Counseling, Lake Norman Counselors

“I Am Enough.”

The new ideals surrounding body positivity and empowerment are growing on many social media platforms, helping teens and young adults create a stronger sense of self-esteem and confidence.

While the recent trend has been positive, we all still face many problems with daily use of social media and peer pressure. The constant comparison, negativity, and judgment on social media are still present. The nature of Snapchat, Instagram, Tiktok and many other social media platforms make it hard for teens to find validation, empowerment, and confidence within themselves. Instead, these platforms are conditioning us to seek external validation and praise: how many likes, how many followers, how many new comments do I have today? The numbers game is toxic.

When self-esteem is created through likes, comments, and posting what seems to be the “ideal” self or lifestyle (even if Instagram getting rid of likes) the need for external validation seems to follow teens and young adults everywhere. Yes, even in picturesque, Davidson, North Carolina.

Growing up in Davidson might seem like a dream – close to the lake and the hustle and bustle of Charlotte. But too often we hear about nightmare scenarios instead of dreams in our office. The desire to maintain a certain image, both in person and online, leads to anxiety, bullying, and negative self-talk. 

I work closely with my clients to build up their self-esteem and confidence, so that they can be the best version of themselves. I encourage my clients, teens especially, to take pride in their independence and ability to work through challenges, including the challenge of navigating the digital world.

Counseling is beneficial at all life stages, but I truly believe it to be fundamental to the success of today’s teens. With a strong sense of self-esteem and confidence, teens are more likely to engage with their family and community and create a positive network of support. Counseling can help combat the thoughts telling us “I am not good enough,” or “I am not likable,” and reframe them into positive, reassuring thoughts that promote a strong sense of self-esteem. Counseling can provide a lifetime of skills to carry into many phases of life with a happier, healthier self-image. 

 

 

Lake Norman Counselors, Providers

Transforming Tiger

Hi everyone, Victoria here! I am new to the Lake Norman Counselors team, and am excited to start my work counseling teens, adults, and families.

I received my Master’s in Clinical Mental Health right here in the Charlotte area. However, Davidson is an area outside of Charlotte that is new to me, and I am loving the beautiful views and being so close to the water. As my love for Charlotte grows, home to me is in Columbia, South Carolina. Even though I am from Gamecock country, I received my Bachelor’s degree in psychology from Clemson, and I am a huge Tiger fan- hoping for another national championship this year!

I have learned how a little bit of self-reflection, and taking time to take care of myself can be incredibly handy for getting through obstacles life presents us. I would also say, having a dog and a wonderful support system can help too! I come from a big family, and having their support means the world to me, but there is nothing compared to the love and snuggles I receive from my dog, Ollie. Ollie will soon start training to become a therapy dog, so he can join me in my passion for helping others. 

Becoming a counselor has been a lifelong dream of mine, which is why perseverance is a big attribute that has helped guide me through life. I am a big believer in working through the many challenges life may throw at you. This is where mindfulness comes into play, which is another aspect of my work as a counselor.

I appreciate taking time to “be in the present moment.” When practicing mindfulness, we can realize challenges are only a temporary part of our life, and like so many times in the past, we can get through them! 

I am looking forward to helping others work through their own obstacles and find time for self-care!

 

Lake Norman Counselors, Providers

Mazza’s Moving Mountains

Hello everyone! I’m Madison Mazza, and I’m the newest member of the LKN Counselors family. I’m very excited to start working with teens, adults, and couples in the Lake Norman area!

I just moved to North Carolina from West Virginia, so there has been a lot of change in my life recently. Although change can be scary, it can also be very exciting and necessary to lead a more fulfilling life. I know many clients who come to counseling will also be experiencing or trying to enact change, whether it be in their personal life, work life, or social life! I think it’s comforting to know that we all go through periods of change (and growth!) and having that validation and support from others can make a world of difference. I look forward to working with clients who feel like they’re in a transitional state and want guidance and support through that process.

Speaking of support, I come from an Italian background where family has been such an important part of my life. I think having any type of support system (this does not have to be family whatsoever!) can help us navigate through life’s twists and turns. Support can come in all shapes and sizes and can even include your counselor, which is a big component of the therapeutic relationship in my eyes.

Being Italian, we also have a huge love and passion for food. Anything with carbs will do. I love to cook and bake, and I especially love to eat and try new foods!

As a native West Virginian, our motto “Montani Semper Liberi,” which translates to “Mountaineers are Always Free” has really resonated with me throughout my life. Being free from life’s pressures and stress takes time and a lot of hard work. But I truly believe this is possible! We often prioritize our physical health and leave our mental health on the back burner. We value beauty and physical fitness as a culture, but forget how important it is to put the same value on our self-care and mental health. This is especially important since we can get lost in daily stressors so easily. Freeing yourself from the stressors and chains that keep you from being the best you possible is the ultimate goal, and I’m excited and honored to be a part of that journey!

The LKNC family has welcomed me with open arms and it feels so close to home that I know the change that is happening will be well worth it. And the changes that you can make through counseling will also be well worth it! Country roads will always take me home, and I’ll always be a “Mountain Mama,” but being a Lake Norman girl sounds pretty great too!

Counseling, Lake Norman Counselors

Stronger Than Ever: A Wellness Approach

I’d like to think we’ve come a long way as a society in fighting some of the stigma around counseling, but I know we still have a long way to go in the mental health field to de-mystify what happens “on the couch.”

Most of our healthcare industry operates on the “medical model” – what I consider the “What’s broke? Let’s fix it” approach. And that’s fine if we’re talking about a broken arm; which a doctor would assess, diagnose, and then treat appropriately. A broken arm is pretty straightforward.

But mental health issues don’t get treated as neatly, on a perfect timeline, or get processed by x-ray machines. So why would mental health care operate on the same model?! We can’t operate under the same assumptions or on the same model for a number of reasons.

Most importantly, because you and/or your children are not broken!

Counselors practice by utilizing a wellness model rather than the medical model. The best comparison is to say that counseling is just like going to the gym! You don’t go to the gym because your biceps are broken. You go to make them stronger! You go to build muscle, endurance, flexibility, strength. This is the essence of the wellness model: a strength-based and goal-oriented approach.

Counselors (practicing some modalities more than others) offer clients skills and tools to help them navigate through life! Just like everyone would have different goals at the gym (toning vs building muscle vs endurance training, etc) everyone has different goals in counseling.

Ultimately, regardless of who you see, counseling is strength based and goaloriented!

Counseling, Lake Norman Counselors

The Art of Procrastination

You should just read this later…

When you woke up this morning, was the nagging voice in your head the first voice that you heard? The voice that said, “you should’ve gotten up earlier to go to the gym.” Or “you should’ve finished that yesterday.” “You should unload the dishwasher.” “You should get some laundry done today, how many days in a row have you worn those pants now?” “You shouldn’t go out looking like this.” “You should’ve replied to that email/text.” “You really should meal prep & plan better lunches.”

Ugh. I’m exhausted from that internal dialogue already, and the day hasn’t even started. Is it time for bed yet?

If you even had a restful night of sleep in the first place, your energy level is going to quickly be depleted if you stay on that current mental trajectory. And you know what we do when we’re drained and exhausted? Nothing. Or at least nothing productive. We procrastinate!

One of the biggest complaints I hear repeatedly from clients (teens & adults) is around lack of motivation, low energy, not accomplishing goals, and procrastination. Well, I have great news. Working with someone like me – a trained cognitive behavioral therapist – can remedy those complaints. It’s hard work. It’s a constant mental battle to change our thoughts & thus our feelings, but we can train ourselves to think differently.

When it comes to procrastination, there’s one word getting in the way – should. “Shouldn’t” is also as equally toxic for our friends caught on semantics. If you re-read that first paragraph, all those draining, exhausting thoughts are should statements.

Here’s the results of should/shouldn’t statements: obligation, guilt, fear, embarrassment, dread, exhaustion, feeling judged, feeling as if we did something wrong, anxiety, anger, rebellion, being in conflict with what we really want or our values, hostility, irritation, lack of motivation… oh! And procrastination. I could continue, but I think you get the point.

Let’s evaluate two statements:

  • I want to go to the gym this morning.
  • I should go to the gym this morning.

How are those two statements different? How do they elicit different feelings? Is one more motivating than the other as you think or say them out loud?

You might follow through and do something you “should” do, but it’s going to be because there’s a sense of obligation, guilt, fear, embarrassment, dread, etc. if you don’t complete the task at hand. When you evaluate your life choices, are those the feelings you want driving your decisions?

Or would you rather be motivated by hope, energy, passion, drive, & enthusiasm? Because we typically correlate those feelings and motivators with what we want. And as a result, we’re more likely to follow through, accomplish our goals, and feel a sense of success or accomplishment as a result. Are you more likely to do something you want to do? Yes!!

Now my biggest skeptics, who typically have a culture of “should” very deeply ingrained (we can get into that in session), usually retort, “But there are things you have to do, things you should do, that don’t make me feel negatively!” Great! Then you’ve already learned how to reframe those “should statements” into “want statements” – so you’re ahead of the game.

Yes, I realize there is a reason I should look both ways before I cross the street. But guess what – I don’t want to get hit by a car today, so I am happy to do that! I want to look both ways to ensure my safety. So that reframe of the should to the want statement is relatively straightforward. It’s much harder when you’re doing work around issues you don’t want to do or when there’s a values conflict between what society/family/religion/etc tells you that you should do versus what you actually want to do.

So what are the best steps to eliminating procrastination & feeling more motivation? Becoming aware of your “should statements” is the first step! There will be a lot of them – so if that’s the case don’t be alarmed or surprised! We all have them.

If motivation & procrastination are an issue for you, please feel free to reach out. I can’t do therapy over a blog article and this is barely scratching the surface of the complexities of this issue! So please let me know how I can help – jamie@lkncounselors.com.

Counseling, Lake Norman Counselors

Mindful Moments

News Alert: The coffee break was invented in New Orleans! As if I needed another reason for a Starbucks run? I can’t believe I didn’t know this piece of trivia.

“Well, of course the coffee break was invented in New Orleans. Even if you hadn’t before heard of the practice’s local provenance, it all just makes sense. Not only has the city long been a hub of coffee production, but it also famously embraces things of pleasure and leisure. Put them all together, and you’ve got the recipe for a mid-morning pause for caffeinating purposes — and another in the mid-afternoon, and another whenever it can be squeezed in. And if anybody wants to complain about it, you can just explain to them (over a cup of coffee, of course) that it’s simply in our DNA.” – Mike Scott

I ran across this quote on NOLA.com recently, but I think part of me always knew… maybe deep down in my subconscious my morning coffee runs (okay, and afternoon and yes, sometimes evening coffee runs as well) were a tribute to my New Orleans heritage.

For me, at least, the chemical dependency on caffeine is only a small part of what makes me love the “coffee break.” My ability to function, notwithstanding, I love starting my day with coffee. It’s always been an opportunity to take a mindful moment in the day.

In the midst of the morning rush out the door, the busy afternoon of clients back to back, the long evening hours at the office – the coffee break serves the purposes Mr. Scott mentions so eloquently: pleasure and leisure.

It’s a moment to slow down and engage the senses of touch, smell, and taste as I wrap my hands around a warm mug, inhale deeply, and enjoy the first sip with a smile on my face. In the car especially, I try to pair my morning coffee run with my favorite Spotify playlist to help me energize or relax (depending on if I’m starting or ending my day).

These mindful moments are vital to my self-care and well-being personally and professionally.

The coffee break can also be an opportunity to connect socially. I love my local baristas (shout out to my Northcross Starbucks!) & enjoy starting my day with them. I love taking the time out of my day to annoy check in with my coworkers to hear how their day is going. As an extrovert, I love the excuse to energize and connect with others socially.

So if you’re always rushing, overwhelmed, and stressed – it sounds like you need a “coffee break!” Call a friend, get in the car, put on your favorite music, and take a moment to slow down and engage the senses. Enjoy it!

Counseling, Lake Norman Counselors

Thanks-dreading?

There’s an empty seat at the table this year. You can’t make it back home. Your parents are divorcing after decades of marriage. The tension from the 2016 election still lingers.

Happy Thanksgiving?

If you are experiencing apprehension, sadness, resentment, stress, or anger this holiday season, you’re not alone. I know, I know! It’s the “most wonderful time of the year” and a time to “count our blessings” and “be grateful.” If you want to punch the next person who tells you that in the face, I promise you aren’t crazy or alone. Although, you should probably book a session & talk to a professional counselor about that because violence is only going to make an already shitty situation worse…

Despite the media’s best intentions to skip Thanksgiving altogether (pretty sure it’s been Christmas since October?), we’re days away the Big Parade & it’s coming whether we’re ready or not.

So what can you do to make it through this Thanksgiving without posting bail?

1. Be intentional in creating/finding times in the day that you’re actually looking forward to – it could be your morning run to Starbucks (most Starbucks are open on Thanksgiving! Trust me, I know these things), spending time talking with a friend, a moment alone listening to your favorite song, a hot bath, or cuddling with your pets at the end of the day. Be intentional in creating a time (or times) during the day doing something that will bring you joy or contentment.

2. Have an escape plan. Setting boundaries with family directly and calling it quits when you’ve reached your limits is always best for your mental & emotional health. But if you aren’t a fan of confrontation, it’s okay! I have great news for y’all – it’s 2017! For better or for worse, technology has advanced to a point where you have endless options to escape from a conversation or situation causing distress. The best route is to go in with a plan: distract that annoying relative with pictures so they stop asking inappropriate questions, have a code word to text your siblings when you get cornered, make plans for dessert with friends so you need to leave at a set time. Simple arrangements made ahead of time go a long way in making your day go smoothly!

3. Utilize healthy coping skills. At Thanksgiving especially, it’s easy to eat and drink our pain or discomfort away. While that might work in the moment, it’s not effective coping long term. So again, intention is key! What are the healthy coping skills you generally utilize when you’re upset, overwhelmed, or stressed? Make sure you’re intentional in how you cope, so it doesn’t lead to more feelings of guilt, shame, or embarrassment.

Remember, it’s only one day.

The commercials with the happy, TV families can be really invalidating when you’re in pain. The holiday season can be a very isolating time for that very reason. So please reach out to someone! A counselor, a friend, a coworker, a neighbor, a family member you trust. I promise you’re not alone!

Lake Norman Counselors

Empowering Every Step of the Way

We’re here in the good times & the bad – Empowering our clients Every Step of the Way! (Jamie still trying to convince everyone that a second line band is necessary in promoting that goal… stay tuned for updates).

Rebranding. The reinvention of self. If you’ve been following our social media presence in particular, you’ve seen Lake Norman Counselors transition from “Ready to love the life you live?” to “Laissez les bon temps rouler” to our final transition “Empowering Every Step of the Way.”

So what does this mean?

Well, as much as we loved the philosophy, approach, and New Orleans spirit behind “Laissez les bon temps rouler” (let the good times roll) it was brought to our attention that very few people knew French or were familiar enough with the New Orleans colloquialism to get it… so we’ll just utilize that one for staff time at the lake.

We wanted to express our desire to motivate, encourage, strengthen, and ultimately empower our range of clients – children, teens, and adults. So regardless of where you are on the developmental spectrum of clients we see – young or young at heart – we are here to help every step of the way.

We’re here to help with the childhood bully. Through the awkward social situations in your pre-teen years. With your first broken heart. With the constant stressors of social media & trying to make what feels like an imperfect life look perfect to everyone else. To navigate through career choices. Saying goodbye to loved ones and moving away from home. Your first job, first home, first baby, first marriage, first divorce. Your second job, second home, second baby, second marriage & managing a blended family.

We’re here to help with no judgement. We’re here to offer collaborative services for the whole family to help you find passion and meaning in your life. Love Life. Let the Good times Roll. Feel Empowered. That’s who we are at Lake Norman Counselors.

Counseling, Lake Norman Counselors, Providers

Work Hard, Play Hard

Melissa gets to have all the fun!

Hi, I’m Melissa, a child and adolescent mental health counselor. I’m also commonly referred to as the counselor with, “the fun office” here at LKN Counselors. I utilize play therapy and other creative experiential approaches in my work with children and adolescents, which means my office is filled with toys and art supplies making it look a little different than a traditional counseling office.

During my training, I learned about an approach to counseling children called play therapy and immediately knew that is what I wanted to offer my clients. Children experience life stressors just like adults; they just don’t always have the words to convey their thoughts and feelings. Play allows children to express themselves in their natural medium of communication and play therapy allows them to do so in a way that promotes healing. This immediate connection led me complete a certificate in play therapy, and I now offer this service to many of our youngest clients.

Being that I am naturally introverted myself, I found myself drawn to these experiential therapy modalities that allow my clients to experience self reflection and practice new ways of being in addition to articulating these feelings and experiences verbally.

Throughout my experience working in the mental health field, I have worked with a variety of ages. My passion truly comes from working with young children and their families. There’s nothing like the genuine personality of a child, which makes working with them tons of fun and definitely keeps me on my toes! Children also possess a natural inclination towards growth, which comes with great sense of hope for the future. Working with children also involves working with their families. I realize how frustrating parenting can be at times but also how rewarding it can be as well! Coming from a relatively big family myself, I love the energy that comes in with every family that walks through my doors, and I am honored to work with families throughout their journeys.

This blog will include activities for families, behavior management skills, resources for parents, and inspirational stories on parenting. My hope is that these articles will promote understanding between parents and children and help parents re-discover the joys of parenting.

Don’t forget to play today!

Melissa

Counseling, Lake Norman Counselors, Providers

Who Dat?! ⚜️

Who Dat?! 

Hi Everyone! I’m Jamie, the owner of Lake Norman Counselors.

As an entrepreneur and small business owner, I wear many hats simultaneously. But of all my roles, the clinical work is the part that I’m most passionate about, that brings the most joy to my life, and that makes the administrative tasks worthwhile. The interior design piece is a close second! I’m one more request away from opening LKN Interior Design as my side gig.

But joking aside, I absolutely love working with my clients. I’ve worked very hard to create a beautiful, calming, peaceful space where clients can feel comfortable being vulnerable & open to the process of counseling. I truly believe in the power of the therapeutic relationship & am honored by all of those who have allowed me to be a small part of their lives. I love what I do and hope to bring the same passion and energy that I have into the lives of my clients.

If you’ve been in the office, seen any of our marketing materials, or talked to me for more than five minutes, you might have heard that I’m from New Orleans. This is another aspect of my identity I’m incredibly passionate about and if you’ve been to NOLA, you might understand why, since you already know about the amazing food and music and history and culture and did I mention the food?! (I’d give anything for a beignet right now!) What is most important about New Orleans and the spirit of the city is the love of life. We celebrate everything – even the funerals are fun. Dead serious.

One of my favorite journalists, Chris Rose, wrote about New Orleanians, “We dance even if there’s no radio. We drink at funerals. We talk too much and laugh too loud and live too large and, frankly, we’re suspicious of others who don’t. But we’ll try not to judge you while we’re in your town.”

Told ya the funerals were a good time…

But again, joking aside, it’s hard to find a more accurate statement of the New Orleans mentality. My mentality. I’ve learned to celebrate my victories. I’ve learned to celebrate my losses. It’s really the only way to be a Saints fan (bless you boys – love you, Drew!).

At LKNC, we work with clients to help them find their passions and what brings joy into their lives.

Not only can I offer my clinical training & evidence-based treatment, but I was raised in a culture of people who embrace the spirit of Laissez les bon temps rouler. Who are always ready to “let the good times roll.” My experiences growing up taught me how to come back stronger and more resilient after hardship. I learned the importance of being united with your community during hard times, especially if the odds are against you.

I also spent four winters in Boston during undergrad at Northeastern, so I truly believe that people are resilient and can survive anything! Y’all, Boston is really cold… this southern girl had no idea that winter was just starting in December… so if you can’t change your attitude, change your situation.

I am a proponent of change. The lure of warmer, longer, sunnier days and sweet tea is what brought my husband and me to Charlotte, where I attended graduate school. It was my second move across the country, and I’m so glad I escaped the cold. My hope is that I can help others escape their own harsh winter landscapes (metaphorically – if Charlotte actually freezes over, I’m visiting my brother in Florida to defrost) and help them find the passion and joy in their lives!