybe a teen or someone else you know is feeling that way?  Would you let one of our Christian counselors come along side of you or your loved one and help them be set free and made new.  We counsel both locally and through skype so that location and schedules are not a barrier to receiving Biblical counsel.  As Christian counselors we long to point people to the redeeming power of Christ and help them take the manure they are living with and use it to fertilize the growth of healthy, beautiful and pure things in their life.  God longs to bless you!

Therefore the Lord longs to be gracious to you,
And therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you.
For the Lord is a God of justice;
How blessed are all those who long for Him.  Isaiah 30:18

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called to thrive - redefine the problem parent coaching photo
Jul 02

Redefine the Problem

By dougl1kj | Blog , Coaching , Life , My Kids Program

called to thrive - redefine the problem parent coaching photo

Redefine the Problem with Parent Coaching

“My Kids” Therapeutic Parent Coaching Program

            When you look at it the way you have always looked at it, you will see what you have always seen.  We have been programmed by our culture to think in behavioral terms.

  “My child is defiant…manipulative…controlling…dishonest.”

  “I can’t let them get away with this.”

  “If I don’t make him feel bad, I am a bad parent.”

  “I have to give a consequence (even thought they aren’t working)…maybe something more severe will work.”

  “This time the sticker chart will work, they will want to earn TV.”

If you are cool with that way of thinking about things and don’t want to see things differently, you probably should stop reading now.  For the rest of you, open your minds to a better way to connect to your kids!

We are human beings, not Human doings!

            We treat our children as if they are human doings instead of human beings.  Why is this?  It’s because our world has programmed us to look at behaviors and not at the individual.   Think about it…insurance companies won’t pay for treatment if behaviors can’t be measured…many parenting books see kids, from new born to adolescents, as manipulative brats…If you walk into Target with a screaming kid under your arm while smiling and wave to people who are staring at you, they talk about you behind your back (or am I the only one who does that?).  Anyways, our world is about compliance not connection.  God created us to connect and for compliance to come out of those connections.  Neurologically, the executive functioning part of our brain (the prefrontal cortex) is designed to make decisions based 90% on our understanding of relationships, and based 10% on rewards and consequences.

“What you do does not determine who you are, who you are determines what you do.”  Neil Anderson

If this is true, traditional parenting approaches are very inadequate!   We need to redefine how we see the problem if we are going to change how we parent.  What would I do if I didn’t see my child as defiant, manipulative, or controlling?  I’m glad you asked!  At the root of all negative behavior, your child’s and yours, is insecurity.  When I am insecure I react out of fear.  Why do many parents give consequences?  Because they are afraid of what will happen if they don’t or that their child with think they “got away with it.”  Why do children act up?  They are stressed and become insecure because they don’t know how to manage it.  They haven’t developed the connections necessary to help them regulate their stress.

When I am stressed, or when one of my kids is stressed, we chose either the green (secure) path, or we chose the red (insecure) path.  If I see my child’s behavior as defiant or manipulative I am more likely to go down the red path which means I react with the same consequence (maybe more severe this time) that has never worked (If it worked you wouldn’t still have to do it).  This reaction leads to disconnection with my child, failure and limitations in our relationship.  If I redefine the problem and see my child as stressed and insecure instead of defiant and manipulative, I am more likely to move down the green path.  I stay regulated and connect with my child.  This gives them the opportunity to connect with me and regulate their stress.  This leads to success (you are successful even if your child doesn’t comply right way because you have stayed regulated and changed the pattern…eventually your child will regulate and connect to you and begin to change his behavior).  This path also leads to more possibilities to connect as the relationship grows and behavioral patterns start to change.

Are you ready to go on this journey or do you want to stay stuck in old patterns that haven’t worked?  If you are ready to transform your family, our parent coaching program is for you!


To get there you have to begin the journey, let’s get started!

By Stephen Luther
Executive Director of Grace Wellness Center
Licensed Professional Counselor and Therapeutic Parent Coach
My Kid’s Therapeutic parent coaching group on Facebook:
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